Dean Blunt x Arca x Mica Levi x made-up Idris Elba quotes x Hyperdub: it’s a lot...
Fronted by that image and opening with the most unsettling, unrelenting mantra “this makes me proud to be british”, set to harp, leisure centre noise and bleeping mobiles; Dean Blunt’s got us by the gullet with his debut LP as Babyfather.
Essentially BBF - Hosted by DJ Escrow is a definitive UK hip hop album of the decade so far; a shadow-play of paranoid & surreal atmospheres, ambiguous juxtapositions, upfront infidelity and playful/dreadful intentions that perhaps best reflect street-view observations of the knackered, profane, pagan and pointedly archaic in contrast to supposedly progressive national values and the schizoid political and artistic double-speak of the “elite”.
We haven’t a clue who DJ Escrow is - quite possibly Blunt’s Quasimoto-style sped-up alter-ego, maybe his boy from home - but he’s crucial to the album; like some pop-up avatar or liminal interpreter reporting back from the zones, culminating in a passionate monologue calling for unity that’s actually undermined by the fact his voice is accelerated to cartoonish levels - perhaps as many view the situation anyway.
Peel back that shiny nike lacquer of FX tho, and you’re faced with a deepening identity crisis dealt with in the best blend of irreverence and well-meaning intent that’s really messing our heads right now.
To be honest we’re no wiser at this point than we were before hearing the album, but we definitely felt something strange in there that’s going to linger.
Burial’s sophomore LP, originally issued in 2007 only a year after his pivotal debut, is another masterpiece of urban UK composition and innovative imagineering whose sense of melancholic space, pop-wise dexterity and dancefloor yearn has rarely been explored or surpassed since its release.
Where its predecessor was starkly paranoid, mostly instrumental, Untrue was gilded with gorgeous, cut-up R&B and UKG vox, and interspersed with segments of nocturnal reverie that played out like the OST for a yung UK romance that replaced posh, gurning actors with real life road characters and focussed on the spaces between - between the club and home; between night and day; masculine and feminine; waking life and dream life; Maccy D’s and alley doorways; being high AF and coming down.
It was and still is Burial’s love note to UKG and R&G, and by turns gave context and validated those genres for a lot of listeners who arguably wouldn’t have touched that sound, or at least dismissed it as pop pap or with some snide, racist undertone before Burial’s revivalist instincts hybridised it with trip hop and snarling D&B memes.
More positively, however, depending on which way you look at it, this album also opened the endorphin floodgates for a whole raft of f****e garage producers to get in touch with their feminine side, especially in contrast to prevailing, laddish dubstep rave trends, and, since that sound has faded away, it’s not hard to hear this album’s influence in the vocal processing of Mssingno, in the uneven, off-kilter swing and parry of Zomby, the patch-worked constructions of Jamie xx or Evian Christ, or in Deadboy and Murlo’s more boundary-pushing creations.
As with any album that gets a lot of attention beyond its putative scene, Untrue was an unintended red rag to the cynics and rockists - and even garage purists - but for almost anyone who recognises and appreciates that more modest, aching sort of electronic, UK street rave soul, it remains a really transcendent album that still grips like few others.
Burial’s eponymous debut LP is a defining beacon of post-millenium dance and electronic music. Written between 2001-2006, the follow-up to his debut 12” South London Boroughs, further consolidated what were previously mutually exclusive strains of music with unprecedented guile, vision and emotive impact, done to mind-blowing and award-winning effect.
In 2016 it’s easy for folk to forget that prior to this album, aside from a select handful of producers such as Horsepower Productions, El-B or Kode 9, effectively nobody was writing tracks circa 138bpm and using this kind of palette of samples, textures and spaces to the same ends as Will Bevan, a.k.a. Burial. And still, even fewer of them were writing without the dancefloor or radio squarely in mind.
Enter Burial, whose impressionistic, unquantized soundscapes reset the neuroses of Teebee and Bad Company’s neo-D&B with a romance and swing better associated with Steve Gurley and El-B, whilst also listening to and channelling the atmosphere of his environment in a way better likened to the spaces explored by Basic Channel and Rhythm & Sound, but animated like a Massive Attack album produced and collaged by Chris Watson; albeit a Watson raised in suburban British sprawl and smoky bedrooms playing tense computer games and watching classic anime and thrillers on VHS, or whatever obscure foreign flicks Channel 4 had on late at night.
Honestly, nowadays that period seems eons away - especially in light of streaming services where you can find thee most obscure art at the touch of keyboard - but back on original release, this record nailed an atmosphere, even a lifestyle, that was lived by many souls on the peripheries who couldn’t be arsed with the menu offered by provincial high street clubs or cable TV, or a culture artificially inflated by major labels and the media.
It almost feels daft and futile trying to explain this to anyone under the age of 30 - or those cold hearted cynics who roll their eyes at the mere mention of his name - but, quite honestly Burial’s music nailed the vibe so heavily that it felt like déjà vu, uncannily weaving together the disparate strands of culture that meant so much to the artist, and by turns, us the listeners.
There are still tonnes of naysayers, but fuck ‘em - Burial’s music is hugely danceable and mixable by the right DJs, but there’s no denying that it probably sounds best in bedrooms or headphones where you can give it your full attention, or vice versa.
Despite the temporal dislocation, the 2007 smoking ban, and the sign-posted, rictus rigidity of too much modern dance music, we’d still love to think there’s a whole new generation out there who will get and love this record as hard as we did, and do.
JMS Khosah finally makes his vinyl debut after releasing a trio of killer split tapes with Brassfoot on his NCA label. For anyone frustrated that they couldn’t play his distinctly rugged sound on wax; now’s your time, pet!
The Tokyo-based, UK-hailing producer proves a perfect candidate for Apron with Still Human: whether riding out for the warehouse with the reverberating Chicago kicks, wiggly bassline and drip-off harmonics of Actuality; the beatdown grind of In And Out; or the biting-point drum crack of Doubt - each cut packs immeasurable bags of swagger aching to go in the mix with records by Funkineven, Lord Tusk or Greg Beato, or the ruff house slab of your choice.
