‘1/1’ is the soundtrack to Jeremy Phillips’ directorial debut, the film submerges the viewer into the mind of Lissa, a 20-year-old girl in rural Pennsylvania and her struggles with sex, drugs, love and loss. Liars have created an electronic soundtrack that reflects the film’s use of mixed media abstractions and multi-film formats, which undoubtedly stands up as an album in its own right.
"Created soon after Liars’ 2014 album ‘Mess’, these are the last recordings by Angus Andrew and Aaron Hemphill before Hemphill amicably left the band. In 2017 Angus Andrew released ‘TFCF’, Liars’ eighth studio album and Aaron Hemphill recently released Nonpareils’ ‘Scented Pictures’, his debut solo album. (Both albums are out on Mute, Andrew and Hemphill’s label since Liars’ debut, ‘They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top’.) Angus Andrew and Aaron Hemphill were given the script for ‘1/1’ and, after reading it on a flight from LA to NY, immediately decided to take it on. “It was very heavy, it was very intense and by the time we got to New York, we’d read it. At that point, we hadn’t seen anything but we were on board just from reading the script,” explains Angus.
Soon after, Liars rented a space in Copenhagen and started work on the film’s soundtrack. The director, who up until that point had been using temp music to mark out where the score would go, gave the band descriptions for each of the cues. Instead of giving musical direction, he gave them emotional and descriptive language to describe what he wanted, such as “imagine you have a 100 piece puzzle, but you have 1000 pieces - what would that sound like” or “the character is submerged in water at 4am” or “an alarm clock won’t stop ringing.” Liars were delighted, “This was the perfect thing for us to hear, that allowed us to explore that feeling. At this point we still haven’t seen the film, we were going off the script and a few sample scenes. These descriptions were really helpful for us, and even though they were abstract, they allowed a lot of interpretation.”
Hemphill goes on to say, “We tried to find ways to take it off the grid. We would watch it, read the script and try to get a feel for the plot development and then base the music off of our memory.” The result is a fractured, emotional response to characters within the film. Without using visual cues that might allow the music to simply mirror emotion, Liars have delved deeper into the reality of some of the more complicated themes of ‘1/1’. Director and writer Jeremy Phillips has explained that the film was originally created in response to watching the films of John Hughes for the first time - after the director’s death in 2009 - and wondering what a Molly Ringwald film would look like now. Highly personal, he explains that it “started to connect me with the past, and dealing with depression and anxiety.”
Phillips has described the film as very much a joint production between all of the artists involved (he himself found specific inspiration in Liars’ single ‘No. 1 Against The Rush’) and some of the film was edited to work with the music, an unusual technique. The director explains, “I view this movie as ours, and that goes for everyone involved in the production. I wanted there to be give and take between everyone working on it.” This is particularly evident as the film was actually changed in some sections to adapt to the music.
Phillips goes on to say that “The music, how it functions in the film, is really the access point to the main character’s thoughts/feelings. It's a coming-of-age story, she’s very distant and the music guides you through the emotions, as both she and the visual language of the film keep maturing.”
Sneaking up on you with all the stealth of a Raconteurs album, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy returns with a brand new album - not a covers album (like the recent Ask Forgiveness) and not a sketched collection of demos (like the even more recent Wai Notes), but a proper studio-recorded follow-up to 2006's The Letting Go. Musically, Lie Down In The Light is a lot less flashy and polished than its Valgeir Sigurdsson-produced predecessor, dropping the string sections and carefully sculpted electronic elements in favour of a more traditional country sound, the most recent precedent for which would be Master & Everyone. Overall you'd have to view this newie as a generally more upbeat affair than that 2003 LP, but both albums benefit from the bright, unfussy production of Lambchop's Mark Nevers. In addition to a core band comprising brother Paul Oldham, guitarist Emmett Kelly and new vocal partner Ashley Webber, the Bonnie Prince plays host to an extended cast of contributors, providing trad Nashville elements like pedal steel and fiddle, or less obviously country-compatible instruments like trombone and clarinet (the latter of which lends a slight ragtime feel to 'For Every Field There's A Mole'). It's oddly refreshing to hear an artist of Will Oldham's calibre shying away from any pressures to push his sound into unexpected directions, and instead return to such well-trodden territory as the articulate Western sounds heard on this album. He's just writing songs - and they're plenty good enough to not require any dressing up or twisting. Oldham actually sounds unconventionally chipper on the likes of 'So Everyone', which exudes a joyful classic rocking cheer, and based on first impressions there's really not much here to indicate Oldham's penchant for comically overstated grimness, as most famously illustrated on I See A Darkness. In some senses Lie Down In The Light is too crowded a record for introspection even, and only during a few rare instances (notably 'Missing One' and the album's title track) does Oldham sound sufficiently left to his own devices to establish a real intimacy with the listener. That actually might be a good thing: it's great to hear him stepping away a little from that cliché of the solitary singer-songwriter and embracing a more outward-looking music. Highly Recommended.
