Hot from his Serwed side with Flaty for West Mineral Ltd., OL does downbeat and moody vibes on his tod for local Moscow label Gost Zvuk
Again we’re strongly reminded of vintage DIN in the Dynamo or Pole-esque dub wise shuffle of ‘Block24’ and the fuzzed-out steeper ’Skepsys’, and ‘morph_16+’ or recalls the crunching, humid and abstract fuked edits of Low Jack’s work Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement , Demdike and Iueke gang gang, with possible nods to Push Button Objects and Miami’s Metatronix out in the skudgy low slung crack of ‘Blacksiris’, and ‘Trial Dub’.
‘The tenth, jubilee release of ‘Instrument’ series is a sudden turning point and immediately changes the rules of the game, anticipating emerging trends. Oleg Buyanov – one of the main GOST contributors responsible for prominent records ‘True White’ and ‘Height Difference’ makes his debut in ‘Instrument’ framework. OL’s new release creates a path of complete diverseness - a unique mix of ambient, dub and mutational electronica, though the author’s hip-hop DNA is still recognizable.
The release title as well as its symbol flirts with the privacy of communication in the context of its facilities and tools of the present world. Music acts as the info-channel, which provides unseen and coded data to a person from aside. The vagueness of mood, recurrent rhythm changes, and order of arrangement seem to rhyme with the feeling of being wiretapped. OL (along with another ГОСТ ЗВУК resident Flaty) recently had a similar experience of sound synthesis with their Serwed project whose recent LP was released via West Mineral Ltd. The groove of ‘SORM’ is swirling, distorted and sometimes ‘disengaged’; sound guided by its waves exists in a constant process of decomposition, dissolution and then reassembles in new configurations.’
Following that amazing reissue of 1985's 'The Original Recordings', Astral Industries return to pluck out another cult ambient peach from Chi: a heady collection of communal invocations reworked from lost tapes of recordings made during the eighties and never previously released.
Although reworked some 30-odd years since the original sessions, Jacobus Derwort and Hanyo van Oosterom reprise their OG, east-meets-west new age vibe like it was only yesterday, breathing timeless new life into their vintaged recordings of bamboo flutes, clarinet, guitar, tape loops and field recordings to once again make us lose track of time and send us back to that humid, lushly heat-sick and slowly febrile end of the planet/imagination.
Both sides play thru seamlessly for your unbroken attention, incorporating elements of Tibetan monks, a Hopi elder, Fulani storytellers and Sufi with the voices of Japanese, Spanish and Greek children, leading us by the hand - or even the nose - thru 30 minutes of deeply layered, textured and synaesthetically rich ambient holo-zones.
Classically trained guitarist Tom James Scott (Liberez, Circasea) returns from hiatus with a subtly rangy yet refined definition of his sound taking in pastoral guitar sketches, heavenly ambient harmonics and spring breeze keys comparable with the sound sensitive approach of his collaborators Andrew Chalk/Elodie.
“Mine is the Heron” is the new Tom James Scott record, the first document of his solo work since 2017. Over the past decade, the UK-based composer has released a diverse body of recordings via labels such as Bo’Weavil, Carnivals, Where To Now?, and his own impeccably curated Skire imprint.
This album finds Scott in half-remembered, sanguine moods, some of which are likely to remind listeners of his collaborative work with Andrew Chalk. Fragile acoustic piano runs are meted out with painterly finger strokes, buoyed by subtle, idiosyncratic FM sound design, chimes, and guitar. Culled from recordings composed and put to tape over the past several years, the collection has the feel of a poet's selected works, or perhaps more appropriately, a compendium of letters - exquisite vignettes that feel simultaneously private and important to disseminate into world. The hermetic nature of this quietly stunning music is evocative of abandoned shingle beaches and misty marshes, and of the Virginia Woolfe novel from which the album takes its title: “Mine is the heron that stretches its vast wings lazily; and the cow that creaks as it pushes one foot before another munching; and the wild, swooping swallow; and the faint red in the sky, and the green when the red fades; the silence and the bell; the call of the man fetching cart-horses from the fields - all are mine.”
A vital Muslimgauze classic from 1995, spying some of his sickest drum chops and opiated atmospheres from a cutlishly adored period of his catalog.
Issued on Ukraine-via-Berlin label Kvitnu, for whom the release has an extra political resonance - outlined below - ‘Salaam Alekum, Bastard’ is a prime example of Bryn Jones aka Muslimgauze’s strongheld political worldview, near-wordlessly wrapped up in billowing nocturnal desert-scape pads and some of his most hypnotic, serpentine percussion. Check for intoxicating highlights in the swingeing syncopation of the title tune, the ravishing ambient dubbing of ‘Hebron Massacre (Short Mix)’ and ‘Mandarin Guerilla’ for the artist at his subtlest and psychedelic.
“It was not so long time ago in history of modern music, when influence of musicians on society was tectonic. When artist’s statement or position could impact the political situation in a country or sometimes even worldwide. When secret services like KGB, Mossad or CIA would consider some musicians as seriously dangerous for their agenda, because of artist’s influence on audience’s minds. When in some countries listening to forbidden bands could lead a person to appear in a concentration camp or even killed. When artist’s names would be an inspiration and a symbol of fight for freedom.
It was also a time when artists would not censor themselves and their position in fear of being obstructed and hunted by mob for political incorrectness. When artistic freedom to honestly express their subjective views, no matter how harsh or extremely reactive the form of expression could be, was more valuable than any possible concerns or fear to hurt anyone’s feelings. When hurting feelings would mean that provocation reached it’s goal. When idea of speaking out their subjective truth had the highest value for artists, as one of true meanings of art."
Meet the pop brainchild of Delroy Edwards -- Earth to Mickey. The mercurial Los Angeles producer known for experimental, urgent and soulful synth sounds has returned with a new project, more polished than ever and featuring vocals from Mickey van Seenus in her debut on LA Club Resource.
"Most of Edwards work carries an anthemic nature and this project is no different, the opener "Brace and Bit" particularly stands out in this regard; while both tunes recall the stylish and earnest feelings of early Depeche Mode, Fad Gadget."
Discordant, slowburn, claustrophobic outsider music made in Portugal. Showers, cats, guitars, and construction sites sounds arranged into a vibe that’s all too familiar but somehow endearing with it. Basically imagine your own lockdown but with a lonely guitarist as a housemate.
“Outsider Portuguese artist Filipe Felizardo delivers a singular album of 21st century loner folk from the confines of his apartment. Performed, recorded and mixed at home over the course of two days during the Summer of 2019, the music captured on this record resonates now more than ever to our current housebound times. Construction site noises, leaking sinks, random conversations, cat meows and guitar strums all interact with each other in this origami field recording from the interiors of one’s mind, now regurgitated as an oddly prophetic anthem to our recent social distancing times.
Born out of a drive for autonomy on Filipe’s part, both in terms of recording as well as using the guitar as a percussive instrument, the album is constructed as a never ending experience, without start nor end. The guitar features as a punctuating figure amongst the proceedings, a figure of speech that glues all other coincidental (?) noises like a guiding force throughout the album. Dubbed by the artist as ‘A Manual of Resistance to Desolation – Through Inwardness’, one can not shake the feeling that creativity is at its best when pushed to the limits of confinement and limitation. A personal statement through music and mood, unlike what other artists are doing and we couldn’t care less - intimate, peculiar and frozen in time.”
