Cerebral psychedelic disco sleaze from London's Design A Wave on Rush Hour's consistently wayward 'No' Label. Last spotted on the brilliant 'Live On Your Yard' 12" for Alter in 2011, Design a Wave has been outta earshot for a minute but held a firm place in the "clear the room" section of our record bag for his amazing thirteen minute 'Iso Bum II' joint (go check it!) ever since. There's nothing quite so brilliantly taxing on this one, but there are four cuts of uncanny, smart dancefloor music, bending time and space from the pan pipe-rife electro-disco of 'Pentatonic Skull' to the return of that depressed baritone on the ruddy boogie of 'Cerebellum', and over thru the lilting Balearic/Martian harmonic cadence of 'Time For Re-Arranges' and the gorgeous, betaless Yamaha chorales of 'Weird F'. RIYL Heatsick, John Maus, Torn Hawk.
Ryoji Ikeda and Carsten Nicolai first premiered their collaborative Cyclo project a deacde ago on Raster Noton. Relaunching in 2011 they're just as intent on creating a synaesthetic visualization of sound that "...seeks to create a new hybrid of visual art and music".
Essentially the sounds on 'Id' are inextricable from their visual corollary. They're the unmastered sonic illustrations of detailed graphical data, and vice versa, developed from a database of sounds composed to produce visual responses when analysed in real time with the help of stereo image monitoring equipment. Most importantly, the sounds are subservient to the image, hence the record remains purposefully unmastered in order to retain the waveform's original integrity when visualized through an XY phase scope, transcending the usual sound>image dynamic. But that's not to say that the music doesn't possess its own heightened, strangely affecting quality - within 30 seconds of listening through headphones this reviewer's eyes were watering, a physically visceral effect if we've ever felt one.
Unlike its relatively austere predecessor, the sounds within cover a wider spectrum of rhythms, from spasmodic digital pulses to lightyears-advanced electro syncopation, and similarly a dazzling frequency range capable of causing acutely synaesthetic reactions. All this leads us to think that 'Id' is a work of uncompromising genius, at once cementing and advancing Ikeda and Nicolai's relentlessly ongoing audio/visual quest.
Light-headed house music by new and regular avatars from the Blind Jacks Journey family; Rnr, Mr. Fiel, Gnork X Luv Jam, and Jimini.
No messing with the format here as each contributor plays well into the label’s deep drifting house aesthetics between the sublime suspension systems of Moments by Rnr and the plush Sven Weisemann wibes of Mr. Fiel’s Sunset On The Moon up top, whereas Gnork X Luv Jam reroute the feeling to filtered disco house ecstasy with Troppppixxxx and Jimini plays from the classic UK/Detroit handbook in Back To Reality.
Torn Hawk’s spirit quest reveals proper aerobic mystic goodness under the wonderfully suggestive title Men With No Memory, following up the dramas of his Union & Return album with four genre-agnostic turns folding EBM, psyche and dub into striking new prisms that hold up to dancefloor pressure and closer scrutiny at home.
The title track kicks off the first plate with a fugged-up whorl of country guitars and lurching dub nodding at Sun Araw before spiking out with taut EBM drums that really come into play on the B-side’s Poser, one of the rudest, sickest electro cuts we’ve heard this side of Gesloten Cirkel’s album in recent times.
With Butterfly Knives opens the 2nd disc into a flanging metallic wormhole sounding something like a disco on the other side of the TV in Cronenberg Videodrome, then spitting us out at the psychey new wave enigma Stealing Geodes From The Nature Company, and the natty closer, Not Quite Music.
RIYL Beau Wanzer, Gesloten Cirkel, Willie Burns for daaaaays
Carsten Nicolai and Ryoji Ikeda’s seminal minimalist project is now finally available to download. Originally issued on CD and LP in 2001, cyclo.’s . was, and more or less still is, the last word in purest, stoically funked-up digital sound pressure.
“cyclo. is a collaborative research project by Ikeda and Nicolai which focuses on the visualisation of sound. The artists are developing a database of sounds that they are composing for the visual responses these produce when analysed in real time using equipment developed originally for phase correlation in mastering vinyl records. With such stereo image monitoring equipment, the phase and amplitude of stereo signals can be illustrated graphically.