Numbers grip one of their biggest heroes, Roman techno lord Marco Passarani, for a tasty session of Italo-disco and electro-house aces in Analog Fingerprints Vol.1.
Last spotted on a handful of mid-tempos jackers for Running Back circa 2012, he dials up the energy and swerve to Glaswegian levels of funk for this outing, strutting in with the expert Italo peacockery of Wonky Wonky Wonky for smiles all round, before guiding your swing to the scissoring hi-hats and killller bassline blow out of Quarto, and then locking it off like some Members Only or Medusas edit styles in his original Tribalonios.
Kicking off a series of LPs marking the 25th anniversary of Vicki Bennett’s plunderphonic alias, People Like Us, London’s Discrepant present Abridged Too Far - a compilation of her releases and live performances for John Peel, WMFU and Klang Galerie a.o. - pressed on vinyl for the first time.
The original compilation was released exclusively on Kenneth Goldsmith’s brilliant UbuWeb facility back in 2003-04 (go check it if you haven’t already!). The project’s relevance or use to anyone under the age of 35 beyond chill-out music for electro-swing raves is debatable nowadays, but for folk who still buy into that olde English sense of humour and can stomach the detritus of boomer culture, it’s good for a chuckle. Like a Barbara Windsor gif.
“"We strongly believe in the power of profit through free distribution. Often people have never heard of an artist because they aren't being distributed through as many channels as they should be, due to the very poor state of music/media distribution for non-major label music coupled with ignorance of the way that avant garde art forms infiltrate mainstream culture. Also many prints of a work are allowed to go out of circulation or are deleted for no reason other than cost effectiveness by a label/publisher. This makes perfect sense financially, but no sense whatsoever that a year's work by an artist should also disappear for such reasons. So get all of this while you can, and we completely endorse getting one's work out there, no matter what. If you don't share, your profit is limited." - People Like Us, 2004”
People Like Us is audiovisual collage artist Vicki Bennett, who has been making work available via CD, DVD and vinyl releases, radio broadcasts, performances, gallery exhibits and online streaming for 25 years. Since 1992, she has developed an immediately recognisable aesthetic repurposing pre-existing footage to craft audio and video collages with an equally dark and witty take on popular culture. She sees sampling and appropriation as folk art sourced from the palette of contemporary media and technology, with all of the sharing and cross-referencing incumbent to a populist form. Embedded in her work is the premise that all is interconnected and that claiming ownership of an “original” or isolated concept is both preposterous and redundant.”
Reissue housed in die-cut jacket designed by Peter Saville with infamous glass paper (or sandpaper) inner, and 7” ‘testcard’ featuring two tracks by Martin Hannett
The Durutti Column’s sublime debut album is back in circulation on vinyl for the first time in four years, presenting a definitive edition replete with the extra tracks featuring drum programming from Eric Random and a bonus 7” of two cuts from seminal producer Martin Hannett, who produced this album and many more for the legendary Factory label.
Not sure what we can add to the gushing rivers of praise for this record already out there?! Save possibly to say that in the 37 years since conception, Vini Reilly’s best loved album, The Return of The Durutti Column has clearly lost none of its evergreen charm and rarified Didsbury air. That’s possibly down to its timeless, fluid ‘simplicity’ and minimalism, or because of Martin Hannett’s future-proofing mixing desk trickery. But, either way it still floods your listening space with light and languorous, lushly introspective feelings that reams of artists have chased ever since.
Highly recommended? Essential!
Burial chops out three tracks of arguably his most addictive material since 'Untrue'.
It's always interesting to see the discourse fall-out after each new Burial release, with the naysayers levelling the same old accusations of evolutionary torpor, and the lovers; well, they're just gushing love.
We can clearly see both sides of the argument, but ultimately, we still can't deny the feeling when it hits, and that overrides everything. And within bars of 'Kindred' we're crippled by it: those angelic pads, the drizzly atmosphere, that inmitable, acute, darkside rush. You just don't get it anywhere else, and as long as it's this good, we'll be cranking in the rain 'til it wears off. Blah blah blah. Long live Burial!
Following suit from last Christmas' 'Truant', Hyperdub present three new pieces from the shadowy producer.
It's a fine salve for seasonal woes, ripping loose with running man-style rave breaks and darkcore motifs across the dystopian sonic fiction of A-side, 'Rival Dealer', whilst the flipside reveals a whole new dimension to his sound with the soaring harmonies, twinkling chime-trees and '80s power drums of 'Hiders' and the tortuous, cinematically edited narration of 'Come Down To Us'.
The heads will have a feast picking this one apart - what's up with all the references to sexuality or his newfound penchant for FM synth sounds? - and we can practically hear the synch departments licking their lips in anticipation already… but ultimately the sincerity and delivery still brings a salty bead to the duct. You know what to do.
Previously unissued side of fractured collage by the original Fluxus composer, recorded 1970.
“Opus 67 STRATEGYGETARTS A Symphony, Hommage á Richard Demarco is a previously unissued recording by Henning Christiansen from 1971.
In 1970 the Richard Demarco Gallery in collaboration with the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf organised the exhibition, Strategy: Get Arts. This celebration of art from Düsseldorf was held at the Edinburgh College of Art during the Edinburgh International Festival. The title of the exhibition was a palindrome created by André Thomkins and featured works by Joseph Beuys, Claus Böhmler, George Brecht, Henning Christiansen,, Robert Filliou, Dorothy Iannone, Mauricio Kagel, Dieter Roth amongst others.
Opus 67 STRATEGYGETARTS A Symphony, Hommage á Richard Demarco was sent to Demarco as a gift following the exhibition. Having returned to Denmark Christiansen, along with sound technician Peter Sakse, created Strategygetarts, a sound collage incorporating field recordings from urban spaces, supermarkets, a boxing game, etc.
