Numero’s reissue timeline reaches ‘90s jazz house with reissue of Endangered Species’ infectious turns for UMM/Strictly Rhythm
Endangered Species effectively rewired ‘60s jazz for the halcyon daze of ‘90s house, flipping Gene Ammons’ ‘Jungle Strut’ into the bumpty syncopation of the title tune, beside the bustling good times swing of ‘Just A Memory’, and swanging looser again with the samples of Art Blakey Band’s Wayne Shorter paddled into ‘Ping Pong.’
Utterly fab off-world lo-fi pop construxions assembled using DX7, TR-909 and early samplers from Italian minimalist Tiziano Popoli. Imagine Visible Cloaks rescoring "Liquid Sky" and ur there.
Freedom To Spend's latest rifles through the catalog of Italian minimalist composer Tiziano Popoli, unearthing a series of unreleased recordings for soundtracks, radio and installations made between 1983 and 1989 with a modest studio setup. Influenced by glittery radio pop music, Popoli used the Yamaha DX7 synthesizer along with the Roland TR-909 drum machine and some early sampling technology to belt out a series of surreal cues and themes that sound almost frozen in time.
The distinctive FM sound of the DX7 was relegated to bargain bins for too long after practically defining the mid 1980s and early 1990s, but it's received a well overdue resurgence in recent years. Now the familiar sound (smooth, shimmering pads, plasticky stabs and bumping distorted basses) is easily available inside or outside the box, and it's become ubiquitous once again - hearing it here though, struck through with possibility, is an all-too-rare treat. Popoli uses these sounds without cynicism or reference, crafting angular pop forms from a backdrop of funk, prog rock and disco.
'Minimal Dance N.1' sounds like a long-lost Goblin cue, with fractured synths following eerie piano loops. Elsewhere, album centerpiece 'Mimetico Erettile' develops over fifteen minutes, blending paper-thin pads with marimba sounds that buzz lovingly like Steve Reich in an isolation booth. Each track sounds as if it could rattle off the hinges at any moment and that's exactly what we love about it.
Fantastic music that sings loud from a place of innovation and discovery.
Classy debut album of horizon-scanning but intimate chamber compositions by Elori Saxl, seamlessly weaving a range of classical orchestration with field recordings and electronics
‘The Blue of Distance’ sees Elori draw listeners between the Adirondack Mountains in summer, and the middle of Lake Superior at the depths of winter, for a cinematic album that expresses a palpable sense of nostalgia and hope. Its title is inspired by Rebecca Solnit’s observation that faraway mountains appear blue due to light particles getting lost over distance, as outlined in ‘A Field Guide to Getting Lost’, and Elori uses that phenomena as metaphor for the music’s curious sense of physical detachment/immersion and elusive familiarity, meshing recordings of a 6 piece ensemble (Violin, Viola, Cello, Clarinet, Flue, Oboe, Bassoon) made in summer, with their re-sampled images, re-recorded thru the foot of ice beneath her on Lake Superior, to create an absorbing blur between place and space, and between physical gesture and artificial resonance. A quiet-minded one for fans of Ian William Craig, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, or the evocative, descriptive powers of Goldmund.
Outstanding, enigmatic “technopagan” sorcery and vocals from Egyptian-French artist Susu Laroche, with guest production by Oxhy, for the ace Primordial Void label who co-released that amazing Oï les Ox debut
Despite only emerging in 2020 with a trio of releases, Laroche possesses a clear and distinct aesthetic vision that already sets her apart from the milieu. Coming from a background in film and photography, she draws on dabke rhythms and, for the first time, singing in Arabic to explore ideas of ritual mysticism relating to her heritage, as well as references to 19th century occultist Madame Blavatsky, in a dramatic but not overly so) set of driving dune-dance grooves and synth textures ranging from needling and microtonal, to gloaming, Muslimgauze-esque pads.
