Genuinely some of the most exciting dance music ever made - we almost couldn't believe our ears on first listen, or the tenth. It was perhaps only when we witnessed the accompanying videos on youtube that it started to settle into place, watching liquid hipped Shangaan dancers scuttle and stomp like folk possessed by something untold but completely comprehendible.
The erstwhile and intrepid ears of Honest Jon's Mark Ainley and Hardwax/Basic Channel legend Mark Ernestus have been following this niche style from Soweto, SA, for a hot minute, long enough anyway to pick out twelve extraordinary examples of 180bpm, marimba-laden, afro-dance diamonds hewn from rickety drum machines and keyboards shaped into dazzling fillips of pure dance energy.
It's not a large punt to draw distinctions between this and Chicago footwurk or Caribbean Soca styles, from the high tempo velocity to use of basic equipment all deployed with the intention of eliciting faster and more furious dance moves from the participants. Essentially this is a continuation of traditional styles, only plugged in at the studio of Nozinja Music Productions to become utterly electrified and electrifying. But these aren't simply instrumental rhythms, they're also songs with passionate, soul wrenching vocals and head-rushingly sweet synth melodies. Four exemplary contributions from the scene's lynchpin Zinja Hlungwani are worth the entry price alone; from the gripping hypertension of 'Ntombi Ya Mugaza' to the warbling duet of synthesized and human soul in 'Nwa Gezani My Love', or the alien harmonics of 'Nwa Gezani', you're paying to experience a mesmerizing sound that you simply can't hear anywhere outside of Limpopo or low-res youtube clips.
Nozinja is responsible for the breakneck speed of Shangaan Electro, responding to public demand for faster rhythms since opening his studio in 2005, even creating "boy bands" like the boiler-suited and clown mask-wearing Tshetsha Boys and producing for the rest of the artists included here. To be fair, this music is still a totally niche prospect, but initial reactions from friends we would never expect to like it have been as immediate as the music itself and there's no denying this will be one of the years most lauded albums among adventurous listeners.
Buttechno’s Pavel Milyakov galvanises strong feelings into streaks of ballistic trance, glitching choral arrangements and gorgeous, weightless arp flights to set AD 93 on course for 2023 - RIYL 0PN, Lorenzo Senni, Conrad Schnitzler, Nebuchadnezzar...
‘Project Mirrors’ debuts Milyakov on Nic Tasker’s label with a lush brace of club-adjacent creations distinctly recalling his work on Rassvet Records’ ‘Eastern Strike’ 12” or the spiralling vortices of the sought-after ‘City-2’ sessions. The eight beat-less yet propulsive works mark up his first solo flight under his own name since 2020, following an armful of interim collaborations with artists ranging from Alex Zhang-Hungtai to Bendik Giske, DJ Speedsick and Yana Pavlova that have proved, where necessary, the versatility and mutability of his trance-indebted works. Each cut flows with an energy oscillating from romantic to seething in a potently direct style that’s become a hallmark of all his work since the mid teens, and which is felt most powerfully here.
Teetering in with the high-wire harmonics of ‘aapril’, the trip sharpens and refracts lines of hyper-melodics through thru kaleidoscopic turns bounding between the laser-guided focus of ‘202 days of summer’ and the curdled kosmiche finale ‘epic’. He pushes the levels to gibber-jawed, distorted trance ecstasy on ‘raveing’ and recalls 0PN jamming with Nebuchadnezzar on the roiling pulse of ‘runners’. There’s a exalted centrepiece of Eastern European-sounding choral motifs wrung out in glitching saccades on ‘choirs’, and ‘last dolphin’ scales darker heights of acid trance a la Live Adult Entertainment or DJLoser aces, while ‘august gtr’ fades out, arps cascadign like feathers from flying too close to the sun in the album’s penultimate throes.
cktrl coolly defines a sound in the space between pre-electric modal jazz, avant-R&B, and ambient classical with grandly staged, yet introspective, instrumental orchestrations.
‘Yield’ follows from the London-based clarinetist/saxophonist’s standout EP ‘Zero’ (2022) with a more concerted focus on stripping it all back to author an original sound. Placing the clarinet in acres of widescreen space against sweeping strings, keys and the wordless vocals of Ophie, he colours his canvas with a palette of richly nocturnal blues and purple instrumental tones that recall the most sublime Don Cherry works which would in turn inspire Jon Hassell and summon Bohren und Der Club of Gore’s duskiest gear.
Stemming from a period of grief and heartbreak that prompted him to reevaluate his music, and galvanised by a desire to change the narrative around contemporary British Black music, cktrl reordered his sound from the ground up with luxurious yet self-contained results, swaying back and forth between purely instrumental expression and two standout vignettes with Ophie, whose aching cadence matches the music most beautifully, reminding of serpentwithfeet on the heart-in-mouth suspense of ‘Lucidly’, and cradled in bluest ambient jazz soul space on ‘Love + War’.
But cktrl is the star of the show throughout, from the opening shimmer of keys and lonesome sax on ‘Yield’, opening up to unspoken emotions in centrepiece ‘Night I Pine’ with a psychedelic soul shades away from certain Klein works, before tying it off with a ribbon in the programmatic 9 minute closing sequence ‘Marcescent’, seamlessly eliding Alice Coltrane like symphonic strings and operatic soul vocals with his pealing clarinet in a unique form of baroque jazz soul.
Unmissable first reissue of desert blues’ astonishing ground zero - the first recording of electric guitars in Saharan folk, paving the way for Ali Farka Touré, Tinariwen, Mdou Moctar or Bombino
100% essential for anyone enchanted by the heat hazy sway of what has become known as desert blues or desert rock, the gorgeous family affair of L’Orchestra National Mauritanien changed the course of Western Saharan music in 1971 via their seamless incorporation of electric guitar to traditional folk. Under a title referring to the family name, L’Orchestre National Mauritanien recorded their pivotal opus in 1971 at Boussiphone studios in Casablanca, and, despite the record being pressed, it never received proper distribution, laying in a warehouse until nearly 50 year later when Belgium’s Radio Martiko discovered a unsold batch. That fortuitous find is now set to become a firm favourite with keen fans of desert blues as much as ethnomusicologists and new ears attuned to classic folk, as the record brims over with spellbinding vocals and of course their balmy but gripping folk blues groove.
Just one listen to the opener ‘Adji Kar Teri Miri’ should have one snagged on their lissom pentatonic melodies and the simply jaw-dropping beauty of the vocals, which to our untrained ears, betray a distant influence form Indian classical in their arabesque weave. Honestly we could listen to this on repeat all day, but that would be to miss the rest of the album, keeping us by a thread from the sultrier ‘Yer Sabou Yerkoy’ to the heavier, durational blues trample of ‘Bayna Daouali’ and ‘Ahlane Oussahlane’, and the spine-freezing effect of their non-western choral tuning temperament in ’Timidawane Hewana’, and folk rock of ‘Hob Mene’. Total no brainer, don’t sleep!
Zach Rowden and Henry Birdsey's follow last year's 'Burnish' album (released via XKatedral, the label founded by Kali Malone and Maria W. Horn) with a killer, tape-mangled, xenharmonic trip into the dissociated outerzone. Properly next level spirit-calling drone musick that references Phill Niblock, C.C Hennix and La Monte Young, as well as cosmic psych explorers like Hototogisu, The Skaters and Double Leopards.
Tongue Depressor's 'Burnish' was quietly one of 2022's most outstanding releases - a light-headed ritual that summed up so much of the year's nascent trends. Xenharmonic tunings, tape-dubbed organ drones, cautious non-repeating mathematical bell patterns, all of it rolled into a blur of sonorous future-ancient experimentation. 'Bones For Time' is a different proposition; picking up where its predecessor left off in some respects, but pulling everything out into syrupy long-form, shifting the focus from elemental intrigue to dizzying tape textures and consciousness-expanding harmonies.
The album is split into four 20-minute sides, each one investigating a separate instrumental fixation or process; the connecting thread is Rowden and Birdsey's discrete philosophical outlook, which they impress on each single-take expression, whether they're losing bowed strings in saturated fuzz, or pulling metallic clangs through fluttering tape heads. Importantly, none of it is overdone, heir hands-on compositional/improvisational process sparks a spellbinding level of restraint, flexibility and oversight.
They're able to materialize quickly from almost avant-classical grandeur in the introductory segment of 'You From The Local Family?' into shivering desert blues and burned-out wailing noise, covering musical ground that's close but rarely interlocking. They do it by finding unexpected concord in their shared passions; it's the ghostly wail of "American primitivism" that sounds omnipresent here, and while neither Rowden nor Birdsey attempt to mimic John Fahey's resonant fingerpicking, the ghosts of the past are like faint traces that haunt the backdrop of each piece. On 'The Reason You Don't Sleep Is The Words', string plucks form irregular clouds of rhythm and un-tempered harmony that fluctuate between archaic US folk styles and sounds more easily located in the Middle East or South Asia. The first half of the track is where Rowden and Birdsey give themselves the opportunity for ornamental flourishes, which are slowed to a crawl and decorated with spirit whooshes before it draws to a deliberate close.
