More properly far-out transmissions from Oren Ambarchi's Black Truffle. This time it's a 1982 tape release that shows off Dutch free improviser Remko Scha's madcap mechanical ensemble - five guitars were hung from a wall, with devices attached to hit and bow the strings. It sounds completely beamed from the outerzone, sometimes like Christian Marclay's seminal 'Guitar Drag' or an opium den Velvet Underground sesh, and others like Eli Keszler jamming with Bill Orcutt. OK!
A founding member of Dutch radical improv group The Maciunas Ensemble, computational linguistics professor Remko Scha was a crucial part of the Netherlands' art world in the late '70s and early '80s. Scha was particularly interested in generative music, and developed a mechanized system for playing electric guitars that was part sculpture and part robot. When set up, the ensemble played itself - all Scha could do was change the speed of the system.
"Guitar Mural 1" is four long recordings of the ensemble, highlighting the hypnotic power of the setup and Scha's dedication to the form. There's little interaction from Scha himself and no post processing, we just get to hear the instruments as they play themselves, and all the tiny changes and accidental harmonies and rhythms that creates. There are echoes of Eli Keszler's similarly automated arduino-controlled sound sculptures, as well as Glenn Branca's no-wave classic 'Lesson No. 1 for Electric Guitar', Sonic Youth's atonal shred clouds and Charlemagne Palestine’s dueling pianos.
But Scha's constructions feel scientific and rigorous. He's not making music to shock, as such, but to explore the possibilities of a formula. It's almost early algorithmic art in a way, bent around the limitations of its day and set against the scuzzy backdrop of rock 'n roll. Recommended listening.
A sentimental trip into the world of Don and Moki Cherry's Organic Music Theatre, a collaboration proposed as an alternative space for creative music and art. "Festival de jazz de Chateauvallon 1972" is a recording of the group's historic debut performance marks a joyful period in the Cherrys' lives.
Accompanied by musicians Naná Vasconcelos, Christer Bothén and Doudou Gouirand and Danish puppeteers Det Lilla Cirkus, Don and Moki laid out their life philosophy to French festivalgoers on this extended set. The performed outdoors and were joined onstage by a handful of friends, both adults and children, who danced and sang as the band played. The duo's message was clear: they wanted to bring people together.
This was the period that Don Cherry had rejected his former status as a jazz titan, jettisoning his career in favor of a more mysterious existence in rural Sweden with his wife and family. But as "Organic Music Theatre" illustrates, it wasn't a rejection of music, but of the art world's oppressive hierarchy, that was central to his decision. The music here, a frolicking fusion of Indian, African, South American and Native American forms that feel charged with an almost spiritual energy, is intimate but universal.
There's little of the avant/free jazz that Cherry cut his teeth pioneering here, rather it's a performance that celebrates the very act of playing in public. The band play challenging pieces - including tracks that would eventually make their way to Cherry's "Organic Music Society" and "Home Boy" albums - but inject them with so much positive energy that their context is shifted completely. It's a privilege to hear this performance from beginning to end and bask in its hopeful energy.
Newly unearthed bonanza of Don Cherry action, capturing an extraordinary free jazz tempest thrown down live in ’68 at a summerhouse south of Stockholm amidst a fecund epoch. Proper, third-eye dilating stuff rife with spontaneous possibility by players from Sweden, Turkey, USA
Part of a tranche of Don Cherry recordings that resurfaced recently from the Swedish Jazz Archive, ‘The Summer House Sessions’ now takes pride of place on its first vinyl pressing, accompanied on the CD by other recordings made the same day. For the first time they reveal a day of incredible energies improvised by Cherry with members of his Swedish ensemble, plus a Turkish drummer, at saxophonist and recording engineer Göran Freese’s summer house in late July, 1968. As many jazz heads will know, this is circa some of Cherry’s most legendary works, spanning a period after he’d cut his teeth playing with Coltrane and setting the template for free jazz with Ornette Coleman’s classic quartet, at a time when his creativity was unbounded and truly definitive of a searching, modal democracy of jazz music that drew from myriad sources.
