Exquisitely bittersweet free folk songcraft by Japanese improv legends Reiko & Tori Kudo of Mahar Shalal Hash Baz, adding to the illustrious roll call of A Colourful Storm’s recent, flawless run - RIYL Noise, Keiji Haino/Fushitsusha, Tenniscoats
Collecting nine songs of a ten year+ vintage, ‘Tangerine’ is as effervescent, tactile and tangy as its name suggests, presenting a “deeply human, romantic recording” that highlights the remarkable versatility, and strength in fragility, of two key players in Tokyo’s incredibly fecund experimental scene. Previously only available on a domestic CD release, the album is also notably Reiko and Tori’s last duo recording, marking the 30 year culmination of their work since their first release, as Noise with ‘天皇’ (1980), with a clear testament to their intimate familiarity - they are married, after all - oozing out of every song; from the outstanding transition from tremulous folk to string dissonance on ‘The Deep Valley of Shadow’ thru the heart strumming blues folk gurn of ‘When Seeing the Setting Sun Alone.’
Recorded during autumn, winter and spring 2011-2012 at Village Hototoguiss - a bucolic studio setting near a spa in the Japanese countryside - and also including one song record at Cafe Oto in 2009, the album feels like we’re privy to a private musical convo between lovers. Each song strikes the finest balance of puckered sweetness and intuitive rawness, each speaking to a lifelong immersion in the punk/psych/folk/free realms, as exemplified on the radical subtleties of ‘Katakana’, which exerts the uncanniest spin on smoky jazz and wizened folk, while ‘Homeless’ plays it beautifully straight for the most, but can’t help but express their slant in its closing strokes of ratty discord, and the title tune itself most curiously elides a sort of Eastern European folk tone with etheric jazz vox in the most spellbinding style.
Silvia Jiménez Alvarez finally follows up 2017's enigmatic nu-EBM tome 'Weightless' with a dumbfounding left-turn for Berghain's Ostgut-Ton imprint. "A World of Service" isn't techno or EBM, it illuminates Alvarez's staggering voice as it flirts with trip-hop, radio pop, grunge and industrial metal. Unexpected doesn't even come close.
Since the release of her acclaimed debut album for iDEAL, Alvarez has been touring constantly, building a reputation as a live performer and challenging, lithe DJ. So when lockdown hit, it provided her with the time she needed to finish an album that's been years in the making. 'A World of Service' is named after her now-defunct monthly radio show, and retains its sonic philosophy. The Spanish artist has never wanted to pigeonhole herself: she grew up with an obsessive interest in music that never began and certainly doesn't end with techno and electro. It doesn't even begin and end with dance music at all.
Her latest material is rooted in the pop forms that crystallized in the 1990s on alternative radio and MTV, and her dynamic voice is the glue that binds it together. Unlike so many of her peers, Alvarez's shift from electronic producer to enigmatic frontwoman sounds fated. Raw, unprocessed Spanish words lurch into view on 'Camelo', after 'Birds You Can Name' introduces the album on a curly instrumental electronic fake-out. 'Camelo' is the stylistic link to 'Weightless', and accompanies Alvarez's powerful vocals with grinding industrial noise and torched half-speed trap percussion. From here, we're funneled into the album's defining run, beginning with Autotuned lounge sizzler 'Luis' that sounds like a robotic re-interpretation of Sade via Kanye's peerless "808s & Heartbreak".
Title track 'A World of Service' might be the most improbable move for Alvarez. Described in the press release as "pandemic-era trip hop", it's a sultry, pristine slow burner that reminds of the moment where trip-hop started to poke into the mainstream with hybrid acts like Dubstar and Olive. And with clubs shuttered for the last couple of years, it makes sense that the genre's half-tempo crawl has began to resurface. But JASSS saves the best for last, teaming up with Berlin's Zíur on 'Wish', an industrial grunge anthem that sounds like Garbage's towering first couple of albums.
The Berlin underground's relationship with pop has been confused (and often antagonistic) over the years. Here, the union is flexible and candid - perfectly in tune with Alvarez's interests, obsessions and strengths. It sounds like the beginning of the next chapter of her creative story, and might be the most unlikely release on Ostgut-Ton thus far.
More than just a live session, this set of weighty, radiating interpretations features Anna Von Hausswolff on synth and vocals alongside the Sunn O))) touring band. Heavy-as-fuck ritual drone - you know it.
Recorded after their 2019 UK tour, 'Metta, Benevolence' is an impressive redevelopment of compositions from their two albums released that year - "Pyroclasts" and "Life Metal". After touring with the material for a few months, the band - featuring guest players Stephen Moore, Tim Midyett and Tos Nieuwenhuizen on top of core droners Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson - had worked on each composition to evolve them into their emotional final stages. Playing in front of an audience has the habit of shifting material, and O'Malley and Anderson embraced the change, looking to create an "all-inclusive radiation of O)))" that would support each player's interpretation of the themes.
Well, thankfully it sounds incredible. Anna Von Hausswolff's contribution on booming opener 'Pyroclasts F' is particularly noticeable, with her vocals pealing out ritualistically over the band's seismic rumble of saturated guitar and thick, modulated synth. It's Sunn O)))'s open-armed philosophy that's led to their work being so consistently engaging - It would have been easy for them to rest on their laurels years ago, but Anderson and O'Malley have continued to develop their sound and encourage the natural shifts in emphasis.
For many, a BBC session is just a formality, for Sunn O))) - it was an opportunity to basically dub a completely new album.
Debut album from Vivian Girls/Dum Dum Girls' Frankie Rose and Running's Matthew Hord - a low-key synthpop marvel, finding a slippery mid-point between Cocteau Twins' dreamy melancholy and The Cure's flickering gothic glow. RIYL Chromatics, Nite Jewel, Junior Boys.
Rose and Hord's concept for Fine Place was simple; they both wanted to capture the feeling of New York City after its wealthy residents had fled during the COVID-19 outbreak. Serene but uncertain, the duo channeled their restless energy into a suite of songs that are nostalgic, melancholy, but also magical, a glass slippered step removed from the real world.
Opener 'I Can't Shake It' is almost completely electronic, with Rose's vocals reduced to a faint echo over blips and choppy beatbox drums from Hord. It suggests dystopia without claiming one style or another, before the album swerves into a different direction with 'This New Heaven', leaning into The Cure's over-arching influence and centering delayed guitars and reverb-drenched vox.
On 'Tending To Twenty', the pair hit their stride, referencing the bubbly optimism of early Detroit and bleep techno modes, using Rose's voice as a choral texture. Album standout 'It's Your House' lurches through territory marked out by Johnny Jewel's Italians Do It Better imprint but stamped with a disaffected malaise. A sweet synth arpeggio features in place of drums, reminding us of Nite Jewel's excellent "No Sun" album from earlier this year, reflecting loss and precariousness through a tarnished neon prism.
Really good this.
Dictaphone's Oliver Doerell breaks bread with Iranian percussionist Jawad Salkhordeh, finding a creative meeting point between Eastern and Western classical traditions, folding in elements of jazz and electro-acoustic experimentation.
Born in Northern Iran to an artistic family (his brother is a flute player and his sisters work in theater, painting and calligraphy), Salkhordeh began training on the Tombak - a goblet drum that's considered the main percussion instrument in Persian music - when he was just 15 years old. Now based in Berlin, Salkhordeh has collaborated with musicians from across the globe, and teaches Tombak and Daf when he's not on the road or recording. On "سایه" (say), he creates an effortlessly engaging dialog with Doerell, who sounds completely in his element weaving together cinematic backdrops to Salkhordeh's evocative Persian soundscapes.
Doerell's developed an expertise processing instruments in the past - as a part of Dictaphone and SWOD - and here he sounds laid back and comfortable. That's not to say the work isn't complex, far from it in fact, but it never sounds labored. The two musicians have a gentle back-and-forth on the lazily-paced 'Worud', infusing slow jazz atmospheres, while 'Scratch 19' builds a faded, uneven rhythm section for delicate string sounds. On 'Seh', Salkhordeh's impressive percussion is pushed to the fore, as Doerell adds subtle dub effects, spiking the mix with just enough textural experimentation.
