Benjamin Finger, James Plotkin and Mia Zabelka craft a mesmerizing sonic world that buzzes and drones, glitches and slithers, eventually careening into unexplored musical territory.
"Pleasure-Voltage" was born in the mind (and studio) of Benjamin Finger – a composer, electronic music producer, DJ, photographer and film-maker based in Oslo / Norway who in recent years has become quite a prolific artist, expanding his stylistic palette from piano miniatures and off-kilter pop experiments to lysergic, dream-like sound collages spiced with gentle warmth and sublime melody. These ingredients are also characteristic on this latest work where Figer set the musical frame before passing it on to his inspired collaborators: MIA ZABELKA who for decades now has been involved in countless projects, be it as musician (violin / electronics), curator or founder of the international sound art centre klang.haus and who has worked with a.o. John Zorn, Fred Frith, Electric Indigo, Robin Rimbaud (Scanner), Dälek Or Phil Minton. And last but not least there's James Plotkin who entered the scene with his first band Old Lady Drivers (or OLD) on EARACHE in 1987 and later was a member of Khanate (with a.o. Stephen O'malley) while also exploring the areas of dark ambient and electronics by working with or remixing Scorn / Mick Harris, K.K: Null and many more.
On "Pleasure-Voltage" which had its live-premiere at the Rewire festival 2018, the trio craftsa mesmerizing sonic world that buzzes and drones, glitches and slithers, eventually careening into unexplored musical territory somewhere between ambient / drone / psychedelia"
Air Max ’97 expands and reshapes his mutant club palette to create an abstract narrative trip in ‘Nacre’, the Berlin-based Aussie producer’s devious début album.
Over the 5 years since he self-released the Anodized EP, Oliver Van Der Lugt a.k.a. Air Max ’97 has become synonymous with the push towards smart, demented club music via releases on Liminal Sounds and his own label, Decisions, plus some searing remixes for Kelela and Ziúr.
With Nacre he puts that boundary pushing-and-crossing nous to fine use in 10 tracks of giddy, zinging rhythms riddled with mercurial colour. In a sense, their off-centre dislocation and variety strongly suggests the experience of traversing club to airport to different country and back again, reflecting or emulating the feeling of fractured circadian rhythms and tonal clashes that should be familiar to anyone who travels a lot, or even just to us pedestrians, faced everyday with a world seemingly in flux and chasing its own tail into a dizzying headspin.
DJs will find useful gear in the likes of his heavily swanged opening bubbler Prfanations, as well as the hyper foxtrot and carving subs of Veneer, and the laser-guided wonk of Karyon, but they’re best taken in context of the album’s border matrix, which acts like a playground for Air Max ’97’s most emotionally skizzy, fractious and off-kilter antics.
Even if you’ve never heard of Hugh Marsh you’ve almost certainly heard the sound of his violin. He’s a featured player on soundtracks by Hans Zimmer and Harry Gregson-Williams, was nominated for a Juno award, recorded with Iggy Pop and The Stooges, and was in the backing band for Bauhaus’ Peter Murphy, all a tiny fraction of his decades-long list of credits.
"The latest addition to that list is Marsh’s own Violinvocations, an LP recorded while Marsh lived in L.A. with friend, mentor, and fellow soundbender Jon Hassell. Despite the album’s title, one would be hard-pressed to say with certainty whether violin was even involved in this album without being told so ahead of time. In one moment a ghost is heard weeping into a dictaphone; a digitized anime character is nervously chattering in the next; and in still another, jagged sheets of distortion avalanche toward the listener beneath auroric swells of harmony. It’s the kind of sound design that requires a dedicated attempt by any Oneohtrixian laptop composer, only it’s all being generated by Marsh’s violin and his curious cabinet of effects pedals often in just one take.
Marsh was nominated for a 2007 Juno Award in the best contemporary jazz album. Marsh is a four-time winner of the Jazz Report Award for violinist of the year and a three-time recipient of the National Jazz Award for violinist of the year. Marsh has been a featured player on numerous soundtracks including The Da Vinci Code, Armageddon, and The Chronicles of Narnia. Marsh has worked with Iggy Pop, Robert Palmer, Peter Murphy, Jon Hassell, Hans Zimmer, Harry Gregson Williams, and many others."
Wonderful early electronic film soundtrack from ‘60s Soviet Czechoslovakia, riddled with pioneering concrète techniques and flush with majestic strings. Another sterling edition to the Finder Keepers catalogue.
