Lithuania’s Patrica Kokett swivels on a mean, slow groove in four bugged-out ways for the excellent Knekelhuis label
“Patricia Kokett’s sound is shrouded in a veil of mysticism. The brainchild of Lithuanian Gediminas Jakubka, Diabel’s metallic heartbeat underlies a magical superstructure that evokes some kind of DMT infused trip. Or possibly even some kind of ancient ritual, where one is intoxicated by serpents blood. Guided by repetitive drum patterns, it creates a slow joint dance that opens the path towards transcendence.”
Irresistible electro Maloya from the island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, plucked out by Uganda’s amazing Nyege Nyege Tapes...
Les Experience electro Maloya is the first ever compilation of Jako Maron’s plugged-in updates of the traditional, politicised form of folk music from Réunion, a tiny island off the coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Like séga, Réunion’s other main musical style, Maloya’s origins can be traced back to African slaves and indentured Indian workers. But unlike séga, Maloya’s stripped down drum ’n bow rhythms and call-and-response vocals, which were originally used as ritual mediations as far back as the 17th C., have become a form of protest music favoured by the island’s creole population in the 1900’s, leading it to be banned during the ‘70s because of its associations with the Communist party.
In 2018, Jako Maron’s electro Maloya instrumentals are perhaps less explicitly politicised, yet they still carry the charge of eons of encrypted ritual thru their geometric designs and inexorable dancefloor traction. In 11 parts, Maron uses modular synthesis and drum machines to mutate and relay Maloya’s meaning for the island modern indigenous population as well as users far beyond the island.
The results are some of the canniest, most infectious recordings we’ve heard from Nyege Nyege Tapes or indeed this region of the world, all generally (but not exclusively) working with slow tempos and a range of humid, piquant, and hypnotic synthlines that lend the sound to strong comparison with everything from Equiknoxx’s mutant dancehall, thru the current Flex sound outta NYC, to the sorta crooked dembow fusions explored by Brian Piñeyro (DJ Python/DJ Wey) and that recent Drew McDowell X Hiro Kone EP, or even the acid modulations of his Belgian namesake, Ro Maron.
Excellent, effervescent, charmingly whimsical, Kate NV’s solo début для FOR is a lovely album of rhythmelodic percussive pointillism and splayed choral vox recalling the sweetest sides of FAY, Visible Cloaks, D.K., Steve Reich or Jameszoo.
“Over the ten, symmetrical pieces of 'для FOR,' Kate NV scores her native Moscow environment with just enough whimsy to gurgle through the city cracks and grow psychotropic foliage. On her sophomore album, each sound assumes its own personality, moving through the album metropolis like miniature, mutating molecules viewed from NV’s apartment window.”
Crushing beat-em-up computer game soundtrack and hardcore dance music abstraction from Milan’s Haunter Records co-founder Francesco Birsa Alessandri, débuting his fierce sound as Sense Fracture. RIYL Ziúr, Rabit, Croww, Xyn Cabal
““In My Escape I Look For A Weapon”, a declaration of intent in an ever-progressing struggle for existence. Urging not to surrender while also calling for empathy and comprehension. Haunter co- founder, DJ, producer and writer Francesco Birsa Alessandri, under his Sense Fracture alias, launches a call to arms to all resisting forces and collective efforts for progress, freedom and equality, riding a punishing, uncompromising sound through an unquiet harmonic body: hard-edged yet unapologetic about its own vulnerability. The dancefloor’s potential for political affirmation and the ambivalent nature of escapism are the forces that sharpen the Fracture. Channeling the writings of Kathy Acker, Amy Ireland and Mark Fisher as well as bits of rave extremism, breakcore, dub, grime and trap, Alessandri aims to reflect and infect reality by challenging the structure of conventional club narratives. It is by enhancing the nonlinear, abrasive qualities dwelling between the beats that They build a critique of language and power relations.”
Paleman joins Berlin’s youthling Zehnin label with a dark payload of rumbling techno in the wake of their releases by Lucy/Blawan and Roots In Heaven.