The sole ‘musical’ element is a piano motif which repeatedly punctuates the recordings. The first side moves forwards, the flip back. A reverse groove will set you straight.”
Riveting 2nd LP from French instrument inventor and composer Jacques Brodier for Penultimate Press (who released those amazing Áine O’Dwyer LPs); pursuing the mercurial themes of Filtre De Realité  farther into the ether, using his instrument to filter the reality of shortwave radio scree, together with harmonic strings, sensors, sheet metal and rotating glass spheres of sand.
As you may be able to taste from that itinerary of instrumentation, the sound of Xhos De Villemahu is highly synaesethetic; metallic, and generally coarse in nature, and given to move, buckle and warp with a quality that’s best reflected in the complexity of the artist’s own, absorbing sleeve art - coruscating and roiling, impenetrable and dreamlike.
The rug is persistently pulled from under the listeners feet, leaving us spinning in deep space without handrails or anything so much as a signpost, just a unmetered flow of contoured tones and rubbed harmonics that smudge and dissipate as easily as they appear, occasionally throwing up legible snippets of dialogue from the radio, but tending to suppress them back into the molten, effervescent mass whence they came.
We’re kinda grasping in the dark for comparisons, but it feels something like Decimus and Christina Kubisch collaborated on an electro-magnetic device synched to the stars and strange local radio. A sound that raises more question than it will ever answer but will surely unite everyone in agreement; it’s a proper trip.
Taiwan-Based French sound artist Yannick Dauby renders another quietly arresting impression of the Far East Asian island for Discrepant following his first volume in 2015.
Using interviews with schoolchriden taken from the soundtrack to his and Wan-Shuen Tsai’s film, Childhood of an Archipelago, together with field recordings, found objects and subtle electronic processing, Dauby gives a personal, if abstract perspective of the Penghu archipelago’s characteristics that reveal its natural beauty in a way that really only comes from intimate contact and a keen ear.
Deepest strains of sino-step and mutant house from Tempa's most prolific recent contributor.
The (wu)tang of the strings and Gung-Fu film samples in 'Blind Man' remind us of Felicita's 'Bring It' with xtra subs, while the fragrant vocal and minimalist shuffle of 'To The Sky' hums a bit, and 'Nomine's Robot' tests out a sub-swung steppers' house sound.
The Hessle Audio captain charges up two sloshing, bucking and rolling house freaks on his eponymous label after a wicked recent excursion as DJ Harlow.
It’s possible to detect common Chicago/Detroit links between his DJ Harlow 12” and these cuts, but where Harlow treats that template with a mix of classic reverence and grimy hybrids, here he melts tracky jackers patterns with wildly over-stepping FX and cascading bleeps to dizzying effect with XLB whereas Tsunan Sun veers off into tribalist breaks and rolling subs with a mix of early UK and Detroit-style techno methods to spaced-out and dreamy effect.
Footwork's most prominent standard-bearer's heavy debut album for Hyperdub. R.I.P. Rashad...
Perhaps better described as a collaborative effort - all bar two tracks feature Spinn, Addison Groove, Taso, Manny, or Earl - 'Double Cup' is the freshest missive from the rapidly ascendent and influential Chicago scene.
Over 14 fibrillating tessellations of classic funk, soul, house and jungle Rashad stakes his ground with assured swagger. When he really cuts wild the effect is remarkable: previous single, 'I Don't Give A F**k', with its minimalist bleep coda and strobing bass pulses is a big winner, as are the juicy, acid-bootied 'Double Cup' with Spinn, and the 45rpm flip of Larry Heard's 'Donnie', here as 'Reggie', or the lush-out '94 jungle styles of 'I'm Too Hi'. Tipped!
Julio Bashmore’s bringing UKFunky back with T. Williams.
Student boogie is out of the window and in comes ruggedly technofied Angolan-Portuguese inspirations on Kuduro Test, backed with the ruder, string and brass heavy roller Porta Time, plus the percolated tang of 1302 on a Sleeparchive-meets-Roska tip.
UKF is well due another revive this summer (think we missed it in 2016).
TJ Hertz’s first original release since 2014’s Flatland LP comes in the form of Objekt #4, a continuation of his club-focused white label series and a tribute to the sadly now defunct Basement Q, a formative and beloved haunt in Berlin’s Schöneberg district which quietly but profoundly shaped the musical identities of Hertz and several of his contemporaries until its final closure in 2012.
At last, a chance to hear the debut album of motorik jags from Stereolab’s Tim Gane and Joe Dilworth, together with Holger Zapf as the Cavern of Anti-Matter power trio - originally issued on Berlin’s Grautag Records, now reissued on Duophonic.
Revolves a heady rush of references to Bowie’s Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family, Mahogany Brain’s Bloody Hide and Seek in The Rain and Hot Elbow, and the front cover to Heldon 6 shaped into 16 high velocity, high sheen rockets bound to ignite the tastes of classic kosmiche and psych fiends.
Unprecedented, 21-track survey of ‘80s dancefloor juice from the Nigerian capital; the latest in a long line of invaluable and expertly-curated Soundway compilations. Whilst Nigeria’s ‘70s music has been covered in some depth thru various reissues, compilations and the enduring legacy of Afrobeat, it’s fair to say that the focus of Doing It In Lagos: Boogie, Pop & Disco in 1980’s Nigeria covers a much less well-known sound that’s no less effective on the right ‘floors.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that much of the set was American productions as there’s hardly a trace of the psychedelia or politics of the ‘70s to these 21 songs. It’s all super slick and trim, tucked and cut at sharp angles rather than sprawling out over 10 minute+ jams, and tending to sing about going out, getting laid and showing off your money rather than the afrocentric politics which had previously dominated.
In line with the influx of oil money and the phase shift from in-house disco bands to DJs playing at clubs, the sound of these tunes had to be up to par with American imports, and clearly sounds like they achieved it.
