A Note from Robin:
"The kind of time-travel that occurs when listening back to recordings from 30+ years ago is a peculiar experience. I can still vividly remember sitting on the floor of my flat in Battersea, South London, the walls, floor and ceiling all painted black, crouched over my luxuriously expensive Fostex 280 (over £700 in the mid 1980s) and making these recordings. I’d had to save up for countless months for such a machine, and it was a dream come true.
Here was a machine that could permanently store my ideas onto relatively cheap cassettes that I could pick up in a local shop. I could manipulate the speed of these recordings and layer them together. Using the Digitech RDS 7.6 Time Machine in tandem I could create loops of sound, and record something as simple as a bell and then slow it down to half speed.
I quickly discovered that sometimes the simplest ideas were the most effective. In Forbidden Mourning you hear a loop of a bell and an ethic tone playing against one another, whilst my dark sense of humour comes across in His Begging Bowl, with a found recording of the last moments in the life of a beloved dog. Some of the pieces such as Soft Enclose, using scanned voices, clearly anticipate my first CD release on Ash International in 1992.
Somehow these tapes have miraculously survived countless moves over the years, in the same cardboard boxes, from my bedroom in my family home to a series of different apartments and even in an industrial storage unit for a year. Using the lockdown to digitise and mix down many of these has been a joy, and what you hear here is just a percentage of what exists in the archive.
Listening back to these recordings today I realise that they actually still inform much of what I do today. Some might find it a little depressing to consider that they’ve never ‘progressed,’ but I find a reassurance in the shapes and structures and strength of commitment in these works. Voices are hidden beneath the surface, slow modulating drones hover ominously in the background, scanned phonecalls are drawn in from the ether and poignant melancholic melodies play against abstract noises.
I hope the listener today enjoys this modest dip in my archival recordings and appreciates that less can most definitely be more. I had no idea that there might be audience for these works when I recorded them at the time, so let’s see how they behave when they are set free into the world this year!"
Best Available Technology makes up for lost time with a 2nd release in quick succession, after a few years hiatus
Granting Sweden’s Blundar (Lowtec, STL, Benjamin Brunn) access to his backpack archive of tapes, the peripheral artist descends from his ferric cloud base to spells out a singular conception of vaporous, mutant dub flux.
Harvard architecture prof Robert Gerard Pietrusko looks to poems for inspiration on this blissful set for Lawrence English's Room40. Unsettling, textured drones for fans of early Tim Hecker or Celer.
Based on five piano motifs "repeated with constant variation and extrapolation across the album's nine tracks," "Elegiya" is barely recognizable as a piano album. Pietrusko granulates the sounds into chilly clumps of noisy drone, pushing and pulling the notes like taffy into poetic structures that sometimes sound harmonic and ambient, and sometimes veer into terrifying dissonance. If you enjoyed Tim Hecker's early classic "Radio Amor" with its stuttering granulation, this one's for you.
Jamal Moss owns his mantle as The Worst DJ Ever with an absolutely deadly 2nd batch of The Worst Edits, tweaking out Industrial, Jazz, House, New Wave and Psych Rock nuggets in untouchable, incendiary style.
The title of Worst DJ Ever was bestowed upon Jamal by some sad pebble at a secret warehouse rave in Manchester many moons ago. In case it needs to be stated; Jamal is one of the best DJs ever, but some divvies just don’t get it. Allow it anyway ‘cos Jamal just keeps on keeping on with this return to his deeply cherished Members Only series, adding to a precious collection of percies plucked out from behind the ear of late ‘80s Chicago dance culture and treated to his special marination process for future-proofed effect.
On this session you’ll cop his re-cut of The B-52’s up in it along with a stonking take on Larry Heard & Robert Owens ‘Passion Track’ spliced with some super tight Hi-NRG bassline. There’s hyper freestyle-electro chops, strobing disco bouncers, and a very special strain of psych rock edits that we’ve not really heard from him before. The fidelity is all crud VHS and faithful to his beloved aesthetic, and if that puts off some of the club pedants, then all the better for it, as they can go whistle to some immaculately produced bobbins while heads get down.
Unmissable, u already know it.
The sound alchemist behind Elodie (with Andrew Chalk), Af Ursin (on his own) and the Metaphon and La Scie Dorée labels mints a new one-off alias, Emma Tate, with an elemental, soul-wracking beauty for the Documenting Sound series.
An utterly arresting composition built solely from recordings of his breathing, ‘Ame Matte’ is perhaps the purest, most spellbinding example of Timo’s work that we’ve yet heard. It was recorded at his woodland home in Belgium and offers a rare glimpse of his solo practice for the first time since 2017’s ‘Ιτινερα = Itinera’ as Af Ursin, effectively pursuing that record’s appreciation of liminal tones and metaphysical presence to logical, immersive extremes that reflect his experience of lockdown. More often noted as a consummate collaborator with everyone from Andrew Chalk and Christoph Heemann to Raymond Dijkstra, Timo’s solo work is always really special and no less so here, providing the Documenting Sound series one of its most rarified and quietly critical highlights.
Getting right down to musical fundamentals, Timo judiciously uses layering and fx to turn his barely-there palette of sighs, gasps and wordless whispers into a congregation of ghostly inference, gradually feeling out a totally secluded space that could be in the woods as much as leagues underwater or stranded in deep space. It could hardly be more evocative of the stark loneliness experienced by so many of us during the past 18 months, yet for all its horror movie / concrète mise-en-scene, there’s something comforting about his reserved presence that makes his a cappella recordings so rewarding.
Considered in context of its title, ‘Ame Matte’ or ‘Matte Soul,’ and the track titles - ‘Atem’ is German for breath, and its anagrammatic B-side of reversed breathing ‘Meta’ - it feels as though Timo grants us access behind the veil of his sound, to some liminal, purgatorial mindset previously glimpsed in the likes of NWW’s classic ‘Soliloquy For Lilith.’
Xiu Xiu's Hyunhye Seo, aka Angela Seo, goes deep and dark on her debut solo album, flitting between subterranean Lynchian ambient and abstract solo piano. Foreboding and ambitious stuff.
Split into two parts, "Strands" straddles Hyunhye Seo's musical interests. The first part focuses on her interest in percussion and noise, and features processed gong sounds and rattling industrial dirt. In three long tracks, Seo builds an anxious narrative that sounds almost like a fusion of Thomas Köner's early dark ambient material and the Lynchian sound design of Dean Hurley or even David Lynch in the "Eraserhead" days.
The second part finds Seo experimenting with the piano, and she shows off her skill using the instrument alone, playing on its tone and dissonance to create a similarly dark mood.
Hood’s Chris Adams summons the ghosts of ’94 under his jungle/breakbeat alias Downpour.
Also known as Bracken for his instrumental hip hop output, Adams serves up his first proper release under the Downpour alias in over 20 years, drawing on scattershot digital self-releases for a definitive overview of his work during the past decade. Extant since the late ‘90s heyday of D&B, Downpour issued a handful of 12”s on Midwest US rave label Drop Beat and Leeds’ 555 Recordings that on the face of it sounded nowt like his better known work with Hood (who also counted Craig Tattersall aka The Humble Bee, and Andrew Johnson aka A New Line (Related) in their number) but which shared a melancholy, polaroid quality with it.
The 11 tracks of ‘Do You Remember When It Was All About The Drums? (Parts I & II)’ now find their feet again in the midst of a jungle revival, coming with classic motifs shaded to the deeper, darker end of that sound, and most successfully in the likes of his hardass breakage in ‘Red Flag,’ the deft smoky chops of the album’s title tune, and splashy breaks recalling Scorn’s Quoit gear in This Sound,’ with a slower variant in the woozy squash of ‘Pressure.’ Takes us right back to raving in West Yorkshire fields and scuzzy warehouses, we tell thee.
Slowtime ambient soul music from the DIY heart of Bristol, introducing Jabu’s new label; do you have peace?
Emerging from the scene revolving Young Echo, No Corner, and Blackest Ever Black (R.I.P.), Jabu trio of Amos Childs, Jasmine Butt and Alex Rendall meet their pals, Vessel, Sunun and Rakhi Singh to conjure an intimate, familial atmosphere and headspace that touches on Lolina-esque dub-bop and screwed soul, puckered with dead sweet vocals by Butt and Bristolian-Colombian singer Daniela Dyson.
