Geir Jenssen aka Biosphere rounds up 18 tracks in honour of Christian Hollingsæter, director of the Insomnia Festival, who died unexpectedly in May 2017, only 35 years old.
All material comes from artists based in Trømso, the Norwegian city within the arctic circle, covering a gamut of styles from Ande Somby’s yoiking to the wistful space of Biosphere’s Northern Oscillations and blue techno by Mental Overdrive. All proceeds from label sales go to Christian’s son, Julian.
Easily one of the most important, perfectly formed releases in Warp's vast catalogue, and arguably the most complete transmission from Drexciya's James Stinson (RIP), Lifestyles of the Laptop Cafe has become something of a yardstick by which pretty much every electronic music album should be measured. Hard to believe it's over 15 years old now, and still a guiding light...
One of James Stinson’s most sought-after classics bubbles up again on Warp after many years at the top of everyone’s wants list. If it’s felt a bit breezy recently, that would be the collective sign of relief from techno fiends the world over at the announcement of its reissue.
Originally issued as the 3rd Drexciyan Storm in 2001 - one year before Stinson’s death due to heart complications, on 3rd September, 2002 - The Other People Place’s Lifestyles of the Laptop Café became an instant classic with Detroit house and techno lovers as well as for many listeners beyond that paradigm who were equally seduced to its sleek, louche arrangements and unforgettable tunes.
15 years later it still stands as a beautifully sore thumb in the Drexciyan catalogue; far more mellow, sublime than anything else produced during James Stinson’s too short tenure on this planet, and framed by a neon glow which uniquely phosphoresces in the mind long after the needle hits the run-out.
Nowadays it is justifiably elevated to the level of a peerless modern classic - a masterclass in sophisticated, futuristic electro-soul whose cultural cache has only grown exponentially since its first release, ultimately transcending time and space like few other records.
Every electronic music collection needs a copy.
Dial Records’ jazz vent, Sky Walking, follow up their Sollman & Guertler side with the series’ most wigged-out and spontaneous batch, courtesy of free jazz experimenters Éric Falconnier and Joachim Schütz.
Hailing from Hamburg’s Golden Püdel cabal, Falconnier has previously appeared on Sky Walking’s 41’ 36” compilation as Gebrochene Beine, and Schütz is known as regular collaborator with Konrad Sprenger (Jörg Hiller), Ellen Fullman, Arnold Dreyblatt, and the Metabolismus collective.
Credentials in order, they churn up an intriguing fuss across 28, deftly and intuitively recoiling from recursive electro-acoustic wormholes to pent drones, deviant rhythm trips and squabbly freenuss with a fine taste for dissonant tone and irregular geometry.
Shelter Press’ remarkable run of 2017 releases ends in deep contemplation with this beautiful exploration of traditional Northern Indian classical music recorded with an experimental emphasis, carrying out the aural equivalent of zooms and close-ups, weaving between the minute details of sound and the more expansive effect on the listener. Recorded by artist Darren Almond, each of the pieces here corresponds to imagery from his eponymous video installation, shot in Rajasthan, 2012.
Revolving around recordings of Fateh Ali (Santoor, Manjira), Ghulam Gouse (Tabla), Roop Singh (Manjira), and Zakir Hussain (Bansari), All Things Pass seeks to connect the ancient Indian artform of the raga, whose time-based structures link the movement of the stars to earthly events, with the individual player’s emotions.
In this complex feedback loop of cosmic information and terrestrial expression, Almond operates as a sensory relay or transducer, using a shotgun microphone to document the instruments and synaesthetically offering a sort of sensory lens that regulates the liminal link between the macrocosmic, or universal, and the molecular, more human level of existence.
From its meter-melting Tabla drum pulses, to the refractive metallic shimmer of dulcimer-like Santoor and the Maniira hand cymbals, threaded with airborne stripes of flute-like Bansuri, the naturally fluid but closely disciplined results can be heard as a prism for realigning our Western-based and shaped perceptions of time. It’s really only when you fully comprehend how closely these things are linked in Indian classical culture that you may realise how restrictive and naive so much Western instrumental music, with its minor and major modes, and reliance on fixed time signatures, can be.
By that token, it’s not difficult to hear why the plasmic, meter and scale-dissolving possibilities of electronic music - when applied inventively - appeal to listeners who’ve become bored with the arrogance of Western convention. Effectively, All Things Pass ties all these ideas in a way that is self-evident, requiring the listener to simply allow themselves to interpret its expressive mathematics in their own way, and real unto themselves maths as the universal language.
It offers a soothing, thought provoking end to a tumultuous year, and marks Shelter Press as one of the most rewarding and diverse labels on the contemporary scene.
Actress comes correct on a 5th album proper for Ninja Tune following a period of creative fecundity which has seen him DJ almost every corner of the globe and collaborate with the London Contemporary Orchestra at The Barbican on a project inspired by Xenakis, among many other things.
Taking its title from the moniker of his home-built studio, AZD forms a deep cartography of the new dimensions discovered between the wires and amid the haze of his equipment, modelling a suite of noumenal dancefloor extractions that could only come from one mind and place.
Turning up nearly a decade since his debut album Hazyville  effectively set in motion a phase-shift of fidelity which has arguably affected an entire spectrum of electronic music, on his 5th album Actress effectively parses a murkier selection of textural clag and heavy-lidded hooks with a more fluid secretion of internalized rhythms and in-built ruggedness.
It’s like he’s gotten deeper into the machines, or the machines have gotten deeper inside him - by turns dragging us, the listeners, farther into that zone of inseparable melancholy/ecstasy and stylishly writhing, sweat-burnt and THC-grained rhythms - of the sort that make you dance better no matter your actual capabilities.
He’s totally locked that vibe with the humid, Thriller-esque crystals and heads-down but dandy slam of Fantasynth and will send you reeling with the weightless steppers inversion of Blue Window, whereas Cyn neatly resets to a vintage, crunchy neck snap, before the up-tilt of X22RME intriguingly calves off into short monologue about semiotics sure to catch out the DJs.