Quite honestly there’s far too many highlights to mention them all, but we insist you clock the lissom glyde of Steve Monte’s Only You, and submit yourself to the cosmic boogie sensuality of Too Hot by Rick Asikpo & Afro Fusion, or the debonaire touch of Toby Foyeh’s Ore Mi, and definitely get on the rugged electro budges of Lexy Mella and Nkono Teles!!!
Exceptional, mind-expanding liturgical opus from Áine O’Dwyer, presented as a kind of celebration of the pipe organ's acoustic capacity to tap into electronic pulses, making for one of the most facinating, absorbing records we've had the pleasure of hearing this year. Huge recommendation if you're into anything from Eliane Radigue to Maja Ratkje to Nikos Mamangakis, or generally for anyone interested in being transported to the sublime...
Sometimes, after guzzling tonnes of processed electronic music, one needs a reminder of acoustic music’s unique fidelities and metaphysical ability to bind and transcend space and time.
Áine O’Dwyer’s properly enchanting Locusts album, originally issued on tape by Fort Evil Fruit in 2016 and now given a necessary vinyl edition by Mark Harwood’s Penultimate Press, is exactly the reminder we all need; a sublime dispatch that was seemingly caught in a massive butterfly net during the Irish artist’s stints in 2015 at St. James’s church, Barrow-in-Furness, England, and the first unitarian congregational society church in Brooklyn Heights, New York.
Leading on from recent roles in experimental folk band United Bible Studies and MIE’s sought-after vinyl pressing of Áine’s modern avant classic, Music For Church Cleaners Vol. I And II (2011, 2015), her latest work serves as a breathtaking, etheric demonstration of why the multi-instrumentalist, singer and dancer is considered one of the most distinctive improvisors and performers of her generation by peers and critics alike.
Drawing on a practice influenced by an Irish catholic childhood - giving an awareness of religious music and church space’s unique acoustics - but equally aware of her pagan side, whilst also combining an instinctive approach to what is usually considered a difficult-to-master instrument, the Harp, with a love of keening, discordant folk laments and studies in fine art, Áine’s music can be heard as an attempt to occupy and consolidate contradictions, positing herself as a sort of conduit for ancient currents which lie at the edge of perception, waiting for someone like her to hyperstitiously bring to life.
Áine presents that idea literally and metaphorically in the LP’s incredible Psychopomp - from Greek, meaning “the guide of souls” - where she executes a transition from quivering, sylvan organ tones and siren-like vocals into abyssal, frightening bass drones, cannily using the church’s unique spatial settings - originally realised to put you in your place - to ironically remove us somewhere completely other and wonderfully introspective.
That sense of intangible yet intoxicating space and spirit is manifest in myriad other way’s, too; from the way the low rumble of distant traffic serves to underline and detach from the organ’s spectral voice in opener Sleigh Bells Descend, or the way in which the overtones of Alter Boy and Interruption become reinforced to a choking yet lush sensuality, or how she makes the church groan like cthulhu in a way that could hardly be recreated by modern electronic plugins on Machine Drum; persistently and playfully short-circuiting or inverting conventions to the ends of a heart-rending melancholy and feminine pressure resulting from her own unique energy translated thru huge metal pipes and imposing physical space.
It’s a completely enveloping record, we're still reeling from it's relentless grip.
Startling side of pelting drum machines and psychedelic noise from Japanese synth/punk pioneer Hiromi Moritani a.k.a. Phew; an avant-garde vocalist who started out in art-punk unit Aunt Sally and has since collaborated with everyone from Ryuinchi Sakamoto to Can, DAF and Bill Laswell during an illustrious career.
Light Sleep packs the kind of febrile energy and thrust that you might expect from a young, new artist enthralled with the possibilities of vintage hardware. Which makes it all the more remarkable that it arrives well over 30 years into Phew’s far flung catalogue, at a time when you might expect them to be exploring lounge jazz or new age electronics. But scan back thru her oeuvre and you’ll hear that Phew’s already done all of that, mostly in her early years, and now it’s clearly her time to cut loose.
Succinctly and accurately summed by her label as “a more animated Nico singing (in Japanese) for early Suicide”, Phew’s home recordings - recorded and edited in Tokyo, 2014 - work right on the biting point with tungsten tipped drum machines piercing thru banking walls of bittersweet noise. Establishing its trajectory in New World, she unleashes a ruthless, breakneck rush of excoriating rhythm and urgent yelps in CQ Tokyo, calving away to reveal plangent horror score drones in Mata Aimasho.
She returns to jabbing drum machine pointillism pitted against her own random exclamations like starker John Bender in Usui Kuki, while the Suicide-meets-Nico analogy really comes into play on Echo and Antenna sprawls out in cosmic noise like some Astral Social Club or Ashtray Navigations invocation harnessed and kerned by Craig Leon.
Stonking stuff. Don’t sleep!
Wolf Eyes’ Nate Young’s Regression series has provided some of the most compelling dread-electronics spewed out by the North American underground in years, with instalments released on Demdike Stare’s DDS label and Aaron Dilloway's Hanson, as well as NNA Tapes and others. It all began back in 2009 with the first volume issued by Joachim Nordwall’s Ideal label, an incredible set that’s now being released on vinyl for the first time ever, just in time for Wolf Eyes newly minted (Warp sponsored) Lower Floor imprint to make its debut this coming spring.
Young is one of those artists whose output is instantly recognisable, his take on primitive electronics is both innovative and unnerving, and in recent years has really dominated the stylistic direction pursued by Wolf Eyes. It’s a kind of creaky, bare-boned deconstruction of classic horror scoring jolted by noise and industrial motifs, sounding somewhere between Demdike Stare’s early work, John Carpenter and Mica Levi’s by-now-classic soundtrack to Under The Skin. Weirdly, the third track on this LP is also called Under The Skin despite being released half a decade earlier - call it Magick.
