It’s a Swedish house thing. Börft boss Jan Zwarre Svensson a.k.a Frak returns to his early project, Villa Åbo, for six deep and rude acid rub downs.
Named after the former bank he grew up in and later founded Studio Styrka, site of early Frak and Alvars Orkester recordings, Villa Åbo is a funky study in teenaged fascinations and nostalgia for dance music’s golden era.
Reprising the vibes of his 1997 releases, ’Ticketiketas’ and ‘Tagetes’, Villa Åbo pays tribute to classic NYC/Chicago/Detroit styles with the ruddy flavour his music’s become prized for, running from the slompy Chi-town grit of ‘Acid Clearout’ and the submerged deep house of ‘Rings of Cross’ to the slow swagger of ‘Elektro Formage’ on the front, then giving the floor something to bite on with the skudgy motion of ‘Zürish’, and rounding out on the killer, Anthony Shakir-esque bomb, ‘Brain Charter Disco’.
Vocal studies by Dutch minimalist Machinefabriek, working with Richard Youngs, Marissa nadler, Peter Broderick, Chantal Acda and Terence Hannum.
“With Voices is the newest recording by Dutch composer Rutger Zuydervelt under the moniker Machinefabriek. True to its title, the album’s eight pieces exhibit Zuydervelt’s use of cassette recorders, tone generators, radios, synths, and other hifi curio to construct bewildering aural architecture around vocal work from Peter Broderick, Marissa Nadler, Richard Youngs, Chantal Acda, Terence Hannum (of Locrian) and others. These human voices are featured as musical instruments rather than mere vehicles of lyrical content, resulting in a sub-linguistic mosaic of primordially stirring moods.
The initial spark of With Voices was kindled while Zuydervelt was in Taipei creating music for a dance company. In the final days of his trip, a dancer named Wei-Yun Chen caught Zuydervelt’s ear with an instagram video featuring a voice that turned out to be Wei-Yun’s own (she would end up on the album’s seventh movement, a piece that features dissected bits of Taiwanese poetry amid low-pitched murmurs and whispering fogbanks of static). The encounter stirred Zuydervelt to create a single 35 minute soundscape upon which each vocalist on With Voices was encouraged to improvise, be it talking, reading, singing, or wordless, guttural intoning. Such vocal smatterings were then used to determine how the other tonal elements should be arranged, dictating where each musical passage would ultimately lead. “The idea was for everyone to just do what came naturally” he recalls, “the element of unpredictability was important to me.”
Indicative of this approach “III” (the tracks are simply titled with Roman numerals) slowly winds like ivy through staccato phrases spoken by Zuydervelt’s peer Peter Broderick, whose micro-incantations skip along mechanically only to telescope into monastic grandeur at the track’s midpoint; the vibrations of vocal cords are often stretched to a seismic hum to form the heavy implements in Zuydervelt’s toolkit. On “V”, tape recordings of Berlin electronic artist Zero Years Kid (aka Joachim Badenhorst) sputter with their own apparent intelligence like a faulty AI attempting to interpret reels of human speech in some ruinous library of the distant future. Finally, a siren-like Marissa Nadler leads the suite to its lullabic endpoint with overlapping wisps of harmony devoid of accompaniment ending the album on an angelic note.
In these moments, like much of With Voices, warm-blooded arteries seem to have grown around bits of well-designed artifice to form something warmly alien, soberly futuristic, and inherently satisfying. More than simply an album of collaborative features, With Voices is a mutating collage of modern minimalism that challenges as often as it comforts. There is an alchemical, metallurgical quality that arises from Zuydervelt’s unique way of merging humanness with abstraction, harshness with beauty, and unintelligibility with familiarity on what may be the most affecting Machinefabriek release to date.”
The mothership has landed! Unseen Worlds finally deliver a premiere edition of Laurie Spiegel’s rare 1991 follow-up to ‘The Expanding Universe’ , filling a gaping hole in electronic music collections across the known world
The jaw-dropping ’Unseen Worlds’ was first released on CD in 1991 by Scarlet Records, but the label went defunct soon after, leaving Laurie seeing to any further pressings. She issued a 2nd CD edition on her Aesthetic Engineering label in 1994, but since that sold out, her amazing album has become very hard to find. Perhaps understandably, that scarcity is probably because nobody wants to sell their original copy, making this new pressing an invaluable window onto ‘Unseen Worlds’ in all senses of the phrase.
In the years between her debut and sophomore sides, Laurie moved away from the New York new music scene to focus on other projects, most notably the MusicMouse software; an “intelligent instrument” allowing for greater real time automation of her equipment. MusicMouse for Macintosh, Amiga and Atari gained a lot of traction with rock artists and paid her bills, and effectively allowed Laurie up to focus on the aspects of music which interested her the most - improvisation and artistic process.
