Mary Jane Leach is a composer focussed on the physicality of sound, its acoustic properties and how they interact with space. She has played an instrumental role in NYC’s pioneering Downtown scene alongside Arthur Russell, Ellen Fullman, Peter Zummo, Philip Corner and Arnold Dreyblatt, as well as devoting years to the preservation and reappraisal of Julius Eastman’s work since his death in 1990, compiling the ‘Unjust Malaise’ 3CD set in 2005 and editing the 2015 book ‘Gay Guerrilla: Julius Eastman and His Music’. 'Woodwind Multiples' is her second album for Modern Love, following ‘(f)lute songs’ (2018).
Woodwind Multiples features four pieces for multiples of the same instrument: four bass flutes, nine oboes, nine clarinets, and seven bassoons. Each piece works closely with the unique sound of each instrument, combining pitches that create other, sometimes unexpected, tones, primarily combination and interference tones, as well as rhythmic patterns. What you hear is what happens naturally - there is no processing or manipulation.
8B4 (1985/2022), played by Manuel Zurria, is for four bass flutes. It is a revision of 8x4, which was written in 1985 for the DownTown Ensemble and was only performed once, due to its unusual instrumentation: alto flute, English horn (originally bass oboe), clarinet, and voice.
Xantippe’s Rebuke (1993) was written for Libby Van Cleve, for eight taped oboes and one live, solo oboe. The eight taped parts are equal and dependent, while the solo part is meant to be a solo with the tape as accompaniment. The piece works with the unique sound of the oboe, starting with unison pitches that create the richest sound, building the piece from there. Pitches and rhythmic patterns that occur naturally are notated and then played later, which in turn create other pitches and rhythmic patterns. So, in effect, the nature of the oboe and its natural sound determine the direction of the piece.
Charybdis (2020), played by Sam Dunscombe, is for solo clarinet and eight taped clarinets. It combines a somewhat obscured reference to Weep You No More, a John Dowland piece, which combines with the sound phenomena created from the melody and supporting chords of the Dowland.
Feu de Joie (1992) was written for bassoonist Shannon Peet and is an homage to the bassoon and its wonderful sound. It is for seven parts—six taped and one “live.” The taped bassoons combine to create a bed of sound that exploits the unique qualities of the bassoon, creating combination and interference tones, starting off with unison pitches, creating a rich sound that builds from there. Most of the subsequent pitches and phrases occur naturally, and are then notated later on in the piece, which in turn creates other notes and phrases.
Tight electro split from Detroit-Inspired Texan, ERP (aka Convextion), and Rotterdam’s Duplex
Gerard Hanson’s ERP works signature bassline flair under shuddering metallic arps and chiselled machine percussion in ‘ZRX’, while the Frustrated Funk figurehead Klen aka Ovatow makes one of his relatively rare but ever precious outings on the pendulous, tenderly dubbed and expansive Ovatow Reclock of Duplex’ s ’Molecular’, the standout of this session.
Outright haunting DIY recordings by Ukraine’s Oleksandr Yurchenko, made on custom-built string instruments and voiced with a freedom that places him somewhere alongside Michael O’Shea, Zoviet France, Glenn Branca or that incred collab album with Svetlana Nianio excavated by Night School a couple of years ago.
The recordings, made between 1991—2001, open a fascinating and intensely personal portal to the inner life of Ukraine’s most mysterious artist. A private person who never gave interviews, partly due to suffering from ill health, it’s only in recent years and via reissues on Tom James Scott’s Skire and Ukraine’s Delta Shock labels that Yurchenko’s music has come to wider attention, and with it his history in the Ukrainian underground music movement known as “Novaya Scena”. Sadly Yurchenko is no longer around to receive his flowers - he died in April 2020 after years of declining health following a stroke - but like all great art and music his spirit lives on in these frankly stunning home recordings of him agitating the f*ck out of self-built, zither and cello-like instruments, fitted with electric pick-ups and amplified into the red with a mesmerising quality.
The real gem here is the A-side’s half hour-long ‘Count to 100. Symphony #1 (edit 2001)’, whose title and keening discord no doubt nod to Glenn Branca’s swelling guitar masses, but more singularly get right under the skin with sustained, coruscating harmonics, right on the cusp between harrowing and lush, with an in-the-moment thrust that surely recalls moments of Michael O’Shea’s eponymous wonder as much as otherworldliness of Zoviet France.
Likewise, we hear Zoviet France's feel for hypnotic lilt in the more gently rhythmelodic loops of ‘Intro’, featuring some mysterious combo of old Soviet keyboards and Casio SK-1 sampler. The bitterly melancholic ‘Merat Zara #3’ follows with a strong example of how Yurchenko absorbed and beautifully transmuted traditional Eurasian melody into his music, and again we’re left to Zoviet France references with the nine minutes of curdled tones on the elemental grip of ‘Playback #1’, which feels like being granted voyeur privileges over intensely private rituals that were possibly never meant for public consumption.
Total visionary stuff if you ask us.
50 year anniversary edition of Albert Ayler’s peak ’68 salvo clashing nursery rhymes and militant marches with free jazz fire music - essential listening for jazz, noise and psych nuts alike
After setting new high water makes for free jazz beside Don Cherry with ‘Ghosts’ (1965) and unleashing ’Spirits’ in 1964, Albert Ayler cut his most accessible, yet still freaking wild, album with 1968’s ‘Love Cry’. Perhaps best known for its transformative 10 minute finale, ‘Universal Indians’ the album is an end-to-end ravishing and playful masterwork which compromised to some extent on his fire music style with a more concerted bend toward prevailing psychedelic currents.
Propelled by Milton Graves percussive dervish and Alan Silva’s knotted basslines, Albert’s tenor and alto sax scorch are completed by a final recorded performance with his brother, Donald, who would depart the band for Cleveland in following months. The 9-piece record remains a towering example of the gush of energies that converged/diverged in wild style during the late ‘60s, prior to jazz’s fusion era, in step with the freedoms hard won by the civil rights movement and the emergence of new age consciousness that went hand in hand with psychedelia and associated drugs.
The fury of previous Ayler records is exchanged for wild optimism that draws from all corners, riddling popular nursery rhyme melodies and boisterous marches with Afro-Latin grooves and speaking-in-tongues vocals with an acidic flair and vibrancy that must have sounded wild upon original release, and arguably still stokes fires of the imagination with numbers such as the organ-spangled, Ra-esque ‘Zion Hill’ or gyring projections of ‘Love Flower’, not to mention that astonishing closer.
Helena Hauff trots out a fabric mix studded with crunchy electro bombs
After a decade dominating Euro ‘floors and beyond with her patented direct drive muscle, Hauff parades 19 tried and trusted bangers of a ruff cut and drily emotive electro-techno variety after heading more line-ups than we can count, both solo and in b2b with likes of Eris Drew, Marcel Dettmann and DJ Stingray, and hosting her own BBC Radio 1 show.
It kicks off with one of her own, ‘Turn Your Sights Inward’, and shells down lethal cuts including Clarence G’s pre-Drexicya zinger ‘Data Transfer’, a walloping Slam x Optic nerve juggernaut ‘Machine Conflict’, Radioactiveman’s murderous ‘Night Bus to Nowhere’ and Autechre’s remix of D-Breeze off MASK 500 (jeez, the nostalgia!), while highlighting a raft of newer names and obscurities.
All hitters no shitters.
Not a band who ever do things by halves, this opus from Stars Of The Lid is a mammoth three disc set and is sublime for the entire duration.
You see, although some might level that Adam Wiltzie and Brian McBride have really stuck to the same style since their inception, they have been moving steadily forward with each release and have gone from whispering post-shoegaze guitar drones to something altogether more grandiose.
It would be crass to describe the music as cinematic, but the first thing that strikes me about "And their Refinement of the Decline' is its similarity to the work of Zbigniew Preisner and specifically his work with film director Krzysztof Kieslowski. Stars of the Lid share Preisner's (and Kieslowski's) sense of restraint, minimalism and stark beauty without resorting to sentimentalism. What we have here is beautiful music in its rawest form - horns, strings and that haunting reverb-drenched guitar all perfectly placed and allowed time to breathe. Nothing here is rushed, you hear passages rise and fall gloriously, sounds make an entrance and slowly disappear and nothing ever dares to outstay its welcome.