You could neither classify Regression as a Noise record nor an Ambient one, instead the synth dissections and tape treatments more closely reference early electronic music. 'Trapped' offers little of the claustrophobia suggested by its title, although the continual woody knocking sounds and filthy oscillations do engender a sense of unease, while 'Dread' brings to mind the Desmond Briscoe soundtrack to Nigel Kneale's The Stone Tape. 'Under The Skin' returns to the more esoteric, intangible sound designs that characterised the album's opening, writhing around in a spluttering, tactile fashion that's at once sonically rather beautiful and deeply sinister, modulating through grisly synthesiser gestures while more textural, percussive sounds flood through dub-style tape delays.
At no point does Regression reach cacophonous volumes, but it’s essentially as moody and unsettling a record as you'll likely hear. Young makes deftly modern synthesizer constructions that manage to bypass Kosmische and Horror clichés, instead making for one of the most singular bodies of electronic music on the contemporary scene. He has an uncanny ability to make sonic extremes sound incredibly seductive, and this volume is perhaps the most engrossing exposition of that unique ability.
A classic - huge recommendation!
Sought-after Herbert 12" from 1996 dusted down and re-upped for the house fiends twenty years later.
Got To Be Movin’ packs strong cues from ruder Dance Mania and Chi sounds into a proper bumpy, chunky ride that also sounds pretty banging at 45rpm -8, in case you swang that way.
Underneath, there’s the suave electro-disco whistler, Fat King Fire, and the grubbing hustle of Housewife.
On her captivating 4th solo album, Montreal’s Sarah Davachi - highly regarded for her majestic, coruscating synth compositions - divides her attentions equally between a purely instrumental palette of strings, piano, voice and organ with an enveloping, often ecstatic and mystic effect recalling Áine O’Dwyer’s recent Locusts wonder as much as Ellen Fullman’s works for long stringed instruments. Blown away by this...
Rather than mining ancient synth hardware for its unique tones, in All My Circles Run, Davachi applies the same exploratory approach to acoustic instruments with glacially tense results that quietly light up the liminal borderland between her spheres of electronic and acoustic practice when contrasted with her previous recordings. As the title perhaps suggest, you can consider these new pieces as discrete strands in a sort of diffracted spectral venn diagram of her sound.
The results will ring true with anyone who has heard her previous releases, whilst also offering another perspective on her tonal ontology, pin-pointing her acute feel for pealing, plangent overtones in For Strings, which opens out with a raw beauty and scale reaching heights strikingly similar to Áine O’Dwyer’s recent LPs, or by Charlemagne Palestine for that matter, whereas For Voice is a deeply sober, sombre piece again precisely focussed on those fluttering points where consonance/dissonance are near indistinguishable.
The solo piano piece, Chanter follows that slope into lower tones, slowing the heart rate to the point where we can almost perceive the notes as gauzy, keening and candle-flickering blurs, before her sound starts to coalesce in lustrous, upward facing drone in For Organ, burning with a quiet optimism which is sublimated into the exceptional parting passage of For Piano, where the pensile strings, gently cascading keys, and floating organ (and possibly voice?) ebb and flow with a magic intensity redolent of an imagined, smudged meditation by Emahoy Tsegué-Mariam Guèbru and Pauline Oliveros.
Fabio Frizzi’s score to the 1980 Lucio Fulci thriller Contraband (aka Luca Il Contrabbandiere) on vinyl for the first time in years.
"Fabio Frizzi’s music is irrevocably cool – and surprisingly upbeat at times. Contraband’s main theme is a wonderful melody that is reprised throughout the score, with a suitable touch of melodrama. Frizzi’s talent for catchy tunes is always apparent, whether it includes the stereotypical wah-wah pedal effects or some grooving slap bass.
Kept modern by mixing traditional orchestral elements with electric guitar and a wailing sax, there’s always a degree of underlying tension, mainly coming from the brass section, and there’s some amazing moments featuring a big organ and a sleazy keyboard riff. This is even before the uber-catchy ‘You Are Not The Same’, one of Frizzi’s many contributions to the songs of moviedom. Another excellent Frizzi/Fulci-fest!"
Venerable Ethiopian composer, Mulatu Astake is the locus of this enlightening compilation, which was first issued to the wider world on CD in 1992 and is now reissued 25 years later.
"Now, we’ve all heard the Ethiopiques series and many other reissues of Mulatu Astatke and Hailu Mergia over the past few years, but who really knows the socio-political and historical context for all this amazing music, and why it sounds the way it does? This ace set and its original liner notes from Anu Laakkonen should sort that out.
Thanks to the work of Finland’s Global Music Centre - a mobile recording studio - which travelled to Addis Ababa to record the two headline bands, whom both shared a mutual component in Mr. Astatke, the set covers early iterations of drum machine used in Ethiopian popular music, as well as sterling examples of the confluence between domestic religious and secular themes, and traces of rock, funk, pop and soul influence from America and Europe.
The A-side revolves four hypnotic demonstrations of the Ethio Stars, widely regarded the best musicians in the country at the time, gripping the head hips and shoulders with the clipped groove and floating, spectral organ of Aderech Arada, Bekifir / Menged Lay Wodike, then updating the classic Kermosew melody with synths and a big fat funk bassline, while Yetentu Tez Alew clearly nods to ‘80s boogie, but always within that definitive Ethio sound, and Tiz Baleen Gize brings Getatchew Kassa’s vocal into play.
On the other side, Tukul Band experiment with more traditional forms of Ethiopian music. Headed by Mulatu Astatke, the band jam on electrified models of traditional instruments such as the Krar - a six-string bowl-lyre nicknamed “the devil’s instrument” - along with the masinko, Ethiopia’s only bowed instrument typically played by an Azamri or bard/griot, and the washint, a bamboo flute heard on many, many Ethiopian recordings. These pieces are perhaps more urgent, compared with the cool vibes of the others, and definitely worth checking for the haunting instrumental duet in Sound of Washint & Masinko."