Freed from the more laborious constraints of electronic music composition, Laurie’s artistic-technological breakthrough gave her greater tactility and control in the composition process. The result is some of the lushest and vivid electronic music you’ll ever hear. In the impossibly smooth pitch gradients and timbral complexities of the opening ‘Three Sonic Spaces’ trio, and the hallucinogenic harmonics of ’Sound Zones’ we hear the MusicMouse in blinding action, while the rest of the LP is no less impressive; leading us thru breathtaking black hole sonics on ‘The Hollows’; into mind-bindingly vast noise scapes on ‘Two Archetypes: Hurricane’s Eye - II’; while the shimmering beauty of ‘Riding the Storm’ are right up there with classics by Jean Claude Risset or Roland Kayn; and moments of exquisite beauty like ‘Strand of Life (*Viroid*) and ‘From a Harmonic Algorithm’ give way to the rarely paralleled scope of ‘Passage’, one of those epic electronic music works that makes wading through all the other stuff truly worthwhile.
Mirage-like new age and early-techno synth groves from Nigeria’s Hama on Sahel Sounds, the amazing label behind that sublime Luka Productions album and the ‘Music From Saharan Cellphones’ sets
Neatly summed up by the label as a re-appropriation of 4th world ethnoambient music, ‘Houmeissa’ lands on the mind’s eye like a lysergic dose. Hama’s ten instrumental songs re-voice traditional nomadic herding ballads, ancient caravan songs and ceremonial wedding chants with colourful synthetic means to resemble something like “a Saharan 1980s sci-fi soundtrack or score to a Tuareg video game.”
We advise running straight to the pulsating, ruggedly elegant charge of ‘Bororo’, the flooding chromatics of the title track, or the deeply trippy, off-key cascades of ‘Takamba’ for the strongest flavours. You’ll know exactly what to do next.
Massive tip for fans of Rizan Sa’id, Black Zone Myth Chant, early B12!
‘Rare Ravers’ is The Dead C’s umpteenth album of end-of-the-line Kiwi rock, and their 6th LP dished up by Ba Da Bing! following ‘Trouble’  and a 2013 split side with Rangda.
By now regarded among noise rock’s greatest exponents, The Dead C’s Bruce Russell, Michael Morley and Robbie Yeats continue to hack new paths thru thistly fields of guitar distortion in ‘Rare Ravers’, which, for the record, has nowt to do with glowsticks or warehouses, but everything to do with ideas of reverie and a lust for psychedelic transcendence.
“Disguised as the meandering outpourings of vacant thought and activity dialed simultaneously from zero and ten. Formed in the cauldron of a fevered mistake resolute. Surrounded by ignorance, dis-interest, and the attention of the carefully self-selected. Recorded and burned through a thousand galaxies of dust and doubt and endless infinite wonder, transforming both time and space. Forever exiled to the very bottom of the world to reflect on the struggling desperate pile above. Recognizing any contribution as minuscule and insignificant when placed within the greatness of the other, the dominant insolent preening satisfied, continually shouting the pre-eminence of the first world order.
It's a long player.”
Michael O’Shea’s sole, breathtaking album ranks among our favourite of all time - yet hardly anyone seems to have heard of it. Produced by Wire’s Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis at the Dome studio in 1982, it’s an utterly singular work of magick meshing myriad, worldly modes into music that rarely fails to reduce us to tears. It’s one of those albums that basically sounds like nothing else - the only record we can draw some parallels to is Dariush Dolat-Shahi’s life changing 'Electronic Music, Tar and Sehtar’, despite it coming from the other end of the world.
First brought to our attention by Blackest Ever Black at the start of this decade, we’ve gradually developed an obsessive fascination with its sublime, rapid dervishes and warbling rhythmelodies, so it’s a pleasure to see it finally made easily available to everyone who we’ve ranted about it over the years (2nd hand copies have been historically pricey and hard to come by!), and especially replete with its enlightening new sleeve notes by archivist and writer Failed Bohemian.
A busker among other trades, O’Shea was an itinerant soul who, after a childhood and formative years spent between Northern Ireland and Kerry in the south of the country, and extensive travel between Europe, Turkey and Bangladesh, created his own instrument - an electrified dulcimer known as Mó Cará (Irish for ‘My Friend’) - which he performed on at Ronnie Scott’s, before later playing on bills with everyone from Ravi Shankar to Don Cherry, and also recording with The The’s Matt and Tom Johnson.
Aside from his two contributions to the Stano album, ‘Content To Dine In I Dine Weathercraft’ (also recently reissued by Dublin’s Allchival), O’Shea’s first and only album is the main point of reference for this unique artist. Like some eccentric expression of ancient Indo-European voices channelled thru a Celtic body, Michael O’Shea’s improvised acousto-electric music intuitively distills a world of styles into singularly hypnotic works. Using his self-built instrument; a hybrid of a zelochord and a sitar, made on a wooden door salvaged in Munich, and with the crucial addition of electric pick-ups and the ‘Black Hole Space Box’, O’Shea would absorb sounds from his travels like a sponge, and relay them back thru the instrument with effortlessly freeform and achingly lush results as elaborate as a Celtic knot or elegant as Sanskrit text.