The two vinyl sides and bonus material bear witness to a remarkable murmuration of sorts, with a swingeing rhythmic drive from the dual drummers underpinning a deeply psychedelic play of colours and pan-ethnic expression derived from Cherry’s pocket sax and flutes, and free-handed air shredding by likes of Bernt Rosengren (tenor saxophone, flutes, clarinet) and Tommy Koverhult (tenor saxophone, flutes). In effect, the recordings prove that Cherry’s preceding lessons for the players in extended forms of improvisations including breathing, drones, Turkish rhythms, overtones, silence, natural voices, and Indian scales had really hit home, triggering the massed ensemble to play with a ruptured, shearing unpredictability, but equally with a rapturous coherence that’s simply everything at once and then some.
Dredging lost marbles from the trampled grass and mud of the festival scene circa 1986-1996, Spaced Out’ is a superb exploration of the UK scene that laid the groundwork for and paralleled the ‘90s rave movement
Scanning trax by titans of the scene such as Ozric Tentacles, Eat Static, and Magic Mushroom Band, Belgium’s DJ Athome yields a necessary primer on the sound of psychedelic dub, space rock, and early electronica that soundtracked a now near-mythical UK pastime. Much maligned over the intervening years, and commonly side-eyed by more mainstream types, this sound was the bridge between ’60s hippies, ‘70s psych-rockers, and their Crusty offspring who extended their principles into the free party scene of the ‘90s, which, to be fair, is still extant on the mainland continent, and even still in UK, although you’re less likely to hear this kind of gear nowadays. The sound effectively balances a sense of eldritch atavism with a new age consciousness, hybridising styles at will and always with a purpose - to induce altered states of mind and ween people off the teet of populism.
Depending your tolerance for acid, or people who have done a lot of acid, ‘DJ Athome presents Spaced Out’ will either be manna or muck. Many moons ago we might have fallen in the latter category, but the picks here are really piquing our interests and got us hankering for a mushy brew, especially the roiling swerve of ‘Secret Names’ by the Tentacles, and the mesmerising space rock chug of The Ullulators’ ‘Zulu Proons,’ with Magic Mushroom Band’s erogenous exploration ‘Squatter In The House’ neatly primed to slot into DJ sets beside PWOG cuts, and ‘Music is Magic’ delivering a classy dose of 303-like action ripe to entice disciples of the mage, Vladimir Ivkovic, while Extremadura’s ‘Epsilon’ may do the same for John T. Gast fans.
Proto-balearic bleep weirdness originally dropped back in 1990 by record store mates Adam Embleton (DJ Mad A) and Stevie Hewitt (Dr. Stevie The Ambient Guru). Lurches from Sueño Latino modes to LFO or Sweet Exorcist-style jackin' minimalism.
Skeletal but unashamedly funky, "The Mad Vibe" appeared as acid house was surging thru the UK and Ibiza was about to break into the mainstream consciousness. Embleton and Hewitt's take on techno is unashamedly nerdy and well-informed, clearly inspired by US techno innovation but unafraid to mash those elements into more psychedelic spaces.
Opening track 'Northern Echo' centers a loose guitar lick that isn't a million miles from Manuel Göttsching's noodly improvisation on the seminal "E2-E4". But next to crystalline FM plucks and chunky house rhythms it evolves into something uniquely eccentric and British.
'Communication' and 'System Shock' are even better, mirroring the stark and innovative run of 12"s appearing from Sheffield's emerging Warp stable at the time. Think (very) early AE or Sweet Exorcist, but touched with fuzzed out psychedelic guitar? Closing track 'Levitating Pharaohs' dribbles into more ambient-dub chill out zone territory, if that's yer thing.
