Sizzling, psychedelic soul blinder from 1984, highly coveted for its deeply unusual soundsphere and use of drum machines and lysergic synths. One of the maddest experimental funk reissues since Starship Commander Woowoo? Ayeeee! 2nd hand copies trade for astronomic asking prices… if yr into the weirdest corners of Prince's vault - this ones a doozy.
“Synth chutes, synth ladders, popcorn 808 beats, dirge-y chants and busted sub-woofer hums from inner-galactic soul pioneers Nathaniel Woolridge and Anthony Freeman intertwine to create this hypnotic, mythical 1984 LP from Newark, New Jersey. The most damaged party record ever set to black, or the most partied cry of the heart ever howled into personal space. Probably both.”
Minimal techno master Rob Hood takes the DJ-Kicks driving seat for a deft but pounding session including no less than 4 exclusive new Hood productions.
Over 72 minutes the original UR member and seminal Detroit hero sequences 22 tracks of driving dance music, Motor City style, rolling steady on the gas thru cuts from both sides of the pond, but perhaps tipping more towards European productions inspired by 313 foundations.
Robert Hood’s exclusive tracks are well worth a gander, from the hypnotic organ rider ‘Greytype I’ to the peak-time play of ‘Bond Solid’ and the trancing, acidic burn of ‘Machine Form’, and it’s also worth peeping the 16th note fangs on Ben Long & Tom Hades’ ‘The Knight Rider’, and the super fucking arid rasp of Matrixxman’s ‘Protocol (Saturation Edit)’.
But, if you really want to hear Hood in proper context, the mix lives up to the exacting standard we’ve all come to expect from a Hood mix - immaculate transitions, timing and groove control from one of the best to ever do it.
A strangely haunting yet beautiful bouquet of nocturnal, electronic blooms ranging from poignant ambient vignettes to chamber-like pop, from Brooklyn’s Faten Kanaan - a gifted musical story-teller
“Foxes is the third full-length album from Brooklyn-based artist Faten Kanaan.
The title is symbolic: an homage to the wild, untamed/unedited spirit. It's an album of uninhibited expression, a balance between playfulness and nuanced intentionality. Foxes is loosely inspired by early Surrealist automatism, made-up languages, Middle-Eastern Hakawati storytellers, and the minimalist poignancy of mimes. Here, Kanaan uses sound as an intuitive gesture to tell a wordless story.
As the narrative unfolds, each composition becomes a distinct chapter: from the uneasy turbulence of Naufragium to the swelling crescendo and gear mechanics of time passing in Pendulum, the intimate pastoralism of Wildflowers, and the mischievous meanderings of the title track.”
Second album from BNJMN, full of crisp, rolling techno and aerated electronics
“This album comes after years of experimenting but is the first time since his Black Square album on Rush Hour in 2011 that the artist has felt he has finished a cohesive body of work.
Hypnagogia is BNJMN’s third album in all, but first on this label after EPs like Coil and Amygdala—and his techno banger ‘Droid’ on the Inertia series—helped establish him as one of techno’s most interesting voices. Albums allow him to be more musically free and explore more ideas than 12”s, which are often recorded quicker and only capture a glimpse of his creativity. In the years since his last full length, the artist born Ben Thomas has done everything from strangely melodic music to darker drone-like pieces and uplifting, lighter techno.
This new one—written in two separate studios in Berlin; one small, one much larger, which you can hear in how some tracks are tighter and more intimate, and some are more expansive and dynamic--is influenced by the feeling of hypnagogia. “I’m often quite lucid at night time and I feel a lot of my ideas come from those experiences, so I wanted to present an album that sounds more dreamlike than some of my previous works.”
It results in ten tracks of atmospheric techno that ranges from deeply comforting to turbulent and edgy. There are moments of beautiful ambient reflection on tracks like ‘Glowed’ and ‘Over White Peaks’, plenty of the unique sense of melody BNJMN is known for as well as hypnotic tracks that trap you in a trance. Tracks like ‘Theta Wave’ show BNJMN is always conjuring up unique patterns and beguiling textures, while ‘Hypnagogia Pt 2’ is built on the sort of drum programming that will always lock in the floor.
Though a long time has past and he has grown plenty since his last record, there is still a common thread that unites all BNJMN’s music: melody and texture are key, but the dance floor is also always in mind.”
Mesmerisingly concentrated techno minimalism from Swiss producer Laurent Peter a.k.a. Tresque
Both cuts are all about long, arcing, incremental developments, taking at least 12 minutes to properly unfurl. ‘Espere’ works sloshing triplets into a loping, heavy-lidded zombie swagger, whereas ‘Solstici’ is more about pumping, grungy bass and glacial drone movement.