“Liška, the Czechoslovakian word for fox. Beguiling in its beauty, cunning in it’s charm. Said to be one of the most intelligent animals on the planet its global family consists of thirty-seven varieties; all of them recognised, respected and feared for their persuasive, creative, resourceful and elusive nature. The Liška we will talk about today is no exception to these hereditary rules and within the grooves of this record Finders Keepers present an “elusive” musical artefact that best exemplifies every facet of this composer’s animal namesake.
Had he not been born in the small Bohemian town of Smečno in the early 1920s the story of The Fantastic Mr. Liška might have well taken a different course. Alternatively, fettered by the hampers of communism, this lifelong resident of Czechoslovakia would never quite find his seat at the same table as the likes of John Barry, Ennio Morricone, Michael Nyman and Stanley Myers, nor drop enough phonographic breadcrumbs to track his legacy. But having waited patiently behind the borders of the wider landscapes of international cinema, Liška’s musical brood, spanning multiple stylistic decades and generations, has now started to walk proudly amongst his would-be, latter-day compeers.
In an era where music lovers have almost become immune to adjectives like “lost”, “rare” and “unreleased” in a climate where previously lesser-known off-kilter master composers such as Vannier, Kirchin and Axelrod have become widely revered, it is perhaps the perfect time for discerning listeners to advance above the feeding trough and seek out this truly pioneering and revolutionary Eastern European composer. Rivalled only by the likes of Krzysztof Komeda and Andrzej Korzynski in Poland, alongside Alexandr Gradsky in Russia, and often splitting workloads with fellow Czech composers like Luboš Fišer, Zdenek Liška’s filmography of over almost 300 fully formed movie scores virtually eclipses the achievements of these socialist era luminaries. Respected unanimously in both Czech and Slovakian by studio bosses, producers, directors and actors alike Liška is widely known for his ability to take the existing energy in a reel of film and literally change the polarity to suit his own interpretation while maintaining the full support from his “client” who would in-turn end up working under this composer’s creative direction. Not only was Liška a genius of emotive orchestral and coral composition, his grasp on small group arrangements and intimate, minimal scores set him above the competition.
By utilising primitive sample techniques by “looping” a films existing ambient noise, or rearranging found sounds and dialog into subtle melodic arrangements, Liška would independently develop his own techniques which had simultaneously become known in Paris as musique concrète. It is a direct extension of these experiments that saw Liška also draw parallels with Walter Branchi (Ennio Morricone’s main electronic sidekick) in Italy as well as Daphne Oram in the UK, making Liška a relatively untravelled pioneer of early electronic composition and sound design due to his unlikely global environment. Imprisoned, preserved or reserved; time has been kind to Liška’s music.”
WTN? pluck another bewt with Myriam Bleau’s fractal, polymetric sound designs, teetering in free space between styles and structures also explored by Mark Fell, Tomoko Sauvage, RKSS, Holly Herndon, Rian Treanor, Visible Cloaks...
“Myriam Bleau is a composer, digital artist and performer based in Montreal. She creates audiovisual systems that go beyond the screen, such as sound installations and performance-specific musical interfaces. Her hybrid electronic practice explores music performance as a codified cultural manifestation and recontextualizes pop culture elements and music history tropes. For 'Lumens & Profits' Myriam has exported this ethos towards pure sound design, deconstructing a palette of familiar musical forms into 8 pieces of wandering, weightless movements; where Vocal samples and percussive rushes launch themselves from empty space, repeatedly shattering any vibe you were about to ease yourself into. Rhythms scatter, violently collapse, and pick themselves up again grinning with hands aloft, sprinting towards the light.
This is the sound of an artist who clearly has a deep interest in modern tropes of UK bass music and contempory electronic composition, but due to Myriam's historical grounding as a tactile, experimental audio visual artist these genres become uniquely filtered through a performative, Musique Concrete focused lens. In this sense the pieces end up as somewhat hybrids, absorbing Myriam's rich performance based musical history and sweeping into the mix the outer corners of avant garde 80's sampler experiments, Hip-Hop Turntablism, and classical elements. With 'Lumens & Profits' Myriam has managed to create something which sounds distinctly fresh in approach, whilst managing to playfully & respectfully nod towards a tidal wave of cultural movements.