Arvo Part, Gavin Bryars or Brian Eno would all be more than appropriate comparisons for this stunning collection of work, but Stars of the Lid are almost at the point where they defy comparison altogether. Of course they have introduced further, more overtly 'classical' elements into their mix but the music they are making is quite uniquely their own - they are one of those rare bands that has absolutely defined a sound. What we are hearing is frankly two musicians who are at the top of their game, sharing their carefully measured view of the world with us and allowing us a peek into musical perfection - and you really can't ask for anything more than that.
'79/80' examines the earliest days of Plus Instruments, Dutch vanguard Truus de Groot's freewheeling experimental project. This anthology bundles a handful of tracks from her rare debut cassette with archival tracks from the same period. Properly spannered gear, it's an industrial-adjacent boil of broken synths, haunted vocals and sozzled tape noise that plays like a cross between The Shadow Ring, Throbbing Gristle, Wolf Eyes and Tolerance.
De Groot was still a member of cult Dutch experimental new wave band Nasmak in 1978 when she officially established herself as a solo artist, using the name Truss + Instruments for the project. She wouldn't stay solo for long, escaping the Netherlands for New York in the early '80s and bringing in assistance from artists like Lee Ranaldo and James Sclavunos, but this collection focuses on the project's genesis. The bulk of the record is snipped from De Groot's 1980-released debut, trimmed slightly and then fleshed out with unreleased tracks from the same time period. And it's remarkably coherent, sounding just as alien and unique now as it no doubt did back then. De Groot has a way of working that sounds haphazard but endlessly endearing, meshing her bizarre vocalizations with off-kilter beatbox blasts, oscillator squeaks and lashings of tape-damaged noise. It's tempting to call it industrial, but there's more going on here - De Groot doesn't sound as if she's in the thrall of any particular genre or other, but experimenting at her own pace, working out exactly what she can do with her modest setup.
Using a multi-track recorder with "whatever crappy gadgets she could find", De Groot trains her focus on snot and attitude, making songs that sound so battered they could fall apart at any moment. 'Lucky Day' introduced the original cassette and welcomes us to this set, bursting into the frame with hoarse screams and ghosted, saturated synth vamps that splinter into springy echoes. The roots of later noise upstarts like Wolf Eyes are right here, buried in De Groot's mucky tangle of distorted, nonchalant vocals, screaming feedback and irregular rhythms. On 'Herhalingen', she loops a single syllable until it's a pulse, spritzing it with tinny keyboard wails and breaking for a moment to remind us "the show must go on". And on 'True Love Stallion', one of the anthology's archival finds, she turns seemingly random synth bleeps into a detuned lullaby, using a disconcerting hum as accompaniment and stabbing at the keys erratically.
Another of the unheard rarities is 'Improv 1', a short blast of LFO noise that mutates into bleeps and damaged vocals, before 'Dance', 'So' and 'Music-Zak' bring us back to the original release. The latter is a serious highlight, a humid, hummable ditty that sounds like a cheap organ being played underwater. 'Improv 10' meanwhile glues a robotic voice to De Groot's pained screams and electrical fluctuations, and 'Mountain' sounds like a loping dancefloor melter, with a stumbling kick drum set against haunted echoes and distant recorder blasts. Utterly bonkers, this one'll have your head spinning - forget what you know, this is as punk as it gets.
Available on vinyl for the first time in almost 20 years, Bowery Electric's self-titled first album offers a view of shoegaze from across the Atlantic, where New Yorkers Lawrence Chandler and Martha Schwendener combined MBV's enigmatic noise with the inscrutable drugginess of Krautrock.
Bowery Electric's most canonical moment came in 1996 with the sample-heavy 'Beat', but that shouldn't give you an excuse to sleep on their vital, sonorous early material. They released 'Bowery Electric' only shortly earlier in 1995, drowning out Chandler and Schwendener's almost indistinguishable vocals in guitar noise and feedback. Their sound at this stage was undoubtedly rooted in the UK's moodiest, dreamiest shoegaze gear - think Slowdive, Lush and My Bloody Valentine - but Bowery Electric didn't seem interested in breaking through into the mainstream. While their British peers were signing to larger indies and being raked over hot coals by a catty, ambivalent music press, they inked a deal with Chicago's Kranky and found themselves alongside proto-post-rock giants like Labradford, Roy Montgomery and Jessamine.
Listening now, their rugged guitar drones and sparse rhythms harmonise well with Flying Saucer Attack and later Popol Vuh as much as the poppier Creation set. This material would go on to provide a creative lifeline to bands like Windy and Carl and Godspeed You Black Emperor!, suggesting a level of hollowed-out ambience that would later define the Kranky label. And it still sounds fresh, never breaking from its levitational mood for a moment, whether Chandler and Schwendener flirt with beatless soundscapes on 'Over and Over' or jerky, Spacemen 3-inspired psychedelia on the extended 'Slow Thrills'. The most enduring moment comes right at the end, the aptly titled 'Drift Away', a hazed, meditative droner that can be filed alongside Sonic Youth's head-mashing 'The Diamond Sea'. So good.
TTT’s scuzzy rave dream team Lukid & Tapes reprise Rezzett duties for the label’s wickedly ruffneck 100th release - unmissable crud for acolytes of Actress, Rat Heart, Lee Gamble, Demdike Stare, Jamal Moss
Label MVPs since 2013’s introductory Rezzett EP, the duo have become emblematic of rave music’s mutant noisy patch over the past decade with a string of 12”s that led to their acclaimed, eponymous album in 2018. ‘Meant Like This’ makes up five years of near radio-silence with a reliably sore and bittersweet new volley of works that deglaze classic rave tropes and marinade them in Rezzett’s special, astringent sauce. Skull-scraped reminiscences of rambunctious breakbeat hardcore, lushest mid ‘90s jungle, Detroit techno and Chicago house are rinsed for quintessence and rebuilt with a shoegaze-like romance, with red-lining distortion and noise as a metaphor for the infidelity of memory and motion sickness of time travel.
As expected, ‘Meant Like This’ is a heavily satisfying trip. If we’re playing favourites, the cold rush of its flashback montage ‘Vivz Portal’ is right up there, recalling Lee Gamble’s ‘Diversions 1994-1996’ marinaded in acetone, or even aspects of the Honour sides. But if you’re here for a knees up, we direct thee to outstanding bouts of breakbeat ‘ardcore rufige in the tape-of-a-tape-of-a-tape-textured ‘Leg It’, and the heart-in-mouth hardcore of ‘Borjormi Spring’, while lovers of the saltiest cosmic Midwest club music gets their lot in the sort of tones that loosen your teeth on ‘Spicy Pipes’, and a clattering beauty of Hieroglyphic Being proportions, ‘Ladbroke’.
Evoking the American primitive ambience of Bruce Langhorne's influential 'The Hired Hand', Jim O'Rourke's latest is a gorgeous, quietly resonant and slow-moving snapshot of the wide North American landscape, or “prairie gothic”. Rendered thru simmering jazz keys, microtonal drone, double bass, piano and skittering percussion, it’s just completely unmissable gear that comes highly recommended to anyone with a Jim obsession, or for those of you who love those Tindersticks scores for Claire Denis as much as we do.
Jim O'Rourke's flirtation with cinema has been one of the reliable constants in his lengthy, prolific career. His best-known trilogy of albums 'Bad Timing', 'Eureka' and 'Insignificance' were named after Nicolas Roeg films, and even 'The Visitor' was a reference to Roeg's Bowie vehicle 'The Man Who Fell to Earth'. He's made his own short films, got involved with Werner Herzog's 'Grizzly Man' and scored a handful of independent features, most notably Todd Louiso's odd, underrated 'Love Liza’, as well as contributing to Eiko Ishibashi acclaimed ‘Drive My Car' soundtrack.