With signature subtlety and powerful traction, Paleman blends UK and Euro techno tropes to his own special mixture, serving heat-seeking phantom killers in the hulking rogue 2068, and clanking underwater dynamics in Searching, while the title and effect of The Peg Loosens perfectly sum up his approach to altering the mechanics of techno convention, and Slurp rolls out with properly infectious funk.
ARP wraps up inspirations from Japanese ambient, 4th world electronics, jazz and kosmiche synth music into a luxurious suite of loungey psychedelia
“A mutant offspring of diverse stylings, unlikely convergences, unfixed constellations, ZEBRA, Alexis Georgopoulos’ – aka Arp – fifth full-length album, is a post-everything symbiosis of ancient to future psychotropics, emphasizing points of connectivity between far-flung traditions. ZEBRA is as naturalistic as it is alien, disrupting outdated boundaries between musical traditions, hierarchies and genre politics.
Using forward-looking production techniques and an idiosyncratic instrumental palette — analog synthesizers, double bass, Fender Rhodes, electronic and acoustic drums, flute, vintage harmonizers and tape delay — Georgopoulos proposes a vast, shimmering prospect, floralizing an array of styles and smiles — Fourth World tremors, vibey Cosmic Jazz, 80s Japanese production, floating kosmische drum atmospherics.
Emphasizing ‘points of connectivity’ in a time when reactive and fractious isolationism threaten in divisive ways, ZEBRA is the sound of interaction. ZEBRA seeks something beyond definition of singularity perspective and division. It is constructive instead of flippant: ecstatic instead of wallowing; clear-eyed instead of opiated, romantic instead of cynical.
Like the zebra, Georgopoulos’ latest album revels in contrast / duality – Naturalistic + alien. Urban + rural. Calm + unsettling. Lucid + mysterious. Bold simplicity + fiendish complexity. The result is a portal to a more curious world that compels repeat visits.”
1980: it was the dawn of a new age. Built on the broken backs and bodies of those who had hoped and dreamed for a better world, the 80s made it clear: that world wasn’t coming.
"A generation and more plunged into the abyss. But what of Death? The Hackney brothers were no different from anybody else - in the heat and tumult of the 1970s they’d seen that new world coming. They’d raised their voices righteously, transforming with outrage and hunger their all-in-the-family power trio Rock Funk Fire Express into the legends called Death. The combination of Bobby and Dannis’ pile-driving rhythm, older brother David’s hard-rock guitar leads and an effervescent combination of lyrical angst, missionary zeal and vision-spirit were an unknown hybrid on the African-American side of Detroit in the mid-70s - and everywhere else, for that matter.
These were the sounds the world knows today as ‘For The Whole World To See’ - but at the time the brothers managed only to selfrelease two songs on a basically undistributed 7” record, which caused no label anywhere to express any interest in a record deal for the band called Death. Stung by the indifference, they reconsidered their position. The three corners of their personal cosmic triangle hadn’t been enough to realize their Death ambitions. It was time for The 4th Movement.
Death had plenty of existential / spiritual elements to them; a desire to know where they stood in the big picture was always key to the Hackneys’ musical ambitions. As The 4th Movement they would direct all those inquiries to Christ. But the raw spirit of Death was still the driving force behind the music; the sound of The 4th Movement captured the trio with rough-hewn intensity as they reached new heights of composition, creating an album-length set of songs that verged on Punk / Christian opera. It would be years before it would occur to any other musical act to try such an outrageous thing. Recorded in their new home base of Burlington, Vermont and released by the group on their own Tryangle Records imprint, ‘The 4th Movement’ was destined for privatepress notoriety in the world that was coming.
But in the world in which the Hackney brothers were striving to be heard, The 4th Movement was the second seismic rumbling of Death. The 4th Movement LP was followed by several years of gigs, a single and a second self-released album. After all the time spent on both bands, the love revolution appeared farther away than ever, so David called it quits and returned to Detroit, taking with him the wild dreamer’s visions that had been so central to their direction. Bobby and Dannis stayed in Burlington and put down roots, starting families and forming Lambsbread, developing a local fanbase for whom they played regularly, until Death came calling again in 2009. The records that they’d made all those years ago had drifted first into obscurity and then into high-priced collector’s notoriety - an equally obscure destination."