'Lumens & Profits' is heavily influenced by Myriam's own 'Musical Spinning Top' A/V performance 'Soft Revolvers' (viewing a section of the spellbinding performance does the piece far greater justice than I could ever try to clumsily put into words - https://vimeo.com/104996493). Whilst inspiration was gleamed from the performance Myriam is keen to separate the two projects, explaining - 'While composing these pieces, I was very occupied by the idea of modulated speed or tempo that came from my spinning top performance. Seeing instruments on different tempos that fluctuate rather than run on different strict patterns. I tried to imagine freely moving instrumental lines that only momentarily align, rather than a grid or tempo that would control all the elements. A lot of the pieces rely on algorithmic arpeggiation (custom max patches), as a way to create processes that control the speed and timbral width of sounds dynamically.’”
Jackin’ all-styles, J. Tijn cuts loose a febrile batch of electro, techno, jungle and mutant misshapes on his own label; In An Instant
Depending your disposition, there are virulent highlights strewn between the Muslimgauze-esque steppers workouts of ’Schmudge’ and ‘Fifty-Third’ at the front, the rude techno swivel of ‘Wu Is For The Children’and the rugged electro-raver ‘Volleyball’ in the middle, plus deeper moments in the thumping techno of ‘Horn Lane’, and the gritty, under-the-skin drive of ‘Kurt Angle’.
K-Lone does a ghostly shimmy with the Burial-esque ‘Dance of the Vampires’, then on a heavy-lidded skank, Pole-style, in ‘Sleepwalker’.
Playing deep into Idle Hands’ in-the-pocket sound, the Brighton-based producer serves your next blues dance or redlit basement session with proper vibes in both parts.
‘All You Can Hold In The Falling’ is an immersive chronicle of comedowns split between Italian artists Dave Saved and NPLGNN for the Athens-based Hypermedium; home to EVOL, Siete Catorce and Audioboyz...
Following their early hauntological investigations ‘Eternal Flame’ and ‘In Your Cities, What About Feelings?’ on two tapes with Forever Now, Dave Saved and NPLGNN pair again for a more tortuous and visceral simulacra of sensations associated with rave burnout, variously referencing DJ Screw, The Caretaker, and Mark Leckey’s collaged soundtracks in two extended works.
As the old adage dictates, what goes up must come down. ‘All You Can Hold In The Falling’ acknowledges this inevitability, taking inspiration from the serotonin-depleted days after the rave when exhausted synapses are misfiring and feelings become scrambled, upended, confused and short-circuited.
On the A-side’s ‘Empty Blooms Still Withering’, Dave Saved wrestles with tape techniques in a sequence of mulched events, with warped samples resembling half-remembered flashbacks and swilled in ultra slow motion, like DJ Screw with too much drank in his cup, or The Caretaker after a snifter too far. However, the dankness and smudge is tempered with pangs of lushness, as Saved proceeds to scrape the inside of his seshed-out skull and parse the spectrum of its accreted feels.
NPLGNN’s B-side piece ‘Empathic New Utopia’ contrasts with a droning, almost static, steeply introspective arrangement intended as a call to action and unity in the face of chaos and unpredictability. Revolving the idea that, “The dystopia in which we are living has canceled the utopian dream by crushing people into the present. The frustration has reduced the ability to feel compassion, to act empathically”, NPLGNN conjures a strikingly isolationist sound shot thru with elusive voices and stammering recursive shudders, like souls crying out into the ether but truncated, stifled in mid air.
If Bibio and Express Rising make a record together, it might sound a lot like the dusty, nostalgic wow and flutter of ‘Elder Mantis’ by Black Taffy, an alias of This Will Destroy You bassist Donovon Jones. Stoke your pipe and nod along
“Black Taffy (Donovan Jones) is a Dallas-based composer and performer whose current focus lies in pairing ambient music with big bass and percussion.
The first born son of Pentecostal music ministers, Donovan grew up witnessing the power music has to induce trance and encourage spiritual awakening. Eventually drawing parallels between christianity, voodoo, and the occult, Jones left the former to immerse himself in the latter.
Sometimes performing with only Vibraphone and cassette decks, he frequently employs the use of tape loops and other antiquated mediums to create pillowy worlds of wow and flutter.”
On his debut album “Scattered Memories”, the composer, musician and true master on the Iranian spike fiddle kamancheh SABA ALIZADEH blends his instrumental virtuosity with spherical electronics, samples of Persian music instruments and field recordings from his hometown Tehran.