Our pick of the bunch is 'Hymns of Mud' - and not just cos we're obsessed with the title. It's the most tape-mangled offering of the four, evolving from woozy, blunted drones into light-headed bell experimentation, before morphing into electronic plainsong in the final act. Sure, the church music thing is souring quicker than unpasteurized milk, but when it's done right nothing touches it. And fuck, do Tongue Depressor get it right: by turning church bells into sloshy Spencer Clark-esque disturbances and mimicking church liturgies with analog oscillators, they take the outline of an idea and ink it with fresh blood. By the time we reach closing track 'Narrowing Of The Days' we're primed to transcend, and the duo gesture towards drone pioneers C.C Hennix and Phill Niblock with a whistling long-form examination of tonality and timbre that's psychedelic, noisy and startlingly well-conceived. Is it DIY basement folk? Experimental classical? 20th century minimalism? Neo-drone? We're not completely sure, and that's precisely why we're hooked. Essential gear.
Actress' 3rd album, 'R.I.P', his 2nd for Honest Jon's, is now a decade old.
Despite being a vital cog in the machinery of underground UK dance and electronics since at least 2004 (when he released his 'No Tricks' debut), it's fair to say that by the time 'R.I.P.' was released Darren J. Cunningham made the shift from cult concern to acknowledged auteur of some repute. His work with Damon Albarn's DRC Music, beside a legendary DJ set at Sonar and remixes of Shangaan Electro, Panda Bear and Radiohead all elevated the fact; so expectations were high for 'R.I.P'.
Produced exclusively on hardware and inspired by Milton's classic poem 'Paradise Lost', Actress arranged his most labyrinthine, esoteric release to date; a set of 15 tracks traversing crystallized radiophonics and subterranean Techno with a psychedelic sideswipe that left us dazed and beguiled. By assimilating machine-like characteristics - his notions of "seeping yourself liquid into the machinery" Cunningham effectively became an interpreter, a symbiotic conduit with the potential to manipulate your consciousness. The newfound clarity and fluid narration made 'R.I.P.' the most intriguing chapter in the Actress saga so far - an unmissable experience.
Good Morning Tapes open 2023 with a vinyl edition of Shakali’s deep meditation on celestial themes revolving around ceremonial Javanese metallophone, scaled Sinewaves and beautiful hydrophone recordings taken on the darkest night of the year. One of the purest, most immersive Good Morning editions to date, highly recommended for lovers of anything from Alice Coltrane to Tomoko Sauvage.
This set of spiritual/innerzone healers from Finland’s Simo Hakalisto aka Shakali was previously found on a short-run tape issued last year and now makes its way to vinyl. His music is rich with swirling textures and Eastern mysticism, and a smart pre-midi bent. On ‘Aurinkopari’ Simo nimbly deploys a mix of massaged sine waves, hydroponic recordings, and a Javanese gendèr (a type of metallophone used in gamelan ceremonies) at the service of a mesmerising, naturally fractal-not-fractional conception of experimental ambient practice.
Heady and heartfelt, the set proceeds within a remarkably well realised and self-contained system of sound from the lush bloom of the title piece to the pastoral rumination of ‘Rural Aural’. Where the Alice Coltrane-esque opener is reverberantly plush with thrumming bass, cascading plucks and its brooding wind motifs, the following parts dematerialise into a subtler play of the senses, trickling from the iridescence of ‘Aja Udu’ to hypnagogic exotica in ‘Ad Astra’ and organic, airborne melody in ‘Aluilla’ with a marked care and empathy for your trip.
Mariko Katsuragi's 'Seaside Highway' on Memme Vaev.
"With unprecedented prosperity and growing worldwide fame in broadcast, game, and synthesizers, the 1980s Japan entered a golden decade. New genre splashes from technopop, Pacifica, and AOR/City pop merged local sensibilities with jazz-funk and Latin influences. Spiced in sugary US West coast sparkle and boasting naive lyrics with opulent arrangements and cover designs, it beamed millions of listeners on the cosmic journeys of Japan and its connections with Asia.
Looking to bet on the city pop phenomenon, a group of young, just out-of-school in-house studio players gathered for ad hoc recording sessions between 1982-1986. Spearheaded by up-and-coming associate producer and arranger HASEGAWA Joe and keyboardist KATSURAGI Mariko their goal was to produce a hit album concept with a musical journey from Japan to Asia and beyond.
Just short of wrapping a handful of test-pressings for studio and radio executives and a few tapes of demo recordings, the sessions came to an abrupt halt in 1986 with a striking personal loss. With the band's consequent disbanding and members embarking on their decades-long sessions careers, the original tapes were archived and lost in the Akihabara district for decades…
…until Japanese pop culture connoisseur and producer Sten SALUVEER aka MILDHANS discovered a rare demo of the original recordings in one of Tokyo's Ebisu district's revered vinyl bars. After a lengthy period of digging and tracings for the original tapes, the lush soundscapes of KATSURAGI Mariko and HASEGAWA Jo are finally here to take you on a jazzy journey to City Heights of Asia."
Gorgeous, pearlescent cosmic ambient flights by London’s Jo Johnson - erstwhile member of ‘90s riot grrrl group Huggy Bear - now in pursuit of astral trajectories since returning to orbit over the past few years.
“What is the sound of feeling? In physics, we conceive of sound as waves. Vibrations, undulations, physical manifestations: heard but not seen. Borne by the body, but interpreted in the brain.
Within ourselves, we perceive emotion as waves, too. Rolling in, rolling out: tidal, even. In moments of violet intensity, the depth of our feeling crashes upon us like surf, rip currents on a corporeal beach.
Worlds apart, but waves in kind. For musician and composer Jo Johnson, the veil between is diaphanous indeed. What you hear is what you feel. Listen and uncover.”
Drexciya’s classic 2001 submersible as Transllusion includes three robust Detroit electro killers packing woofer-troubling subbass depth charges
Officially a solo project of James Stinson, Transllusion was born on Tresor’s Supremat sublabel in 2001 with this 12”, which features at least two exclusive cuts, plus a version that was included on the CD edition of its corresponding album, ‘The Opening of the Cerebral Gateway’. Back in circulation for 2023, the EP has lost none of its capacity to thrill with its distinctly subaquatic sound design and viscous momentum working as prime DJ tools in the correct hands/fins.
Exclusive to the session, ‘Power of the 3rd Brain’ channels the skudgiest bass squelch and ohrwurming bleep hooks into a forceful piece of electro-techno hydraulics, and one of our all-time favourite Drexciya missiles ‘Disrupted Neural Gateway’ deploys the deadliest, surging subs harnessed in an 808 shark-cage that’s surely well known to the deepest Motor City disciples. The Ep also shares one piece, ‘Do You Want to Get Down’ with the album (where it’s also found in a ‘Vocal De Void’ version), depicting his Drexciyan hydrodynamics and post-Kraftwerk vocoders at their most elusive, inimitable, sensuous.
This is lovely - Baltimore’s Ami Dang navigates alternately lush, ecstatic and meditative fusions of East and West with spellbinding arrangements of sitar, voice and kosmiche electronics. Trust this is no ersatz ethnomusicology but a naturally visionary and well-skooled flight of imagination - mind-boggling new expansions of classical Indian music augmented with stunning synthwork. RIYL SOTE’s ‘Parallel Persia’ , Charanjit Singh’s ’Synthesizing: Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat’
Where too many artists have paid lip service to fusing classical Indian music traditions with modern music, Ami Dang authentically yields something thrilling, entrancing and genuinely unique with ‘Parted Plains.’ Interpreting South Asian and Middle Eastern folktales - the four tragic romances of Punjab, Sohni Mahiwal, Sassi Punnun, Heer Ranjha, and Mirza Sahiba; Flora Annie Steel’s Tales of the Punjab: Folklore of India, and selected stories from One Thousand and One Nights - Ami presents a new chapter of Indian fusion music that firmly speaks to a modern, hemisphere-harmonising synthesis of East and West, contemporary and traditional.
In Ami’s hands those ancient tales live on in the tactile, narrative expression of her music. The plangent plucks of sitar lyrically take centre stage, reeling off a range of rapturous, solemn and romantic yarns set against incredibly immersive synth backdrops that both mirror and counter the acoustic parts beautifully connoting the feeling on a mind bifurcating, spiralling and entwining in cosmic helixes. The effect is most striking in the likes of her ‘Bopoluchi’ blinder, where the sitar rings out from the eye of a steeply dark synth cyclone, or ’Stockholm Syndrome’, when her slow, air bent strings coalesce from sweeping gyroscopic synth dimensions, or when they rattle hard but harmonious like Sote’s take on traditional Persian instruments in ‘Sohni’, while ‘Love Liesse’ places her sound in the lushest romantic context, conjuring mental imagery of ancient gods, star signs, and such.
We Jazz chase their ace Carl Stone reworks and Designers LP with the smooth chamber jazz of Valtteri Laurell Pöyhönen starring notables of the rich Finnish jazz scene.
“Based on the writings of British-Caribbean author Jean Rhys (1890–1979), the 6-track album is a melancholy, intimate chamber jazz creation. Laurell's music swings, yet he doesn't stop there, but moves further to paint an original, richly-toned sonic image with the highly potent Nonet.