Nyege Nyege Tapes’ ace new sublabel Hakuna Kulala presents fresh new bass music from Kenya with Slikback’s rudely skeletal twyss-ups
Simultaneously familiar in construction yet wickedly alien to Western bass music frameworks, Slikback’s ‘Lasakaneku’ is yet another thrilling new delivery from East and central Africa that’s bound to baffle preconceptions of music from that region.
‘Acid’ is a ruggedly squirming zinger working on a grinding dancehall bump shot up with martial snares and mad, chopped up vocal - think a marten Equiknoxx - while ‘Bantu’ comes off like slow/fast and pendulous answer to SA Gqom, and ‘Ascension’ sounds like Don’t DJ doing minimal D&B. To our ears, ‘Just I’ has the rub ’n tug of ruggedest dembow beats, and the hot-footed torque of ‘Venom’ sounds like a mutant Rian Treanor, before escalating to a syncopated gabber coda.
Following his recent turn in Tbilisi soundtracking the protest against Bassiani’s closure to a massive crowd, Phase Fatale returns with ‘Reverse Fall’ for Ostgut Ton.
The beastly kicks, doomy synth voices and lip-biting 16th note arps of Reverse Fall sets the mood for a mean set taking the distorted half-step of Incision, the drilling high-wire tension of Blackbox, and a forceful, grungy zinger called Empty Whip.
Lotic takes a stunning lurch forward with Power, their début album for Tri Angle following from the Heterocetera EP, and the Agitations  mini-LP for Janus Berlin. Where we’ve previously alluded to strong comparison between the music of Lotic and Arca, here the Berlin-based American artist really comes into their own, using vocals for the first time - ranging from syrupy rap to tortured torch song - to perfectly gel their de/constructed R&B, ambient and avant-electronic style in a way we haven’t previously heard.
Power was originally intended as a study in empowerment, but circumstances changed when Lotic lost their apartment and the subsequent two years were spent in state of flux, with windows of opportunity to record coming only every three months or so. In those windows, Lotic formed a fractious mosaic of a musical self-portrait, consolidating various aspects of their character into eleven illusively iridescent and tightly-packed crystalline structures. The effect of Lotic’s revelation is equally enthralling, serving to light up the complexities of his sound from striking new angles and providing a natural (if processed and extreme) counterpoint to their favoured high-register twinkles and asymmetric arrangements.
We can imagine cuts such as the pent dembow bumper Hunted and the severely warped R&B drill of Nerve to kill it in the club, but the album is most interesting when it’s pushing at more oblique angles, as with the Total Freedom-esque rush of Power-drums against banking discord in the title cut, or exploring pure alien terrain in Bulletproof, while it all comes together most affectively in the warped hardscrabble texture and mutant torque of Resilience, and deeply sophisticated yet animalistic expression of Heart.
If you’ve been struck by records from Arca, Yves Tumor, Björk or Ziúr in the last year, this one’s a must-have.
Bjarki’s bbbbbb label grip Norway’s EOD for a frenetic album of Braindancing drill ’n bass built in the model of classic late ‘90s AFX, Squarepusher and Venetian Snares.
Since Rephlex scurried off some years ago, this sorta sound has ben scattered around various labels, with bbbbbb emerging as a natural home for the reflexions and expressions of the producers currently pushing dancefloor prisms.