Set in the prairies of Western Canada, 'Hands That Bind' is a surrealist fusion of science fiction and Western tropes from maverick director Kyle Armstrong. O'Rourke has worked with Armstrong before on 2018's 'Until First Light’, and is here given license to render Armstrong’s skewed vision of Alberta with plenty of room for creative movement. Its eerie, foreboding landscape is mirrored via intricately engineered environmental recordings and pitch-warped instrumentation. At times it shimmers with the darkness of François Tétaz's influential score for Aussie horror classic 'Wolf Creek', recalling the film's spacious landscape via electric pulses and fudged radio static, suddenly diverting to a more gothic re-imagining of pastoral folk, dissolving its homespun instrumentation into oily pools of electro-acoustic abstraction.
On opener 'Go Spend Some Time With Your Kids', O'Rourke reels us in with glacial bowed strings and luxurious double bass, almost imperceptibly fucking with the pitch to prepare us for the rest of the album's peculiar intonation. Everything gradually starts to quietly curdle through grotesque hisses and unusually tuned string knocks, piping pastoral Americana into rougher, off-world spaces. Subtle even at its most vivid, the suite of tracks bubbles beneath Armstrong's wide expanse, bringing in manipulated field recordings to enhance the feeling of connected disconnectedness. But O'Rourke’s score never feels detached; when the sound starts to drift into abstraction, he pulls it back with a vibraphone, or a stifled orchestral swoop.
'A Man's Mind Will Play Tricks On Him' paints the album's sonic palette into what might hew closest to O'Rourke's 'Bad Timing'-style material. Using alternative tunings on the instrumentation, it feels a bit like watching a performance through a cracked, frosted lens. It's familiar but also not, perfectly capturing the film's disquieting visuals. Elsewhere, on 'Here Is Where I Seem To Be...', he dilates billowing drones into poetic reflections to draw us into the uncanny landscape in much the same way we feel listening to Eliane Radigue.
O'Rourke has crafted an album that's both driven by the film’s visual language and able to stand tall on its own. It's a remarkable achievement, even for him.
Bureau B profile the fertile DIY tape scene of East Germany prior to the wall falling on their latest compilation.
Picking up on the themes of Mannequin’s under-rated 2016 KlangFarbe primer, Bureau B widen the scope to profile 14 bands active in East Germany’s DIY tape scene in the last few years before the GDR was dissolved in 1990.
The strict State measures in place demanded these musicians flirt with prosecution to establish the self-distribution networks that proliferated their work on cassette, and it also cultivated the disillusion and despair that resulted in some startlingly creative work. The seeds of so much to follow are evident throughout ‘Magnetband’ as Bureau B highlight work by musicians that largely released on cassette but would go on to form Raster Noton, Rammstein, Kuntskopf, To Rococo Rot and Tarwater.
The various KlangFarbe projects of Raster Noton founder Frank Bretschneider feature prominently throughout, with the hushed guitar freakout of his A.F. Moebius track Böser Traum the sort of thing you’d find in a Beau Wanzer mixtape. Beyond Bretschneider there is plenty to enjoy for the avid archivalist. Stoffwechsel’s Fly, Fliege, Fly sounds like John T. Gast after a weekend on the sensimilla, the brilliantly-named Choo Choo Flame deliver one of the shortest but most unnerving moments in the creeping ambient of Nein and Aponeuron’s Jab Gab Hej is a bracing slab of gurning EBM with added wookie screams.
Best of all perhaps is Gesichter’s SK 8 Gesichte which offers a dizzying frenzy of primitive sampling you’d mistake for early Hype W from Inga and Dean.
Bread ’n butter L.I.E.S. box bangers by London’s Fabio Monesi, chasing his 2016 cut for their Russian Torrent Versions with eight cold Chicago knockers on main.
The mode is properly dry, propulsive machine rhythm x clambering keys in the classic old skool Chi or NYC style, as heard on WBMX back in the day. You know the score, and Monesi pays up on all counts from the tuff but dreamy ‘Jack The Crow’ to his virulent acid banger ‘Harmony’, the subtly raved up ‘Future Brain’, and bassline-driven jabjack of ‘Moonriver’, with an outstanding twist of electro-bass in ‘Kit The Dog’ and eccied eye-flutter of ‘Critical Rhythm’.
Remastered and newly mixed by band members Dan Lacksman and Michel Moers, Telex's Looking For Saint-Tropez.
"Looking For Saint Tropez was Telex’s debut album originally released in 1979. It contains covers of Plastic Bertrand’s pop-punk ‘Ça Plane Pour Moi’ and Bill Haley’s ‘Rock Around The Clock’, in which, so to speak, all of the rock is removed leaving nothing but the clock; a ticking, vocoderised, supremely deadpan robot parody of the original. Had Telex merely confined themselves to such covers they might have been regarded as a rather clever comedy band. But they also cut ‘Moskow Diskow’, a rollocking, swerving, steaming dancefloor classic, a track which lays down the railroad for as yet unimagined electronic musics such as House and Techno. Years ahead of its time, its reputation has only been enhanced over time, as other, more date stamped electropop has fallen by the wayside."
Robert Hood’s minimal techno masterpiece enters orbit again, almost 30 years after its initial release.
Originally found on the ‘Internal Empire’ album and also released as a 12” in 1995, the lead cut is an all-too-short piece of whirring Detroit mechanics flecked with icy trills and slinky gear shifts as only he can do. Handily, the 12” offers a slightly extended version with ‘Master Builder (Sandman Option)’ giving it a highly effective nip ’n tuck that gets right under the skin of the dance, while ‘Quartz’ strides out with filtered organ motifs on a whipsmart groove.
Legendary Afro-futurist jazz pioneer Idris Ackamoor regroups The Pyramids at drummer/producer Malcolm Catto’s studio for a typically deep and tuff new session that speaks to their 50 years of heavily rooted jams adjacent to Sun Ra and Pharoah Sanders.
"Recorded between San Francisco and London and brought together by the genius of Malcolm Catto at his analogue Quatermass Studio, the new recording represents another bold step in Ackamoor’s ever-evolving journey in jazz, adding full, intricate scores including string sections and choral elements to the Pyramids’ trademark spiritual Afro-jazz sound.
Driven by the core Pyramids members Ackamoor (sax, keytar, organ), Margaux Simmons (flute), Sandra Poindexter (violin) and Bobby Cobb (guitar), tracks range from hard-hitting commentaries about police brutality (‘Police Dem’) to celebrations of the ancestors and departed loved ones (‘Requiem For The Ancestors’, ‘Re-Memory’) and hazy cosmic journeys, including the album’s title track and the sparkling, experimental closer, ‘Nice It Up’.
‘Afro-Futuristic Dreams’ is mixed by Malcolm Catto and mastered by Peter Beckmann at Technology Works. The superb cover artwork illustration is by David Alabo."
Funkineven & Kyle Hall's transatlantic fist-bumps come repackaged as a doublepack.
As Funkinevil between 2012-2013, Julien & Hall jacked directly into a movement toward the rawest, direct machine music that joined the dots between enduring late ‘80s/early ‘90s Detroit, Chicago, NYC and London traditions. 10 years later their jams still fizz and crack with a livewire energy and remain among the rawest, rudest in either’s cabinet.
Replete with slick jazz-funk intros and outro, the real meat and gristle of the session is their dance trax, following their nose for wallbanging thrust and and nastiest acid in ‘Night’, recalling Jamal Moss’ I.B.M. ace ‘Kill Bill’, whereas ‘Dusk’ plays deep into their debonaire side, punctuating Dâm-Funk-like synth squelch and breezing pads with tart Linn claps, while ‘Ignorant’ lowers the suspension on a Motor City electro steez, and they really let the electro-soul flow for eight minutes with ‘In The Grid’.
Hallucinatory drum and drone trips by Lebanese notables, Raed Yassin, Charbel Haber, and Khaled Yassine, paying tribute to, and displacing, Omar Khorshid’s legendary Arabic surf rock hybrids - RIYL Christian Love Forum, Sun City Girls.