Etheric R&B with a melancholy, almost gothic soul, sounding out somewhere between Ciara and Zola Jesus...
“Skin Town's unexpected return with their new album 'Country' finds the duo upping the already high bar set on their striking dark pop gem debut 'The Room' with a dauntless artistic statement that trades clever posturing for vulnerability. Yielding their prowess with more restraint, Skin Town's 'Country' hits harder and cuts deeper - doubling down on their narcotic cocktail of strong R&B hooks, spacious bewitching productions, and marked sense of melody that puts Ukrainian American vocalist Grace Hall and Iranian American multi-instrumentalist Nick Turco in a class of their own.
Many saw that potential on their debut with support from Dazed, Interview, The FADER, KCRW, as well as artists like Tinashe shouting out Skin Town. Lamenting on the duo's unmistakable chemistry, Pitchfork says, "Turco’s synthscapes are huge and scene-stealing, while Hall’s husky voice strikes a glorious medium between Abel Tesfaye and Sade." Their latest is even more potent, a particular strain of sad dance music that feels timeless and raw.
'Country' refines Skin Town's minimal framework of tethering hip-hop/R&B rhythms to Hall's smoky, precise phrasing exploring richer atmospheres and darker concerns. Written and recorded over 3 years, the album touches upon depression, loss, hedonism, poverty, rebellion, sex work, empowerment, and love's contradictions. The album's completion was sidetracked many times with Hall suffering a string of life-threatening mysterious immune system ailments, as a result there is a lot of pain and joy in this record, made with literal blood and tears.
The opener "Bad" signals at this departure from their upbeat predecessor stripping away the beats, relying on the interplay between Turco's ringing chords, the enveloping synthwork and Hall's melancholic, rhythmic intonations. "Mute" brings back the drums, couched in a slinking hip-hop beat and a creeping synth lead. Throughout the record, Turco's productions glean from an eclectic, disparate mix: melodic Amiga tracker music, Metro Boomin', New Age, The-Dream while Hall seems ever more comfortable exploring syncopation and half-rap/half-sung excursions. This is inventive, uncanny pop music where Enya, Offset, Zola Jesus, and Future inhabit the same space.”
First ever collection of the pioneering British reggae Lovers Rock group Brown Sugar including rare singles, dubs and extended mixes. The album comes with extensive sleevenotes and interviews with Dennis Bovell, Pauline Catlin, John Kpiaye and Winston Edwards (Studio 16).
"Brown Sugar were formed by three young teenage girls - Pauline Catlin, Caron Wheeler and Carol Simms in South London in 1976. In the short period of time 1976-1980, the group - working with Dennis Bovell on the mixing desk and John Kpiaye (‘Brownie T) in the studio - recorded barely a handful of singles on the new Lovers Rock label, a number of which went to the top of the UK reggae charts. But success stopped there and with no album release and no industry support the group broke up in the early 1980s.
Following their split Caron Wheeler became the lead vocalist for the hugely successful group Soul II Soul, Carol Simms launched a solo career as Kofi (re-making a number of Brown Sugar songs with producer Mad Professor) and Pauline Catlin returned to education. nDespite their relatively low-key mainstream public exposure Brown Sugar (and the label on which their first records appeared) announced to the world a new genre of reggae music, Lovers Rock, which spoke for the first time with the sensibility of a new segment of British society; that of first generation-born Black British female youth.
And while Lovers Rock became synonymous with sweet love songs, Brown Sugar’s music in fact expressed far more; a righteous pride and consciousness in being Black and British, a political stance more often associated with UK roots groups like Black Slate, Aswad, Misty In Roots and other British reggae acts in the late 1970s. Brown Sugar were in fact their own genre of ‘conscious lovers rock’ - an expression of ideological black cultural pride.
Brown Sugar’s handful of three-minute love songs (often plus extended dubs) somehow manage to encapsulate all the complexities of identity, sexual politics and youthful righteousness of Afro-Caribbean youth living in Britain in the 1970s. Songs such as ‘I’m In Love With A Dreadlocks’, ‘Our Reggae Music’, ‘Black Pride’ and ‘Dreaming Of Zion’ spoke with a straightforward righteousness and consciousness that few roots groups could hope to match. The fact that they were all teenagers is even more striking.