Norway’s Stian Gjevik a.k.a EOD and CN, is a prime case in point with ‘Named’, his most significant physical release since Rephlex issued a pair of his 12”s in 2013, not long before the label disbanded. For all intents and purposes, ‘Named’ could have easily come out on the home of Braindance: from the giddy hyper jazz of ‘Exham Priory’ to the chops of ‘’sblood Thou Stinkard’, thru the haunted warehouse acid of ‘Edward’, to demented music box melodies recalling NYZ in ‘Zadok’, to the Radiophonic spectres of ‘Lavinia’, and the curdled, winking daftness of ‘Blasted Haeth’, you’ll find all the mental colour, jittery funk and emotional melancholy of Braindance at its best.
Yowling, white hot punk snot from NYC, 2018
“Stucco Thieves is the new LP by New York City's The Sediment Club. This new collection of nine songs marks 10 years since the band's formation in 2008. Stucco Thieves tells an abbreviated and frank series of human bankruptcy accounts from the post Pax-Americana perspective. The Sediment Club wrench and berate their instruments to make Stucco Thieves a concise, brutal landscape filled with tales that range from slapstick to cruel. Hapless characters embody greed, change form, and reflect on the crumbling infrastructure of a “cobalt ruin.” Stucco Thieves holds our shared predicament of doom in the casual pass of a snarl, “a dungeon shook,” and a dropped bag of dirt. Honey's chromosomes are dying fast, falling out of vogue, and turning to a “shadow soon.”
For 10 years, The Sediment Club have shown a commitment to dissonance while touring their brand of it extensively around North America, challenging audiences and rallying fellow outsiders. They will continue to do so into the next decade.”
“Chastity is a world of its own from the mind of Brandon Williams. Reflecting the working class background of Whitby, Ontario, Chastity’s songs are charged with the ethos of archetypal youth on the fringe. A project more aptly characterized by its intentions than specific sound or medium, Chastity stands to confront the struggles of those existing in the unseen, often silenced periphery. It is an artifact of youth culture constantly working to form community, bridging isolation with collectivity.
Visuals play a meaningful role in this world with Williams using his penchant for crafting consistently sleek, challenging imagery to personalize the narratives running throughout all of Chastity’s music — most discernibly, a call for the disruption of status quo.
It was clear from the release of Chastity’s first demos that this was not just “another punk band that can operate at only one speed.” Always concerned with the trending lack of accessibility and inclusivity in public spaces for the arts, the first Chastity show was held in Williams’ own bedroom where, packed wall-to-wall, the police were quickly called. But after the project’s second show supporting DC punk band Priests, Chastity was off to the races, sharing stages with the likes of Metz, Chelsea Wolfe and Fucked Up. All without a full length recording out.
Since signing with Brooklyn label Captured Tracks, Chastity has re-released those initial demos, along with 2 new singles and an EP, stoking the anticipation of the debut full length record, Death Lust.
Death Lust follows the plot of suffering to survival. The album begins on a tortured note with ‘Come' and builds toward the plummeting finale of ‘Chains’, evolving from start to finish in a crescendo of severity. Chastity explains, “Death Lust is about growing up death obsessed. It’s about the pain that it takes but the capacity that we have to overcome.”
Body/Head, the duo of Kim Gordon (CKM, Sonic Youth, Free Kitten) and guitarist Bill Nace (X.O.4,Vampire Belt, Ceylon Mange), release their second studio album, ‘The Switch’.
"Their debut album together as Body/Head, ‘Coming Apart’ was more of a rock record - heavy, emotional, cathartic, spellwork in shades of black and grey. ‘The Switch’ is their second studio full length and it finds the duo working with a more subtle palette, refining their ideas and identity.
Some of it was sketched out live (if you’ve not had the fortune of seeing them in that natural environment yet, see 2016’s improvisational document ‘No Waves’) but much of it happened purely in the moment. On ‘The Switch’, their vision and focus feel truly unified.
If ‘Coming Apart’ was dark magic, ‘The Switch’ works with light, though it never forgets that these approaches are two sides of the same coin and that binaries - black/white, near/far, emotion/analysis, body/head - are made to be broken open and that the truth of things is in the energy between.
Pariah returns from extended hiatus with debut album ‘Here From Where We Are’ on Houndstooth making up for time since his last outing in 2012, and a couple of Karenn slammers with Blawan over the interim. In the key of the moment, it’s an ambient record presumably meant to soothe your bones after a hard night raving, or indeed to ease your swede from the intensifying travails of everyday life.