Barely audible vocals underpin hand drum pats on '1979', creating a sound that the duo say is nostalgic for a place that never existed, while on the title track Doerell is let loose on percussion, meeting Salkhordeh with electronic rattles and claps.
Cologne’s Magazine scan decades of immersive soundtrack work by Kenyan-German artist Richard Ojijo for filmmaker Marcel Odenbach - RIYL Deathprod, Lawrence English, Biosphere
After reintroducing the wonderful work of Curd Duca to the fray in 2020, Magazine’s follow-up also prizes a rich atmospheric content with the absorbing, richly evocative sonci dramaturgy of Richard Ojijo. They are, as they state “impressive examples of how sounds can not only accompany film images or condense their atmospheric effect, but also develop a life of their own alongside the visual, which has an impact on the overall experience of the film” and serve to unfurl a sort of stark but luxurious suite of imagery upon the mind’s eye.
Issued to accompany a large Odenbach retrospective in Düsseldorf’s K21 Museum, ‘MO_RO_20’ holds eight pieces from Ojija and Odenbach’s work together, each subtly rearranged and remixed for purpose. Severed from the celluloid, they play out a suggestive narrative that could go any way depending the user, playing with a sublime tension in the greyscale drift of its opener, and convecting beautifully noirish feels with ‘In stillen Teichen lauern Krokodile’ that recall Cut Hands’ atmospheric work, with a sure standout in the claggy tone of centrepiece ‘Beweis zu Nichts’, which sounds like a knackered Biosphere, and a deliciously groggy number ‘Were leidet der schneidet’.
Chasing up his Incienso debut, Big Ever mints their own label with four heads-down garage and deep techno swangers
FKA Cop Envy for Black Opal and Air Max ’97’s Decisions, Aussie artist Thomas McAlister plays it tight in-the-pocket on ’Studio Productions’. The squashed swivel of ‘Zoner (Zoned Mix)’ plays with minimalist 2-step drums and smoked out subs, while ‘Brain Dead’ dials up the atmospheric quota and the pace with darting bass and swirled pads pushing 150bpm. ‘Whackers’ eazes off on a meditative sort of early dubstep tip a la Horsepower Productions, saving the deepest dive for his wintry techno stepper ’STv2’ with its frosted choral pads and thrumming, submerged bass cosign off like Martyn meets Vladislav Delay.
Comedy singles are rarely worth plunging into, but Large Plants' strangely Sabbath-esque sludge/psych take on Madonna's instantly recognizable early hit 'La Isla Bonita' is too weirdly successful to ignore completely. Heavy - actually.
Jack Sharp of psych-folk act Wolf People initially posted his quirky cover as an April Fool's, and it's done so well that people were convinced it must have pre-dated the original. Sharp's day zero heavy rawk/metal take sounds as if it bubbled up from the dank canals of Birmingham encased in a matted ball of heavily-sprayed big hair, and the attention to detail in the recording gives it that extra stylistic push.
The record, which comes with additional non-cover B-side 'Please Don't Be There For Me', was mixed by songwriter Chris Cohen, who's done time in Deerhoof and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, so he knows how to capture the sound accurately. And while Ghost Box is primarily known for its more electronic oddities, this eccentric mini marvel fits in perfectly. Leathers/denim not included.
Bronx qween Skyshaker exerts rude drill, dembow, jungle, electro, hardstyle and ballroom torque on select highlights of Svbkvlt’s catalogue from Gooooose, 33EMYBW, Gabber Modus Operandi, Zaliva-D and more
Flexing an exemplary range of styles with singular panache, Skyshaker proves a highly mutable mettle from cut to cut, proving equally adept at a spectrum of tempos and styles. One of our fave Svbkvlt bangers, Gooooose’s ‘Arp Kicks’ is treated to a lusher fast techno realignment, and Gabber Modus Operandi’s fucking nutty ‘Padang Galaxxx’ is harnessed into a sort of cybermetal chugger that wouldn’t sound out of place on the Blade soundtrack.
Their drill reshape of Zaliva-D’s ‘End of the Sky’ is a big moment, and Faded Ghost’s ‘Lonely Alice’ is flipped into a romantic reggaeton ace underlined with plush Reese bass, while he tempers 33EMYBW’s ‘English’ to a throbbing darkroom techno sound, and peaktime is served with their girder strength hard techno take on Osheyack, and he steers Hyph11e’s ‘Escapism’ to the ballroom. OK, the D&B rework of Prettybwoy is passable, but there’s lots more to make up for it.
Full throttle, 160bpm hardcore, jungle and footwork tekkers from the rave’s leading pied piper, for Fabric’s key mix series
In the space of a few short years, Sherelle has leapt from cult quantity to headline dynamo, largely with thanks to her incendiary and highly memed Boiler Room showcase in late 2019, when she generated nuclear energy levels via a jump up dub of ‘RIP Groove.’ She’s spent the intervening pandemic building a fearsome rep as the happiest and up-for-it DJ on road, ultimately leading to this, her 27-track razz between UK and Chicago rave styles, taking in upfront Black dance music from key hotspots of NYC and LDN with a breathless, party-ready flow that’s precisely what eager yung ravers want, and are getting, right now
As with her A&R actions on the HooverSound and Beautiful labels, the mix highlights Sherelle’s roots and branches thru cuts from a close but far flung coterie of producers ranging from old skool soldiers (Aphrodite, Cloud9, Q-Bass) to relatively new skool jungle players (Dub One, Tim Reaper, Dev/Null) and US catalysts (DJ Rashad, Kush Jones, DJ Phil, AceMo), each finding a mutual axis around the 160bpm thing. With a sense of drama and intensity that’s perhaps more UK rave than US, Sherelle defines the sound at its most disciplined and up for it, spraying from the hip with a lethal disregard for our safety that can’t be prized any more, especially after 18 months of brutal club lockdown.
No prisoners, we tell ya!
We can hardly believe it's been two decades since house and techno producer Donnacha Costello pivoted into pristine pop ambient. One of the most unashamedly pretty albums that emerged from the Mille Plateaux stable, 'Together is the New Alone' is a vulnerable, emotional milestone that centers rich, heart-wrenching harmonies adding just a pinch of digital seasoning.
It's hard to go back to so much early-00s IDM - but there are those records that have aged like a fine wine, and are a testament to the artists' skill. 'Together is the New Alone' is one of those better vintages, and 20 years later, with a noticeably excellent re-master from Stephan Mathieu, it sounds just as resonant as it did way back when.
At his most elegiac, Costello creates grandiose yet achingly melancholy atmospheres; 'Awake On The Fifth Floor' coaxes a gentle, microscopic beat thru padded walls of synth; 'Your New God' juxtaposes these electronic elements with almost inaudible string plucks and the suggestion of a beat; 'That Empty Feeling' is gaping and awe-inspiring, emo for a generation just getting acquainted with laptop life.
But it's the album's two-part finale that really sticks in the back of the throat: Costello's crown jewel 'Dry Retch', one of the most tear-inducing ambient symphonies of the era, and the hopeful minimalist breakstep closer 'Always A Part'. Hard to imagine that the euphoric trancebient throb of Border Community etc would have developed in the same way without this crucial leap into the clouds.
Sorry to break the news if you weren’t aware but, following the death of Gabriel “Gabi” Delgado in March, 2020, ‘Nur Noch Einer’ is the first posthumous record by EBM pioneers DAF
Fair enough we were distracted in March, 2020, but the arch lyricist of DAF deserves a heartfelt R.I.P. from us all, and gets a proper testament to his energies in this album, constructed by his bandmate Robert Görl from unused sequences written during their ‘80s heyday and stored on airtight tapes ever since. Kinda heartbreakingly, Robert and Gabi planned to reprise their legendary duo in the studio only just prior to his sudden death, but Robert continues the band’s unceasing drive here, resulting a fitting tribute to their game-changing and eternally compelling tekkers.