Necessarily returned to attention in ’23 by the awesome Discrepant after its OG 2014 release, ‘Malayeen’ is a strong homage to the enduring influence of guitarist Omar Khorshid, whose slant on Arabic Egyptian belly dance traditions, recorded in Lebanon during the ‘70s, would transcend the genre and spark imaginations far beyond the region for decades to come. The Malayeen trio take artistic license to renew the hypnotic vibrancy of Khorshid’s pioneering innovations on East/West fusion music with a conventional array of keys, guitars, and darbouka, augmented by more unusual addition of turntables, and electronics that stay true to the sound while firing it up for contemporary audiences.
The seven pieces oscillate relatively straight played tributes such as the lonesome guitar solo of ‘Omar’, which also recalls Sir Richard Bhp’s take on Khorshid’s legacy in ‘The Freak of Araby’, to more explicit abstraction of his sound with use of queasy electronic texturing in ‘Nadia’, and a killer, up-to-date slant on his percussive thrust in the near singeli-esque or junglist recklessness of the sped up drums in ‘Dina’. We hear those circles bleed most thrillingly on the 17 minute dervish ‘Samia’, which vividly calls to mind recent exploits in this arena by Thessaloniki’s Christian Love Forum, while ‘Najwa’ could almost be the real thing, with dramatic keys upping the ante for a ravishing onslaught of darbouka breaks and surf guitar fervour.
The Rat Road from London-based electronic music artist SBTRKT.
"'The Rat Road' sees SBTRKT redefine UK electronic music (again) bringing together his iconic, synaesthesiac production with an incredible lineup of collaborators including Toro Y Moi, Teezo Touchdown, D Double E, Anna Of The North, Kai Isaiah Jamal, Sampha, Little Dragon and others."
Originally issued December 2016, re-pressed 2023, classic Grouper, originally released for the winter solstice.
Despite the name, Headache possesses alchemical levels of healing powers as phased electric guitar and that distinctive voice get gradually submerged in a fog of reverb, with what sounds like a xylophone quietly peaking out in the mix.
The B-side, I'm Clean Now, cakes the tape-mangled fuzz on even more, all chorus shimmers and bass counterpoints, the voice layered but defined.
Remastered and newly mixed by band members Dan Lacksman and Michel Moers, Telex's Neurovision.
"Released in 1980, the album was the follow up to their debut Looking For Saint-Tropez, and includes the track ‘Euro-vision’ which was famously entered into the Eurovision Song Contest, representing Belgium. Moers says he regarded their entry as “very Situationist International, the worm in the apple” and they resolved either to come first or last. They didn’t achieve that goal, but became part of the Eurovision saga."
This amazing triple album features a six suite work featuring Requiem For Dying Mothers, Austin Texas Mental Hospital, Broken Harbors, Mullholland, Piano Aquieu, Ballad Of Distances and A Lovesong (For Cubs)+. Two hours 5 minutes of absolute spiritual elevation...R.I.P Brian McBride.
Their usual minimal sound palette is expanded this time with the inclusion of strings, horns and piano in addition to guitars and field recordings. A personal innerspace that's relaxed, poised and breathtakingly beautiful.
Remastered and newly mixed by band members Dan Lacksman and Michel Moers, Telex's Sex.
"For 1981’s Sex, the trio teamed up with Sparks, a match made in heaven given both band’s determination to make electronic pop music suffused with conceptual wit. They got along tremendously, Ron & Russell Mael staying on in Brussels far longer than they’d originally intended, and Sparks contributed to the entire album."
Foundational 1975 township jazz side by leading guitarist Allen Kwela, referencing Wes Montgomery and home-grown marabi, sowing the seeds for South Africa’s wellspring of local jazz styles.
“The cream of Johannesburg’s jazz musicians gathered at state-of-the-art Satbel studios to create Black Beauty for the “Soweto” label. Led by guitarist extraordinaire Allen Kwela and featuring the godfather of South African jazz Kippie Moeketsi, the album successfully straddles producer pressure to emulate the commercial success of Abdullah Ibrahim’s Mannenberg, against the musicians’ own impetus to play a jazz they wanted. While the title track “Black Beauty” nods at Ibrahim’s stylings, the magic happens in the three remaining tracks where Kwela and his top-notch band lay down new directions.
Producer Patric van Blerk, sounded disappointed when asked about the sessions, saying that Kwela was his usual strong-willed self, unwilling to be nudged towards the pop trends of the day. “He was a monster talent and deserved much more than he got at the time.””
Face freezing emotional punishments by Texan electro-techno deity Gerard Hanson resurface on a reminder of his golden late ‘00s into ‘10s run
Please pardon the gush, but we’re in the presence of greatness here. ‘Lunar Ruins’ was first issued in 2011, but contains material known and utterly beloved from his live sets as early as 2006-2008, as heard in recordings for Faktion (Manchester) and Bleep43 (London) which have gone down in underground lore as legendary examples of his ineffably beautiful and powerful mastery of Detroit-inspired synth music.
At the right times, ‘Lunar Ruins’ literally brings us to tears and on our knees with its tendon-tuned electro-funk and beatific string harmonies, while ‘Into the Distance’ dials up the Martian melodies and cosmic conga turbulence in clear homage to Red Planet, Drexciya and Mad Mike, beside the sinuous, minimalist cool of ‘Mimosa Canopy’. We can’t stress how much this sound feels absent on the ‘floor nowadays.
Ringleader of Mexico City’s Sunday Sunday sessions, Soos weaves between early ‘90s downbeats, acidic sand trample and deep house for Japan’s Mule Musiq
‘Mundo Cute’ is a dead canny title for Soos’ brand of rose-tinted ‘90s nostalgia, and lends a contextual glow to their metaphoric six track transition from dusk to night. It purrs into action with the feline downbeat sway and soft erotica coos of ‘Chula (Dance Mix)’ and gently keeps bodies in motion with the steel drum lilt of its title track, takign it terrace side for the ambient ocean gaze of ‘Disc Jam (Dream Mix)’, before locking into a sublime echo of early Goan trance sand trample in ‘Cool Sbu’ and the modal deep house of ‘Plants Biz’, departing to the Sun Electric-like tone of ‘? (Reprise)’.
The early genius of dreampop pioneers A.R. Kane (aka half of M|A|R|R|S) is summed up in a collected trifecta of 1988-89 Rough Trade LPs and EP that helped pave the way for everyone from Dean Blunt, Seefeel and Slowdive to Coby Sey and LA Timpa.
‘A.R. Kive Box Set’ is abundant assurance of Alex Ayuli and Rudy Tambala’s legacy as A.R. Kane, who famously minted the “dreampop” genre with three releases at the tail end of the ‘80s, after cutting sampledelic dance classic ‘Pump Up The Volume’ as M|A|R|R|S with Colourbox in 1987. Hustling, in their entirety, the albums ’69’ (1988) and ‘“i”’ (1989), plus the EP ‘Up Home!’ (1988), the ‘A.R. Kive’ is a treasure trove for avant pop fiends who can join the dots, as they did, between post-punk funk, dub, jazz-funk, and shoegaze bands such as MBV or Jesus and Mary Chain, to the swelling promise of the late ‘80s dance phenomenon, and beyond. While a resolutely cult act with those in the know, it never fails to surprise us how much they’re overlooked in the pop history books, but this compilation should go some way to rectifying that matter, seeding their ohrwurms in new and old lugs alike.
Hugely notable as artists of Afro-British descent working in styles dominated by bands of often anglo-celtic background, Nigerian-British musician Alex Ayuli and his Malawian-English spar Rudy Tambala brought the psychedelic richness of dub and groove of jazz-funk to prevailing ‘80s rock paradigms with a singular, joyful flourish unprecedented at the time. Directly inspired by a mid-‘80s Cocteau Twins performance on Channel 4, they would initially blag a record deal after lying that they were in a duo inspired by The VU, Cocteaus, Miles Davis and Joni Mitchell, that led to cutting a demo with a drum machine, guitar and dual tape players, that consequentially resulted in Robin Guthrie producing their 1987 single ‘Lollita’, and them ultimately realising the golden trio of records documented here.