Runner sounds naggingly familiar, like a flashback from a post-club Uber ride, and Falling Rizlas is his most attractive chamber-jazz since the R.I.P. phase, leading to a final run that really gets it right between the hardcore-sampling darkside buzz of Dancing In The Smoke, the noctilucent thizz of Faure In Chrome, and the romantic/voyeuristic ambiguity of There’s An Angel In The Shower.
And there you have it; an agitated, emotional, caustic and wickedly lush dispatch from the UK’s most important avant dancefloor mind.
Terekke takes L.I.E.S. over the line with his sublime debut LP, Plant Age - the label 100th release. If you’ve been wowed by his handful of Terekke 12”s to date, take it on trust that this one’s his best so far. For everyone else, this is some of the loveliest, fugged-out deep house you’ll hear all year.
In the mould of his much loved singles, Plant Age finds the Amsterdam-based producer lushing out in eight ways, all linked by the classic spirits of deep, ambient and dub-house styles. It’s surely an analogue bubblebath for the soul - the kind of careful, caressing music to put on at any time of the day to ease your worries.
With xanax-like efficacy, he conducts a deeply anaesthetising drift from the watercoloured chords and elusive, Sprinkles-like bass on Tack thru cotton-built deep house in BB2 and delicicious, barely-there ambient structures in Swim, then sending gentle shockwaves thru the smoke with his doubles stepper Mix91, before pushing off into purely opiated 4th world zones in JQM, and kissing off with the aqueous smudge of Closer.
Glasgow’s wonderfully fickle Happy Meals kicks off So Low, a new label from Optimo, so called after their new wave/EBM club night, with a naturally variegated suite veering from tonal hypnosis to pulsing krautrock and levitating kosmiche themes and back again in Full Ashram Devotional Ceremony Volumes IV-VI.
As it was originally intended for release on tape, and to be heard as one long continuous piece, you’re recommended to do the same with the digital. But , it neatly breaks down into five discreet parts, too; in palindromic formation entering and closing to the purified, La Monte Young-esque frequencies of 432hz Resonant Activation Zone and 528hz Full Heart Vibration, and flanking the swirling raga-like vocals at the centre of Full Ashram Emerging Theme with whirligig krautrock in May You be Thje Mother - May You Be The Sun and its kosmiche inversion Every Moment Is A Birth,
“Full Ashram is the name of Happy Meals’ recording studio. The Devotional Ceremony is Happy Meals connecting with their cosmic inner selves. They realise their Full Ashram Devotional Ceremony on vinyl (and digital) banishing demons, devils and ill will. Devote your soul to the positive forces before the misguided, suffering spirits pull you down and wipe you out.”
Messrs Coupe and Watson reconvene with B Zero’s RSI for another collection of restless South London House ‘ems FYI Chris-style.
Russian Woodpecker is rife with tension and unease, FYI Chris implementing odd spoken word samples amidst skittering drum paths and queasy siren-like hooks in a manner that recalls STL. Repeater peels off into lopsided jazzy house territory, all buffed up kicks, tickling toms and urgent string samples topped by irregular calls of “where the bass drum at?”
How to Ruin the World pairs scuffed low end a la Theo with some blushed harmonics reminiscent of Nathan Fake in his pomp, whilst Low Star rolls out cheeky sampled vox over a rusted house groove that never sits still.
The long awaited Remix album, featuring reworks from Andy Stott, Oneohtrix Point Never, Electric Youth, Alva Noto, Arca, Motion Graphics, Fennesz, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Yves Tumor, S U R V I V E and Cornelius...
Following the release of async, Sakamoto's first studio album in eight years, he displays impeccable selection skills with this brilliantly curated remix album featuring a dozen reworks by a who's-who of the current electronic scene - everyone from Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson (R.I.P) to Oneohtrix Point Never, Arca and Andy Stott, alongside incredible versions from Yves Tumor, Motion Graphics and Cornelius.
First time available on vinyl in this format, Arthur Russell’s prized Instrumentals [1975-1980] suite is now served in full on newly remastered platters also including the absorbing noise excursion Sketch For ‘Face of Helen’ and the liminal, minimalist jazz gesture of Reach One along with some of the late, great composer’s finest avant-chamber-pop pieces and sections performed by the CETA Orchestra and conducted by Julius Eastman, claimed by the artist as some of his personal favourite work.
Taking cues from his studies in Buddhism, and Indian and Western classical and folk music in San Francisco, combined with a growing awareness of the American pop consciousness and the wide-open possibilities of minimalist composition, Instrumentals forms an early and timeless testament to Russell’s syncretic consolidation of myriad styles which would have been considered mutually exclusive back then, but which are now thought of as malleable components of a whole thanks to his pioneering, border-crossing principles and refusal of the putative distinctions between ‘low’ and ‘high’ art in music.
To start at the beginning, the rare Instrumentals, 1974 Vol. 1 was written by a then 23 year old composer in response to photos of landscapes and cloudy skies taken by his West Coast pal, a Shingon Buddhist priest named Yuko Nonomura, shortly after Russell’s move to New York City, where he was staying on the sofa of Allen Ginsburg and curating important downtown hub, The Kitchen.
It was there, at The Kitchen where he recorded Instrumentals with an ensemble of legendary luminaries - Ernie Brooks (electric bass), Rhys Chatham (flute), Jon Gibson (alto and soprano saxophone, flute and clarinet), Peter Gordon (piano and organ), Garrett List (trombone), Andy Paley (drums) and David Tiegham (percussion) - all working to his loose commands and gestures, leaving lots of room for aleatoric happenstance and improvisation in a way that blurred the lines between avant orchestral, communal (folk), easy listening and disco/dance ensembles in a way that pretty much nobody else had tried before, perhaps predictably leading some audience members to claim he was diluting proper serious music with pop (groan).
However time has honoured the results as just magic; eternally optimistic in that big-skied Iowan farm boy manner, but with an underlying sense of melancholy to match, while also betraying a rhythmelodic suss rooted in his all-encompassing studies of world musics, much like Reich was doing with African music around that era. It’s heart-melting stuff. Open the windows and let it in!