Under a title translating to ‘Down To One’, Görl takes on both his typical production role, as well as vocals, with studio assistance provided by Sylvie Marks. While the vox may not have Gabi’s raunch, they still channel his spirit and come perfectly placed in the music’s matrix of sleekly taut and propulsive drum machines and sinuous, tendon twang arps. perhaps purposefully, they refrain from dating the original sequences, but an educated guess would place them around the time of the band’s first reunion in 1986, as they possibly betray hits of the acid house sound that Görl would pursue soon after that phase, especially on the gunky drive of ‘Loslassen’ , but we could be wrong, and it could all come from any point between 1980 and ‘1st Step To Heaven.’
Pye Corner Audio finishes his trilogy of albums - following 2016's "Stasis" and 2019's "Hollow Earth" - with this high budget tribute to vintage synth crust, dystopian lost futures and squashed dancefloor memories.
Could there be a more appropriate home for Martin Jenkins than Ghost Box? His latest album characterizes everything that the label stands for, building a strong theme immediately with Jenkins' peerless production skill and leaving the throng of other vintage synth fetishists in the dust. It's hardly surprising that Pye Corner Audio has been picked up for so much TV work recently, he sounds as if his music is umbilically joined to a set of cathode memories: blinking images of Doctor Who, 1980's Channel 4 documentaries, late night horror shows, Open University idents.
We've heard Jenkins' dusted retro-future electronics plenty of times now, and at this point he's just enjoying the ride; the squelchy sci-fi moods of 'Paleolith' are a perfect intro to 'Earthwork', where the album bugs from acidic squelching to knackered dancefloor froth. And while the shadow of Boards of Canada looms over so much retro synth music, Jenkins reaches his own distinct conclusions.
'Hive Mind' twists toughened disco rhythms and modulated arpeggios into a horror theme dancefloor jam that's two clicks left of the TV dial. 'Phantom Orchid' is another slow burner, sounding like Vangelis if he was given the opportunity to rescore John Carpenter's "The Thing". Basically, imagine Johnny Jewel, Alessandro Cortini, S U R V I V E, and Dean Hurley going b2b at the purgatorium disco and you have the measure of it.
Hard drum trax from the Bristol / Paris duo, scaling from skewed technoid rolige to pressurised dancehall mutations.
Hodge & Simo Cell make a convenient marriage of styles on their first tunes together for Peverelist’s Livity Sound. ‘Medusa’ toys with the meter on a buoyant halfstep tip, meshing slouchy bass to sparkling breaks in breezy form, before they diffract the groove into chewier sort of electro-dub lurch on the title tune. ‘You Think Too Much’ harnesses insectoid drums into a pendulous dembow motion with signature Bristolian nods to the Casualty theme tune (seriously, the most influential trope of Bristol music for decades), and ‘Ah Bon’ slaps crispy snares and rude bass knocks into a moody dancehall sidewinder.
Otto A Totland completes his trilogy of piano compositions, following 2014’s Pinô and 2017’s The Lost.
"As a self-taught pianist, Otto further determines himself as a timeless composer who follows nothing but his own gut and heart. The outcome is something so pure it’s hard to not be affected. The development of his pieces over the years has grown into something so himself that it’s almost immediately recognisable. With Companion he has matured in his own craft, and the various pieces here feel confident and absolutely beautiful in a way that sees the end of the trilogy as a warm, empathic document for the times.
As with the previous two albums, Companion was again recorded at Nils Frahm’s Berlin studio for optimal warmth and space, Pinô and The Lost at his previous Durton Studio while Companion at the historic Studio 3 at Funkhaus. All three records are released by Sonic Pieces in hand-crafted limited edition covers as a statement showing that craftmanship and humanity still exists in this world constantly moving towards the exact opposite.
This quote by Norwegian philosopher Guttorm Fløistad seems an appropriate connection to both Otto’s music and the way we are all heading : “The only thing for certain is that everything changes. The rate of change increases. If you want to hang on you better speed up. That is the message of today […] In order to master changes, we have to recover slowness, reflection and togetherness. There we will find real renewal.” With this in mind, Companion is exactly what it’s title sets out to be. A friend that can follow and comfort in both good or bad times."
'Spectrum Analysis' is an edited round-up of the prolific artist's seven-part album series, skating through microtonal glitchy IDM, deep techno and fractured acid. A good starting point for anyone who wants to dig into the Colundi sound.
There are 16 tracks culled from his 'Spectrum Analysis' series here, and if they sound randomly assembled, that's probably by design. He's released scores of records since finishing this set, and by the time the year's out we wouldn't be surprised if more appeared - quantity is Perälä's game.
And yet, his tracks have a peculiar connecting thread, no doubt thanks to their adherence to his microtonal tuning method, known as Colundi. It gives his tracks - from the Funkstörung esque opener 'FI3AC2028010' to the warehouse peak time belter 'FI3AC2030010' - a unique, cosmic echo. It's psychedelic, for want of a better word - and if you read Perälä's ideas on the system then you'll likely end up more confused, and more convinced there's psilocybin on his cornflakes.
One thing's for sure, his minimal techno variations are some of the more interesting additions to the genre's ailing canon we've heard in a minute - and the Plone-esque 'FI3AC2034070' is a joy.
Enigmatic entity U marks 10 years of skin in the game with a 7” echo of their 2011 debut; deftly rugged and deep beats nodding to Various Production, Hype Williams, Express Rising, Sade.
Drawn from the depths of their MPC hard drive, ‘Joy of Labour’ rustles up three off-the-cuff aces primed for laid-back times, each crackling with a hands-on sense of work/play and unquantised, offbeat bustle that’s familiar to U’s oeuvre and feels between old and new dimensions in a similar way to Burial.
Opener ‘Junkies’ lands shades away from the groggy cut-ups of his ‘Vienna Orchestra’ album of 2016, and also kinda resembles Dante Carfagna’s Express Rising reworking the Succession theme for valdo-smudged minds, while ‘2 Good 4 Me’ makes excellent use of a bossa beat nodding to Sade via Hype Williams, but spliced with reverse edits for a woozier beast. Finally, the woodcut folk mutation ‘Almost Man’ can’t help but recall prime early Various Production works, but rudely offset with his own sleight of hand chops.
The stalwart Echocord crew mark 20 years of dub techno vibrations with exclusive cuts by Babe Roots, Fluxion, Deadbeat, Forest Drive West, Luke Hess, Idealist, Mikkel Metal and more
Copenhagen's ever reliable dub techno label showcase the sound’s depth and breadth with 12 cuts and nearly 90 minutes of meditative steppers pressure. The Ur-dub techno spirit of Rhythm & Sound looms large over proceedings, patently inspiring Babe Roots’ lilting skank and Another Channel’s uncanny channelling of Paul St. Hilaire in ‘Gunman’, while Chain Reaction alum Fluxion does his smoky deep techno thing on ‘Slide’, and Joachim Nordwall’s dub guise Idealist takes the opportunity to hammer out his hardest dub styles in the pounding momentum of and teasing filters of ‘Ride’.
London’s Forest Drive West meanwhile shows how the OG sound has irrevocably infiltrated UK styles with the sloshing, post-D&b rolige of ‘Signals’, and Mikkel Metal saddles up for a dusty, dusky trip to acid-dub-country on ‘Lakma’. Siblings Luke & Jeff Hess return a driving Detroit variant shades away from the late, great Mike Huckaby’s seminal melds of Detroit/Berlin dub-techno, and Lithuania’s Grad_U holds to Basic Channel’s immersive, durational principles in the 11 minutes of ‘Pacific Lair’.
Rob Hood trims back to his classic, vacuum-sealed minimal techno aesthetics with the Monobox project’s first new album since 2003
Arriving in pursuit of the streamlined styles of his ‘Forwardbase Kodai’ 12”, the pioneering architect of Detroit minimalism serves eight pulsating distillations of purist techno, concentrating on nuanced shifts of tone and texture as opposed to the more gospel influenced peak time Floorplan gear or the sci-fi inspirations of his beloved work under this government name.