A proper low key charmer, this one RIYL Laila Sakini, Teresa Winter, E B U.
A collection of songs / mixtape from Sunun + Jiinx - made up of all their own material, a combination of fully realised songs as well as unheard demos / ideas and alternate versions.
"The mix was compiled by Jiinx over a period of nightshifts - sat in his (now cubed) car with the computer running through the stereo. You can hear the dry eyes as the tape moves through sleep deprived jungle to new-age and ambient interludes - with voices (including Sunun’s own) moving in and out like real world sounds intruding into a dream (there’s also a cameo from Jiinx’s daughter). The tape operates in the spaces between waking and sleeping and night and day - and manages to walk the line between euphoric rave afterglow and sleepless sickness and disorientation. Definitely one for the shift workers / ravers / insomniacs. Dedicated to the roofless Beemer."
Selected ambient works from ex-NAKED producer Canaan Balsam. Epic, cavernous business for fans for Coil, AFX et al.
"Cruise Utopia" is the first solo work from Canaan Balsam since he left Halcyon Veil industrial duo NAKED, and it highlights another facet of his interests. The metallic grit and grind of NAKED is still there, but is relegated to the background as isolationist melancholy takes hold. Opener 'C.C.C.C' is straight out of the AFX school of ambient ('Lichen' 2.0?) with its wavering sadboi synth flute, but we're quickly fired into different realms with the elegiac 'Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears' and Coil-esque grim droner 'One Rat Short of a Plague'.
The Edinburgh-based artist infuses his work, created over the last three years, with a distinctly Scottish mentality, often juxtaposing his synth compositions with barely-audible spoken word vocals and harsh field recordings. This imparts a sense of space and never allows things to fall too far into new age loveliness, retaining a brisk, mountainous air at all times.
Ambient sound baths from Carmen Villain, moonlighting on Geographic North with a gorgeous follow-up to her track on the nocturnal 2020 suite ‘A Little Late Night Music’
Carmen Villain is best placed to spell out her take on a seasonal music for the Sketch For Winter series, offering a sublime half hour of sound-sensitive scenes that appear to reflect a transition from cold space to deliquescent thaw over the course of six gently paced, instrumental parts. Any followers of her works for Smalltown Supersound and the sentiments of last year’s ‘Affection in a Time of Crisis’ with Longform Editions will surely recognise the near-therapeutic levels of ambient bliss and understated melancholy that makes Carmen’s music such a delicate treat.
It sounds as though her Norwegian/Chilean spar, flautist Johanna Scheie Orellana reprises her role from the Longform Editions release on opener ‘Everything Without Shadow’, blowing wistful lines thru Villain’s richly evocative synth pads, before her narrator/sound designer skills leads the way from the padded snow crunch and sleety slosh of ‘Two Halves Touching’ like PInkcourtesyphone’s protagonist gone wandering around winter gardens. ‘Things That Are Solid’ follows to sustain the vibe with warmer baubles of synth melody as the textures feel to melt at the edges with ‘Agua Azul’, gently warmed by the arrival of supple percussion and the return of Orellana’s languorous flute.
Perpetually keeping us on our toes, a Colourful Storm assemble previously unreleased works by cult Swiss synth-pop and NDW legend Christian Pfluger aka Die Welttraumforscher, essential listening if yr into owt from Cleaners From Venus to Skanfrom, Stano to Frederik Schikowski and The Kitchen Cynics.
Pfluger's sorely unsung, naïf pop recordings - loved and cited as an influence by everyone from Felix Kubin to Yello’s Dieter Meier and astronaut Hans-Joachim Roloff are introduced here with a kind of primer for newbs, packing sterling, previously unreleased examples of his endearingly oddball, near-mythical NDW style, perfectly distilling the oneiric appeal of the lo-fi imaginary universe he inhabits.
Since the early ‘80s he’s dished out dozens of releases spanning records to films and illustrations, mostly on his label, Das Moniflabel, but thanks to his German language lyrics, Pfluger’s music has been largely reserved to German speakers who perhaps best pick up on the subtleties of his wit and pathos. However, the sharply melodic instrumentals and vocal delivery are so timelessly enigmatic, that his music is surely ripe for wider appreciation by new ears.
The spirit of early ‘80s DIY craft is integral to the charm of Die Welttraumforscher music, imbuing his fanciful arrangements with a kitchen sink quality so prevalent in UK post-punk at the time. Daily life, or “coffee, cake, and comets” as he pithily puts it, provides the impetus behind each vignette-like song; channelling the eccentricities of waking life via guitar, synth, drum machine and tapes into discretely self-contained songs that sound as though they were recalled from a dream while still rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. As far as introductions go, one could hardly ask for a more carefully assembled, immersive entry point to this secretive, fantastical microcosm.
A Colourful Storm’s Fleetway Tapes sublabel follow up that crushing ’Time Is Away’ tape with this super satisfying curveball from Andy Mac, offering over an hour of spirited vibrations that come highly recommended if yr into Beatrice Dillon, Awkward Corners/Chris Menist, Peverelist.
A decade since Andy Mac committed his crispy debut productions to Peverelist’s Punch Drunk he's cultivated a rocksteady rep for working rugged, minimalist grooves with bags of rude soul. On ‘First & Last, Sennen’ he weaves roots and branches of classic Bristol styles into his first physical mixtape, tracing a jagged line from prevailing interests in vintage Jamaican dub and Caribbean rhythms, and their distant echoes in post-punk, cosmic drug chug, and AOR oddities, across a tight selection certain to have nerds itching for track IDs.
it’s properly slanted and enchanted gear, planting its feet in dusty, lilting calypso and nonchalant South American grooves, toggling the groove with effortless suss, shuffling weight across continents and epochs with proper percies drawn from a venn diagram of NDW, post-industrial, and downtown NYC records whose names may elude and tease even the most ardent heads. In the best sense, each cut sets up the next, creating stepping stones through offbeat and lesser trodden regions of dub and dance music from the past 60 years.
JD Twitch unzips and unwinds a showreel of summer specials on his prized and highly collectible mixtape series.
Hustling languid jazz, pastoral acoustic guitars, ambient folk, psych pop, and of course a healthy amount of tropical styles, this one’s the most varied and colourful session of the series so far. Spinning the compass to every corner of Twitch’s enviable collection, he navigates kaleidoscopic styles with buttered blends that keep the pace locked to a drowsy but effortless flow primed to soundtrack the bits in between the rain of the British summer.
Tracklist hounds will have to go beg, but take it on trust they’re all doozies, from the opening acoustic licks of ’Summertime’ to the lissom country kiss off and palm wine guitars that round it off, touching on myriad strain of gauzy dream-pop, Hawaiian slide guitar, calypso, lysergic psych-pop lushness, and Cuban rug cutters in between. We’d love to know what that synthy gem is half an hour in to the B-side, but that will to wait until the ID machine does it’s thing. In the meantime, spark up, get your best string vest on, and get this one in the bag for optimal summer flex.
A despatch from round or way, longtime ally and smallsound recordist Craig Tattersall with an hour of barely-there music recorded on an assortment of bedroom/DIY instruments and electronics, reminding us of his most intimate work with Hood, The Remote Viewer and via his bijou Cotton Goods imprint. Tattersall's music has been a constant companion for us over the last 20 years, we consider it a kind of archetypal Northern English Quiet music - there’s nowt else quite like it.
Once again blurring our focus through an hour of signature, slow moving melancholy designed for nearfield listening and sparkling with microscopic detail, Tattersall assembles an array of slowly unfurling tape loops featuring mini accordion, melodica and various toy instruments washed through location recordings into an intoxicating haze of slanted motifs.
Shimmering with lingering lines of melancholy, but smudged into a sort of peeling ambient flocking, there’s a natural grasp of small sounds here that hovers at the periphery for a kind of daytime hypnagogia, subtly adapting strategies from bristling drone to etheric keys in near subliminal transitions, from Feldman-like states of reflection to the slow crackling of ferric embers that seamlessly drift into physical tape hiss and force you to check whether the side has ended.
Hi, hello, and how do? This is the 2nd part in a trio of mixtapes released in 2016 by moi, Conor Thomas, following "At The Expense of Others" for the Krokodilo series and arriving ahead of a long overdue Reel Torque instalment.
