Pivotal downtown NYC minimalist Peter Zummo wields his trombone in a new ensemble including his longtime pals Ernie Brooks and Bill Ruyle, plus JD Twitch (Optimo), Ralph Cumbers (Bass Clef) and Oliver Coates, documenting a mix of live recordings and post-tour studio sessions
“Side A, the 14-minute long “Prepare For Docking,” was recorded at Strongroom and features vocals by Arthur Russell collaborator Joyce Leigh Bowden; Side B has four tracks, two from Strongroom (“Actual Serpentine” and “Actual Serpentine Reprise”) and two from the Café Oto performance (“Deep Drone” and “Leapfrog A Local”), which were selectively edited and mixed by Zummo. In concept and practise, Deep Drive is a series of field recordings and snapshots, and of Zummo's melodic and rhythmic challenges to the group.
These challenges focus on ensemble improvisations, based on long tone rows of chromatic pitches: “Deep Drone” works around 12 tones, “Prepare For Docking” around 7 tones. Moving forward and backward through the row, one note at a time, the players create retrograde repetitions and map out new patterns, zoning in to zone out. “We can improvise freely,” says Zummo, “but it’s more interesting to have a composition, written in traditional notation, which people can render in real time. It’s unfolding. We don’t know ahead of time what it’s going to sound like, but it has identity.”
The identity of Deep Drive comes in large part from the way Zummo moves through the world. Using his smartphone, he records daily fragments: of daydreams and conversations, signage and slogans, moments that that strike him as insightful, odd, amusing, thereby creating a sonic collage of rhythms, melodies and voices. His deep baritone is imbued with laconic humour, and Deep Drive’s track titles riff off his messaging. “Prepare For Docking” refers to the Staten Island ferry and the spectacle of humdrum city movements, but also suggests the nautical deep or even extraterrestrial life, with otherworldliness woven deep into the sound. “It’s not a recital,” says Zummo, of this way of working, “it’s a movie.” Deep Drive, then, is an album about the totality of the artistic process, seen from a generous and honest vantage point.”
Unique, engrossing room recordings of Kaliff pipe organ dirges played by composer, sound technician and multi-instrumentalist Kali Malone, released earlier on in the year on a super limited tape run and now finally pressed up on vinyl for wider public consumption. Very little we’ve heard in 2018 has affected us as much as this elusive, magical record.
In four pieces recorded at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, it’s the characteristics of the room itself that add a crucial dimension to these pieces, sounding worlds away from the cavernous reverb associated with church acoustics. Instead, these dry recordings bring out all the fragile warmth and intimacy that’s rarely associated with this multi-faceted, sacred instrument. Removed from its traditional, godly environment - the effect is startling.
The magick also lies in Kali's capacity to produce rich, swirling, gaseous overtones. There’s a preternatural sensitivity toward these peripheral sounds, coaxing intoxicating spectrums of quivering hi-register fluctuations and sonorous bass at a pace that draws the listener in and seems to reduce everything around to a meditative serenity.
Organ Dirges stands in a line of records borne out of serendipity rather than any planned, grandiose gesture. Recorded more or less off the cuff over just a few days onto a portable zoom, it’s a testament to Kali’s compositional instinct that these 4 pieces sound so resolved and purposeful. Every small detail sounds intentional without being controlled, right down to the almost unbearably moving disintegration at the very end of closing piece 'Fifth Worship’, like a slow descent into darkness.
It’s interesting to note that Organ Dirges was first played at a huge iron mine, the acoustics once again altering the perception of these alchemical pieces. Indeed, we can attest to the contrasting experience we’ve had playing this record in different spaces - on headphones, quietly at night in small rooms, loud on monitors in large spaces - always revealing something new, always transporting us somewhere else.
An incredible, uncanny record.
‘Duiste Kamers’ is among the tastiest new/old synth-pop records to emerge since the original late ‘70s/early ‘80s, no doubt
Loaded with the irresistible ohrwurm of ‘Geen Genade’ from 2016’s out-of-print 7” ‘Wat Voel Je Nou’, the nine concentric circles of ‘Duiste Kamers’ form De Ambassade’s definitive calling card. Puckered with hooks as memorable as the best John Maus or Victor De Roo records, but also driven by a nervous energy that loops right back to source in the DIY and tape mailing scene surrounding John Bender and early Mute artists, The Normal or Fad Gadget, the sound is achingly well executed, but also effortlessly so in a way that naturally belies Dew Ambassade’s dedication to and grasp of the original styles of NDW, UK synth-pop, and Lowlands darkwave movements.
Like we already said, album centrepiece ‘Geen Genade’ is an addictive highlight, and it also comes flanked by more hook riddled aces, notably in the meloddramatic, dirge-like ‘Zo Hoog Als De Bogen’, bearing some killer snaky bass work by Tim Francis, whose furtive spy funk bass also lights up the raga-esque mutation ‘Malefica’, while it’s also hard not to get also snagged on the sepulchral sound of his early single ‘Wat Voel Je Nou’, and the low slung rock ’n roll revs of their Suicide-esque ‘Niet Van Mij.’
Morphine blow minds with a remarkable slab of experiments by Indonesia's Rully Shabara and Wukir Suryadi a.k.a. Senyawa.
Found in orbit between traditional Javanese folk music and the kind of sui generis ritual musics of Ghedalia Tazartes or Keiji Haino, 'Menjadi' is a captivating showcase of the duo's unhindered improvisatory instinct and unique range of extended vocals, from possessed chants to guttural droning and upper-register ululations, all matched by a deft instrumental techniques on the self-made bambuwukir - an amplified bamboo zither.
Recorded and subtly produced by Rabih Beaini in Berlin following their standout performance at CTM 2015, and subsequently mastered by Neel in Rome, the final results of 'Menjadi' yield a passage to alternate, exotic dimensions of the mindrarely granted by other music, referencing but transcending planes of black metal, psychedelic rock and indigenous articulation to find an other place relatable to all attuned ears.