Dennis Bovell comments, “For Lovers Rock we needed a pulpit, a way of saying ‘this is the style’. Sound systems were already saying ‘this is lovers,’ brandishing it in the dance. Ourintention was to create a style of music that my generation could identify with - one that had a beat, and you could dance to with your partner in a sound system setting.” Dennis Bovell’s mixes for the group gave a further dimension to Brown Sugar records - a sound system mentality, adding sound effects and dub elements. ‘I’m In Love With A Dreadlocks’ was the debut release for both Brown Sugar and the Lovers Rock label, a fitting calling card for both. The record was a hit on many sound systems across the UK, reaching the top of the reggae charts.
Although the career of Brown Sugar was short-lived, their legacy and influence remains significant and now, 40 years on from these first records, all of the members are still involved in music. Pauline Catlin has recently re-launched her career under a new moniker, Shezekiel; Carol Simms, aka Kofi, remains a successful solo artist, one of the queens of Lovers Rock; Caron Wheeler, after leaving Soul II Soul at the end of the 1980s, embarked on a solo career, before re-joining the soul super-group which she continues to front to this day."
Sully’s golden streak continues unabated with two flash forward steppers for Rupture LDN
Rolling off the back of zingers for Uncertain Hour and Foxy Jangle and a remix of 2 Bad Mice, he synchs piquant arps with slow/fast footwork/halfstep patterns, virulent mentasms and achingly well-timed shockout breakbeat in the lethal ‘Dream Sequence’, whereas ‘Epoch’ commits to a proper ’96 techstep style with lip-bitingly strong vibes practically as good as anything from that original era, if not better - sacrilege to say, we know, but seriously this is breathtaking stuff!
Príncipe knock us sideways once again with a debut EP showcase of Batida and Tarraxo by RS Produções’ DJ Narciso & Nuno Beats; a set of iquant, wavey club zingers from Lisbon’s hottest yung squad following acclaimed 2018 releases by P. Adrix, DJ Lilocox, and Niagara.
RS Produções are the next, thrilling young unit to emerge from Lisbon’s fertile club scene via Príncipe. Produced by core members DJ Narciso and Nuno Beats, ‘Bagdad Style’ supplies a crisply rugged, bittersweet taste of the crew’s hyperlocal sound, spanning electro-compatible Batida bangers alongside wonky, slower semi-tarraxos and deep, wavey house mutations. If you were snagged by Príncipe’s P. Adrix, DJ Lilocox and Niagara releases already in 2018, we guarantee this one’s unmissable.
Formed in 2014 as a close group of pals from Rinchoa, Rio de Mouro, on the edges of Lisbon, RS Produções grew wings when, in 2016, a then 17 year old Narciso knuckled down and relaunched RS as a proper crew with DJs, producers and an MC in the same model as pivotal Lisbon posse, Piquenos DJs Do Guetto. The crew have since become regular fixtures at Príncipe’s famous monthly residency in Lisbon’s Musicbox club, and their debut showcase is certain to send them spinning around the globe.
The EP is fronted by two unmissable Batida heaters from DJ Narciso in the bare bones electro percussion of ‘Caipirinha’ and the kinked metallic cargaa of ‘Constipacao do Poco’, before the slinky interplay of dissonant organ riffs and flighty pipes in ‘Guerreiro’ highlights a wicked taste for sour, battery-tang lixx that comes to inform the rest of the EP, courtesy of Nuno Beats’ slower tarraxo styles in ‘Lingrinhas’ and the super wavey spesh, ‘Futuro’, while Nuno & Narciso come together with ruder, uptempo torque in the hypnotic electro-house swang of ‘Aberturu’ and the sensuous deep Kuduro contours of ‘Hino RS’, which should leave listeners in no doubt as to the duo’s breadth and quality of club music.
The fact that German label Dekorder are here and ready to put some of the worlds most obscure music on vinyl (and high quality vinyl at that... no surface noise baby) makes me just that little bit happier to be alive. With labels like this out there it feels like music might be in safe hands, and with any luck they'll have the sales to justify the outlay, and certainly this latest record from Finnish psychedelic dronester Uton is well worth spending your hard-earned on. Following on nicely from his killer releases on Digitalis, 'Alitaju Ylimina' (don't ask me to translate that, please!) is a simply shocking dictat in all that is faded and tape saturated. It almost sounds like your brain has melted through the grates into a world of wood shavings and burnt polystyrene, a world where every sound is filtered through ten feet of fibreglass so your ears can only pick up traces of the melodic subtlety. I'm a big fan of Uton so it's hardly fair to comment but I think this might be his most coherent record yet, blending the more electronic, ambient sounds with the plucked folk instrumentation you might expect to hear on a Kemialliset Ystavat record. Fonal fans, Digitalis fans and Jewelled Antler aficionados - you can't miss this!