It’s a tribute to a series of "free parties"/raves held in Manchester over ten years ago, including a lot of records which were either played there or that i used to cane in that era. Using the benefit of hindsight, it’s a sort of a snapshot or perspective of the era after the '90s "Madchester" and “sulphuric soul” (gip) thing. Of course there were other things happening, lots of techno/electro/breakcore/electronica and early dubstep, but for me, this was the sound of cracked warehouses and abandoned hospitals when I moved here in 2002, and it remained like that until dubstep really took a grip after 2007.
The mix was recorded on a suitably drizzly day in Moss Side, summer ’16, and all tracks are from original records released between ’93 and ’04 (apart from the Leckey snippet), with a healthy amount of vinyl crackle and particular focus on the darkside late ‘90s flex which bled from that era into a lot of what came after it.
I only found out years later that other people had nicknamed me The Smoking Man, prob cos i look a bit grey and tended to hang in the shadows with a big spliff when i wasn’t brukking and gurning. Not because i wore a flasher mac and had links to secret government agencies. Those days are long gone but I fucking loved them and all the people, raves of that time. Out to them.
Beautiful art edition of 55 copies from Giampaolo De Pietro & Craig Tattersall, an hour of intimate, delicate music with an accompanying book of photographs, poetry and film stills.
Those of you who remember the Cotton Goods label will be all over this, another beautiful art edition hand assembled by Craig Tattersall aka The Humble Bee and erstwhile member of Hood, The Remote Viewer, The Boats etc.
If you’ve followed Tattersall’s work over the last 2+ decades you’ll already know what to expect here; an hour of almost alchemical nearfield recordings that are somewhere between field recording, audio diary and the quietest form of ambient/intimate music ever likely to caress your ears.
Here’s whats in the package:
Length - 54 minutes and 14 seconds
Professionally duped cassettes supplied in ‘O’ card sleeve
Cassette colour - Burgundy with citron ink
‘Saint Autumn - Cloud | Precipitation’
Professionally printed A5 44 page booklet
Text in Italian with English translation
Printed on 135gsm recycled paper
Handmade & stitched outer sleeve and pocket
Teal outer sleeve - 240gsm
Sorbet Yellow end papers - 135gsm
Screen prints in pink ink on Duck egg Zerkall Ingres paper, 90gsm.
Set of 3 6x4” c-type photographs.
35mm black & white negative developed in rain water and soil.
Printed on Fuji Crystal Archive Lustre photographic paper.
6x4” - 152.4x101.6mm
In 100gsm cream Acquerello Envelope
2 sided A6 postcard with lyrics (Italian and English Translation) backed with images
printed on 280gsm, cream Acquerello card
Power moves from Uganda’s Nyege Nyege Tapes; spotlighting the Dutch bubbling permutations of Den Haag’s De Schuurman - a crucial node of the Black Atlantic diaspora - with 13 hard-to-find, hyper dancehall techno zingers from the late ‘00s up to 2019.
As the legend goes, in the late ‘80s a young DJ Moortje from Curaçao was playing at Den Haag’s Club Voltage, where he accidentally played a dancehall track at 45RPM, not 33, to feverish reception from the dancers. A new style of hi NRG dancehall was born and named bubbling house, with a new generation of diasporic producers such as De Schuurman following in the footsteps of his uncle and bubbling pioneer DJ Chippie to evolve the sound in the late 2000s, using Fruityloops to update the style with traces of rap, R&B, trance and electro-house alongside his cousins, DJ Daycard, DJ Master-D, Stiko Jnr and DJ Justme. The sound received international recognition in 2011 via Anti-G’s ‘Presents Kentje’sz Beatsz’ compilation with Planet Mu, and now NNT serve a hot reminder of its irresistible innovations with ‘Bubbling Inside.’
Crafted mostly between 2007-2009, but also featuring relatively recent productions, the set is a scorching throwback to bubbling’s upfront propulsion systems. Painstakingly sourced from old hard drives by the artist with NNT and Sascha Roth of Pantropical in Rotterdam, it features 13 mostly unreleased tracks that firmly demonstrate how forward the young producer was back then, bending Afro-Caribbean rhythms with prevailing electro and techno-house trends in a way that paralleled UKF across the North Sea, but with a much sharper Dutch electronic tang that really left its mark on dancefloors at the time, and still kills today.
In keen mutations of the fundamental tresillo rhythms that also drive soca, reggaeton, UK Funky; De Schuurman makes his mark with definitive cuts such as the steel drum-driven quickstep of ‘Pier Je Bil!!’ and the string-led swagger of ‘Fermina Style,’ while ‘F*cking Hard!I!’ and ‘Bubbling Inside’ are galvanised with cutting synthlines by DJ Electro. The hot brass of ‘Urban Gunz’ is perhaps closest to certain UKF templates, and the banging ‘First One’ links the sound to late ‘00s European techno, with tunes such as 2019’s ‘Domina’ showing how De Schuurman has kept the style fresh with twists of dubstep and plusher, layered textures without losing sight of its energising dancefloor roots.
Sepulchral invocations from Laura Kilty’s LAIR, returning to Eomac ov Lakker’s Eotrax label
One for the post techno goths, ‘I Hurt So I Cry’ expresses a mix of heritage and timeless, if wordless, emotions thru an electronically enhanced take on keening, a sort of Irish and Scottish Gaelic lament for the dead, as most beautifully exemplified by Liz Fraser’s vox for Cocteau Twins. LAIR’s take on the style is rent with fathomless cold reverb and underlined with sparingly used synths in four parts that will surely sound best when prostrate at your lover’s grave under moonlight.
Shanti Celeste smacks it at higher speed in a killer set of deep, rolling jungle, acid juke and electro recorded in Berlin at the Climate of Fear party.
For over an hour the Peach Discs boss keeps the tempo gauge and your heart rate up with classy and rude cuts riding around the 150BPM range, slickly shifting thru the gears with the same finesse she applies to her more typical house and techno pace. The first lot sold out in a jiffy and this one’s bound to do the same.
DJ guru Vladimir Ivkovic whips up a slow storm of slack trance and AI nuggets for the 8th edition in a 12 part mixtape series from Berlin party Climate of Fear
The 90’ mix was recorded in late 2019 and finds Ivkovic practicing the sort of pendulous club traction he’s become widely adored for. Following tapes on the series by likes of Nkisi, Shanti Celeste, and Eleni Colombi, the bearded whiz keeps the pace locked to his signature downtempo swirl, plucking out early ‘90s highlights of Warp’s AI series along with choice cuts of Goa trance on 33-not-45, for example, to ably prove that you don’t need to go fast to have a very good time.
Like everytime we’ve caught him playing out, Vladimir has us in the palm of his hand, leading us on a merry bounce thru viscous bass lines, throaty acid and slow-mo 909 snare rushes with a singular style of spellbinding, yoghurt-weaving trance magick. If you don’t know his style but are keen to clock in, this is as strong a place as any to catch Ivkovic in his element.
One of NYC’s most curious, fwd mutants Nik Dawson aka Bookworms weaves ancestral rhythms and tempered modular tonalities to express his feelings for Documenting Sound. It’s an Escher-like labyrinth of torched sound design and bleary-eyed isolationist experiments that are both Psychedelic and complex but never impenetrable, digesting like an extended-release blotter for fans of Autechre at their most confounding, Terrence Dixon's mindbending sci-fi neural networks and Arca's melted elastic post-everything soundscraping.
Reporting from Queens, New York City; Bookworms states “In 2020 i was at a loss for words. So i recorded this tape,” and effectively renders his feelings over the course of an hour thru 16 tracks of knotted pulses grasping at the elusive - at once aching for a dance that’s outta reach, and with melodic lines of thought that come out in a flux of agitated blatz and more coolly collected realisations. Anyone who has followed Bookworms output for the past decade on the likes of L.I.E.S., Anòmia, and Bánh Mì Verlag will surely recognise his sound undergoing a prismatic metamorphosis into more asymmetric, offbeat, iridescent and ultimately more compelling designs that now resemble a mix of Actress-like dreamstates, up-to-the-second Autechrian dynamics, and the ancient futurism of Robert A.A. Lowe.