Nyege Nyege Tapes deliver an unmissable volley of hyper-fast, breathless Singeli from Tanzania, this time the vinyl debut of Duke showcasing the sound of Pamoja Records, following multiple zingers from the scene’s core Sisso Studios.
Yet again making practically all other dance music seem pedestrian and tepid by contrast, Duke’s take on Dar Es Salaam’s Singeli style is ruthlessly fast and rugged, crammed with colourful samples and, quite crucially, loaded with a pair of blistering vocal tracks starring MCZO & Don Tach, and Dogo Lizzi, respectively.
In ‘Uingizaji Hewa’ the tempos thrillingly tilt over the 200bpm mark, but they’re held in check with a clutch of slower instrumentals written in Duke’s newer Hip Hop Singeli style. When he goes fast, dancers will know about it in the likes of ’Naona Laaah’ featuring machine gun rapid rhythms somehow matched for pace by MCZO & Don Tach, and again in the pedal-to-the-meckle recklessness of ‘M Lap’ starring Dogo Lizzi switching up from dancehall bark to fasssst-chat styles that put Daddy Freddy to bed.
But those hi-NRG bombs are only half the story. The rest of the LP shows off Duke’s wicked way with a hook and the diversity of his drum programming in highlights ranging from the PC Music-compatible bounce of ‘Sing4444444’, to the cascading chromatic licks and slow/fast suss of ‘Duke 4’, the joyful dervish of ‘Duke Bit Puyo’, and two dizzying pieces with spiralling, Bollywood-style vocal samples that close the record with a blinding flourish.
Unmissable, cult Scottish punk zinger from 1986, returning 33 revs later via Good Energy, a new label from Jennifer Lucy Allen (Arc Light Editions) and Kevin McCarvel (Nyali Recordings). Imagine Einstürzende Neubauten in kilts, playing in a cow shed, and punking up Robbie Burns…
“Raw as hell record from the 1980s Scottish underground by Nyah Fearties, who toured Arran in kilts, who built a percussion setup from scaffolding and oil drums, who appeared on The Tube on the back of a moving lorry, and recorded this, their first album, in a cow shed in Ayrshire with just a car’s cassette deck as a monitor.
Don’t expect this to sound soft or slick because it isn’t, and therein lies its glory. Released on vinyl 1986, and later circulated under the counter as an unofficial CD-R, it’s bounced around the Glaswegian underground for decades. The master tapes went missing but with the approval of Davy Wiseman it’s been dragged kicking and screaming back into the world as a limited LP run and digital release, and contains perhaps the most chaotic detournement of a Robbie Burns folk ballad ever laid to tape.
Nyah Fearties are from the village of Lugton, and created a near-unique brand of anarchic modern folk in the 1980s and 1990s. “Simple Minds, Orange Juice and The Jesus And Mary Chain were from Scotland but Nyah Fearties are about Scotland” said one review. Their feral Celtic punk is influenced by industrial groups like Einsturzende Neubaten, who inspired a scaffolding and scrap metal percussion setup that became known as ‘the blatter cage’, making them unwelcome wherever they went. Fearties are a duo of brothers Davy and Stephen Wiseman, and this record also includes, “the Entire Company on anything they can lay their hands on” according to original sleevenotes. The brothers toured, appeared on TV, and later supported The Pogues on tour, and these successes allowed them to release better recordings under improved conditions.
Originally released in 1986 and reissued now by Good Energy, a co-production between Jennifer Lucy Allan (Arc Light Editions) and Kevin McCarvel (Nyali Recordings). Good energy thanks all involved, especially Cal Wiseman and the one with the best energy: Davy Wiseman.
To be Feart is to be scared, but you better be
because A Tasty Heidfu’ is back and it’s coming for you.”
Haunting Lithuanian folk songs and choral works from Merope, latest lambs to the Stroom flock shepherded by Ziggy Devriendt aka Nosedrip, a big big tip to fans of Kara-Lis Coverdale.
Immediately calling to mind strains of the Fonal label circa the mid ‘00s (Islaja, Paavoharju, et al), and likewise lilting, worldly traces of the label’s NSRD/Hardijs Lediņš releases; ’Salos’ is a very non-Sadian suite of pastoralism from the top shelf of Lithuanian music. It’s an effortlessly enchanting listen that never tests the listeners’s patience, carrying us through seven immaculate scenes centred on the lead voice of Indrė Jurgelevičiūtė, and harmonised with the Vilnius Municipal Choir Jauna Muzika, known for their performances of Arvo Pärt’s music.
Perhaps most intriguing is the inclusion of American Pakistani multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily lending electric piano to the fractal bliss of ‘El Dvipa’ and wistful dreaminess of ‘Luliomoj’ that bookend the set, but if any one song should make you fall for them, try the melt-on-mind delicacy of ‘Vilnia’ and go from there, we reckon.
One of Japan’s most revered ambient/deep house/jazz heads shares his sublimely elegant early material with Music From Memory on Early Tape Works 1986-1993 Vol.1. In good company amid the groundswell of reissued Japanese classics and obscurities currently in circulation, this collection gives a smart overview of an artist who is still active and pivotal to modern scenes, as opposed to long over the hill, and demonstrates that the classy integrity of Takahashi’s approach to sound has been there since the start of his oeuvre.
Check it for sweetest ambient treats in his languorous ace Day Dreams, as well as the pulsing kosmiche lift of You Should Believe, featuring a brilliant but as yet uncredited female vocal, and the ruder industrial/EBM styles of Signifie and Zero To One, which relate to his streak of EBM releases as DRP for Dirk Ivens’ Body Records.
"The Japanese producer and DJ Kuniyuki Takahashi is the subject of Music From Memory’s latest retrospective compilation with ‘Early Tape Works - 1986-1993’. Composed of two volumes, the compilations gather together a selection of tracks from a tiny run of privately released tape only albums, highlighting a fascinating early period in Kuniyuki’s musical output, one of which little is known.