Likewise, Instrumentals - 1974,Volume 2 holds some of his most sublime, quietly yearning works, which were issued on an unsatisfactory edition on Another Side in 1984, and features here in all its languorous glory.
The other two pieces, meanwhile, play into Russell’s more experimental side, making a noisier, textured departure from the bittersweetness of Instrumentals with the fusion of tone generators and field recordings made on a tugboat in Sketch for ‘Face Of Helen’ - predating and recalling to an extent, Ingram Marshall’s Fog Tropes - before Reach One completes the set with a meditatively cool, playfully lower case, side-long piece for pianists and stethoscopes rendering one of the quietest compositions in Russell’s canon in the process.
As with most everything to do with Arthur, context is key to fully understanding these works in light of musical history, but no prior knowledge is required to sit with and immerse yourself in the iconoclast genius’s presence.
Pye Corner Audio brings his wood-fired analogue sound to Lapsus Records after touring the houses of Mondo Tees, Polytechnic Youth, Analogical Force and More Than Human already in a productive 2017 cycle.
In a smart play of contrasts, we hear much-loved and lesser-heard sides of PCA’s sound in Where Things Are Hollow. The supple, rolling arpeggios and acid tweaks of Resist, and his wobbly, chromatic cosmic chugger Northern Safety Route both bear the hallmarks of Martin Jenkins’ signature dancefloor romance.
However, fans should be very intrigued to hear him go beat-less and weightless in the other two parts. With Mainframe he conducts a stellar display of piquant bleep motifs and arcing choral pads converging into a gently distorted and dissonant harmonic smudge at the track’s peak, and Continental Drift seemingly operates on the opposite side of that wave with a sullen stir of low end swells and light pollution aurora reflecting the scale of the track title.
Helm’s away-day for The Trilogy Tapes comes under killer remix fire from Laurel Halo, Sky H1, Parris, Low Jack and Beneath on Luke Younger’s Alter label.
Thanks to smart A&R and sequencing, this is one of those rare remix packs that exceeds the sum of its parts, cannily opening up the material to new perspectives ranging from the oblique jungle chicanery of Parris, who redresses Blue Scene as a sort of blown-out DJ Scud workout, to Sky H1’s anxious ambient trance cradling of After Dark.
Low Jack likewise renders a bittersweet tang from Candy that remains faithful to Helm’s gritty aesthetic, and Laurel Halo puts a mean, side-winding spin on Blue Scene, working up a fierce friction shared in Beneath’s re-rolled, recoiling take on World In Action, holding the rudest line between abstraction and face-twysting nuttiness which, like everyone else, draws mutable common links between dance music and noise.
Sterling first volley from Bristol’s Young Echo Records, featuring Sam Kidel (Killing Sound) and Amos Childs (Jabu) backing Rider Shafique’s incisive, intimate reflections on I-Dentity in modern Britain.
Perhaps best received as a clear response to the divisive, race-baiting politics our times, in both parts Shafique presents an ice-cool yet impassioned dissection of the state of playlucidly channelling his thoughts in a rooted, low-key style that resonates with the delivery and impetus of classic dub poetry from Linton Kwesi Johnson and Mutubaruka.
However, this being the first release from one of the UK’s most conscientious, variegated and distinctive outfits, don’t expect them to play to convention. This is most apparent in I-Dentity, where Shafique’s ennui and haunted ontological observations intersects Sam Kidel’s miasma of coruscating strings and insectoid inflection, creating a weightless, pensile and abstract space where Shafique ruminations on the stubborn hangovers of the colonial mindset and the semantics of its redundant taxonomies resonate in a wholly unique manner, similar to the way Kidel’s juxtaposed materials in his amazing Disruptive Muzak LP for The Death of Rave.
For a smart contrast, in the flip side’s Freedom Cry, Shafique spells out a more positive, stately message, hailing the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement against Jabu’s unfathomable, melting backdrop of slow, celestial jazz swoon, with the lyricist holding tight to his message at the centre of it all. If we’re totally honest, on previous records Shafique’s delivery has seemed slightly over earnest or, conversely, even too droll to us. But here it makes complete, affective sense.
Special edition of one of the year’s standout releases (the limited edition new vinyl pressing comes with an Exclusive bonus CD featuring an additional 50 minutes of music - ‘for harpsichord’ and ‘for pipe organ and string trio’). Having lived with this amazing album for best part of a year, we can confidently say it’s among the strongest in its field, full of radiant joys - we urge you to make some time for it.
On her captivating 4th solo album, Montreal’s Sarah Davachi - highly regarded for her majestic, coruscating synth compositions - divides her attentions equally between a purely instrumental palette of strings, piano, voice and organ with an enveloping, often ecstatic and mystic effect recalling Áine O’Dwyer’s recent Locusts wonder as much as Ellen Fullman’s works for long stringed instruments. We're completely blown away by it.
Rather than mining ancient synth hardware for its unique tones, in All My Circles Run, Davachi applies the same exploratory approach to acoustic instruments with glacially tense results that quietly light up the liminal borderland between the spheres of electronic and acoustic practice when contrasted with her previous recordings. As the title suggests, you can consider these new pieces as discrete strands in a sort of diffracted spectral venn diagram of her sound.
The results will ring true with anyone who has heard her previous releases, while also offering another perspective on her tonal ontology, pin-pointing her acute feel for pealing, plangent overtones in For Strings, which opens out with a raw beauty and scale reaching heights vaguely reminiscent of Áine O’Dwyer’s recent LPs, or by Charlemagne Palestine for that matter, whereas For Voice is a deeply sober, sombre piece again precisely focussed on those fluttering points where consonance/dissonance are near indistinguishable.
The solo piano piece, Chanter follows that slope into lower tones, slowing the heart rate to the point where we can almost perceive the notes as gauzy, keening and candle-flickering blurs, before her sound starts to coalesce in lustrous, upward facing drone in For Organ, burning with a quiet optimism which is sublimated into the exceptional parting passage of For Piano, where the pensile strings, gently cascading keys, and floating organ ebb and flow with a magic intensity redolent of an imagined, smudged meditation by Emahoy Tsegué-Mariam Guèbru and Pauline Oliveros.