First ever vinyl reissue of Vivian Goldman’s total post-punk evergreen, produced by Adrian Sherwood and PiL’s John Lydon and Keith Levene, and still addictive and brilliant 40 years later
Beloved for its ohrwurming combo of Goldman’s lilting voice with a strolling bassline supplied by Aswad’s George “Levi” Oban, ‘Launderette’ is pretty much the definition of a post-punk anthem in our books. Whether you came across it on original 7” release in 1981, via the influential ‘Anti NY’ comp in 2001, or your mate playing their favourite songs anytime in between, it’s quite simply an unforgettable tune, and once again brandishes a killer B-side that may have previously slipped your attention.
Last heard on ‘Resolutionary’, a 2016 retrospective of Vivian Goldman’s cult solo work and songs with The Flying Lizards and Chantage, ‘Launderette’ was recorded during downtime at the Public Image Limited’s studio, and sees her louchly riff on unrequited attention or the unravelling of a relationship over George “Levi” Oban’s spooling bass in a way that snakes into your memory banks and simply doesn’t leave. However even those familiar with ‘Launderette’ may not know it’s darker, pointed B-side ‘Private Armies’, here in its longer version where she sets withering lyrics about the dibble and racist skinheads to a scowling bassline, phasing violin and jumpy steppers drums in a way that’s aggressive but not macho, just seething, understandably leading it to become a favourite of ‘Rock Against Racism’.
What were the clouds like when Huerco S was young? The Kansas-raised, New York-based producer’s absorbing ambient album For Those of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have) goes some way to answering The Orb’s fluffy little proposition…
Brian Leeds a.k.a. Huerco S’s 2nd album, following Colonial Patterns (2013) finds him working between the cracks and fissures of what we’ve previously heard from him, drawing out nine pieces of mineral ambient textures and non-percussive rhythms marking his best work since the 20 minute Untitled track off his debut for Opal Tapes in 2012.
Defined throughout by a low lit, low-lying sense of intimacy, rather than oceanic or celestial tropes, Leeds’ appreciation of lower case nuance is in warm, crackling effect with a hazy glow that recalls Wanda Group’s earlier outing as The Hers, or the sweeter touches of Bellows.
Like a well timed gary, once it really begins to sink in, the warbly electronic pitches and subtly chaotic ferric details really get to work in hypnotising and making you forget where you started, suspending disbelief for a 50 minute window of time just long enough to let your mind wander over the horizon.
Time will tell, but this is surely a future ambient classic.
Disciples embrace the killer avant-rap of Washington D.C.’s Model Home after turning out sympathetic oddities from Bogdan Raczynski, Black Lodge and His Name Is Alive.
Affiliated with Max D’s Future Times posse and recalling the precedents of everyone from Lil B, to Anticon, Sensational and JPEGMAFIA, on ‘One Year’ Model Home tread their own path of scuzzy and lo-fi beats and unhinged rap, often processed into unintelligible noise and driven by raggo, dare-to-be-different beats that resemble hip hop as much as mutant industrial and EBM, and not afraid to swerve into murky ambient., or what they call “a collaborative experiment in liberated sound, vision, and performance.”
The album’s 11 joints are freely improvised in a nerve-riding, ruffshod style crucially powered by fizzing and skewed beats. Tracks come from 8 individual, self-released mixtapes made over an intense 12 month period, and grittily gel to frame the unit at their rudest and most sprawling, coming off like a short-circuited Young Thug on ‘Push Thru’, or like a sun-bleached Tapes in ‘Faultfinder’, while ‘Livin’ In a Treehouse’ and ‘Loud Pause’ sound like Liquid G for the Soundcloud rap gen, and ‘Cheek To The Matrix’ trades in a unique strain of steel-drum-dappled codeine rap abstraction.
Operatic ambient-pop meets contemporary classical in strikingly distinguished form - imagine Julianna Barwick duetting with Antony Hegarty at Holly Herndon’s lab and you’re not far off this singular bouquet.
“Lyra Pramuk’s debut Fountain explores a post-human, non-binary understanding of life. Lyra Pramuk fuses classical training, pop sensibilities, performance practices and contemporary club culture in what may best be described as futurist folk music. While the American operatically-trained vocalist and electronic musician is perhaps previously best known for her work with musical collaborators such as Holly Herndon and Colin Self, she is set to release her debut album, Fountain, via Iceland’s Bedroom Community label in March 2020.
Created entirely from her own voice, although often shaped and structured by electronics, Fountain is an emotional, sensual, and devotional journey. The title is derived from her family name, Pramuk, which translates from Czech as ‘well spring’ or ‘fountain.’ Often wordless, these songs evoke a new wholeness sustained by the ritual force of drowning, immersion, cleansing, and bathing – also referred to in the album artwork by acclaimed visual artist Donna Huanca. Fountain plays with the perception of music, rhythms, speech, body, and the relation between technology and humanity, exploring a post-human, non-binary understanding of life and the fragile ecosystems it depends on. The work documents a healing that is still in process, and a full circle-moment that reunited Lyra with her sound engineer twin brother, Ben, for the final mix, which they completed in tandem.”
Deutsche Grammophon presents the previously-unreleased soundtrack to the 2008 film Personal Effects, written by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson.
"SYNOPSYS: Walter is a rising star in the NCAA wrestling world until his life is ripped apart by the brutal murder of his sister. Returning home to console his mother Gloria he seeks vengeance on the man who is accused of the crime. A chance meeting with a beautiful mature woman gives him solace to the situation. Will this unlikely pairing bloom into a romance and heal a wound the world cannot see or will the loss of his sister push him over the edge?"
An advanced masterclass in Berlin beat science, ‘Wireless’ is the final and arguably strongest solo release by T++; aka Torsten Pröfrock, an artist with a long lineage of important releases under numrous aliases - Dynamo, Erosion,Log, Resilent, Traktor, Various Artists and more - a true pillar of Berlin's Techno legacy.
First issued by Honest Jon’s in 2010, the 2x12” features samples of singer and ndingidi-player Ssekinomu (originally found on the EMI archival dive ‘Bellyachers, Listen - Songs From East Africa, 1938-46’) reworked by Pröfrock into a volley of rambunctious but rudely disciplined club workouts some 75 years later. In many other hands, this could have been just another passable cut ’n splice edit, but T++ treats the material with a balance of reverence and raving license, highlighting an instinctive understanding of the original music's intent and purpose, and their deep rooted connection to modern fast rap and hardcore dance musics.
The four tracks amount to a contemporary classic in their field and also exist in a strong tradition of German artists ranging from Stockhausen to Can and Basic Channel whose music has crucially incorporated the fluid, rolling nature and spectra of African drumming patterns. However, it’s vital to point out that T++’s take on African drumming is also filtered thru a love of UK music - Jungle, D&B, garage, dubstep - meaning that his rhythms are properly underlined with syncopated, technoid basslines owing as much to Kingston, Jamaica as Brixton and Sheffield in the UK.