Bookworms invites us to peek into a four-dimensional diary of creativity, throwing peach-tinted light on unsettling drone sketches, mollified abstraction, collapsed FM photographs and marbled, sculpted noize. Each track sounds almost completely distinct from the next, but every moment is woven together by an insightful, giddy creative momentum. The re-animated skeletons of techno trip and tumble beneath Dawson's pan-celestial prophecies, throbbing and heaving but unshackled by latter-day gridded apathy. It's the Ursula K. Le Guin or Octavia E. Butler of abstract electronics, shepherding the mind thru sonic-spiritual forests, deserts and cityscapes with anxious intrigue, signing off with a knotted concentration of positively futurist energies in the shatterproof bone bender ‘A Visual Distortion 172mix.’
There's a poetry to Dawson's touch that makes this music more involving than so much contemporary electronic-experimental scribbling. At any moment it feels as if it could shatter into a million pieces or disappear into a terrifying, unspeakable nth dimension. We can't think of a more apt soundtrack for this rapidly-morphing, mind-muddling new era = properly soul in the machine material.
After a cult tape and 12” for TTT, S. London’s Waswaas commits a deeper exploration of erotic ambient fetishes on their first self-released title - a must check for fans of Xvarr, CTI, Adi Newton, Perila, Coil
Under a moniker that literally refers to “whispers from Satan,” and is better taken as a metaphor for doubts and temptations - or OCD and neuroses - Waswaas pursues a strain of eroticised ambient practice that’s been supine in the gaps between ambient, new age, and industrial musick since the early ‘80s in releases by Cosey Fanni Tutti and Adi Newton’s projects (Clock DVA, Psychophysicist,) and more recently via Perila’s records. Of course, the notion of erotic ambient is highly subjective, but Waswaas handles the matter sensitively and without recourse to anything explicit, preferring to relate his thoughts in more obliquely suggestive designs that may connote myriad different meanings to its users.
Leading on from last year’s ‘Memories of Perversions,’ its follow-up album gently penetrates the senses with 1 hour of slow moving, oily and intoxicating atmospheres that absorb us steeply into their layered textures. With no detectable human voices or touches, he opens out a sort of wipe-clean neurogenous playground for personal investment and investigation, encouraging heightened states of sensitivity thru his hallucinatory insights and nuanced grasp of consonnance/dissonance, and the evocative, ambiguous integers between.
Waking dream style DJ set from Karen Gwyer - her debut DJ set, in fact - recorded live at Berlin’s Climate of Fear party in 2019
Best known for her hardware tekkers, here Gwyer here plucks out gems from her collection that have clearly fed into and parallel her own style of composition, including what we’re assuming is a fine slice of Pekka Airaksinen in there along with pieces of drifting ambient pop and strange organic techno spirits.
“She delivered an extended study in mesmeric collage and impossibly deep sonic foraging. Gwyer is known for her unflinchingly adventurous productions and careening, unmistakable live performances. Take a peek behind the curtain and hear some of her most personal inspirations. A love letter to the strange and otherworldly, "Eternal Unborn Softly" plays as fluidly as a half remembered dream.”
Ooooosh! Pirate radio recordings made in Bristol between the late ‘80s to early ‘00s - the latest tape from Death Is Not The End, issued as part of the cherry-picked Blowing Up The Workshop series. It's a fucking goodun..
Celebrated for their archival dives into historic musical blindspots of the past 100 years, Death Is Not The End this time focus closer to home (and within our lifetimes) with what they describe as "A trip across the frequencies of Bristol's pirate radio stations via cut-ups of broadcasts, taken from the late 1980s to the early 2000s ~ also a love-letter to my childhood, an audio document of the years I spent growing up in the city.”
Traversing the dial from raucous soundclash recordings to Blues Dance soul, and taking in mighty blasts of jungle, wafts of warbling Indian music, and, of course, a f*ckload of dub and dancehall, its all spliced with a mix of heartrendingly sweet and hilarious radio phone ins and jingles = supremely heavy vibes.
Chicago legend Jamal Moss bequeaths almost two hours of his very worst edits on the cult Members Only series - seriously, they’re awful, nothing to see here, move along and have a nice day :p
But f’real, this is Jamal at his worst-meaning-vital, culled from 20 year old VHS tapes forgotten about in storage and now finally restored by Jamal as best as possible after baking the tapes “to embrace the mood not be in one”. These edits are all previously unheard and were edited & recorded from 1999-2001 on a Yamaha SU - 700, vintage Gemini MX-8200 stereo audio disco mixer/equalizer and a Sony SLV-998HF stereo VHS vcr. Trust it’s no soggy bottom business, this is the real deal Chi-town badness; exactly the kind Jamal would play in his legendary extended DJ sets, which have provided us with some of the greatest club experiences in memory.
Juicing the quintessence of disco, early house, new wave and EBM cuts, Jamal applies his alchemic touch in the edit, constantly filtering the loops into a psychedelic, psychosexual lather that does not let up in thee best way. It utterly makes a mockery of those “house” DJ/producers with stacks of gear and no idea, relying on his endlessly inventive talents and over 30 years of club suss to render essential new life from Chicago bargain bin joints and cuts known only to the city’s get-down heads.
We can only identify a few of them - the cranky re-chop of Roni Griffith is dirty gold - and that’s half the fun with Jamal’s edits - stumbling across the original cut years later and having your mind spanked at what Jamal did with it. Every cut is a haughty, kinky, lusting banger that’s practically guaranteed to have the proper dancers slapping the walls and literally screaming - no messing, we’ve seen it happen for 4-5 hours at a time, and without fail dancers are begging him to go longer. In lieu of the real thing, now you pretend you’re a reel Chicago don and play these ‘till the ‘floor’s on its knees.
Be warned, this is the first in a series of three >>>
"NOT 4 THE SONIC INDUSTRY ETIQUETTE ELITE"
Next level field recording manipulations from an "imaginary Indian Sub-Continent". This is three steps into the outerzone - properly narcotic, surrealist moods built from damaged tape, echoing laptop jams and "ghost recordings". Sounds like being hung upside down while reading Burroughs...
'Stories from the Dotted Indian Whale' is a collection of contemporary field recording fuckery from three artists: Italian musician Giavanni Lami, Discrepant boss Gonçalo F Cardoso and Argentinian noisemaker Bardo Todol. Each of them collected environmental recordings from across India, combining and manipulating sounds to conjure up stories of an imagined place. It's India, just about, but filtered through the wild imagination of three mischievous musical minds.
Lami's tracks are the most musical of the bunch, sounding almost like Philip Jeck at times. An ominous low-end drone underpins 'Untitled 1', while crumbling bells and lurching no-speed vocals curve thru the haze leaving haunted vapors. 'Untitled 2' is odder still, pasting bell sounds over disorienting landscapes that sound like everywhere and nowhere: fragments of music can just about be heard over insect sounds and household rattles, but everything exists in a psychedelic no-place.
Cardoso's Hannibal Chew III material shouldn't surprise fans of the prolific artist's catalog. He augments historic field recordings made in locations like Pondicherry, Jaipur and Varanasi with instrumental jams, creating a wild alien atmosphere that sounds like India rebuilt by a deepfake AI. Bardo Todol finishes things off with the most straightforward takes, overlaying a sequence of 2012 field recordings to stitch a collage of scrapes, belches and buzzing, animal groans. Transportive shit.
İstanbul based producer Grup Ses returns with the final episode of 'Program' trilogy for Sucata Tapes. Program #03 focuses on productions of Grup Ses between 2008 and 2021.
"Grup Ses project dates back to 2007 which at the time focused on v/vm style edits and breakcore infused mash ups. Starting from 2008 Grup Ses started to build a version of Stones Throw & Brainfeeder influenced beatmaking mixed with a touch of humour. A blend including all kinds of local recorded material like records, tapes, radio broadcasts etc., which became the building blocks of signature Grup Ses sound. This hour long mixtape showcases styles Grup Ses visited last 10+ years."
Dancehall knowledge Felix Hall presents a momentous 20 year follow-up to Mo Wax’s pivotal, highly influential 2001 instrumental showcase ‘Now Thing’ a blueprint of sorts for the likes of Equiknoxx almost two decades later. This new set - almost two years in the making - reunites original comp players Lil Toby, Will Bankhead and Oliver Payne (on compiling and artwork duties) and features 16 prime Jamaican bullets for Felix Hall's shockout label, Chrome.