Tresor’s 300th release is a 15 track anthology of the Scopex label, a hugely coveted late ‘90s UK electro imprint whose releases by Simulant and Pollon now fetch triple figures for 2nd hand copies. When this set was announced a few weeks back, we could practically hear the collective relief of a thousand night owl neeks hooting at the moon and salivating at the prospect of fresh vinyl editions of Simm City, Out OfEther, and Electratech, all newly remastered from DATs and included here inside.
Right up there next to classic Drexciyan Storms and the black secret technologies of Ultradyne in the pantheon of 3rd/4th wave electro, Scopex releases defined ’90s electro at its tightest and mercurial best with a blend of razor sharp production and concise, sci-fi vision that’s rarely been surpassed.
In chronological order, you’ll find diamond-cut new pressings of Simulant’s Simm City , which is perhaps most noted for its Stinson-esque strengths in New Machines and the rare charms of Musical Box, or the low-lying missile Wav. Form (Mix), before Out Of Ether  dispenses some of the nastiest electro-funk to come from the UK in Knife Edge and the clenched swing of Access Future Audio (Mix).
Pollon’s Electratech  follows to open the 3rd disc with the tense angles of Lost Souls, as deployed by Objekt on his Kern Vol.3 mix for Tresor, and also included in a banging alternate Mix beside the epic Lonely Planet, while the previously unreleased, slow-mo sci-fi electro grunge of Optimal Flow completes the set and sees the label to its final resting place in one piece.
Come git it!
Between the three artists involved here, Linkwood, Fudge Fingas and Bacon Rolls, are enough ideas, samples and restless dancefloor energy to fuel a small city if only someone could work out a way to harness such a thing.
If you've heard the other two 10"s in the series you'll know what to expect, if not, it's probably the most potent brew of funk, soul, disco, house and even electro this side of Moodymann and has rightfully found a spot in the box of everyone from Gilles Peterson to Derrick May since it's initial release in 2005. Well fun*ed.
Hard-to-resist compilation of Bajan bangers from waaaay back in the day. “Jamaica got Mento, Trinidad got Calypso, the Bahamas got Goombay!”.
“Just off the Florida coast, Bahamian Goombay music is a succulent hybrid, somewhere between rhythm and blues, Trinidadian calypso and Jamaican mento, yet it comes from The Bahamas, where it lives on as a separate style. The presence of world-class composers and performers Blind Blake Higgs, George Symonette or Charlie Adamson made the sounds of Nassau a Golden Age, filled with unique charm and tropical dreams. This music is finally available again on vinyl after 60 years!”
Bokeh Versions light up a necessary reissue of Tradition’s long-lost outer-dub oddity Captain Ganja and The Space Patrol, pressing up a damn fine and deeply psychedelic reminder of North London’s contribution to the worldwide dub sphere c. 1980 - years before Scientist and Jammy battled the space invaders.
As a secretive and sought-after outlier in Tradition’s catalogue of lovers rock and dub aces, Captain Ganja and The Space Patrol represents the group’s most esoteric and experimental urges in full effect, springing dub’s mutable framework with a sample bank of crying babies, radiophonics and library soundtrack FX and then swirling the whole thing in Paul Thomson’s cosmic synths and keys.
From the red-eyed bachelor lounge vibes of of The Breathtaking Blast thru the lush recoil and tumble of Subaquatic Swerves and the pealing oddness of The Creepy Crawl to the bawling infants perfused around Rocket Repairs’ warbly melodica and decaying drums, it’s clear to hear how this album provides perfect context for Bokeh Versions’ previous releases, from the loose schematics of Seekersinterntional to the plasmic plong of Jay Glass Dubs, and even the label’s colourfully warped charisma on the whole.
It’s totally primed for a long, hot summer…
After leaving us with a Kylie Minogue collaboration in 2013, múm return 5 years later with a batch of quietly endearing recordings made in Berlin.
“Returning to Berlin for the third installment of their acclaimed live-score performance to accompany silent film classic Menschen am Sonntag (1930), múm present a 10" vinyl comprising material that was recorded during previous installments of this extraordinary film/music event. Arriving with shimmering sounds and ambient layers, "Cards" eventually bursts into a mix of live drums and massive beams of electronica.
Whereas "Evaporate" includes great piano miniatures, "Cycle Boats" boasts a melody that perfectly reflects the leisurely coming and going. "My Claws" is a wildly dense, unstoppable force of nature, that's catchy like an '80s pop tune.”
Killer set of exclusive tracks from Pye Corner Audio, Silent Servant and Not Waving for a faultless dancefloor session prizing one peach per artist on a limited plate. DJs and dancers can trust they are in very safe hands with deadly material supplied by all three operators...
Catching each producer at the apex of their respective games, they demonstrate the difference between original forms and their idiosyncratic, modern antecedents in alternately optimised and augmented distillations of EBM, acid, and techno, using finely honed instincts to parse the best bits from each style and leave the rest to rot.
Not Waving sets the example with a twanging and typically irregular disarrangement of EBM robo-funk, railing a lean and potent stripe of clambering machine pulses and barely-harnessed arpeggios with fragments of anti-racism activist Jane Elliot that lend it a recontextualised, determined impetus.
Martin Jenkins aka The Head Technician aka Pye Corner Audio follows with a slowly tempered, supple piece of analogue magick, coaxing out a sublime twine of helical basslines and a soaring top line of the rarest kind, one completely destined to trigger stunned and loved-up reactions in the right situations.
Silent Servant’s impeccable B-side tallies his first release of original material in 2017 with a sleek signature turn of fine-tuned 5/4 techno powered by nagging EBM bass and spaced out within a morphing sound sphere, with intercepted narrator who becomes fully revealed into the dramatic climax.
Heavyweight. essential gear.
Rescued from defunct formats, prised from dark cupboards and brought to light after two decades in cold storage…
"OKNOTOK features the original OK COMPUTER twelve track album, eight B-sides, and the Radiohead completist’s dream: “I Promise,” “Lift,” and “Man Of War.” The original studio recordings of these three previously unreleased and long sought after OK COMPUTER era tracks finally receive their first official issue on OKNOTOK.