For anyone who had been intently listening to Pröfrock's output since his Traktor gems, thru his Dynamo aces, to early work with Monolake and his string of seminal T++ 12”s in the 2000’s, on its release in 2010 ‘Wireless’ quickly came to epitomise his approach to broken techno production at its most open-ended and inexorable. Between the itchy, sprung step of ‘Cropped’, the puckish darkside torque of ‘Anyi’, a voodoo communal in ‘Voice No Bodies’, and the reanimated spirits of ‘Dig’ you have some of the finest mutant techno ever cut to vinyl.
An absolute must-have for dancers and DJs.
Very necessary and long-overdue survey of Vivien Goldman’s pioneering blends of Afro-Caribbean and West African music with post-punk and beyond. Massive RIYL The Flying Lizards, The Slits, PiL, The Raincoats, Adrian Sherwood, David Toop
“There’s a myth about music critics that says we are frustrated, wannabe performers. Evidence to the contrary: Vivien Goldman. Ever since she migrated from pitching editors on the little-known music of Robert Nesta Marley to becoming one of the foremost chroniclers of the perfect storm of reggae, punk, hiphop and Afro-Beat, the London-born, New York-based Goldman has made documenting music her primary life work. But between 1979-82, Goldman was also a working musician, creating songs that, years later, would be sampled by The Roots and Madlib. These rare girl grooves are now collected for the first time on Resolutionary, courtesy of Staubgold Records.
Resolutionary takes us through Vivien’s first three musical formations: first as a member of experimental British New Wavers The Flying Lizards; next as a solo artist, with her single “Launderette,” featuring postpunk luminaries; and then as half of the Parisian duo Chantage, with Afro-Parisian chanteuse Eve Blouin. Goldman’s synthesis of post-colonial rhythms and experimental sounds are threaded together by her canary vocal tones and womanist themes. Her eclectic musical crew included PiL’s John Lydon, Keith Levene and Bruce Smith; avant- gardists Steve Beresford and David Toop; The Raincoats’ Vicky Aspinall; the mighty Robert Wyatt; Zaire’s Jerry Malekani; Manu Dibango’s guitarist; and Viv Albertine, then of her good friends, the Slits. The majority of the tracks were produced by dubmaster Adrian Sherwood, and Resolutionary channels the history of a time when the bon-vivant voice of music was in the air, and Vivien Goldman was its eyes, ears, and mouth.
(by Evelyn McDonell)”
Connoisseurs’ choice Japanese ambient jazz-fusion from 1993, gilded with killer slinky bass work, FM synths and computerised atmospheres - massive RIYL Haruomi Hosono, Jon Hassell, James Ferraro, 0PN, Visible Cloaks.
“Official reissue of Motohiko Hamase’s extremely rare live album Anecdote (recorded in 1987). The album is sourced from original masters and available on vinyl (double LP) for the first time ever as well as on CD. This marks the sixth release from the ESPLANADE SERIES which focuses on the works of Yoshio Ojima, Motohiko Hamase and Satsuki Shibano.
Anecdote was recorded live June 12th 1987 at Spiral Garden (Wacoal Art Center) in Aoyama (Tokyo) as part of the Eat Newsic Concert No.3. Motohiko Hamase on electric fretless bass, synthesizers and computer programming, is accompanied by frequent collaborators Toshio Kaji on acoustic piano and synthesizers, and Yasunori Yamaguchi (of #Notes of Forestry fame) on acoustic percussions. The three-man band improvises around Hamase’s unique repertoire of ambient and electronic music, reinterpreting pieces from his albums Reminiscence, Intaglio, and #Notes of Forestry.
It’s environmental and minimalist experiments with a jazz soul, three brilliant musicians flowing to blissful heights, and a beautiful testament to the 80s Japanese ambient scene that gave birth to seminal releases by Midori Takada, Satoshi Ashikawa, Yutaka Hirose and many more. Essential.
The live album came out on CD only in 1993 on Motohiko Hamase’s Lung Records. It is now reissued in conjunction with his #Notes of Forestry and Anecdote albums.”
Remastered 2020 edition of this peculiar and dreamlike Japanese ambient minimalist classic for those who’ve rinsed their Midori Takada and looking for new/old dream updates - check the hyper-Reichian phasing of ‘Nude’ for some rare flavour of mind floss.
“Official reissue of Motohiko Hamase’s remarkable ambient/environmental/minimalism project #Notes of Forestry, available for the first time since 1988. The album is sourced from original masters and available on vinyl and CD with liner notes from the artist. This marks the third release from the ESPLANADE SERIES which focuses on the works of Yoshio Ojima, Motohiko Hamase and Satsuki Shibano.
One of the most fascinating and peculiar works from the golden era of Japanese ambient, #Notes of Forestry was initially released in 1988 by Newsic, the cult label started by Tokyo’s Wacoal Art Center (also known as Spiral), home, notably, of Yoshio Ojima who co-produced the album. Conceived by Jazz bassist turned experimentalist Motohiko Hamase, the magnum opus offers an enchanting mix of free-form pastoral electronics, otherworldly percussions by Yasunori Yamaguchi, and delightfully allusive piano played by none other than Satsuki Shibano (Sound Process’ Wave Notation 3).
Vibrant, sometimes eerie, and absolutely captivating, #Forestry captures Hamase’s quest for musical freedom, he explains: "Inside the body of a musician, music is always transcendentally resonating. More than language, music reigns. When creating music overlaps with the moment my body performs, I strive to be as close as possible to the feeling of musical freedom. I feel that this notion lies at the foundation of this album".
Musical freedom, here, provides an essential escape, extending the path uncovered by pivotal releases such as Midori Takada’s Through The Looking Glass, Satoshi Ashikawa’s Still Way, and Yutaka Hirose’s Nova.”
Few do cinematic sorrow quite like Poland’s Jacaszek and ‘Music For Film’ spans 20 years of his bleakest, most seductively sad and spectral works for film in 10 pieces that patently make for a beautiful album.
Epitomising a certain, haunted nature and emotive clout we’d associate with soundtracks for bleak Polish and Eastern European cinema, Jacaszek’s various strands of work for documentary, fantasy and TV drama seep together in the creepily paced sequence of events and spectral apparitions that unfold within the ambient-classical-concrete interzones of his ‘Music For Film’.
Etched in chiaroscuro over broad canvasses from a palette of field recordings, acoustic sampling, poetry and baroque instrumentation, his music trustingly evokes the dark fairytales and hardbitten dramas he’s been sought out to score, but removed from those contexts and replaced into an album sequence, the suggestive essence of Jacaszek’s music becomes more versatile, lending itself to your own swoon-worthy scenes and perhaps most acutely, often as a crushing elegy for the times.
RIYL Deathprod, Deaf Center, Jóhann Jóhannsson, and this one’s among the most convincing examples of his chilling abilities.
Of all Jan Jelinek’s formidable output, this album has always been t-h-e o-n-e for us. More resolved and driven than 'Loop-Finding Jazz Records' (which appeared two years later), less reliant on glitch than Farben, it was essentially Jelinek's most satisfying and complete prototype for a new kind of sample-based music deeply immersed in the spirit of Jazz, without making any direct reference to it. Finally, 20 years later, here’s another chance for the unfamiliar to join the dots.