The mercurial flow of syncretised styles in 15 minute opener ‘No Journey’s End’ catches your breath and doesn’t give it back, leaving us utterly light-headed and feeling something akin to religious experience, before his ’Kerry’ vignette most beautifully limns the epic coastline he hails from. The plasmic swirl and phasing of ‘Guitar No. 1’ is perhaps the one piece that time dates the LP to the post-punk era, even if it could have come from ancient Mesopotamia, while the album and artist’s underlying metaphysics bleed thru most hauntingly in the timbral shadowplay of ‘Voices’, and the rapidly tremulous, animist voodoo of ‘Anfa Dásachtach’.
Noted in his lifetime, not least by himself as; “…joker, transvestite, inventor, psychonaut, actor, catalyst, community worker, musician, traveller, instrument maker,” Michael O’Shea’s life was, by all accounts, every bit as colourful as his music, which only makes his untimely death in 1991 all that more tragic, as we’d practically give an arm to hear what he could have made in the early techno era, as he was purportedly getting heavy into London’s rave scene before he was taken.
Honestly no other record has cast such a strong spell over us in recent memory - to the extent of sending us on wild goose chases on the wrong peninsula in Kerry - so please pardon the gush ‘cos we can’t help but share love for this life-affirming disc and Michael O’Shea’s beautifully transcendent music.
New wave/Italo heroes of the ace ‘Danza Meccanica’ and ‘Mutazione’ comps are subject of a first full retrospective, featuring their classic single ‘Maritime Tatami / A Game Of Despair’ plus their ‘1982-1983’ demos compilation
“Victrola is the duo of Antonio “Eze” Cuscinà and Carlo Smeriglio from Messina, Italy. The band formed in 1979 but shortly thereafter relocated to Florence take part in a rich musical scene alongside Neon, Pankow, Alexander Robotnick, and Diaframma. Beginning as a 4-piece (two guitarists, bassist, drummer) they slimmed down to a synthesizer and guitar-based duo by 1982. Their sole release was the now classic ”Maritime Tatami”/”A Game Of Despair” EP from 1983, which we reissued in 2012.
‘Born From The Water’ is a 12 song collection of unreleased demos recorded between 1983 and 1985. The band sent us over 100 cassettes, through which we dug to compile the first volume of their archival darkwave ballads. They used an array of Roland synthesizers (TR-606, TB-303, TR-909, Juno 6) plus a Korg Polysix, Yamaha DX7, Casio VL-Tone VL-1, DR-55 Dr. Rhythm, and Fender Stratocaster and Jazz Bass. Some of the songs would later appear on various compilations, but the versions presented here are unique. Victrola engulfs the listener with trance-inducing synth lines, oblique minor-key bass lines, angular guitar riffs, and melancholic vocals. The songs tell tales of youth, love, karma, and the decline of civilization in modern times.”
Bittersweet noise sculpture with a signature Opal Tapes tang
“Following releases on Always Human Tapes and Panatype during 2018, Jordan Edge aka Red Hook Grain Terminal aka R.H.G.T. has broken out as an exhilarating live performer and composer. With a background in sound art, the texture of sound is of primary importance here. His work combines recordings of refined sound installation pieces (industrial fans, vibrating membranes) with savage digital rot and hyper-active, manic beat making reminiscent of some of the Hessle roster at their most unhinged.
Tracks like 'Expand Yourself' and 'Let Me Leave' detach themselves from reality through abuse of audio software, crushing any notion of tempo and key. While 'Rebuild Me' and 'Particle Dispersion' hold up a microscope and peer into audio phenomena such as the complex worlds within liquids or the interaction of spaces when two huge fans phase against each other and an audience. Savage, surreal and disorientating music.”
"I Am Your God / Bronko" features two sides of raw, deep and abysmal techno - 100% dancefloor material
"Taken from their upcoming album "Who Else", "I Am Your God" fiercely cracks the whip and conjures up a tunnel rave, with a screaming Otto von Schirach starring as an unholy god. „Bronko” carries on the industrial vibe and comes up with an ethereal breakdown. With their hypnotizing quality and meticulous sound design, both tracks exemplify how studio-savvy the duo has become in recent years."
Christoph De Babalon cuts onto Luke Younger’s Alter with the roiling gloom of ‘Hectic Shakes’, coming in the wake of an operatic link-up with WDIT and the reissue of his gothic jungle opus, ‘If You’re Into, I’m Out of It’, a total classic of its genre.
Intersecting Alter’s wide-ranging tastes from an oblique new angle, ‘Hectic Shakes’ despatches a tempestuous brace of shivering, jabbing and gnashing jungle breaks splayed with Dungeon-style synth motifs in isolationist, cinematic arrangements that fairly fall under Mark Fisher’s idea of a “depressive hedonism”.