The difference is subtle but clear to hear in the polished crispness and colder, almost dub technoid drive of his styles here. ‘Angel City’ is a sleek missile working with shivering dub chords and martial momentum that also informs ‘Drydockl, while there’s also a steely, puckered teutonic feel to the album’s longest workout, ‘Exoplanet’ and the the coolly pent kick drum gratification of ‘Rise’ or the piquant, trancey leads of the title tune will works wonders at 5am when they really hit home.
Following his side for Low Jack’s Editions Gravats, ever intriguing french avant-gardist, Èlg is portrayed at his all-over-the-place best on a mad new blast landing somewhere between his erstwhile collaborator, Ghédalia Tazartès, Frank Zappa, and Oï les Ox
Always a guess-again type of artist, Èlg is particularly elusive on ‘Dans le Salon du Nous’, a collection of “sound paintings” begun in 2019, that illustrate “multiple states of being” and deploy a plethora of strategies ranging from quiet minimalism to punkish no wave rabble and chanson with an unmistakably gallic spirit.
The 10 songs describe a transition from birth to bardo, utilising production from his brother, Mim as well as singer and organ player Marie Zachary (Fervent, the Grand Sbam), electronics from Johann Mazé (France Sauvage, Lord Rectangle), and vocals, violin and synth from Aurore Debret (Dragon du Poitou), all live engineered and comically rendered in-the-mix by Alexandre Menexiadis.
Piquant, nerve-tweak synth études from Russian techno oddbod Tolkachev, paying homage to Soviet synth pioneers and the exploratory inventiveness of early electronics.
Put forth by Ukraine/Estonia’s Muscut (a portmanteau of music & cutting), ‘To You’ captures a rare occasion of Tolkachev ditching the busy drum machines and letting the synths spool and chatter away, prizing their ability to articulate a strange vernacular that acoustic instruments simply can’t. We’re always up for a bit of bittersweet synth dissonance, and this one really hits the spot.
It veers from the relatively calm and elegant figures of ‘Young Planet’, which really nuzzle the inside of our skull with their resonant tang, and most beautifully collapse int he final strokes, to more frazzled angularities and bonkers chatter in ‘Etude I’, which could be mistaken for something from Morton Subotnick during the ‘60s, to eventually orbit back to alien techno shapes with the prickling pulses of ‘Etude II’, which sounds closer to his more typical gear, and the likes of Jeff Mills at his most alien, or PAS, but sans kick drums and hi-hats.
More fantastical, kaleidoscopic anti-genre business from the ridiculously on-point STROOM stable. This time Berlin-MCR duo Dalia Neis and Enir Da (Fith) refract grimy fairytale folk and odd-world trip-hop poetry thru electro-prog prisms. One for the Finders Keepers, Czech New Wave movie soundtracks, Broadcast and The Focus Group, Leila and Muslimgauze crews - basically, well good.
It shouldn't be surprising that a cine-literate duo are able to come up with music that doesn't just sound like an "imaginary soundtrack", but a completely intact and startlingly unique cinematic universe. Neis is an academic, writer and filmmaker as well as a sound artist, and she's been working with Enir Da on material for some time before they recast themselves as Dali Muru & The Polyphonic Swarm. Now they're able to completely realize their ambitions, balancing lysergic atmospheres of delicate electronics, dusted rhythms and charmed samples against Neis's assured, hyper-visual poems.
Basically, it sounds like a scrapbook assembled from a lot of ingredients we love - distant Czech new wave flutes, fuzzy "Courtesy of Choice"-era Leila keys, blistered 'n jerky Dijit-like beatbox shuffles - bound by confident stories and free-floating themes. Neis remembers a road trip across the Danube to the Carpathians, and the duo conjure soundscapes to bring this journey, whether fictional or real, to life. Eastern European folk sounds and reverberating vocal snippets suggest a dream state, while lurching beats phase us gently into a more contemporary reality.
We're anticipating a glut of hi-fantasy, Medieval-inspired, Jan Švankmajer-esque fairytale recordings in the next few months. Ignore the wave though, this is the one you need.
Levitational industrial drone business from Portuguese violinist and experimental composer Maria Da Rocha, who recorded this 32-minute slab at Stockholm's EMS studio, using their Buchla to add some low-end pressure.
Da Rocha uses the violin to transcend expectations - she's classically trained and well aware of the instrument's aesthetic implications. On her last album "Beetroot & Other Stories", she pushed the sound away from the interpretations of Beethoven and Hoffmeister that kept her busy during the day, using analog synths, effects pedals and cassette tapes to distort the flow. On "nolastingname", da Rocha takes a step further into the abyss, meeting recognizable violin scrapes with thick synth bass that sounds somewhere between a cello and one of Sunn O)))'s drop-tuned guitars.
da Rocha retains the characteristics of the violin to add an emotional complexity; her sound finds a fertile spot between heavy experimental drone, classical music and industrial soundscaping. It's a sound we know from too many soundtracks at this stage, but she allows that aesthetic to wash across elements that are harder to process. The blend is a historic splicing of Coil-esque gloom and evocative solo strings that sound as connected to ancient folk music as to baroque traditions.
Laila Sakini fleshes out her Princess Diana of Wales avatar on a quietly stunning album of slowburn, coygaze dream-pop for the ever-wonderful A Colourful Storm.
Following a trio of wonders released last year - her AOTY contending ‘Vivienne’ and it’s endlessly layered 'Into the Traffic, Under the Moonlight’ companion piece, as well as a brilliantly distinctive submission for our Documenting Sound series, on Princess Diana Of Wales Sakini finds a contemplative and opaque downstroke, her forlorn vocals convected via radiant webs of reverb in an ephemeral style of songcraft that drifts effortlessly, like the sound of someone coming to terms with themselves.
Making use of negative space as an evocative ingredient, she keeps everything in a sublime tension between reserved emotion and the lingering decay of FX, effectively allowing us into her space but at arms reach, obfuscated by pink hued smoke and down lit in a manner that keeps her features oblique but tangible. And like everything we’ve heard from Sakini before - her work here is multi-dimensional, its emotional complexity taking a while to resolve, its impact multiplied in waiting.
Lulled into existence with the snoring bass and sleepy cicadas of ’Sleet’, Laila's voice comes to occupy a dreamily illusive mid-ground, smudged into whispers and drizzly atmospheres on the breathy country nocturne of ’Still Beach’ and plumbing rich depths of her echo chamber in the all too fleeting ‘Closer’. Flip it over and the kneaded bass presence of ‘Exhaust’ guides us into a sort of flinty 2-step dream-sequence, before that dream logic steers a lonesome post punk bass and dubbed snare rolls of ‘Fragments of Blue’. On the closing ‘Choir Chant’, harpy squeals ride against a low slung bassline, one part Coil, one part Joy Division, notched with a longing detachment.
Difficult to absorb and benefiting from attentive, repeat listens, Princess Diana of Wales resonates with these strange twilight times above perhaps anything else we’ve listened to this year. "What is real and how does it feel?" the cryptic press release asks. We're gonna be unravelling that for months.
Versatile cornet player and elecro-acoustic composer Ben Lamar Gay takes an assured step into ambitious territory with his second album, touching soul, funk, jazz, experimental electronics, ambient and psychedelic zones with help from Tomeka Reid, Angel Bat Dawid, Ayanna Woods, Ohmme and others.
Gay's debut album, 2018's "Downtown Castles Can Never Block The Sun", was assembled from material he'd produced over a seven year period. "Open Arms to Open Us" was a quicker process, and stands as a far more coherent work. Gay began writing the music in Spring 2020, as the world changed and we were all forced to reconsider our place in the world; "things have never been okay," he admits in an accompanying statement. What pulled him back from the brink was thinking about the future - his family, his young nieces and nephews - and Gay puts this into music by focusing on rhythm. "More than anything, I’d like my babies to always trust in rhythm," he explains. "It’s the one trueness that travels great distances and constantly survives the crumbling of facades."