After discovering the world of nightclubs in Japan around 1986, and the seemingly boundless freedom expressed there through music as well as art, Kuniyuki became inspired to experiment with electronic music. Excited by the possibilities of new music technology, he would begin to gather together a number of, at that time, reasonably accessible and inexpensive local keyboards, drum computers and recording equipment. This became for Kuniyuki a way in which to explore music not as such made for nightclubs, but certainly inspired by them. Setting up a home studio in his hometown of Saporro, Kuniyuki would record extensively during this period with the equipment he had gathered together, equipment such as Roland’s Juno60, TR-606, TB-303, Casio FZ-1, Korg 770, Boss DE-200, Foster A8 and a Yamaha MT44 track cassette recorder.
Driven to develop a musical language derived as much by an exploration of music technology and a desire to create new sounds, Kuniyuki was also looking to evolve the possibilities of what he refers to as a ‘new Oriental sound’. Early Tape Works - 1986-1993’ then brings together two albums of material which not only highlights the evolution of Kuniyuki’s own work but also of Japanese electronic music as a whole."
You could think of the collection of tracks here as a library record of sorts, and each track inhabits its own universe. Tropical fits various moods and situations, and it could soundtrack any number of activities at home or on a dancefloor - whether real, imaginary, or hallucinated. Strangely enough, it sounds like it could have been constructed from obscure Italian library breaks, when instead every instrument has been played and panned, several times over, across magnetic tape.
"The genesis of many of these tracks began when CV Vision moved to Berlin in 2014. His flat had a small chamber where he could fit a drum set, so he treated the walls with foam, and in true DIY style, dived headfirst into recording these tracks. It was the natural next step on an audio adventure that first began when CV Vision picked up the guitar in his teens, and a couple years later started recording with friends in his home town of Bayreuth. Fast forward ten years and here is his debut - a culmination of practising chops and learning instruments, mastering recording techniques and fine-tuning the CV Vision sound.
It’s a sound that condenses elements of acid rock, psych soul, library funk and new wave oddities into a movie soundtrack for your mind. It’s a journey from ‘60s west coast LSD-drenched excursions to ‘80s synth and post-punk mutations. Tropical is a plunge into another time, another music you can simply swim around in and explore.
Side A opens up with Tropical Tune In , which rides in on a clave and a warm wind, blowing a distinctly herbal aroma and recalling exotica dons like Les Baxter and Martin Denny. Following on with the aural equivalent of a sea breeze through your mind, Spaziergang am Meer blows away the cobwebs and conjures some nice library moments like Stringtronics or F eelings . Next, Ba_c_k(Lava) bounces out of a cold wave post-punk melting pot and crashes through the speakers like a blazed Zebedee, with some sweet eastern synths for added flavour, before the rolling bass licks of Der Böse Schamane take us into another dimension, landing somewhere between a psych rock freak out and a Black Ark dub session. Mr Maze channels the arpeggiators of synth outsiders like Mort Garson and Bruce Haack, creating a glorious interlock of robotic electronics and freakbeat vocals. The side comes to a close with the guitars of Der Strand (außer Rand und Band) letting loose like syrupy springs, and setting a languid mood like the bedroom scene in Bedazzled (1967 version).
Side B kicks off with Parallel Universum, which comes through like a woozy krautrock workout, all ducking synths with big chord shifts to create an epic deranged beehive of a soundtrack. Im Land der Ameisen evokes the spirit if not the sound of White Rabbit, when logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead, before waking up and wandering through the side alleys of Marrakech with the West Coast Pop Art Ensemble and the Electric Prunes, as Ritual (No. 4) blares out the speakers of passing tuk tuks. Ein Wasserfall plumbs the deep synth depths, like Raymond Scott in scuba gear, modular rack strapped to his back delivering oxygen as he swims between connector cables and seaweed forests through a watery underworld. Banana King sounds like a lost soundtrack to Donkey Kong or Mario Cart, if the cart radio was tuned into a synth documentary hosted by James Pants, while Das Kloster am Berg takes the baton from Brenda Ray and her Naffi cohorts, all dubbed-out niceness and post punk swagger. The LP closes out with Tropical Drop Out, a dreamscape rather than a wake up call, coaxing you deeper into the trek across the desert of your mind.
And that’s Tropical in its essence: capsules from another time, snapshots of another sound, messages from another mind - all in the service of inducing the visions in your head." Max Cole
Rezzett own that fuzzy mid-fi electronic sound on a cracking eponymous début album, landing nearly 5 years on from their self-titled EP, also issued on Will Bankhead’s TTT label.
In possession of a sound that feels like exotic birds nesting a vintage studio inside your ear, Rezzett, along with the likes of Jamal Moss, Actress, Terekke and Huerco S., have been responsible for redressing the fidelity of dance music with fairly radical yet subtle incision and insight over the best part of this decade.
Thru various process of attrition, they've made a virtue of purposefully muddy and unclear resolution, embracing and fetishising the infidelities of analog hardware noise for a sort of shabby chic appeal that lends itself to closer attention in headphones as well as a sort of psychedelic friction on the ‘floor.
It’s perhaps fair to say that Rezzett have really come to define that sound at its murkiest, most romantic, and diverse, pulling from house, jungle, garage and ambient noise paradigms to forge something viscerally affective and memorably their own, as experienced between the mottled VHS memory-bank shakes of Hala, in the squirming, sore but lush Sexzzy Creep, and the salty angels tears of Yunus in Ekstasi, with the rusty grime and jungle shanks of Gremlinz and Worst Ever Contender lending a cranky, rinsed out finale.
Stunning, revelatory set of sweeping electronic composition by the late Mitar Subotić, a.k.a. Rex Ilusivii (The King of Illusions), dug out by Salon Des Amateurs resident Vladimir Ivkovic to mint his Offen Music imprint.