The results remind us to a spectrum of music from Aisha Devi’s esoteric pop to Omar Souleyman or the atmospheric industrial tekkers of Bryn Jones and Bourbonese Qualk, charting a head-down and spiritually satisfying trek between the bellicose trample and pealing horns of ‘Yonder Brother’ with Oxhy, to the churning drama of ‘Incivility’, a Zola Jesus-like ‘Traba’an’, and thru to the aching cadence of ‘Nar’with its textured nose and crafty temporal mechanics, while channelling Cocteau Twins-like onomatopoeia in ‘Holy, Sad & Sly.’
100% Laroche is one to keep a beady ear on.
Sheffield’s self-proclaimed Kings of Stadium Ambient™ posit themselves as the apocryphal sons of The KLF in a superb, out-of-the-blue album purportedly recorded at their mid ‘90s zenith and recovered from “lost” DATs
“Everyone is interested in a story or an angle when it comes to music and nothing is more intriguing than a mysterious band thought to be lost in where are they now files of musical history. Who were the The NRG? Did they even exist? The forgotten men of the 90s rave scene?
After they ended their career in late 1994, at the absolute peak of the power, and deleted all of their catalogue everything was thought to be lost forever... but then... In the unassuming town of Kansas, Independence, USA a bunch of DAT tapes were recently discovered when safety deposit boxes were cleared out of an old vault. Amongst gold, cash and classified government documents, the missing piece of The NRG’s history was uncovered. These "live" recordings have been lovingly restored and compiled to create the Live ‘94 LP.
Live ‘94 is the apex of The NRG’s history—simply because there is nothing else. With ticking clocks and alarms littered throughout the album, it becomes clear that the passing of days, hours, and minutes was the actual crux of the band. It was only a matter of time until The NRG would dissipate as quickly as they appeared, like a comet across the night sky—a moment which, if not looking directly at it, is gone. Just like that.
In fact, The NRG never existed, the band, the tour, the album - just a figment of imagination. All created in the modern dis-information and alternative facts world.Born out of a product of fun, ambition and a love for the 90’s, the conception of Live ‘94 - a make believe live album with added crowd sounds transports us back to a time that once was. Now in the pandemic this release has a whole new meaning; no longer is it a nod to the 90’s, but a nostalgic nod to a time when we were once able to experience live music. This album draws from all of the above elements, giving us the ultimate fake dream stadium experience.”
North Californian landscapes supply a rich influence to the solo debut by Marcel Sletten, writing in a self-termed style of “Zen Americana” for his label, Primordial Void
Arriving in the wake of PV’s stellar Oï les Ox album (joint released with The Death of Rave), Sletten’s solo debut proper takes its cues from the spiritual energy of the Bay Area, California Delta, and Sierra Nevada for a charming EP oscillating plaintive, floating drones and more expansive, ecstatic synth flights steeped in the new age suss of the West Coast’s promised land.
Treating his synths like the acoustic guitars of folk, Sletten evokes the wonder of an old new world with strong winks toward 0PN via, perhaps, the likes of J.D. Emmanuel, with a shifting play of light and spatial scale unfolding in his transition from ‘Morphine’, to the arpeggiated vistas of ‘Amador City Blues’, the gushing light streams of ‘Mount Diablo Sunset’, and ‘Transmat Memories’-era Oneohtrix Point never-style bittersweetness of ‘Grace.’ Definitely one to keep an ear on.
Jangling shards of guitar and puckish drums meet close vocal harmonies and punkish “hey!’s” in Palberta’s 3rd and latest jag with Brooklyn’s Wharf Cat Records
On ‘Palberta5000’ the trio of Anina Ivry-Block, Lily Konigsberg, and Nina Ryser elide the pop and punk aspects of their sound tighter than ever, resulting oodles of sing-a-long lyrics and nagging melodic riffs that will be trotting around your noggin for days, maybe weeks, to come after each play.
Quite notably, ‘Palberta5000’ was recorded in a studio located in the former home and family lamp-shop of Paul Reuben (aka none other than *that* mad egg, Pee Wee Herman) and it’s possible that his sense of U-cert mischief perfuses the album’s sense of exuberant youthfulness, which is practically spilling over from the likes of their dizzy harmonies in ‘Never To Go’, and the ‘90s indie-pop charms of ’Summer Sun’, or The Raincoats-like jangle and quicktrot of ‘Something In The Way.’