Person of Interest, Angel De La Guardia kicks out a handful of swanging, mutant house slugs in Eclipse for his buddy, J. Albert’s Exotic Dance Records.
Up front the pendulous Skyline (Angel’s Theme) marries whistling melody with thistly garage swing, and Eclipse imagines a fusion of effervescent breakbeat house and raving mentasms that never happened way back when, but sounds so good now.
Flipside he plays it down on a bumpy Theo Parrish style hustle, but returns to the rave from a more delicate angle with the dilated yet sleepy Jersey styles of En Route, and checks out with he acid greaze of Lost1 (capri).
If Arthur Russell was into industrial not disco, then his World Of Echo might well have sounded something like John Roberts’ Body Four, a follow-up to the excellent Plum album on Roberts’ Brunette Editions.
Wrought with the innovative, plangent minimalism and simplicity of Russell’s cello, pedal and amp studies, Roberts’ efforts are perhaps more rugged and off kilter - also recalling certain aspects of James Ferraro and Spencer Clark in its lo-fi grain - but likewise manages to wrench a captivating sense of expressive pathos from his similar set-up of cello and sequencer in each of these relatively short, smeared windows onto his personalised practice.
It’s Repitch’s 5th anniversary and they’re celebrating in style with Dys Functional Electronic Music; a 16-track album featuring bullets from label regulars such as Shapednoise, Ascion, D. Carbone, AnD & Gaja, alongside an extended, international circle of peers including Pinch, Sote, Skudge, Nuel and Mike Parker.
Pinch gets the party off on a dank footing with No Justice - kinda like that guy who’s telling gallows jokes to attendees on their first drink - and sets the vibe for a session which only gets more twisted messy as it goes on, turning up memorable highlights in Nuel’s hyper fluid D&B roller, Biopunk - definitely a first person on the floor tune - in the wretched noise convulsions of Shapednoise’s 0.1dbhisdoi’fioa (shouldn’t have tanked that bottle of vodka so early), and the guy with all the drugs up his face at once, Sote on the raging Operor, whilst Skudge get all deep in the backroom with the tales of his trip to Thailand in Buchla.M1000, and Mike Parker is among the last to leave with the pulsating sub-aqua dynamics of Ilium_Curve.
Fire Walk With Me is an altogether more brooding affair than the Twin Peaks series soundtrack. Badalamenti won a grammy for the title track of this LP and it’s not hard to see why- it’s dangerous, and bursting with smokey jazz thanks to Jimmy Scott. We went back to the master tapes in the Warner Archives and had this recut to fit across two LPs as the score clocks in at 51 minutes. It sounds incredible and punchy, but super nuanced too.
The soundtrack to the much maligned Fire Walk With Me, a film which divided opinion at the time but which has gotten considerably more impressive with age - and another standout, smokey soundtrack from an Angelo Badalamenti at the top of his game.
We didn't know what to do at the time, but looking back now at the film and it's clearly a work of twisted, unpredictable genius - hinting at the sort of heady weirdness Lynch managed to achieve with Lost Highway and Mullholland Drive later on.
In true Badalamenti style he revisits the soundtrack that made him a household name and reworks it into menacing submerged jazz. The soundtrack is also notable for showing many of us the incredible 'Sycamore Tree', a track which almost sums up everything David Lynch is about; distant, haunted strings and a vocal (from Jimmy Scott) which sounds absolutely out of time and out of place.
The Pink Room is perhaps the pivotal track on the soundtrack, etched in the memory due to the captivating scene that seems to contain key dialogue relating to Laura Palmer's double existence but which is completely obscured by the music and a demented strobe light. Totally genius - even if no one appreciated it at the time.
A true noir masterpiece - available on double vinyl for the first time ever.
Paul Rose (Scuba) fixes trax from Isaac Reuben, Bleak, Markus Suckut and Antonio Ruscito on the first release for his Who Whom label.
Following his entry on Scuba’s Fabric 90 mix and smaller 12”, Isaac Reuben opens affairs with the misty-eyed strings, deep surging chords and driving kicks of Machines, and Bleak tests the big room ‘floor reflexes with the palpitating techno footwork of In My Soul.
Markus Suckut’s Acid Landscape proceeds to ice the room with glacial 303 modulations and glancing rimshots, and deep Italian techno specialist Antonio Ruscito glides on deepest systolic pulses to the the edge.
Bank Records NYC enlist an Unknown Artist (purportedly Lyubocha, who was last spotted on Opal Tapes’ Contemporary Dance compilation) for their 10th volley of grotty dance trax.
Abakan feels out murky techno space between 154 and Lee Gamble which gets more acidic in the proceeding Krusheniye, whilst Novaya Kalami drags that vibe underwater with soggy bass hits and mottled brown acid flow, and Trauma rolls off the bone with a more rugged swang.
Crafty little shot from Gonçalo F. Cardoso, who was last spotted on A Study Into 21st Century Drone Acoustics  and now presents two beguiling short form pieces
Firstly the bubbling metallic polyrhythm and heat hazy summers day field recordings which give way to skronky abstract ‘tronics, acousmatic chat and eventually a downpour of static in the A-side’s Radio Kampala; then a recording of what sounds like a sliced up boxing match sprayed with machine gun fire and electronic shrapnel on the other side’s Skull Cave.
A proper oddity.
Deep but up-for-it disco house bangers from Florence, Italy’s Marco D’Aquino a.k.a. Dukwa for the purposes of this 12” with the Glaswegian Italophiles at Numbers.
Well versed in Anthony Shakir style chops, the four cuts on Shattered In A Thousand Places cook up solid US styles with an extra hint of Italian gourmet, resulting the strobing chord delicacy of Thoughts feat. Mar G on all-night-long vox, plus the pumping sasturday night pressure of Fries Friends, a skipper slice of John Swing styles in Illusory Dreams, and a rugged Frictional downstroke on Lazy.