'In The Moon Cage' captures six lush and spellbinding shots of previously unheard material realised by the Serbian producer circa 1988, framing a vast, digitally-rendered world perfused with Eastern-enchanted vocals, amorphous synth scapes, balearic bird calls and plangent ambient guitar work tripping lines between abstract, esoteric styles best associated with Coil, Muslimgauze, or even JG Thirlwell.
Like many other listeners, this is our first introduction to the work of Subotić, who was born in the Former People's Republic of Yugoslavia before latterly transferring his lauded production skills to Brazil, where he died in a studio fire in 1999 on the eve of release for his 'São Paulo Confessions' LP as Suba.
What remains with 'In The Moon Cage' marks him out as a sorely missed talent, mixing classical training and a keen taste for cutting-edge sounds with a timeless spirit, manifest in a spatially diffuse, yet intensely emotive and detailed sound. Kudos to Offen Music for rescuing this collection from obscurity, it's a real beauty.
Tom Halstead and Joe Andrews finally inaugurate their long-in-the-making RR label with this deadly new Raime 12”, a precision-tooled exploration of negative space, sinogrime, found Youtube dialogue and colossal subs. The ghosts of grime, jungle, dub, and industrial musicks run deep with this one, here rendered with perhaps the most shockingly pristine, eye-catching production of their career to date.
Following on from ‘Am I Using Content Or Is Content Using Me?’, their 2nd EP of 2018 locates Raime in pursuit of challenging, non linear, and often beat-less structures ruptured by the shrapnel of online culture. The hardcore continuum still haunts their sound, but the concrète soundscapes they create make use of a spectra of techniques to camouflage its presence in any overt way. What remains is a skeletal render that implies delirious momentum. With every chime, sample, snare and sub honed to staggering effect, it becomes an exercise in hyperclarity and propulsion.
There’s no one really honing this sound in quite the same way, while there are parallels with weightless grime and the crystalline electronics of early Arca, Sophie, Rabit etc, Raime trigger a different kind of dynamic, one that fills acres of space with a more nervous, angsty energy directly connected to a lineage of UK club styles. It’s basically anything but background music and feels like a culmination, or perhaps a diversion from a path Raime have been following for almost a decade. If this new label allows them the space to untangle that carefully considered aesthetic, we’re f*cking there for it.
The final album in Pastor T.L. Barrett’s 1970s four-part suite of gospel funk LPs
"Do Not Pass Me By finds the fiery preacher getting spaced out on God’s love. Accompanied by his Youth For Christ Choir, the eight-song record is buoyed by the seven-minute opus “Father Stretch My Hands,” later sampled by Kanye West on 2016’s The Life of Pablo."
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.
Geelriandre/Arthesis is named for the pieces that fill its two sides. Geelriandre, realized on an ARP 2500 synthesizer in 1972, featuring Gérard Fremy on prepared piano, for whom the piece was originally composed. Arthesis, realized using the University of Iowa's Moog in 1973, comprises the full duration of side B.
The first of the two half-hour pieces 'Geelriandre' was made on an ARP Synthesizer in 1972 accompanied by Gérard Fremy on Piano, and finally recorded at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, December 1979. In its 29 minute life-span the world seems to gradually slow down spinning on its axis, everything feels measured to a deeply attuned internal clock. The ARP provides layers of wavering tones which gradually accumulate, dissipate and re-emerge with a subliminal quality while sensitively struck percussion - gongs and other, sharper metallic objects - mark out time with a saintly, opiated patience.
Then there's 'Arthesis' - realised on the Moog Synthesizer at the University of Iowa in 1973, a track which makes you feel like part of your consciousness is folding back into itself. A low, low hum starts out in the left channel before overtones gradually bleed into the right ending with a moebius strip-like circuit. After another 15 minutes or so both channels appear to start swooning in a kind of elliptical syncopation, leaving you utterly transfixed and dazed by the end.
Hearing these pieces now, in our over-saturated soundsphere, the effect is nothing short of radical and deeply, unforgettably affective. If you're seeking something literally extra-ordinary, which seems to displace time altogether, these pieces will greatly enrich your mind. When this material was originally released in 2003 on Fringes Recordings it was available in a greater number than this run and sold out immediately, so if you know what's good...
Amsterdam’s Electric Party pack more wobbly bounce to the ounce than your average waver in a strong comp of their hard-to-find 1982 output - RIYL Saâda Bonaire, Lifetones, Material
Drawn from their sole full release, ‘Work’ as well as compilation and demo cuts that have surfaced in recent years, ‘Play’ frames the four-piece at their low-key funkiest, echoing disco-not-disco and new wave trends from New York and London in nine svelte tunes built around synths, bass guitar, puckered vox and snaky Roland drum machines.
40 years after they were made, the tunes surely hold up to spec for the retro-futurists with a strong haul of that sits between many poles, variously taking in the lilting dub-rock of ‘Caribe’ on a Saâda Bonaire-meets-ACR tip, and what sounds like a funked up Nine Circles in ‘Tension,’ along with a freakish adjunct to Funkadelic in the alien voices and splashy fonk of ‘Words From The Underground,’ with a killer cut of YMO-esque new wave flush with cod-Eastern tones in ‘Imagine A Blind Man Dreaming.’
Russia’s Paval Milyakov, aka Buttechno, tends to his screwier, inquisitive side for TTT with a gauzy batch of ambient, folk and house experiments, swerving between the lines of his records for Japan’s City-2 St. Giga, Collapsing Market and his Gosha Rubchinskiy AW16 soundtrack, to the dankest parts of his bedroom-baked club sound.
This is music for hanging out on cold, concrete corners in your most flammable trackies, taking in pastoral electro-folk meditation Gosha Medvedeva, his Pole-esque Slow Dub, and the skinny, bone-pinching swing of K4 on the one hand, before decorating those skeletal structures with more fleshly samples of Russia pop in the low key seduction of Poleva, and something like a roadside house rave played on empty vodka bottles, oil drums and cardboard boxes in the Brinkmann-like Metallo, and a nervily grubbing, spooked-out house ace named Super Siziy King.