“Arthur Cayzer was a relative late comer to dance music. He grew up in various hardcore and punk bands before moving to London and being swept away by dubstep. After just six months messing around making his own stuff on Logic, Pitchfork coverage piqued the interest of the legendary R&S, and over the next two years he released three EPs with the Belgian label. Each one showed subtle evolution and further established Pariah on the international scene.
Since then, Arthur has continued to DJ round the world and play live with Blawan as Karenn. Musically, though, he’s been adrift. With countless unfinished projects cluttering his hard drive, he felt he’d pressured himself into making the music people expected, rather than music that was an honest reflection of himself. It was only by taking a step back to analyse the music that has always resonated with him—and where, how, when and in what context it did—that gave him a renewed confidence in his work. After one track was finished, an album of coherent pieces naturally followed.
Although Here From Where We Are is inspired by a series of very personal reflections, responses and reactions, Arthur is keen for people to process it in their own way, free from interference. Opening with the transcendental ‘Log Jam’ which spills into the huge, empty and plaintive ‘Pith’, the artist distills his experiences into an album of nine moving, multi-layered tracks, where peculiar textures combine with rich harmonies and absorbing melodies into a heady mix of abstracted environments, formally structured songs and sound collages. Absorbing from start to finish, Here From Where We Are is a long overdue return and accomplished new direction for this rejuvenated producer.”
Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch plays it like she means it on ‘Époques’, the french pianist and composer’s 2nd LP with FatCat’s 130701 label. It’s rare to hear a record that combines such direct gestures with keening experimental leanings while maintaining a palpable coherence, but that’s just what Emilie has done here. RIYL Max Richter, Richard Skelton, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Dustin O’Halloran
“Witnessing an increased assurance and dynamism in both Emilie's playing and composing, 'Époques' marks a big step forward for the London-based artist. A bold and adventurous album that alternates between passages of emotive, sinuous solo piano; stirring compositions for viola and cello and some beautifully sprawling electronics, it has been masterfully pieced together to further reveal a unique and intelligent sense of artistry, and a composer who really does deserve your full attention.
Losing some of the chill of Emilie's previous album, 'Époques' sound is both warmer and more honestly, emotively grounded. With a more coherent narrative drive, it retains the former's gentility and intricacy, whilst at times unravelling or teetering towards a palpably edgy, aggressive point of collapse. Over the course of its 44 minutes, the record modulates in intensity and moves between passages of sublime beauty to menace and despair. The tone for the album is outlined within the first two tracks. Opening with the sparse piano of 'Martello', which flowers into life and draws itself around you with sinuous vines and rising clusters of piano, it then falls into 'The Only Water', a rich yet murky, subterranean dreamscape of electronics and strings that hover and saw like Richard Skelton before evolving into some dark chamber duet, whilst slowly everything peels away into layers of delay. 'Redux' is another solo piano track, a meandering drift that winds its own sweet way before falling off into the glowering electronics and spaced cello figures of 'Overflow' and the dark, consumed-by delay piano of 'Fracture Points'. The brooding 'Ultramarine' opens a sound-field that lies closer to film score – edging perhaps towards the sensibility of former labelmate Jóhann's Jóhannsson's brilliantly unsettling 'Sicario' soundtrack.”
Evil, wild-eyed industrial techno and gloomy doom core from USA’s Rita Mikhael a.k.a. E-Saggila
As with her previous form for Opal Tapes and last year’s Tools Of My Purpose 12”, the vibe is hardworking and darkly enigmatic, veering from epic gloom tramplers such as Glass Wing to cyberpunk techno on Reputation and bone-rattling hardcore sensibilities in Strive For Action and Your Hole in a way that strongly recalls everyone from Nkisi to AdamX and Xyn Cabal.
Don’t sleep; Rave!
The artistic director of Louis Vuitton has a grimy acid gurn off with Boys Noize…
‘Orvnge’ is a bare-bones jack track sparked up with the classic ‘Landlord’ stab and militant snares to enhance your swagger, while ‘??’ works to a barer 8-bar grime syntax, and the arse falls out of ‘Sirene’ with speaker buckling effect, leading to numbly spine-tracing arps and acid flares in a way recalling Errorsmith experiments.
