ODESZA and Sydney producer GOLDEN FEATURES unite as BRONSON. Have u noticed, label onesheets are very fond of UPPERCASE.
"BRONSON was formed when ODESZA members Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight met Golden Features’ Tom Stell at an Australian music festival in 2014. The trio shared a mutual admiration for their respective acts and stayed in touch by sharing music across time zones and continents through Dropbox files and FaceTime calls. Things culminated in 2018 when the three artists spent a week in the remote region of Berry, Australia, recording what would later become their debut BRONSON album.
As indicated by the two first singles, elements of light versus dark run throughout the 10-track album with the theme reflecting the light and dark inherent in human beings. The record combines both melodic vocal songs and moodier, deeper electronica with guest features from lau.ra (part of experimental rock band Ultraísta alongside Radiohead’s Nigel Godrich), acclaimed US R&B singer Gallant and British producer Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs."
Billy Nomates, the fierce, funny, outspoken force of nature who hails from Melton Mowbray and now flits between Bournemouth and Bristol, has arrived to rattle cages.
"The songs on her debut album all come from a place of defiance. Rebellion against Brexit. Against soul-sapping, dead-end jobs and zero-hours contracts. Against gender inequality, sexual harassment and festivals with obligatory female acts hidden in the small print. Billy’s songs lampoon the same bleak reality satirised by her beloved Scarfolk website and explored so abrasively in the fringe theatre she finds solace in.
Musically, there are snatches of Nick Cave’s rumbling sprechgesang; the “off-the-wall-ness of musicians like Captain Beefheart”; Sleaford Mods’ febrile post-punk; the groovesome lofi art-rock of Sonic Youth; and the brassy Americana of Emmylou Harris. What dominates, though, is a feeling of release. Of letting it all out.
The track ‘Supermarket Sweep’ features guest vocals by Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods."
Sometime in 2006 or 2007, Jason Molina moved from the midwest to London. Separated from his bandmates and friends and never one for idleness, Molina explored his new home with fervor.
"Sometimes he’d head out on foot, often with no destination in mind. Other times, he’d pick a random tube stop and find his way back home. He’d pick up on arcane trivia about London’s rich history, and if the historical factoids weren’t available — or weren’t quite to his liking — Molina was quite comfortable conjuring his own history. His adoration of The Great American Tall Tales like John Henry and Paul Bunyan’s blue ox Babe stretched across the Atlantic, where he created his own personal Tall Tales. And when he learned of the London Wall’s seven gates (itself a misconception), Molina went ahead and called it eight, carving out a gate just for himself. The eighth gate was Molina’s way into London, a gate only passable in the mind.
Fast forward to 2008, Molina set off on an experimental solo tour through Europe. While in Northern Italy, Molina claimed to have been bitten by a rare, poisonous spider. A debilitating bout of illness ensued. “I was in the hospital here in London,” Molina wrote in a letter. “Saw six doctors and a Dr. House-type guy. They are all mystified by it, but I am allowed to be at home, where I am taking a dozen scary Hantavirus type pills a day that are all to supposedly help — but they make me feel like shit.” There is no record of a single doctor visit, not any prescription record for these medications. It is entirely plausible there was no spider and that whatever was keeping him indoors during this time was entirely self-induced. While at home, he of course wrote songs. Molina also claimed that during this time, he fed several bright green parrots that would gather in his yard. While often associated with a greyscale sensibility, Molina was oft-clad in a Hawaiian shirt and had, at least in part, selected the name Songs: Ohia for his first project as a nod to Hawaii’s ‘Ohi’a lehua flower. Which is all to say, the tropical element the parakeets brought to those sick days delighted Molina. He made short, crude field recordings of them with his trusty four-track. Only once Molina was officially on the mend and re-exploring the streets of London would he learn that those parrots had their own fabled tale. Back in the 60s, Jimi Hendrix — in a moment of psychedelic clarity — released his pair of lime green ring-necked parakeets from their cage, setting them free into the London sky. Now, their decendents are spotted regularly around certain parts of the city. Or so we’re told.