Nobody does timeless yet modern ennui quite like HTRK. On their 4th album proper the duo trustingly cup your heart in a cats cradle of crepuscular rhythms & valium blues, all riddled with Jonnine Standish's ear worming mantras and Nigel Yang’s heat haze guitar shimmers.
Issued five years on from their excellent last album ‘Psychic 9-5 Club’, this new collection was recorded in the hills outside Melbourne and has a suitably lofty, cool, spacious air about it that makes their previous albums feel urgent by comparison. That’s maybe understandable considering the tragic circumstances surrounding their earlier albums (they lost a bandmate, mentor, and parent during this period), yet while ‘Venus In Leo’ is still decidedly gothic and downbeat, it’s clear they’ve come to terms with their quota of life’s worries, with Jonnine Standish’s vocals more than ever bearing the slow, travelled pathos of a country folk singer, beautifully accentuated by Nigel Yang’s acoustic strums. Don’t worry though, the spine tingling synths and lip-bitingly strong drum machine pulses are still firmly in place.
Preceded by two of its highlights, including Jonnine's sigh at the state of love in the age of social media on ‘Mentions’, and the aching shuffle of ‘Dying of Jealousy’ (whose singles both have killer B-sides), the album contains a further seven new songs that again confirm HTRK among the definitive songwriters of their scene. Between the opiated allure of ‘Into The Drama’, the shivery sweet acknowledgement of a lover’s compliments in ‘You Know How To Make Me Happy’, lazy afternoon sentiments on ‘Dream Symbol’, and the wilting petals of Yang’s guitar and dubbed drum machine in ‘New Year’s Day’, HTRK arguably prove the most crucial bridge between their heroes The Birthday Party/Rowland S. Howard/Suicide/David Lynch and a wave of modern pop tristesse from Lil Peep to Billie Eilish, whether those artists know it or not.
Magnificent 1987 recordings of bagpipes, sirens, sheet metal and computers by the late, great Yoshi Wada, who recently passed away, aged 77, on May 18th, 2021. For the uninitiated, it’s a huge RIYL Tony Conrad, Pauline Oliveros, Stephen O’Malley, Kali Malone, Jen Lucy Allen’s book ’The Foghorn’s Lament’
Hailed by the inspirational artist as a personal favourite among his own recordings, ‘The Appointed Cloud’ is a strikingly enduring testament to Wada’s keen pursuit of mind-altering drone overtones. Meant to be played at high volume, where the interplay of layered overtones become more clearly apparent, it’s a masterpiece of its ilk, demonstrating the Fluxus artist’s improvisational instincts at their most attuned, searching and powerfully heightened. It’s a music of eons, extending and making relevant ancient traditional practices for the modern day, and with it inducing the rarest psychoacoustic sensations and insights to the metaphysics of sound; essentially factoring the original acoustic aspects by computerised means in order to possibly make contemporary listeners feel as awed as we imagine pre-electronic audiences would have experienced with the raw might of bagpipes or early organ music.
Wada’s music is actually perfect listening for anyone who thinks they’ve heard it all, and need a reminder of the mystery of sound’s elemental forces. ‘The Appointed Cloud’ is one of only a small handful of Wada's recordings that made it to physical formats - his work was always regarded better experienced in the flesh, at volume - and can be held up alongside other totemic enigmas of the C.20th such as Harley Gaber’s ‘The Winds Rise In The North,’ another side whose magisterial scope and effect remains at the peripheries - awaiting discovery by intrepid ears. The new mastering by Stephan Mathieu beautifully highlights Wada’s resounding performance and almost imperceptible electronics aspects by David Rayna (collaborator of La Monte Young), transposing the grandeur of the Greta Hall of the New York Hall of Science to your own living space intact, and encouraging the ear to really rove its incredible space and enchanted waves of air. If you aren’t shivering when those bagpipes drop we can’t help you, soz.
NWAQ’s sole and resoundingly influential album is finally back in print, serving a best in class session of beatdown, MDMA-kissed deep house including all tracks from the original CD now cut to 3LP - 100% unmissable
Now 14 years old, ‘The Dead Bears’ has been a go-to classic for us since original release, forming a sort of comfort blanket that never fails to absorb in its gauzy warmth. Over the years, it’s been hailed by likes of Actress as a big influence on his sound and it’s not hard to hear how - it’s an ideal bridge between the fathoms deep US house and techno, and European electronica, that Dutchman NWAQ was immersed in during the ‘90s, and is dearly close to the heart of a style Actress would expand upon over the past decade. There aren’t many albums of its ilk that still hold water nowadays, heck there’s not many albums of its ilk, period, and if you still don’t know, we can’t urge you enough to get properly acquainted.
Vacillating systolic deep house slugs such as ‘The Force’ and the balmy wooze of ‘Avon Sparkle’ with moments of peerless bliss in ’Shine Eyed’ and ‘Kemo Sabe’, it all reminds us of watching the grass melt and chatting breeze on the sofa while soundtracked by its unobtrusive but high tog presence. It’s almost hard to write about this record without getting at least a bit choked up - it’s just one of those LPs that becomes a soundtrack to life, forming a connective tissue between loves, friendships, high times and downtime. We’ll probably never be able to shift that feeling, and don’t want to either.
An all time highest recommendation.
OOOF! Upfront SA bubblegum house pressure from Morgan, dealt by flawless Amsterdam label La Casa Tropical
Hitting it hard and bright from the top, ‘Vakowana’ tees up UKF-compatible snares with natty keys and percolated bass in a style that actually feels too fast to be from SA back in the day, but it is what is; banging! There’s a straighter house version on the flip with more Bowlers-style piano house chops, but the A-side is all you need.