Gay has put his finger on the pulse that travels through culture and history. Rhythm is a unifying force, and he uses it to pull together a wide cast of collaborators and a plethora of genres that all bend to his creative will. On opening track 'Sometimes I Forget How Summer Looks on You', Chicago duo Ohmme back up Gay's vulnerable vocals with ethereal choral wails, but it's the clattering drums - layered over shifting xylophone clonks - that make the song so memorable. 'Aunt Lola and the Quail' is less showy, but no less impressive, with bubbling oscillator gurgles over a loose, pulsing downtempo funk shuffle; the jazz pressure is palpable, but Gay never allows his cornet prowess to overshadow his general theme.
Dorothée Munyaneza sings on the magical 'Nyuzura', vocally pirouetting through skeletal drum skitters and ethereal dulcimer clangs. 'S'Phisticated Lady' meanwhile finds Chicago legend Angel Bat Dawid and Gira Dahnee trading rhymes, seemingly live in situ, over rattling tamborines and a struck tom. Each track feels stylistically different, but philosophically related - it's quite a feat.
Posthomous release of some of the barest mechanics and deadliest Chicago House you’ll likely ever hear, mostly recorded in the 80’s and now finally released via Carson’s long time disciples at Sound Signature. Best believe that this is the OG shit, never bettered, most of it previously unreleased - all of it a total fucking education. R.I.P legend.
The cover of LeRon Carson's debut album is a reminder of another era; Carson, smiling in front of a pair of decks, bulky headphones around his neck. The Chicago icon died in 2016, but left behind a vast archive of unreleased music, much of it recorded in the 1980s when the House sound was in its wildly creative infancy. Theo Parrish has made much of his obsession with Carson's production and performances over the years - and has put out a handful of tunes on Sound Signature - but this full-length set might be the most fitting tribute, showing the depth and prescience of the producer's sound.
Only seconds into opener 'Sof n Thik' you know what you're in for - fudgy kicks thud slowly and carefully, surrounded by pillowy, soulful pads and the warmest synbass. If you're looking for the root sound that gave rise to Theo Parrish, and in turn Newworldaquarium, Actress, and Andy Stott - this is pretty much the blueprint. Carson's veil-pierced ferric fuzz has been regularly duped but never quite captured. Carson didn't just pre-empt deep, knackered grooves either - tracks like 'Baby Said to Me' and 'Say It' tickle the same loopy funk euphoric sweet spot that Daft Punk, and the later entire French touch kru, would fire into the mainstream a few years later. MLK-sampling '72nd & Ogelsby' meanwhile can't help but remind of DJ Sprinkles with its spare beatbox shuffle and painfully moving square wave bass wind.
It's impossible to overstate the resonance of Carson's tracks; writing music from the Midwest - the US dance music heartland - in the country's beleaguered '80s, they're charged with a hedonism that's far from empty. It's a jubilant cry from Black America, chiming alongside established classic material from Larry Heard, Ron Hardy, Virgo, Adonis and Steve Poindexter.
Honestly, life-changing music.
Next-level hydrophonic fire from early electronic pioneer Michel Redolfi, best known for presenting the first underwater concert in history. It's mindboggling work that imagines deep-sea sound using the glassy tones of the Synclavier digital synthesizer.
Redolfi came up with the idea of his 'Sonic Waters' project in 1979, when he was working at UC San Diego in California. The university's Center For Music Experiment had funded his project "WET", or "Water Electronically Tuned", and he took his music across the USA to similar-minded centers where he was able to perform underwater, using specially-designed equipment. In the last four decades, Redolfi has shipped this concept across the world, performing in public pools in Sydney, Paris and Venice and also in various natural sites worldwide.
Redolfi splits the music into two fields, music for fresh water, which he composed in 1981, and music for salt water, which was put together concurrently, from 1979 to 1987. To call his music fluid would be to ignore its inherent thoughtfulness; Redolfi makes big brain sounds that pull influence from our cultural understanding of water's place in the history of soundmaking. He mixes the harps and shimmering electronics you might expect to see in a classic rendition of an underwater scene with sonorous synthesized sounds that harmonize with whale song or submerged gongs. Each element warbles and vibrates as Redolfi urges us to consider the historical resonance inherent in all the colors and textures refracted into our ears.
"..The songs of sirens, the bells of submerged cathedrals, the voices of lost mariners." Indeed.
Frothy, minimalist deep house and techno permutations from Ukrainian artist, Dmytrij Wulffius, who’s perhaps best recognised for his visual artwork for Martial Canterel and Kedr Livansky over the past decade
‘Sorang’ is Wulffius’ 2nd solo release after a 2016 batch for Ukraine’s Wicked Bass, and explores what he terms a “B-sides” sound, as in “something too strange to be danceable, with “complex ease” and rhythmical variety.” The results for pivotal label Gost Zvuk are playful and never po-faced, perhaps best primed for the after-hours session with a lightness of touch that percolates from his Plaid-like jiggles in ‘Monotone in G Minor’ to the acknowledgement of his effervescent closer ‘I Am Weird’, weaving his way thru variations of Thomas Brinkmann like techno in ‘My Cosmic Synthesiser’ and the muffled ‘Piano Song’ to the wandering melodies of ‘Heels at Pebble Beach’ and a damn classy deep house joint, ‘Typ Sounds Deep.’
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra's Jessica Moss paints another evocative nighttime scene on her fourth album "Phosphenes". Using violin, vocals and electronics, she creates visceral, ghostly soundtracks that are certain to appeal to fans of Deaf Center, Stars of the Lid or Marcus Fjellström.
Jessica Moss has added her signature sound to so many essential artists it's almost pointless listing them all. Most memorably, she toured with Vic Chestnutt's band, co-founded Black Ox Orkestar, performed alongside Carla Bozulich, and experimented with electronics with Growing's Kevin Doria as Total Life, but that's only the half of it. On 'Phosphenes', however, the most striking aspect is Moss's ability to harness the power of restraint, allowing minuscule strokes and small touches do the heavy lifting.
Epic three-part composition 'Contemplation' makes up the bulk of the album's first half, showing off Moss's instrumental skill without any kind of fanfare. Her playing is the central focus, but her knowledge of production and electronics infuses her productions with subtle elements that never detract from the instrumental sounds. On 'Let Down' and 'Distortion Harbour', these elements begin to strangle the strings as if a transition is taking place; by the end of 'Distortion Harbour', light starts to crack through the fog. A child's voice burbles up from the silence: "don't be sad, I love you."
Ploy mints his Deaf Test label with a deadly follow-up to 2018’s cult banger ‘Ramos’ - three badboy sidespins on dembow, baile funk, dabke, kuduro and D&B templates.
Screwing the tempo to a prevailing dancehall flex, Ploy makes his presence felt for 2021 and beyond in each part, placing cutting-edge production tekkerz at the service of proper club thrillers. Lead cut ’Rayhana’ runs a mutant UK take on Brazilian baile funk tilted with surgical, surging synths and infectious vox, while ‘Dark Lavis’ comes ruffshod with quick trot drums and blazing microtonal leads owing to Kurdish dabke (free Omar Souleyman!!!) and compatible with Jasss zingers, before ‘5G Bats’ yokes it back to a swaggering dancehall trample bullied with warehouse-ready D&B drums for a proper bullet that won’t be leaving our bag/folder for a bit.
The definition of a no brainer.
US noise scene veteran - a collaborator with Bill Nace and Nate Young - Twig Harper ventures farther into avant-classical paradigms, rearranging synthsised instrumentation and digitally manipulated studio recordings with particularly intriguing results on ‘Negative Charge’
“Twig Harper’s second release of 2021 is a game-changing work of contemporary classical music. Consisting of two longform pieces, 'Two Variations for the Shadow of the Absolute' builds on the “classical electronics” of the Baltimore artist’s recent tape for Radical Documents, incorporating synthesized instrumentation and digitally manipulated studio recordings. The one-two punch of “Positive Charge” and “Negative Charge” falls somewhere between Ligeti’s electronic works and Boulez conducting Zappa, yet Harper’s trademark compositional techniques are present, and, above all, these two variations could only have been made by him and his shadowy cohorts (Dolphin Webinar, anyone?).