Eight Gates is the last collection of solo studio recordings Molina made before he passed from complications related to alcoholism in 2013. Recorded in London around the time of the supposed spider bite and Jimi’s supposed parakeets, some of the songs (“Whispered Away,” “Thistle Blue”) are fully-realized — dark, moody textures that call to mind his earlier work on The Lioness. Knowing what we know about those parakeets and their peppered presence on the recordings, one can’t help but think of that colorful tree of birds on Talk Talk’s classic Laughing Stock, certainly a spiritual guide for much of the set. Other songs (“She Says,” “The Crossroads and The Emptiness”) lay in a more unfinished states, acoustic takes that call to mind Molina’s Let Me Go Let Me Go Let Me Go, and still tethered to Molina’s humorous studio banter. You remember how young Molina was, and how weighty this art was for such a young man. On the closer, “The Crossroads and The Emptiness,” Molina snaps at the engineer before tearing into a song in which he sings of his birthday (December 30), a palm reading and the great emptiness with which he always wrestled. It is a perfect closer and, in many ways, the eighth gate incarnate: mythical, passable only in the mind, built for himself and partway imaginary but shared, thankfully, with us."
November 2017 August 1988, Spacemen 3 embark on one of the strangest events in the band's already strange history. Billed as "An Evening of Contemporary Sitar Music" (although consciously omitting the sitar), the group would play in the foyer of Watermans Arts Centre in Brentford, Middlesex to a largely unsuspecting and unsympathetic audience waiting to take their seats for Wim Wenders' film 'Wings of Desire'.
"Spacemen 3's proceeding set, forty-five minutes of repetitive drone-like guitar riffs, could be seen as the "Sweet Sister Ray" of '80s Britain. Their signature sound is at once recognizable and disorienting - pointing as much to the hypnotic minimalism of La Monte Young as to a future shoegaze constituency. On this double LP reissue, Dreamweapon is augmented by studio sessions and rehearsal tapes from 1987 that would lead up to the recording of Spacemen 3's classic 'Playing With Fire' album. 'Spacemen Jam,' featuring Sonic Boom and Jason Pierce on dual guitar, is a side-long mediation on delicate textures and psychedelic effects."
Reissue of ear-flicking improv jazz lead by Japanese maestro Masayuki Takayanagi: frighteningly tight and brimming with shifty detail; a classic example of his “non section music” from 1975 brought to light by the amazing Blank Forms Editions
Another prism-challenging and head tweaking ace from the label that brought you stunners by CC Hennix and Graham Lambkin with Joe McPhee, not to mention the last Masayuki Takayanagi New Direction Unit side ‘April is the Cruelest Month’ in 2019, this one packs recordings of his ‘Another Revolvable Thing’ concert in Shinuuku, Tokyo, 1970 in chronological sequence for the first time, spanning the spacious “gradually projection” part, a wild bit of stairs-falling-up-stairs solo drumming, and the utterly head-spinning brilliance of their “mass projection” throw-downs.
Just tip-of-the-tongue sizzling stuff full of confoundingly precise and never repeated movement, it’s sure to ping the pleasure centres of all free improv heads. They sound like a live band playing Parmegiani one minute, or a load of tropical birds let loose in Harry Bertoia’s shed the next, with the mutability of Matsuyuki’s guitar playing maybe best considered like a calligraphic Japanese adjunct to the harsher markings of Derek Bailey, for example. Surely all matched by a shockingly tight unit of Kenji Mori (reeds), Nobuyoshi Ino (bass, cello), and Hiroshi Yamazaki (percussion), whose atomised playing and edge-of-seat anticipation appears to cooperate at supernatural levels of live craft recalling everyone from Ornette Coleman to Kenji Haino.
Blows the cobwebs away we tell ya. Not to be missed!
From Manila via LA, Eyedress beams good times pop in the sun-baked mould of Ariel Pink, John Maus, Delroy Edwards, Blood Orange and so many doe eyed dreamers and magpies before them..
You may or may not be asking why is this on Lex, and the answer would be Eyedress’s snappy sense of vintage soul and sharp line in nippy rhythms, which glazes the album with a sticky sheen of Californian sucrose and punky vim primed for sunset in the hills or settling into evening at the beach.