"Born in Tehran in 1983 as son of the world renowned Tar and Setar virtuoso HOSSEIN ALIZADEH, SABA ALIZADEH studied the Iranian spike fiddle with SAEED FARAJPOURY and KEYHAN KALHOR plus photography and later experimental sound art with MARK TRAYLE at the California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles. His musical activities that lead him all around the globe for performances (a.o. at Carnegie Hall) branch into 2 different areas: on the one side ALIZADEH is a highly reputed virtuoso on his traditional instrument, on the other he likes to approach music from a more experimental / technological aspect in his electronic / electro-acoustic pieces. This not being enough, he founded Noise Works in 2014, a platform and label for organizing experimental concerts and for the transfer of knowledge of music technologies among young Iranian musicians which makes him a central figure at the forefront of the current, very vivid Persian music scene that gained a lot of attention through artists like SIAVASH AMINI, PORYA HATAMI and of course SOTE who included a track by ALIZADEH on the compilation “Girih: Iranian Sound Artists” that he had curated.
In 2018, ALIZADEH self-released his debut “Scattered Memories” on CD in Iran which now, in a reworked version, sees its deserved world-wide release as LP and DL. Over the course of 10 tracks ALIZADEH melts his 2 musical worlds into 1: tradition meets modernism, eastern sounds meet western production, folklore meets contemporary electronics. An album that will appeal to an open-minded “world music” audience as well as fans of current streams like ambient or drone in its most subtle forms.”
Efdemin discovers his folk-techno voice on ‘New Atlantis’, with results not dissimilar to a Richard Youngs experiment, or indeed, Efdemins’s recent collaboration with Oren Ambarchi and Konrad Sprenger, who also appears inside.
“Over eight tracks, New Atlantis oscillates between fast, kaleidoscopic techno, multilayered drones and acoustic instrumentation, fusing for the first time Sollmann’s deep dancefloor productions as Efdemin with his sound art and experimental music projects. The latter include 2017’s Harry Partch- inspired Monophonie performance and 2018’s Panama / Suez EP with Oren Ambarchi and Konrad Sprenger.
Long drawn to utopian musical traditions, Sollmann took inspiration for New Atlantis from Francis Bacon’s unfinished 17th century novel of the same name, which describes a fictional island devoted to social progress through the synthesis of art, science, technology and fashion. In the story, Bacon imagines futuristic ‘sound houses’, which contain musical instruments capable of recreating the entirety of the sounds of the universe; a 400-year-old prophesy of today’s digital sonic reality.
Through Sollmann’s lens, Bacon’s vision ebbs and flows over 50 minutes in varying speeds and colors, emerging as a tapestry of different utopian musical traditions – through billowing synth lines, early Detroit techno, resonant wooden percussion, trance, droning organs, dulcimer, electric guitars, hurdy-gurdy, just intonation, poetry, hymns and murmuring voices.”
Afrobeat-influenced broken beat soul and jazz flex from the 12 piece London/Leeds-based Nubiyan Twist
“One of the leading lights in the UK’s new generation of soulful, genre-fluid artists, the Leeds-born and now London-based 10-piece collective have created their finest recordings to date, effortlessly weaving together elements of jazz, soul, hip hop, African styles, Latin, dub, hip hop and electronics in a flow of thought-provoking and life-affirming music. Recorded at the band’s own self-built Henwood Studio in rural Oxfordshire, the album effortlessly moves through different voices from the band’s circle.
The inimitable, timeless vocals of Nubiya Brandon lead the way on the album’s title track about breaking preconceptions and promoting equality, “Where you from? I’m from wherever I be.” Saxophonist Nick Richards vocals the killer first single from the album about inner turmoil and a search for the truth, ‘Tell It To Me Slowly’ while rising Ghanaian star K.O.G. appears on the Afro jams ‘Basa Basa’ and ‘They Talk’.
Percussionist / singer Pilo Adami voices the infectious bossa-jazz jam ‘Borders’. The band also draft in two African legends for guest duties with the original Afrobeat maestro Tony Allen on ‘Ghosts’ and Ethio jazz pioneer Mulatu Astatke contributing vibes on the sinuous ‘Addis To London’. “The depth of talent and ideas that every member of this group has brought to the table for this album is incredible,” says producer and orchestrator Tom Excell. “Conceptually, "Jungle Run"; is all about connecting different people and cultures whilst exploring the journey of individuals. This album is the pinnacle of everything we have done to date and to collaborate with the godfathers of Afrobeat and Ethio Jazz and celebrate their music in a modern context was very humbling.””