In chronological order; the ‘Up Home!’ EP establishes a ravishing blend of noise-pop, dub and politics, variously cocking a snook at M*ggie Thatcher with ‘Baby Milk Snatcher’, and endemic british racism in ‘W.O.G.S’, beside the shoegaze club ace ‘One Way Mirror’, before really defining, expanding their vision on a pair of legendary LPs. 1988’s ’Sixty Nine’ found them in flux between grooving urges and resounding dub noise, as characterised in the Antenna-gone-rogue jangle of ‘Crazy Blue’, the lip-smacking psychedelia of ‘Spermwhale Trip Over’, and etheric peal to ‘The Madonna With Child’, before 1989’s ‘“i”’ became beloved by Balearic, rock, and pop types alike for its ebullient anthem ‘A Love From Outer Space’, thru the trip hop prototype ‘In a Circle’ and balmy steppers dub jangle of ‘Catch My Drift’ via a handful of wicked, abstract palate cleansers and teasers.
Start your obsession right here.
30th Anniversary edition of The Breeders' Last Splash - remastered from the original analog tapes.
"A defining album of the 90s, Last Splash by The Breeders turns 30 in 2023. Recorded by the ‘classic’ Breeders line-up of Kim Deal, Kelley Deal, Josephine Wiggs and Jim Macpherson, and featuring the infectiously appealing ‘Cannonball’, Last Splash immediately became an alt-rock classic, achieving platinum status in the UK and US, and is ranked in Pitchfork’s Top 100 Records of the 1990s.
Entitled Last Splash (the 30th Anniversary Original Analog Edition), this special edition will span two 12” 45rpm vinyl discs, plus an exclusive, one-sided etched 12” disc containing two forgotten tracks from the original Last Splash sessions: ‘Go Man Go’, a track that Kim co-wrote with Black Francis, and ‘Divine Mascis’, a version of ‘Divine Hammer’ with lead vocals provided courtesy of Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis.
For this special edition, the original, iconic sleeve art by the late visionary designer Vaughan Oliver has been gloriously reimagined by his long-time design partner Chris Bigg."
Swedish sound artist and composer Lo Kristenson, a graduate of the Master's Programme in composition at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm (where contemporaries Ellen Arkbro and Maria W Horn also studied), considers tension, impulse and longing on a magnificent debut album for XKatedral, an hour-long immersion in slowly unravelling arrangements for alto flute, baroque violin and baroque viola, highly recommended listening for disciples of Mary Jane Leach, Catherine Lamb, Lucy Railton, Morton Feldman, Pauline Oliveros.
The Swedish word förnimmelser translates to mean both sensations and perceptions. In the context of the album, it signifies the perception of other beings. Alongside Rakel Emhjellen Paulsen (alto flute), Julija Morgan (baroque violin) and Tove Bagge (baroque viola), Kristenson refines her sound over a series of "collective exercises, conversation and experiments," designed to help the ensemble unlearn their rehearsed musical gestures together. The process was explicitly developed by Kristenson to challenge the bodily and musical expectations associated with playing instruments in a traditional manner. To achieve this, it was essential for each musician to focus intensely on the listening process and maintain an awareness of their own body, harnessing naturally occurring friction and resistance to create dynamic waves of musical energy while playing.
The score was provided in fragments, giving the players the option to choose between notated phrases and more freeform directions. Tempo wasn't specified, but an approximate duration was offered for guidance, in the hope that whatever timing would emerge would come from intuition rather than design. Kristensen encouraged each player to think about their breathing patterns, and let that guide their performance. And that's starkly visible on the album's 20-minute opener 'I', where oddly pitched string phrases graze each other softly, strangled to silence periodically to emphasise negative space. Paulsen's ascendent flute tones melt into the strings, and the music appears to balance precariously between folk-y tenderness and sounds more regularly associated with experimental classical minimalism.
Kristensen intersperses these longer, core pieces with shorter, more abstracted compositions titled 'mellanrum', meaning the space in-between. These interludes add an important pause for breath, rupturing the silence with scant, virtuosic gestures. 'III' is almost funereal in tone, but the humanity of each vibrating string gives it a level of uniqueness that's hard to turn away from. Sustained tones waver and warble like strained voices, and tones seem to oscillate against each other, either forming subtle harmonies or languishing in phased dissonance.
Förnimmelser is confident, mettlesome music that asks the listener to reconsider the character of each instrument, but also that of the players and composer. Deep listening not only recommended, but fully rewards.
As La Planète Sauvage celebrates its half-century, Cam Sugar presents a deluxe edition of the soundtrack, mixed from the recently discovered multi-track tapes, including 7 previously unreleased tracks and 3 alternate mixes.
"At the 1973 Cannes Film Festival, a feature-length animated film caused a sensation and won the Special Jury Prize: La Planète Sauvage by René Laloux, with phantasmagorical drawings by Roland Topor. For this philosophical tale of anticipation, where men are used as domestic toys by blue giants, the Draags, the celebrated composer Alain Goraguer unleashes his inspiration with a haunting main theme of great melodic clarity, soaring and hypnotic atmospheres, but also pursues funky rhythms with wah-wah on guitar, as if reaching out to Isaac Hayes from Shaft.
Over the decades, the acclaim of La Planète Sauvage has been growing in crescendo, both the film and its score, revered by new generations as a psychedelic summit, an Everest of French pop. Artists from the new world, from rap and hip-hop cultures, such as A$ap Mob, Madlib, Mac Miller and many others, have dipped into it for samples or remixes."
Karenn’s Voam reach out to Medellín, Colombia’s TraTraTrax + Insurgentes boss Verraco for a crooked line of techno-trance skudge
Responsible for spreading a dancefloor heatwave with his programming of Insurgentes and its TraTraTrax offshoot (Nick León, DJ BabaTr, Tomás Urquieta et al), Verraco simmers his sound to a UK/EU friendly form of tech electronica with subtle trance appeal, sort like Arca gone 4/4, and necessarily kinked with Latin suss.
Reinhold Friedl’s new music ensemble tackle the work of Domenico Scarlatti, reflecting the composer’s radical unconventionality among his c.17/18th peers.
“zeitkratzer director Reinhold Friedl and his ensemble present new compositions, grounded on Domenico Scarlatti’s piano sonata F-minor K.466. Commissioned by the dance company Rubato and dedicated to Mario Bertoncini (1932-2019).
Little is known about Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757). His music is, so to speak, left to its own devices: free, cheeky, playful, sonorous, surprising. Harmonically strolling again and again into unforeseen regions, the ear leads, not the theory; and also the fingers get their right: playful and haptic it goes. Scarlatti explained, "since nature has given me ten fingers and my instrument provides employment for all, I see no reason why I should not use all ten of them."
Freedom, friction and listening pleasure instead of convention: "He knew quite well that he had disregarded all the rules of composition in his piano pieces, but asked whether his deviation from the rules offended the ear? He believes there is almost no other rule than that of not offending the only sense whose object is music - the ear."
Reinhold Friedl applied this principle and composed the music for a choreography by dance company Rubato. Dance music drawn from Scarlatti, who was so inspired by dance music. The material of the piano sonata F-minor K.466 is twisted anew in all its richness, shifted back and forth, declined, frozen, noisified, sound structures extracted, floating. Those who know the sonata, will more than smell it’s shadows. Dedicated to Mario Bertoncini (Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza) who was particularly fond of K.466, on which all the music presented here is grounded.
"Wild flowers", Barbara Zubers had once called Scarlatti's music. Let them bloom. “
BAT ruggedly balances neck-snap ‘90s hip hop, dub and ambient psychedelia in a definitive slab capping a decade of uncompromising work in this zone - RIYL early Dabrye, Kaman Leung, Spectre, Lukid, Actress
Call it illbient, ambient dub or whatever you want, this is one of BAT’s best and most woozily engaging long-players. The Portland, OR producer has remained steadfast in his pursuit of the perfectly uneven beat for 10 years now, with significant cuts on Opal Tapes, No Corner, Accidental Meetings and 12th Isle that established his cult reputation.
These dozen new bits typically take their cues from the beat craft of Bomb Squad’s Hank Shocklee and Boogie Down Productions, and could feasibly have come from any period of his work, but there’s a special magic at work on this one that really captures his skewed essence and places it among his most vital - a perfect entry point for anyone sitting on the fence.