Resetting the timeline to 1997-2020, ‘Now Thing 2’ expands on the crucial first set - which was a gateway to the world of dancehall for many heads - with deadly cuts from the scene’s leading producers; spanning Dave Kelly to Steely & Clevie, from NYC’s Bobby Konders to Ward 21, and including killer side-spins on ‘90s rave and R&B.
Two decades since the first set, it’s astute to say that dancehall has exerted a huge degree of influence over dance and club music of all stripes over the interim. Much like how roots reggae and dub influenced disco and post-punk in the ’70s; Dancehall, with its origins in the digidub of Jammy’s ‘Sleng Teng’ riddim, has irrevocably informed jungle, rap, garage, and even pop and techno for the past generation, and ‘Now Thing 2’ is the strongest primer you’ll likely come across..
It’s a proper sound-system thing, deeply rooted in the competitive, inventive nature of Jamaican music, which would, according to ‘Bass Culture’ writer Lloyd Bradley’s liner notes “constantly reinvent itself as a way of staying ahead of the sound system on the next corner.” With access to new technology, producers persistently pushed their paradigm along the axes of function and distinction, with each asserting their individuality in a syncretic style and its permutations of tresillo drum patterns, all at the service of bringing bodies to the dance and keeping them there.
The 16 tracks here lead directly from its predecessor with updates of highlights from the first, notably Richard Browne’s darkly dubbed ‘Grass Cyaat Refix’ and the return of Lenky (whose original ‘Now Thing’ rhythm lends the sets’ titles) alongside Andrew Thomas on the haunted fairground pressure of ‘Bad Mongrell’, while prolific dancehall architects Steely & Clevie serve the jabbing ‘Bitter Blood’, and Ward 21 come with the brooding badness of ‘Volume’.
‘Now Thing 2’ comes into its own however, via its more obscure, mutant workouts. NYC’s acid house legend Bobby Konders supplies 1999’s rolling ‘Lickshot Rewind’ from his dancehall label Massive B, and Crown Star Productions let off zinging rave hoovers on the mighty ‘Fire Cracker’, with Donovan Germain’s half step 140bpm rework of Timbaland’s Aaliyah classic ‘Are You That Somebody’ highlighting the vital dialogue between dancehall and mainstream charts.
Compiled by Felix Hall, Lil Toby and Richard Browne, with art and design by Will Bankhead and Oliver Payne (also behind the first volume in 2001), ‘Now Thing 2’ is future-proofed for the next 20 years, and should be considered ultimate listening by a new generation of listeners and ravers who are increasingly cognisant of dance music’s important roots in Jamaican dancehall culture.
JD Twitch yields his definition of “E-Music”, a melange of tripped-out and synth-heavy early ‘90s styles played during his legendary friday nights at Pure in Edinburgh, for the next instalment of his mixtape series
After paving the way with expertly guided mixes of goth, new age and synth-pop, JD Twitch arrives at a golden era of his DJing ouevre, charting the kind of selections he would play before getting into harder stuff later in the night. It’s a cornucopia of pill-belly beauties, reaching deep in his crates for those “E Music” gems that punters would request every week during that period; distilling a sound that blossomed from the cracks between new age, proto trance, and deep ambient house styles. As to be expected, some of the records included have seen better days, so there’s a good bit of crackle in there, but if you’re going to let that put you off, then best run back to your Cafe Del Mar CD compilations and pipe down.
The mixing is butter on this one, glyding between cuts with an effortless breeziness that best highlights the tunes’ hypnotic efficiency and allure, eliding their contours and atmospheres in a skin-tingling flow of acid basses and choral pads that would have kissed the domes of ravers in the first flushes of the MDMA buzz, prior to going ham in the later hours. There were other notables doing this style at the time, but it’s safe to say that JD Twitch could call this vibe his own, drawing links between Chris & Cosey, The KLF, nascent electronica, early bleep techno and shine-eyed variants of European EBM that laid the foundations for a very good night ahead.
Kinda unmissable if you know the craic.
Gorgeous Balearic floatation tank vibes from another choice debutant to Good Morning Tapes, introducing Nueen with a romantically introspective suite of fluttering electronic productions gilded with glyding subbass.
Blessed with a play of warmth and dappled light recognisable to anyone who has visited or lives in the Mediterranean, ‘Nova Llum’ presents Nueen’s diaristic account of days lolling and contemplating life in the Balearic isles. Drawing inspiration from its sunbleached rocky mountains and brilliant blue waters unusually devoid of lobster-tanned holidayers during lockdown, Nueen lets his mind and arps drift unimpeded across the landscape in nine sublime parts with a sound bound to appeal to lovers of classic Eno & Budd or Roméo Poirier as much as strains of vapourwave, Perila’s ASMR textures and cult Grabaciones Accidentales.
With a light touch Nueen takes us there, beautifully evoking a slippage of time from afternoon to noche between the glitching butterfly net sweeps capturing the isle’s sleepy ambience in ‘Once You Have It,’ to the shimmering shorelights of ‘Viejo Roble del Camino’ that draw the album’s velvet curtains to a close. Where the backdrops feel still, ancient, natural, Nueen channels a gently vibrant human energy via his melodic and harmonic signature, with daubs of field recordings lending an intangible effervescence to the the tip-of-tongue strings in ‘Centro Gris,’ and with sparing use of percussion and subs giving it a sort of subliminal drive and saline buoyancy, especially in the skin-stroking bliss of ‘Hum.’
It’s an effortlessly gratifying and transportive album, thankfully not on the government’s red or amber lists so you can come and go as you please.
Pete Swanson & Jed Bindeman’s Freedom To Spend reissue a reel 1984 gem from Robert Cox’s (aka Rimarimba) Unlikely Records, refracting a spectrum of his musical alter egos over 10 tracks of lilting ambient, folk and synth wooze from the top shelf.
Newly transferred from a copy of the impossible-to-find cassette and remastered to taste, the set spies a microcosmic niche of the UK post-punk scene from one of its oddest outposts; a quaint seaside town in ye olde Suffolk, that also doubles as the UK’s largest container ship port. From these historic quarters, Robert Cox coined a deeply endearing, melodically personalised style of instrumental songwriting under various guises - Rimarimba, The Same, General Motors, Piers of The Realm, Someone Else - which are all included on this set, originally dispensed via his Unlikely Records boutique a lifetime ago, and now lovingly dusted down for new ears by Freedom To Spend.
Upon its original release in ’84, we’d imagine that unwitting listeners to ‘Felixstowe Rocks’ would understandably think it was all the work of multiple artists, such is the subtlety of Cox’s stylistic shading from track to track. Picking up at the fata morgana-like shimmer of his synth vignette ‘Tubular Turd’ as General Motors, and leaving off with the 24 minutes of lathered guitar tape loops of ‘D Scapes,’ the set speaks to breadth and nuance of Cox’s early vision, swaying between the microtonal synths and smoke curl guitar of ‘Manic’ under his Pier of the Realm alias, to an exquisite arabesque as Somone Else, while a trio of charms as The Same beautifully wander off along palm wine-styled Afro guitar tangents.
It’s speculation on our part, but we only imagine that living near a port, or by the seaside, has lent a genuine wistfulness and wanderlust to Robert Cox’s sound. Like spiritual descendants Stroom over the North Sea in Ostende, or even Teresa Winter up the coast in Bridlington, there’s a gentle wit and palpable sense of being pulled away by the elements, dreaming about other worlds, to Robert Cox’s music that ties all his aliases in a ribbon bow, and makes ‘Felixstowe Rocks’ really rather special.
More killer chopped & screwed Goa trance from Parisian shamans Alexis Le Tan and Joakim aka Full Circle, gathering another set of cult, world-beating slow burners for Good Morning Tapes, following in a vein of their prized 2020 sets 'Trip To Knowhere' and 'From Knowhere’.
Putting the sort of screwed acid-dub-trance tekkers found on their 12”s into an idealised mixtape context for the second time, ’Back To Nowhere’ sets the tempo gauge to circa 100bpm for an effortless flow of retro-futurism equally applicable to chill out rooms, beaches, and gouching on the rug. No doubt fans of Vladimir Ivkovic’s elegant downbeat pacing, vintage Mixmaster Morris vibes or Caspar Pound’s Electronic Dub classic will be in their element right here.