Offered up by the artist as “for everyone who wants to be in a serious relationship, real simp shit”, it’s unsure how many people will be coming here looking for relationship advice or life coaching, but they may well discover 21 hook-riddled tunes that recall everyone from Dam Funk to Cindy Lee, Paddy McAloon and Prince. Check for the wooze cruise of ‘X-Girl’, the swooning jangle of ‘Skateboarding Day’, and the hard/soft techno-pop of ‘Trauma’ or ‘’Never Been To Prom’ and you’re in there like neon floss swimwear.
Hot debut album flex from Italy’s Piezo - highly recommended for the Rian Treanor, Beatrice Dillon, Batu and Kelman Duran heads on Hundebiss - label behind Kelman’s ace ‘1804 KIDS’
Making good on the promise of Piezo’s off-kilter and cruddy cuts for Version, 81 and Wisdom Teeth in recent years, ‘Perdu’ sees his rough-hewn style of FM synthesis shapeshifting into raggo jungle, shatterproof techno and rolling UK raver styles that rub up the right way alongside the label’s amazing Kelman Duran album and Lil Ugly Mane’s cult hip hop trips.
The 11 track see Piezo showing his teeth and diversifying his bonds between the sleepwalker swagger of ‘Ox’ and more bolshy technoid rolige like ‘Castrol’ and a standout number in the Rian Treanor-like Singeli-meets-D&B of ‘Rowina’, with the scuffed, hypnotic rhythms of ‘Blue Light Mama Magic’ hitting right between Batu and Don’t DJ. They all prang out at us from the thicket of textures and angular rhythms, and make best sense when absorbed in its wilds and you come across the lilting, glitching 4th World ambient simulacras ‘Amore Tossi’ and ‘QZak.
Shanti Celeste is a vibe. She’s got that magic lightness of touch even when things are getting Jacques Cousteau deep or panel beating heavy. This makes her the perfect candidate for the Sound of Love International 3, channelling the spirit of both those afterhours sessions and the more frivolous daytime boat parties.
"This is serious music for serious music heads but, after all, everyone is still on holiday. It’s linear and cohesive but plays with the emotions - carnivalesque fun, psychedelic flow-states, heads-down rhythm trax, playful skipping garage, and more abstract moments. Deep joy to deep space and back, often in the space of 3 or 4 well-selected records.
There’s a deep musical and personal connection to the festival – as she says of her first time playing at the Beach Bar, “there’s a heavy Bristol crew there and it all feels easy and nice. It was just good vibes all round”. And she does make it sound easy too, which belies a DJ with some very serious skills and an ear for a killer tune that others might well overlook. And it’s this that makes the 3rd instalment of the Sound of Love International such a joy – a welcome panacea to all of us suffering from the Croatian blues this year.
To which end, we get a cheeky exclusive collaboration between Shanti and her sister-in-arms Saoirse in the shape of ‘Solid Mass’. Persian’s uniquely British paean to the post-rave Sunrise ‘Morning Sun’, cavernous dub runnings outta the Bokeh camp from Seekers International. These are the lift- off tunes, setting the mind-state for the journey ahead.
Things tighten up with cult underground hero Lucas Rodenbush under his E.B.E alias giving us the taught, grooving, dubby techhouse and Gideon Jackson’s ‘Taj Mahal’, crisp, spatial, mystical and criminally slept-on. We go deeper into the night with Perpetual’s Awakenings’, one of those records that is so much more than the sum of its parts. And who knew that Mark Seven was such a dab hand with the dank machine funk? Check 1998’s ‘Crank’ for the skinny. By the time Paco Pack’s rubberised ghetto house reimagining bounces into play it’s GAME OVER.
The final side leaves us with the soft landing - Cari Lekebusch ‘Output 2’ is both pacey and drifting and Pauline Anna Strom’s ‘In-Flight Suspension’ does what it says, whips away the drums and leaves us floating in space. Will we ever touch down?
To overuse a phrase, this compilation arrives in strange times but is a glorious reminder of what brought us all together and will again.
The music and dancing under the stars. See you in 2021."
Paul Blackford is a producer who has long embodied these two facets of CPU’s output.