'Yokehra' from Finnish free-folk Goddess Kuupuu (aka Jonna Karanka) was one of my favourite releases of last year, so I have been very patiently awaiting this followup album! Both of the LPs are made up from her long sold-out CDR EPs and effortlessly show how insanely gifted a musician and innovator she is - blending the out-there sound of Islaja with the crumbling electrical pscyh sounds of Kemialliset Ystavat. Occasionally moving towards the world of pulsating synth experimentalism ('Linnut') and then trip-toeing into something more delicate and folk based ('Ilta Suree') this is the reason why we all got so doe-eyed about the world of Finnish forest folk in the first place. Those tape-recorded detuned guitars, that alien language we are so desperate to get to hear and the crumbling pots 'n pans percussion that endears us so much to these home-made sounds. Dekorder is one of those labels that we have to hold dear - by re-issuing these cdrs and treating them so carefully and so lovingly he is doing the world a service. Hugely recommended for any free folkies desperate for a fix...
This duo sees the joining forces of Uton's Jani Hirvonen with arch Finnish psych folk maven Jan Anderzen, known for his work with Kemialliset Ystavat and Es. The combined efforts of the two musicians make for a dizzying trawl through incomprehensible dreamscape sounds, loaded with obscured folksy instrumentation, no-fi tape hiss and even hints at the kind of Indian rhythms featured in the new Uton LP, Straight Edge XXS. Somewhere buried in that gloopy audio fudge you'll hear wordless vocal utterances, bell chimes and wispy drone patterns, but for all it's wilful obscurity this music isn't without pockets of melody and accessibility, and however weird it all gets there's a hypnotic quality to these compositions that'll keep you under Hevoset's spell.
Tunisia’s Deena Abdelwahed inhabits a fascinating space between tradition and technology, history and futurism in her strikingly moody debut solo album ‘Khonnar’, following from production credits on Fever Ray’s ’Plunge’ and use of her tracks in mixes by M.E.S.H. and Paula Temple. Subbass fiends need to check the final track ‘Rabbouni’, while fans of Jasss and Muslimgauze will gets strong kicks throughout...
“Deena Abdelwahed’s first album is shifting the epicenter of contemporary electronic music south. Pronounced “Ronnar“ (an essential detail so as to avoid facile misinterpretation by French- speakers) it is a term that makes the most of Tunisia’s cultural and linguistic spectrum. It evokes the dark, shameful and disturbing side of things, the one we usually seek to hide, but which Deena instead sticks our noses in with her debut. It is a testament to Deena’s coming into her own as a world citizen, and as an artist. A self-construction made of frustrations and constraints, borne of retrograde mindsets, which are not the prerogative of either the East or the West, and which she tirelessly strives to expose and break.
Throughout the 45 minutes of “Khonnar“, Deena breaks down the codes of bass, techno and experimental music, and writes the manifesto for a generation that does not seek to please or to conform, taking back control of its identity – with all the attendant losses and chaos. A new creative world order is taking shape, a new tilting point between north and south, the response of a connected and liberated youth who takes the control of the new decolonization.”
Edinburgh’s Parsa Jamshidi drops speaker-troubling bass and nerve-tweaking electronics in a jiggy fashion for the Copenhagen-based FLUF label
’0019AA’ is a wickedly nervy piece of future funk with blown out bass and chromatic prongs that makes us once like a robot with ill-fitted limbs.
’0019AA’ is more focussed on strange reverb recursions, with what sounds like hacked up voices tumbling down a metal tube in weightless conditions.
If you’re at all bored by the state of current electronic dance music, this will refresh your ears instantly.
Peder Mannerfelt plays into the widest angles of his “power ambient” sound on ‘Daily Routine’, a killer study into the way rave music intersects domestic life...
The 10 tracks range from decade-old productions to hyper new cut-ups of his brothers' records bought in London in summer ’88, but all betray an increasing embrace of complexity and layered, asymmetric design that will keep his ever-growing mob of followers fascinated at every turn.
The preceding single track ‘Temporary Psychosis (VIP)’ is a definitive highlight, riding the finest line between deadly rave function and pranging unpredictability, while other dancefloor highlights come on strong in the pointillist rave puncture of ‘Sissel & Bass’ featuring a killer vocal by Sissel Wincent, and the rabid churn of ‘This Machine Shares Memes’.