For 65 blissed minutes the tape carries bobbing bodies and floating minds on a prevailing breeze of buoyant bass and ticklish machine rhythm, all rent with webs of FX and seamlessly glyding between grooves in a manner that betrays Le Tan & Joakim’s fine honed DJ nous. The A-side is definitely more dub-wise, late evening/early morning style, but the B-side intensifies the pressure without escalating the pace, gently squeezing your pineal with more layered arps and psych guitar and synth pads that hark to Ozric Tentacles via Andrew Weatherall, à la styles collected on the upcoming DJ Athome presents Spaced Out compilation of early UK chillout music.
Don’t fight the feeling!
First reissue of the fabled 2nd album by organ weilding Ethiopian legend Hailu Mergia and his band, The Walias who single-handedly catalysed the modern Ethiopian music scene from the early ‘70s onward. Totally grooving and vibing gear done in a low-key, in-the-pocket style that graces everything Mergia touches...
“Hardly anyone outside Ethiopia seems to know Hailu Mergia & The Walias Band “Tezeta” exists. Within Ethiopia this tape has been impossible to find for decades. That’s about to change with this release, which makes available this epochal recording on LP, CD and Digital formats for the first time.
From their genesis as members of the Venus club in-house band in the early 70s, Hailu Mergia and the Walias Band were at the forefront of the musical revolution during an era where modern instruments and foreign styles superseded the traditional fare to become the staple sound of Ethiopia. No one would argue that the Walias were the trailblazing powerhouse of modern Ethiopian music.
They were the first band to form independently without affiliation to a theatre house, a club or a hotel; unprecedented and risky as they had to raise all funding for expenses by themselves including buying equipment. They were the first to release full instrumental albums, considered to be commercially unviable at the time. They opened their own recording studio, with band members Melake Gebre and Mahmoud Aman doubling as technical buffs during sessions. They were also the first independent band to tour abroad. In short, they were the pioneers every band tried to emulate; some more successfully than others.
Odds are, any Ethiopian over the age of 35 who had access to TV or radio by the early 90s, will instantly recognize the sound of Walias. What is not a given is, how many would actually identify the band itself. Barely a day went by without hearing the Walias either in the background on radio or as an accompaniment to various programs on TV.
This Tezeta album is the band’s second recording, released in 1975. Sourced by Awesome Tapes From Africa and expertly remastered by Jessica Thompson, its unique and funky renditions of standards and popular songs of the day are so quintessentially Walias, flavorful and evocative. Hailu’s melodic organ, unashamedly front and center in every track, makes even the complex pieces accessible.
Profoundly engaging; it’s an immersive trip down memory lane for those of us getting reacquainted with it, while also an enthralling and gratifying experience for fresh ears. (text by Tessema Tadele)”
Documented during peak isolation times in Los Angeles, between December 2020 and January 2021.
"These pieces were performed as Live AV pieces from 2017-2019, at Coaxial Arts, Zebulon and Desert Daze 2019, but not documented in a release until later. Signal processing and sequencing frameworks built in Max 8 with signals generated from Prophet '08, a broken AW16G, 0-coast, Max, and a MC-909. With the context of the electromagnetic medium, the absence of live performance and moving visuals and the new "spirit" of the pestilent times, "Cutting Them All Off" should barely be represented as reworks of the originally performed pieces. What was once pulsing and blasting out of PA speakers live is now referenced as a distant past document. These pieces (for better or for worse) have been removed and cut-off from their contextual source and can only be presented in their displaced/liberated state. Like a fish out of water gasping for air, or the only drunk survivor of a car crash that was his fault.
Christopher Reid Martin started Rotary ECT in 2016. The project focuses on highly active signal processes on synchronized Audio -> Visual signals, with many signals being constructed to self-generate. Much like a rotary machine's rotation, the process is consistent and signalled when turned on. Much like electroconvulsive therapy, a human need to be there to actively monitor and attend to the process and generation of the signals being emitted.
Christopher currently works for Cycling '74, is a curatorial/programmer at Coaxial Arts Foundation and ⅓ of curators (alongside J.Prey and J. Rivera) behind the ephemeral stream Cathode TV/Cathode Cinema. Christopher continues to show gallery works, both virtual and physical, digital and video works and performs in other numerous events and projects such as Bailouts, CGRSM (with Gabie Strong), Shelter Death, Gate (with Michael Morley) and Via Injection. He has performed and collaborated with artists Joseph Hammer, Bryce Loy (RIP), Tetuzi Akiyama, Christopher Thompson, James Roemer, Andrew Scott, Gabie Strong, Michael Morley, Lev Abramov and many others."
After great editions by Tape Loop Orchestra and John Powell-Jones, Open Tapes host the tantalising first breaths of Ovïd - an as-yet-anonymous operator hailing from Stockport and reminding of Pub, Xela, Automatisme, Signer
Primed to trigger intrigue with the ambient techno sleuths, Ovid’s debut arrives in a fine vein of contemporary atmospheric pursuits where the dancefloor is a distant but glowing memory and the bed is a raft for all night flight. For just shy of half an hour they furl a totally classic sound, yet one defined with a dewy, plasmic texture that feels like the edges of seminal ‘90s ambient and techno have been smudged and eroded to leave behind the essence of a style, all harmonic hues and submerged, grooving inference that feels like a nostalgic echo of the original thing that feels more appropriate to modern states of flux.
‘Ovdub’ tenderly outlines his style with pillowy pads and a sloshing groove that feels like a more ephemeral adjunct to Automatisme’s ambient systems, before ‘Ovdub2’ follows that line to slip below the surface into submerged dimensions recalling the systolic throb of Thule Records classics. ‘Ovdub3’ naturally extends into purist ambient pads, no beats, letting his melodies float in gauzy air like a beatless Signer bewt, while ‘Ovdub4’ returns to a sort of greyscale iridescence and brownian slosh that sends your bed/raft bobbing off on late night currents.
All Night Flight salvage an impossible-to-find ambient tape for its first proper reissue since the ’93 release. Lovely, serene stuff transcribing a summer’s day in Scotland into a form of environmental ambient composition controlled by the waves, wind, and sunlight
“Cruelly overlooked sound installation works from Brighton-based multi-disciplinary artist Professor Charlie Hooker, self-released in ’93 but here faithfully reproduced from the original master-tapes in cooperation with the artist. Separate Elements is one of Hooker’s pioneering ‘site specific’ sound installations - a large sonic sculpture consisting of music-generating buoys with wind powered sails anchored in an arc in St Andrews Bay, Scotland.
Utilising emergent glass sphere recording technology, Hooker captured the varying amount of Sunlight throughout a summer’s day and transcribed it into a musical score. Reworking these results into a mollifying electronic pulse, the resultant piece is a pacifying synthetic score of sustained chords and swelling overtones, combining the Earth’s four elements into an infinite musical companion. It lures us in like a siren's call, with man-made and natural elements synergising to produce a moment of true calm - the ceaseless crashing of the waves on the rocks, musical phasing created by the wind moving the floating speakers - it’s the sound of nature in stasis.”
The works on this cassette are based on a historic recording of "Structures I" by Pierre Boulez. Tom Schneider cut it into shreds – samples which he then mapped onto a MIDI keyboard, ready to be played freely while pulverising any overarching structure.
"In addition to improvisational reshuffles, acts of sock-puppetry join the resulting collection: The thinking behind other seminal works for piano such as John Cage's "4'33" and Helmut Lachenmann's "Guero" are linked to the audio or parametric content of "Structures". "0.433" takes the original recording's pauses and sequences them into a bumpy stretch of silence. For "Boulero", temporal and tonal properties of one of the underlying works drive the shape of the other.
Further pathways open up through MIDI data-extraction, generating new layers, organised into musical units which then can be played on a keyboard: Authentically serialist extensions of the limited parameters available to the pen and paper of the original composer.
Stefan Goldmann's remixes of Schneider's work are based on different types of MIDI data-extraction, with the results being routed to FM synthesiser presets. Further historic concepts and techniques are filled with the shreds of "Structures" – one of Schneider's selective loops is 'phased' with two different durations rubbing against each other. The focus however is on spontaneous order and emergent phenomena. Different MIDI-fication methods escalate from solo piano to robotic fusion trio in three steps. "Str_ct_r_s" is driven by multiple layers of the same material, slightly trimmed back into half-coherent shape by broad-brush deletion of MIDI notes. Most extremely, Schneider's "0.433" is restored to Cage's original duration by plain time stretching. The detected MIDI information is thus entirely accidental, with automation conjuring content out of the void.