Maria Minerva beautifully honours the memory of her collaborator Chelsea Faith Dolan, a.k.a. Cherushii, who was among the 36 people who died in the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, 2016.
Posthumously issued, the six songs of ‘Cherushii & Maria Minerva’ were written by Maria and her departed collaborator after they bonded during Maria’s first US tour, when they covered over 3000 miles playing 8 shows, including performances at venues such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in Missoula, Montana, not usually known for fancy European music.
Sadly, the fruits of their friendship weren’t completed before the tragic Ghost Ship fire, so Maria has enlisted the aid of David Last, Adam Gunther and Brian Foote (Leech) to faithfully finish them off and pay tribute to Cherushii.
Their six songs are about celebrating the good times, with Maria’s dreamy vox floating over 100% silky trax in gorgeous style on the plush slink of ‘A Day Without You’, the decadent swing of ‘Boyfriend Shirt’, and the dusky deep house hustle of ‘Out By Myself’, while Leech chiefs in with feathered gamelan-like riffs on a more hushed, sweetly elegiac edit of ‘A Day Without You’.
Soul Jazz Records re-release the debut album from the legendary Steve Reid in a new edition.
"As a radical jazz artist, Steve Reid played with an extraordinary group of artists - Miles Davis, Sun Ra, Fela Kuti, James Brown, Ornette Coleman, Lester Bowie and many more. He began his career as a teenager in the 1960s as a drummer at Motown. Reid was born in the South Bronx and grew up in Queens, New York, three blocks away from John Coltrane. In 1969, Reid refused to enlist to the Vietnam war and was arrested as a conscientious objector and given a four-year prison sentence.
On his release in 1974, he formed the Legendary Master Brotherhood and the independent record label, Mustevic Sound, to release his debut LP ‘Nova’. At the start of the 21st Century, Steve Reid began a successful collaboration with Kieran Hebden (Four Tet), who Reid referred to as his “musical soul mate,” resulting in a number of joint albums.
Steve Reid died in New York in 2010. Subsequently, the Steve Reid Foundation was set up in his name, to help aspiring musicians and artists."
Comprised of the quintet of vocalist Taichi Nagura, guitarist Koki Miyabe, drummer Shin Yokota and electronics/noisemakers Taro Aiko and Etsuo Nagura, ENDON’s music is contained chaos, bending and colliding genres into one another atop a bed of thunderous distortion, feedback, and unearthly squeals.
"Vocalist Taichi’s voice embodies an unreal number of personalities with wordless howls seething one moment and agonized cries the next, before desperate gasps for air. It comes as no surprise that they have been credited as the most extreme band in Tokyo.
‘Boy Meets Girl’ was envisioned as a soundtrack to an imagined horror film about love. The core of the ensemble’s song structures are often built around Koki’s fuzz-laden guitar and Shin’s drum bombast which propel torrents of hisses and squelches from Taro and Etsuo. Taichi’s largely lyricless screams, moans and whimpers are potent messengers of the songs’ emotional heft. There lies an ecstatic, excited energy amidst the anarchic defiance ENDON’s music exudes. Born of the same Japanese scenes that gave rise to the likes of Merzbow and Boredoms, their sound is equally diverse and abrasive. ‘Boy Meets Girl’ demonstrates ENDON’s singular faculty to produce music that is at once tortured and transcendent."
Air Max ’97 pushes the tempo and intricacy of his sound in Vessel, shelling down a brace of five highly strung and fractious club decimations via his DECISIONS label.
Reduct sounds like frozen footwork rhythms warped for the Niche crowd; Suede lunges in like a 2-step garage riddim dropped into ‘nam battle scene in a computer game; 3YE splices garage and hardstyle with G-force inflicting torque; Vessel comes off like an early Horsepower Productions piece sent to the asylum; and Chalk yokes back to a trampling techno triplet structure that recalls the mutant styles of Jesse Osborne Lanthier’s recent ace for Raster-Noton.
Séance Centre revive a clutch of driving, tracky machine jams from Short-Term Memory’s first cassette album, reissued along with two previously unreleased ‘90s recordings
Hailing from early ‘80s Kansas, U.S.A., Short-Term Memory’s short-lived run would see them included on Hawaii’s highly sought-after ’SNX’ boxset beside their self-released Lp and tapes on Silly Poodle Music.