Known for his collaborations with musicians such as Bill Nace and Nate Young, Harper has been a prominent figure in the U.S. noise scene for the past two decades. 'Two Variations for the Shadow of the Absolute' serves as the follow-up to March’s excellent 'Classical Electronics'. Mastered by Jack Callahan (aka die Reihe).”
12k sign up Uwe Zahn, aka Arovane, to the roster.
"Arovane, a well-respected artist in the field, hailing from within the German countryside, has been active since the early 2000s beginning with releases on City Centre Offices and DIN in the heyday of the IDM and microsound years. He has since gone on to release work with n5MD, Pure Magnetik, and A Strangely Isolated Place, among others. With Reihen he takes his characteristic pointillist synthetic structures and impeccable sound design and lays them in a web of fagility, decay and etherealism that feels like new a new direction for Zahn.
Reihen came about in the spring of 2021 as Zahn was experimenting with a specific grouping of small devices and effects, creating asynchronous loops and working to no specific tempo. The idea of time without time, chance and inaccuracies came together strongly within this limited framework he had set up. As Zahn himself states: “There are microstructures created. Noises between the tones. Raw, intermodulated oscillators amplified and distorted, rushing and crackling, silence and erupting cascades of sound. That was the foundation of the album.”
Reihen unearths a wistfullness and longing not often heard in Arovane’s more puncated and rhythmic works, but an area he has certainly explored since his last release Wirkung (Pure Magnetik). There is a dust and melancholy that moves away from his more precise, metallic textures of before. Reihen finds a comfortable home within 12k, echoing back to the synthetic-tinged days of the label’s erlier years while creating a tacile, intimate world amid the machines."
Gorgeous debut from Wess Seven - longtime key member of FKA Twigs’ band - expressing a singular soul sound strung with piquant tunings and sung in honeyed tones, highly recommended if yr into Coby Sey, A.R. Kane, Twigs...
With credits dating back to Twigs’ ‘LP1’, Wess follows in the footsteps of bandmate Cy An to emerge from that creative milieu with a unique slant on the intersection of avant-R&B, textured dream-pop and classical chamber composition that places his ‘Dusky Walk EP’ in proximity to Mica Levi x A.R. Kane. It’s one of those introductions that reveals a considerable mind at work bending their influences into a distinctively modest, yet inventive form of self expression.
Puckered with instant ohrwurming potential from the opening notes of ‘Same Sad Eyes’ thru the waking dream sequence gauze of ‘The Stillness’, Wess conveys a sort of suburban, peripheral angst and melancholy that edges to the right side of the emo-grunge tropes that we reckon too many seem to be pushing in the wrong direction right now. His songs are sparingly constructed with immersive attention to spatial detail and iridescent timbres, each pruned into designs that shapeshift myriad styles, but are ultimately beholden to nothing but a sense of modern soul.
The bittersweet melody and vaulted harmonics of ‘Same Sad Eyes’, the smudged spongiform brass and blistered, cosmic electronics of his chamber-like nocturne ‘Tightrope’, or the Sade-meets-A.R. Kane kiss-off ‘The Stillness’ will remain lodged in your head long after the music stops.
UKF pioneer Cooly G rides the prevailing currents of Amapiano back to the floor with two pearls for Hyperdub - her first solo shot proper since 2015!
In a dream come true for many ravers, HRH of British bassbins twists influence from South African house into a pair of signature deep sidewinders, scaling from the devilish low-key hustle of ‘Save Me’ to a gospel R&B heavyweight belter with Ruth Brown. Both right on the money for anyone following the ongoing evolution of UK ‘nuum pressures, and easily making up for Cooly’s dearth of release in recent years.
Working with Marcus Damon on co-production, ’Save Me’ is classic Cooly, all simmering Ama bass trills and log drum patter gilded with Cooly’s coos and lip-biting pleads to “save me”, primed to slip beside your DVA or Fiyahdred hybrids of UK/SA vibes. However, the real standout for us is ‘We Can Find Love Too’, one of the first instances we can recall of Cooly passing the mic to another singer, Ruth Brown who gives it some seriously classic, octave scaling vocal acrobatics on a bubbling Ama groove lit up with nagging UK-style bleeps.
A real pleasure to hear the pioneer for so many young, black, female producer/DJs blazing away again.
Vintage Sahko, written and produced by Mika Rättö and Jussi Lehtisalo in 2005.
"The speed of light is said to be the speed limit of the universe because nothing can be accelerated to the speed of light with respect to you. A common way of describing this situation is to say that as an object approaches the speed of light, its mass increases and more force must be exerted to produce a given acceleration. There are difficulties with the "changing mass" perspective, and it is generally preferrable to say that the relativistic momentum and relativistic energy approach infinity at the speed of light. Since the net applied force is equal to the rate of change of momentum and the work done is equal to the change in energy, it would take an infinite time and an infinite amount of work to accelerate an object to the speed of light.
A common resistance to the speed limit is to suggest that you just accelerate two different objects to more than half of the speed of light and point them toward each other, giving a relative speed greater than the speed of light. Afterall time and space are interwoven in such a way that no one observer ever sees another object moving toward them at greater than the speed of light. The Einstein velocity addition deals with the transformation of velocities, always yielding a relative velocity less than the speed of light. It doesn't agree with your common sense, but it appears to be the way the universe works."
Elegant elision of chamber minimalism and pastoral, textured ambient guitars. Iridescent with influence from Michael Nyman and Penguin Cafe Orchestra, and, at times proximal to Durutti Column
“Alex Twomey’s Days Off, the second full length album under his own name, pronounces his evolving compositional approach. Following The Entertainer (Recital, 2019), this new album features a more intimate ensemble of piano, strings, bass, and guitar. Written between 2019 and 2021, the arrangements resemble pop-structured songs within the margins of sedate orchestral music. Twomey’s use of electric guitar is also unique; more as a blurred harmonic brush used to propel rhythmic cycles and key changes.
The influence of Michael Nyman, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, and other English-minimalists is present – but Twomey as one-man composer, performer, and producer delivers a rare intimacy, a sardonic view of days better spent. We’re transported to a restful couch in Alex’s living room. His cats sleeping around you like gods in relief as the album echoes from his studio in the next room. With repeating chords of matched exuberance and melancholy, Days Off evokes a familiarity both optimistic and sentimental.”
Iranian composer and audio engineer Puria M. Rad, aka Pé, uses his knowledge of early electronic music to create ghostly, long-form compositions that sound like a detuned radio playing Mika Vainio or Eleh.
Pé seems concerned with the shrouding of elements. There are few clean sounds on "Inherited Heteronomous Perception" - if synthesizers are used, the tones are buried under grit collected from Pé's selection of tape recorders and malfunctioning noise generators. This gives the album the general character of a decaying industrial tape, but Pé is a confident sound designer and never lets the concept overweigh his music's subtlety. His noisiness is kept to a low hum, and tiny details only make themselves known if you're really listening.
UK club music’s deftest yields a dead classy debut album of screwball pop, squirrely garage, slow/fast f*ckery, and patented beatdown slants, on the label he runs with Call Super
Prized for his free metered approach to the UK dance prism, Parris has steadily risen to become a standard bearer for new mutations of UK Bass: a shorthand catch-all description for derivations of house; from garage to D&B, UKF and broken beats that dance in the gaps between styles. Originally emerging from the post-dubstep milieu, he’s carved out a singular corner of the dance with resounding appeal over the best part of a decade since that first 12” on Tempa, more recently teaming with another mutant bod, Call Super to very loosely explore and experiment with their restless styles on shared label, Can You Feel The Sun.
From initial listens it ain’t hard to tell that ‘Soaked In Indigo Moonlight’ is Parris’ most accomplished and significant piece of work, placing decades of raving and production experience at the service of a storytelling long player that lives up to all aspects of his sound and is bound to endure for time to come. It’s bookended and front-loaded with fine vocal content, with the breathy ‘Intro’ and a scalp-tingling ambient closer with James K setting the tone for a lissom contribution by Carmen Villain on the balmy swang of ‘Movements’, and proper on-point, girly vox by Eden Samara in ‘Skaters World’ splitting the difference Latin Freestyle, UKG and SOPHIE-style hyper-pop.