Aye, they might not light up the pleasure centres of your average, proper-up-for-it-me raver, but those predisposed to the darkside will surely appreciate the feel of De Babalon’s style most strongly across ‘Hectic Shakes’. From the clash of grand, stygian strings and chattering cenobite breaks in ‘Harakiri’, to the scorched brass fanfare and shadow-dancing ,squat basement impishness of ‘Endless Inside’, and then thru to the pensive poise and acrid synth tone of ‘Raw Mind’, this is prime material for seeing in the end of days, for dancing in the face of annihilation.
Following a trio of sprawling, planet-gargling double-LPs, 2013’s self-titled LP on Skrammel, and Second Launch (2015) and Eclipsed (2017) on Blackest Ever Black, Bremen – J. Tiljander and Lanchy, previously best known for their contributions to Brainbombs’ long rapsheet of genius-and-brutality, but latterly exponents of a rarefied cosmic melancholy – return with Enter Silence, their most concise, and powerful, album to date.
"Once again the Uppsala multi-instrumentalists combine elements of trogged-out psychedelic rock with a deadly serious Arctic minimalism and weeping modal improvisations that owe more to the outer limits of jazz and burnt-out free music from Japan. It’s connoisseur’s space music, grown-up and grievously honed; outwardly inclined towards the epic but studded with details that reward attention and introspection.
There’s always been a strong undercurrent of sadness animating Bremen’s work, and that existential burden is present and correct on Enter Silence, culminating in the all-out cosmic anguish of ‘Palladium’. Even ‘The Middle Section’, whose ragged chords are nothing if not the sound of optimism and defiance, sounds like it’s navigating some kind of unsayable trauma. But this band has always allowed plenty of room for bonehead slash-and-burn as well: see here especially the Stoogeian/39 Clocks-ish rock’n’roll of ‘Aimless Cruising’ and the pulpy quasi-cinematic tension of ‘Sinister’, or the brilliant ‘Too Cold For Your Eyes’, a blast of voidal motorik that sounds like a cranked-up Clean. "
Avant-rock, concrète and jazz blasts from the time-served Gallic vanguard. RIYL Nurse With Wound, Ghédalia Tazartès, Lol Coxhill
“Jac Berrocal, David Fenech and Vincent Epplay return with Ice Exposure, their second album for Blackest Ever Black. A sequel and companion piece of sorts to 2015’s Antigravity, its title couldn’t be more apt: sonically it is both colder, and more exposed – in the sense of rawer, more volatile, more vulnerable – than its predecessor, capturing the combustible energy and barely suppressed violence of the trio’s celebrated live performances with aspects of noir jazz, musique concrète, no wave art-rock, sound poetry and spectral electronics all interpenetrating in unpredictable and exhilarating ways. While there are moments of great sensitivity and even a cautious romanticism, the prevailing mood is one of anxiety, paranoia, and mounting psychodrama: close your eyes and Ice Exposure feels like a dissociative Hörspiel broadcasting from the seedy backstreets of your own troubled mind.
Before he picks up an instrument or opens his mouth, Berrocal’s unique and compelling presence can be felt: a combination of studied, glacial cool and anarchic, in-the-moment intensity that has served him well over a long and storied career. It was honed during his time as a theatre and film actor, and in the 70s Paris improv scene, it powered his influential Catalogue group in the 1970s, numerous seminal, sui generis solo sides, and far-sighted collaborations with the likes of Nurse With Wound, Lol Coxhill, Pascal Comelade and James Chance which have seen him come to be valorised by two generations of avant-garde agitators and eccentrics. Now in his eighth decade, it comes with an added gravitas, perhaps, but no less energy or vitality. On Ice Exposure, his lyrical, instantly recognisable trumpet playing is a key feature – see especially the ghostly, dubwise take on Ornette’s ‘Lonely Woman’, the dissolute exotica of ‘Salta Girls’, and the sublime echo-chamber soliloquy ‘Opportunity’. But more often it’s his voice that commands centre-stage, whether casually discharging surreal poetic monologues or moaning in animal despair – a vocal tour de force that transcends language and culminates in the Dionysian frenzy of ‘Why’, Berrocal’s half-spoken, half-howled exclamations jostling with David Fenech’s slashes of dissonant guitar, over Badalamenti-ish, panther-stalk drums.
Fenech’s origins are in the mail-art scene of the early ‘90s, when he led the Peu Importe collective in Grenoble, and since then, in addition to his own recordings he has worked as a software developer at IRCAM and played with Jad Fair, Rhys Chatham and many others. Together with Vincent Epplay he is responsible for Ice Exposure’s inspired arrangements and vivid, vertiginous sound design. Epplay is a visual artist and composer with particular interest in aleatory composition, concrete, and the reappropriation of vintage sound and film material. He and Fenech fashion a remarkable mise-en-scene for Berrocal to inhabit, one that embraces cutting-edge electronics while also paying homage to the best traditions of outlaw jazz and libidinous rock’n’roll (‘Soundcheck’ invokes the brutish spirit of Berrocal’s hero Vince ‘Rock N Roll Station’ Taylor). On ‘Blanche de Blanc’, Berrocal’s voice is framed by a groaning, ghoulish orchestra of industrial drones, while ‘Equivoque’ evokes the most humid and hostile Fourth World landscapes and ‘Panic In Surabaya’ lives up to its name, a hectic, pulse-quickening concrète collage that leaves you gasping for air.