‘Plus or Minus Two’ features four songs from their first album, ‘Every Head Needs Cleaning’ , rounding up the proto-Detroit techno pulses of ‘twitch & Jerk’, the grubbing but piquant minimalist electro of ‘Hysteria’, and the forlorn synth-pop of ‘The Words’. From their ‘90s phase, we also hear the keening, Krauty dance jam ‘Yelping Doggies’, and the very Eno/Hassell-esque ‘City In Mind’.
Robert Hood’s minimal techno blueprint back in circulation for first time since 2010.
Originally despatched in 1994, Robert Hood’s debut album ‘Internal Empire’, along with his ‘Minimal Nation’ 2x12” for Axis in the same year, found Detroit techno stripped down to sleek, whirring mechanics in a way that would irrevocably influence the next generation of producers.
The album is perhaps most highly regarded for the clinical, bleeping cadence of ‘Minus’, which, along with the slippery subaquatic motion and synth washes of ‘Home’, the skudgy grind of ‘Chase’, and the pace-setting ace ’Spirit Levels’, marked a pivotal turn from the distorted, macho styles of European and Midwest techno toward a supremely classy, precision-tooled and more elegant form borne in the home of techno.
Unmissable gear for anyone watching techno looping back to its formative, accelerated phase!
Eddie Russ's debut album 'Fresh Out' was recorded in Detroit in 1974 and released on the independent Jazz Masters label. Twenty years ago it also became the first release on the fledgling Soul Jazz imprint and this reissue commemorates the fact. It features Russ leading The Mixed Bag group of Detroit jazz players on a funky, frothy jazz-funk vibe with a loungin' appeal.
"Eddie Russ was an important figure to emerge from the vibrant underground jazz scene that thrived in Detroit in the early 1970s, existing in the cultural and economic desolation of the city after the departure of Motown in the late 1960s. This scene included the musical collective Tribe (including members Wendell Harrison, Marcus Belgrave, Phil Ranelin, Harold McKinney and Doug Hammond) and Kenny Cox’s Strata Records."
Elena Setién is an artist defined by her vivid songwriting and nuanced compositions. Her music exudes the bold individualism and sense of empathy associated with her homeland of Spain’s Basque region.
"Setién is a skilled multi-instrumentalist and performed nearly every part on the record save for a few select guitar parts by Steve Gunn. While Elena’s recordings are decidedly pop, she has considerable experience as an improviser. ‘Another Kind Of Revolution’, Elena Setién’s Thrill Jockey debut, is a work of entrancing, effortless beauty.
Setién grew up during a period of political upheaval in Spain, in the Basque region. The turmoil of the post-dictatorship period of the 1980s and the intensive civic actions left her with a sense of duty to fight for progress. Her lyrics throughout ‘Another Kind Of Revolution’ describe the beauty of everyday life and nature and promote the forces of change, not as a burden but as the very source of hope to draw from.
‘Another Kind Of Revolution’ tells its stories through an expansive sonic palette. Pianos and Wurlitzer take on various timbres for each song, trickling in and out of the foreground with Setién’s distinguished voice gently gliding overtop. Careful attention to specific recording techniques and allowing for the slight imperfections in the instruments and amplifiers, bring a depth to the recordings that is both direct and organic. Elena Setién’s work is elemental and bold. Her music bends simple, familiar sounds and compositional forms into thoroughly unique songs. With ‘Another Kind Of Revolution’, Elena Setién continues to defy convention with songs as gorgeous as they are auspicious."
Sensitive sound sculptor Jonny Nash follows the utopian terra-forming of ‘Eden’  with a more pensive trip into the ether on ‘Make A Wilderness’, his first LP for pals at Music From Memory after a self-released stack on Melody As Truth
Taking cues from the vivid literary description of landscape and environment in work by authors Shusaku Endo, J.G. Ballard and Cormac McCarthy, on ‘Make A Wilderness Jonny limns an “other” space, relaying a series of sonic postcards from an ancient non-place of the imagination.
Nash wrote and recorded the music in Amsterdam, London and Venice during 2017 and 2018, bringing in vocalist Laura Giavon and cellist Janice Wong to add fleeting human presences to the album’s wilderness themes. The results, while steeped in ideas of isolationism, are perhaps best described as introspective, laced thru with Nash’s signature, heart-rending melodic flourishes and delivered with his achingly patient timing, always keeping listeners hovering, anticipating his next note.