The rest is purely instrumental though, showcasing Parris sound-sensitive approach to space and natty syncopation in the buoyant slow/fast stepper ‘Contorted Rubber’, and the crafty paso doble switches of ‘Crimson Kano’, while ‘Sleepless Comfort’ perfectly coaxes eyes to half mast in the dance. But if you’re after outright club bombs, he’s strong on that tip, too, with the delicately rude bruk physics of ‘Poison Pudding.’ We highly advise filing next to LPs from DJ Python, Facta, K-Lone, and Call Super, natch.
Another elastic set of mind-fluxing techno futurism from the always-on-point bergsonist. One for fans of Isabella, Afrodeutsche or AceMo.
Prolific New York-based producer bergsonist doesn't miss. This latest four-track set is expectedly charged - there's a track called 'BILLIONAIRES GETTING RICHER', - and flits between moods with casual glee. Selwa Abd has always treated the project as a way for her to flex her vast knowledge of electronic music, and on 'TOXIC MATERIALISM' she dips from gluey broken techno on the title track, to faded downtown no-wave pop on 'NECESSITE', gruesome dungeon 4/4 on the smackin' 'BILLIONAIRES GETTING RICHER' and psychedelic North African percussive electro slush on woozy closer 'SPACE RACE'.
Dance music to get lost in, assembled by an artist whose passion for exploration and activism is infectious.
Italian minimal maestro Dozzy mainlines pure, jagged and banging techno for the Berlin bastion.
His first solo techno mission since 2019’s ‘Variations’ packs four typically hypnotic workouts directed to the thick of the ‘floor and endless sessions. Following the minor TikTok fame for his ‘Parola (Rework)’ with Anna Caragnano, he’s back to heads-down, eyes-shut mode with the throbbing pulse, mazy recursive intricacies and furtive pads of ‘messy kafka world’, whereas ’synth chase’ works with waspy, buzzing modulations that come closer to the bite of Surgeon productions. ‘wooden dolls don’t cry’ yokes to a persistently percolated Chicago techno-house style with hints of Herbert’s concrète textures, and he follows that aesthetic into ‘cassiopeia 36’ with something like Lil Louis meets Wishmountain.
SOPHIE and aya fans listen up; Akiko Haruna delves into the mutant, hyper contemporary space between dance-pop, avant-R&B and experimental sound design for Numbers.
After introductions made on the ‘Delusions’ 12” with Where To Now? and a spot on Timedance’s ’Sharpen, Moving Sampler’, Haruna ventures her most significant volley yet with ‘Be Little Me’; six tracks straddling queered pop and ‘Frozen’ style balladeering, as with the skewed sentimental gush of lead ‘Raw’, thru to Bjørk & Arca-esque epic ‘Athena’, while the club-ready ‘Hotspot’ clearly nods in the direction of SOPHIE and aya; ‘Big Boys’ takes notes from the hyper pop canon of PC Music; and ‘Be Little Me’ blends c*nty ballroom and mid-‘00s electro sawtooths.
Duane Pitre returns with a new album "Omniscient Voices".
"Duane Pitre returns to Imprec with an articulate, intense and emotionally resonant set of five pieces for justly tuned piano and electronics. Omniscient Voices is a uniquely distinct work that follows Pitre's trilogy of releases which culminated with 2015’s Bayou Electric and included the critically acclaimed Feel Free (2012) and Bridges (2013) albums. Where those albums were rooted in long form pieces, Omniscient Voices is a collection of shorter pieces, offering more harmonic variety than previous works, with a unique sound and feel that is still unmistakably the work of Duane Pitre. In 2019, after a five year period where Pitre did not focus on outward facing music, but instead on his own personal practice, a small idea in the form of a question came to him: would the combination of his latest computer- and electronic-based experiments, used in conjunction with justly tuned piano, produce interesting results; simply put, would it “work”? Concurrently, Pitre was studying a handful of Morton Feldman scores for their focus on tonal clusters, reading a book on Arvo Pärt’s life and work, and contemplating the pulse-based rhythms of Steve Reich and Phillip Glass.
In 2020, with no intention of making a new album, the composer tried to answer this question. The results would spawn five pieces that would become Omniscient Voices. On this new work, Pitre finds himself giving equal priority to both piano and electronics, utilizing his Max/MSP-based generative network to real-time convert precomposed piano motifs, into data, which is then used to communicate with two polyphonic, microtonal hardware synthesizers whose patches Pitre authored; this process generates the electronic component of the album. Pitre also utilizes controlled improvisation to interact with the piano-reactive electronics in a spontaneous and inspired manner, going back and forth between these two pianistic approaches. In all, this approach creates a “musical feedback loop” of sorts.""
Nick León's Future Times debut slots into the label's club library like a quarter in a pinball table. Time-distorted hard-swung grooves that stir León's customary polyrhythms into house and techno architectures that point directly at the stars.
León's been on an impressive roll in the last couple of years - check the NAAFI-released 'Aguacero' if u missed it - but this tight set of febrile bouncers transposes his variant club constructions into near-sacred locales. The first three tracks play like a continuous narrative, slapping faded percussion over environmental squeaks and synths that harmonize with recent deployments from Amazondotcom and Siete Catorce. 'Blue Data' lays rhythm over rhythm, referencing pre-Hispanic South American microtonality while sliding perpetually towards a Fourth World k-hole. It's smart, fwd-thinking dance music that sits outside of obvious genre classifications - maybe it's techno? It's sci-fi, sure, but archeologically so, hinting at the kind of cultural-historical backdrop that used to be a genre staple in the Drexciyan era.
The flipside is comparatively lighter - 'Gum Tree' sounds like a 2nd wave Detroit rework of BoC's 'Geogaddi' rage, while 'Sewer System' reduces the electro formula to pinprick rattles, setting stark percussion against a lilting reggaeton-adjacent sonic boom. A collaboration with Apron/L.I.E.S. veteran Greg Beato, it shows León's range; he sounds equally limber operating within a wide spectrum of club modes, but his signature is a reliable constant. It's an alien sound from way out, grounded in Miami dancefloor literacy and algebraic rhythmic knowhow.
Dizzying multi-instrument devotional jams based on Afro-Arab sufi trance music from Tunisian percussionist Houeida Hedfi, assisted by production from The Knife's Olof Dreijer.
When Hefdi picked up drumming for the first time, she was already an established academic, working in economics and mathematics. But her inquisitive interest in Afro-Arab sufi trance music led her towards percussion, and she began touring alongside teaching, reaching out to Tunisian violin player Radhi Chaouali and Palestinian bouzouk player Jalal Nader, for a nine years stretch touring back and forth across Europe and North Africa.
In 2011, Hefdi met Olof Dreijer when he visited Tunisia during the production of a compilation of music composed by local women, and he agreed to produce her album. The result is a work that's decidedly modern, but intrinsically linked to Tunisian folk traditions. Hefdi was insistent that the music should use Arabic quarter tones, but the compositions aren't an exercise in simply looking to the past - her music nods to classical minimalism, contemporary post-classical sounds and modern electronic music.
The first handful of tracks express her classical influence strongly - the lengthy 'Envol du Mékong' folds in Philip Glass-style organs into expressive piano playing and bowed strings before erupting into percussive Tunisian styles. In the album's second half, the lid is blown off as Hefdi allows herself to flex a little, experimenting with drums and electronics. 'Echos de Medjerda' is a clear highlight, balancing subtle processes with trance-inducing percussive loops, and 18-minute closer 'Cheminement du Tigre' is the record's most mind-bending moment, creating a singular mood with bells, electronics, drums and evocative pads.