This eagerly awaited new LP from Prurient begins with a blood-curdling scream - but thereafter all expectations are defied. If like us you've always been fascinated by the more reflective, electronic side of Dominick Fernow's catalogue - thus far restricted to the odd album track, his work with Cold Cave and a couple of choice side projects - then all your Christmases have come at once. Reportedly inspired by long drives around mainland Europe listening to minimal techno, Bermuda Drain pulsates with sequenced electronic menace from the off, and is the first Prurient record to pack bass heft to match his customary treble assault. While Fernow's vocals have always been central to the Prurient project, they're usually barely audible beneath the punishing swathes of feedback; here they come to the fore, sounding more vulnerable and more powerful than ever before, if occasionally a touch comical (for all the cathartic force of delivery, his lyric about wanting to "take a tree branch and ram it inside you" on 'Palm Tree Corpse' is liable to raise a smile). Sniggers aside, some of the best and most accessible music Fernow's ever recorded can be found on this album: the title track is a masterful bit of post-apocalytic ambient, reminding us of that Stars Explode split with Cold Cave, but less clogged, more vividly realised. Bold, original and astonishingly well-produced throughout, Bermuda Drain really is a new peak in Prurient's prolific career; noise fascists might turn their nose up at its synth-pop mannerisms, but for the rest of us it's a welcome twist in the tale. From the cinematic minimal wave of 'Many Jewel Surrounds The Crown', through the snotty electro thrash of 'A Meal Can Be Made' and the coruscating industrial noise of 'Watch Silently', this is an album that surprises and stimulates at every turn; hell, 'Let's Make A Slave' could almost - almost - be Detroit techno.
Norwegian ambient maestro Geir Jenssen blurs Beethoven into a spectral haze on this disarming suite of eerie vignettes. Fans of Akira Rabelais' unmatched "Eisoptrophobia" need this one.
On Gier Jenssen's 2016 album "Departed Glories", the Norwegian veteran used barely-audible samples of Eatern European and Russian folk music to illustrate a narrative that explored the Medieval history of Poland. These ghostly audio snippets were processed through Akira Rabelais' surrealist DSP software Argeïphontes Lyre and then smudged into echoes of a distant world. On "Angel's Flight", Jenssen takes a similar stylistic route, but uses Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 as the source material, allowing familiar traces of the German composer's favorite late work to peek through frozen drones and haunted pads.
This music, whether you realize it or not, has been repeated thru our collective consciousness again and again since its completion in 1826, so hearing it stretched, filtered and crushed by Jenssen is a fitting way to reabsorb it. "Angel's Flight" sounds like time itself wrestling with musical hierarchies, as themes and tropes dance and heave through aural molasses, inspiring the memory to land on images of movies, ballrooms, music lessons or adverts. It's also strikingly sad and beautiful, and while it relies on elements we've been assured are sad - minor keys, spooky drones, distant strings - Jenssen handles the elements with a restraint that's way too rare.
Somehow, "Angel's Flight" never descends into the realm of forced melancholy - rather it seeps into your pores slowly and affects you gradually, urging you to play it once more. Sadbient? Maybe, but this sounds strangely timeless.
Act!’s soundtrack to a series of Snapchat filters by artist Karen Vanderborght; scrolling sequences of GIF-like melodic vignettes and thizzy timbral warble, very much in a prism of neo-ambient, handheld and desktop music from Eno and Hosono to James Ferraro or Visible Cloaks
“GREY MATTER AR is a series of Snapchat filters created by artist Karen Vanderborght that explores the poetic and existential potential of AR (Augmented Reality) and social media - suggesting selfies as self-reflective mirrors informed by the wisdom of our elders.
Beginning in 2018 – Karen filmed and interviewed 10 seniors who brought diverse and universal wisdom to some of life’s biggest questions. Andrew; an Ojibwe leader who lived through the residential school program, Alf; a church organist who publicly came out as gay at 80, Anne; the first black Senator in Canada – all the seniors provide unique and profound perspectives on life and aging. See their words, thoughts, and appearances transpose and intersect with your selfhood in an edifying engagement on themes of age, memory, oppression, regret, and resilience. These filters, soundtracked by ACT!, were released exclusively to Snapchat in 2019 and are available now.”