"On one hand you have his 2014 label debut The League Of Shadows, a set of fizzing IDM-techno innovations which remains highly sought-after to this day; on the other there is Light Years, the cool and collected return to CPU that Blackford made three years later. The latter record, with its painterly synth work and neck-snapping drums, remains a touchstone for Blackford’s latest CPU release, a new twelve-track LP entitled Betamax.
While the tempos of Betamax may be rather relaxed, the sonic palette used here very much links up with CPU’s other drops. It is one forged in the forward-thinking electronic styles of the 1990s - Drexciyan electro, Boards Of Canada’s wistful electronica and the boundary-pushing IDM of Rephlex Records. Mind you, this is also one of the first CPU drops to draw a little from another side of the traxx - though Betamax may not be as schooled in plunderphonics as DJ Food or Nightmares On Wax, there is something in the lilt of these beats which obliquely doffs its cap to those old breaks.
Betamax proves yet again that Blackford is adept at experimenting and incorporating new influences across the course of a record without disrupting its vibe. As well as standing adjacent to the machine-funk sound that has long been a cornerstone of electro, Light Years was an LP in which subtle nods to G-Funk and P-Funk could be discerned in the rhythmic programming. These influences are felt once more on Betamax cuts such as ‘Far From Home’ and ‘Fortress’ - the former comes off like an after-hours take on Space Dimension Controller, or maybe even Daft Punk’s ‘Something About Us’. Meanwhile a space-age, slightly alien quality enters the production in the album’s final third, something signposted by aptly-titled highlight ‘The Nasa Beat’.
While Paul Blackford’s Betamax may switch the pace up for Central Processing Unit, the album’s richly-harmonious electro-hop sound proves a fine foil to the label’s more high-octane releases. RIYL: Boards Of Canada, Bochum Welt, Luke Vibert, Steven Rutter, Space Dimension Controller."
Influential jazz collective Idris Ackamoor and The Pyramids return withShaman!’, featuring a new line-up including original 1970s Pyramids member Dr. Margaux Simmons on flute, Bobby Cobb on guitar, long-term associate Sandra Poindexter on violin, Ruben Ramos on bass, Gioele Pagliaccia on drums and Jack Yglesias on percussion.
"The band transitions from the political and social commentaries of 2018’s acclaimed ‘An Angel Fell’ into more introspective themes. “I wanted to use this album to touch on some of the issues that we all face as individuals in the inner space of our souls and our conscience,” explains Ackamoor. “The album unfolds over four Acts with personal musical statements about love and loss, mortality, the afterlife, family and salvation.”
Evolving around Ackamoor’s intricate compositions, the album takes us effortlessly across moods and emotions through a series of expansive, extended pieces. Starting with ritual, soul-searching, and masculine vulnerability on the title track, the band explores timeless existence on ‘Eternity’ and mourns the sudden loss of loved ones in the prescient ‘When Will I See You Again?’, a track which gains new relevance amidst the current COVID-19 crisis. Ackamoor pays tribute to his mentor Cecil Taylor on the angular ‘Theme For Cecil’ and renders homage to the ancestors on ‘Salvation’ and ‘The Last Slave Ship’, recalling the last ship to bring slaves to the US from Africa, the Clotilda. The superb ‘Virgin’ is an anthem of forgiveness, new beginnings and self-healing."
Any new transmission from sound recordist Chris Watson is pretty much essential, and this special short-form drop doesn't disappoint.
"The Drinking Boy" was put together as a soundtrack to 19th century British painter John Constable's "The Cornfield", which Constable referred to as "The Drinking Boy". Watson proposed this piece as a comment on noise pollution, which when Constable painted the picture had not yet reached rural Suffolk. We can hear expertly recorded birdsong, the faint trickle of a stream and the hum of wind in the distance, all balanced into a piece of sound art that is as evocative and alluring as the painting itself.
Jaga Jazzist return with new album “Pyramid”, where the legendary Norwegian eight-piece takes a deep dive into post-rock, jazz and psychedelia influences. It’s their first album since 2015’s “Starfire”, their ninth album in a career now spanning four decades, but it marks the group’s debut on Brainfeeder, the LA-based imprint curated by Flying Lotus.