Night Slugs boss Alex Sushon returns as One Bok with a drill-tipped style following in the vein of Nammy Wams’ album on NS sublabel, AP Life
A decade since Night Slugs came to dominate the club game, ‘Zodiac Beats Volumes 1 & 2’ sees the label’s head honcho and key producer pivot to drill with ease, adapting the sound’s flinty percussion, minor key motifs, and glyding bass with signature flair. Like the most of Night Slugs’ aesthetic, he keeps it all instrumental and ready for the rave in each part, but it likewise works just as well as a listen-thru mixtape format with a furtive shadowplay of vibes.
Working in the gaps between grime, drill, and rap, proper, the results are kin to Nammy Wams as much as Deamonds and the road level pressure of UK drill originator Carns Hill, with standout examples found between slippery cyber chassis of ‘Pisces,’ the wicked infusion of stuttering goth guitar licks on ’Nine Saturn,’ his rudely tuff bass torque on ‘Fifty,’ and the xanny numbed meditation of ‘When I Start.’
Turkish sonic alchemist Cevdet Erek continues the unique rhythmic experimentation of 2017's "Davul" with this latest release, a seismic rattle that echoes Emptyset's "Skin" or Jon Mueller's percussive meditations.
Like its predecessor, "Zincirli" is focused on the hyper specific sonic qualities of Erek's drum. Over almost half an hour, the composer uses his experience in sound design to sculpt an aural picture of the instrument, mapping its shape and the unusual tonal qualities. He plays a rhythm that seems to dip in and out of the sound field, it underpins the entire composition, but the booming sub tones seem to bob and weave between faster taps and scrapes.
It's a record that demands patience, and rewards close listeners with a trance-like meditative state. "Zincrirli" isn't easy going by any means, but it's a remarkable achievement that's struck through with historical weight and an ancient call to arms.
Don Zilla's debut long player is a DSP-heavy descent into transdimensional subspace electronix, ruptured rhythmic analysis and humid, muscle-tensing textures. One of East Africa's most curious musical minds, Zilla offers a fresh take on clanking, hi-NRG bass music: it's like Slikback, Emptyset and Dreamcrusher beamed into yer brain simultaneously.
Following 2019's ace "From the Cave to the World", "Ekizikiza Mubwengula" gives us a clearer picture of Don Zilla's musical vision. Only a few years ago, the producer was teaching himself how to make beats in FL Studio at an internet cafe. Now he runs Nyege Nyege Tapes' Boutiq Studios in Kampala, and has pioneered a dissident sound assembled from a global patchwork of dance and experimental flavors.
The album opens with 'Full Moon', a dense web of timestretched East African percussion and resonant drones. This brief intro establishes the setting, before 'Tension' stomps into view with Timbaland-esque string chops, machine-gun kicks and the kind of rasping analog synth noize that wouldn't be out of place on a Pan Sonic 12". 'Buziba' digs further into outer realms, linking gqom's sparse, ominous wobble with trap and halfstep rhythmic pulses and sheets of ear-splitting white noise.
Zilla is most successful when he lets loose completely, like on jackhammer rave belter 'Entambula' and amphetamine-addled gravity-twister 'Moving Space'. These tracks demonstrate Zilla's commitment to the dance, punctuating his challenging sonic landscape with loud, inescapable commands to move. Pure future sh*t, seriously.
Zelienople's Matt Christensen tills a fertile mid-point between dream pop and alt country on "Constant Green". Gauzy, nostalgic bliss that's like Neil Young or Johnny Cash produced by Tim Friese-Greene and Brian Eno.
Growing up in Chicago in the 1970s, Christensen fondly remembers the constant hum of country rock blaring from car radios. Nameless, long-forgotten songs would melt into each other as he drove - no seatbelt - thru the American Midwest. "Constant Green" is his attempt to bring this mood into 2021, filtering it through the catalog of influences he's been exploring both in Zelienople and as a solo artist for decades. Adding dream pop, ambient and post rock elements, his resulting concoction is dark, lingering and romantic, and it's more far more alluring than simple, empty nostalgia.