But that would be to neglect the album’s central pschedelic nature and the way it will be used, at home, in prosaic domesticity, where the far flung and undulating topography of pieces such as the sardonic ‘Introductions & Aspiration’, the darkside creep of ‘Cigarettes (Eurofierceness Mix)’, and the exasperated rave of ‘How Was Your Day? (Numb)’ will likely induce listeners to laugh, bruk out, curl up, and climb the walls in their own personal space.
We're v into this one...
The 3-pronged attack of ‘Harm In Hand’ preps the ground for Silent Servant’s keenly awaited 2nd album with Hospital Productions
Inside, two tracks from the upcoming ’Shadows of Death and Desire’ album, namely the rotten power drums and sinewy arps of ‘Harm In Hand’ with Juan on possessed mic duties, and the gnashing swang and rasp of ‘Damage’ and it’s virulent synths.
Unique to the EP is ‘Death of Decadence’, yoking up a proper EBM stallion layered with crazed 16th note arpeggios and powered by dry, pumping kicks.
On the strength of these, bet your bottom $ the album will be class.
Gloryland is Plyxy’s steeply enigmatic and intoxicating début tape of ambient darkness for Ascetic House. Following introductions made on the digital only release Eat Your Gods [Anti/Anti, 2017], the NYC-based Russian artist stealthily unfolds his sound as one of the strongest, most focussed suites of atmospheric mood music this side of Tarkovsky scores or Drew McDowell’s modular gremlins
“Gloryland is the seminal EP from PLYXY, the ambient/noise project of NYC-based polymath Ros Knopov. A refugee from the Soviet Union, he hails from Dnepropetrovsk, the rocket-making capital of the former Communist state. Driven by a desire for improvisation, and obsessed with process, PLYXY weaves manipulated field recordings and Soviet-era film samples through an array of analog Eurorack modules and samplers, creating cinematic environments of despair and nostalgia.”
A steeply absorbing prelude to the apocalypse by Dutch pianist Reinier van Houdt, here trading in layered electronic gloom lit up by guest narration from his Current 93 bandmate, David Tibet
“Reinier van Houdt returns to Hallow Ground with an album based on the unfinished gothic tale Igitur - a collection of texts that eventually was abandoned by its author Stéphane Mallarmé in 1869. Connecting with Mallarmé's obsessions about chance and destiny, Igitur Carbon Copies is the fragmentation of all the roots that ran under its predecessor and brings these to a provisional close: guided by David Tibet's voice reading the reworked text we descend through spheres of deserted anthems, disembodied voices, morse signals, crank calls, corroded tapes, radio statics, stones, while doing counting games. Here the acoustical spaces are manifold, blended or shifted in a heartbeat, where far and near, up and down are relative, where Riemann's god is pointless and angels are enjoying their space. Here perception is a vice that constantly hallucinates realities.
Reinier van Houdt started experimenting with taperecorders, radio's and objects at a young age. Later he studied piano at the Liszt-Academy in Budapest & the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. He developed a fascination for all matters that defy notation: sound, timing, space, physicality, memory, noise, environment - points beyond composition, interpretation and improvisation. He has built himself an unusual repertoire that consistently resulted from personal quests; from composing with non-musical sources, from collaborations with composers & musicians, from research in archives or from unorthodox studies of classical music. He collaborated with artists like Francisco López, Maria de Alvear, Robert Ashley, Luc Ferrari, Annea Lockwood, Alvin Curran, John Cage, Christian Marclay, Walter Marchetti, Charlemagne Palestine and joined the legendary outsider-collective Current 93 in 2012.”
Up until the release of Hasenlove Antonia Leukers has been primarily known for her visual art as part of the Institut Hasenbart collective. Leukers music is probably most readily comparable to CocoRosie, particularly given the emphasis on lo-fi homemade beats and ramshackle songwriting. On this one-sided LP's final track (for which there's no readily apparent title) she even sounds a bit like Bianca Casady - albeit Bianca Casady singing in German with comically out of tune note-holding. While Leukers' songwriting is fairly left-of-centre to say the least, it's by no means messy or inaccessible, and her off-kilter recording style suits her compositions down to the ground, throwing in roughly sculpted electronic beats where necessary. The presentation of this LP warrants a special mention. In addition to being adorned with a slightly disturbing print on its playing surface (specifically, two hares licking each others private parts...) there's an especially finely detailed etching on the flipside. I suppose you'd expect this to be fairly opulent given Leukers' background in the visual arts though, wouldn't you?