Reeko, Blawan, Stenny and Shifted weigh in heavy duty remixes of London’s Pris for his Resin label
Blawan goes on brute and monotone with a rumbling, knotted remix of Dodeca and Stenny keeps it flowing off centre in a nervier rework of Reef. Shifted impresses with the intricate scree and recursive rolige of his take on Devil In The Detail, and we catch Reeko at his most sullen on a gravelly version of Reef.
Berlin’s Laura ODL and Eva Geist a.k.a. As Longitude carve out five grubby ruts of dubbed-out acidic chug for Amsterdam’s venue-turned-label Knekelhuis; pulling the ‘floor along at 100bpm pace thru the wavy oddity Black Rice to the piquant percolations of Pink Is Orange on the A-side, and then from the stumbling triplets of Kalte Füße to the Colin Potter-esque kosmiche hypo-dub of Blauer Part and share an analog bubblebath with Sharks Are Coming.
Lushly sentimental nostalgia for early-mid ‘90s electronica; like Special Request reworking B12 in the epic, rolling breakbeat hustle of Lost Illusions; or a long-lost FSOL archive salvage in the majestic Aura 96 (Kino Mix); then with Jesus arms for the sunrise in Gaia’s Requiem.
Finally available again - Second of two crucial Shackleton singles on Honest Jon's, weighted with dynamic remixes by T++ and Mordant Music.
In contrast to the coffin intensity of 'Deadman', 'Fireworks' is widescreen and viewed from above (perhaps best imagined from the perspective of the unfortunate soul in Gaspar Noé's 'Enter The Void'?), suspended in up-drafting columns of ghoulish synth voices, silvery hi-hats and convulsing kicks evaporated from viscous subs way below.
With 'Undeadman' his zombied cadaver arises again, divined like a worm from the ground by plunging subs to join the skull disco on consecrated ground. T++ is similarly averse to gravity, his agile rebuild feeling like it's being dragged upwards by the chest, limbs carving 'ardcore torque in mid-air, buffeted by sub-harmonic turbulence. There's a reference to his classic Dynamo 12" in the title 'Außen Vor', but we haven't the foggiest what it means. Kindred darkside shamen, Mordant Music plays the 'Undeadman' like a dread-dub marionette, trapped in halfstep inertia at the centre of a dizzying atmospheric pressure system. Essential!
Who else but Andy Votel and co’s Cache Cache could dig up Gerry & The Holograms’ near-mythical post punk oddity - Frank Zappa’s mum’s favourite, apparently. Trust that they’ve gone all-out with the mirriboard jacket and typically in-depth liner notes, but it’s the other 10 NEVER BEFORE-HEARD tracks that should have you moist with anticipation. Because let’s face it, nobody knows any other tracks apart from their eponymous zinger?! Moist we tell ya!
“Gerry And The Holograms were well documented as one of Frank Zappa’s favourite ever groups and instantly recognisable as the blueprint of 80’s Mancunian electro pop, the inflated alter egos of Gerry & The Holograms (and their unrivalled brand of conceptual sarcastic synth pop) successfully remodelled, ridiculed and redefined plugged-in punk before hitting the self-destruct button and burying the evidence under a pile of hand mutilated microgrooves.
Having risen from the electronic embers of Manchester’s first genuine psychedelic band, via Vertigo commissioned prog and experimental theatre, then refined through the musical mind behind the most inspired vinyl moments of Martin Hannett, John Cooper Clarke and Jilted John.The discography of Gerry & The Holograms remains unrivalled as the most idiosyncratic and enigmatic pivotal post punk artifact from the first electronic entrenchment of pop.
A consistent inclusion on record collector wantlists, transcending both decades and musical genres, the first and only listenable two track record by this masked art rock studio duo, entitled ‘Meet The Dissidents’, originally appeared in record racks in 1979, selling out instantly only to be sequelised by a totally unplayable situationist inspired follow up which was glued into its own sleeve destroying the grooves in the process (rivalling that of Peter Saville and Durutti Column’s Debordist sandpaper re hash by at least three years).
With a lifespan shorter than the hours on their studio bill, the band would find bedfellows amongst other incognito groups like Naffi Sandwich, The Mothmen and Blah Blah Blah within the Absurd Records stable, a daring Mancunian imprint that sat awkwardly between older and younger half sister labels Rabid and Relentless. With a release library of mostly non returning faceless atonal electronic punk DIY industrial bands Absurd would spearhead and pre empt the subsequent decades of Mancunian independent record labels that followed in the footsteps of the more commercially successful Factory Records (while also drawing comparisons with Spiral Scratch, Test Pressings, Object Music and Throbbing Gristles’ Industrial Records).
Despite just one official title to their name however, the true identity behind Gerry & The Holograms would unify those sister labels and collectively play an important supporting role in Manchester’s independent music history with a story which goes back as far as most rain soaked memories can attempt to forget.”
Totally wicked slab of disco funk and electroid boogie on Amsterdam’s Music From Memory, pulling out their very first reissue/compilation by a Dutch artist, Richenel, who was a something of a dance-pop-star in his home country through the late ’80 and into the early ‘90s.
Compiled under guidance from Orpheu De Jong, they’ve applied the usual MFM filter to Richenel’s sorely overlooked debut, La Diferencia, resulting four alternate takes and two previously unreleased zingers - Slave of the Body/Mind and I Won’t Bite - all taken from the artist’s personal copy.
Realised in makeshift studios and squats against the backdrop of drugs and social unrest in the early ‘80s, the flamboyant set and costume design student’s first release holds tight to a lean and deadly effective punk funk sound, wrenching a proper, soul-warming disco buzz from lo-fi gear in a way that resonates with everything from ESG and Detroit’s Witch to earliest Cybotron and Prince or the nattiest Minimal Wave numbers.
It’s headed up by a massive highlight, six minutes of adroit drum machine boogie gilded with rudest fretless bass, aching vox and viiiiibes in Autumn, and also includes alternate versions of the nagging chops on Gentle Friend and an outstanding, hot-stepping La Diferencia that sounds uncannily like Liaisons Dangereuses or that mad Velodrome 12”, but with Krishna Goineau morphing into Klaus Nomi.