All material on OKNOTOK is newly remastered from the original analogue tapes."
Tia Maria Produções member DJ Lycox goes solo in a big way with debut album Sonhos & Pesadelos for the resoundingly influential Príncipe label.
With the delicious swerve and layered lushness of Sonhos & Pesadelos, the debut album by Príncipe’s Parisian ambassador DJ Lycox, sets a new high water mark for the label and its collective sound.
Indulging a bank of fleshly synths more than many of his label mates and peers, but at no sacrifice to his rhythmic push and pull, the sound is practically compatible with deep house and UKF as much as the frenetic styles of Nidia Minaj or the tuffness of DJ Marfox, for example.
Across all 12 tracks he modulates the vibe with expert groove control, oscillating between hypnotic future folk lixx and infectiously knotted drums in Weekend to a debonaire spin on deep house swagger with Domingo Abeçoado or Solteiro, skipping from the blazing tropical heat of Virgin Island and Paragons Moh Baba to something you could almost imagine Marcus Nasty playing on Nichako, Sky or the steely reinforcement of La Java.
But if you’re looking for out ’n out raving madness, you’d best check the blinding shockout Quarteto Fantástico and the searing hard-style leads of Ferrero for the most upfront bangers.
Expanded, definitive, 1st ever vinyl reissue of classic early ‘90s EBM album; the 2nd LP by Dirk Ivens in solo mode as Dive after leaving legendary Belgian EBM supergroup, The Klinik.
On Concrete Jungle, Ivens’ signature growled and unheimlich vocals carry over from The Klinik into this project, but don’t quite dominate proceedings as strongly as before, which is all good with us. Here, the vocals are tempered and more diverse, sometimes coming on in his classic vein, but also diffused and mixed deeper into the matrix of his hard-edged yet stoically funked-up productions, and sharing space with Wendy Van Dusen ov Neither/Neither World.
Additionally, the 2nd disc contains Dive’s handful of cover versions of Joy Division, Kraftwerk, Wire, Martin Rev, and Fad Gadget taken from Extended Play , plus the cranky rarity Homeless from the Elektrauma compilation, and a grip of thistly winners that previously only appeared on the CD version of Dive’s First Album
RIYL. Silent Servant, Broken English Club, Helena Hauff
Sharply contoured, inventive electro mutations from Maelstrom, a french producer with previous form for Veronica Vasicka’s Cititrax, BNR, and Zone.
Again, CPU get the best out of their guy here, turning up some strong highlights with his fresh spin on Braindance tunings and ghettofunk pneumatics in the exquisite Lost Echoes, some filigree acid pirouettes on ALPH4, and pure electro/techno pressure on VZNIETIT and Praxis.
DJs, dancers - it’s yours.
Anthony J Hart (Imaginary Forces, Basic Rhythm) adopts the Hi Tek moniker as producer for East Man’s Red, White & Zero; a grime/dancehall/ project inspired by London’s vital relationship between mixed, working class cultures, inspired by conversations with theorist and academic Paul Gilroy - alumni of the late, great Stuart Hall. Features bars by Saint P, Darkos Strife, Killa P, Eklipse, Lyrical Strally, Kwan. RIYL The Bug, Blackdown, Alex Deamonds.
“London’s young people have been seen as a problem by governments for many generations now. Their distinctive street cultures stretch back into the nineteenth century when, just like today, a stylish public presence signified danger to respectable people. At that time, Britain’s class conflicts were being re-made amidst all the glorious fruits of a global empire. Divisions like class and sex had different shapes and tempos that hardly resemble the machinery of our increasingly networked and unequal world. Religion, racism and nationalism were all important, but work, exploitation and poverty supplied the fiery core of politricks.
These days, Britain’s imperial wealth and prestige are long gone. Today’s young people are excluded and marginalized, confined and criminalized, yet they remain at the heart of the vital, energetic best of our city. Their energy and imagination drive London’s convivial culture. They duck and dive just like their predecessors. They hustle, they suffer and they survive. Even where knives are common, most of the problems that come up get resolved without murderous violence. The defining experience of their precarious situation is more likely to be fear or anxiety than warfare between gangs. Their violence is more likely to turn inwards on to their loved ones and family members. There are many forms of self harm and self medication.
Yet the space in which those youthful lives unfold has contracted. The scale on which life is lived has shrunk. Moving around can be expensive. Surveillance is constant. Dignity and certainty are difficult to find and hold on to. It can be hard to feel comfortable outside the spaces and places you know best. Those familiar circuits are marked out by the roadside shrines of dead flowers that show just how vulnerable you can quickly become.
We have been losing London to Babylon but we are busy making a new place. The edges of the city have become fertile. The weeds grow up explosively between palisaded concrete boxes and the litter-strewn greenery. This is not zones 1 and 2 where houses and flats are capital rather than buildings to live in. The music that comes out of that edgy world isn’t what it was a generation ago, but it’s still fundamental--necessary for life.
These shocking sounds can be a part of healing and repair while staying faithful to the pressures that forged them. Musicians can’t make a living from their creativity, but their listeners can’t understand this historical moment unless they get to grips with its local rules, meanings and poetry. This is not America. Even without words, this music speaks for itself and tells a story. It calls out to be understood while seeking ways to escape interpretation.
We are always more than either this or that. We are more than either black or white."
Paul Gilroy 2017.
Four track EP made up of new songs ‘Keep It Surreal’, ‘Cold Water People’ and apocalyptic closer ‘Catch You Dreaming’.
"A defiantly reflective, blissed out, yet wistful six minute zero gravity swirl, the track showcases yet another side to the reborn and rejuvenated Ride, who last Summer returned with their first new music in twenty years.
Catch You Dreaming’ was originally written during the ‘Weather Diaries’ sessions in Autumn 2016, and sees the continuation of their working relationship with Moulder and Alkan, the same combination who helped shape their richly layered and multi-faceted comeback album."