Prurient does doom techno. Yes. F**king. Please, master. 'Through The Window' is an addendum to Dominick Fernow's acclaimed 'Bermuda Triangle' & 'Times Arrow' LPs and his most sincere, powerful nod to dark European techno traditions. It's a masterful consolidation of black, gothic noise emotion and dancefloor gratification, arguably one of his sexiest and most compelling issues to date. The 18 minute title track is a pounding epic, expansively realised with skin-crawling subbass, welting kicks and obliterating drones thrusting to an unnamed goal. 'Terracotta Spine' is our darkest Berghain fantasies manifest. But, we reckon the inverted trance euphoria of 'You Show Great Spirit' will clock the greatest mileage. Oakey, eat your heart out...
Berlin EBM techno boss, Hector Oaks works out under his Cadency alias on a strapping debut LP for Tresor
‘Año V-I’ just reeks of sweat and poppers and bing and strong booze and 12 hour shifts by the speaker stacks. It’s the most significant payload of Hector Oaks work following 2018’s ‘As We Were Saying’ for another techno bastion, Georgia’s Bassiani, and serves as an upfront showcase of what he does best; total geiler hammer tunes, jaaa bitte.
From the cantering stud ‘I Learned That on the Street’ to his nagging 6am pounder ‘Uno A’, there’s wall-to-wall brawn inside, with particular highlights in the bucking trance-techno of ‘Cybertunnel’ and the mission sequence ignition of ‘Bringing Down The System’, while he trots out some kinky heat in ‘All This Was Fire’ and a Suburban Knight-like attack called ‘I’m Talking To You (Cadency Remix.)
American underground experimentalist Blake Edwards’ Vertonen rears up on restlessly searching label, Helen Scarsdale Agency with a real one for lovers of grey abstract gunk, from the most radical ends of Graham Lambkin to Joe Colley’s sonic mulch or the latter stages of The Caretaker
In two seamless tracts the 30 year-wide project continues unabated with its dissociative, dislocated style of textural attrition and near EVP-like divination of spectres in the ether. His elemental sounds - sferic buzzes, raw electricity, strangled gurgles, intercepted comms - approximate a fine range of not-pleasant but, certainly transfixing, sensations that one might fleetingly register in the real world, but when condensed and arranged into a “musical” release, take on a much stranger nature.
He sustains the liminal and etheric aspects of the everyday until they become physically tangible, imposing a hypnagogic state where listeners become susceptible to heavy lids and heads keen toward the pillow (aye, you might want to be somewhere comfortable for ingestion), where its surely best to receive the piece’s turns inward to a form of memory compost and bilious doom drone. It’s really not for casual use, but budding hypnotists and those with a mind for exploring or immersion in viscous drone will find themselves falling right under its spell.
Shockingly good collab from two extreme music titans: abrasive synth noise from Prurient welded onto Justin Broadrick's torched halftempo beat experiments. A loud and fucking dangerous meeting of minds.
Errr this one though. We've never been quiet about our enduring love for Justin Broadrick and the Brummie noizze/electronic set. His work over the decades as Jesu and Final or in Godflesh, Napalm Death or Techno Animal has been as influential as it has been exceptional, so the idea of him teaming up with Prurient for the final release on the Hydra Head label is just too perfect. The fact that it sounds like a long-lost Wasteland record (look 'em up if you're confused) kicked into the ashes of the US DIY basement noise tape scene just makes us even more giddy.
The two get off to a blazing start with 'Fear of Fear', evoking Godflesh with a fuzzy tidal wave of white noise vocals, chopped breakbeats and dense Renegade Hardware-esque hoover bass, before exploding into chunky d&b. None of this should surprise followers of either artist, but the power of their collaboration - a joining of dots between two generations of extreme electronic music - has to be heard to be believed. We've been wondering then the 2020 trip-hop revival might result in a rediscovery of illbient or surge of interest in the more bizarre hybrid blowntempo worlds of Scorn or DJ Scud, so trust a Brummie OG and US noise deity to jump in first, before anyone else fucks it up.