Absolutely killer set of mutant futurism from the bassbins of Brittany, France featuring 8 slow Dancehall jammmmz from Low Jack.
Editions Gravats kick off the club-ready Les Disques de la Bretagne series with exclusive re-workings of tracks from Low Jack’s half of the Glacial Dancehall tape with Equiknoxx, all making their first appearance on vinyl.
Arriving 4 years since Philippe Hallais a.k.a. Low Jack started up the Gravats label with his îlot 7”, Hallais returns to his roots with these ruddy dancehall bangers, each nipped and tweaked from the OG tape for optimal, freaky impact inna dance.
Dubwise and direct but laced with strange details that light up on repeated listens, the plate turns up some massive highlights with the loping Linn drum cracks and digickal synth torque of Partei and the rogue bogle of Brass up top, then with some killer sino-flavour on the rugged ’90s rub ’n tug of Raid Leader and the Flex Dance Music-compatible knocks and horns of Light.
You can take it on trust: this one is properly top-loaded with the heaviest gear...
Bonnie “Prince” Billy stays busy - in the past five years he has released albums of previously-recorded songs by Susanna Wallumrod, Mekons, Merle Haggard; even himself, and a collaborative record with Bitchin Bajas. The only thing he hasn't done is a new album of Bonny originals - in case you weren't counting, 2011's Wolfroy Goes To Town was the last one. That's from the first half of the Obama presidency!
"Things happen for reasons that are often bigger than ourselves and outside of our control. They happen suddenly or they happen slowly - but they always happen one day at a time and day after day. Here's Will Oldham, on the confluence of marketplace, values, aesthetic and process that slowly built new album I Made A Place: "In recent years, the whole world of recorded music, in the way that such music is conceived, perceived, recorded, released and distributed, has been atomized. I tried holding my breath, waiting for the storm to pass, but this storm is here to stay and its devastation is our new landscape. What else is a person to do except what he knows and feels, which for me is making records built out of songs intended for the intimate listening experiences of wonderful strangers who share something spiritually and musically? I started working on these songs thinking that there was no way I was going to finish them and record and release them. This was a constructive frame-of-mind that protected the songs until this frightening moment when we let go of them and give them to you."
The world has changed. Some things will never change. Some are gone forever. Thankfully, this isn't one of them: the wait for new Bonnie “Prince” Billy is now on a timer. What's more, the new single drops a bit of Apocalypse WOW. Picking up in a sense where last year's "Blueberry Jam" left off, "(At The) Back of the Pit" considers what to do with the things we love when it comes time for the death (and therefore, rebirth) of our painstakingly-built'n'kill't world. It's an affirming country jam: elegiac early moments give way to jaunty roots-rock strides, a horn section soulfully charting the long rays at the end of the day as well as the first rays of the new rising sun as they light on all our hopeful tomorrows."
From the opening strokes you know this is going to be good, and Into The Light’s exploration of Greek soundtracks does not let down - a big tip for Vangelis and Lena Platonos fans!
Suave, noir, and suggestive as you like; Into The Light are bang on the money for fans of ’70s/’80s synth and film music, and particularly of lesser known varieties, as it mercifully circumvents diggers’ problems with reading Greek artist names and record titles to serve a cherry-picked (olive-picked?) brace of soundscapes, cues and themes united by a beautifully allusive Greek “spirit.” Yet while rooted in a bygone era, it’s not hard to hear how this “spirit” has fed forth into modern Greek music, and can be found everywhere from the technoid cinematic drama of Xyn Cabal to the filigree wright emotion conveyed by Christos Chondropoulos in the contemporary sphere.
The album’s opener is a real diamond, unfurling the 10 min Deckard-gaze panorama of ‘Parados’ by Thesia in a very Vangelisian mode, before moving thru a string of immaculately sequenced cues and themes, spanning the lush analog synthesis of Yannis Kostidakis, bubbling jazz-fusion from Stamatis Spanoudakis, a glistening ‘Erotic Scene’ from Dimitris Papadimitriou; fantasy synth pomp in ‘Death at the Dried Champaign’; the Coil-esque FM synthesis of Giorgos Hatzinasios’ ‘The Death of Baby Jane’; electro-acoustic collage from Papadimitriou and Dimitris Lekkas; a steeply psychedelic 11 min stunner full of strange tunings from Haris Xanthoudakis; and perfect end scene in the chamber cello of ‘Karkalou’ by Charlotte Van Gelder.’
Welcome to the curious world of Peter Graf York: a world full of city centre safaris and epic train journeys, Soviet cosmonauts and Oakland rappers, filtered synths and plucked mbiras. It's a wild ride inspired as much by Jamaican dub sorcery as by playful minimalism outta the Pacific Northwest.
"Many of these tracks were composed on the hoof - literally en route across sections of the ever-reliable Deutsche Bahn network. As such, there’s a certain travellin-without-moving dynamic across this collection, capturing that cinematic feel of window frames flickering past graffiti'd signal exchanges, morphing into rolling hills and green forests. Expedition Bahn is the sound of ideas being set in motion, each track heralding the arrival of an uncanny destination. Blazed beats give way to acid-fuelled electro, and dub rhythms step aside for 4th world meditations as readily as sleepers on a train track.
We can leave the last word to heroic USSR cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov, who spent the final moments of his fateful re-entry giving the administration an earful of righteous proportions (regarding the technical failures of the spacecraft). Taking his place as the first martyr of space travel, Komarov accepted the Soyuz mission despite safety concerns, in order to protect the other cosmonauts. It's an attitude that echoes throughout PGY’s sonic universe - make the most of the trip you're on... ‘cause you never know just which way it will go."
Enduring Detroit original Terrence Dixon returns to Rush Hour after seven years for a short, sharp futurist excursion into psychedelic parallel universes. Few artists are capable of producing techno that sounds this singular, spacious and funky.