Will Toledo always knew he would return to Twin Fantasy. He never did complete the work. Not really. Never could square his grand ambitions against his mechanical limitations.
"Listen to his first attempt, recorded at nineteen on a cheap laptop and you’ll hear what Brian Eno fondly calls “the sound of failure” - thrilling, extraordinary and singularly compelling failure. Will’s first love, rendered in the vivid teenage viscera of stolen gin, bruised shins and weird sex, was an event too momentous for the medium assigned to record it.
On the heels of the smashing success of ‘Teens Of Denial’, Car Seat Headrest release a new version of ‘Twin Fantasy’. “It was never a finished work,” Will says, “and it wasn’t until last year that I figured out how to finish it.” He has, now, the benefit of a bigger budget, a full band in fine form and endless time to tinker. According to him, it took eight months of mixing just to get the drums right. However, this is no shallow second take, sanitized in studio and scrubbed of feeling. This is the album he always wanted to make. It sounds the way he always wanted it to sound.
It’s been hard, stepping into the shoes of his teenage self, walking back to painful places. There are lyrics he wouldn’t write again, an especially sad song he regards as an albatrossbut as he carries the weight of that younger, wounded Will, he moves forward. He grows. He revises, gently, the songs we love so much. In the album’s final moments, in those apologies to future me and yous, there is more forgiveness than fury.
This, Will says, is the most vital difference between the old and the new: he no longer sees his own story as a tragedy."
Third in an EP trilogy that will culminate with a compilation CD and a limited edition vinyl box set containing all three EPs
"Harkening back to their 1997 release of three consecutive EPs (Dog On Wheels, Lazy Line Painter Jane, and 3.. 6.. 9 Seconds Of Light), Belle and Sebastian will release three new EPs under the umbrella title How To Solve Our Human Problems.
To celebrate this announcement, Belle and Sebastian has revealed a new song titled ‘I’ll Be Your Pilot’, which can be found on EP2 and heard HERE. The single encapsulates the essence of the groups gentle attention to melody, and takes as its subject Stuart Murdoch’s young son: “Having your first kid is a huge event, so I wrapped a lot of things I felt about Denny into the song. Being a dad made me feel a little like the pilot in The Little Prince, hence all the references to the Sahara!”
Just as those three early EPs are at the very heart of the Belle and Sebastian canon, so these three new releases deserve to be treated not as a stopgap, but as definitive releases in their own right. How To Solve Our Human Problems is both an era of its own, and part of a long, rich history. How To Solve Our Human Problems is, if you like, Belle and Sebastian Redux."
Giuseppe Leonardi pursues the heat-stroked balearic vibes of his jack Of All Trades 12” into this one for Second Circle
Resulting some devilishly debonaire Afro-synth-boogie on Unsinn, an oily downstroke into Giallo-esque soundtrack music with Kannibalentanz, and two strokes of pure sensual synth élan with Every Tree And Creature and All Blue.
File in your adult contemporary after-hours section.
We’ve never come across a music fiend who doesn’t swoon hard for vintage Ethiopian music when at its best. Ernesto Chahoud’s ‘Taitu’ compilation of “soul-fuelled stompers” is all killer-no filler, an unmissable introduction this special sound, or a further education for anyone already snagged on Mulatu Astatke, Tilahun Gessesse or those classic Ethiopiques sets. Grooves to own your booty, and vocals that send shivers down the spine
“Ernesto Chahoud’s ‘Taitu’ is a collection of soul-fuelled stompers straight from the dancefloors of 1970s Addis Ababa. A breathless journey through the unique Ethio sound that bands were forging at the time, the 24-track compilation is the result of the Lebanese DJ and crate digger’s decade long love affair with the ‘golden age’ of Ethiopian music.
Among the musical gems featured are 7"s by some of the heavyweights of the scene including the godfather of Ethio jazz Mulatu Astatke and Alemayehu Eshete, the vocalist dubbed the ‘Ethiopian Elvis’, alongside tracks by more obscure artists such as Merawi Yohannis and Birkineh Wurga.
For ‘Taitu’, Chahoud has selected 24 of his essential Ethio-Soul 7"s, that never leave his DJ box, and together they capture this opportune moment in Ethiopian music history that saw bands experiment with an armful of influences: gliding through R&B, rock & roll, jazz, funk, soul and boogaloo. What came out was a distinctly Ethiopian interpretation: pentatonic scales, horn-driven melodies and soul-shattering vocals sung in Amharic.
The songs are difficult to box in to one genre but they share a simplicity and rawness, added to by their lo-fi quality – with many recordings made in rudimentary studios with only a couple of mics for the entire band.
From the R&B stomper ‘Honey Baby’ by Alemayehu Eshete to Astatke’s swaggering ethnic-jazz instrumental ‘Emnete’ and the bluesy melancholic vocals of Hirut Bekele on ‘Ewnetegna Feker’, ‘Taitu’ is a window in on the exciting records being made in Ethiopia in the 1970s.“
One of the most prolific artists in the RareNoise roster, Jamie Saft has appeared on recordings by such groups as Metallic Taste of Blood, Slobber Pup, Plymouth, Red Hill, The Spanish Donkey and Berserk! as well as on collaborations with Steve Swallow and Bobby Previte (New Standard/ Loneliness Road, which also featured Iggy Pop, Bill Brovold (Serenity Knolls), Roswell Rudd (Strength & Power) and his own New Zion album Sunshine Seas).
"And yet, over all those sessions he has never recorded a solo piano album Solo A Genova is Saft’s highly emotive take on jazz standards and other uniquely American compositions.Recorded at the beautiful Teatro Carlo Felice in Genova, Italy in an acoustically marvellous space, Solo A Genova showcases Saft on a 9 - foot Steinway Model D piano in the service of a number beguiling piano arrangements of tunes by Curtis Mayfield, Jimmy Tam/Terry Lewis, John Coltrane, ZZ Top, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Charles Ives, Miles Davis and Bill Evans"
France’s Hard Beach Entertainment come off like a shabby chic take on Viewlexx/Murder Capital’s ‘90s electro aesthetics with the sound and look of Corporation Mindfuck’s Winds Of Corruption.