"Worship is the Cleansing of the Imagination" rattles through ideas quickly and efficiently, allowing room for each artist's personality to shine through at different times. 'Obedient Automaton' sounds more like Dominick Fernow's Vatican Shadow material channeled thru Broadrick's rack of overdrive FX, while 'Chosen Books' is pure Prurient, all hidden harmonies and pools of screaming industrial waste. Broadrick's impact meanwhile is omnipresent, not only does he serve as a primary influence for Fernow in the first place, but his fingerprints are on every aspect of the album, from the pace and mood to the color and texture of the sounds. Play LOUD.
One of Hospital Productions' most vital protagonists yields an engrossing new chapter of possessive dark ambient in a cultishly prized style - RIYL Demdike Stare, Thomas Köner, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross scores.
The succinctly unsettling suite of ‘Migrate Exquisite Corpse’ follows in the cold draught of last year’s larger, shadowy album ‘Poison Butterfly Came Day After Autumn Day’ with a sound that’s practically as close as you’ll get to a festive album on Hospital Productions. Of course, it's Lussuria so it’s more likely a celebration of pagan festivity, wreathed in wilting mistletoe and with a frozen tone and biting air that connotes listening in the depths of winter.
Left to his devices in what we imagine is a world of candlelight and damp walls, Lussuria riffs on the classic parlour game, Exquisite Corpse in a sort of addendum to its predecessor, drawing us in with beautifully wheezy, melodious organ motifs and gnawing voices in ‘Two Will Bleed The Sun’, thru the grey dawning pads and spirit vox of ’Still Bathers’, before laying out his most soporific, cinematic ideas in ‘Architects of Fall Sek You (Poisonous Buttefly)’, and committing to thee doomiest dark ambient inertia on ‘Slowly’ with an occult conviction that sets all Lussuria’s work apart from the crowd.
James Yorkston and The Second Hand Orchestra came to be after the blossoming of a long-term friendship between James Yorkston and Karl- Jonas Winqvist, the Swedish music producer, leader and conductor of The Second Hand Orchestra.
"That communal feeling is apparent across the entire album. Recorded and mixed in Sweden over the course of three days, with a selection of musicians Winqvist had brought together, including Peter Morén (Peter, Bjorn & John), Cecilia Österholm (one of Sweden’s best-known nyckelharpa players), Emma Nordenstam (piano & cello) and Ulrika Gyllenberg (violin). The studio approach with The Second Hand Orchestra was entirely improvised around Yorkston’s songs and the only song they heard in advance was ‘Ella Mary Leather’; Yorkston didn’t want to direct anyone too much but instead allowed for a welcoming, instinctive, free-spirited and joyful atmosphere. ‘The Wide, Wide River’ is a soothing, warm and sublime listen whilst also highlighting Yorkston’s skills for songwriting, collaboration and as a musical conductor. The record takes in past loves, advancing age and friends now gone, whilst also containing some of the most sanguine songs Yorkston has ever made."
10 years since his debut as The Haxan Cloak, Bobby Krlic bears his sharpened teeth as an eminent soundtrack composer with a suitably pitch black and tense OST for period crime drama ‘The Alienist’
Leading down the ginnel from his acclaimed score to ‘Midsommar’ in 2019, Krlic again proves his fluency in the language of music for moving images with 10 sparing, skin-chilling cues and themes suggestive of the series’ atmospheres, revolving a semi-fictional police drama about a serial killer who is murdering street kids in late C.19th New York City, itself adapted from the novels of the same title by Caleb Carr.
Featuring collaborations with Sufjan Stevens, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Yo La Tengo, Shara Nova, Mouse on Mars, Francis and the Lights and others...
"The music of CARM features horns in roles typically reserved for drums, guitars and voices, while also escaping the genre categorizations reserved for music featuring an instrumentalist as bandleader. It is not jazz or classical music, nor is it a soundtrack. This is contemporary popular music that features a sound normally used as a background colour and texture as the unabashed lead voice. According to CARM, aka CJ Camerieri, “It started with the question: ‘What kind of record would my trumpet-playing heroes from the past make today?’ I believe they would want to work with the best producers, beat makers, song-writers, and singers to create new, truly culturally relevant music, and that’s what I sought to do with this project.”