The other two are completely exclusive to this 12”. Slave Of The Body/Mind is a strong stripe of bluesy boogie disco, and I Won’t Bite gets it dead right on a slow, strung-out, synthy downstroke, equal parts lo-fi soul and sleazy red light wave. A lot of boogie nuts are going to drip all over this one, and we can thankfully expect more from the Fetisj label and Richenel on Music Frtom Memory in the future. This one will more than suffice for now.
On vinyl for the 1st time - a superb cross-section of romantic new wave funk, post-industrial and minimal synth tracks originally collected and released together in 1984 by Danielle Ciulini; a pivotal member of the Italian and European tape scene who conceived Nouances as a showcase for the breadth of underground Italian music culture, combining articles by the scene’s leading ‘zine writers and editors, together with strong musical proof .
Looking for all intents and purposes like a Crepuscule compilation, but sounding closer to something you might expect on Music From Memory or Ecstatic (who were coincidentally behind Ciulini’s Domestic Exile Collected Works 82-86), the songs on Nouances are balanced in a half light between hacking Gang Of Four funk in The Tempest’s Abc, and Minox’s exquisitely low key new wave slide into Purgatoryo on the front, whilst the other swerves from 23 Skidoo or Cabaret Voltaire styles with Rinf’s Tropical Nacht / Spass Muss Sein (live at Tenax) to a very canny stripe of gloomy gothic minimal wave from Belgium’s Twilight Ritual, I Never Called You A Dream, and not least, Danielle Ciulini’s icy hot-stepper Silences.
Another sterling dispatch from Efficient Space - who were behind the excellent Midnight Spares and Sky Girl sets off late - now turning their attention to a slew of obscure OZ Waves drawn from the Aussie ‘80s DIY collection of Steele Bonus, who is also responsible for the label’s artwork and sleeve art for Music From Memory.
With most of the original tracks originally issued on tape in editions of between 5 and 100 copies, unless you were there at the time or have the baddest fetish for obscure Aussie music, this set is likely to open an unprecedented window for most wave riders.
Weird, dreamy and groovy are keywords for the set: taking in the lilting electro-pop of Lady On The Train by Irena Xero - which Chris & Cosey apparently used to lullaby their son to sleep - at one end, and the breezy dub sway of Squids Can Fly from Zerox Dreamflesh at the other pole, taking in total winners like Andy Rantzen ov Pelican Daughters’ serpentine bubbler Will I Dream; the Vaz-like C86 styles of Don’t Wish It Away by Ironing Music; the Severed Heads-esque budge of He Dark Age’s Holding Out For Eden; even a freakish sort of electro-ramp cut in Jesus Krist Klap Rap by MK Ultra & The Assassins of Light; and prepare yourself to swoon at the Antenna or Ludus-like charms of Take A walk In The Sun from Moral Fibro.
Visual artist Jesse Kanda (FKA Twigs, Arca) makes his musical debut with the compellingly bittersweet introspection of his Heart EP for Hyperdub.
In key with the off-kilter harmonies of his peer, Arca, but willing to pursue more abstract angles of expression, the ostensibly tart sharpness and distorted exoskeleton of Doon Kanda’s sound belies the inspirations at its core, “love, compassion, empathy” in a very similar way to which his hyperreal visual work also gets under the skin, right to the core of it.
While relatively simple, linear in construction when compared with, say, Arca’s output, the five tracks of Heart ache with a pent romantic yearn that hits home from the off: Axolotl - described by the artist as “like a chant for giving it your best try” - exemplifies that raw emotive effect with ruggedly thuggish drive and searing hook juiced for all it’s worth, but the beats barely return over the next four songs; leaving his licks lingering in wide open space like a rhythmic gymnast’s ribbon that never falls to the floor in Womb, or percolated in a curious call-and-response of evaporating bass hits and chiming strokes in Wings, before claggy trap trills infiltrate Heart’s starkly contoured chromatic dimensions.
We sense the start of a very promising musical streak from this artist. Check it!
Oblique, intense and spirit-gnawing electro-acoustic exercises from The Skull Defekts founder / Ideal head honcho Joachim Nordwall, presenting a brilliantly stark album of direct and gnarly Machine energy that comes highly recommended if you're into anything from Pan Sonic to Alessandro Cortini, Deathprod or Emptyset. So good.
Working with a bunch of tone generators fed thru a massive wall of amps at Elementstudion in Gothenburg, Nordwall isolates and fearlessly homes in on the recording space’s resonant frequencies until you can physically feel the room grinding, whining and shuddering in the kind of spasms that arch the spine and set your back teeth on edge. And he does it relentlessly for the whole record.
It’s what Nordwall in December, 2016 described as “…my ideal black. A place I enjoy to place myself in” and, by turns, appears to be a place we enjoy inhabiting, too. There’s really a lot to be said for the unadulterated pleasure of sustained atonal assaults, and feeling like you’re about to be asphyxiated from the sheer pressure of it all.
The only steady variable in this elemental organism is the sense of rhythm; a metric, pulsing heave that keeps each piece’s tangibly immense weight pushing forward from the crack’d slap of a drum that pins The Ideal Black into place, to the quasi-step lurch of Great Mind of Fire, thru the Alessandro Cortini-Like impulse of Extreme Solution for a Simple Problem to the palsied, cog-ground rattle of System For Psychic Expansion and Black Out at its nether limits.
In the rarest way, thanks to Joachim’s direct approach, the mixing of Linus Andersson, and Heba Kadry’s master at Timeless Mastering, Bushwick, The Ideal Black is about as close as you’ll hear to a 1-to-1 representation of pure, crushing tonal terror. A character-building exercise strongly tipped if you like the biting point sounds of: Kevin Drumm, Alessandro Cortini, Emptyset, Gottfried Michael Koenig