While we don’t expect Bomb Squad fiends to be jumping on it, listeners who can join more oblique dots will surely get what his amorphous arrangements are hinting at. His grooves unravel and coil inside themselves simultaneously, loops crumbling into the next bar with a calm yet tongue-tip play of anticipation and resolution that has us rapt for the duration, at least.
50th Anniversary edition of Conrad Schnitzler's Rot, his first solo LP from 1973.
Nothing short of a milestone in the history of electronic music, 'Rot' marked a radical point where man and musical machine became far better acquainted. Schnitzler was already integral to the genesis of both Tangerine Dream and Kluster, both bands born of the Zodiac Free Arts Lab in West Berlin during the pivotal year of 1968. By 1973, the convergence of subversive, counter-cultural philosophy and his studies under German Fluxus member and avant-garde artist Joseph Beuys converged in the stark, uncompromising logic of his solo debut.
It's a monolothic statement, shirking academic praxis and forging an instinctively steely sort of psychedelia embracing Beuys' "extended definition of art" to act as a bold conduit for the alien and, quite importantly, "new music", harnessing sounds made possible by analog synthesis. With this album he physically shaped a new soundworld, unafraid of using all of his machine's atonal and motorik capabilities to express something elemental and uniquely nuanced like little else before or since. Quite simply, it's heavier and more psychedelic than almost anything else from the same era, and yet somehow does it all with a wry sense of groove which was essentially a sort of proto-Techno, making it a crucial addition to any connoisseur's electronic music collection.
Let the guessing games begin with a 3rd and final instalment of Light Sounds Dark's 'Crossed Wires' series stuffed with pulsing minimal wave, industrial scuzz, ambient vapours and fizzing synth-pop melodies.
Once more unto the tubes for Light Sounds Dark, sluicing high grade, low fidelity zingers from fuck knows where into a compilation that typically plays out like a lovingly hand-crafted mixtape from your deepest digging pal. There’s a discernible focus on pulsating instrumentals here, with no vocals to give the game away and leave everyone humming their melodies to shop counter clerks in hope of IDs. There’s one that sounds uncannily like a Chris & Cosey tune, and some really spangled, campy disco prancers sequenced along with fluttering pastoral arp escapades and dérives into sputtering drum machines and bloozy rock ’n roll riffs, also nestling one lush organ vibe out, but always returning to the eternal machine throb.
Schnitzler’s pulsating 1980 industrial electro kosmiche bullets are reloaded for a new century
Featuring two zingers co-written with Wolfgang Seidel (Kluster, Popülare Mechanic, Eruption) ‘Auf dem schwarzen’ is a standout number in one of electronic music’s most singular and distinctive catalogues.
The tang of potent German wizz is strong on this one, fuelling four cuts of propulsive motorik rhythm, vocoder vox and aerodynamic arps between the optimistic uplift of its title tune and the cosmic turbulence of ‘Elektroklang’, with the additional presence of Seidel (Schnitzler’s bandmate in krautrock supergroup Eruption) helping to simmer the swagger and up the fizzing synth mania of ‘Fabric’, and the spiralling vortex of ‘Der Wagen roll’, which surely recalls bits from Chris Carter’s ‘Spaces Between’ album of the same year.
Prolific bass alchemist Sam Shackleton and Polish clarinetist/producer Wacław Zimpel team up with Hindustani classical vocalist Siddartha Belmannu on this breathtaking follow-up to 2020's 'Primal Forms'. High vibrational gear for advanced psychedelic explorers, this one's a fine addition to Shackleton's rapidly swelling canon - it's like ritual music assembled with the sensibility of Talk Talk, Zbigniew Preisner and Leaving Records' Arushi Jain.
Shackleton's had a pretty astonishing year already, if you've been paying attention. His last EP as The Purge of Tomorrow (Spring's 'The Other Side of Devastation') was a gorgeous, gamelan-led longform experiment, his full-length collab with DJ Scotch Egg 'Death By Tickling' was a chance for him to let loose with more dancefloor-focused material, and last month's collaboration with Heather Leigh as Flesh & The Dream is some of the most devastating gear we've heard from him in years. 'In The Cell of Dreams' again pairs him with hard-working Polish player Wacław Zimpel, whose pristine woodwind meshed with Shackleton's innovative bass explorations on 'Primal Forms' just a few years ago. Here they pick up where that album left off, adding transcendent voicework from Belmannu.
Shackleton starts us off on 'The Ocean Lies Between Us' with tender-but-stargazing metallophone hits, gently blending in pitch-fucked punctuations and watery echoes. Belmannu's raga pierces the psychedelic fog masterfully, warbling in the foreground before Zimpel's faint orchestral wisps add a melancholy narrative twist. Shackleton has approached Northern Indian classical forms before, but this is his most successful fusion. At this point in his evolution, the producer's expertise is implicit, he has little to prove and lets his sparse instrumentation take a relative back seat to his collaborator's chilling contributions. There's a constant rhythm, but it's gaseous and hazy, serving just to underpin Belmannu's powerful vocal performance and Zimpel's ghosted drones.
It would be hard to label the music as minimal, but there's not an element out of place. Like 'The Other Side of Devastation', 'In The Cell of Dreams' captures the blissful euphoria of Talk Talk's seminal 'Spirit of Eden', but diverts the energy in a different direction. The trio's use of raga forms, Eastern European and Baltic sacred music (think Arvo Part) and Indonesian traditional sounds isn't an arbitrary fusion, it connects emotions, histories and most importantly, people. It's deeply sensitive, transcendent material that we've had on repeat since it landed on our desks.
Sun Ra’s seminal cosmic jazz vessel and totem of Afrofuturism returns from orbit on a 50th anniversary edition as part of the Verve By Request Series.
Really the one Sun Ra record that should need little introduction, ‘Space is the Place’ is most commonly hailed a legendary touchstone of Afro-American expressionism that heralds their metaphoric situation as akin to aliens on another planet. It has since become his most widely known and beloved recording and a massive inspiration on successive generations of artists, dancers, and theorists over the decades who’ve delineated its themes and thrust into myriad progressive forms of music, art and literature, from the likes of Drexciya to 4Hero, Jamal Moss and Kodwo Eshun, who each take a distinct reading of its interwoven mythology and ravishing stylistic hybrids.
The spirit-rousing 21 minute title piece is fully in place, beside the big band swing and clatter of ‘Images’ and the cool metric slosh of ‘Discipline 33’, before letting rip with the wild cosmic atonalities of ‘Sea of Sounds’, the life-giving jazz-dancers jam ‘Rocket Number Nine’, which each help define its mischievous zig-zag between the consonant/dissonant, and unique place in between the popular imagination’s conceptions of jazz, rock, and the avant garde, for anyone not yet smitten with it.
Legendary Congolese guitarist Kahanga Dekula (aka Vumbi) makes an infectious noise on his debut solo recording, playing tangled soukous phrases alongside field recordings and tinny beatbox rattles instead of his usual full band. Revelatory material.
For the last four decades, Vumbi has been playing lead guitar in various bands throughout East Africa and Sweden, where he's based now. He learned how to play guitar by listening to Congolese icons like Dr Nico and Franco on the radio, eventually moving from the DRC's Kivu region to Tanzania, where he joined Orchestra Maquis and became a fixture of their shows. When he relocated to Stockholm, he joined forces with Ugandan Sammy Kasule to form the Makonde Band and Ahmadu Jarr's Highlife Orchestra, before forming his own outfit The Dekula Band in 2008. But until now he's never recorded a solo record. That took the intervention of Swedish producer Karl-Jonas Winqvist, who'd heard Vumbi perform many times, even releasing The Dekula Band's debut album in 2019.
'Congo Guitar' is a refreshingly open set of recordings, made quickly in two days and fleshed out with just a few extra instruments and backing vocals, and Winqvist's aging drum machine. Opener 'Afro Blues' is particularly inviting, setting Vumbi's impassioned playing against a humming environmental recording, with car horns standing in for percussion. 'Maamajacy' meanwhile is closer and more intimate, a playful whirl of inviting melodies set to a spartan rhythm from Winqvist's beatbox. Vumbi elaborates further on the generous 'Zanzibar, Kinshasa & Vällingby', overlaying his guitar parts into an orchestral thrum, and he goes a step further on 'Weekend', introducing hypnotic bass melodica sounds from Winqvist. Ending on the self-explanatory 'UN Forces (Get Out of the Democratic Republic of Congo)', he plays banjo, highlighting the link between the popular American instrument and its African roots.