Laurell states Gerry Mulligan, Miles Davis's "Water Babies" and Charles Mingus among the key musical influences of his compositions on this album. Through Rhys's text, Laurell finds a special sense of detachment and melancholy evident in his new material. Laurell's music swings, yet he doesn't stop there, but moves further to paint an original, richly-toned sonic image with the highly potent Nonet. Antti Sarpila's masterful clarinet provides the icing on the cake, floating high above the clouds of sound.”
Restless, bare bones breakbeats and hurtling techno mutations by Polaar co-owner Flore
‘Legacy & Broken Pieces’ presents the french producer’s first new works since 2020’s ‘Rituals’ album in a volley of flinty drums and minimalist, gyring sound design that gives it a hardcore psychedelic sensuality.
The skeletal, Aquarian-like breaks of ‘Disruption’ triggers a concentrated rush of reclaimed hardcore tropes and incandescent energy, taking in the gnashing diva stabs and unyielding structure of ‘The Fiery Principle’, some high velocity jungle juke trance for Sherelle heads in ‘The Switcher’, and the more reserved, yet driving, percolated bass and atmospheric relief of ‘Primary Mineral’.
Irresistible electro Maloya from the island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, plucked out by Uganda’s amazing Nyege Nyege Tapes...
Les Experience electro Maloya is the first ever compilation of Jako Maron’s plugged-in updates of the traditional, politicised form of folk music from Réunion, a tiny island off the coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Like séga, Réunion’s other main musical style, Maloya’s origins can be traced back to African slaves and indentured Indian workers. But unlike séga, Maloya’s stripped down drum ’n bow rhythms and call-and-response vocals, which were originally used as ritual mediations as far back as the 17th C., have become a form of protest music favoured by the island’s creole population in the 1900’s, leading it to be banned during the ‘70s because of its associations with the Communist party.
In 2018, Jako Maron’s electro Maloya instrumentals are perhaps less explicitly politicised, yet they still carry the charge of eons of encrypted ritual thru their geometric designs and inexorable dancefloor traction. In 11 parts, Maron uses modular synthesis and drum machines to mutate and relay Maloya’s meaning for the island modern indigenous population as well as users far beyond the island.
The results are some of the canniest, most infectious recordings we’ve heard from Nyege Nyege Tapes or indeed this region of the world, all generally (but not exclusively) working with slow tempos and a range of humid, piquant, and hypnotic synthlines that lend the sound to strong comparison with everything from Equiknoxx’s mutant dancehall, thru the current Flex sound outta NYC, to the sorta crooked dembow fusions explored by Brian Piñeyro (DJ Python/DJ Wey) and that recent Drew McDowell X Hiro Kone EP, or even the acid modulations of his Belgian namesake, Ro Maron.
Wah Wah Wino's Davy Kehoe, Morgan Buckley and Olmo are joined by avant legend Roger Doyle, among others, on a delectably brilliant, 54 minute collage teased together over the past 3 years. Dont miss this!!!!
An ode to the putative pleasures of ketamine, ‘KWALK’ emulates the effect of everyone’s fave equine dissociative with a mazy disarray of folk rock, ambient electronics and balmy, bandy-legged grooves bent for getting ketty with it. Inside, song structures quiesce to smeared samples and fractal lines of thought perhaps familiar to anyone who’s done a bump or two.
Normal logic is out of the window and replaced by a naturally unpretentious, experimental slant that palpably reflects its subject and is a real pleasure to follow. In their slippery snakes ’n ladders chicanery and patchwork craft, ‘KWALK’ recalls everything from Davy Kehoe's endlessly-rinsed 'Storm Desmond' to the Lost Highway OST, The KLF’s Chill Out album to Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson & BJ NIlsen’s ‘Avantgardegasse’ ace thru to Don Cherry’s communal free jazz jams and Laura Cannell’s folk flights in our minds, and should be considered a go-to slab for those times when the sofa’s on the ceiling and everyone’s too munted to pick another tune.
We have a special place in our hearts for mixtapes/collage pieces pressed to vinyl - and this one is prob the best we've heard since John T. Gast's incredible 'Invocations II' set for Blowing Up The Workshop a few years back.
Premier Caprice from Library L'amour for Stroom.
"Stroom's 2023 valentine release in good times and in bad. In sickness and in health. These four songs were recorded over the course of a 3 and a half year relationship."
Honest Jon’s deadly survey of digi-dancehall from late ‘80s London, compiling vocal and dubs that the Unity Sounds label and sound system dropped to mad effect, recorded by a cast of talented amateurs on a Casio keyboard and four-track recorder...
Charting dancehall’s development from Windrush-era grooves and chat to the influence of Jammy’s Sleng Teng explosion a generation later, ’Watch How The People Dancing’ is effectively an update and sibling of sorts to HJ’s classic calypso comp ‘London Is The Place For Me’. Both sets are utterly vital for anyone fascinated by how Afro-Caribbean migrants irrevocably altered the course of British pop music, but this latter session is the one for dancehall modernists - digging deep into a style and pattern that formed foundations for everything from ragga to fast chat rap and, ultimately, breakbeat rave and its spectrum of jungle/D&B/grime/dubstep and much more in due course.
Back in the mid-early ’80s, the emergence of Jammy’s Sleng Teng rhythm - notoriously built from a Casio keyboard preset - would parallel Chicago’s house phenomenon for its widespread influence. Often mutually exclusive (but also brought together in productions by the likes of Bobby Konders), digi-dancehall and house drum patterns and production methods indelibly changed the way people moved in the dance, synced by midi to a pendulous motion that has underpinned much club music since the ‘80s.
Jammy’s Sleng Teng hit hard in London’s mid ‘80s Jamaican dances and became the go-to ballast for MC’s reflections on urban sufferation and defying babylon, and ‘Watch How The People Dancing’ is the sturdiest survey of those expressions. From the shan-diddly-woi singjay chat of Selah Collins’ ‘Pick A Sound’ to the ruddy trample of ‘Run Come Call me’ by Kenny Knots, it’s all-killer, no-filler, sequencing Mikey Murka’s ohrwurm ‘We Try’ and its version, along with Knots’ beam-inducing title tune or the natty step of ‘Lean Boot’ by Richie Davis, or drawing direct links to the early rave scene by inclusion of ‘Chuck It’ featuring Unity Sounds’ Demon Rockers, who famously started rave pioneers The Ragga Twins with Flinty Badman.
It’s a timeless and heavyweight collection that’s rarely been bettered, and sits very neatly as a bridge to Mo Wax and Chrome’s ‘Now Thing’ volumes of late ‘90s ragga instrumentals, or even Soul Jazz’s ‘Box of Dub’ sets.
Worldwide Connection compilation from Non Stop Rhythm.
"New and mainly unknown artists from all over the place gather on this stuffed double LP.
It's a firing set of clued-up dance tracks that pay homage to the underground greats while blasting hard with a much needed dose of fresh air. It's all been put together by the 'Non Stop Rhythm' mastermind, Tom Carruthers (who serves up two killers on the comp)."
Demdike and Hype Williams present sun-dazed, 180º revisions of the Shangaan Electro sound for Honest Jon's.
Landing in quick succession to those outlandish versions by Actress, both sets of artists here view the sound from detached, impressionistic perspectives, resulting in four richly psychedelic experiences. It's difficult to discern any original elements in Demdike's two versions; the first features layered percussions perhaps best suited for post-ritual hours, the party laid to waste and surveyed by a flock of cannibalistic gulls. On the dub, all that's left is a lingering trace of dislocated spirit voices and gulls hovering for the morsel of rhythm trapped, stuttering in the sampler.
Hype Williams' side is far removed still, flipping the beat to a skeletal jazz break while Inga lends a faded, chamber-pop vocal to 'My Love', and the hollowed-out, bass drowned dub...
As-Shams Archive Vol. 1 introduces the core catalogue of As-Shams/The Sun, the independent record label that documented some of the most exciting developments in jazz, funk and soul from South Africa in the 1970s.
"With 10 tracks from 10 iconic albums featuring 10 different artists and 10 original compositions, this compilation delivers 85 minutes of South African music history.
Including essential tracks by the likes of Dick Khoza, Black Disco and Harari, remastered from the original analog tapes, As-Shams Archive Vol. 1 is an unbeatable introduction to South African rare groove for new listeners as well as a long-awaited first anthology for the label’s many devoted followers."
An extended 12” ‘Club Mix’ of the 1980’s classic covered in true lovers rock style by the late Melody Beecher.
"Produced by husband Paul and remastered from the original two track session tape. Jura Soundsystem delivers a ‘Lovers Version’ combining snippets of vocal from the original with the Dub mix, going heavy on the reverb to create a more dubbed out excursion."
This is so good - Pekka Airaksinen, Ramleh, Konstruktivists, Jimi Tenor and more appear on a brilliant, perplexing compilation of unreleased exclusive demos plucked by Piitu Lintunen, an early industrial fiend and key member of Finnish underground, for Sähkö
Under a title as cryptic as the music, ‘7A19’ hurls myriad artists related to the industrial/post-industrial canon into a riveting sort of compilation-cum-reminiscence. Harvested from the archive of Piitu Lintunen, who was in correspondence with Merzbow and Genesis P-Orridge during the formative early ‘80s - and who would later issue an overlooked ambient collaboration with Andrew McKenzie (The Hafler Trio) in 1993 - the set works to a polysemous definition of industrial musick spanning Richard Youngs-esque free-folk thru ether-dream curio by Konstruktivists, to obscure Dutch blatz and a number of Finnish obscurities ranging from contemporaneous Pekka Airaksinen to proper head-scratchers from the fringes of industrial history.