Opener 'I Listen To Country Songs' lays out Christensen's message with stark clarity. Slide guitar from Zelienople's Brian Harding and keyboard from Eric Eleazer sits beneath faintly strummed guitar and Christensen's familiar vocals. But the sonic environment studio whizz Christensen creates is more like Talk Talk's "Spirit of Eden", Arthur Russell's "World of Echo" or Slowdive's "Souvlaki". This is country music, of a sort, but sprinkled with the subtle electronic processes that Tim Friese-Greene made his calling card.
Lush, layered ambience builds slowly on 'I Had A Vision That I Could Move Anywhere' like a distant police siren; 'Tenement Square' uses negative space like another instrument, allowing words to echo like a passing car; 'Constant Green' is beautiful and restrained, with distortion suggesting rock but turning the amp to -1. It's ineffably charming music, that builds an unsentimental narrative rooted in the American midwest, warts 'n all.
Psychedelic post-punk goth grot from Southern Death Cult members Barry Jepson, David 'Buzz' Burrows, and Aki Haq Nawaz Qureshi, with Temple Ov Psychic Youth associate Paul ‘Bee’ Hampshire on vocals. These demos and unreleased tracks catch the band at their most barbed - think Psychic TV x Killing Joke.
While getting the fear initially sailed on a wave of interest in British post-punk and inked a deal with RCA, they were dropped swiftly after recording their debut single 'Last Salute' after a reshuffle at the label. This album collects the rest of the band's material, most of which has laid unreleased since it was recorded. There are demos ('Last Salute' is featured here in its original form) and unheard cuts that finally help fans piece together an accurate picture of a band obsessed with dreams, sex and Charles Manson.
The music still sounds relevant, if deeply a product of its era. Getting the Fear were more surreal than many of their contemporaries, sharing creative territory with their friends Psychic TV and bordering on the gothy low-light grit of Killing Joke.
Heavy tonker Blawan runs amok in his modular systems with six ruffshod techno screwballs for his Ternesc label
Not your usual hard techno, the ’Soft Waahls’ EP sees him working off and around the kicks in freakier permutations of his hardcore style. The bass drum diehards will get theirs in the offset, spongiform pressure of ‘Fizz City,’ while those open to wilder styles will get it everywhere from the syncopated rattler ‘Justsa’ to the supremely warped tackle of ‘The Sithe,’ the buckled, ratty funk of ’Silver,’ and the killer swivel of ‘Fourth Dimensional’ that makes the pads ’n bass style of Ilian tape seem as tame as they are. To be fair ‘Micro’s’ over eggs it into undanceable complexity, but the rest stands for some of Blawan’s most ingenious work.
Anaesthetising dream-pop from Kobe, Japan’s Haco, gracing Room 40’s rarely seen sublabel Someone Good with a sound somewhere between Grouper and Julia Holter
Depending how your tweedar is calibrated, ‘Nova Naturo’ offers either a blessing or a saccharine wince. It’s too much for these ears, but we can see how many others will fall for its charms, especially those who love it wipe clean and no grit between the record and you; leading from whispered late night lounge styles on ‘Frozen In Time’ to feathered airborne strums on ’Spinning Lantern,’ and the anime dream sequence styles of ‘Teardrops of Aurora,’ and with more success in what sounds like a vaporised Junior Boys on ‘A Mind Resort (Shiokaze Version)’ and the supine drift of ‘Myths and Facts.’
Calder Valley’s The Lounge Society with a Dan Carey-produced debut EP ‘Silk For The Starving’.
"With their first two singles under their belts – "Generation Game", the fastest selling 7" for the award-winning label, and "Burn The Heather" – plus a raft of Ones To Watch accolades for 2021, there is much anticipation for what lies next for the band. In early 2020, "Generation Game" announced the band as artists shaping powerful narratives around a fast-fragmenting society. With the lyric “what will the US do?” they served up a painfully prescient prediction of American unrest.