Originally released via Move D’s Source imprint back in 1999, 'Personal Rock' is one of those albums that no one seems to ever talk about but which has resonated over the years with anyone lucky enough to have encountered it. Situated somewhere between 'Loop-Finding Jazz Records', his Farben output, Move D's Conjoint and Atom Heart's most immersive work for Rather Interesting, it's an album full of subtle production flourishes within deep House structures that belong to the pre-millenial IDM heyday, but which transcend its overly-fussy, masculine templates.
The music is brooding and deep, designed for late night immersion without resorting to cliché, bolstered by what we reckon is the most forward thinking and timeless production of Jelinek’s output over the last two decades. Impossible to pull highlights, it’s an album best experienced from end-to-end through multiple listens, drawing you into a quietly euphoric, deep blue mood.
Dream-feeding conceptual fusions of ambient house, industrial, jazz and Japanese music from 1993 - pretty unmissable for anyone with an interest in this sort of interzone, and hopefully the start of new vectors for the Japanese ambient reissue programme. Big RIYL Haruomi Hosono, Jamal Moss, Jon Hassell, James Ferraro.
“Official reissue of Motohiko Hamase’s astounding ambient house album Technodrome (1993). The album is sourced from original masters and available on vinyl for the first time ever as well as on CD. This marks the fourth release from the ESPLANADE SERIES which focuses on the works of Yoshio Ojima, Motohiko Hamase and Satsuki Shibano.
Inspired by John Cage, Jon Hassel, Brian Eno, and the emergence of house and techno music, Technodrome is jazz bassist turned electronic experimentalist Motohiko Hamase’s foray into what he calls ambient house or, as he explains, "using the gritty sensation inherent to the core of house music" to create an ambient record "aiming to express inverted images, optical illusions, and the sense of déjà vu that modern people can get in the city".
Technodrome is constructed around innovative minimalism, a robotic funk orchestrated by bass lines and percussions, and monochrome moods. It’s the most intriguing project in Hamase’s discography, a ghostly ride set in 90s urban landscape, where repetition sets the groove and brings things to life, echoing Hamase’s deeper subtext for his compositions: "and attempt to recreate (as metaphor) the time in our mother's womb".
The album was initially released in 1993 by Newsic, the cult label started by Tokyo’s Wacoal Art Center (also known as Spiral), home, notably, of Yoshio Ojima who co-produced the album. It is now reissued in conjunction with Motohiko Hamase’s #Notes of Forestry and Anecdote albums.”
Buttechno’s Pavel Milyakov scratches an experimental industrial itch for TTT in the texturally curious and freehanded style found on his ace LPs for Gost Zvuk and Berceuse Heroique in recent years
Exploring a more dancefloor-ambivalent and cranky sound than his Buttechno outings, and less cinematic than 2019’s ‘La Maison De La Mort’, Moscow’s Milyakov follows a hunch for industrial, rhythm-driven sounds that shape up like the soundtrack to a rave in a haunted Siberian warehouse, which is something of a fantasy to our strangely wired minds.
In the course of 12 tracks Milyakov toils mechanical rhythms and bleak atmospheres with an industrial-poetic license, vacillating scenes of stentorian work yard commands and tape-manipulated chunks of industrial rhythm in ’Stroyevvaya’, with rattling machinery recalling Thomas Brinkmann’s brilliant recordings of old looms in ‘The Great Snare of Death’, whereas the likes of ‘302’ and ‘Suburban Tribal’ follows straighter minimal techno impulses, and ‘Distant Rave ’92’ pulls out into a sort of Russian take on Burial-esque ambience, and ‘Metal Ambience II’ sounds like Moondog playing a battered subarctic shipyard. Basically a whole playground of sound for the discerning industrial explorer.
On the cranky strengths of this LP and his previous, as well as his Buttechno gear, we’d wager Milyakov is making some of the best music coming from Russia in 2020.
One year later, FlyLo’s latest opus is undressed of vocals to reveal the complex instrumental mechanics under the hood.
“To celebrate the anniversary of the original album Flying Lotus presents Flamagra (Instrumentals), shining a light on Flylo’s untouchable arrangements and production.
The double LP comes with printed inners in wide spine outer sleeve plus download card. Packed in poly sleeve with custom turntable powered psychedelic zoetrope slipmat and labels designed by Drew Tetz.”
Telefon Tel Aviv, James Zabiela, and EOD chip in tender remixes of Bochum Welt’s lush ‘Seafire’ album backed with original and edited material for CPU
Fresh from his gorgeous new album ‘Dreams Are Not Enough’, Telefon Tel Aviv revises ‘Coloraturas Me’ as a silty, subaquatic sort of ambient trap working shades away from Ghostride The Drift, whereas James Zabiela plays up to a proggy electro style in his take on ‘More Light’, and IDM veteran EOD works up a slinkier sort of Rephlexian electro magick from the same parts.
Bochum Welt’s contributions are lovely, giving up a gauzy ambient mix of ‘G1’ and a freshly nipped and tucked ‘More Light’ ideal for gazing out your window and and reminiscing better times.
Nocturne (Live at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival) comprises three pieces performed live on a partly prepared piano, along additional pre-recorded soundscapes.
"The live performance of ‘Klavierstück II’ is a pensive improvisation using essential elements of the original piece. ‘Nocturne’ starts with the ambient sounds whilst the piano seemingly melts into the soundscape and eventually grows into a long meditative piano solo. ‘Yonder’ is a much more dramatic piece, dominated by the overwhelming sounds of church bells, a sort of “dies irai”, radical, emotional and fiercely poetic."
Nipped and tucked club mechanisms from Manchester’s Lack, swerving from minimalist house wrigglers to broken techno aerobics.
Playing deep into Peverelist’s Livity Sound vibe, Lack hovers into view with the pill-belly suspension system of ‘Inside’, and takes it right into Person-esque territory with ‘Machine Club’, and the other side comes up strong with the scuttling 2-step of ‘RRRush’ and swingeing broken beat flex of ’Shifter’.
Majestic widescreen sound design and splintered techno IDM from CPH dynamo SØS Gunver Ryberg, darkening the doorstep of Whities with her 1st solo EP since 2016.
After firming up her fractious style on 2019 debut LP ‘Entangled’ for Shifted’s Avian, SGR makes fine nods to classic Skam and Raster Noton styles in five parts ranging from the wiry electro rhythms and dramatic pads of ‘In The Core’, to Vangelis-via-Alva Noto-esque panoramic visions on ’Solar Flare’, and ‘Mirage of Spiral Wavelengths’, before puckering up the kind razor sharp rhythm programming in ‘Flux’ that’s likely to push all the right buttons for discerning darkside IDM/electronica fiends.
“The connection between destruction and creation. Creation in different shapes. Life's complexity and finding a devotion to the Flux. Some tracks are beginning to transmit new visions.”
GLOK is the electronic solo project from Andy Bell of shoegaze legends RIDE (formerly of Oasis/ Beady Eye/Hurricane #1). His debut album under the moniker, Dissident, was originally released last year.