Tom Schneider is a pianist and composer. As a member of the trio KUF, he has released three albums and performed extensively across Europe and East Asia. Sampling is integral to his work, which he applies to band interaction in multiple ways.
Stefan Goldmann is a composer and DJ of electronic music. His work offers close re-examinations of the aesthetic and technological foundations of techno, from shifting metres and designing tuning systems to re-imagining the technological fundamentals of storing music."
Proper, cult properties Michael J. Blood (blood, blood) + Tom Boogizm aka Ratheart join forces as RATBLOOD: debuting an hour of untouchable crooked funk on their new label BodyTronixxx and filling the spaces between Urban Tribe, Arthur Russell, Actress/Thriller and Turinn in a seemingly effortless flexing of DIY muscle that further cements their undisputed status as two of the most original and boundary-pushing characters on the scene right now.
A masterclass in loosey goosey, smoked-out badness, RATBLOOD's eponymous tape hustles stacks of deep fried shrapnel in a crushing session that lays their working out for all to hear in real time - no edits or overdubs, just hot-wired funk pebbledashed with samples, chewed and rinsed out with their untouchable swagger. Since emerging on Tom Boogizm’s NTS show in 2019, the pair have reliably destroyed heads, culminating with this, the duo’s 5th physical collab but the first under this umbrella, highlighting their most unpredictable and rudest moves yet.
The pair essentially seem to be developing a new kind of manc-specific club vernacular - where feeling and ideas trump precision, where everything often slides way off grid, out of bounds, into the red and turned upside down, making the most of basic/cheap equipment in a display of controlled chaos that’s as compatible with wayward Arthur Russell voiceover sessions to the crackling vibes of Actress’ Thriller series. In the best way imaginable, RATBLOOD dismantle pedantic old heads and snag younger mutants, dragging them sideways into an alternate timeline where anything can happen - from daylight-thru-curtains ambient soul scuzz, to cranky slow/fast madness, and loved-up/belly-aching rhythmic psychedelia.
Commencing with a sublime stroll in dusky/dawning Whalley Range zones, the session sharply swerves between fractal sampler blatz into serotonin-scraping soul thizz, vicious Detroit/Manc techno and hall-of-mirrors k-hole jit on the first side, before plastering syrupy soul licks to no waved vox and reeling off along kosmiche tangents into warehouse-folding dub noise and desiccated boogie on the backside. If you copped and loved any of the previous outings, this one’s another utterly unmissable salvo.
Push For Night is the New York City based duo of Oliver Chapoy and James Elliott.
"Trafficking in dark, liminal electronics, the duo's sound is an ever shifting morass of psychoacoustic textures and spectral utterances. Evoking eerie, unnatural, and hidden spaces, this is music that exists in the threshold – locked in a constant push and pull of thwarted expectations and sublime release, hovering in a trance state of the always in-between. These seven tracks reference dark ambient, post-industrial, electroacoustic, 90s IDM, even fourth world explorations, but the music never truly slides into any definable style. The uncertain and illusory rule this sonic soil. Recorded by PFN in NYC and CDMX, 2017-2020 using various synthesizers, drum machines, heavily processed field recordings and guitars."
Cut A Lonely Figure is the (mostly) solo project of Blue Tapes founder David McNamee. Previous releases include Sugimoto Seascapes (Fractal Meat Cuts), Rothko Horizons (Bloxham Tapes), and In Sea, In Circles, In Concrete (Pan y Rosas Discos).
"For this release, recorded at home during Lockdown 1, 2020, Cut A Lonely Figure was: Sarah Angliss (theremin), Maria Marzaioli (violin), Rosie Reynolds (clarinet), Andrew Smith (saxophone), and David McNamee (everything else)."
A suave and naif sliver of Scottish new wave from the mid-‘80s resurfaces via the National Library of Scotland’s Sound and Moving Image Archive as the first endeavour of Glasgow’s Seated Records
Sharing the untold or at least overlooked story of Kevin Low & Fiona Carlin - erstwhile members of post-punk indie band The Wild Indians - ‘The Gayfield Enterprise - Demo Tapes From 1986’ gives wings to their archival tranche of Yamaha DX-100 synth and RX-5 drum machine-crafted songs for the first time.
They came about when the pair’s previous band The Wild Indians disbanded, and the pair traded their 7” record collection and instruments for shinier new boxes, funnily enough making use of Maggot Th*tcher’s “Enterprise Allowance Scheme”, a policy that provided dole claimants with an extra £40 to pursue business projects, and would be ironically help catalyse the early rave era, too. Back to Low & Carlin though, and their music speaks to a sort of new aged positivity that maybe was in the air back then, in the unusual year of 1986 which would, with hindsight, bridge the era of synths and the advent of home computing that spawned a wave of new dance music in Europe.
‘The Gayfield Enterprise - Demo Tapes From 1986’ sit strangely in the gap between eras, giving an brace of elegiac toned ballads and discoid new wave making canny use of their machines’ sequencing capabilities, but not quite gridlocked to trackers, sporting big highlights in the sparkling proto-house kink of ‘Kylie’, and channelling Alison Moyet via Vazz in the tropical synth-pop of ‘Lonely When You Go, plus a natty electro groove ‘Hooch Coochie’ named after the Edinburgh club they frequented and played at.
From Alan Licht
“A Symphony Strikes the Moment You Arrive” was a live performance at PA’s Lounge in Cambridge, on a bill with Major Stars and a short-lived trio of Chris Brokaw, Doug McCombs, and Elliott Dicks. I think Chris invited me to play on the bill. I’m not sure why I chose to do a full set of shortwave radio; the radio belonged to my partner, Angela Jaeger. I had used it before in a duo performance with Kenneth Goldsmith; it was a touchy object but it worked really well for this set. Keith Fullerton Whitman recorded it, and he told me the next day that there had been a call within “the scene” for a boycott of the show since some people felt that Major Stars should never play a venue that had an actual stage. Never mind that PA’s Lounge’s stage was only about 3 inches high…this was also full-circle for me in a way since Love Child’s first gig in a proper venue was at the Middle East in Cambridge, also on a bill that Wayne and Kate played on, with Crystallized Movements, almost exactly twenty years before.
“Room for Storms” came about when the video artist Birgit Rathsmann contacted me out of the blue to ask about playing a live accompaniment to a video she was doing based on satellite footage of hurricanes. I immediately liked the idea since I’d used radio weather reports for my piece “A New York Minute.” We did a fifteen minute performance at the East River Park Bandshell, I worked up a short guitar piece that was partially improvised. Ben Manley did the recording."
Death Is Not The End excavate and assemble these incredible archival radio rips from the first black-owned pirate radio station in the UK - the Dread Broadcasting Corporation, also known as Rebel Radio. Founded by Leroy Anderson aka DJ Lepke in 1980, DBC aired a wide range of black music and was on air until 1984, an instrumental voice in building a regional community and developing UK radio culture.
Death Is Not the End parse the airwaves for the tastiest morsels of roots reggae, lovers rock, and dub dating back over 40 years to the early ‘80s run of Britain’s first black music pirate; West London’s Dread Broadcasting Company. In spirit and effect, the results are closest to the label’s now classic Bristol Pirates session, dwelling in a golden half light of pirate radio recordings that once knitted London’s hugely influential diaspora of Afro-Caribbean cultures.
It’s essentially an edited version of their NTS broadcast on 10/02/18, where you may be able to piece the tracklist together, but more crucially it features class snarks at the BBC and mainstream radio culture peppered among rucks of choice picks, with a stack of deejay hosts lilting and toasting over the top. Although patently and clearly directed to London, the recordings should resonate with many heads who came thru this era in the UK, showing how the sound radiated beyond London thru the diaspora to myriad other UK towns, cities, offering a nostalgic dose that radiates far beyond listeners from the capital to Russia, of all places.
Sound animist Alexandra Spence channels fascinations with material, object and place in richly atmospheric tributes to the native spirits of Vancouver, Hong Kong and Sydney for a very snug fit with Room 40 on their new tape series.