The Lounge Society sing about what they know then. Make no mistake, this is the sound of young England: articulate, enraged and energised. And – perhaps crucially - highly danceable too. It should give hope to anyone who has lost faith in the future, because here the future is in safe hands."
Black To Comm's spannered psychedelic inversions of Senyawa's percussive experimental trax might be our fave to emerge from the remix project so far. Overdriven, foamy noise built out of dissociated wind tunnel vox, granulated drums and tectonic plate shifting power ambient drones. Fucking massive.
The latest artist to take on Indonesian duo Senyawa's "Alkisah" album is Hamburg-based Marc Richter, aka Black To Comm. There have been a few different takes on the source material so far, but by working in long-form Richter manages to establish a fully-formed world, taking apart the original album completely and reconstructing it in his inimitable style.
Distortion is the key element here, and Richter pushes Senyawa's components full into the red, blurring drums and Indonesian instrumentation until it buckles and breaks into fragments of feedback and white noise. His treatments are harmonic somehow; while the original tracks were more stark, Richter's arhythmic, psychedelic approach is completely in line with the duo's process, and nothing about this version feels surplus to requirement.
Rather, it adds a completely new dimension to the original album - Richter feels like the third member of the band as he levitates disparate ingredients with the glee and serendipitous charm of an evil sorcerer. If you've already tracked down the wash of Senyawa remixes and are experiencing ear fatigue - rinse 'em out with soap and water.
More expertly-produced slippery, low-slung deep house goodness from the shockingly-reliable Galcher Lustwerk - there's even a slappin' synth-heavy remix from Midwestern techno legend Dan Curtin.
We don't deserve Galcher Lustwerk. With each release, he reminds just how good house music can be when you avoid the trappings of gear fetishism or fads and head straight for the groove. He follows up the 'Information Redacted' release with this new EP, playing to his strengths. Sultry vocals, simple and effective rolling bass and fluid, driving beatbox rhythms that just about remind us what dancing thru a cloud of blunt smoke at 3AM felt like. It sounds like underrated Chicago deep house legend Gemini given a fresh lick of paint and 4k remaster.
Galcher draws further parallels with the Midwestern scene by roping in Ohio OG Dan Curtin for remix duties. Curtin beefs up the kick, dragging the track into a parallel Detroit synthspace, with detuned chords and luscious, dreamy sequences. V good.
Chicago's Dance Mania legend DJ Deeon decamps to Teklife for a breakneck set of resolutely American bass music, all cycling TR-808 snaps, trunk-rattling sub drops and searing acid funq. Respect the master - this one's fer the dancers.
Are there many more house producers as agelessly reliable as Deeon Boyd? Since the early '90s, the DJ and prolific beatmaker has been churning out tracks that haven't just set clubs on fire, they've modified the musical DNA of Chicago itself. In particular, the footwork genre can trace its lineage to the sample-heavy oddball slide of Deeon and his acolytes, so it's fitting that "Destiny" is comes via genre nexus Teklife.
There's four new tracks here, all of them sounding fresh without losing the erotique heat that's made Deeon such an enduring force. 'Tek 57' is a rapid slap of percussive wobbles, autotuned moans and overdriven kicks; 'Living that TEKLIFE' meanwhile impacts rhythmic flips over dramatic horns, while 'Respect the fact' winds a tuff basement kick over a wobbly acidic bassline.
Closing track 'Herbal Grinder' might be the weirdest and most brain bursting of all: an echoing sand-blasted trance lead welded onto a classic Deeon sex dungeon kick pattern that sounds like the party anthem you never realized you needed. Pure dirt.