"The name GLOK is a misspelling of the German word for Bell. The German connection ﬁts well as there is a strong Krautrock inﬂuence in the music, especially on the title track, ‘Dissident’, an epic clocking in just shy of the 20-minute mark, which blends synthwave, minimalism, trance, Detroit techno and John Carpenter soundtracks, with Andy even dropping in some killer John Squire-esque guitar licks."
Mighty double dubplate squaring off NYC’s Blazer Sound System with Melbourne’s CS + Kreme in a heavy steppers duel for Efficient Space.
Trodding heavy after a respective s/t 10” for YOUTH and one of the albums of 2020 for The Trilogy Tapes, this plate catches two of the best out there right now in a contrasting one-two of dread pressure and deepest ambient dub lust.
Comprising Nathan Corbin (Zebrablood, Excepter) and Tony Lowe (Rainstick), Blazer Sound System chase up their debut 10” and acclaimed NTS shows with a Jah Shaka-via-John T. Gast-styled juggernaut in ‘Tanka Riddim’ for the ‘90s digickal steppers crew, while CS + Kreme have us utterly rapt with the ‘90s ambient digidub flex of ‘Crushed Cream’, with signature 808 boom-crack synched to Conrad Standish’s devilish bass work and achingly on-point pads that make for an instant addictive effect.
Bit of a no brainer this one. Choice tunes on both sides.
Properly crafty, esoteric Casio jams from barely-known ‘80s artist Jack Briece, the latest outsider soul highlighted by Jed Bindeman’s amazing Concentric Circles label with a first ever vinyl issue of his sole, barely-known 1984 tape - a big RIYL Jun Chikuma, early Æ, Lovely Music classics, Irdial’s Mariopaint comp, Frederik Schikowski (remember him?!), the Diskono / Irritant axis!
Practically unknown beyond Bindeman’s house, the deeply endearing 8-bit lather of ‘Heterophonious Fool’ was only ever available in an edition of 50 self-distributed tapes made in 1984, only years before Briece sadly died of AIDS related complications in 1988. Aside from a couple of videos with barely any views on YouTube, Briece’s work has been a preserve of the avant garde margins for the past 30 years, and our guess is as good as yours to how Bindeman keeps plucking out these kind of pearls, but thank chuff he did because frankly we might never get to revel in Briece’s bittersweet charms without his guidance.
Built with minimal means that belie the music’s inspiration from the I Ching, it’s perhaps testament to Briece’s charming spirit that his lofty ideas are easily digestible and never in the way of its potential enjoyment. You’ll surely know from the first fizz of drum machines and curdled melody in ’Seventh Heaven’ if it’s your bag, and if so, attention will be rewarded with 9 mins of elemental electronic beauty recalling Woo-meets-Werkbund in ‘Arousing Wind and Thunder’, while the tremulous hi-hats and scattergun rhythm of ‘Peace’ could easily be mistaken for a section of Autechre’s Lego Feet, and comparison between that amazing batch of Paul DeMarinis’ ‘Songs Without Throats’ (among our AOY ’19) and Briece’s gloriously free-sprouting 8-bit babble in ‘Pushup Words and Food’ is inevitable.
Aside from putting a smile on the mugs of the pickiest electronic music fiends, long overlooked releases like this can be taken as encouragement to follow your nose and forget about contemporary “acclaim”, 'cuz eventually heads almost always find the good stuff...
Balmorhea’s RG Lowe explores his tender blue-eyed soul underbelly and best croons on a 2nd solo album.
“The album’s nine songs are an invitation for us to reconnect with ourselves and our world through the senses by illuminating our intrinsic connection with the physical world and the freedom of physicality. Produced by David Boyle — known for his work with Glen Hansard, Patty Griffin, and Okkervil River — the album consistently delivers both intimate and epic moments, often in the same breath. The opening track “Sorrow” sketches the myth of Icarus as a frame to explore feelings of modern malaise, desire, and seduction.
This sets an initial tone of discontent and helplessness, from which Lowe spends the rest of the album expanding from and breaking out of. Echoing the ardor of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” and channeling Talk Talk's Mark Hollis, this wide-angle collection of songs is a sensual journey that asks us each to “feel the wind blow on your face, camerado.””
One of PC Music’s OG avatars, Hannah Diamond does black mirror pop in her debut solo album; ‘Reflections’
Puckered with diamond-polished production by AG Cook (Charli XCX, GFOTY) and EASYFUN (Charli XCX, Rat Boy), ‘Reflections’ is an assuredly hook-riddled volley of pop “perfection” that arrives in time to offer a glossy kind of resolution to this decade and consolidate PC Music’s game-changing, or at least defining, aesthetic.
Enunciated in the primmest middle clarse vowels, syllable by syllable in nursery rhyme pop style, Hannah delivers “frank” thoughts on love and pop in the modern day, set to backdrops that variously draw on ‘90s trance and synth-pop as much as contemporary hardstyle, dancehall, and that sort of trash pop that Farrah Abraham built her name on and is guzzled up by tweeny types everywhere.
It’s difficult to say whether PC Music have reflected stylistic shifts or prompted them, but either way, and depending on your tolerance for upfront shininess, this album is either as welcome as a glitter bomb in your bed, or a U2 album in your iTunes. Are PC Music the new Stock, Aitken & Waterman? Is Hannah a wannabe Sonia?
Blustery west coast new age synth-pop whorls from Natalie Chami, flowering rich pickings for fans of Julia Holter, Kate Bush, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith.
“The cover of Natalie Chami’s latest album as TALsounds features a matter-of-fact photo of the edge of a mattress. There’s a pillow on the bed, and a nightstand sitting next to it, atop of which is the kind of antique lamp you might find at your grandmother’s house. At first, this image appears simple, even innocuous. But on the second or third glance, you start to notice the details—like the slim candle at the center of the picture, or the fuzzy carpet at the bottom of the frame, or the polaroid hue that gives the scene a mystical glow.
The music on Acquiesce sneaks up on you in this same way. On her fifth solo album (and first for NNA Tapes) Chami continues exploring her penchant for slowly unfolding drones, her analog synthesizers and gentle whispers layered like silvery smoke hanging in a lamp-lit room. On her previous record, Low Sick, she embraced pop music more directly than she had on any of her previous solo releases (or her collaborative works with fellow Chicago artists like Good Willsmith and Brett Naucke). But Acquiesce is all drift, a rich and soothing assortment of synthesizer shapes.
Chami’s instrumentation alternates between cloudy passages on tracks like “Opening” and “No Rise,” which dance about in a melancholy wonder, and sludgy slabs of sound, like the oozing, molasses-drip of “Soar.” Sometimes, the synthesizer isn’t her most potent weapon: the barely-there “Else” starts as a muted rumble before Chami’s whirlpooling voice slowly swallows the track. Acquiesce is full of moments like this, where Chami takes a seemingly simple element and draws out its textural properties, scattering her sounds about until it becomes a form of hypnosis. Listen to it on a walk, and you may suddenly notice the way that the light drips through the trees, as if Chami’s tapped into something magical hiding just beyond the ordinary.”