Following last year's mind-bendingly breathtaking double-header of "From The Far Future Pt. 3" and "Galactic Halo" comes "Reporting From Detroit", another undulating set of machine funq that reminds us why Dixon has remained a crucial figure in the development and maintenance of Techno. His style is often imitated, but rarely touched: a percussive, lysurgic whirlpool of glassy synthetic textures, TR-909 rhythms and hoarse vocals. This is Black music, capital T techno, and a million miles from the identikit grinding minimal that's been turned into a European business exercise for turgid bankers and the de facto plague rave soundtrack.
The title of the album sounds simple but Dixon is stating pure facts. Unlike "From The Far Future" series, this record is beamed to us from the here and now and works as a stark, corrective exercise. This music is Detroit, and Detroit is techno. Dixon isn't adding anything new to his sound, but he's letting a new generation know what Detroit techno is, with its high-concept sci-fi landscapes and neck-snapping, ass-shaking rhythms. If you're into Actress, MoMA Ready, Drexciya or even Vladislav Delay, Dixon is a crucial linking thread. So essential.
Exceptional, 15 minute long dancer from Beatrice Dillon, blessing the 12 x 12 series with a concatenated ‘nuum sidewinder Can I Change My Mind?, where the London-based artist nimbly finds the square roots of jungle, techno, noise and minimalist dance music firmly anchored in steppers’ dub and West African percussive tradition. If you’ve ever been snagged by Sotofett, DJ Krust or Shackleton’s devilish dubs, this one’s for you!
Since first emerging with a highly regarded monthly NTS radio show, a reel of widely-praised mixtapes for The Trilogy Tapes, Blowing Up the Workshop and, most recently, a mix with Ben UFO for Wichelroede, Beatrice’s uniquely focussed solo works - including two excellent EPs for Where To Now? and a split with Karen Gwyer - along with two acclaimed LPs with Rupert Clervaux and her recent remix for Helm on the PAN label, have all come to define a curious juncture of worldly rhythm studies and probing electronics which arguably exists in a long lineage of avant-garde experimentation done at the service of ‘floors both real and imagined.
Can I Change My Mind? is Beatrice’s most tracky solo production to date, and also the most singular, adroit demonstration of what makes her tick, combining and parsing the most affective, tactile parts of Black Atlantic percussive patterns with a learned appreciation of dub-style economy and concrète texturing.
Across 13 minutes of morphing, fractious rhythm, Beatrice renders clear the prismic and rhizomic dub binds and syncopations that connect original, rolling African drum traditions with Afrobeat and highlife, and likewise between proper UK roots steppers, house and ‘90s jungle, or, for that matter, the mosaic of modern antecedents which continue to be informed by those styles - from the rites of Shackleton to Tessela’s visceral techno swerve and the mercurial grooves of Rian Treanor or her sometime collaborator, Kassem Mosse.
Urged by the intuition of a helpless riddim fiend and premo DJ, Beatrice nimbly synchs swollen, globular bass, needlepoint hi-hats and shocks of flinty amens at 150bpm in a deadly, mutating bogle, effectively exploring every interstice of half, double, and triplet-timed calculation with devilish sleight of hand and cadence; never letting the ball drop whilst suggesting myriad points of interpretation for the dancers and DJs.
It’s a singular work of experience, intuition and technique, and perhaps surprisingly only her 3rd solo release proper. But its daring ruggedness and stringency is a clear indication that Beatrice Dillon is only just warming up and coming into her own. There’s only one side, one track. But it’s all you need.
Engrossing small sound science from Milan’s Giuseppe Ielasi and Nicola Ratti, aka Bellows, one of our favourite production units now marking up another mesmerising addition to their frayed, knotty microcosmos of sounds following on from LP's for our own Boomkat Editions as well as the Latency, Senufo and Planam labels.
The thing that marks Bellows apart from many of their academic peers is their interest in bass dynamics. Theirs is a careful study of rhythmic and low-end propulsion at an almost atomic level, something which elicits a kinetic, physical response which perhaps stands them alongside some of Carsten Nicolai’s more dynamic productions, as well as Raster founding mate Frank Bretschneider at his minimal best.
‘Strand’ is, however, something of a departure for the duo; the palette has been broadened via tapes, modular synthesizers, effects and samples to encapsulate a more fluid notion, from the almost Caretaker-esque fairground memory on Untitled #5 to the African stutter of Untitled #2. But its perhaps on Untitled #6 that they hit hardest, perforating a single, almighty bass thump with slivers of slippery found sounds and bass pulses - the archetypal Bellows blueprint, taken to its logical conclusion.
Ielasi and Ratti have got their fingers farther into the fissures of their very precise productions, allowing them to crack, sprout and bifurcate into floating gasps as dense and elusive as a gremlin vape chug. It’s a sound to get properly snagged on, revealing hidden depths to its asymmetric bass geometries with each new listen.
Huge Recommendation if you're into anything from classic Raster Noton to Ilpo Väisänen to Actress...
Recorded in 1974 and unavailable since 1978, The Antique Blacks begins as one of Sun Ra's most soulful and spiritual albums.
Set apart from some of his Arkestra's most abstract work, 'Song No. 1' opens the album with sprightly electric piano riffing and shuffling, tribal-style drumming, while its follow-up 'There Is A Change In The Air' proves to be grounded in a similar palette, although here the piece is punctuated by spoken-word passages and wild outbreaks of sax soloing and wah-wah guitar.
Sun Ra's rocksichord playing seems to be the musical lynchpin throughout the album, but it's when he plugs in his Moog that the album really spirals off into the realms of lunacy: 'Would I For All That Were' enters into a dark, heavy free-noise domain that's all-but stripped of musical logic, and this is pursued even further during 'You Thought You Could Build a World Without Us', which combines roving, almost Merzbow-like tones with explosive drumming and cosmological ramblings from the great man.
You’d be forgiven for missing this hyper-limited release last year (only 100 copies were made) - but thankfully we now have an exclusive clear vinyl edition, pressed up in a run of 250 copies as part of our ongoing celebration of the best of 2018.