Smiling C scan the annals of Mexican experimental jazz artist Germán Bringas between 1991-2000, covering bountiful strains of sax and new age electronics
There comes a point in every earnest listener’s habits and tastes when new age possibly curdles into nuisance and, for this set of ears, that point has been achieved with ‘Tunel Hacia Ti.’ It’s flush with expressive multi-instrumentalist strokes, vamps, and vibes, but unfortunately they mostly aren’t landing well on the receptors today; it all sounds a bit cloying and nudges us to move on to something else. But anyone with a higher tolerance for sax and synths right now (tbf i just had my jab and aversion may be a side effect?) may well got lost in Bringas’ wistful world building and mazy narratives. Maybe we just need a sangria and some sun?
“Sixteen unheard works from Mexican jazz synesthete, Germán Bringas. Bringas plays with a delicate balance between experiment & pastoral spaciousness, sounding like Coltrane scoring a Tarkovsky film. To Accompany this release, we’ve made a documentary about Germán’s life. Tunel Hacia Tí (Tunnel Toward You) is a collection of early compositions by Germán Bringas of Portales, Mexico City. This album features songs from his lost cassette ambient jazz opus, "Caminatas" (Hikes), it’s spiritual successor, "Exposción Al Vacio" (Vacuum Exposure), and unreleased works created between '91-'00. Every instrument heard on this release was played by Bringas, and recorded in a studio in the back of his home.”
Nurse With Wound do us all a favour and sort the wheat from the chaff of their legendary “List” in a bountiful new trawl for their spiritual descendants at Finders Keepers, this time with a focus on German artists. Wigs will be flipped, we tell thee.
For the uninitiated; on the back cover of their 1979 debut album, ‘Chance Meeting On A Dissecting Table Of A Sewing Machine And An Umbrella,’ Nurse With Wound alphabetically itemised a stack of records that had influenced them, often for the inclusion of only one track on the record. The records were so rare and obscure that people who picked up the album thought NWW were having a laugh, but eventually realised they were real, obtainable things, leading them to become proper collectors’ items. After more than 40 years, and to the delight of many, NWW’s Steven Stapleton now dissects the pertinent bits of heart, liver and vital organs from those records, highlighting a shared consciousness of the ‘60s / ‘70s experimental, psych, and avant garde scenes in the years before record collecting of that voracity became a competitive pursuit and the fancy of hirsute record fair hunters.
This second volume examines Germany's inclusions on the list and is another precious haul of spannered, synapse popping prog 'n psych rawnesz thru to druggy, burned out eccentricity and ragged Prussian post-funk fuzz. It's a wild, narcotic voyage down the styx, all loose jazz rawk rhythms, ripped woofer bass and screaming detuned axe leads, everything assembled with a pre-punk middle finger to established ideas of order and genre. More importantly, it avoids the gilted critic-proof Kraut canon of Neu!, Can, Amon Düül, Popol Vuh and the like, mostly 'cuz if you've missed that you've probably not been listening very closely.
Instead, we get to experience the jagged, off-key improv splatter of Wolfgang Dauner's 'Output', that pulls us into the Deutsche smokescape kicking, screaming and frothing at the mouth. It sounds like musicians playin against each other rather than together: drums are an assemblage of occasional fills, guitar riffs are mangled, smacked and panned, oscillators squeal drunkenly like sick insects and piano rattles and rolls to underpin everything with nautical anxiety.
Avant legend Limpe Fuchs and her husband's Anima-Sound duo appear with 'It Loves Want To Have Done It', a haunted, sparse improvisation that pits screams and whispers against tidal free-wonk percussion and pinging left-bonk effex. Underrated Detroit x Stuttgart Kraut-funk oddbods Exmagma fight thru blotter breath with 'It's So Nice', drawing a clear line in Sharpie between Black US innercity innovation and German commune-adjacent anti-establishment experimentation. It all follows a line far beyond the usual krautrock and kosmiche culprits to perfectly demonstrate the Germans’ rhythm-driven and psychedelic urges in abundance, highlighting the way a generational wave of musicians sought to create a new music unshackled from folk music tainted by their fathers’ generation, or imitating British and American styles; broadening their horizons while cognisant of the need to make a music that was, after all, expressive of a new society. Trust Steven Stapleton has picked out the most virulent, enduring examples for a new generation to absorb while watching their hairlines recede and waists and beards bloom…
Fuck Buttons' Andrew Hung plumbs the deep chasms of his mind on this second solo album, that sounds like a rock opera cum '80s synthpop horror movie soundtrack remixed by, well, Fuck Buttons. Properly blurry business.