Blanck Mass earns his first solo film soundtrack credits with the soundtrack to ‘Calm With Horses’, an Irish thriller directed by Nick Rowland
After lending his work to soundtracks for the London 2012 Olympics, Ben Wheatley’s ‘A Field In England’, and re-scoring 2013 Giallo ‘The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears’, the former half of Fuck Buttons applies his sorely textured style to this 46’, 17-track suite of distressed electronics, seething EDM themes, carmine-stained dark ambient and heart-rending piano motifs.
Sanguine new age balms from 1986 for your troubles, bubbling with pastoral promise and gilded with Yamaha DX synths. Reissued for the first time by Australia’s dreamy Preservation label .
“It was time for us to make a move into the world of ambient new age music. Released only on cassette and CD in 1986, Paul & Mark made Quiet Water from a single guitar and a Yamaha DX synth.
Quiet Water consists of the amazing 'Summer Daydream' and 'Restful Sleep' that clocks in over 20 minutes. Cover is recreated from the original cassette and extended by hand painting by the original artist, Danny Flynn.
We recommend you put this on the turntable and just relax. Prepare for a musical journey. A journey that you probably never have been on before. We cannot recommend this release enough.”
Crepuscule presents a brand new remastered edition of The Only Fun In Town, the influential debut album by iconic Scottish guitar group Josef K, originally released on Postcard Records in July 1981.
"Speedily recorded in a small studio in Brussels, The Only Fun In Town was a defiantly abrasive, serrated long-player in the mould of the second Velvets album, Josef K having already shelved a more conventional recording. Sharp-edged pop singles abound – It’s Kinda Funny, Sorry For Laughing, Revelation – along with rattling Haig/Ross twin guitar classics such as Fun ‘n’ Frenzy, Heart of Song, Forever Drone and The Angle.
The Only Fun In Town topped the independent charts on release and remains a canonical post-punk album. “Josef K were The Sound of Young Scotland, together with Orange Juice, whose guitars were also radiant and brittle, whose rhythms were also scrubbed and blunt, whose vocals were also proud and serious, but who sounded like another group entirely” (Paul Morley); “Josef K was about the heroic Outsider suavely surfing across the fraught surface of their albino funk fracas. Haig sounds high on anxiety, finding an odd, giddy euphoria in doubt.” (Simon Reynolds)
Ike Yard’s minimalist NYC post-punk masterpiece arches its spiny drum machine rhythms and ghoulish sonics for a necessary reissue reminder with Superior Viaduct
Now approaching its 40th anniversary, ‘Ike Yard’ has held untold influence on successive waves of droll industrialists and rhythm-bitten electronic music makers ever since its release by Factory America in 1982. It is also known as ‘A Fact A Second’ due to the slightly confusing album artwork, but whatever it’s called, it’s a total classic in terms of stripped down, mutant machine music from the early days, harnessing drum machines, synths and guitars in a darkly rugged way that was also heard in work by SPK and Swans, but here galvanised with a singular sort of NYC cyberpunk sleaze and brutality.
Defined by the droll, icy vocals of Stuart Argabright, who would also collaborate with Rammellzee in Death Comet Crew, and drive sci-fi project Black Rain, and urged by cranky, spitting and jabbing rhythm section, on their debut - and what would for a long time be their sole - album Ike Yard sounded like a a gang of mongrel street tuffs from the future, lead by a savant cultish brainiac mumbling prophetic, drugged-up proclamations. Check out the razor-sharp stepper ‘Loss’, which made prime remix fuel for a classic Regis remix, or the possessed cyberpunk voodoo of ‘Kino’ and the straightjacketed, Suicide-al no-wave funk of ‘NCR’ and you’ll know exactly what they’re about.
Sheffield bleep ’n breakbeat-skooled techno homage from the Frankfurter trio of 386i, Ben Milz, and Koga
Firmly passing muster for proper vintage tekkers, the trio swing out between woozy Arabesque melodies and tight breaks in the first bit, and with a tuff New Yorker Nu-Groove stance in the 2nd, while the 3rd puckers an acidic kiss to to classic Forgemasters and Richard H. Kirk and the 4th rolls on an ambient steppers tip with dead classy 303 work.
Belonging, Ian Chang’s first full-length album, is like a cyborg - part purring mechanism, part animate bio-mass rising from primordial ooze.
"In nine concise, largely instrumental pop songs, Chang conjures a personal cosmos: the listener feels as if we might reach out and touch Belonging's jagged and tender aural sculptures. At every level, his music sings with earnest and deceptive simplicity. The album's melodies are intimate, its rhythms rewarding, and yet, just beneath the surface glimmers innovation, as if the neurons firing in each melodic idea have become audible. From the tradition of Bjork, Burial, and Flying Lotus, Chang breathes a new kind of human vulnerability into electronica."
Will Guthrie’s hypnotic, amorphous percussion sprawls between free jazz, Javanese gamelan, and electro-acoustic disciplines in a spellbinding new opus for Oren Ambarchi’s inimitably unpredictable Black Truffle
“Nantes-based Australian drummer and percussionist Will Guthrie returns to Black Truffle with Nist-Nah. Like his previous solo record on the label, the abrasive hip-hop concrète of People Pleaser (BT027), Nist-Nah finds Guthrie branching out in a new direction, this time in a suite of six percussion pieces primarily using the metallaphones, hand drums and gongs of the Gamelan ensembles of Indonesia. The music presented here is grounded in Guthrie’s travels in Indonesia and study of various forms of Gamelan music, from the stately suspended temporality of the courtly Javanese Gamelan Sekatan, to the delirious, thuggish repetition that accompanies the Javanese trance ritual Jathilan, to the shimmering acoustic glitch of contemporary Balinese composer Dewa Alit and his Gamelan Salukat.
However, far from an exercise in exoticism, Nist-Nah develops out of Guthrie’s extensive work with metal percussion in recent years (as heard, for example, on his 2015 LP for iDEAL, Sacrée Obsession), where gongs, singing bowls and cymbals are used to build up walls of hovering tones and sizzling details. Though Guthrie is broadening his palette to explore Gamelan instrumentation and pay tribute to his love of this sophisticated yet elemental percussion music, the pieces presented here are equally informed by Guthrie’s interests in free jazz, electro-acoustic music and diverse experimental music practices, exploring long tones, extended techniques, and non-metered pulse.
Nist-Nah presents a variety of approaches across its six pieces, from the crisp, precise rhythmic complexity of the opening title track to the droning textures of ‘Catlike’ and ‘Elders’. On the epic closing ‘Kebogiro Glendeng’, Guthrie offers an extended, layered rendition of a Javanese piece belonging to a repertoire primarily used for warmups, beginner’s groups and children first learning Gamelan, elegantly gesturing to his own amateur status while using the piece’s insistently repeated melody as an extended exploration of the hypnotic effects of repetition, falling in and out of time with himself to create woozy, narcotic effects until the piece eventually dissolves into a wavering fog.”
Extraordinary tape works by a crucial yet little-known pioneer of ‘70s electronics, sister to the dream-like abstractions of Daphne Oram, Annea Lockwood or Pauline Oliveros but with a truly singular hypnotic appeal certain to pique interest from all avant garde explorers.
Making a first introduction to NYC’s Ann McMillan for many listeners, 1979’s ‘Gateway Summer Sound: Abstracted Animal And Other Sounds’ for Smithsonian Folkways reveals a visionary artist who worked with magnetic tape to create phantasmic soundscapes that smudged and bent boundaries between natural sounds.