Produced in Minneapolis by Ryan Olson (Polica , Lizzo) and featuring collaborations with Sufjan Stevens, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Yo La Tengo, Shara Nova, Mouse on Mars, Francis and the Lights and many others. This is a completely unique sound that additionally serves as a survey of the collaborations that have come to define the artist’s career thus far. Says Justin Vernon, “I truly believe there isn’t a more accomplished brass player in the entire world of music. And this is way more than a ‘horn’ record. It’s a discovery of new heights with what is possible in creating music.” The album begins with an orchestral brass choir of French horns, which quickly gives way to a piano sample from Francis, as Stevens and Lupin combine voices over a lush bed of horns to sing ‘Song of Trouble’. The album bookends with the same piano sample used as a springboard to an iconic lyric by Vernon in the album closer ‘Land’. Between these two generation-defining artists we have upward sweeping melodies and fanfares reminiscent of Ennio Morricone.
The acutely original sound of Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo in ‘Already Gone’ give way to the virtuoso sound of Nova’s voice. A more experimental path emerges before the strings from Music bring us back to the piano sample that started the record. Instead of recycling well-trodden sounds, CARM offers a respite for those seeking an original voice."
Ambient sound baths from Carmen Villain, moonlighting on Geographic North with a gorgeous follow-up to her track on the nocturnal 2020 suite ‘A Little Late Night Music’
Carmen Villain is best placed to spell out her take on a seasonal music for the Sketch For Winter series, offering a sublime half hour of sound-sensitive scenes that appear to reflect a transition from cold space to deliquescent thaw over the course of six gently paced, instrumental parts. Any followers of her works for Smalltown Supersound and the sentiments of last year’s ‘Affection in a Time of Crisis’ with Longform Editions will surely recognise the near-therapeutic levels of ambient bliss and understated melancholy that makes Carmen’s music such a delicate treat.
It sounds as though her Norwegian/Chilean spar, flautist Johanna Scheie Orellana reprises her role from the Longform Editions release on opener ‘Everything Without Shadow’, blowing wistful lines thru Villain’s richly evocative synth pads, before her narrator/sound designer skills leads the way from the padded snow crunch and sleety slosh of ‘Two Halves Touching’ like PInkcourtesyphone’s protagonist gone wandering around winter gardens. ‘Things That Are Solid’ follows to sustain the vibe with warmer baubles of synth melody as the textures feel to melt at the edges with ‘Agua Azul’, gently warmed by the arrival of supple percussion and the return of Orellana’s languorous flute.
Hardcore extractions from Tim Reaper and Blog To The Oldskool/8205 Recordings bossman Devnull. Bridges the gap between messy vintage heat and contempo subwise precision.
Prolific East London jungle mainstay Tim Reaper is back on Lobster Theremin with long-time mate Devnull in tow. For those that remember, Devnull has been a key figure in the breakcore scene and has been holding the torch for jungle in the USA for years. Here he adds his veteran's flair to Reaper's giddy, virtuoso euphoria on opener 'Anytime', a track that harks back to the "Logical Progression" days but avoids cheese, retaining a good level of grit.
Reaper goes it alone for rave heater 'Who Run It' and title track 'Teletext', memorializing the long-forgotten pre-web BBS-alike TV service with a spooky jammer that sounds like a vintage sci-fi theme retooled for a forest party. Devnull pops up again on closer 'Give It 2 Me' opening with fathoms-deep synth pads before slowly erupting into a propulsive hard dance beater. There's a lot of breaks-adjacent shite peppering the datastream right now, bt this is solid.
Properly waved dark ambient lullabies (including a dungeon synth version of 'Auld Lang Syne', seriously) to usher in another cursed year.