Voks is the recording alias of Mikkel Moir Pihl from Copenhagen, one of the Dekorder label's founding artists. The Dane has been far from prolific during his six-year stint on the label, releasing just two 3"CDs until now. As a full-length debut Astra & Knyst seems to jape around with arrangements of MIDI-renderred woodwind, accordion and ukulele, sounding truly surreal in its twisting, turning narrative of lo-fi digi-folk discordance. You can't help but have a bit of a chuckle at the sound of something like 'Pistol': at three-and-a-half minutes it's one of the more fully developed pieces on the album, but it's arrangement of low-grade samples and squeaking solos can't help but sound silly. It wouldn't be entirely undue to make connections between this and the more slapstick moments you'd encounter on a Raymond Scott album, although the most obvious link to make would be to fellow eccentric Dane, Goodiepal. Taken as a complete album, Astra & Knyst is all very odd and relentlessly hyperactive in its hair-brained delivery, but it's well worth half an hour of anyone's time.
Slinky, rude, and darker-edged London house pressure from Hugo Massien, following the styles of his 12”s for E-Beamz, Tectonic, XL and 17 Steps onto Blackdown’s Keysound
Equally adaptable to glam clubs and scuzzy warehouses, the vibe of Massien’s ‘ Remnants / London Underground 2014-16 EP’ swings from spare, square-bass driven deeptech swang in ‘You’re The Only’, to grimier, electroid house rolige on ‘Lowkey’ ft. Calle Lebraun, before tucking it somewhere moodier with the shadowy skulk of ‘Pleasure System’, and shaking out the natty swivel of ‘Powerhouse’ with its whirring hi-hats and nagging bleep coda.
Rhodri Davies, Dawn Bothwell and Richard Dawson’s Hen Ogledd transmogrify from psychedelic no wave time travellers into a wild, inimitable pop unit on ‘Mogic’, their 3rd album together, their debut for Weird World.
Named for a Welsh word describing the historic region between southern Scotland and northern England, the band has grown from the locus of Davies on harp (++) and Dawson on guitar (++) to incorporate Dawn Bothwell and Sally Pilkington on vocals and multiple instruments - most curiously credited with Red Witch Violetta, Pipa Del’ochio, Mooer Green Mile, Hott’s Rombah, among others, between them.
If you copped either of Hen Ogledd’s first two LPs, logic would dictate that this one was always going to be a bit mad, but hardly anyone could have predicted where they’re going with ‘Mogic’, as the band’s combined, contemporary rationale and arcane urges fulminate a persistently unpredictable sound that ties up influence from all corners - vacillating hot-stepping post punk with plaintive folksong, rubbery primordial techno and lysergic indie-pop.
Other notable inclusions clem from sax virtuoso, Mette Rasmussen on some of the album’s strangest/seductive moments, the Canterbury-esque opener ‘Love Time Feel’ and the brilliantly daft indie-pop of ‘Tiny Witch Hunter’ with Dawn Bothwell’s seemingly sung down the wrong end of a telescope, and also the subtle but pivotal percussion of Will Guthrie. But we can very simply sum this one up as far exceeding the sum of its parts.
Gotta be one of 2018’s most beguiling, trend-oblivious pop records.
Highly promising newcomer Nazar gets down to bassbin business on Hyperdub after introductions made on Kode 9 & Burial’s ‘Fabriclive 100’ mix.
From phthalocyanine grime to blown out techno and distorted drill, the ‘Enclave EP’ is one of the freshest/crankiest sessions you’ll hear from London in 2018. It’s unmistakably Hyperdub, repping fractious madness that’s compatible with Gqom, Príncipe styles and loads of deconstructed club musics, yet patently distinguished as UK rave.
Opening with the virulent weightless synths and cold bass knocks of ‘South Border’, the EP delivers a deadly payload of non-standard club pressure with the mutant Gqom of ‘Warning Shots’, and a severely blunted sort of Burial-does-drill sound in ‘Airstrike’ featuring Hyperdub’s secret weapon Shannen SP on vocals, along with the swerving murder of ‘Enclave’ on a killer Angel Ho-styled sci-fi flex, plus the Dutch Bubblers’ troubles of ‘Konvoy’ and a very smart cinematic closer with ‘Ceasefire’.
This may well be the strongest Hyperdub debut since Burial’s seminal ‘South London Boroughs’, or at least since Doon Kanda’s first entry. A must check!