The audio elements have been constructed and chosen through agendas concerned with the minute editing of frequencies (often beyond the physical range of human hearing) and the perceptual amassing of audio elements to an undefined point. For Nicolai and Ikeda an 'infinity index’ of sound fragments is a conscious motivation forming the basis of their research and feeding cyclo. with the audio material required for visuality.
In amassing this archive, Nicolai and Ikeda transcend the usual dynamic whereby image acts merely as a functional accompaniment to sound. They arrive at a standpoint from which the audio element in the process is subservient to the desire and appetite of the image. Although this imaging is purely 2-D in display, the process proposes 3-D possibilities. Their proposition is that the structural complexities of these visual metered shapes, born and examined from the perspective of audio metering, may have in them a rich potential for architects, designers and engineers to find starting points for structural readings.”
Torn Hawk’s 1st release for the No ‘Label’ outta A’dam frames four more wistful aspects of the producer’s wandering soul, racking up the chromatic psych-boogie bump of Motivation & Reward next to the blunted, acidic, cosmic chugger Greystain, the slompy, screwed grind of Nicenails, and Strikeinside’s electro slime trail.
Len Faki puts his weight behind two remixes of Aleksi Perälä colundi sequenced techno bangers.
In Faki's hands, GBBVT133715 is reinforced with horse-powered bass for the all-night steeds in a Hardspace Mix, whereas he focusses on the colundi sequence’s strange tunings in the elegantly balanced canter and hyaline harmonics with trips effect in UK74R1409047 (Deepspace Mix).
Classy counterpart to Design A Wave's deviant disco debut for Rush Hour's searching 'No' Label. Like the first one, the tracks here are pure, instantly gratifying, dancefloor gems ranging from Balihu-esque disco sway on 'Neanderthal Nyquist' to Kraftwerkian electro in 'Movie Of Helipad', and over to the wheezing punk-funk of 'Auto-Resonance Machine' and an instrumental of 'Cerebellum' off the 1st EP. RIYL Heatsick, Mordant Music, John Maus.
Subliminal transportation systems from Stelzer Murray, a pair of individually prolific avant-garde artists from Boston, making their overdue debut collaboration with Connector; an immersive flow of lower case texturhythms and microtonal drone recommended to anyone who’s been snagged by Jim HJaynes’ atmospheric works or the quietest enigmas by Kevin Drumm or Zoviet*France.
“Stelzer brings to the table an array of mangled and partially demagnetized tape; and Murray brings his knack for compacted harmonics, obfuscated field recordings, and long-view compositional strategies. An irradiated, almost Kirlian glow permeates Connector through the duo's slow accretions and erosions amidst the soaring crescendos of compacted tone and vacant shadows of mechanical thrum. On occasion, rasping saw tooth frequencies and oblique synth-noise phrases stridently pop in a clinical opposition against the field of hiss. Screaming cascades from ice storms. Tape symphonies from urban blight. Life-support machines at the point of obsolescence.
In describing the process of building this album, Stelzer reflected, "When you've known someone for this long, the act of collaboration is like conversation over dinner; you don't fuss over it or worry about it; it's stress free, even instinctual like exhaling."
Good things come to those who wait.”
White Material co-conspirator DJ Richard yields his 1st new EP in three years with the brooding electro swerver, Path of Ruin sure to garner moody screwfaces on the ‘floor.
It’s really all about the 10 minute title tune, reprising the darkside, Reese-like strokes of his Leech2 classic from way back in 2012, but with a slinky malinky electro swing that’s very much of the ’97/’07/’17 zeitgeist. The first five minutes of floating pads and stark dub chords could almost be mistaken for an early Claro Intellect or Andy Stott piece, before the lustrous bass sets it on its own trajectory into the night.
Gargoyle is a solid six minutes of slow industrial/EBM at 105bpm, coated with noxious harmonics in a way recalling Para or Dirk Desaever, and Stygian Freeze lives up to its mantle with a stately but doomed descent into beat-less synth zones redolent of Dopplereffekt.
Barcelona’s man of the moment DJ Seinfeld trots out on Manchester’s Natural Sciences with a quartet of fuzzy house jaxx.