While the notion of “industrial music” may have calcified into more prosaic conceptions in recent years, back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s it was a sprawling network of disparate, experimental artists with common ties in tape mail networks and DIY zines. ‘7A19’ compiler Piitu Lintunen ran punk zine Pöly with his brother back then, and the material here all stems from that period of sharing underground demos. Noisy nuts will be in their element here with what sounds like Ramleh’s ode to the charred remains of Lee “Scratch” Perry’s studio in ‘Black Ark’, Neljän Seinän’s bilgy murk, and no doubt the atonal clang and holler of ‘Tasaday’ by the unheard of Il Rito, but we’re most attracted to the set’s sweeter stuff.
The communal jam of ‘Now It’s Time Now’ by French freak folk DDAA remarkably pre-echoes Richard Youngs later works, and we’re transfixed by Corum’s mesh of grubby rhythm with FM synths in the mythological ambience of ‘Hecate’s Swaying Garden’, and the smartly placed ‘Magick Garden Rebirthed’ by CLAIR, plus the Afrotronic bleeps of Jimi Tenor, and proto-Skweee electro sleaze by Sperm’s Pekka Airaksinen.
The definitive introduction to cult doom-jazz outfit Bohren & Der Club of Gore now pressed to vinyl for the first time. All classic, endlessly imitated Badalamenti x The Necks x Thomas Köner blends of humid suburban dread and club-basement smoke - real all-timer business.
Tired of playing in German hardcore bands in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Bohren was formed in 1992 with an idea to harness Metal energy and render it in a low-lit and moody form, picking up the simmering suburban surrealism of David Lynch and his collaborator Angelo Badalamenti and crossing it with early Black Sabbath's half-speed doom blues. If Earth's big innovation was taking Sabbath's influence from Birmingham into the Wild West, Bohren piped that same wisp of thick, black smoke into rural Washington, infusing slow jazz with the kind of darkness that might not be visible to the naked eye, better felt in the back of your neck.
'Bohren for Beginners' is a perfect starter pack for the uninitiated. It's not a "best of" collection exactly, but a smartly assembled précis of the band's most important and stylistically coherent albums and EPs, assembled with flow in mind rather than chronology. 'Karin', a track from 2008's "Dolores" is followed by 2000's 'Prowler' - the former a molasses-slow dream sequence led by Christoph Clöser's evocative Rhodes and vibraphone hums, while the latter catches the band in full Roadhouse mode, with Thorsten Benning's skeletal drums gently underpinning Clöser's moody sax, Morten Gass's piano and Robin Rodenberg's loping bass.
Elsewhere tracks from early albums ‘Gore Motel’ and ‘Midnight Radio’ sit comfortably alongside 2002's ‘Black Earth’ (maybe our favourite Bohren) and 2005's underrated ‘Geisterfaust’. There's even a sick cover of German metal band Warlock's 'Catch My Heart' from their 2011 ‘Beileid’ EP that features Ipecac boss Mike Patton on vocals.
Smoke & neon, for the late night lovers.
Originally released on tape in 2019, 'Big Room' helped establish Philly's Ulla Straus as one of the key figures in the post-"bblisss" wave of nu-ambient practitioners. Interchangeably glacial, gaseous and liquid, it's a rare downtempo tome that never shies away from sensuality and raw, messy emotionality. Gorgeous material: essential listening for anyone into Jake Muir, Perila, Shuttle358, Oval, Pendant or Space Afrika.
'Big Room' is a technically advanced record that never dangles its prowess in your face. Ulla's sound sculpting is remarkable, but the key to 'Big Room' is not her processing skill, it's her open-hearted emotional honesty. And if contemporary ambient and experimental music has been pocked by the Instagrammable nostalgia drip and hacky tacked-on PR narratives, 'Big Room' succeeds because it offers us a clear, demarcated alternative. Ulla doesn't need to shoehorn in a grandstanding press release or video footage of an elaborate modular setup to get our attention, the music does all the heavy lifting, drawing us in with clouded bathhouse textures and soft-focus dub rhythms, chiseled digital hiccups and levitational synthesizer loops.
From the opening tones of 'Nana', with its sloshing pads and subtle glitches, to the dislocated wind chimes and blurry electronics of 'House', there's a resounding faded texture to Ulla's music that helps set a picture perfect mood. 'Big Room' is an album to lose yerself in - Ulla's able to dial in an aesthetic that goes beyond the surface level, piercing not just the production elements but the writing itself. Using relatively few elements, she's able to bridge the gaps between dub techno ('Net'), Mille Plateaux-esque processed glitch ('Past'), glowing Eno-influenced ambient ('Billow') and breathtaking arpeggio-led kosmische sounds ('Sister'), linking each track with her diaristic subtlety and careful choice of processes.
In a forest of withered ambient mediocrity, 'Big Room' is a lonely, pristine evergreen - we just can't recommend it enough.
The Glasgow label behind early gems from Wojciech Rusin, Golden Teacher and Yong Yong host the 2nd LP of frayed and free psych folk-rock by Wormhook, primed for Richard Youngs fans
After a few years downtime, Laurie and Oliver Pitt’s Akashic Records return with Wormhook’s distinctly original free folk salvo ‘Workaday Strangeness: Gyrating Death Throes From a Void Axiom’. While comparable with aspects of works by key Glasgow figure, Richard Youngs, in terms of its uncannily natural and spontaneously free-flowing qualities at least, Wormhook’s sound is entirely their own, shape-shifting from haunted music box sound poetry to rickety echoes of Pat Thomas or Jigen’s D&B experiments and onwards, unblinkered, between spindly folk blues and head-melting psychedelic songcraft.
The sort of record that could arguably only emerge from Glasgow, ‘Workaday Strangeness: Gyrating Death Throes From a Void Axiom' introduces us to a bold new talent. We’re particularly struck by the albums clutch of songs underlined by brittle rhythms, as with ‘Folk From The Vaults of a Death Cult D&B Version’, which sound like a Youngs hymn recorded on an ass-rattling intercity pacer train, or the way his organ elegy ’Newts’ precipitates a needlepoint sort of footwork pattern, and the lo-fi delirium of ‘Moth’ or ‘A High Definition Choke Straws Into Hands at Work’. But those bits stand out more for their contrast with his gonzoid songcraft in the drizzly scenes of ‘Disappear’, and utterly bewitching psychedelic whorl of ‘Every Living Thing’ and the curdled closing lament ‘Capital’.
Naturally, Tresor 303 is a killer album of 8 driving acid studies by Italian maestro Donato Dozzy
On ‘Filo Loves The Acid’ Dozzy presents his first solo album since ‘The Loud Silence’ [Further Records, 2015]. But, where that album and his collaborations with Anna Caragnano, Bee Mask and Neel have tended to his experimental side, this is the first time that Dozzy has focussed on dance music for a long player, finally exploring the functions of his numerable 12”s in a broader, durational format, and with predictably immersive results..
It’s all supremely strong and slick gear, opening out with the panoramic pads and plangent tweaks of ‘Filo’ - named after his best bud, whom the album is dedicated to - before getting crafty with the slipping kicks of his ‘Vetta’ pounder and the overpronating drive of ‘Duetto’, to go hard for a late ‘90s skullhead style on ‘Nine ‘o Three’.
With ‘Back’ he brings a flavour of early ‘90s psycho-tribalist stompers, while ‘Vetta Reprise’ ramps the energy level to breakneck, and ‘TB Square’ settles its arse down to a more hypnotic swing jack, before ‘Rep’ rips out with a proper, brain-drilling riff and martial tattoo of the type you’d expect to hear in Tresor, cloaked in smoke and blinded by the strobes.
More blunted electro-jazz fusion from immensely talented Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist Sam Gendel.
If you managed to finish munching on 2021's 52-song "Fresh Bread", this 34-track followup might be the perfect followup. You should probably know what to expect at this point - Gendel's hardly been quiet recently, dropping collaborations and side-projects at a rate that's hard to keep up with, but for our money this is the one you need. Like its predecessor, "SUPERSTORE" is a collection of short, sharp experiments, skits and beat tracks that highlight his versatility and sense of humor. The virtuosic nu-jazz skill we hear on his more developed records is still present here, but splintered into a library music format and juxtaposed with vintage electronics, tape-damaged loops and bizarre, cinematic themes.
LA beat scene and fans of Dilla's peerless discography should be first to take a closer look at this one, but it's surprisingly listenable - even if it is jerky and fragmented - basically at the intersection of Trunk, Prefuse 73 and Madlib.
Horn player, producer and songwriter CJ Camerieri returns with his collaborative CARM project. "CARM II".