Now you know this is going to be noisy don't you? The debut solo album from Jazzkammer (well, now Jazkamer, but you know what I mean) man John Hegre was never going to a walk in a very ambient park, but surprisingly it's not the ear shattering assault you might think. Although his duets with Lasse Marhaug are to computer music what Hair Police are to guitar music, 'Colors Don't Clash' takes the rough with the smooth, giving way to long, pensive quiet passages which allows the noisier moments (of which there are many, don't worry) more dynamic and power. The record starts off on its more stereotypically beautiful moment, the choppy piano-led 'Don't' but as soon as this comes to an end we're hit with the sheet metal of 'Worry' which takes the sound of dying demons in a metalwork factory and places it against a backdrop of ambient padwork. It's an unusually breathtaking combination and shows there's more to Hegre's noisy abandon than we might have previously given him credit for. The further tracks explore this even further, bringing doom-laden guitar into the mix on 'Never' to create the sort of computer/black metal soundclash we last heard on the incredible KTL album - yet the album's most perfect moment comes right at the very end. Without warning the computerised elements are stripped away dramatically leaving us with a seven minute slice of bluesy guitar, drums and lightly plucked bass - this is, dare I say it, almost a 'real' song, and it works. In context with the rest of the album too, this feels daring and very cleverly placed, giving a breather after the visceral fury of the previous tracks. 'Colours don't Clash' is a heavy record in every sense of the word - but not a record that loses sight of the bigger picture, you get the feeling that Hegre has laboured long and hard over it and knows exactly what he's doing. Huge recommendation.
The king of Gqom meets the pioneer of Flex Dance Music on a proper dancefloor bullet for Swing Ting
This one is just deadly. Those electro patterns; the punishing subs; them bolshy horns and laser stabs; it’s a stone cold essential if you ask us, or the likes of Jubilee, Tash LC and Kode 9, who’ve all given it early play.
Le Stim’s sought-after 1980 Detroit disco diamond, reissued and available to download for the 1st time
“Le Stim was a band formed by lead vocalist Donald Jennings in the late 70s. Now an ordained deacon back in Detroit, Jennings was brought up in a gospel environment and was said to be born to sing. Growing up picking up songs from the likes of Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald or Sam Cooke, Jennings frequently performed for family and friends and went on to sing for audiences in New York, St. Louis and all around Detroit.
We Crown The King is a song written in the mid 70s by the late Herbert Andrei Duncan, also from Detroit. Duncan approached Jennings with the song who was initially reluctant to sing it because it took him out of his usual vocal range. However, Duncan finally (thankfully!) managed to persuade Jennings after five years to record a tune that would prove to become a party anthem decades later.
Remembering Duncan, Jennings says: “Andrei was positive..inquisitive…. and determined. I was only 18 or 19 years old at the time and remember Andrei coming over to my house…. He had a cellphone in his car!.. I remember going to Andrei’s house, and he said he wanted to do the track. Andrei did not take no for an answer! The answer had to be yes! However Andrei didn’t have any money to record the song with. So we made a deal. In exchange for the use of his P.A., Loc (the drummer) provided the seventeen musicians for Le Stim to record ‘We Crown The King’. The session itself was recorded at a studio in Southfield, Michigan.
According to Jennings, Muhammad Ali did hear the track back then and liked it! Le Stim were in touch with Ali’s management and were about to meet him on a number of occasions which unfortunately didn’t work out.
Licensing this record has proven to be our biggest research effort as of yet and has involved visiting it’s author, Duncan’s former house in Detroit only to discover it had burned down and that his family had moved years ago. It wouldn’t have been possible without the invaluable help of Jeremy from Rain&Shine records (NZ) who then managed to track down the family back in Texas!”
An unlikely yet riveting union, Powell Tillmans present the intense feelings of ’Spoken By The Other’, their debut collaboration for XL
Fulminated over the course of the last year, ‘Spoken By The Other’ is the result of the pair meeting at Wolfgang’s Tate retrospective in 2017, and subsequently committing their nascent relationship with a key performance commissioned for Berlin’s Atonal 2017 edition. Described as a “traumatic experience” by Powell, the show patently wasn’t enough to put them off working together again, with their “messy” formative experiments now firmed up into something remarkably unexpected from either side on ‘Spoken By The Other’.
The EP finds them both at a turning point in their respective career arcs - Wolfgang Tillmans turning away from his role as a world-renowned photographer toward music; while Powell is beginning to loosen up and diversify his bonds beyond his early, innovative dance music mutations into warped tonal designs. Fair to say they both recognise this in the other, and catalyse something probing, new and emotionally penetrating in the process.
