South London grime/drill producer Nammy Wams kicks off Grime Tapes, a physical wing of Slackk’s seminal pirate radio archive, Grimetapes.com, with ‘Yellow Secret Technology’ - a killer 20 track retrospective pulling from Nammy’s archive of hyper-colourful and kinetic productions circa 2013 to 2018
Compiled and sequenced by wise wan, Slackk, ‘Yellow Secret Technology’ is the 1st in a series of releases promised on Grime Tapes, the label, which is founded just over 10 years since the demise of Slackk’s Grimetapes.com. During grime’s golden era in the mid ’00s it was one of very few sites online to share pirate radio recordings beyond their original broadcast range, providing an invaluable service to many appreciative ears and early grime fiends in the UK and abroad.
As host of his own weekly Croydon FM show and producer for Marcus Nasty’s Rinse FM slot, Nammy Wams brings that London grime radio connection full circle in ’Yellow Secret Technology’. Under a title that nods to his Vietnamese heritage and A Guy Called Gerald’s classic jungle LP, Nammy’s trax clash the dynamics of early jungle with the Far Eastern-facing melodies of early Jammer, Slew Dem or Hyperdub, plus the weirdo, mutant freakishness of the Boxed lot, whom Nammy has been affiliated with since their inception, and where he started to feed demos to Slackk.
Without exception, all 20 tracks of ‘Yellow Secret Technology’ are bangers in their own right, each riddled with nagging hooks and burning emotions, but it’s Slackk’s sequencing that makes the collection such an enjoyable album. Selected from an abundance of material, the final cut expertly highlights myriad shades to Nammy’s style, from the star-eyed pads and wavey flow of ‘Rocks’ at the front to the giddy rude fanfare of ‘Less’ at the back, taking in crushing grime/drill fusions such as ‘Tempest’ and the darkside pressure of ‘Wapper’ alongside ecstatic dancefloor sidewinders in ‘Miharu’ and spine-tracing sweetboy grime of ‘Prayer’.
Like we say, there’s a f*ck-tonne of material here - and not a dud among them, effectively serving the fullest testament to Nammy’s faithfully rugged, rude and playful style that any grime fiend could hope for. Moreover, ‘Yellow Secret Technology’ highlights a modest but gifted artist in an appropriate manner, providing physical space and time on the tape to really immerse in Nammy’s sound, and in a way that’s often negated by everything-at-once streaming/scrolling/skipping. It’s a properly ideal listen for late evening headphone commutes, and a neatly nostalgic yet forward survey of where grime has come and gone since the golden days of the Grimetapes era.
FFT exert exacting, fresh spins on Heinrich Mueller electro styles for TTT after crafty introductions made in recent years on Uncertainty Principle and Super Hexagon Records
Taking cues from any number of Mueller-associated projects (Dopplereffket, Arpanet, Der Zyklus), but adding their own sliver of soul, FFT impress on both parts, smartly playing with anticipations via the icy intro and crisp jump-start into 2.1-stepping rhythms and wavy arp tendrils on ‘Regional’, while ‘Loss’ sets out a looser, mutable framework of synth-pop riffs and clinically cut rhythms recalling Monolake circa ‘Invisible Force’, only to calve away into something like a trace of Uwe Schmidt’s ‘Pop Artificelle’ album.
Recital at their very best here with an unmissably gorgeous 1st vinyl issue of music by Rip Hayman; - a pioneering forerunner of ambient music, and pivotal member of NYC’s downtown music community since the ‘70s, beloved for his holistic embrace of sound in its myriad forms
Working at the point where avant ambient imagination meets the raw beauty of nature, ‘Dreams of India and China’ is a collage of Rip Hayman’s archival field recordings and hard-to-find tape releases dreamily layered and sequenced by Recital boss Sean McCann. Overseen in production by Hayman and his longtime foil Charlie Morrow (himself a subject of previous Recitals), the results speak to a sublime, un/consciously utopian conception of sound as environmental, borderless and timeless, and most of all a rich source of happiness and pleasure.