Written and produced by Hung himself, 'Devastations' is billed as his "most candid and introspective" material yet, and it's certainly inward-looking. Using the kind of gritty beats and jagged synths that made Fuck Buttons so popular and playing them against folky vocals and bumped-up instrumental arrangements, the album is an unusual blend of ideas and styles. It's thoroughly British, occasionally sounding like Depeche Mode, occasionally sounding like vintage Bowie, occasionally sounding like John Foxx and sometimes sounding more like Genesis or Pink Floyd. A trip.
Raw deep house pressure, Berlin-Style, from the Acido MVP, rounding up more lost cuts from SVN’s archive
Shifting the dial from the first volume’s 2006-2014 timeframe to 2011-2014, circa is first workouts on SUED, the artists Sven Reiger (aka Ixus, and member of Dreesvn, PG Sounds, AU, Tase, XI ++) gives a loose red definition of deep house taking in the deliciously spongiform, rounded bass of ‘2013,’ the effervescent house stepper ‘2012,’ plus more pendulous moves with the swinging wooden drums of ‘2014.1,’ and a neat change of pace on the cosmic synth nose of ‘2011.1.’
Low-light, jazzy meditations and bleak, ominous textures that melt Feldermelder's ambient-experimental electronic techniques into Sara Oswald's inspired cello playing. Fennesz x David Darling = gut ja.
'Drawn' is serious nighttime music that's pitched as a meditation on time, or an attempt to emulate the memories that occur during a near death experience. Thankfully it's not too bleak - the duo use this starting point to create eerie soundscapes that stretch familiar elements into a haze of Swiss continental grandiosity that's interrupted by crunching noise and occasional rhythmic blasts.
It's almost like late-period Fennesz with cello instead of guitar and rooted in jazz instead of rock - all swirling cigarette smoke and digital bleakness. It ain't ambient, that's for sure; Miasmah, ECM, Touch and Rune Grammafon fans, take note!
Rare ‘80s pep and joy from German-in-London artist Roland Ray, seeing his sole album of new wave pop reissued by Henry Jones’ beaming label, Smiling C
Riddled with memorable hooks that never snagged upon original release in 1985, ‘Hot, Cold & Blue’ sees Roland ray pursue the glitter and grease of a life as full time musician in London. Hailing from Hannover originally, he apparently left the city after pimps attempted to kidnap his missus, and would end up living an itinerant lifestyle busking between Belgium and France until he was able to get legit access to the UK, where his girlfriend was from.
Then based in West Hampstead amid a fecund creative scene surrounded by likes of Thin Lizzy and Robert Palmer, his first group Loony Q disbanded after success thwarted them, leading Ray to pick up an auld 8-track from Brussels and embark as a solo artist. ‘Hot, Cold & Blue’ was the result, a highly melodic confection of ‘60s pop inspirations mixed with bedroom rock verve and bubbling disco that probably sounded bit out of place then as it does now, reminding the way Ariel Pink picked up the thread of ‘60s jangle and ran with it in his own way, resulting lost “hits” such as the charming ‘UK Chart Singles’ and the Blue Gene Tyranny-esque country rock pop of ‘Girl On My Mind’ scattered in the definition of an also ran album that still sounds strangely fresh decades later.
Acid Jazz continue their licensing arrangement with Albarika Store, the legendary record label that defined the sound of Benin and influenced the entire region of West Africa and beyond.