This is a searching and singular trio operating at the absolute peak of their powers, with an interplay that transcends studio and stage and occurs at an almost telepathic level. Ice Exposure is a triumph of that group mind, an underworld dérive as life-affirming as it is unnerving and psychologically precarious.”
Shortly after the release of his 2015 record What For?, Toro Y Moi (also known as Chaz Bear) packed up his belongings, leaving the comfort of his Oakland base for the relative solitude of Portland to write Boo Boo.
"Apart from the familiarity of his surroundings, Bear focused on what would become his next sonic statement. In doing so, he was struck by the reign that technology holds over our day to day lives and its ability to obscure the consumption of creativity. His change of envi- ronment resulted in freedom from disturbances and, in those quiet and tranquil spaces, the creation of music acted as a protest in favor of peace.
Having now moved back to Oakland, Bear’s new record Outer Peace is a response to the lessons gleaned while making Boo Boo — a response to the expendable state of art that is a product of instant grati cation. Bear’s ingenuity reveals a multifaceted expression of his universe on this record. It’s the space be- tween the accessible and unconventional where he invites us to experience Outer Peace, which is rooted in nding peace in antithetical conditions: being stuck in traf c, hustling for your next check as a freelancer and all other chaotic moments in life that require digging beneath the surface to nd solace.
As both a producer and designer, Bear utilizes abstract sound pairings with recognizable samples for his most pop in uenced record to date. This is no de- parture from his funk and disco roots, which can be heard on “Ordinary Pleasure”, later fusing into variations of house with tracks like “Freelance” and “Laws of the Universe.” Smooth interludes melt into fast paced beats, paralleling the feeling of driving through the Bay Area, where Bear spent most of his time writing the album. "
Unexpected, brilliant R&B/ambient metamorphosis by J. Albert as JIO for Brooklyn’s Quiet Time Tapes
Well established as a producer of prime, rugged US house and broken beats, the Queens-based artist here follows his haunting ‘Envy Turned Curiosity’ EP for TTT with a fully fledged style of songwriting and intimate lyrics over nine gauzy, loose takes on up-to-the-second R&B and hip hop that reveal his strong but tenderly cracked vocals for the first time.
“TFW is about the revolving thoughts and seemingly never-ending internal dialogue that happen during times of hardship that so many of us experience as young adults– breakups, family trouble, unemployment, etc. For Jio, writing these songs on his phone on public transit, or out somewhere late night in an altered state, then returning home to record in his bedroom, this was a way of exporting those thoughts and compartmentalizing, breaking the endless feedback loop.”
Slowdive, Gwenno, Mark Peters and XAM revise Sobrenadar’s sultry shoegaze EP, ‘Y’ for Sonic Cathedral
As you may have predicted, Slowdive offer the strongest highlight with the dreamlike momentum of their take on ‘Del Tiempo’, while Wigan’s Mark Peters - former bandmate of Ulrich Schanuss in Engineers - also gets it right with a gently buoyant version of Cruce’, and ‘Inhabit’ becomes a sloshing, recursive pop gem peppered with pitching vocal treatments, shimmering synths and sweetly elusive rhythms at the hands of XAM.
Deep soul pearl reissued digitally for the first time
“Jack Jacobs grew up in Philadelphia and started out his singing career with an acapella doo-wop singing group before becoming lead singer in some Philly R&B bands. After a while he decided to take up the keyboard so he got a full sized Hammond B-3 organ, which he used to lug back and forth to gigs from his 3rd floor apartment. Jack is remembered by friends and family as an incredibly talented musician and one of the most soulful vocalists they’ve ever known.
Childhood friend and jazz guitar great Pat Martino recalls: “I’ve had a chance to work with some seriously heavy duty singers, such as Ray Charles. He (i.e. Jack) was so spontaneously prolific; he was a poet. I can play some things for you right now and you would be shocked to find out he had no idea what he was about to sing. The lyrics were absolutely phenomenal, and they were extremely spiritual in context in terms of the message he was talking about. They were Biblical lyrics; absolutely overwhelming – just incredible”.
After Jack moved to Atlantic City in the 1970s, he wrote and recorded “I Believe It’s Alright”, initially released on Libra, a small local New Jersey music label. The record barely got any exposure at the time despite how good it was. It channels honest, raw soul energy in its purest form - a truly uplifting song!”