Expect five cuts of anaesthetised electro pressures working somewhere between Low Jack, Black Zone Myth Chant and BFDM, and a dead blunted I-F or Legowelt.
London/Milan’s Big Hands breaks thru with a deft collection of rave deconstructions backed by a grimy remix from Walton, all destined for the hands of canny DJs.
Big Hands takes cues from abstracted dancefloor emotions to generate six icy components ranging from Lorenzo Senni or TCF-liek flights in Prequel, to bumpy bass rolige in More Than Love, and Zomby-esque rave tesselations on the B-side’s Tensegrity, Kick Ballad and Blood, with Walton bringing up the rear on a tense, string slashed transfusion of Blood.
CV & JAB is Christina Vantzou and John Also Bennett, two artists that might already be familiar to many of you from their individual work over the years for the Kranky and Spectrum Spools labels. Together they have made this slowly engrossing album for Shelter Press - who else - perhaps one of the most elusive, uncanny and multi-layered “Ambient” albums we’ve heard in what feels like a long time, a worthy follow-up to a frankly astonishing sequence of releases on the label that started with Felicia Atkinson’s modern classic 'Hand In Hand'. If you’re into anything from Chris Watson’s field recordings to Vangelis and Badalamenti at their most romantic and evocative, or even Boards of Canada’s early forays into wildlife documentary pastiche, this one will sooth your mind like nothing else.
The album is a musical interpretation of Thoughts of a Dot as it Travels a Surface, a 90m panoramic wall drawing by Zin Taylor (a reproduction of which is included as a fold-out poster that comes with the vinyl edition). Through 10 tracks they render beautiful electro-acoustic meditations on the passage of time, which follows-on from their co-work on Vantzou's No. 3 album.
Vantzou brings a wealth of experience working between auditory and visual mediums to John Also Bennett’s synthesized and acoustic sound sensitivities, which have recently applied to his action in the Forma trio and a compilation of Pauline Anna Strom’s amazing Trans-Millenia Music for RVNG Intl, with a purposefully slow and immersive flow of acoustic piano and flute wrapped up in remarkably plasmic, spatially detailed synth contours.
In 10 parts, through a combination of literal track titles and abstracted allegorical inference, they describe the movement and feelings evinced by Zin Taylor’s massive tableaux, variously transposing his imagery of Cactus with Vent into webs of crystalline harmonics that acquiesce to brownian motion, or, as with the transition of Alfred Hitchcock Haze to Rock House With Door, a vividly synaesthetic transcription of figurative drawing to brooding, doomily Lynchian sound that brings to mind a wealth of captivatingly dank and alien imagery.
The vinyl package includes a miniaturised print of Zin Taylor’s Thoughts of a Dot as it Travels a Surface to peruse while you listen, so that you, like Christina and Bennett, can also make your own interpretation, and see how far their sonic translation differs with your own. Or then again, you could ignore it entirely and let yourself drift inside their free-formed dimensions without the cues. Either way, you’re in for a beautiful, open-ended and unpredictable trip.
Marrying modern composition with alternative attitudes and sounds.
"The first official s t a r g a z e release was a pioneering re-interpretation of the music of the alternative experimentalists Deerhoof, ‘Deerhoof Chamber Variations’, which led to the fulsome and controversial takeover of the BBC Proms for the David Bowie night, which saw s t a r g a z e collaborate with artists as diverse as John Cale, Elf Kid, Marc Almond and Anna Calvi amongst others, to celebrate the astounding, at times contradictory, music of this soulful, inspirational polymath.
POLIÇA have themselves blazed a trail across the modern musical landscape - throughout their three albums of dark, personally political pop they have distorted the conventions of production and form to create deeply affecting songs that claw into your consciousness.
s t a r g a z e’s approach reflects the true collaborative nature of the project and album. He listened closely to POLIÇA’s music, admiring what he describes as the band’s “extreme sense of harmony” and began to see how their two worlds might entwine.
This album, showing a very different access point to the album, demonstrates further the powerful production skills of POLIÇA’s Ryan Olson, who documented and augmented these sounds at Justin Vernon’s studio in Wisconsin."
An all time killer classic from Wackies.
This 12" features 3 cuts of Lee Perry's immortal Tight Spot Rhythm featuring searing vocals by Leroy Sibbles and the great Stranger Cole, together with an instrumental version by the Bullwackies Allstars. Yum.
Daft Skweee trax from Joe Howe (Gay Against You) on the persistent Adaadat label. Featuring vocals from Kiki Hitomi (King Midas Sound) and visual artist Hardeep Pandhal.
“Joe Howe released his debut album 'Youth Pixxel' under the alter ego Germlin on Adaadat back in 2006. He has gone on to release music on numerous other imprints including, Sound Pellegrino, Darla, Upset the Rhythm, Lo Recordings, Musique Large, Dødpop and #Feelings. In addition to his solo work, Joe's discography is filled with numerous collaborative projects including the notorious New Rave parody act Gay Against You.
The instrumental drums and synthesiser duo Ben Butler and Mousepad, Frearson Howe a collaboration with visual artist Annabel Frearson. The albums Sunbutler and Joemus both produced inconjunction with Edinburgh's anti-Morrissey Momus. Joe currently plays saxophone in a new band called Banana Oil, that sound something like 'The Mothers of Invention without all the toxic masculinity', they have a cassette recently released on Winning Sperm Party.”
Ought's third album and first for Merge
"Growing up doesn't mean mellowing out so much as it means learning to pay attention, listening carefully and openly, staying somewhere long enough to really understand where you are. Recorded at Rare Book Room in Brooklyn with producer Nicolas Vernhes (Deerhunter, Animal Collective, Silver Jews), Room Inside the World explores themes that have always concerned the band-identity, connection, survival in a precarious world-but with a bolder, more nuanced sound palette.