Exploratory British violinist Laura Cannell presents captivating duets with André Bosman, who previously produced her ‘Quick Sparrows Over The Black Earth’ album, on a gripping session recorded live inside the 13th century stone walls of Ravingham Church in Norfolk, UK
“In wood and marsh and stone we make our reckoning”
Dispatched on Laura’s Brawl Records, ‘Reckonings’ is another prime example of her singularly experimental take on a cross section of ideas absorbed from early medieval music, traditional folk and renaissance and contemporary styles. Coupled with Bosman, she’s clearly an adept collaborator, as her previous works with Mark Fell, Sandro Mussida, Aby Vuillamy, and Rhodri Davies have proven, but we’d take this album as the strongest example of her strengths in union.
Laura plays violin with overbow and baroque bow, while André handles violin with amplifier and Rebec bow. The results are fiercely dissonant in a classic folk sense, as the two operate closely but with differences emerging in their bowing and the extra layer of disruption added by Bosman’s amplifier, which lends a wickedly coruscating bite to proceedings.
It’s definitely not your usual, pretty, cliched neo-classical work at all. There’s a snarling fire to their sound that seems to fulminate in the air, with each player bearing their fangs in a way that’s not aggressive but does connote a sort of slow, considered violence to our ears that’s much more effective than outright aggression. It feels as though they are absorbing and transmuting hundreds of years of hellish imagery and pain from the church itself into these recordings, giving a voice to lost souls.
‘Wandelaar’ is a time-dilating suite of solo piano, strings and electronic ambience realised by Haron Aumaj as the first release on a promising new Dutch label, Queeste - properly gorgeous stuff.
As first introductions go, Wandelaar is a memorable one. Over the course of seven pieces, Haron extends a modest invitation to his world with the spare, Roger Eno-esque air of solo keys and floating synth tons in Lotuseater, before opening out the vast symphonic panorama of Maangerij and seamlessly segueing into the windswept arps of Caverne with in a manner recalling a more tempered TCF.
The journey reaches a hallucinatory apex with the staggering proprioceptive sound design of Selenieten evoking febrile imagery of incomprehensible scale and dynamics, and we’re swept, dreamlike, into the playfully frothy, melodic keys of Foschia, which make for a stark contrast with the fleeting blue grey notes of Sepia that lead into the lip-tingling, head-thizzing expression of his Music for Elbows, charmingly evoking comparisons to Ryuichi Sakamoto at his most deliquescent, as much as a tipsy, sun-dazed Emahoy Tsegué-Maeryam Guèbrou work. It's an engrossing, brilliant album that comes highly recommended for those of you looking beyond Ambient-by-numbers fodder.
Naturally, Tresor 303 is a killer album of 8 driving acid studies by Italian maestro Donato Dozzy
On ‘Filo Loves The Acid’ Dozzy presents his first solo album since ‘The Loud Silence’ [Further Records, 2015]. But, where that album and his collaborations with Anna Caragnano, Bee Mask and Neel have tended to his experimental side, this is the first time that Dozzy has focussed on dance music for a long player, finally exploring the functions of his numerable 12”s in a broader, durational format, and with predictably immersive results..
It’s all supremely strong and slick gear, opening out with the panoramic pads and plangent tweaks of ‘Filo’ - named after his best bud, whom the album is dedicated to - before getting crafty with the slipping kicks of his ‘Vetta’ pounder and the overpronating drive of ‘Duetto’, to go hard for a late ‘90s skullhead style on ‘Nine ‘o Three’.
With ‘Back’ he brings a flavour of early ‘90s psycho-tribalist stompers, while ‘Vetta Reprise’ ramps the energy level to breakneck, and ‘TB Square’ settles its arse down to a more hypnotic swing jack, before ‘Rep’ rips out with a proper, brain-drilling riff and martial tattoo of the type you’d expect to hear in Tresor, cloaked in smoke and blinded by the strobes.
Yorkshire soulboy No.1, N.O.W., remixed in fine style by Moodymann, Illa J, and the group’s own DJ E.A.S.E.
Detroit vibes are set with Illa J’s slow glyding R&B bumps and the original version’s classicist combo of swanging subs and Sadie Walker’s burnished vocal, but the B-side heads for the ‘floor with DJ E.A.S.E.’s strutting club mix coming off like a mix of SoYo bass and filter house, while Moodymann seals the deal for 313 fiends with a super low slung booty shifter blessed with his personalized magic. Give this man a good vocal, he’ll give you a class remix!