This is the debut full-length from Julian Lynch, who to date is probably best known for a split 7" with Matthew Mondanile of Real Estate, Ducktails and Predator Vision fame. The two are childhood pals and frequent collaborators, but here Lynch steps out of the shadows and into the lo-fi limelight. The album stitches together fourtrack recordings and various fragmentary, cross-cultural elements into a fluid tapestry of psychedelic doodles and hazy songs driven by keyboards and guitar. Lynch is a graduate student in ethnomusicology, having previously cultivated an interest in Indian and South Asian musics whilst working for Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Orange You Glad combines its influences in such a fashion as they seem to dissolve into a cassette-bound ambience though, and often you won't necessarily know how Lynch's humble yet very beautiful melodies have come about. Highly recommended.
Max D a.k.a. Solo Percussion cooks up a trio of drum-heavy aces, vocalled by Sir E.U
The 2nd vocal excursion on Future Times in recent times following Nappy Nappa’s ‘Bang On Em’, this one features Sir E.U’s effortlessly louche yet dextrous bars on a pendulous Afro-latin crack with ‘Ocean’, while ‘Brand New Bag works up slipper rhythms and electronics under a mumbling, freeform vocal, and their title track stretches out for 10 minutes of dreamy groove and properly stoned/mushied vocal recalling Phloston Paradigm productions and angles of Shabazz Palaces.
Continuing Subtext’s exploratory electronics and devastating sonics is the expansive Ego De Espinhos, the debut full-length from twenty-two year old Porto, Portugal-based artist Gonçalo Penas.
“Described by Penas as a series of “self-exorcisms,” Ego De Espinhos is the cathartic outcome of a highly introspective process. Shaped by opposing forces and instincts, the LP touches on themes that are at once intimate, yet omnipresent. Splendor confronts destruction; id confronts super-ego.
Created solely with digital instruments designed and built by the artist, Ego De Espinhos is the result of Penas’ improvisations. Tracks such as “Introdução, Umbigo” and “Tecto Falso” were recorded in one take, and evidence a stark, dramatic emotional palette.
The release begins as Penas chooses to reject rigidities, customs and conventions of experimental electronic music. Of his process, Penas says: “Personally, I feel that creation should come from a completely free act of will. It is a place where there should be no rules, no expectations, no rights and no wrongs.”
In Ego De Espinhos, Penas turns away from his own technical background, and towards a journey of forward experimentation. This follows his education in Music Production and Technologies at Porto’s School of Music and Performing Arts. For the first time, he finds the freedom to articulate himself sincerely, unearthing beauty and acceptance amidst wreckage and devastation.”
Fleet-hoofed NDW with extra, star-searching electro leads. John Maus fans should check for ‘Foggy Weather’, and Dopplereffekt heads should try out the sexy slow darkness of ‘Humanly Possible’
“Stratis is an electronic duo from Cologne, Germany, formed by Antonios Stratis and Albert Klein in 1981. They took inspiration from the progressive electronic synthscapes of Tangerine Dream & Vangelis and the proto-techno of Chris & Cosey and Yello, as well as jazz and funk. The duo recorded 5 cassette-only albums between 1982 and 1986 – Exotic, New Face, Musica da Ballo, Film Musik, and Raging Beauty – which were released on their own label Creative Tapes (later called Temporary Music), and which were also licensed to Colin Potter’s Integrated Circuit Records (ICR) label.
‘New Face’ consists of eight future-fixated tracks that could have been composed for movies like Blade Runner or Tron. A wide range of minimal electronics are presented, from robotic synth pop to melancholic cold wave to Neue Deutsche Welle electro. The masters for this reissue came from a new transfer made by Colin Potter at ICR in May 2018.”
Banging, trilling, forward funky house fevers from Rushmore, dropping their first new release since the ‘Ours After’ album in 2016
Pulling from current Afrobeats and Carribbean dance musics, the five tracks restlessly turn from the dark, concentrated pressure of ‘Connecting Energy’, which sounds like something from a Marcus Nasty or Petchy set 10 years ago, thru to the Gqom-esque darkside drones of ‘Dream Escape’, mad chromatics in ‘Lasting Levels’, and Fis-T-style warpers in ‘Sidewalk’, which shares a strong drum palette with ‘One nation [‘My House’ Aaron Carl tribute - RIP]’.
For over a decade, guitarist/vocalist Steve Gunn has been one the American music’s most pivotal figures
"Conjuring immersive and psychedelic sonic landscapes both live and on record, releasing revered solo albums ranking high on in-the-know end of year lists, alongside exploratory collaborations with artists as diverse as Mike Cooper, Kurt Vile and Michael Chapman (whose most recent studio album he produced).
Gunn is known for telling other people’s stories but on his breakthrough fourth album, ‘The Unseen In Between’, he explores his own emotional landscapes with his most complex, fully realized songs to date."