Varg empties the contents of his hard drive on Posh Isolation. Expect ambient hook-ups with Ecco2k, AnnaMelina and Vanity Productions...
“When the fight-or-flight response edges in—adrenaline coursing and perception wired—our behaviour is especially spiked by an emotional intensity. And with that peak comes a trough. It's a chemical freefall, just like a crush.
Presented by Posh Isolation, 'Crush' marks the beginning of the end for Varg's turbulent Nordic Flora Series. Getting us lost in an exhilarating maze of fainting beauty and breaks, the fifth piece of the series invites us to relish the harmony just as much as the dissonance.
Following on from the previous iterations of the series, particularly the widely acclaimed 'Nordic Flora Series Pt.3: Gore-Tex City,' the cast of collaborators remain familiar.
Some faces are more prominent on this occasion, while others were folded into the series for the first time at last year's Berlin Atonal festival where Varg's Nordic Flora program was unveiled.
The album's most tender moments arrive when the acoustic instrumentation and ambient ascents cross and tangle with the spoken word performances from AnnaMelina and Chloe Wise. They speak in lullabies of decadence. And the sincerity catches you out, tapering the rush, awakening the crush. When working with both AnnaMelina and Vanity Productions, the gentle details get scaled up for bigger arenas, the track signalling a kinship with last year's Yung Lean collaboration.
Tracing another kind of intimacy is a collection of deft and agile club-cursed tracks that set a new level of scattered cohesion for Varg. Spirited and biting, they bump and quake with a whiplashed gait, effortless af. Not surprisingly, Varg configures this side of 'Crush' alone, perhaps letting this stormy intensity out just the once in a mournful piece with Ecco2k.
True to the Nordic Flora Series, the artwork comes from American multidisciplinary artist Cali Thornhill DeWitt. The artwork is presented in collaboration with international copyright agreements. Our burning passions light diverse paths, and as the fragility of the heart is learned and lamented, then surely a cause to celebrate this fate comes?”
Impeccably studied shoegaze/dream-pop. RIYL The Cocteau Twins, Kate Bush, The Sundays
“Them Are Us Too was formed in the Bay Area by friends Kennedy Ashlyn and Cash Askew in 2012 after meeting at school. Fast friends with an appreciation for the same music and art, they recorded a demo and began performing intimate and memorable gigs on the west coast. They quickly gained a cult following as word spread about their youthful, innocent, and fresh take on the revered 80s dream pop and shoegaze sound, and Kennedy Ashlyn’s voice was immediately compared to Elizabeth Fraser, Kate Bush, and Harriet Wheeler – while Cash Askew’s washes of intricate guitar felt akin to Robin Guthrie, Ronny Moorings, or Kevin Shields. Their music felt familiar but new, nostalgic, and heartbreaking, with songs delivered simply and earnestly. They betrayed their age (both only 21 when they signed to DAIS) by releasing one of the most incredible debut albums of 2014, “Remain”.
Tragically, Cash Askew passed away in the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland in December of 2016, sending a shockwave of loss through our community. While Kennedy Ashlyn would eventually emerge as a solo artist through her project SRSQ, there were unfinished Them Are Us Too recordings and demos that Kennedy and those close to Cash felt deserved be heard in her memory.
Kennedy returned to the studio with producer Joshua Eustis (Telefon Tel Aviv), Sunny Haire (Cash’s stepfather), Matia Simovich (INHALT), and Anya Dross (Cash’s girlfriend) to complete unfinished demos and sketches, write new compositions, and honor Cash Askew.
The result is “AMENDS”: an album of tragic beauty and depth that tugs at emotions and inspires.”