"Recorded and issued in 1974, Le Sato is one of the earliest releases on the Albarika label and it is also one of the deepest. Sato is the term for the traditional rhythms that soundtrack Vodun (Voodoo) rituals and ceremonies in Benin. Performance of Sato is reserved for these sacred rites, which evoke the spirits of the dead and can last for several days and attract hundreds of people. Sato rhythms cannot be played outside of Vodun. A large ceremonial Sato drum is used, which measured over 1.5m in height. This drum is played using wooden stick beaters, the drummer dancing while playing. The Sato drummers are supported by percussionists and other drummers playing smaller drums. Together, they create unique, layered, trance-inducing poly-rhythms."
We've no idea how Masami Akita continues to enthrall after literally hundreds of albums, but he's cracked it again with "Triwave Pagoda". This time he rakes thru early electronic stylings with his typically full-throttle amplitude level, shrouding oscillator shrieks and dissonant wails in 12-foot walls of burn'd out noise and chugging metal dirt. U already know, right?
'Triwave Pagoda' is a spiral of anti-synth music that celebrates the untamed oscillator by ripping it to shreds and flogging it publicly. Split into two bite-sized 20-minute chunks, the album expands on Akita's ongoing interest in early electronics, layering harsh feedback over brain-rupturing drones and jagged blasts of tempered white noize.
There's nothing easy about this record, but neither is it simply harsh noise wall endurance. For each blast of ear-splitting feedback, there's just as much bleating "Forbidden Planet" bleepage and pineal-prodding computer malfunction bizz. Well good, honestly.
Driving deep techno from Washington DC’s Jackson Ryland on 1432r, keeping it close to home following local don Max D’s ‘Many Any’ LP
Built deep and robust in a classic Detroit vein, the ’Stealth Mode’ EP wets pumping uptempo rhythms with underwater pads in four parts, going deep and dark with the Suburban Knight-esue pressure of ’Stealth Mode’ and the gruff heft of ‘Air & Space’, whereas ‘Aloe Vera’ is more expansive, lushed up, but still smacking, and ‘Blaze Freak’ swings out off-centre with warm jazz chords and ruff cut drums recalling DJ Spider or something Max D might play.
2020/2021 remasters of late ‘90s D&B rollers and steppers by Total Science
First plated up in 1999 by Goldie’s label, ’Silent Reign’ i buffed up in a 2021 master bringing its drums to the biting point and with nuff space for tense sci-fi pads. The Photek-fetishizing, tight roller ‘Colony’ appears in its 2020 master, and ’Shift’ brings that pre-millennial tension with grunting bass and icy pads skating over a brittle 2-step roll cage.
Why Eye pets Laurie Tompkins and Otto Willberg mint their canny new label with a radgy packet of avant follies - think a manic Ghédalia Tazartès jamming with Derek Bailey in Stewart Lee’s dreams.
Certifiably crazed, psychotomimetic; ‘Exorcise’ is the result of cabin fever experienced by these adventuourous composer/improvisors during lockdown. Once a native of geordieland, now based in London’s ‘burbs, Laurie Tompkins is well appreciated for his boundary oblivious approach to composition, as strewn across the ace Slip label he runs with Tom Rose and Suze Whaites, while Otto Willberg is a fearless bass guitar and string improvisor. Together they’ve provided some of the oddest releases in the past decade - check Laurie’s ‘45th Generation Roman & European Bob’ or ‘Heat, War, Sweat, Law,’ and tell us we’re wrong?! - and the two 10 minute works here push the levels to edges of insanity, but just short of being institutionalised.
They previously launched Yes Indeed via Willberg's Heavy Petting label in 2016, with a clump of shows to follow, with ‘Exorcise’ marking their first recording since 2018. The title piece is a demented dovish of freewheeling spinnet, stir-crazed vox and keys just about fused by roving jazz-funky bass, while their ‘Brainwatched’ side reels to see-sawing folk strings and guttural lyrical expression, erupting an spat out in theatrical manners reminding of the Slip label’s piece de resistance by Object Collection, as well as the unhinged turns of Yeah You, yet with a delirious logic of their own.
Proper, mad scones.