Kora-player Sourakata Koité’s ‘en Hollande’ is one of ATFA’s most treasured digs. It’s been available on their blog since 2010 and only now sees a proper reissue, rendering a spellbinding session of quicksilver melody and buzzing harmonies on the 21-string instrument, sometimes combined with vocals, as on the arresting, almost rap style of ‘Djonol’ or the anxious melancholy of ‘Dioula’
“Sourakata Koite is a Paris-dwelling kora-player from Senegal. He is a griot, which means he is a story- and history-teller and singer. He accompanies himself on the kora. The kora is the most representative instrument of Manding music and culture. It is a harp-lute with 21 strings. The instrument is more than 600 years old and has existed in its present form for about 400 years. The griots often make their koras themselves, using a great dried gourd, a thick stick and two smaller sticks and a scraped goatskin. In the old days they used strings of skin, but nowadays often plastic fikshingline is used. The kora is held with the last three fingers of each hand at the small sticks on both sides of the strings. The strings are played by both thumbs and forefingers. With one hand the accompanying part is played and with the other the more free melody. Koite has performed in most African countries and also in a great deal of Europe.’
As thrilling and unpredictable as anything in Deerhunter’s near 15-year career, ‘Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?’ was recorded in several strategic geographic points across North America and produced by the band, Cate LeBon, Ben H. Allen III and Ben Etter.
"Forgetting the questions and making up unrelated answers, Deerhunter’s eighth album is a science fiction album about the present. Exhausted with the toxic concept of nostalgia, they reinvent their approach to microphones, the drum kit, the harpsichord, the electromechanical and synthetic sounds of keyboards. Whatever guitars left are pure chrome, plugged straight into the mixing desk with no amplifier or vintage warmth."
BBE deliver another sure-shot for the J Dilla legacy through 'The Shining EP 2' - wherein a triptych of fantastic cuts are taken from his posthumous album and given extra garnish in the shape of extended versions, instrumentals and clean lyricism. As genres go, hip-hop is not famed for restraint when combing the back catalogue of those who have passed away; but thus far James Yancey has been treated with real dignity by those with access to his material, and 'EP 2' ably demonstrates what a dexterous producer and forward thinking sound architect he was. A towering figure within the hip-hop community, Dilla's trademark sound of skimming-stone drums, filtered basslines and shag-pile samples went on to influence many of his peers - as lead track 'Won't Do' drills home loud & clear. A gorgeous platter of hip-hop marinated soul, 'Won't Do' (here in dirty, clean and instrumental guises) is a masterclass in the construction of a roaming composition; bringing a smoky and varnished outlook to a genre that can oft become sickly and lacking in focus. A real highlight of the EP comes with the extended version of instrumental cut 'Love Jones', as some fish-hook horns embed deep within the head and the elongated predilection make for the perfect summer tune - all we need now is the weather... Closing business with 'Jungle Love' featuring Med & Guilty (a krispy set of blunted beats and emotional paucity that acts as pin-point balance to the rest of the EP), Dilla once again proves why he has become canonised as part of hip-hop's top order. Shine on.
From raving screwballs to darkroom EBM and tribalist heat, Hodge sees 2018 out in fine style for BH following a smart hook-up with Laurel Halo
Hodge’s 2nd Berceuse Heroique 12” of 2018 sees the Berlin-based Bristolian working deep into his signature style of busy-but-cool groove with excellent results in the mentasm-streaked rolige of ‘Raptors’, and the clenched punch of ‘Xenomorph’, whereas the other two are all about swingeing percussive parry and Afro-Latin flex.
Concept-driven collagists/producers Kepla & DeForrest Brown Jr side-eye white privilege and ambient imperialism in their follow-up to ‘Absent Personae’, again for Geng’s excellent Brooklyn-based Purple Tape Pedigree.
“'The Wages of Being Black is Death' is an exhausted and defeated audio documentation of the alienation - and eventual distillation - of the Black Body as a subject and content of the social sphere by Kepla & DeForrest Brown, Jr. Written and recorded in a week’s time between file-sharing and overnight home studio binges, the mixtape is framed as a deadpan comedy that follows a slothful and downtrodden Black Body as it drifts amongst the ambient commons of the Whites. Artist Ryan Kuo states that, “Whiteness acts by dictating the terms and categories that describe everything in the universe except itself.” 'The Wages of Being Black is Death' in turn serves as a reversal of the nominal gaze of categorization, a paranoid disavowal of an uneven and silent social contract as well as an intimate encounter with the daily, incessant slights and traumas felt by the Black Body in everyday life.”
Nkisi rolls out a modern classic with ‘7 Directions’ for UIQ. A masterful debut album informed by African Cosmology and Congolese rhythms, it’s aesthetically comparable with music ranging from Autechre's ‘Incunabula’ to The Connection Machine’s ‘Painless’ and Lee Gamble's hyperprisms, but ultimately it’s peerless in the (hyper)modern field...
Specifically referencing the writings of Kongo scholar Dr Kimbwandende Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau and the African Cosmology of the Bantu-Kongo, ‘7 Directions’ is offered as a gateway to hallucinatory mindstates via aerobic mysticism, focussed on the idea that rhythm has the capacity to modulate and experiment with conditions of perception.