"On “Pyramid”, Jaga Jazzist have crafted a suitably cosmic sound to match their new label home, all the while nodding to forebears spanning from 80s jazz band Out To Lunch and Norwegian synth guru Ståle Storløkken, to contemporaries Tame Impala, Todd Terje and Jon Hopkins. Each of the album’s four longform entries evolves over carefully plotted movements, the tracks’ technicolour threads dreamily unspooling.
The band, led by Lars Horntveth and his compositions, took a direct approach to the creation of “Pyramid”. Whereas “Starfire” saw them take the idea of a traditional studio record to extremity, with different members dipping in and out of the booth to write, record and experiment over two years, the process behind “Pyramid” was almost the polar opposite: it took just two weeks. Both records were driven by the same curious, experimental spirit, but the processes were very different. Retreating to a secluded woodland studio in neighbouring Sweden, they bunkered into the studio for 12 hour days. “The most important thing is that we didn’t want to over-analyze every musical idea” says co-founder and drummer Martin Horntveth. “We wanted to follow the first and original idea and keep the freshness.” For a band which has never settled on any one sound or style, the continuity lies in their constant willingness to evolve, experiment and improvise.
“Pyramid” is Jaga Jazzist’s first self-produced album (most of their records being produced by close collaborator Jørgen Træen) and it meant a change in the way they operate. On the one hand, there were lots of different voices jostling to be heard. On the other, they didn’t have an independent figure to make a call on whether something was a good idea. “It was hard but felt natural to do ourselves, as five of us are producers and make records for a living,” Martin says. The result is an album that feels more collaborative than ever."
Across the middle years of the 1990s, Merzbow (Masami Akita) refined a stochastic language for harsh noise that had emerged from his studio experiments at the beginning of that decade.
"This technique, which involved a combination of self made instruments, synthesisers, tabletop effects and, in the case of EXD, drum machines, often recorded at incredible levels to create a uniquely visceral distortion, has essentially become the benchmark for noise music in the 21st century.
A devout archivist, Merzbow’s unreleased works from this period are finally getting the attention they deserve. Editions like Noise Mass, issued by Room40 in 2019, are amongst a growing number of releases that document the gradual unfolding of his signature approach to overabundance of frequency and ceaseless sonic chaos. Recorded at the end of 1997 and early 1998, EXD owes its title to the Bias Rockaku-kun EXD 5ch analogue drum synthesizer. It is an exercise in maximal minimalism. Using repeated phrases, atmospheric, but reductive drum patterns and tightly wound pulses, Merzbow calls up a vision proto-industrial technoscape.
Bathed in white noise, it is a music in which the reassurance of the kick drum is largely torn away, sending the music into an uneasy orbital decay. It’s the sound of warning systems onboard a satellite as it begins to burn up, falling back to earth. An exquisite sonic evisceration. What makes EXD quite unusual is it reveals, in part at least, some of the skeletal structures Merzbow deploys in the creation of his works. It’s especially revealing, as this period is mostly recognised for its unending shower of brutalising harsh noise. On the title track EXD we can a Roland TR-606 drum machine folding into and out of focus. Its grooves ruptured by, and then become gradually consumed in, a field of phasing noise and distortion."
All sounds recorded at MESS (Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio) using tthe Triadex Muse-1 sequencer + LS-1 Light Show + AS-1 Speaker) and the ARP 2600P.
"This photo serves as clear evidence of my early fascination with all things cables, connections and electricity. To this day, I have nurtured this obsession with childlike wonder. When Lawrence English and Robin Fox extended the invitation to travel to Australia, an invitation which included a coast to coast tour and a residency at MESS in Melbourne, I could not resist!
Upon arriving at MESS, I simply became overwhelmed by the amount and diversity of the collection of synths and electronic instruments. There it was, the entire history of synth, drum machines and modulars in front of me, delight! Which one will I start with? It’s complicated. I opted to work the synths that I am unfamiliar with, therefore adding a nice learning curve to the experience but also, an opportunity to observe and learn how the technicalities and programming evolved over the years.