He relaxes into it with a trippy mix of what sounds like indian classical vocal (might be dead wrong there?) and bassline-driven swagger, whereas Ruff Hysteria gets right on it with wriggling acid and zinging hi-hats
Wombat Bounce keep the energy up there with punchy, wooden drums timed for the swingers, and What Kind Of Sandwich Is This unfurls on a rolling hardcore jungle tip that sounds like HATE heard thru a wet towel.
The urban myth of Grindah, Beatz, Steves and Decoy’s fabled mix becomes hyperstitious with Kurupt FM Present the Lost Tape on XL **cue flurry of fivers and shower faces to camera**
One of the best shows on British telly (to be fair they haven’t much competition), the cast of People Just Do Nothing come into their own with a rudeboy/rudegyal selection of garage and early grime classics speckled with their own, excloosey dubplates and original pirate material.
Spicy bhangra lover Chabbudy G opens with an advert for his music management/minicab services, before the crew touch mic on a 23 track rinse thru bimmers from Scott Garcia, DJ Zinc, Wookie, Agent X, Sia, Youngstar, Jon E Cash, Wiley, Dizzee and everyone else - basically the sound of London and British inner cities circa the millennium, and every student house party in the UK over the last five years.
In case you were in any doubt; it’s bare fun.
Currently in a crucial phase of her oeuvre, Istanbul’s Ekin Fil presents the results of her first soundtrack commission with Inflame, a 30 minute collection of evocative, murky electronic cues reflecting the paranoia of Ceylan Özgün Özçelik’s psychological thriller.
Rather than her signature, reverrb-laden guitar and glossolalic vox, Ekin uses a palette of synths, electronics and drum machines to convey a tense and claustrophobic sound, where severed voices float thru minor key melodies and slow, epileptic hallucinations, sometimes prodded with skeletal electro rhythms, at other left to linger uncomfortably in crepuscular mid-air with curt resolutions.
Mellow but spicy jazz-funk-soul from south London, 2017
“The album starts with 'Moonlight Woman,' a song that harks back to the Headhunters era, but with a contemporary twist - close your eyes and your transported to 70s Harlem, walking shoulder to shoulder with Richard Roundtree! 'Elephant & Castle' follows, a clear reference to south Londons Latin quarter, the tune has a distinct hustle and bustle quality. With a strong flute solo and upbeat rhythm section this tune is sure to have you clapping your hands and stomping your feet. The first side draws to a close with a tasteful Dilla inspired skit, 'Trudi's Mood,' which demonstrates the bands wealth of influences and leaves the listener eager to continue their sonic voyage, with Ruby Rushton at the helm.
Haunting ballad, 'Prayer For Yusef,' is a song written in memory of the late Yusef Lateef. It starts softly with a bowed double bass and bamboo flute, accompanied by ghostly percussive noises and slowly rises to a large crescendo, with drums and piano in tow. It's a strong tune and a fitting dedication to the late, great Yusef Lateef. No sooner has Lateef's ballad gently faded away then 'Where Are You Now?' kicks in. Starting with a cool, neck-popping 3/4 beat, and utilising a four-piece horn section, the rhythm section struts its stuff whilst flute and trumpet carve out a playful melodic line. Just as you settle into its hypnotic bounce the tune falls through a Monk inspired chromatic bridge and without warning reappears as a solid Latin groove, leading to strong solos from both sax and keys. The rhythm section charges through to the end, never lagging, and are rejoined by the four-piece horn section, which stabs its way to a tight finish. The album comes to a close as 'The Camel's Back' fades in with an eerie sax solo and free form drums, before settling into a catchy bass motif and quickly fading away, leaving listeners on the edge of their seats and wanting more. It’s a great ending to an intoxicating joy ride through a multitude of genre defying styles!
Simply put, this album is a must have for any listener yearning for exciting and fresh contemporary music. Essential listening for fans of Kamasi Washington, Yussef Kamaal and GoGo Penguin. Words by Rodriguez Guido”.