Nkisi inimitably unlocks and retunes the body’s rhythmic anticipation with breathless batteries of polyrhythms that arguably make the majority of Western dance styles sound like rote line dance music for folk with little imagination in their bones. In each direction, her drums writhe and rattle in a simultaneously ancient/futuristic style - ancient because they explicitly reference percussive traditions way older than Western civilization, and futuristic because they’ve never been presented in this way before, alloyed with cosmic synth pads that draw lines from Detroit to the Lowlands and back to source, way out in the cosmos.
But rather than closed systems for study and analysis, Nkisi’s trax feel like living, bristling organisms, virulent systems that only become activated with user participation, where those ideas can begin to take root, grow and mutate via kinesis.
Theatrical late ‘70s synth music from Sweden, released for the first time by Dais
"Recorded between the release of Sand (1977) and Lost Secrets (1981), Symphonic Songs is a formerly unreleased work that chronicles the dynamic shift and development in experimental Swedish composer Ragnar Grippe’s canon.
Following his seminal release Sand in 1977, Swedish experimental composer Ragnar Grippe worked on various art and performance commissions, often returning to Stockholm during the summer months to focus his efforts on his compositional practice. It was there at the famed EMS Studios where he began employing the Buchla synthesizer and the facilities multi-tracking capabilities as new instruments to map his mining of sound and movement.
During the late 1970’s, Grippe formed a creative collaboration with choreographer Susan Buirge, specifically writing compositions for her works “Restes” and “Tamis”, thus pushing Grippe to start working in a more intricate studio environment. These passages inspired Grippe into a more complex layering process that focused more on placement and structure, rather than the aural floods and flourishes of his previous Sand album, eventually germinating in his first full 24-track composition entitled “Orchestra.”
After debuting “Orchestra” in 1980 at the Electronic Music Festival in Stockholm, Grippe holed up at EMS Studios with those lessons and the fussy Buchla synthesizer, in which Grippe affectionately recalls “needed to be tuned and calibrated every 20-30 minutes.” He emerged with a new commission for Susan Buirge later formally titled Symphonic Songs and used in her avant-garde theater piece “Ci-Déla” which debuted in Paris in 1981. Symphonic Songs showcased Grippe’s sound au courant, pushing dense against sparse, calm into cacophonous, using each track as its own intersecting plane. Using the machinations of studio and structure to drive Symphonic Songs’ voice, Grippe culled a haunting, often cinematic electronic work that dots and darts into unexpected corners with curious aplomb.
“Listen to the words, both terms have their root in classical music, but not in its form but because now I had so many more stems or voices that could be played simultaneously compared to my earlier pieces. Coming from a classical background, but with big nostrils for pop and jazz music, I can now see a thread in which classical got a new costume, dressed up in Buchla synthesizer and real bass sounds” Grippe says.”
K Leimer reissue double-header, packing the systems-based modern classical experiments of 2007’s ‘The Useless Lesson’ and ‘Lesser Epitomes’
“Originally released in 2008, The Useless Lesson and Lesser Epitomes have been revisited, remixed, remastered and expanded with the 40-minute bonus EP Three Adaptations. K. Leimer founded Palace Of Lights in 1979. Leimer's work has also been issued by Autumn, First Terrace, Les Giants, Invisible Inc., Origin Peoples and RVNG. His early cassette work is included in the critically acclaimed VOD box set American Cassette Culture and will be included in Cherry Red's upcoming Noise Floor series. Leimer has been actively producing music since the mid 1970s -- his current catalog includes eighteen solo albums plus collaborative albums with Savant and Marc Barreca. His work is included in the collection of The British Library."
Grime OG Scratcha DVA juggles the dance with four ruggedly stripped down rhythms bending Gqom and Kuduro with UK style pressure
‘Kodjo Darko’ goes on a warped blend of sino-grime licks, UKG bass and Gqom drum cadence; ‘Kong (Deeped It Mix)’ comes with a sort of astral-Afro-technoid flavour recalling Nkisi and Bonaventure productions; ‘Untitled 999’ ramps UK grime with unyielding tribal drums trouble; and SA/UK bass guys LV boost the fructose levels of ‘Dumpling Riddim’.
Caspar Brötzmann Massaker’s masterful second album from 1989 - remastered.
"The power trio’s blunt force execution is directed by Brötzmann’s explosive and exquisite six string conjuration. Channeling Hendrixian vibrations, mixed with hard German industrial atmosphere."
Caspar Brötzmann Massaker’s masterful debut album from 1989 - remastered.
"The power trio’s blunt force execution is directed by Brötzmann’s explosive and exquisite six string conjuration. Channeling Hendrixian vibrations, mixed with hard German industrial atmosphere."
Dublin’s Frank B a.k.a. Sias turns out tuff, jacking but melodic cut sfor All City’s Jheri Tracks
‘May 1932’ hits harder and bittersweet with cold EBM kick and chrome burning electro-trance lead.
‘Of Cotton’ is ruder, going on with tetchy, grimy drum programming and stressed-out synth squabble.