Ian William Craig’s enchanting début album, ‘A Turn of Breath’ - the record which first attracted the attention of Fatcat’s 130701 sublabel, and brought worldwide attention to Ian’s singular flux of oxidised ambient, neo-classical composition and avant-garde electronics - now receives an extended reissue edition on Sean McCann’s marvellous Recital Program
The 2014 release’s 12 tracks are now supplemented by 10 previously unreleased works stemming from the same recording sessions. Revisiting the record after years, it patently still warrants comparison with everyone from Philip Jeck to Kara-Lis Coverdale and Leyland Kirby, rendering one of those listening experiences that get under the nails, in your eyes with an effect that, once felt, is hard to shake.
That feeling spills over into Ian’s 10 new previously unheard works. They include a tremulous dose of spectral ambient folk-soul in Erat Hora, and a 3rd part of his organ-based song cycle A Slight Grip, A Gentle Hold, while the crackly textures and disembodied voices of Either Or (Darkroom Version) and the ten minute beauty Genesis Device could have almost come from Bellows or The Caretaker’s recent LPs, and Bon Voyage, Westbrook 210 blesses the suite with a beautifully elegiac sense of closure.
N.M.O. + EVOL’s Rubén Patiño switches hairstyle to Lag OS for the Anòmia label from his native Barcelona
Pato’s first solo trip since a split LP with No God Ritual (Xyn Cabal) in 2016 for Hypermedium, is a steeply dissociative demonstration of extreme computer music that feels like K-holing in the middle of a crowd on a hot day, with your senses inverted and dissolved into a sticky ether.
In Swamp 333 Medley we’re extruded like chewing gum picked off a sneaker sole in slow motion, warped and congealing with environmental detritus in a proprioception-baffling roil of upside-down, inside-out dynamics that resolve at a masticated post-techno pulse 10 minutes later.
With Draassig Last Land the effect is more discernibly underwater, or under some viscous substance at least, with seven minutes of discombobulated slosh that leaves listens completely uncertain of their surroundings, before Take AAA Dear emulates something like a sonic allegory of Google’s AI dream imagery, all deliquescent chromatics and phantasmagoric convolution that pinches the pineal gland and squeezes it on the synaesthetic synapses between ears and eyes with keyhole surgery precision.
In other words, some of the most beautifully fcuked up electronic music we’ve heard in ages.
uon runs a beautifully warm and inviting ’Superbath’ for mindful contemplation on Barcelona’s persistently probing anòmia label. If you’ve been smitten with son’s turns for Huerco S’ West Mineral or Motion Ward and wanted the feeling to last longer, we implore you to immerse in this 24 minutes of lushness!
“Initial searches on “sound bath” led me to the general description “Sound Bath’s provide the space and sounds for you to relax at a profound level. This allows your body to find its natural balance while creating space for insights. People often find resolution for emotional issues and a sense of coming home to themselves”
Although one might find this information relative- Uon’s “Superbath” does not propose such results, it does not proclaim to enlighten, or resolve. Its remedy lies in its modest simplicity. In fact the Uon project, as far as I can tell, does not proclaim much of an image or objective at all. The sounds communicate directly the intention of their creator; an often elusive nuance in modern music. ”Superbath” provides an immediate voice of a conscious world. One can sense moments weaving through an ionosphere of soft glow and delicate fog; continually mapping an empathetic landscape without ushering the listener into any specific progression of ideology. These hazy voices wander above our common realm; voices of mystery, each drawing on the eternal torch of reality.”
Unsung West Coast maverick Carl Stone is subject of a necessary 2nd retrospective on Unseen Worlds following their Laurie Spiegel/Don Christensen and Jacqueline Humbert & David Rosenboom releases
As revelatory as the first volume Electronic Music From the Seventies and Eighties, the temporal shift into the ’80s/‘90s in this 2nd collection opens four hallucinatory new planes of ambient enquiry yielding some of the most beautiful electronic music we’ve never heard before.
Progressing farther along Stone’s timeline we find him refining the flow of his practice in four prime examples or his work within the parameters of real-time electronic music performance and process. With computerised sleight of hand, all four works reveal a magick of metamorphosis, or how fixed elements can become im/perceptibly changed over time.