From an itinerant family background in the military which took him to all corners of the globe, it was the music and philosophy of India and far East Asia which really prompted Hayman to make music. He joined Columbia University in the late ‘60s but was soon put off by the restrictions of Serialism, favouring to solder electronics and make music at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Centre. Then the Fluxus movement hit, radically expanding the notion of what is art, leading him to the downtown lofts and galleries alongside John Cage, Phil Corner, Petr Kotik, Yoshi Wada, and in 1975 he set up both EAR magazine, and the EAR bar, which would host early performances by Arthur Russell, Peter Zummo and even Queen Latifah.
Immersed in the truly avant culture of the NYC in the ‘70s, Hayman’s own music understandably formed its own, wide-reaching logic, incorporating performance, events, and deep listening with a “tangible spirit based on the awareness of sound, mingling meditation, mystery, humor, and human response.” In Sean McCann’s sensitive layered collage of Hayman’s recordings, we hear his intentions clearly manifest in dreamlike form, drifting from recording of Indian nose flute and Tibetan monk thigh bone trumpet, to snatches Bach’s Goldberg Variations played at half speed during his Dreamsound events for sleeping audiences, and his Bell Roll performance - rolling down a hill wearing a suit of bells - together with intoxicating field recordings of the Ganges and temple drums in Rajasthan.
Quite simply ‘Dreams of India and China’ is one of the most enchanting records we’ve heard in some time, a slab that bears many repeat listens, where listeners will discover new layers and life with each return. It’s hugely recommended.
Basses Terres make incursions on rugged psychedelic dance terrain for Brothers From Different Mothers, with results landing somewhere between the 3rd eyes of Black Zone Myth Chant, Ramzi and Low Jack
The 6-track ‘Naked Light’ EP is a salty appetiser for Basses Terres’ follow-up to the well received ‘Counting Pulsations’  album. In low-key, slunky style it snakes from the grotty but jazzy sweat lodge bends of ‘Wilfred Doricent’ at the front, thru the windswept electronics of ‘665 Moths’, and the pensive, pendulous electro of ‘Hewbi No Tori’, into a sort of sludgy dancehall crouch with ‘Deliæ’, before the wind meditation ‘Yoru No Satori’ featuring Mika Oki cleanses the palette for the spirit-refreshing splash and head-kissing pads of ‘Sentiment Océanique’.
First ever reissue of a zinger-packed disco album from 1980. Check ‘Disco Thing’. If you’re aren’t dancing by the end of the clip, go see a doctor.
“Killer private modern soul / disco funk LP from San Diego released in 1980 on Aidqueen Records.
No fillers on this one! It contains dancefloor winner “Disco Thing”, the crazed ode to debauchery “Get Down Party “, mellow soul ballad “Oooh, Your Love”, the wicked instrumental with magic flute “Seaquence” and the brilliant jazz-funk flavored modern soul tracks “Loving” and “Life”.
The rest of the record is made up of high-level soulful funk movers.
Amazing LP from the beginning to end, no wonder it became hard to find and so highly sought after.
Finally available again, fully licensed and remastered, with original artwork.”
A little less than two years on from 2016’s Plum, Californian scrap polymorphs Wand return with their fifth long playing record, Laughing Matter.
"By now, Wand is the shifting but unmistakable collaboration between Sofia Arreguin (keys, vocals), Cory Hanson (guitar, vocals), Robert Cody (guitar), Lee Landey (bass) and Evan Burrows (drums). Laughing Matter is marked by the confidence and exuberance of a band that has lived, feuded, thrived and grown together through years of dedicated jamming, touring and recording, across western and eastern states, continents and mind-sets. In this world that insists we must increasingly rely upon ourselves, Wand listen to each other, and this is the sound.
Largely recorded on the infamous southern border of broken, decadent America, Laughing Matter belongs to the after-life. After the dull flood. As rock n roll lurched sideways and fell away, drunkenly lost in a funhouse mirror of…recycled Funhouses. With no major label funding, no management or lawyers, no corporate distribution, near zero social media presence and no commercial dealings whatsoever (with only poor, pitiful Drag City to help them carry the flag!), Wand have toured the world a bajillion times in five years and made four varied and compelling records while accumulating a devoted following. There may be a future in rock music beyond slapping rote regurgitations onto a lifeless syntactic grid. Wand are proof you don’t have to be an industry toy to sell records – that, with devotion and time, the seeds you plant with intention and care will grow back into the world.