As a student of radical composer Edgard Varèse - one of the godfathers of concrète music - McMillan made recordings at the legendary Princeton-Columbia Electronic Music Center which elided myriad sounds from the natural world, such as frogs, insects and field recordings, with a palette of gongs, bells, and harpsichord to shape vibrant, imaginative parallel dimensions of sound. Where her former teacher’s work was austere and angular, McMIllan’s music is detectably lusher, and contoured with a logic that feels more dreamlike in its abstracted depictions of nature’s sound sphere.
While comparison with Varèse is perhaps as inevitable as nods to Cage’s aleatoric music tekkers, it’s much fairer to place McMIllan’s work in light of Daphne Oram’s sorely overlooked but genuinely pioneering oeuvre or the textural sensitivities of Annea Lockwood, both of whom make eminently listenable rather than unforgiving strains of an avant garde more often associated with blokes of that period. As such there’s a much more welcoming sort of experimentalism at play between her trek around alien swamp terrain on ‘Amber ’75’, and also to the dizzying murmurations of ’Syrinx’, while the fractious ‘Episode’ and 12 minutes of deeply otherworldly sounds in ‘Gateway Summer Sound’ come off like a deeply uncanny pre-echo of computer sounds that would later be birthed by Laurie Spiegel, or a more sensuous adjunct to Beatriz Ferreyra’s unearthed GRM works.
The first release from Erotek in 15 years, he joins the FTP family, along with DJ Nasty aka Detroit’s Filthiest. Other heat on this heavy electro comp is coming from artists from Frankfurt, Ukraine, and Texas.
Our album of the year 2019 is Kali Malone’s 'The Sacrificial Code’ - a major work featuring almost two hours of concentrated, creeping organ pieces. 'The Sacrificial Code' provided us with precious mental refuge just as the world started to spin out of control around us. It's an album that somehow slowed everything down, allowing us to take notice of every slight movement, as if every minute shift in sound became magnified through stillness. It's a stunning realisation of ideas borne out of academic and conceptual rigour, with a perception-altering quality that encouraged exploration without a preordained endpoint - the antithesis to the language of colourless musical platitudes we've become so accustomed to.
‘The Sacrificial Code’ takes a more surgical approach to the methods first explored on last year’s ‘Organ Dirges 2016 - 2017’. Over the course of three parts performed on three different organs, Malone’s minimalist process captures a jarring precision of closeness, both on the level of the materiality of the sounds and on the level of composition.The recordings here involved careful close miking of the pipe organ in such a way as to eliminate environmental identifiers as far as possible - essentially removing the large hall reverb so inextricably linked to the instrument. The pieces were then further compositionally stripped of gestural adornments and spontaneous expressive impulse - an approach that flows against the grain of the prevailing musical hegemony, where sound is so often manipulated, and composition often steeped in self indulgence. It echoes Steve Reich’s sentiment “..by voluntarily giving up the freedom to do whatever momentarily comes to mind, we are, as a result, free of all that momentarily comes to mind.”
With its slow, purified and seemingly austere qualities ‘The Sacrificial Code’ guides us through an almost trance-inducing process where we become vulnerable receptors for every slight movement, where every miniature shift in sound becomes magnified through stillness. As such, it’s a uniquely satisfying exercise in transcendence through self restraint - a stunning realisation of ideas borne out of academic and conceptual rigour which gradually reveals startling personal dimensions. It has a perception-altering quality that encourages self exploration free of signposts and without a preordained endpoint - the antithesis to the language of colourless musical platitudes we've become so accustomed to.
To celebrate 40 years since the release of their first ever recording, Soft Cell re-issue their seminal debut EP Mutant Moments.
"Originally released as limited run of 2000 7” EPs in October 1980 on the band’s own Big Frock imprint, the release sold out immediately. Apart from various unofficial bootlegs, this much-revered and influential slice of electronica has been unavailable on vinyl for nearly four decades.
Soft Cell, aka Marc Almond and Dave Ball, went on to release their debut single proper, Memorabilia, cited as one of the most influential club records ever. This was followed by the multimillion-selling single Tainted Love, which topped the charts in 17 countries worldwide in 1981. The band have released four critically-acclaimed albums, including the genre-defining Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret. After a 17-year hiatus, Soft Cell returned in 2018 for a sold out show at London’s O2 Arena, and are currently working on new material."
Unmissable first vinyl pairing of superlative ’60s avant garde works by Alvin Lucier, supplying refreshed introduction for two canonic and uniquely life-affirming recordings, or as Robert Ashley says "There is nothing like "Vespers" in the literature of music. It is a completely new way of defining what music is, and the definition is given to us in a purely realized form".
’Vespers’ simply leaves us shivering with the pleasure of sound at its purest, igniting the proprioceptive senses with frankly phenomenal results that leave our hairs standing on end. Now plated up with 1968’s ear-boggling ‘Chambers’, which with hindsight now sounds uncannily like a conceptual inversion to ‘Vespers’, the two works’ contrasts serve to highlight the genius and - for want of a better word - absolute magic of Lucier’s compositions. With bags of wit, pragmatism and ingenuity that ignite the senses and potentially make listeners perceive the world differently, pieces such as these historically marked a schism with staid, crenellated old world ideas of what music could be.
“Vespers (1969) and Chambers (1968), the two works featured on this LP, witness Lucier rethinking the material and conceptual possibilities of music at every turn. First released as Lucier's contribution to the Sonic Arts Union's lone LP, Electronic Sound, in 1972, Vespers is a work generated by two equal actors —the performers and the space that they occupy. Conceived following a chance encounter with hand-held echolocation technology —the Sondol™, a pulse oscillator that emits short, sharp pulses at variable repetition speeds, producing echoes from the reflecting walls of a space to register relative location and orientation— it stands as one of the first works in history within which the decisions made during the performance are solely based on acoustics, allowing sound to be equally the content and structural determiner.
Written as a poetic "prose score", for the realization of Vespers, each performer is equipped with a Sondol™ and asked to move blindfolded within a defined space, moving from one point to the next using only echolocation, taking what Lucier describes as "sound photographs" that reveal discrete details of the given area. As the recording unfolds, the aptitude of this image becomes increasingly clear. While an aesthetic relationship to the movement of musical minimalism, embarked upon by a number of his peers, has often presented itself within Lucier's work, of all of them this is arguably most present within Vespers. Despite the radical leap it presented within the history of the sonic arts, Vespers was not the first of Lucier's works that began to specifically address the relation between sound, perception, and space. Notably Chambers, composed the year before in 1968 and embedded with the wry humor which lingers below much of the composer’s output, explored the theme on a brilliantly miniature scale.
As a total work, Chambers contends with the relationship between the knowing and understanding of what we hear, our perception of the source of a sound, and its relation to space. When viewed in the immediate context of Vespers, as it is here, it presents as an unexpected inversion of what was to come. While it plays on the relation of sight and the sonic actor, here what is seen and unseen takes on a dynamically different role. Equally, there is not one space to perceive, but many. For the realization of Chambers, battery-operated radios, tape recorders, and various kinds of electric toys are hidden in paper bags, shoes, kettles, a suitcase, and other small resonant spaces, which not only limit the perception of these object to their sounds alone, but take on the role of acoustic actors on the sounds within, each space becoming as individual and distinct as the object it contains. Taking it one step further, rather than being static, these "chambers" are carried by performers into larger ones —those in which the work is performed— further altering the sounds which occupy them, drawing the ear, once again, to the action of that which contains a body of sound.”