Debut crackshot of jacking, rude house kinks and hyper-saturated soundsystem dubs on the 3rd volume of Porridge Bullet’s Sunda School series...
Dancing in the footsteps of Ajukaja and Tapes + Nikolaienko, LLL makes robust first moves that slot perfectly with the sort of psychoactive club suss we’ve all come to expect from Tallinn, Estonia’s Porridge Bullet. The sounds of Chicago via UK and Euro ‘floors come on strong in the swanging bass heft and weekend peacockery of ‘Friday Rituals’, while the squashed Kemetri-style beatdown budge of ’92’ offsets the mode, which gets back into the swang with ruddiest Jack Rabbit or Bam Bam acid in ‘Yyyeah Exactly’, and a lip-bitingly darkroom special ‘Valu-e’ to leave us gagging for more.
Pastoral-hued electronica for the club by Berlin-Singapore duo YS, on a buoyant flex somewhere alongside Pender Street Steppers, RAMZi, Will Long.
‘Brutal Flowers’ is the YS’s debut and the 4th release on Jank Inc. and Walden S.’s Berlin-based Pace Yourself label. It is a fine example of club energies moderated by ambient instincts in the ‘90s AI model set by likes of AFX and refracted into myriad subgenres over the past 30 years. In 2023 the YS slant on this sound faithfully incorporates aspects of footwork and garage mechanisms as much as its original junglist and downtempo breakbeat impulses and more floral ambient embellishments for a sound that represents the one looping into the other.
We hear parallels with Will Long x BVDub’s ambient jungle in ‘Untethered’, and likewise Long’s Celer in the melancholic panorama ‘Autumn’s OST I’, lodged beside the sort of dubbed downbeat ambient slosh practised by RAMZi in ‘Pilgrimage I’, with standout turns of hair-kissing ambient gouch-out on ‘Something That’s Beautiful’, and the scuffed, spongiform UKG baubles of ‘On a Train in 2035’.
Good Morning Tapes with a vinyl pressing of Gi Gi’s blissed Ambient-Jungle session ‘Sunchoke’, cycling thru feathered permutations of New Age and dubwise styles thru richly-textured delicacies and sunkissed Trip Hop signatures, tipped if yr into classic Sabres of Paradise, Art of Noise, Future Sound of London, Terre Thaemlitz, William Orbit, The Orb.
Easy on the ear and with overflowing levels of serotonin, Gi Gi is a snug fit for the label; sanguine but just the right side of soporific, with a vibe that dials up echoes of classic downtempo Balearic crossed with turn-of-the-century trip hop somewhere between Olive’s ‘You’re not Alone’, William Orbit’s once ubiquitous ‘Strange Cargo III’ album and early Terre Thaemlitz - with a sound sensitive soulfulness and warmth.
Jazz drums, guitar and midi-flute conjure bright blue skies and cirrus streaks in ‘Dawn Song’, while ‘two ones’ doubles the tempo on a swaying jungle flex that also perfuses the hazier hues of ‘Ambergris (Blue)’ and dances around the links between deep house, ambient and D&B like Terre Thaemlitz’s classic ‘Tranquilliser’ (1994) in the lilting congas of ‘Asp’, caressing strums of ‘Lisle’, and the piano-led ambient blues of ‘Sunchoke.’
The last gasp of summer, right here.
Japan's EM Records with one of its most essential and memorable bullets, compiling material recorded 1979-83 by Brenda Ray who cut her teeth playing as part of Liverpool’s DIY wavey-dub-punk outfit Naffi Sandwich, and whose early solo work is compiled on this by-now hugely influential set. Huge recommendation if you’re into any late 70’s/early 80’s dub-punk-bossa mutations, anything from Antena to Maximum Joy, Vazz, The Raincoats, The Slits.
'D'Ya Hear Me!' surveys Brenda’s raw avant and DIY sound, mostly recorded straight to tape with no rehearsals at Cheshire's Naffi studios between 1979-83, squeezing the most out of rudimentary gear. As she explains; "Bands in London, Bristol etc, were using the top studios/equipment, and doing things properly as rehearsed bands. Naffi never rehearsed - it would have taken away the magic! Naffi were completely do it yourself and low-fi, a secret society releasing secret hits!"
The arrangements, lyrics and production here are just completely singular and inspiring, influenced by her native North West locales of Liverpool and Manchester and their record-devouring fanatics - soaking up everything from Pharoah Sanders and Ornette Coleman to dub, dancehall, rockabilly and imported soul - and an assortment of musicians who were hungry to pull into unchartered waters. It’s just one of those rare records that’s as full of memorable songs as it is boggling production stylings - a real special one from an era full of them. Apparently, even Nico was fan... !
Kath Bloom's 2005 comeback album - her first official release since 1984 - is finally (whoops) back in print. RIYL Bill Callahan, Loren Connors or Gillian Welch.
Bloom hadn't intended to quit music, it's just the way things panned out. She had begun recording with Loren Mazzacane Connors in the mid-1970s, but after producing six well-regarded but underground albums she moved to Florida with her husband, not returning to the studio until early '90s. In 1995 she was contacted by Richard Linklater, who wanted to feature 'Come Here' in "Before Sunrise" and it was all the encouragement she needed to record in earnest again, putting together a slew of CDRs and tapes. 'Finally' emerged in 2005 and compiled selected cuts from Bloom's run of CDRs, showing her development as an artist and the lilting folk loveliness that had always characterized her music.
Her voice is still astonishing; if you've only heard Bloom's earliest work, hearing her a few decades later is a healing experience. It's that same voice, but with the wisdom of experience, struck through with life lessons and interlocking stories. Tracks like 'It's Just A Dream' and 'Can't Rise To Your Feet' immediately stand out, foregrounding Bloom's songwriting ability and her gentle guitar playing. But the weirder, more meandering moments like 'Sand In My Shoe' go even harder for us, reminding us of Joanna Newsom or Diane Cluck.
Dubstep choirboy James Blake gets back to his club-adjacent roots with a 6th studio LP balancing tremulous vox, burnished trap and UK rave inspirations, including co-production by Mount Kimbie and interpolations of The Ragga Twins, Snoop Dogg and The Neptunes
Proceeding a slew of recent work with pop and rap notables such as K*nye West, Rosalía, Bon Iver, Metro Boomin, Frank Ocean, and Travis Scott, ‘Playing Robots Into Heaven’ locates James Blake surrounded by partner Jameela Jamil, and longtime pals Mount Kimbie, for a grown-up take on the naïf melodies and heart-flutter UKG/dubstep beats of his early works with Hemlock and Hessle Audio.
Set in place by Matt Colton’s mix/master, Blake’s signature, forlorn falsetto lights up an 11-song suite of twinkling electronic motifs and padded rhythms ornamented with classical keys and samples plucked from classic rave and R&B. As one of the few dubstep-deriving artists to really transcend the sound and “break” the US, Blake has inevitably come in for flack from the diehards who think he diluted the sound. But likewise he’s arguably at least partially responsible for translating it to international pop as much as rave audiences, and ‘Playing Robots Into Heaven’ is patently his clearest attempt in years to consolidate the two.
Allowing for the romantic, schmaltzy waltz of ‘Asking to Break’, a co-production with Jameela Jamil, and return influence from his pop spars across the album, he’s not breaking any molds, but does leave his imprint on them, at best in the playful rudeness of his Ragga Twins-sampling ‘Big Hammer’ and the Burial-esque flip of The Neptunes’ production for Snoop’s ‘Beautiful’, in ‘I Want You to Know’, with sweet highlights in the aerial glyde of ‘Night Sky’ and the lissom swing to ‘Fall Back’ that make it the sort of record we’d bite our tongue at if fancied by a younger sibling or wean who didn’t know better.