Wavey slow disco and synth-pop sauce by Berlin’s Eva Geist. No fuss, no fight, just sultry balms for the ’floor
“Eva Geist's music has the power to open doors. Her enchanting sounds are always an invitation to explore the most concealed nooks of our own perception. Therefore, it's not surprising to learn that, for her, music is often a way to answer some of her mental question marks. In the case of 'Urban Monogamy', this questioning refers to the diverse ways of understanding affective relationships in our time. She explains it in this way: "A sort of Pandora's box opened up, to offer me and pretty much everyone around me, a variety of relationship forms of all kind. Polyamory, open relationships, monogamy and whatsoever. It was very confused. I think this track represents that confused time." The feeling is perfectly conveyed through the track's restrained but steady groove.
Eva's trademark occultist melodies and breathy lyrics that are both a celebration of freedom and an acceptance that, as emotionally complex creatures, we're destined to be dazed forever when it comes to figure out our feelings for others. In their remix, Velvet Season & The Hearts Of Gold transform the mysterious charm of the track into a weapon of dance floor seduction by adding a no-frills motorik beat and beefing up it's sub-low frequencies. It's not surprising that the remix has already been played by the emperor of cosmic sleaze himself: DJ Harvey. On the flip, 'Green Healing Highness' opens another type of gates, in this case of consciousness. As Eva recalls, the track was written in just one night after an acid trip in France in which the plants in a garden had showed her "something pure and magic", helping her understand "what it means to be healing". Overall, it feels like a more radiant take in her sound, with its whimsical arpeggios and melodies adding a bucolic touch to the psychedelic journey.”
The Chi Factory unfurl lushly overgrown 4th world drones, voices and field recordings made on a greek island, naturally drifting between time-slowing beats, FM radio interference, and languid instrumentation in four parts that describe a transition from dawn to dusk...
“Dedicated to the life and work of Robert Lax (1915-2000), the American poet who lived on Patmos, Greece, as a self-exiled hermit since the sixties. Jack Kerouac called Lax “one of the great original voices of our times, a Pilgrim in search of beautiful innocence”.
The Chi Factory would like to give special thanks to his good Patmian friends Ulf Knaus and Nikos Eliou, who showed us his house on Patmos (everything is still the same since he left) and also his favourite old wooden door (see leaflet). His great minimalistic poetry became a source of inspiration for the Mantra Recordings. His life on Patmos was far away from public attention - quiet and always surrounded by the skies, seas, cats and birds. Lax was a real dreamcatcher.”
After supplying our AOTY 2018 with the amazing ‘Stadium’, Eli Keszler further explores noirish aspects in ‘Empire’, a very worthy follow-up EP for Shelter Press
Succinctly focussed in three parts, ‘Empire’ finds Keszler contracting the widescreen vision of his previous record to limn shadowy, late night scenes of rustling interaction between people, place and space, or as the label put it, “finding stillness, tranquility and beauty in a dystopian landscape”.
Employing his favoured drums and percussion, plus vibraceleste, vibraphone, amarelion, violaskapa, Keslzer nimbly operates in the overlaps between jazz fusion, modern classical and electronics in a style he can safely call his own. ‘Enter The Bristle Strum’ feels out the space first with gently skittish drums ribboning in all directions around the murmur of chatty keys and vibes, before he takes us outside into the cold, dawning atmospheres of ‘Corrosion Kingdom’, where Keszler seems to improvise against the sound of a city slowly coming to life, and his unique grasp of meter and spatial manipulation beautifully comes into play in the furtive hush and rustle of ’The Tenth Part of a Featured World’.
A perfect addendum to ’Stadium’, no less.
Last heard in collaboration with Mika Vainio (R.I.P.), Franck Vigroux strikes cold and solo in a stark 4-track EP taking in crushing noise, devilish drum programming and cavernous spatial designs
’Théorème’ describes a tension between opposing forces of dark and light, industrial and pastoral, synthetic and real. On the A-side he comes like a heavyweight slugger with the sparring boom/smack and jabbing noise of ‘Carré’ giving way to a roof-razing metal guitar sculpture, ‘VX90’.
Flipside, he works those sparring kick/clap syncopations with a cannier sleight of hand in the electro-step pointillism of ‘TT’, comparable with Vainio of classic Alva Noto, while ‘Nord’ appears to transition from wide open, skeletal pulses into synthesised vision of lush, crystalline cave systems.
The rogue producer brands his new label, Decisions, with a pair of cold, but bright twysters hitting a unique sweetspot between techno, grime and ballroom tropes.