A fittingly haunting testament to Ghédalia Tazartès’s otherworldly vision, featuring the late, great spirit playing with another legend, Rhys Chatham at a private show in a Parisian garden, and a festival in Montreuil, France
Possibly the last recording of Tazartès in typically spellbinding action, ‘Two Men In A Boat’ offers a front row seat to a pair of performances held 2018 and 2019, where the nomadic singer was documented in ever intuitive alignment with pioneering guitarist Chatham, whom he’d only met once before, in 1977. That meeting would have been circa the recording of Tazartès’ blinding debut ‘Diasporas’, which introduced his singular, uncompromising blend of Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) language vocals and Greek heritage to the French avant-garde, and just years before his ‘Transports’ album was included on the NWW list. Skip forward 20 peerless Tazartès albums and an extensive oeuvre established in parallel by Chatham, and this album captures the two deeply learned, autodidactic artists in deep conversation, drawing on an incredibly rich well of knowledge and spirit for these entrancing recordings that render the two in remarkable, quietly concentrated symbiosis.
Tazartès’ vox typically explore the frequency spectrum between near throat-singing styled growls and his unnerving higher register flights, in tandem with Chatham’s loops of electric guitar, trumpet and flute. The pair strike a lowkey stunning equilibrium, often operating on the edge of silence, and reserving a filigree grasp of sublime tension and affective tunings that quiver the third eye, with Chatham located thousands of miles from his massed guitar orchestrations, but still possessed by peculiar tunings. From the results, frankly we’re jealous of anyone in attendance at that Parisian garden performance, as one can only imagine the levels of beauty in context with an audience who knew what they were witnessing (as opposed to the chatty “art crowd” doyles who spoiled Tazartès’ show we saw at Manchester’s Whitworth Gallery in 2016; he was visibly gutted with them).
For anyone more familiar with Tazartès’s cut-up concrète stuff, this is not that. But it is some of the most spellbinding, life-affirming music, just simply incomparable and a totally worthy testament to a legacy we fear may never be repeated, as this is a music rich with experience and humbling daring of the rarest kind. R.I.P., G.
Sarah Davachi and Sean McCann evoke Terrence Malick's poetic "Days of Heaven" on their golden-hour-recorded debut collaboration. It's gentle music for shadowless romance and off-grid moods - an antidote to anxiety-laced online life that sounds so personal it's almost voyeuristic.
Collaborations don't have to be the result of wrestling egos. Davachi and McCann have both proved themselves as solo artists, so when the couple came together last year to record 'Mother of Pearl' there were no expectations and no locked horns. The result is a free-flowing series of gorgeous instrumental improvisations that illustrate their personal and artistic partnership with the lightest possible touch. Recorded at their apartment in Los Angeles and at a farmhouse on McCann's birthday last year, the album possesses a slim scale that feels rare in today's vast musical universe; both artists are known for their delicate minimalism, but 'Mother of Pearl' feels even more gossamer, as if it was never intended for public consumption.
There's wordless poetry on opening track 'LA in the Rain', snipped from the duo's first recording session in 2020, with viola and piano offering a surprising inversion of the expected Los Angeles cityscape. McCann and Davachi's LA is a distant hum of rain on tarmac that paves over a melancholy, violent past. They contemplate further on the album's heady centerpiece 'Lamplighter', with soft-focus piano slowly placed across tape-saturated weightless drones and distant bells. It's an almost ritualistic meditation but without the new age hallmarks.
Elsewhere 'Keep Outside the Night' sounds completely frozen in time, with pillowy notes drowsing beneath industrial clanking that just hints at a wild world outside. The album's like a log fire on a cold day: we're lucky to have it.
Collecting archival recordings and presenting them alongside studio material from 2019, "Bugandan Royal Music Revival" provides a valuable potted history of Bugandan court music. It's stunning work, showcasing the different instruments, styles and techniques that remain the backbone of Uganda's traditional culture.
Assembled to go alongside a documentary by brothers Basile and Jules Louis Koechlin, this deep dive into Bugandan cultural music is completely out on its own. The kingdom of Buganda was founded in the 14th century, and music played a crucial role in the royal courts; the music was centered on a drum ensemble known as the mujaguzo, and over its existence the court was said to have collected over 300, each drum with its own significance. Players from across the kingdom would flock to the court to show off their skill to the king, and ended up forming ensembles that took turns holding residence. These musicians would play Bugandan lyre, harp, hand-made gourd trumpets, tuned drums and flutes, assembling the different instruments in various ways to tell layered stories of their kingdom's sprawling landscape.
But in 1966, as the country struggled after decades of British colonial rule, the Ugandan Army attacked the palace of Bugandan king Muteesa II. The musicians were either killed or fled, and in the aftermath the Bugandan kingdom was dissolved. Over the following years, sounds that had played such an important role in Uganda's cultural history fell out of favor, and while the kingdom was re-established in 1993, it's taken time to re-introduce them to contemporary listeners. The Koechlins' documentary follows their attempt to track down the players keeping the sound alive, culminating in a studio visit to capture the music for future generations. Even without the visual accompaniment, it's powerful and emotional material.
The sheer breadth of the sound here is remarkable. Most of the recordings are contemporary, but placed alongside earlier archival recordings from the 1940s and 1960s, it's possible to hear just how this music has survived an existential crisis and how it's changed. It's such a treat to absorb this spread of instrumentation that's survived from the middle ages and developed into complex rhythmic music (peep opening track 'Mujaguzo'), rapid microtonal tuned-drum virtuosity ('Kifwe kze kya'), heartbreaking harp and vocal jams ('Okwagala omulungi') or complex flute music ('Omusango gw’abalere'). There's just so much here - each listen reveals something deeper and more delicate. An unmissable treat, honestly.
Joyful and chaotic techno-fusion statement from ex-Sun Ra Arkestra percussionist Francisco Mora Catlett, who y'all likely know from providing the rhythm section for Carl Craig's epoch-defining Innerzone Orchestra masterpiece 'Bug in the Bass Bin'. One for anyone looking to dive deeper into the psychedelic waters swum by Hieroglyphic Being or Galaxy 2 Galaxy. Fully tipped.
'Electric Worlds' isn't a jazz album. Jazz is a language Mora's undoubtedly fluent in, but he's making techno here - hence the title - and it's techno that reminds us of Detroit's 1980s flexibility and the inherent hope in its boundless creativity. Tempos are fluid, synthesizers are unglued, and basslines are dipped in pure funk essence. The music sounds unmoored from reality, almost like a dream of what techno might have been, rather than what it actually is. It's exactly what theorist DeForrest Brown Jr. describes when he states: "Make Techno Black Again".
There's a tradition on display here that draws clear, indelible lines between jazz, funk, fusion, disco, house, electro, techno and hip-hop - they're all simply dialects in one unified spiritual, revolutionary, language. Mora's virtuoso musicianship is the resin that stops everything from collapsing: synths sing wildly over throbbing bass loops and percussion that's unafraid to drift outside the grid. It's as starry-eyed and jaw-droppingly singular as Jamal Moss's out-there beat experiments, and as loosely groovy as Nyege Nyege's drum machine deity DJ Diaki.
Two tracks from Overmono released on XL Recordings.
"Over the course of the pandemic Overmono have undoubtedly risen to become the most sought-after dance act of 2021. Shows at festivals like Greenman, We Out Here, Field Day and Gala were all hailed as highlights, as was their sold out, packed-out headline show at Village Underground earlier this month. Their track ‘So U Kno’ is the anthem of the summer and their ‘Fabric Presents Overmono’ compilation and mix is being hailed as one of the best the revered London institution has released."
Spread over six sides (!) of vinyl, 'Live at Brancaleone' is a spidery web of industrial ambience, synth drone, watery dub and textured lower-case noise. A mixture of live improvisation and DJing, it features material from Steve Roach, Rapoon, Nuel, Birds of Prey and more.
Giuseppe Tillieci and Filippo Scorcucchi blur the line between a DJ set and improv performance here, flooding their moody synthesized textures with barely recognizable shadows of industrial music and billowing ambient. It's a smart choice, when you hear a familiar patter of drums or the warming fizz of a new age pad, the feeling is like candlelight in a pitch-black hallway, guiding you to the next door.
"Live At Brancaleone" is a long record, but feels primed for hallucinogenic moments: the 5AM festival off-piste experience can now be relived in the relative calm of your own home. Open up yer third eye.