"New Year's Eve Dark Ambient" is noise veteran Mike Connelly's ode to the uncurling ouroboros as one of the most damaged years in recent history closes out. Dark ambient is surely the ideal soundtrack, and Connelly channels the dungeon synth energy of a black metal interlude as he bashes through medieval moods with graceful FM synth warbles. Best known for his work with Hair Police, Clay Rendering and Wolf Eyes, Connelly evokes a more peaceful mood here, following up the foggy atmospherics of last year's "Spirit Obscured" and stripping things down to the bare essentials.
This set of moody, glassy drones is almost as peaceful as a collection of lullabies, but never loses the underlying scent of fear. The sound set is picked for pure horror effectiveness, but Connelly avoids the "Stranger Things" effect and swerves the warmth of analog tones, opting for the isolationist chill of DX7-esque pads and strings. This makes each track sound like the darkest recesses of some weird '80s TV show (maybe "The New Adventures of Robin Hood" with the Clannad soundtrack), as princesses have their minds devoured by malevolent spirits.
Who knew that the most appropriate way to lead out of the year of COVID and Brexit was with cod-fantasy synthesizer musick made by one of the Midwest's finest noise artists? We're here for it. Fans of Prurient's nauseatingly-good "Pleasure Ground" or Coil's warbly dark atmospheres won't want to miss this one.
Arca drops the dekunstructed club electronyx in favor of captivating church-core theatrics - think Michael Nyman x Björk, ish
Quickly following up last year's solid "KiCk i", Arca takes an unexpected left turn here on "Madre", eschewing daaclub in favor of Catholic theatrics and classical minimalism. Teaming up with virtuoso cellist Oliver Coates, Alejandra Ghersi allows her voice to fully flourish in center stage, rising and falling with a ballerina's poise against Coates' haunted slides. Title track 'Madre' clocks in at almost ten melancholy minutes, heaving with arthouse charm and sounding like the soundtrack to a queer period drama centered around the Spanish Inquisition. It's delicate, erotic and morose, glistening like sweaty, naked flesh in candlelight or a tear-sodden rag at the bedside.
'Madre' is joined by 'Madreviolo', a companion piece that loses Coates' ethereal strings and replaces them with eerie staccato plucks. We're then treated to an acapella and instrumental version, which oddly each work well on their own, complimenting the original's stark minimalism. Ghersi has been teasing this level of sensual, operatic bombast for ages now, not least in her ongoing creative relationship with Björk, but on "Madre" she makes a bold, assertive move that transcends her influences. Really good this.
For fans of Four Tet, The Chemical Brothers, Jamie xx, Bonobo, Caribou / Daphni, Aphex Twin.
"Belfast-born London-based duo Bicep (Matt McBriar and Andy Ferguson) release their hotly anticipated ten track second album ‘Isles’, via Ninja Tune. Two years in the making, ‘Isles’ expands on the artful energy of their 2018 debut ‘Bicep’, while digging deeper into the sounds, experiences and emotions that have influenced their lives and work, from early days in Belfast to their move to London a decade ago. Lead track ‘Apricots’ is steeped in a shimmering bath of warm synths, its spare percussion and arresting vocals bring big room chills while still evoking something lost or forlorn."
Witchy unplugged highlights from Abyss X's trip-hop slow burner "INNUENDO" recorded in the German woods? Sign us up.
Abyss X's "INNUENDO" was one of 2020's low-key surprises, recapturing a Bristolian vibe, infusing the slo-mo groove of Tricky and (early) Massive Attack with sweat and sensuality. On "INNUENDO (Unplugged)" Abyss X goes one step further, re-interpreting five of the album's highlights with guitarist TCV and performing them in a German forest for full ritualistic dark magickal transportation.
Hearing her voice sing out so clearly is a joy, and pulled down to their bare bones, each of these tracks takes on completely new life. It's music for Blair Witches in candlelight, smudged with sage and pricked with a ceremonial dagger. A vibe, basically.
Anxious, scorching improv-noizz workouts on double bass, percussion and synth sounding something like Vibracathedral Orchestra jamming with Supersilent...