"The album, coming out on 37d03d, was produced in Minneapolis by Ryan Olson and features Edie Brickell, Sid Sriram, Kristian Matsson, Justin Vernon, Gabriella Smith, Sean Carey and others. It is a genre-defying, heartfelt exploration of the possibilities in provocative music- making and provides a homespace for a profound variety of voices.
Where the first record used horns in place of other instruments, CARM II places them even more prominently in the musical texture. The experience of playing live shaped this approach. “Standing at the front of the stage was a new experience for me and I wanted to create a record of songs that justified my being there.” On CARM II, there is no mistaking that the lead “singer” of this band is Camerieri’s horn. CJ also wanted to feature bandmate Trever Hagen, who takes on both production and performance roles.
The featured artists on CARM II have opined on their various roles in this project. Brickell contacted Camerieri asking him to participate in her short-form songwriting project that she introduced on social media during the pandemic. Camerieri and Olson were in the middle of writing songs for the record, and one stood out as perfect for Brickell’s request. Sent as a work-in- progress, she quickly responded, writing the first verse and chorus to what would become “More and More.” They knew it needed to be fully realized. Says Brickell, “CJ’s trumpet melodies and phrases inspired ‘More and More.’ I just listened to him and followed his lead, trusted what came to mind and sang it. It all flowed from his music.”
“For ‘I Fall’ Ryan and I created the basic track and I really struggled to write on it. It wasn’t in song form, and I couldn’t find my way into making it a coherent thought.” CJ thought of Gabriella Smith, one of the leading composers of our day, and on a whim sent her the track. Smith sent fragments to experiment with and send back to her as she rode out the pandemic in the Norwegian countryside. After 3 months, she then sent him a fully realized score of horns/vocals. The result is a testament to the visionary composer’s incredible ingenuity. “That this music was in Smith’s imagination and then fully notated is mind boggling to me.”
“The Ones You Love” was the last song written for the record. CJ had been arranging and playing horns on Sid Sriram’s forthcoming debut, falling in love with Sriram’s voice and style. The song came from a jam session at with Andrew Broder on keys, Evan Slack on guitar, Chris Bierden on bass, and Hagen on drum machine. CJ and Sid trade epic lines back and forth, celebrating vulnerability and virtuosity in tandem.
Sote returns with a "harmonically maximalist" all-electronic album that burns traditional Persian elements into glassy electronic superstructures, joining the dots between avant-garde composition, vintage videogame music, DIY noise and soundtrack music. Seriously mind-expanding material >> RIYL Alessandro Cortini, Lorenzo Senni, Carl Stone, Pita, Mika Vainio.
For years, Ata "Sote" Ebtekar's music has been defined by its balance of harmony and dissonance, beauty and charred ugliness. On 2020's brilliant 'Moscels' he used a complicated modular synth setup to draw intricate sonic blueprints that linked Arca at her most melodramatic with Xenakis and Autechre, while its predecessor 'Parallel Persia' reimagined Iranian music to develop a "Meta-Persian" experience. As the title suggests, 'Majestic Noise Made in Beautiful Rotten Iran' is a more personal, self-reflective work that feels less conceptual than its predecessors and more emotional as a result. Ebtekar describes its writing process as a form of "self therapy" - it sounds angry and charged as he blazes through weighty compositions that mine his by-now easily identifiable sound palette, electrifying it with passion and vitriol.
'Forced Abscence' launches us into Ebtekar's brain cavity, matched in its ornate grandiosity with an ear-splitting core. Since his Warp days and 2002's stand-out 'Electric Deaf', Ebtekar has been known for his command of rhythm, and here his drums act as a death rattle: thick, distorted waves of neck-snapping snares and seismic kick drums, that accompany unusually tuned parallax synths, arranged into cascades of santur-like crystal. 'I'm trying but I can't reach you father' is even more bombastic, sounding trapped between arcade beat-em-up OST wind-up electronix and court brass fanfares. Ebtekar eases up on 'Life' - allowing the beats to subside he casually shifts the mood into contemplative, proggy harmony, without losing the guiding sonic signature. On 'Arcane Existence', he balances sickly FM synth spray with stargazing synth sounds and casual rhythms; there are moments that feel as if the track could burst into full-on EDM sleaze, but Ebtekar pulls back at just the right moment.
Many of the album's most memorable moments feel like blown-out, expropriated takes on mid-1980s sci-fi soundtracks, when previously all-analog composers shifted away from bulky expensive setups towards cheaper, space-saving digital sound modules. But Sote's use of these sounds doesn't glimpse into the past, instead the reimagining of a lost future - his vision is a parallel Iranian sci-fi universe that sounds as if it evolved separately from a singular point in history. It's unsettling music that bridges dimensions, states and histories; perhaps Ebtekar will begin to see some of the popularity that's been eluding him for far too long. At this point, he truly deserves it.
Augenwasser's third album, The Big Swim, via Bongo Joe records.
"Augenwasser ventures once again into the paths of synth wave exploration with a pop feel. Still laced with the folk textures of his early days, he nevertheless develops a dance approach that can at times be akin to melancholic drone.
His music takes you to an imaginary, dark club, lulled by a haunting rhythm, surrounded by the fumes of the night, where it is possible to indulge in that quiet voice that has already confessed that it is too late but will never stop repeating its soft, cold poetry."
Long-awaited set of faded minimal piano compositions from ambient-experimental vanguards William Basinski and Janek Schaefer. Dedicated to Harold Budd, it's pristine, delicate and perfectly paced - sure to appeal to anyone who loved Basinski's classic "Melancholia" or Brian Eno's "Thursday Afternoon".
It was back in 2014 when Basinski and Schaefer decided to embark on a long-distance project swapping files between their respective bases of Los Angeles and London. The collaboration makes a lot of sense: both composers have shown an ability to balance technology with emotionality to provoke a sense of cultural nostalgia, Basinski most strikingly with his use of tape and Schaefer with vinyl. "...on reflection" developed over eight years as a slow back-and-forth, a selection of soft-focus, piano-led compositions that sidestep the expected growl of Basinski's "Disintegration Loops" or the hoarse crackle of Schaefer's "In the Last Hour".
Instead, these pieces hover around the horizontal dawnscape first explored by Harold Budd on 1978's "Pavilion of Dreams", sounding meditative and minimal without being overly repetitive. Each track sounds like a different perspective of the same frozen vista - it's described as an exploration of our collective perception of time, which is suggested carefully by archival piano recordings from both artists' vaults, that fade and blot into field recordings that offer a sense of space and place.
The album is best listened to in a single sitting to fully absorb its hypnotic charm; like Brian Eno's "Thursday Afternoon", the music flows like liquid glistening in the sun - there's not so much a beginning, middle or end, as there is a reflecting pool of sound and emotion. It's music that's intended to help us make sense of time - something that's come into sharp focus in the unmoored last few years - and allows us the emotional space to think without being bogged down by the contemporary chintz of the neo-new age set. There are echoes of Basinski's own flawless, piano-led "Melancholia" set, but "...on reflection" is more mature, more peaceful and icier even than that essential disc.
A fitting tribute to Harold Budd.
Scowling industrial bad vibes from Frederikke Hoffmeier’s Puce Mary, mounting her debut LP with PAN after dishing out dozens of albums and oddjobs for Posh Isolation, Ascetic House, iDEAL under her own name and also as Amphetamine Logic, JH1.FS3, and Body Sculptures during the preceding decade
“Building from a reputation of arresting live performances and critically acclaimed releases Puce Mary breaks new ground with The Drought, evolving from the tropes of industrial and power electronics to forge a complex story of adapting to new realities. Remnants of noise still exist, sustaining the penetrative viscerality offered on previous records, however The Drought demonstrates an intention to expand on the vocabulary of confrontational music and into a grander narrative defined by technical and emotional growth.
Bringing together introspective examination with literary frameworks by writers such as Charles Baudelaire and Jean Genet, Puce Mary’s compositions manifest an ongoing power struggle within the self towards preservation. The traumatised body serves as a dry landscape of which obscured memories and escape mechanisms fold reality into fiction, making sense of desire, loss and control. The Drought presents both danger and opportunity; through rebuilding a creative practice centred on first person narrative and a deliberate collage of field recordings and sound sources Puce Mary injects an acute urgency across the album seeking resilience.
“To Possess Is To Be In Control” makes use of lyrical repetition as an ambiguity of two selves, or a divided self, attempting to consume one another, while “Red Desert,” named after Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1964 film, portrays the individual subsumed by surrounding environmental forces. The seven-minute epic “The Size of Our Desires” acts as the emotional tipping point of the record; amongst the ominous drone and dense feedback flutters almost-beatific melodies, while the lyrics reveal a romantic call to be swept up in the midst of an increasingly uninhabitable world.
Rather than escape, The Drought dramatises a metamorphosis in which vulnerability is confronted through regeneration. Noise and aggression no longer act as an affront to react against but part of a ‘corporeal architecture’ where space, harmony and lyricism surface from the harsh tropes of industrial music. The Drought chronologises the artist’s transformation through a psychological famine, new ways of coping akin to plant survival in a desert – to live without drying out.”