Blurt’s Ted Milton and Graham Lewis ov Wire/Dome assume their grouchiest post-punk lounge lizard slouch as Elegiac with a 2nd EP primed to grab fans of owt from James Chance to NWW, Suicide, Gen P-O or Burroughs
‘Meet My Stalker’ is the duo’s follow-up to a 2021 self-titled debut that outlined their Dadaist dad craic as proper no wave punk funk delivered with a snarl. The four new cuts make no concession to that sound, rubbing out coarse dubbed, fossil-fuelled grooves and off-the-dome vocals with a psycho-funk and jazz swagger that belies their veteran ages and makes many younger acts seem tame by comparison. They bring a wealth of experience to the table and send half of it scattering to the floor as they go heads down and outright rude with the revving basslines and possessed avant rock behaviour.
Enabled by co-producer Sam Britton, Milton & Lewis maintain a mean energy from the off, wielding sozzled sax lines over snake-hipped rock ’n roll bass and hypnotic industrial dubbing on ‘He Folds’, with Burton reeling off non sequituurs into the ether, before really laying it down with the crunching groove pugilism and scorn of ‘Boat’. It cools down on the B-side to let the lyrical refrain “It’s a wind-up” ring true over more tempered no wave thrust, and unleash an extended version of album highlight ‘Vancouver Slim’ that lets the prowling bass and sax skronk breath better, dubbier.
Breakthru debut album of meter-messing, cuboid electronic music for the club from a cult UK talent - RIYL Actress, Beneath, Novo Line, Lee Gamble, Rian Treanor.
Building on nearly a decade of work for Beneath’s Mistry and alongside Gramrcy, Gaunt’s first long player ’Blind at the Age of Four’ is an unusual album of asymmetric structures, weirdly expressive tones and spatial convolutions that speak to the far reaches of UK club music. It is specifically a tribute to his dad, David Adrian Warne (1959-2014), who suffered the same, rare, congenital eye condition - Thiel-Behnke Corneal Dystrophy - that left a young Gaunt prone in bed in darkness, and helped shaped his synaesthetic relationship to sound. The music follows with funky and brilliantly odd juxtapositions of rhythm and noise that uniquely press on the mind’s eye and conjure amorphous shapes in the smoke and strobes of an imaginary club.
Turning the extra-musical to weirdly wired purpose throughout the album, Gaunt imprints his sensibilities at every turn from the staggered orchestral warm-up ‘Jack?’ to the dense vocaloid chatter and swanging ‘80s FM funk of ‘Because I’. The Korg M1 riffs of ‘Favourite Memory’ evoking Kassem Mosse or Actress’ ‘Maze’, and sprayed freehand in ‘Composition 001’, with wicked echoes of clonking Sheffield bleep in ’Sweet’, and literally in the curdled brain matter of ‘Memories Talk’, but always with an uncanny valley of displacement. He strafes into skewed cyberdub on ’Syncopate’, and pulls out a deep club roller in ‘Un’, while pushing into Novo Line-like messing with of OG computer grids on ‘Rear View Spectate-or’, and picnoleptic strobes of Lee Gamble’s future-regression sessions on ‘Lesser You’, leaving us with the strangest motion sickness of time travel.
Bare-boned x darkside Chi jack trax by Duke n Cliff on Delroy Edwards’ cult label
On their sole dispatch of 2023 so far, L.A. Club Resource play it close to their chest with the first shots by Duke n Cliff. The internet is offering little to no background on their provenance beside links to a Furry’s reddit (not going there) and Cliff Richard duking it out with The Backstreet Boys for xmas No.1, so we’ll wing it and guess it’s either Delroy hisself (sounds like it!) or some unarchived juice from a Chicago basement. Anyone’s guess!
We’re talking coldest Jamie Principle pads and Santos-style tape-warped bass with janky blues keys on ‘Overdubbed Drums A Piano And A Synth’, and ruggedest The Jit-style jab jack in ’Skoolhouze’, jibber-jawed wall-banging in ‘Go Kid Go’, and the the kind of acid that removes teeth plaque in ‘Presence of the Past’, with mouth-watering levels of dissonance recalling Jamal Moss and Africans With Mainframes in ‘Sympte Frequency Move Ya Thang’, and a flourish of woozy Virgo Four-like suss in ‘Ethereal’ to leave you grabbing at names while clawing the walls.
Mana offer an excellent first international showcase of Hiroyuki Onogawa’s filigree, minimalist film soundtracks, gathering cuts off his ’95 debut and two follow ups for a gorgeous 40 minute dream sequence RIYL Mark Snow, Ry Cooder, Kenji Kawai, Nozomu Matsumoto.
‘August In The Water: Music for Film 1995-2005’ cherry picks pieces from the titular ’95 film soundtrack, plus Labyrinth of Dreams (1997), and Mirrored Mind (2005), for an immersive overview of work hard to find outside Japan. They all stem from Onogawa’s accompaniment to films imagined by Gakuryū Ishii (formally known as Sogo Ishii), whose ‘Crazy Thunder Road’ (1980) is regularly cited as the first Japanese cyberpunk flick, and, like Onogawa’s music, has until recently been difficult to find beyond the Far East. While the tracklist hops between films across a 10 year period, they share a clear emotional and aesthetic register of digital dread, paranoia, and dreamlike, melancholy lushness that jogs the listener’s nostalgia for sounds they may have never heard before, but patently remind of the formative thrill of discovering Japanese anime or cyberpunk, and finding their reference points everywhere from ‘90s sci fi and neo noir to Tarantino flicks.
With thanks to the efforts of UK distributors Third Window Films and forum-dwelling fans culling deep cuts from rare, private issue CDs, Onogawa’s exquisitely fine craft comes to light in a dozen works defined by their play of light and negative space, and highly synaesthetic, sensurreal ethers. You need no prior knowledge of the film to be enchanted by highlights such as ‘Endless’, with its tongue tip frisson of noctilucent pads, plangent bells and subaquatic tabla, or a sort of negative space in ‘Melting Skin’. The finesse of Mana’s selection comes into play with the Ry Cooder-esque country slide guitar theme from ‘Labyrinth of Dreams’, characterising the breadth of Onogawa’s palette along with the heart-in-mouth sting vignette ‘Reverse’, while a closing sequence of more discernibly traditional Japanese influences surface on ‘August In The Water 2005’ to bring us closest up to date with his work, which continues to receive acclaim.
Tom Boogizm pulls deeper into his thing on a new double album of scuzzed blooz and late night drifters, his second Rat Heart album this year, deployed in highly personalised formations recalling the arcane wonders of Arthur Russell, Labradford and Vini Reilly, shot thru a haze of smoke.
We’ve said it countless times, but if you ain’t paying attention to Tom Boogizm’s output, you really should be. Most of you know the deal by now; he ain’t married to a style, or sound, or era, equally at home playing punk, drill, grindcore, Jungle, folkways - whatever. Rat Heart has been home to his most loose and rewarding endeavours over the last couple of years, culminating in a pair of Rat Heart Ensemble albums that properly knocked us sideways - our album of the year last year ”A Blues”, and a stunning followup ‘Northern Luv Songs 4 Wen Ur Life’s A Mess’, released at the start of spring this year.
For ‘The Pamela Peanut Kitchen Sessions’ he reconvenes, Peanuts in tow, for an album of opposing energies, from electric blues to transcendent drift, all uppercase, wry-lipped track titles, with an emotionally melted core. Using pretty much just electric guitar, pedals and his voice, the songs here wind around the aesthetic progressions of Arthur Russell, manc style, running deep into the red with bare emotion. In fact, IT WAS A JOINT EFFORT SO I HAD TO DO IT ALL and HERE WE ARE (LAAAAAA) sound like Russell following up World Of Echo with an album of electric pop dirges, they’re that good.
And then things take a turn, halfway thru, with a trio of songs that clock in at almost 40 minutes between them, arcing from a sort of urban desert blues to properly smudged slowcore and into iridescent ambient, shot through with visions of manc backstreets filmed in the glow of night. There’s nowt mannered or urbane to see here, just pure expression, from one of the low key greats of our time.
Vladislav Delay’s Chain Reaction masterpiece resurfaced for a remastered 20th anniversary edition. Answering the prayers of dub and electronic fiends everywhere, this 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.