'Widdershins' is a collection of sessions from Greek trio Spyros Polychronopoulos, Thanos Polymeneas-Liontiris & Iakovos Pavlopoulos, who perform on electronics, double bass and percussion respectively. The three met outside of Greece, but all relocated to Athens recently inspiring a wave of activity, initially jams but eventually composition and recording. A mixture of writing, improvisation and post-production, "Widdershins" marks the beginning of a journey for the trio as they experiment with the possibilities of their unified expression, bashing through ideas that touch on free jazz, improv, noise and experimental forms.
Sound-wise, think back to the searing intensity of the DIY cdr/tape scene when Vibracathedral Orchestra and Chris Corsano were at their most prolific, crossed with Rune Grammofon's more electrified moments like Humcrush or Supersilent's peerless "6". Drums move like water across each segment, electronic elements cough and splutter with Ann Arbor-adjacent fizz and plucked bass roots everything with the pulse it needs for grounding.
Knives follow this Summer’s Kuedo OST release with a club tool EP from DJ / producer duo, Know V.A.
"'Hibernation' traces ecstatic elements from the hard dance music familiar to their formative experience growing up in Holland, and fuses them with more UK leaning frameworks of late 90s techstep and late 00s vaporous grime, forming an ode to the romantic nostalgia of a shared club experience. Across the 5 tracks on 'Hibernation', Know V.A. set baroque string and choral arrangements into orbit around a hypnotic meandering of fierce gabber stabs and chattering percussion - at once reminiscent of both devine, classical ceremony and flailing club experience, drenched in sweat.
Know V.A. have performed internationally for a range of promoters and venues, such as Boiler Room and Stedelijk Museum. They curate the event and club night ‘Strange Days’, which seeks to showcase contemporary hardcore experimentalism and explore how the genre, sonically and visually has remained active in the underground. Their soundtrack work includes music for Calvin Klein and the acclaimed hardcore documentary 'Thunderdome Never Dies'."
Lowkey dreamy cloudhall club pressure from Franco-Belgian duo u o & tumy, chasing up Felix Hall’s reggaeton mixtape on hot Parisian label, Promesses
Full of effervescent, night-light melodies and trim array of trap, R&B and coupé decalé rhythms, ‘2Sparks’ extends a memorable introduction to French producer tumy and his Belgian vocal foil, u o that lands to our ears somewhere to the side of Palmistry, Bladee, and Simo Cell.
They emerge from the corner of ‘dent de lait’ with whispered vox and hushed chords that grow lush trance wings by the end, before the iridescent arps and tight upswing of the EP’s big highlight ‘fumée noire’ takes hold, with extra, autotuned vox by France based artist Prise de Risque, and they keep matters perfectly soft-touch with the feminine pressure of ‘Poubelles & Ordures’, and the sublime pads and floating cloudhall-into-paso doble vector of ’Seul’ featuring Belgian singer Johannes.
The “unreleased” project all Chi heads have been holding out for; Mr. Fingers opens up his archives in the first of a very promising new series on his legendary label, Alleviated Records.
The godfather and architect of deep house proper is in inimitable effect on all four cuts, taking in an outtake from his Fingers Inc. album ‘Another Side’ with the EP’s sultry jacker ‘Chains’, whereas ‘Electronic Debris’ cuts a ruder acid figure with rubbery 303 bass and hot organ vamps, while ‘Saspence’ heads off on a more mystic mission in an acid arab style, and the juicy tweaks of ’Nyte Light’ comes off like a strangely blunted acid version of ‘Sweet Dreams’ with a few notes missing.
*Upfront Exclusive* A crucial companion of new material to Dominick Fernow's devastating Bermuda Drain LP, Time's Arrow leads with its title track in extended and edited forms. It's a crisp synth-wave kicker, with oddly grooving drums and layered melodies nudging Prurient further into dance music climes than ever before. 'Maskless Face' is classic Fernow catharsis - essentially guttural screaming across a burned-out industrial backdrop - and 'Slavery In The Bahamas' harks back to Prurient's classic Black Vase set in its effortless navigation of hypnotic loops and caustic power electronics.'Let's Make A Slave (De-Shelled)' revisits one of Bermuda Drain's finest tracks, rounding out an unmissable 12" for denizens of darkness.