Salt Lake City’s indie pop favorites Choir Boy return after four years with the release of their new cosmic album, Gathering Swans. An emotionally powerful record, full of poignant heartbreak and gently steeped in pop nostalgia, Choir Boy push their distinctive sound further, while tenderly romancing the unsuspected.
"Since the release of their well-received 2016 debut Passive With Desire, of which Slug Magazine’s Erin Moore declares to be “...packed with songs that are infectious by way of their sound, as well as their emotion...”, and their 2018 single “Sunday Light”, the band evolved from singer Adam Klopp’s project accompanied by a rotating cast of players into a solidified, permanent lineup featuring long-time collaborator and bassist Chaz Costello, saxophonist and keyboardist Jeff Kleinman, and guitarist Michael Paulsen. Following a series of tours with such notable acts as Cold Cave, Snail Mail, and Ceremony, Choir Boy began writing their new album. Proving to be a worthy successor, Gathering Swans builds upon Choir Boy’s infectiousness with unique pop sensibilities and impeccable polish.
The first single, Complainer, demonstrates Klopp’s angelic voice effortlessly floating within the heart-wrenchingly somber melodies, that in a tender state, will surely render tears. Lyrically, the song poses a form of wounded optimism, declaring “Oh my life, what a pitiful thing to hear...But it’s not that bad...I’m just a complainer”. Tracks such as Toxic Eye undoubtedly present the touching “choralpop” sound that has come to be a hallmark of Choir Boy. Repetitious, layered vocal hooks that fade into the background, allowing the absence between breaths to be filled with the serene melody that embodies the foundation of Choir Boy’s appeal, demonstrating that the ethereal moments between the bright choruses and memorable hooks are as equally crucial and unforgettable as the lyrical content itself. A slightly more solemn ballad, Eat The Frog, skillfully adapts Choir Boy’s taste for nostalgia and translates such desire into a fully mature statement. The propulsive drive behind Eat The Frog possesses the emotional equivalent to sitting atop a hillside, just outside of the city, gazing at the sunset on a warm Summer night.
Creative, sincere, passionate and glaring with intention, Gathering Swans paints a bright, hopeful, and deeply heartfelt image that will most assuredly attract anyone who accompanies Choir Boy upon their journey."
Just as Al Green’s “Back Up Train” was pulling out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, for a whistle stop tour to the top of the charts, producer Palmer James began eyeing another Furniture City branch line: Tommy McGee.
"The result was 1976’s Positive-Negative, the creative apex in a career littered with endless bottoms. Gathered for the first time are McGee’s timeless album, singles for Golden Voice, Mercury, TMG, and Tosted, as well as the complete output of his nascent mid-’60s funk combo the T.M.G.’s"
Psychedelic contemporary dance and folk stirred up with all manner of exotic styles
“Ko Shin Moon third LP puts the use of samples on a background layer and asserts his place as an instrumentalist. Leïla Nova presents itself as a nocturnal digression where analogical synthesizer, rhythm box, vocal tinkering and colourful instrumentarium are mixed together. Psychedelia, electronic variations, dance music, synth folk and filmed approach blend with traditional Greek, Afghan, Lebanese-Syrian, Turkish and Indian revisited repertoires.
Vladislav Delay’s Chain Reaction masterpiece resurfaces for a remastered 20th anniversary edition. Answering the prayers of dub and electronic fiends everywhere, this long overdue vinyl edition of ‘Multila’ acts both as a reminder of Sasu Ripatti’s pioneering work and a primer on his early practice.
Technically the Finnish artist’s 3rd album, 2000’s ‘Multila’ offered a looser limbed, sensuous take on dub techno as much informed by the Finnish climate and landscape as the templates of Basic Channel, SND, and the deep house styles established between the late ‘80s and during the ‘90s.
It’s an immensely immersive work that prizes the qualities and infidelities of analogue production nose to tail from hardware to tape and D&M’s revered all-analogue mastering facilities, which up until this reissue has only previously been available on vinyl spread across the 'Ranta' and 'Huone' 12"s. Anyway, the Keplar label remedy that issue right here with Rashad Becker’s remaster which faithfully combines to present the album as it was perhaps always meant to be heard.
Between the submerged, coruscating crackle of ‘Ranta’, the soothing tone of ‘Raamat’, and the 22 minutes of semi-organic, lissom swing and ambient smudge in ‘Huone’ on the first disc, to the water-logged tumescence of ‘Karrha’ and the 16 minutes of head-swilling textural abstraction and saline buoyancy in ‘Pietola’ on the 2nd disc, you’re in the presence of pivotal, peerless material that effectively splits the difference between the GRM, King Tubby, and Huerco S.
'Versions' leaves out the vocal accompaniment and exposes the production as it drifts off into instrumental effervescence...
This second breathtaking CD leaves out the vocal accompaniment and exposes the terryfingly deep Basic Channel production as it drifts off into instrumental effervescance. The hallmarks are all there; Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald have already set the world ablaze once, twice, three, four times with their work as Basic Channel and the splintering into microscopic, heavyweight offshoots by way of the M series, Main Street, Chain Reaction, Rhythm and Sound and, of course, Burial Mix. It's hard to over-emphasise just how important their music has been to us over the last two decades and, for that matter, just how substantial their impact has had on everything that has taken place in electronic music since.
Following convention, each of these labels has offered a catalogue up on record (in this case 10" releases) before compiling the music. This is, in fact, the second Burial Mix compilation, the first "showcase" concentrating on the label's collaborations with Paul St Hilaire, aka Tikiman, for its opening set of releases. This second installment divides itself into Vocal and Instrumental "Versions" (the Vocal tracks are collected seperately on a second release), displaying the last seven releases in their entirety, plus "Mash Down Babylon" (a new take on "March Down Babylon"), and features a by-now totally classic collection of tracks that in their time have all been singles of the week for us here.
Just thinking of the majestic exuberance of "King in My Empire", or the breathtaking space of "Making Histroy" makes it hard to fathom how this material hasn't really aged a day in all these years...
One of the greatest debuts of all time, re-mastered for the first time. Not hard to sum up this album as utterly essential and a cornerstone of post-punk, contemporary pop and electronic music.
In 1982 the Scottish duo of Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie birthed Cocteau Twins with their resoundingly influential debut album, ‘Garlands’. A masterpiece of scuzzed pop sung in indecipherable lyrics and set to ravishing clouds of white hot electric guitars, serpentine bass and ricocheting drum machines, it established a template that’s never been bettered, and famously imitated ad infinitum by successive waves of post-punks and goths.
A generation of moody buggers grew up on this record, probably passed between friends and siblings, picked up in musty charity shop or second hand record emporiums, or even cradled in its fancier reissued form, like this one. But no matter the provenance it’s prized like a loved one by all who own it. Still utterly breathtaking stuff.