In Bantreay Srey we hear a lone East Asian vocal slowed and bifurcating into evaporating helixes of floating tones, only to appear to invert its place in the soundfield by the work’s close, whilst the percolated glassy chain of Sonali appears to predate the playful brilliance of his glitching pop cut-ups in its keening, frothy drive and evolution leading to a secreted Mozart chorus.
Woo Lae Oak follows with a sublime play on tension between levitating flute lines and a backdrop of strobing, hyper electronics keeping us rapt for its 23 minute lifespan, before another extended number Mae Yao aligns the senses in a sort of digitally windswept segue from hyperventilating female vocals to shimmering shoegaze radiance hinting at gamelan music, but never quite resolving at either.
To be honest, we’re still nowhere near getting our heads around Carl Stone’s body of work, but this and the last volume are a great place to start probing, and likewise his Al-Noor CD if his more popwise aspects take your fancy.
Barcelona’s excellent Anòmia serves uon’s earliest entry, a 2016 split of lush ambient dynamics shared with Berlin’s Exael
Originally a tape, now on digital, ANM035 features some of the first releases by Ryan Fall as uon, a project which has recently bloomed into a cult concern with sublime 12”s for Motion Ward and more recently Huerco S’ West Mineral Ltd.
We can pretty much guarantee that if you like those, you fall heavily for the vaporous, heavy-lidded appeal of uon’s Nod and his tenderised 10 minute nocturne, Gate, while 2zax, a collab with Exael keens toward somewhere murkier, initially unsettling, but ultimately resolving beautifully.
Likewise, Exael’s solo tracks tread that fine line between pensive and meditative, with Grane sounding like an isolation tank infested by nanobots, while Held elusively feels to dissolve in your hands, ears, and Bundle lends a subtly salty, underlying edge to to ostensibly prosaic ambient dub techno.
Four beautiful, exceptional ambient nocturnes bloom again on a very welcome 30th anniversary reissue, newly packaged together by Grönland for the benefit of your health...
David Sylvian and Holger Czukay’s Plight + Premonition  & Flux + Mutability  bouquets remain some of the most enigmatic ambient recordings of the ‘80s since their conception at Czukay’s converted cinema studio in Köln, 1986. But, while Sylvian was ostensibly coming to record vocals for the last track on Czukay’s Rome Remains Rome LP, the legendary Can figure ended up surreptitiously recording Sylvian improvising on whatever was at hand, only stopping the recording when the results started to become too “structured”, in effect capturing moments of less conscious, more freeform expression, and preserving them for what would become some of the most spellbinding and transportive recordings in either artist’s catalogue.
Recorded during their fateful first meeting just as glasnost was beginning to thaw the cold war, the two parts of Plight + Premonition tentatively mirror this transition from the shadow of nuclear war towards open windows of possibility in the dawning mists and gently windswept synths of Plight (The Spiralling of Winter Ghosts), and the again with a genteel flush of harmonic colour perfusing shortwave radio signals and glimmering keys hinting at the promise of seductively warmer uplands in Premonition (Giant Empty Iron Vessel). On the follow-up side, Flux (A Big, Bright, Colourful World) that horizon comes clearer into view with the earthy percussion of Jaki Liebzeit joining Czukay and Sylvian to beckon the light along with Can’s Michael Karoli and woozy, Hassell-ian Flugelhorn by Markus Stockhausen, son of Karlheinz, before the lead pair calibrate a mutual vision of reserved but quietly optimistic lushness in Mutability (A New Beginning is in the Offing).
One year on from A Music Of Soundsystems, Spatial pursues the album’s ideas in four sideways styles
Working out rubbery dancehall bass and nagging computer tones in Chronic; rolling off-the-bone with tangy drums and swingeing subs in Calima; then hopping around the groove with the pinging acid of Kairos; and shopping your booty in the dub proper of Abora.