Between the breathtakingly anxious, gurned-up vulnerability of their piloerect trance nocturne, ‘Feel The Night’, and the Arca-esque vignette ‘445’, they convey a flux of physically affective and emotionally curious sensations ranging from the visceral, textural intensity of ‘Tone Me’ to the bittersweet love note ‘Doucement’ on the A-side, and over to the sustained anxiety of ‘Speak Out (Version)’, and the smeared, bleary contours of ‘Rebuilding The Future’, where their shared passion for the wonk and oddness of reality is dissected and rebuilt in their own image.
Ruff AF post-techno glitch and knotted rhythms from Japan’s Sofheso. RIYL NHK, Autechre, Richard Devine
“First Terrace Records are honoured to present a major retrospective of prolific yet unsung noise-maker Sofheso. Having been writing, performing and recording relentlessly throughout Japan for at least the last decade, the tracks that form this archival release have been selected from a huge quantity and variety of sessions, and arranged in a way that we hope serves as a fittingly monolithic (yet ultimately penetrable) introduction to Sofheso’s singular and thrilling creative vision.
The sound is the process, and the process is architectural, layering drums and short samples into a contorting mass of concrete and steel. In photography the camera lens enjoys a vast intricacy of scaffolding or the skeletal beginnings of a modern building much more than the glossy outer layer, and just so here. There is a deep satisfaction in hearing the construction, witnessing the casting of each new sculpture. Sofheso has created a sonic language entirely his own, with which he is able to articulate seemingly infinite rhythmic and textural possibilities.”
Serious grey area D&B pressure from db1, Forest Drive West, Entire and Nekiya on Ruffhouse’s killer label, UVB-76
Entire takes pole position with the lumbering yet deft halfstep rolige and sonorous sound design of ‘Two Spirits’ alongside the isolationist dancehall inception of ‘Dream Within A Dream’ by another newcomer, Nekyia.
Passing over to slightly more experienced hands, Forest Drive West insightfully toys with D&B schematics in the billowing negative space and pinched percussion of ‘Inverse’, beside the dread cold steppers drill of ‘Duppy Pulse’ by DB1.
Sote and Opal Tape present an astonishing abundance of electronic music by Iranian Sound Artists. Lovers of “unusual” (read: non-Western convention) rhythms, meters, scales and timbres will be in their element with the sheer volume and variegated quality of material inside - from Parsa’s abstract techno to blinding scapes by Leila, and a visionary astral projection by Pouya Pour-Amin. Dive in head first
“Wondering if, while untying a knot in a long rope, slowly untangling the rope from its own grip, the exact point where the knot ends and the rope begins can ever be determined, observing that the rope itself is a series of tangled strings that are a handful of woven cords of entwined strands of braided fibre of woven matter.
The same goes with the outward spiral of interlacing a series of "Girih" and putting together different pieces until eventually a pattern emerges. A pattern to which, one could keep on adding particles and details until it eventually becomes a complex, indecomposable system, a multi-layered design that has infinite detail yet is still a form that resembles the whole.
Experimental electronic musicians from Iran have marked their prints on the face of the universal experimental music scene for some time now, though the manner in which their status went from "non-existent" to "present" and from "silent" to "noisy" might somehow seem "unpredictable" to the naked eye. The way these small individual girihs have become conjoint in order to make a larger design, might at some point seem arbitrary and even accidental. Nevertheless, by following the patterns in which the branches of a river are spreading and by trailing all its curves and bends, we find a sense of order in chaos.
Now reaching the point where the scene transitions from symmetry to asymmetry -not only in relation with the outside world but also within itself- I wonder if we have been lucky enough to have reached our "Lyapunov Time". After all, isn't this transitional state of a chaotic system -this cryptic blend of order and disorder- the most productive path towards equilibrium?
This compilation is trying to transform the chapter from "individual" to "crowd", at the same time, still maintaining "independence". This inevitable spread of fractures, better not be tamed but explored, as us, musicians, are all exploring and experimenting while trying to keep our unique identities originated from our homeland, our experiences, our struggles and our principles.
In embracing the rain of "chaos" lies a power and a thrill no shelter of an umbrella can provide. However, somehow having a roof over one's head, under which, all can breathe the same air while still retaining all of their clashing ideas and their frictions, helps catalyse the emergence of -the so-crucial- "diversity" and in that sense, numerous more fruitful, well-tiled pathways towards experimentation and productivity; As extensive as geometry itself, as infinite as "fractals".
Sara Bigdeli Shamloo (SarrSew) June 2018.”