Manchester’s elite free jazz/rock miscreants David Birchall, Otto Willberg, Greta Buitkuté, and Alecs Pierce howl and flail with a highly disciplined sort of skronky madness on a reprisal of styles found on their Heavy Petting label - think Mr. Bungle and Laurie Tompkins meets Diamanda Galas at Vymethoxy Redspiders’ lair
“Historically Fucked is a four way entanglement made to create short, eruptive songs and then set about obliterating them from the inside, like improvising a barrel to encase themselves in and then proceeding to lick their way out of it. It is about playing and laughing at playing, and it is about not doing either of those things sometimes. Sometimes it is to do with talking, howling or grunting, and sometimes it is to do with hitting and rubbing.
Historically Fucked contains four people, who each share the same duties, and whose names in sequence are Otto Willberg, David Birchall, Greta Buitkuté and Alecs Pierce. They are from Manchester and often other places. Guitar, bass, drums and voices keenly jostle amid the group’s frenzy of spontaneous rock throttles. Some of these rampant exercises in avant are collected on ‘The Mule Peasants’ Revolt of 12,067’, the band’s new album, released by Upset The Rhythm on February 3rd. This is the group’s first release since 2018’s mantlepiece staple ‘Aliven Wool’ (Heavy Petting). This is Rock and/or Roll as fertilizer, uncivilised and free, as if one were to imagine what the Plastic Ono Band would’ve hit upon if they had read ‘Riddley Walker’, the sound of an entire timeline of expression put back together back-to-front, misshapen and irradiated.
‘The Mule Peasants’ Revolt of 12,067’ is not mere Sedentary Rock but Blasted Basalt, Frog worshipping cave-funk, harmolodic hullabaloo-wop, a musical game of “badger in the bag”. It is the sound of sacks crammed full of aggregate, a chimerical mind-meld, a seductive din that is to a hound dog in blue suede shoes what a raking of the dorsal fin with a fat marrow pinecone is to a pelican in the midst of being fired from the academy.”
Seth Horvitz's latest Rrose excursion splits his deftly-engineered dancefloor minimalism with angled gear aimed at scratching the brain's grimiest recesses.
Of all the artists who approach minimal techno from an experimental perspective, Horvitz is one of the remaining practitioners who allows his experience and education to inform innovation rather than aggy repetition. His work in psychoacoustics always lends his productions a hallucinogenic sparkle, and "Tulip Space" is no different. Even when she's working the main room, like on opening track 'A Row of Cylinders', there's a heaving throb that's been precision crafted to coax just the right kind of physicality from dancers.
On the rest of the EP, Horvitz's experimentation is given space to froth into a rolling boil. 'Squared' is an utterly mindbending mix of phasing, rattling pops and what might be a bassline - anxious doesn't do it justice, it's like an alternative soundtrack to Abel Ferrara's controversial "Driller Killer" for the post-Klock klubnacht set. The flipside's leadoff 'In Place of Matter' cools down the tempo to an almost funky crawl, but retains the disorienting percussive tweaks, and 'In Place of Mortar' freezes the sounds into icy crunches, removing any trace of a beat altogether. V good this one.
Having released everything from code-based compositions to bass-heavy techno in 2022, Infinite Machine releases black metal-tinged Ehkta by BOLT RUIN.
"A musician whose work has been described as 'apocalyptic' more than once, on this new mini-album, the Belgian producer blends field recordings, twisted samples and rave signifiers with an eerie tonality born out of his nocturnal production sessions and time spent absorbing the silence of his studio garden.
Bridging the gap from his previous record to this one, 'Sktone' is a cinematic opener that unfolds like a bad dream in slow motion. Warped samples of Bulgarian choirs glide over synths wired in closed-circuit loops which feed back on themselves, degrading for infinity. Texture and space is added via field recordings of waves crashing over the ruins of Brighton West Pier. This track exemplifies the unexpected influence BOLT RUIN took from the wildlife he witnessed in the garden of his urban studio when working on Ehkta. Adapting to the material at their disposal, weasels and blackbirds create nests from organic waste and human trash - an astute metaphor for the Belgian producer's compositional approach.
A musical magpie who finds inspiration in the most unlikely of sources, Ehkta is a restless exploration of salvage-punk aesthetics where doom-laden black metal melodies, amen breaks and an experimental approach to sound design sit in an irregular and uneven musical apocalypse. For fans of Blanck Mass or Caterina Barbieri - this is a must-listen material from a fresh producer establishing himself with a singular musical voice."
Classic 2001 loopy techno, reissued in a definitive expanded edition featuring all the tracks from the CD version plus cuts from the corresponding ‘Angels Gate’ 12”, including a Surgeon remix.
‘EXP’ is the sole album by Tokyo’s Tatsuya Kanamori in DJ Shufflemaster mode. Knocking them out since ’95, his catalogue parallels the developments of Birmingham’s Chicago and Detroit inspired sound, and was often deployed by Brummie head boys Regis and Surgeon, not to mention techno royalty like Jeff Mills, Luke Slater, DJ Rush, or Sven Väth, beside anyone with a baying techno crowd to slay in the ‘90s and beyond.
The dry thwack of Surgeon’s remix for ‘Experience’ aside, it’s Shufflemaster in full control. This new edition follows the CD track listing over 3LP with a subtly shuffled sequence spanning major highlights in the powerful one-two of banging offbeats and soaring string pads on ‘Fourthinter’ and ‘Imageforum’, the hydraulic roil of ‘Climb’ and ‘Angel Gate’, plus its dubbed out variant ‘Angel Exit’ or the spaced out ‘P.F.L.P’, thru to Millsian magic on ‘Innervisions’ and ‘Dawn Purple’.
Altrice, aka Arizona’s Mike Sadatmousavi's debut solo EP, "compciter".
"Back in 2010 Caribou's Dan Snaith hosted a remix competition for his track 'Sun' from his then-new album Swim. The winner was an unknown producer called altrice.
Hailing from Tucson, Arizona of Iranian/Mexican descent, altrice took the bright euphoric highs of the original and crumbled them into rumbling lows, the crystalline edges becoming rough and undefined. Along with a bursting goody-bag of prizes, Snaith also provided altrice with the stems for the rest of Swim and the offer to remix the whole album track-by-track, creating 'stem'. Aside from a further dream-come-true remix of Radiohead, this is largely the last we heard from altrice in the past 12 years.
A year and a half ago though, having kept up correspondence with Snaith over the years, altrice began sending new material. With encouragement from Snaith he eventually wound up with an EP which has since become essential DJ material for Snaith and the cohort of friends he's shared it with, as well as appearing in Leon Vynehall's Radio 1 Residency, KH (Four Tet)'s recent Essential Mix and more.
With three tracks already released from the EP receiving further DJ support from Avalon Emerson, Floating Points, Yu Su, Sofia Kourtesis, Mano Le Tough and more, today the EP is released in full officially via Snaith's own Jiaolong label. compciter is a collection of music that for the first time is entirely altrice's own sound, alluring and off-kilter, a wealth of sounds and styles that are tied together by an irresistible warmth.
Speaking of the EP, altrice says:
"This EP is the result of allowing my stylistic boundaries to be nudged in a new direction, putting away a self-inflicted notion that I’m only fluent in certain subgenres of electronic music. I made some production choices that, for better or worse, will make this project stand out. I’ve been overwhelmed by the reactions in clubs and at festivals, and individuals reaching out with kind words about the music. It’s surreal."
From the huddled and obscured yet comforting vocal samples - described by Pitchfork as "a beacon of light in an uncertain landscape" - of 'bda creature' to the swinging 90s eurodance drums of 'places faces' and the way the welcoming guitar melody and soulful vocals of 'eyes' gives way to a full on bass pummel, the tracks that have been released so far from the EP are already causing a stir both on and off the dancefloor. Today, the chopped up vocals and vast roomy sound of 'yoni' along with '1609km' - which would almost be straightforward house if it didn't pull the rug out to make way for delicate piano and harmonica flourishes - complete a set that fulfils a promise 12 years in the making.."
Liz Harris (Grouper) and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma join forces for a second time on an impossibly downcast new album of tape-dubbed, smudged and forlorn songs memorializing their friend and collaborator Paul Clipson, R.I.P.
The last time Harris, Cantu-Ledesma and Clipson performed together was in 2016, at Marfa Myths festival in Texas. They spent time in the studio the week of the festival, but shelved the material until Clipson tragically died in 2018. "Daughter captures a strange time spent in the desert, later added to, edited and finally made sense of after we lost the friend we’d been there with," Harris writes in the album's notes. It's a somber set, intended to be absorbed as a whole.
The two artists carefully splice human/environmental elements with resonant piano and stretched guitar drones, tape hiss with whispered, indistinct vocals and the distant whirr of an 8mm film projector. With its requiem qualities in focus, the constituent parts of Harris and Cantu-Ledesma's compositions take on an almost spiritual quality: on 'Revolving Door', piano notes hang like chiming church bells, footsteps tread the pebbles and grit; and when birdsong cuts in harshly on 'Daughter'. it sounds like a kind of ascent. 'Lullaby’ plays like a distant memory, a music box taped to dictaphone, melting past, present and future, guiding us to the stunning 20-minute closer, 'Passage', a frozen meditation for piano, grain clouds and weightless hum.