'Core Work' locks into a kinky regime of stern EBM kicks and off-kilter polyrhythms twisting in chromatic spirals. If SOPHIE did gym music…
On the other hand, 'Expenditure' is less stentorian, much looser 'round the edges,
meshing spare, pistoning drums with percolated bleeps in elliptical, Eskified club construction.
Straight tipped to fans of Trax Couture, M.E.S.H, Pearson Sound...
Tokyo’s widely-touted Powder spells out her woozy definition of house in an 18 track mix for Beats In Space
She may not be breaking the mould but Powder does have a fine grasp on the binds between deep house and its jazzier, offbeat, ambient cousins as she dreamily lopes from Samo DJ & Hidden Operator’s gauzy opener to the esoteric new age feels of COS/MES via rhythmelodic charms from Don’t DJ, Tiago, Vertigo Inc and Lord Of The Isles and more.
Analogue synth wizard Martin Jenkins returns to Ghost Box with a glorious vision of retro-futurist electronics in ‘Hollow Earth’, the sequel to ‘Stasis’ 
At just under 1 hour long, ‘Hollow Earth’ weighs in as one of PCA’s most significant, broadest artist albums (as opposed to compilations). It finds the widely beloved project reeling inwards after the extrospective exploits of his ‘Stasis’ LP to reflect on themes of “subterranean exploration and submerged psychologies.”
Gassed on the spirits of Berlin skool synth improvisation and the new age chuff-on that informed early ‘90s house music, the album unfurls as a nightflight over undulating internal topography, roaming from signature slow techno wonders to weightless, vocodered waltz in ‘Descent’ and furtive, ghostly shapes in ‘Claustrophobe’, before raising the energy level with strident dance tracks such as ‘Mindshaft’ and ‘Core sample’. But it’s int he later quarters that we find some of the most precious material, such as the deliciously moody atmosphere and sylvan slink of ‘Dancing Shadows’, the mind-bending noise sculpture of ‘Quad Tape Substrate’, and his Carpenter-on-quaaludes emulation, ‘Buried Memories’.
The musical project of Jake Webb, Methyl Ethel have always been a surrealist outfit - a dark and obscured expression of life set to the backdrop of dream pop hooks.
"‘Triage’ is a more reflective album than their previous two however, featuring ‘Scream Whole’ and ‘Real Tight’ it explores the notion of coming of age, only to reference it for the snapshots and passing memories that it has become."
Hyper-fresh boing from Air Max ’97, bouncing the 3rd EP on his home-pumped Decisions label.
His 1st shot of 2016 finds him trimming back the neon colours to a more greyscale tonal palette of tricksy militant percussion and scything dynamics; HPE gears up with limb-pronging, pointillist arrangement mutating thru tumbling cycles; Swelter follows with bellicose snare rolls re-coiling around bilious white noise explosions, holding a lip-biting tension that gets resolved with the flood of rolling techno bass and clambering abstract noises in Thrall; whereas Inside Outside explores gutted club construction with intestine-twysting syncopation helmed by churning subs and rinsed-out with hydraulic dynamics to a mutant grime coda.
Levels are right up there. Tip!
Szare follows one of 2018’s biggest techno anthems, ‘Kodiak’ for Different Circles, with the inaugural 12” of grimy techno for Bristol’s Polity Records
In bolshy mode, he throws down the swingeing percussive voodoo of ‘Miner’ like a Dabke song for ruffians not allowed to join the wedding dance, before buffing up his brass sample pack for the militant 130bpm grime swerve of ‘Cut with Glass’, and slopping out with the immense, trampling pressure of his slo-mo industrial slug, ‘Drop Shadow’.
Big RIYL Mumdance & Logos, Muslimgauze, early Skull Disco
Barn Owl’s Evan Caminiti plunges ever deeper into electronic realm with the aqueous, dubwise style and pattern of ‘Refraction’,
Crafted on Make Noise Records’ patented modular synth set-up with results ripe for fans of Space Afrika, Pole, Automatisme, Andreas Tilliander
Bjarki showcases the full spectrum of his sound in ‘Happy Earthday’, touching on everything from ambient, downbeat styles to proper Braindance in his hyper, melodic style for a fine away day from Nina K’s Trip and bbbbbb
Half of Bellows with Giuseppe Ielasi, Nicola Ratti contributes 20 minutes of swooping subbass and tranquil solo piano minimalism to Preservation’s Longform Editions, making for a sharp contrast with their recent Nozomu Matsumoto release...