Vibraphone, justly intonated synthesizers, drum machines, and a 70-piece choir suffuse the precise post-punk breakdowns that spangled Ought's first two albums, giving rise to an emotional complexity that pushes their characteristically taut sound to greater depths. Ought approached this record with newfound patience, constructing a (digital) moodboard to set their intentions: Brian Eno and Stereolab synths, the Mekons' 1985 album Fear and Whiskey, and Gerhard Richter and Kenneth Anger's sexy, fluorescent hyperreal all made it into the melting pot. "The process of everybody wading into each other's subconscious was really excellent," says frontman, guitarist, and lyricist Tim Darcy.
Holed up in their rehearsal building, an industrial rock block (and sock factory) overlooking the Trans-Canada Highway, the band strove for greater detail and specificity than before while remaining true to the collaborative, intuitive writing process that yielded their earlier work. On Room Inside the World, Ought gnaw at questions that have hovered around their music since they first began playing: How do you live in this world without destroying yourself? What is it that we can do for each other to make the lives we've been given easier?
Room Inside the World steps away from the nervousness and irony that characterizes Ought's previous records. Instead of winkingly asking you to open your textbooks, as on More Than Any Other Day, here they're imploring you to look inside yourself and then around you, to tease out and melt away the barriers that keep people separated from one another. It makes for a different kind of catharsis: the quiet satisfaction of a job well done, the glow of seeing someone as they are, the soft simmer of real love. It's like finding a space inside the world where you can sit down for a bit, a room where there's room enough for everyone. The record ends on a comma, a quick fade, a sharp intake of breath, and you find yourself right back where you began.
An evergreen ambient classic and FACT's #10 album of the ‘80s, also in Pitchfork’s Top 40 Best Ambient Albums of All Time, Steve Roach’s Structures From Silence returns to its spiritual home on vinyl more than 30 years since it first came into this dimension.
On his 3rd album, self-taught synthesist Steve Roach made a break from his previous two sides of Berlin-skool kosmiche and ambient to foster a far more delicate, focussed yet heavy-lidded style of new age ambient music that was mercifully shy of the style’s more cloying cliches, favouring subtly phasing repetition and suspense over space soap opera dramatics or hippyish fantasy.
The result is a seductively minimalist suite of space music in three parts, gently flowing upwards and outwards to beautifully introspective ends on Reflections In Suspension, before Quiet Friend cradles your heart in diaphanous sheets of satin synth, and Structures From Silence imperceptibly returns to 0 in a creamy wash of aqueous pads that feel like a Vangelis romance theme slowed to alien temporality.
Ambient gold, this. Don’t miss!
Russian-Israeli singer/songwriter Mary Ocher saddles up a brooding and driving new collection including a stunning cover of Robbie Basho’s Blue Crystal Fire featuring Julia Kent (Antony and The Johnsons), and a live cut with instrument builder Hans Unsworn and band. RIYL Circuits Des Yeux, Nick Cave, PJ Harvey
“Mary Ocher closes 2017 with the release of a further trove of songs. The "Faust Studio Sessions and Other Recordings" is a collection of pieces whose vast majority was recorded during the sessions that gave birth to "The West Against The People", Ocher's full-length release that came out on Klangbad earlier this year to much praise, released alongside a sociopolitical essay and further collaborations (Felix Kubin, Die Toedliche Doris).
These two weeks of recordings were made with Hans Joachim Irmler at the Faust Studio, which is located in a small village by the Swiss border, in a big industrial space overlooking the Danube. Mary's two drummers, Your Government joined the sessions for a short while, the rest was recorded solo. The 10" also features a collaboration with cello player Julia Kent (Antony and The Johnsons) - in a rendition of Robbie Basho's phenomeal "Blue Crystal Fire", the second collaboration is a live recording with German experimental artist Hans Unstern and his band, known for their use of self built instruments.”
Charles Mingus' sharp and precise compositions rank among the greatest in jazz. While the composer / basisst / pianist's music lay rooted in the dominant-of-his-time genre of hard bop, it frequently ventured into realms of gospel, blues, free jazz, and classical music, all featuring innovative and pioneering double-bass techniques.
"He frequently encouraged collective improvisation, and unorthodox ensembles to compose his songs, which frequently included session legends like Pepper Adams, Jimmy Knepper, Booker Ervin, and other jazz musicians of note. Though infamous for having a firey temper on and off-stage, (Which led to the later nickname of "The Angry Man Of Jazz") Mingus is frequently paired with the likes of Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and Miles Davis as one of the greatest bandleaders and jazz composers of all time.
Among his many full-length releases, 1959's Mingus Ah Um is considered one of best, and the peak moment of his works with the collective of musicians dubbed the Charles Mingus Jazz Workshop. Clocking in at over an hour in length, Mingus Ah Um is 9 tracks of his finest, running the gamut from aggressive post-bop, to joyous gospel fusion, to progressive shuffling ballads, many of which would go on to become standards of the genre. It even took moments to praise his contemporaries in tracks like "Goodbye Porkpie Hat", written for saxophonist Lester Young, and the closer "Jelly Roll", an affectionate tribute to one of the first great composers of jazz. Regarded as one of the greatest jazz albums of all time, and one of fifty recordings added to the National Recording Registry in 2003."
Rough Trade reissue this out of print classic from Sun Kil Moon.
'Glenn tipton' as opener is suffused with the plucked intricacies of prime nick drake, yolked to a vocal nuanced up there with the very best stuff from the great richard buckner recorded over the last 10 years. 'Salvador sanchez' wields convincing overdrive, a reverb-drenched shadow of neil young in flight, at his very peak, live with crazy horse on 'cortez the killer'.
If you're feeling a little spooked by these old man's music references then don't be - here there's a freshness, a lightness of touch which is all too lacking in the streams of plain old revivalism, masquerading as new music. Here, mark may well have been inspired by all the old geezers, but knows how to kick out fully on his own, rocking out on 'Lily and parrots' inna classic Big Star fashion, tempering it with the muted folksiness of 'Gentle Moon'. The entire third side is taken up with 'Duk koo kim', a piece which must surely take off in performance, one of those great holding-pattern riffs, building up to an ensemble jam which should definitely be experienced in one sitting. There's lightness too, in the shape of the mexican strings of 'Si, paloma' - subtle, shifting coda to a emotionally complex, genuinely wonderful album.