The 4 pieces included in the 2 ep’s are the result of recorded live improvisations during which I familiarized myself with these wonderful electronic instruments. I strived to remain true to each synth, I did not have a compositional intent, but rather preferred to let each synth’s personality shine through and hope I manage to earn their respect in the process."
From Rafael Anton Irisarri...
"Today marks five months of self-quarantine & lockdown. It has mostly been a time of introspection for me: reconnecting with lost memories.
Earlier this year, we reissued The North Bend, which was remastered after a decade of separation from the work. It was amazing to hear how time alters what & how we remember.
These two long-forgotten tracks were originally released on a compilation made available through The Wire magazine & another Room40 anniversary compilation almost a decade ago. Lawrence recovered the full versions these pieces in the Room40 archive earlier this week. We thought it’d be a good idea to give them new life in this time of stagnation, so I remastered them at Black Knoll Studio.
Listening back, “Distance” feels incredibly poignant, in this context of isolation particularly, whilst “Path” feels like a little bit of light coming in. Perhaps something good comes out of all this challenging time: we might choose a different path, one that move us forward, and closer together."
Anaïs Mitchell, Eric D. Johnson and Josh Kaufman mix the ancient, mystical medium of traditional folk music with a contemporary, collective brush.
"The Green/Green 7-inch features two songs that didn’t quite fit on the album. Says Mitchell, “We recorded ‘Green Rocky Road’ and ‘Greenland Fishery’ for our LP, but ended up cutting them at the last minute to keep the record simpler (and higher quality for vinyl). We see the songs as a bit of a pair, they both feature Eric’s banjo playing and lean a little more ‘Americana.’ We’re glad they have a home on Green/Green and are grateful to be able to share music at a time when the world is hurting.”"
As a japanese soul collective, acid mothers temple and the melting paraiso ufo are something of an enigma to the western world, and most likely to eastern ears too. their music can be described as acid-rock, experimental, psychedelic or a whole host of genres dependent on the listeners mood. This is their first release for the Spacemen-3 affiliated Space Age label, and they mark the occasion by producing their most daringly accessable and, dare I say it, almost sweet-soaked collection of blissed out psychedelic songs. Fans of the Animal Collective will find much to enjoy here.
Darkstar’s craft ale soul gets reworked by Parris, Loraine James, Horsepower Productions and John Talabot
Check for a hoppy 2-step one from London stalwart Horsepower Productions, and the swingeing rhythms of Loraine James’ take on ‘Wolf’, while John Talabot takes it all winky and latinate in the Euphoric remix, and then scowly incel on the Materia Dub, but Parris really teases out the milquey ennui of the vocals in his scuffed remix of ‘Jam’.
D.C. experimental duo Model Home return to local imprint Future Times for this two-track taster of their next full-length "SE".
Both tracks dive deep into NAPPYNAPPA and Pat Cain's idiosyncratic universe, a place where dancehall, trap, industrial, no-wave and experimental electronics seem to co-exist simultaneously and in unison. 'REV' is a clattering fusion of Odd Future, Low Jack and Dreamcrusher, while 'Flesh' digs even deeper into wobbly-voiced psychedelia, transporting us into inner space. Well weird, well good.
Simon Shreeve returns to his Mønic guise for a mini-LP of bleak, ambient soundscapes that gently and hauntingly sail from track to track, as if staring out across the vast ocean of the South Coast of England — the base of which is not too far from Shreeve’s own studio.
"Channeling memories of a recently departed friend, TCW 1915 - 2007 — to whom the sea was a central part of life — through an ambience reminiscent of Lustmord or Aphex Twin, ‘Trawler Tapes’ is a quiet and contemplative journey, and although the beats are nowhere to be seen, unsettling atmospherics of earlier Mønic releases pervade perhaps more than ever before."
'Dream Boundary' follows up Ital Tek's recent album 'Outland' with this short suite of tracks that were made during the same period but seemed to fall outside that album's remit.
"On this EP things are less calm, more fiercely hallucinated. Contrasts are turned up and everything is covered in a layer of grime. Silence is used with sometimes disorientating aggression, riding across heavy drums, melodies tumbling, forced out of the near collapse."