It's a fitting way to consider and appreciate Paul Clipson's life and his years of creative companionship with the duo; although it’s undeniably and resolutely sad, cracks of joyful radiance continue to permeate throughout, perhaps representing the light that Clipson brought to so many.
Electro-acoustic composer and instrument designer Matthias Puech uses math to spin filigree "audio-naturalist noise" yarns using processed environmental recordings, dissociated instrumental vamps and sculpted electronix.
There's no shortage of painterly field recording albums at the moment, but Puech at least approaches the landscape with a novel methodology. Inspired by chaos theory and the Hudson River school of painting, a 19th century American movement that used tempestuous conditions to enhance the grandiosity of the surroundings, Puech considered the idea of control over natural order. His sounds then take a similar route to paradise, flitting between dissonant abstraction and the sublime.
Plasticated oscillations underpin the album's first segment 'Mt. Hadamard National Park, Pt. 1', hiding in an undergrowth made up of kundled rainforest croaks, foliage footsteps and occasional horror movie string stabs. If Puech's goal is to heighten our anxiety he's scored, and he lets the rest of the extended piece develop into eardrum-scorching free noise, before it reaches an elegiac about turn on 'Mt. Hadamard National Park, Pt. 3' with pitchy FM plucks 'n chimes, and what sounds like some kind of large, ominous bird.
The most impressive composition is 'Imperceptible Life', a lengthy finale that provides a release of breath after the rest of the album's stifled apprehension. Puech's precise sound design chops are given the chance to sparkle here, as he layers animalistic croaks over guitar string scratches and majestic pads. Fans of Lawrence English or Christina Vantzou - don't sleep.
Midori Takada's "lost" 1999 solo album has been remixed by Takada herself and cut to vinyl for the very first time. If you've only come across "Through the Looking Glass", this one shines further light on her story, bolstering her usual percussion with a side-long team-up with Chinese erhu player Jiang Jian Hua.
When "Tree of Life" was released back in 1999, Midori Takada was a few years away from her YouTube algorithm-powered renaissance. The album was released on CD just for the Japanese market, and it's taken this long to reach the rest of the world. To make sure we get to hear it in its full detail, Takada herself has made a new audiophile mix, and remastered the album completely at half speed. We have to admit it sounds dazzlingly clean and clear - the first side is peak Takada, and shouldn't surprise anyone who discovered her via her bewilderingly popular debut "Through the Looking Glass". Playing marimba, drums, and bells, Takada constructs environmental structures that link disparate cultures via tonality and rhythm.
But it's the second side that has us completely giddy. Here Takada brings in virtuoso musician Jiang Jian Hua, a Chinese master of the erhu, the two-stringed bowed instrument that's commonly known as the Chinese violin. If you've spent any time watching Chinese historical movies or TV shows, it's a sound you'll be extremely familiar with. This material is incredibly unique, fusing Takada's percussive knowhow with Chinese traditional playing that bends to her open-minded approach. The blend of ideas and cultures is so simple and so complex simultaneously, always considered and always deeply moving. Sometimes the music hews closer to Chinese music, like on 'Modoki 1', and at others it drifts into Takada's marimba-heavy territory, with Hua following closely, mimicking Takada's staccato notes with quick, bowed flurries.
Hauntingly beautiful music - a true lost gem!
One of industrial techno’s most distinctive labels, Zhark gives Catharsis more room to run his ruffshod rhythms on debut album ‘Terrifying Shadows’ - RIYL Regis/CUB, Huren, Kareeem
Full of pent, atmospheric pressure and pendulous swagger, ‘Terrifying Shadows’ is definitive of the label’s more recent tack towards rugged, rather than boshing, gothic industrialism. In step with Regis’ bass-heavy, rolling mechanics, as opposed to the BPM arms-race of industrial techno’s trendier zones, the eight tracks are a deeply sexy follow-up to London-based producer’s initial pair of EPs in 2018 and 2020, guiding the club momentum below-the-belt in dead strong highlight such as the gyrating techno drill ‘The Tao of the Scarred’, and subaquatic panel-beater styles of ‘Awake Asleep’, or the whipsmart stepper ‘It’s So Easy to Corrupt a Soul’, and the dank warehouse brilliance of ’The tendon Harp’.
Take note, harder-than-thou crew; you’ll blow a gasket if you can’t learn how to dance in the cracks.
Transfixing, pan-Middle Eastern/Sub-continental folk fusion by players from Syria, Iran, and India beautifully splicing their respective styles and takes on classics by Hossein Alizadeh & Riad Al-Sunbati with a timeless spirit and contemporary concision .
“In a contemporary globalised world where music has lost its borders and is fighting a constant – yet particular – stream of Western commodification, the Mohamad Zatari Trio stands out as an original cultural artefact, aiming at transcending the boundaries between different music worlds. Founded in 2019 the ensemble had its first public appearance in 2020 at the Outernational Virtual Festival. Comprising the performers Sara Eslami (Iran) on tar, Avadhut Kasinadhuni (India / Romania) on tabla and Mohamad Zatari (Syria) on oud.
Their debut ISTEHLAL plunges into its own aesthetics, politics and sound intricacies and represents the combined efforts of three musicians hailing from different, yet deeply rooted cultures. Over the course of eleven songs, the album transcends stylistic, ideologic and geographic boundaries and reflects on the human condition in an interconnected and interrelated technological world. The repertoire includes not only original compositions in different stylistics but also rearranged traditional pieces by influential composers Riad Al Sunbati (Egypt) and Hossein Alizadeh (Iran).
The Mohamad Zatari Trio introduces itself as a strong new voice within a new generation of young musicians that carry the musical heritage of great masters like Ravi Shankar, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan or Zakir Hussain with a fresh and contemporary approach. Mohamad Zatari is a composer and oud player from Aleppo, Syria, currently based in Bucharest, Romania. His artistic effort is devoted to deconstructing stereotypes and blending various musical genres. He has been taught traditional and regional music by Tarek Al-Sayed, and has a Bachelor in classical composition at the National University of Music Bucharest (2021). His compositions were used for short films as well as educational courses. He performed in various ensembles and groups, in countries such as Syria, Romania, Hungary, Germany, Italy and Austria.
Sara Eslami is an Iranian composer, tar and setar instrumentalist and improviser. She has a bachelor’s in musical Performing at the Tehran University of Arts (2011). Romanian/Indian Avadhut Kasinadhuni has a Master in Musical Performing / Violin at the National University of Music Bucharest (2022) and started studying tabla intermittently in India with Prof. Kamal Kant (2008) and Prof. Durjay Bhaumik (2017).”
First re-press in a decade for The Caretaker’s 2009 masterpiece, one of the earliest and most iconic releases on his label History Always Favours the Winners, and a true classic of the early 21st century. Spine shivers, all the way.
‘Persistent Repetition Of Phrases’ was the follow-up to Leyland Kirby’s 7CD boxset ‘Theoretically Pure Anterograde Amnesia’ (2006), and a landmark on the path that ultimately led to the influential ‘An empty bliss beyond this world’ and ‘Everywhere at the End of Time’ albums. Beloved of departed cultural theorist Mark Fisher, The Caretaker’s alchemic transformations of 78RPM shellacs have, over time, come to hold a unique place in underground and popular imaginations simultaneously. It’s the sort of music that elicits strong feelings from gen Z as much as Janus-faced xennials, jaded gen X-ers and perhaps even your gran, in a way practically incomparable to any other records of this strange century so far.
It’s an album that transcends notions of ambient or even concrète, sharing a palpable uncanniness, on the cusp of soothing, melancholy and something deeply ineffable. We’ll leave it to keener listeners to draw their own conclusions, but suffice to say that it’s an essential listening experience for anyone who prizes the capacity of music to transport across time and space, or more acutely impact your sense of self.
Pour one out and drink in deeply.
Beloved Brooklyn slowcore band Rex's 1996 sophomore album "C" finally gets the deluxe treatment it deserves with a full analog remaster that breathes new life into its inspired combo of alt-country and post-hardcore. If you're sat at the intersection of Galaxie 500, Low and Codeine, this one's a peach.
Codeine drummer Doug Scharin was the initial driving force behind Rex, assembling the band in 1994 alongside guitarist and singer Curtis Harvey and Red Red Meat bassist Phil Spirito, with Kirsten McCord handling cello. After their well-received debut album dropped on Southern in 1995, they released a mini-album (1996's country fried "Waltz") and then "C", the band's most acclaimed full-length - a manicured prog-country epic that folds many of the era's fringe movements into a coherent, widescreen blare. Listening now it's easy to hear not only where the music came from (think Slint, or Red House Painters) but the music it directly inspired, like Karate, The Sea and Cake, or even Scotland's own Arab Strap.
The new remaster was made from the original tapes, so "C" sounds punchier than it ever has. Lengthy jams like 'New Son', a 10-minute harmonic puzzle of awkward rhythms, distorted vocals and surprisingly dry riffs are thick and dynamic, while the symphonic title track is the perfect mix of soft power (that bass!) and brooding post-grunge attitude.
Cult Japanese cyberpunk soundtrack styles by Takashi Miike collaborator, Chu Ishikawa, for a 1995 experimental action flick directed by Shin’ya Tsukamoto. First time on vinyl, a must-check for fans of Tsukamoto’s other classic ’Tetsuo: The Iron Man’, early Faith No More, NIN, O.L.D.