Arnau Sala aka Exoteric Continent moves in the grey/blue space between modern, latinate dance architecture and ghostly ambient sound noumena with La Perspectiva Racional - presented as his first album proper and his 6th release with Hospital Productions, sounding something like a more fractured take on the classic dub variants which typified Pole’s Scape label at the turn of the century via artists such as Jan Jelinek, Kit Clayton, Deadbeat and Stefan Betke himself.
A product of searching musical and personal introspection conducted and realised over the period 2015-2016, La Perspectiva Racional pushes an intense, probing sound in the awkward spaces and styles around dub, techno and noise's shifting, jagged borders, using drums, percussion, magnetic tape and synthesisers to outline atonal and enigmatic silhouettes.
On Contingut he drops in on an electronic variant that's more in keeping with the warm, bubbling sounds you might have found on a Jan Jelinek album at the turn of the century, while Contagi develops the fractured dub aesthetic further still, before album closer Col.lapse harks back to Stefan Betke's classic, earliest Pole productions.
Elsewhere, the tone is more fractured and unsettling, most notably on the excellent title track, providing an obliterated sense of propulsion through multi-layered drums and restless arpeggios, while Humanització unfurls a heightened sense of unease recalling Brad Fiedel's iconic score work for The Terminator, with added dread.
Martyn comes ruff, rugged, and emotional on ‘Voids’, his first album in four years, underlined with a signature knack for tactile bass and restlessly syncopated percussion
Voids is the first fruit of Matyn’s labour following a heart attack and recovery period which pushed the artist to rethink his music. During that time, the first album he properly paid attention to when out of hospital was Max Roach’s M’Boom , an album of heavily percussion-focussed arrangements whose space and production instantly struck a chord with the producer and seemed to resonate with his personal sonic ontology.
We can only imagine that whatever strife he was going thru was only compounded by the untimely 2017 death of Marcus Intalex, the D&B legend behind Soul:r and Revolve:r, who issued the earliest Martyn records c. 2005. After a surreal intro collage, Voids, he deals with those issues in the best way on Manchester, which reprises the swing and dubby depth of his early Broken/Shadowcasting as a fine tribute to the man and city before rolling thru some solid classic business in the acidic stepper Mind Rain and the tabla coda of Why, saving a melancholy moment of reflection for the dark blue modal jazz of Try To Love You, and ultimately resolving to a mix of raved-up feeling between the bolshy torque of Cutting Tone and the drizzly jazz abstraction of Dreamers.
Charmingly loose and mellow vibes from Joseph Deenmamode on his 3rd album as Mo Kolours
“You won’t find many producers quoting Plato - ‘Inner Symbols’ takes its cue from the philosopher’s words "Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, charm and gaiety to life and everything''. Influences are many and all, ranging from colonization and African diaspora to Korean shamanism, Doug Hammond to Junior Byles.
“Inner symbols is a musical path that begins within, and reveals itself outwardly, only to return to the INNER. Themes are; introspection, truth, history, family, mental nature of reality, recognizing positivity, greed, honesty, unity, love, ignorance, lust, and of-course DRUMS!”
- Mo Kolours
The entire album was created on a Electro Harmonix looper using samples and live instrumentation and a Roland drum machine. Similarly his energetic, improvised live show sees tracks layered up from loops of voice, percussion and drum machine before skewing in new directions. It’s a thrilling approach which has taken him to clubs and festival stages from Brighton to Brisbane, as well as to the BBC’s hallowed Maida Vale studios at the invitation of Gilles Peterson.
Raised on the traditional sega music of his father’s Indian Ocean homeland alongside records by the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Michael Jackson, Mo Kolours adds hip hop, dub, soul and other electronic styles to his individual sound. His approach could find him placed alongside Madlib or The Gaslamp Killer but he would be equally happy in the company of James Blake, Erykah Badu, Theo Parrish or Moodymann.
Along with Reginald Omas Mamode IV, Jeen Bassa, Henry Wu, Al Dobson Jr and Tenderlonious; he’s helped forge in the 22a co-operative that The FADER calls “a kaleidoscopic patchwork of hip-hop, house, and groove investigations bound by one thread: a timeless belief in rhythm as a universal language”.”