Melancholic, electronica and jazz-inflected beats by a yung new talent from Glasgow. Check for sweetest bits on the piquant instrumental R&B mutation ‘Out of Body’ and the lush, thizzy suspense of ’Still’
“23 year-old Lachlan McFeely Bolt, fka Dressin Red, returns to Astral Black for the release of 'Still', his first official musical output since January 2016. With the name change, Bolt aims to bring the two worlds of his visual and audio creative works closer together.
With the focus of this record being more on feeling or aesthetic, rather than techincal prowess, the results are a far more fragile and intimate insight into the mind of this individual young artist. Whilst previous works allowed for Bolt's complex and arpeggiated synth lines to shine through, 'Still' is more holistic in it's approach; letting elements of both analogue and digital coincide.
'ByMy' is a perfect example of this, taking both the melodic elements of 'Kibble Place' and introducing elements of manipulated voice and guitars. At times Bolt moves toward an almost song-writing based approach, with his voice at the forefront of 'My Woes' and Guitar taking centre stage on album opener, 'Rise'. Whilst elsewhere, the anthemic, slow-motion jungle of '2 Scared 2 Say' (which soundtracked Boiler Room's recent documentary on Glasgow's new-wave) sounds like Burial just met Underworld at Glastonbury.
The 9-track project sees Lachlan move through a series of moods, with the album closer and title track 'Still' (Bolt's ode of sorts to Steve Reich's 'Music for 18 Musicians') leaving him, and ultimately the listener, in a particularly content mood.”
Kompakt’s moving feast of Pop Ambient returns with a 2018 edition spelling out twelve languorous and lofty definitions of atmospheric music by veteran hands - the Orb, Triola, Jens-Uwe Beyer - as well as recent additions to the series - Chuck Johnson, Yui Onodera, T. Raumschmiere.
Trust there’s no sharp edges or harsh textures inside, more the sort of music one can listen to in your birthday suit with windows open, or equally blanketed after the party, and the effect will remain as welcoming, user friendly.
Look out for lovliest moments in this volume from T. Raumschmiere’s epic stargazer, Eterna, and the amniotic cradle of Kaito’s Travelled Between Souls.
Andy Lyster’s Youth label wrest four stripes of punky blooze from Shamos, who steers away from the rugged house knocks of his Apron 12”s to nervier, faded headpieces in YO2TH.
Acquainted thru London’s NTS studio, Lyster and Shamos have conspired to reveal alternate aspects of the latter’s aesthetic, sidewinding from what sounds like one of Delroy Edwards’ Teenage Tapes cuts in the grungy wave stepper Found Grace to Lukid-esque alien tribalism in 13213132, then with a gristly, blank-eyed slug of EBM in TMF, and desiccated Detroit boogie in Nuws.
Brilliant, razor-sharp sound designs, gwan like a funky Haswell with the mosquito-sampling ‘MOSQU-ito’, and dissolving your head like humus in ‘MYCOrrhizosphere’, to name two highlights. Love this...
“SOLIDICITY is an invented word. It contains solid and city. It is AGF’s 10th solo and 31st album in executive production. The sound sculptress uses field recordings to craft rhythmic and arrhythmic structures, noise pattern, club references and bass frequencies. The poetess does not use words. AGF is a computer musician and uses Logic, Radial, MPClive, MAX from cycling74 to compose stark anti groove out of organic matter. Attention SPOILER: Finnish mosquitoes were looped and quantized. The track titles reference the artist's sonic discourse: Social justice, feminism, networking power, environmental concerns, Europe and the migration crisis, technological solutions for improving activism (Pursuance Project) and more.”
Fresh off a 12 hour, four day rota at the BOS Plant-cum-studio, Ansome cuts loose with British Steel
Taking in the hard-edged industrial funk of the title track along with the girder-strength slug of Marching Powder, a torrent of piledriver bass drums in Poison Your Body, and what sounds like Haswell and Best going for the gaffer as Consumer Electronics in Granite & Mortar.
Deadboy locks in a trio of jacking and swanging house grooves for AUS Music.
Effectively picking up where his Columns 12” for Ten Thousand Yen left us, here he goes a dab tuffer with the brittle drums and and brooding minor key arrangement of Auogeides 77, then opens up your swing with the feathered chords and ruder bass of Driftmore, and snaps off some nervy Detroit-via-Tokyo funk with Defrase.