Respectfully mindful to her sites of interest, Spence’s work exists in a mid ground between field recording, composition, performance and installation, where she distills everyday sound into a subtly enchanting listening experience. ‘A Necessary Softness’ is the Australian artist’s sophomore release with Room 40 after ‘Waking She Heard The Fluttering’ (2019) and serves to further her nuanced flux of ideas with poetic effect. Spence’s vocals are an ephemeral presence amid the work’s unravelling soundscapes and shifting barometric pressures, vacillating acoustic and electronic textures with a captivating tactility and synergy comparable with other notables in this arena, such as Kate Carr, Claire Rousay, or Félicia Atkinson, yet finely telling her own story of transience based on her travels across the Pacific rim.
Acknowledging the influence of the people and lands where she lived and recorded - the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, and the Coast Salish peoples; the Sqamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam Nations - draws her ‘Necessary Softness’ from found objets and the sounds of nature, using FX to transform their resonant bodies and her ginger gestures into gently surrealistic impressions of those places, and their atmospheres. ’Tidewater’ is as tidewater does, seeping in slow and low and gradually submerging with volume, only to recede into ‘Waves,’ while ‘Bell, Fern’ contrasts hard and soft, brittle and stroked textures that beckon to bed down in their hypnagogic lull, eventually turning into a sort of ambient-pop, and ‘Rain’ revels in the eternally delicious sensation of drizzle on a hot day.
Not Waving renders his pop soul on a definitive album opus ‘How To Leave Your Body’, starcrossed with guest appearances by Jim O’Rourke, Jonnine Standish, Marie Davidson, Spivak and Mark Lanegan.
An escapist parable for the times, Alessio Natalizia marks a career high with his most sensitive production and songwriting illuminated by a coterie of notable collaborators. Its 11 songs deal with the necessity of friendship, the fragility of loss and spiritual transcendence via a spectrum of strategies that ultimately arrive at a mutual conclusion: love is the message. It packs ample amounts of nostalgia into a fantasy sequence of elegiac pop, skewed rave and midnight lullabies that fine-tune over 20 years of devotion to his craft, perfectly matching experimental restlessness with enduring pop appeal.
Perhaps unavoidably, circumstances had a hand in the creation of ‘How To Leave Your Body’, forcing Natalizia to work with collaborators remotely. Yet the strength of his bonds bleeds through in the album’s handful of poignant vocal pieces, none more so than the hushed intimacy of Marie Davidson on the bewitching downbeat trance hymn ‘Hold On’, but also in the bruised blush of ‘My Sway’ featuring Jonnine’s spine-tracing lilt over hovering organ and dembow bumps, while the hook-up with Mark Lanegan once again yields bittersweet fruit on ‘Last Time Leaving Home Part 2’, with gravelly blues vox diffused into detuned, miasmic cello that really tugs.
Effortless and made for rinsing, the whole album is testament to the humility and pathos of Natalizia's oeuvre, which has gotten better with age. It plays out like a lovingly crafted mixtape, decanting all original material with a classic cadence and fleeting play of styles, from aerial jazz notes in ‘You Are Always Younger Than The Future’, to the gnawing club grind of ‘Define Normal’, a noisily gurning ‘Self-Portrait’, and the lushly resolved admittance of ‘My Best Is Good Enough.’ Comparisons don’t really work with this one, it’s just Not Waving.
Cult London/Tokyo tape label NCA venture Molinaro’s solo debut for the label after a split with Black Void Smith and his future jazz / broken beat 12”s on Apron
We can’t full make out the silhouette of this one, but the demo showreel / montage promises something a little off-centre from his previous turns; a bit more frayed around the edges, with grubbing drums and littered with samples in a mutant sci-fi soundtrack vein.
NCA gear always flies out so trust your instincts and think quick.
First ever publicly available dip into Lil Toby’s hugely influential TSBO mix series, a 4 hour / double tape session of essential late 90’s early 2000’s Dancehall murder from one of the most pivotal operators/compilers/DJ’s on the underground scene - following his work bringing Mo Wax's genre-defining 'Now Thing' compilation to life in 2001 and appearances on some of the earliest mixtapes from The Trilogy Tapes back in 2008.
The TSBO series was a precursor and testing ground to what became the 'Now Thing' compilation which Lil Toby co-complied with Toby Feltwell (Cav Empt) and Frenchie from Maximum Sound. The mixes consisted of that proto “Now Thing” sound from the late 90’s - early/mid-2000s, arguably the most future sounding period in Jamaican music. Rather than looking back, the TSBO mixes were made from brand new releases and pre-releases Toby copped at Blacker Dread and Dub Vendor - including things like Volume riddim (released in London prior to coming out in Jamaica). In this sense, the TSBO mixes are a time capsule of a hugely vibrant time on the streets/clubs of South London, clubs that Lil Toby was playing at regularly alongside the Honest Jons crew.
There were 100 or so TSBO mixes made between 1999-2004, mostly recorded to minidisc and handed out to friends and sometimes played on pirate radio, with many of them copied, passed around and soon enough worming into the very fabric of London’s rich Dancehall culture. This 4 hour double set features Toby's personal favourite selections from the series, and is the first time any of them have been released. Alongside riddims that have since become rinsed classics, the set includes a ruck of material that was only ever available at Blacker Dread that have more or less been forgotten about in the years since; making it an important historical document selected and mixed by one of the original heads, but also the tightest, deadliest 4 hour dancehall session you’ll likely ever set your ears on.
What next? Now Thing 2, soon.
Maria Spivak follows her instantly sold-out debut album 'Μετά Το Ρέιβ' with this killer 30 minute addendum, a stunning set of slow-pulsing torch/pop songs that once again mine that brilliantly original sweetspot between Lena Platonos, Cocteau Twins and James Stinson’s Other People Place.
'Rare Backwards’ reaffirms the unusual, addictive nature of Spivak’s music, coloured with a nagging sense of déjà vu-like familiarity, with traces of midnight Detroit pads thru to ‘80s synth wave and trip hop all palpable and complementary to the depth of her forlorn Greek new age soul. In somnambulant steps that barely touch the floor, the album’s song sequence elegantly drifts from wordless underwater ballads to devastating ‘60s pop in Club Silencio style channelling Lynch via Cindy Lee, seamlessly taking in ambient jungle à la Teresa Winter’s finest in her stride, along with dance music primed for glyding mediterranean terrace tiles, and star-gazing synth scenes for nocturnal beach missions.
On the A-side, the simmering asymmetry is most striking on ’18:00', like a sunkissed counterpart to Cocteau Twins ‘Otterley’, but instead of grey industrial vistas we’re at golden hour, all melancholy and youthful possibility in the breezy summer air. 'Make It Make Sense’ follows and riffs on The Other People Place’s ‘Lifestyles Of The Casual’ with added amens and a vocal hook that makes us think of Masha Qrella’s overlooked, singular style. 'A Pause’ on the flipside, meantime, unspools like a delirious echo of Julee Cruise's 'Say Goodbye’, all romance, yearning and heartsick blues.
Of course it will all evince myriad feelings in others, but we’re completely taken by the late night allure and height-of-summer madness that makes Spivak's music so incredibly seductive, especially if you like your sonic signposts low lit, flickering and full of nostalgia. If you do - this one’s a total pearl.
oh my dayz this is unreal, keeling levels of radio and rave nostalgia with a cherry-picked volley of adverts from London pirate radio 1984-1993 somewhere between Mark Leckey’s Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, Lee Gamble's 'Diversions' and Sublime Frequencies’ best radio surveys, except focussed much closer to home to capture an era that now seems like an entirely alternate reality.
Scanning the airwaves of a golden era in London history between 1984-1993 when dancehall soundsystem culture fostered the early stirrings and full rush of hardcore, Death Is Not The End turn their beady ear to one of the epicentres of UK rave music with stacks of raggo vignettes advertising everything from Greek salons to school reunions, video shops, datelines, drug helplines, and dances, each set to backdrops of contemporaneous club, rare groove, jungle and house.
As much as anything, the set speaks to London’s inimitable, cultural variegation, charting the myriad voices and flavours that make up the city’s stylistic mosaic, and would go on to deeply inform British pop and dance culture for decades to come. It’s as thrilling as Sublime Frequencies’ best radio surveys, but with an extra layer of familiarity for UK listeners, not just those who lived thru that era, but anyone who had the radio crackling as ambient wallpaper during that era. Unfortunately I can only recall RTE or jingles for South Cleveland Garages on radio from this era in our gaff, but if you allow for some vicarious nostalgia, this tape documents a rich slice of the collective cultural memory that we’ve all come to share.