Swerving between out-of-focus parable, travel diary, pep talk, polemic, love song, and lullabye, Laughing Matter is a tough and tender album, its eyes on a lot of prizes. Where Plum held the tension of its five band members getting on their feet, the songs on Laughing Matter are concentrated and relaxed, even as they search for the right accusations to hurl at cynics and megalomaniacs. The music is distilled and sculpted from an ash heap of collected improvisations, riven with audio-verite; the methods and instrumentation are traditional handmade rock ‘n’ roll. Yet the unorthodox arrangements of “Scarecrow”, the joyous embrace of pastiche and disruption on “Walkie Talkie”, the radical eclecticism of shapes and approaches on “Thin Air”, the ascendant choruses of “Wonder” are all decidedly contemporary.
This music is not revivalism or throwback; Wand are a precision instrument, a band that probes and teases style, genre, trope and anachronism into material, according to a law of motion that is aimed directly toward an uncertain future. Laughing Matter is a record about love in a time of terror, about making the best use of the surveillance technology available today. It calls you down from panic room labyrinths, to work the deep tissue of unravelling trauma we all carry so dear. The 15 songs on this record face their energy outward, to take with you through a common world that can’t suffer its human abusers much longer. Laughing Matter encourages you to shake hands with your old demons, to lay your pathologies to rest, to hold your spirit close, and let your body do what’s next."
Luke Younger's Alter label limns the underground zeitgeist in ‘Alert!’, a compilation starring gems from Teresa Winter, Anna Peaker, Moin (Raime), Mumdance, Space Afrika, The Modern Institute and many more beside.
Entirely sourced from the UK, ‘Alert!’ could be heard as a reading of pre-Brexit or Brexit-limbo mindsets, if you’re that way inclined, or more simply as a cross-section of the UK corpus at the end of a strange decade. Either way, you’re going to get a lot of canny, unexpected gear, ranging from cold bedsit blooz thru to freeform techno, twitchy post-punk and modular n0!ze gristle.
We’re naturally drawn to highlights in Teresa Winter’s unpredicted techno pounder ‘A free woman in an unfree society would be a monster’, and also to a sterling example of Teresa’s sometime collaborator and Leeeds peer Anna Peaker on the elegiac organ etude ‘Helicidae’, while Space Afrika nest the tactile ambient fragility of ‘Yuly’, and Mumdance impresses with nerve-chewing modular freakout ‘Path of the Seer’ - big tip for fans of The Sprawl.
Elsewhere the quality doesn’t let up: Raime’s Moin and their drummer, Valentina Magaletti’s Tomaga, both turn out tuff, jagged post-punk steppers; Acolytes catch a properly febrile vibe in the blown-out gabber kicks and writhing electronics of ‘Feelings’; Helena Celle drops a playful stripe of computerised EBM; and Glasgow represents with a barrage of saltiness ranging from The Modern Institute’s scally techno banger to an apoplectic Apostille in ‘It’s Not Right’, and an absorbing oddity by sound artist and radio producer Mark Vernon.
Egyptian electro chaabi powerhouse Islam Chipsy and Eek hit 6 deadly ways with Cairo’s 100 Copies, following on from the ravenous reception to their incendiary live LP and ‘Kahraba’ side for Nashazphone
One of the fiercest live acts on the circuit right now, Eek and their flamboyant, synth-wielding frontman Chipsy Islam place the experience of years of rowdy shows at the service of their strongest studio recordings in ‘Kahraman’. The six songs firmly spell out the range of dual drummers Mahmoud Refat and Khaled Mando and their electronic component, touching on techno-folk psychedelia in the anticipatory ‘Day1’, before cutting loose like the wildest house band in Arabia with ‘El Daynasour’, and bringing it down to their slowest hustle ’n grind in ‘Fast Track’.
They’re on peak form in the rattling stepper ‘El Zantor’, and at best in the swingeing groove and veering microtonal flux of ‘Saba Zamzam’ and the sparring closer, ‘Zardana’ with Chipsy twirling some of his hottest vamps.