“WRWTFWW Records is deeply honored to announce the release of Chu Ishikawa & Der Eisenrost’s soundtrack for experimental action drama Tokyo Fist, released in 1995 and directed by legendary director/producer/writer Shin’ya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo: The Iron Man and its sequels, Bullet Ballet, Hiroki The Goblin, Nightmare Detective). Previously only published on CD in Japan, the cult movie soundtrack is available on vinyl for the first time ever and housed in a heavy 350gsm sleeve.
The Tokyo Fist soundtrack gorgeously blends explosive industrial music, heavy percussion, martial rhythms and noise experimentations with contemplative ambient and emotion-filled synth soundscapes, perfectly encapsulating the nihilistic pain felt by the characters of the movie and the brutally visceral rebirth they go through. Ishikawa and Der Eisenrost’s compositions hit hard, sometimes truly terrorizing, sometimes heart-gripping in gloomy and bewitching ways. This is no holds barred music, a venture into the darkest yet most strangely beautiful corners of the human mind (and heart).
The late great Chu Ishikawa was one of the innovators of the industrial and experimental scene in Japan and has collaborated with Shin’ya Tsukamoto on numerous movies. He also worked extensively with Takashi Miike, another visionary filmmaker from his home country. Ishikawa was the leader of groundbreaking Industrial-Metal-Percussion unit Der Eisenrost whose live performances around Japan left an indelible mark on the genre’s history.
This new project by WRWTFWW Records follows previous Japanese soundtracks from the catalogue: Ghost in the Shell, Patlabor 2, Evil Dead Trap…and more to come.”
Kode9 returns after a seven year absence with a stunning and expectedly ambitious set of future-facing asymmetric club music and cyberpunk soundscapes. The soundtrack album to forthcoming sonic fiction 'Astro-Darien"', 'Escapology' rebuilds lenticular global club engines into chromium-sprayed hydraulic endoskeletons that dare to creep past the end of human civilization. So fucking next level.
Since 2006's 'Memories of the Future', Steve Goodman has used his albums to help plot out a course thru the continuum's suffocating sonic fog. Few others have the same perspective; as the boss of Hyperdub, he's had a level of access to new music that gives him musical second sight, and as a producer and DJ he's had his ear to the ground since the 1990s, absorbing musical futures from jungle, dub, 2-step and beyond. His albums are rare, but he's always managed to retain a unique - often unsettlingly minimal - signature and distill his wealth of ideas into a coherent, timeless narrative.
'Escapology' is billed as the soundtrack to 'Astro-Darien', a sonic fiction that will be released on Hyperdub sub-label Flatlines in October. And while we don't have access to the text just yet, 'Escapology' establishes itself in an 8k future, introducing itself with disembodied text-to-speech voices into chattering, nitrous ether. When a rhythm finally pokes thru the gas, it's jerky and unpredictable, sweeping up elements from footwork, gqom, minimal techno and UK funky without mimicking any modality specifically. Awkwardly clean rimshots rub against brittle electronics and tight subs, with distorted HD interference disrupting the atmosphere like ketamized timestretches, while looped pads hand out just enough melancholy to provoke a memory response.
Voices cut thru the static on 'Orbex', listlessly assuring us of the UK's plans to launch a "space force" in Scotland - hinting at the lost futures Gen X fantasized about in the 1970s. It calmly leads into 'Angle of Re-entry', an interference-damaged footwork-cum-drill jerker that welds hazed videogame spacemall synths to winding subs and stuttered snares. But it's the album's wealth of beatless compositions that provides "Escapology" with its unique mood; Kode9 is a master of worldbuilding; tracks like 'In the Shadow of Ben Hope' and 'Sim-Darien' dissolve rocket sounds and snatched vocals into knuckle-crack'd DSP sculptures and control center bleep symphonies - they drop us into a widescreen, spatialized landscape that paints its narrative in broad strokes, picking the bones of "Blade Runner", "Strange Days", "Ghost in the Shell" and "Annihilation" and submerging those established memes in the future-facing rhythmic tics of Durban, Kampala, Katlehong, and London.
Just hyperjump to 'Cross the Gap', a brief but tantalizing downtempo South Africa-rooted roller that locks together square bass clonks, dreamworld digital synth arpeggios and swiveling hi-freq percussion, or 'Lagrange Point', that repurposes the same unmistakable bass, adding precision-chopped breaks to assemble an alternate reality where jungle butts heads with amapiano. It's this ability to use his music to hypothesize that really sets Kode out on his own - he rarely attempts to mimic one particular sound or another, rather he uses our expectations or familiarity with the dancefloor's raw materials to help us navigate through his theories. "Escapology" is another stargazing chapter in Kode's ongoing musical autobiography, and to our minds its his most detailed, most technically developed and most rewarding to date - we've got a feeling it's gonna grow and grow with each listen.
A quietly mesmerising work of filigree ambient-folk-pop, the debut album by Slovak-Hunagrian musician Adela Mede is a compelling addition to the energies convened by Glasgow’s Night School, recommended to anyone intrigued by the intersection of early music and contemporary exploration, or into the atmospheric blur of Cucina Povera, Antonina Nowacka, Lucy Dunscombe and Dialect.
Sung in three tongues and set to a backdrop of field recordings laced with phosphorescent details, ‘Szabadság’ was self-released on tape last year and has now been remastered for vinyl by Rupert Clervaux to best represent Adela’s meditations on personal, familial, cultural-folkloric and deep topographic inspirations. Sprouting in the cracks between diaristic DIY collage and early vocal music, it depicts Adela as the central presence with co-production by Andrew PM Hunt (Dialect), and Mark Leckey collaborator Lung Dart infusing a gently nervous electronic mode to the music’s crackling fissures and play of light, while Daša Bulíkova’s harmonious vocals and cello by Hoda Jahanpour compound the music’s captivating qualities.
In certain respects recalling Cucina Povera’s plaintive hymns as much as the poetic quality of Lucy Dunscombe’s visits to the uncanny valley, Mede’s music nevertheless exists in its own dreamlike space governed by weightless physics and atmospheric sensualities. No mistake, there are songs within, but their tentative nature and sometimes unresolved, metaphoric and metamorphic qualities lend to a sand-shifting experience refracting between electro and acoustic dimensions, between songcraft and heady interludes.
We hear all this unravel and diffuse on scene-setter ‘Háromszorra Jövök Össze’, before ’Spolu’ works a fine line of crooked rhythms reminding us of Mira Calix, and ‘Gyöngyvirág’ gets beautifully lost to micro-dosed pastoral whims. ’Sloboda’ features Adela’s voice subtly stressed until it fractures like ceramic, and the final couplet of stark then stately vocal harmonies and hyperreal electronic processing leave us dazed, and enchanted.
One of Brian Eno’s favourite albums - a cornerstone of Arabic music, including heavy groover ‘Hebina Hebina’ - reissued internationally for the first time since 1974.
Known as the King of Oud, El Atrache is one of the giants of Egyptian music with Oum Kalthoum, Abdel Halim Hafez and Warda. ‘Nagham Fi Hayat’ is El Atrache’s soundtrack to a film of the same name, in which he starred alongside Mervat Amin, and now appears preserved for posterity in a new remaster, giving the recording’s grand string orchestration, super crisp hand percussion and intoxicating vocals the luxury treatment it deserves, perfectly spotlighting its standout moments in the lively dance ‘Hebina Hebina’, or El Atrache’s virtuoso performance on ‘Takassim Oud’, replete with febrile crowd appreciation.
Frankly we’re seduced from the front with the sultry sway of plugged-in organ, keys and symphonic string slashes on ‘Alachan Malich Gheirak’, and it’s practically irresistible for the instant lifestyle upgrade of ‘Hebina Hebina’, sweeping from fiery percussion and sultry vox to an amazing, panoramic breakdown, and back into the fire, while ‘Ya Habayibi Ya Gheibin’ dials up the dramatic romance and El Atrache’s curtain closing performance is almost worth the cost of entry alone - we’re right there with the crowd, urging him on.
In which Italian techno maverick Donato Dozzy reworks material from US synth sorcerer Chris 'Bee Mask' Madak, generating seven serenely ambient, meticulously detailed themes that hark back to a more innocent, wide-eyed era of armchair exploration.
The two artists met at Japan's Labyrinth festival, and having been commissioned to do a single remix for Madak, Dozzy found himself so stimulated by what he had to work with that he came back with an hour's worth of material. Spectrum Spools decided the only reasonable course of action was to release it all as a double-album, displaying Dozzy's mastery of narrative.
'Vaporware 1' and 'Vaporware 07' deploy intricately arranged bell-tones, humid field recordings and magnificently forlorn string-pads calling to mind the mid-90s Apollo missions of John Beltran, Locust or Thomas Fehlmann. 'Vaporware 02' retains more of the DNA that runs through the Bee Mask bloodstream but the atmosphere is still one of rarified despondency; while the album's second half goes further into rhythmic kosmische, building up to the climactic arpeggios of 'Vaporware 07', a sincere articulation of IDM reminiscent of OG Black Dog or Kirk DeGiorgio in full space-flight.