Without a doubt one of the most daring artists out there right now, Klein makes music acutely symptomatic of its era. Naturally, recklessly combining formerly mutually exclusive styles such as gospel and noise, or ambient collage and R&B, she somehow keeps a distinct aesthetic amid these dense expressions of modernity, cannily reflecting the normalisation of intensifying socio-economic anxieties and the inexorable drive of urban life within her navigations of chaotic sonic environments.
Forging sounds and styles as wild as anything from Bob Ostertag’s ‘DJ Of The Month’, or with the decentred intensity of Aaron Dilloway, Klein’s music is better distinguished by the way she effortlessly bridges dimensions and conjures whole new sensations for the listener to deal with. I mean, if you’re on this site, you’re probably familiar with both Hype Williams and Prurient, but like us, you’d probably struggle to think of another artist who sounds like both of them at the same time, and in that sense Klein’s music is neologistic, syncretic and blessed with an intuitive physics in a way that language and musical perception is only catching up with.
Yet it’s best received and deciphered with a red 3rd eye and porous 6th sense, cos any attempt to limn it in concrete, literal terms will never fully grasp its emotive chicanery and might dull its aura of outright, alien oddness.
We detect a star is born with Maria Somerville’s outstanding debut album of dream-pop, drawing from traditional Irish folk themes and ambient electronics, and part recorded in the Gaeltacht - a Gaelic speaking area - and islands on the Irish Atlantic coast. RIYL Julia Holter, Casino Vs Japan, Broadcast...
“Building from a reputation of enthralling live shows, All My People is Maria Somerville’s self released debut. The music is a collection of works recorded across Dublin, Cornamona and Inis Óirr - a tiny island sitting off Ireland’s west coast.
Somerville draws on conventional folk forms alongside post-punk, traditional Irish motifs, starry eyed pop and hypnotic drones to create wholly original music that is a product of its environment. Somerville channels the wilderness of the Irish landscape through dense, ethereal soundscapes and bare boned percussion interspersed with ghostly vocals that are ever present and all encompassing, like crystalline glints of sunshine peeking through dark stormy clouds.
The duality of darkness and light is at play throughout the releases seven tracks - comfort is found in heartbreak, solace in despair and quixotic wonderment in the infinite melancholia. Somerville lays her heart bear and invites you into it with tales of doomed romance, bittersweet love stories and longings of ‘home’, in both the physical and metaphysical sense. All My People is a luscious entry into the world of Maria Somerville.”
Absolutely classic, innovative and experimental exercise in minimalism from 1994, originally releassed on the legendary Irdial label and now reissued via this essential half-speed re-master. It was an album so painstaking to make that Anthony Manning didnt have a proper night's sleep for weeks on end during its recording...
Anthony Manning’s debut album Islets in Pink Polypropylene was his 2nd release, preceded only by his debut 12” Elastic Variations in 1994. Painstakingly crafted exclusively using the malleable palette of a Roland R-8 drum machine - as used by 808 State, Orbital, Autechre before him - and landing just as the UK scene’s come-down from the halcyon daze really started to kick in, the album was effectively one of the UK’s first post-rave ambient records proper; sharing much more in common with Æ’s Amber or AFX’s SAW Vol. II - which were both released in that same year - than anything else before or around it.
Presenting five exquisitely efficient and detailed tracks that perhaps suggest what Satie and Paremgiani might have done with access to an R-8, Islets in Pink Polypropylene is future-proofed by the nature of its reductionist principles, rendering captivating glimpses into a machine-mind of sparkling neurones and tingling nerves that reveal a world of possibilities from the same equipment that almost everyone else is using, but to much more skewed, esoteric and coolly cerebral ends.
And in contrast to the vast fields of pastoral, drifty ambience and the way techno was bifurcating into nuttier, harder, complex arrangements, this record is a real sore thumb, preferring a modest pointillist efficiency and a relatively cold sense of space over broad strokes and fluffy intimacy. Yet that said, it is a friendly, memorably involving listen; you might just have to work around its more autistic elements to find a way in.
Whether directly or indirectly, there are swathes of minimalist electronic records released since (in fact there’s probably whole genres) which owe this one a debt of gratitude, so it’s great to have a hard copy back in circulation.
Synth-pop soul queen Jessy Lanza once again teams up with Jeremy Greenspan (Junior Boys) for a delicious 3rd album of melodic ohrwurms and gilded grooves.
After writing 2016's "Oh No", Jessy Lanza relocated to New York City, leaving her creative partner Jeremy Greenspan (of Junior Boys) in Hamilton Ontario. This latest album is the first she has worked on long distance, firing ideas and sketches back and forth and allowing the personal diary of new experiences to inform her writing. Like its predecessor, "All The Time" is a bubbly, poppy selection of bubblegum funk, blessed with Lanza's charming 'Holiday'-era Madonna tones. Tracks like 'Lick In Heaven' and 'Like Fire' are heart-racing, emotional pop belters, while 'Face' sounds like a footwork-aware take on 'My Boo'-wave electro. The album is unlikely to surprise fans of "Oh No", but the uneasy, melancholy air of anxiety adds an extra layer to Lanza's songwriting as she continues to mature and gleefully manipulate pop formula.
This one was pressed up in such a small run back at the start of the year that barely anybody caught sight of it, which is a shame cos it’s a deadly little thing. It starts off in the vicinity of Carl Craig’s Psyche/BFC classics and ends on a sorta woozy sea-shanty somewhere between Laurie Anderson's ‘O Superman’ and This Mortal Coil’s Song To The Siren. Basically, the best all-over-the-place vibes.
‘Lowlands’ thrills with a broad and fully formed mix of styles that’s impossible to pin down. ‘Arctic Eden’ initiates with a warm flush of ‘90s synth pads and breakbeat house grooves that sounds like a graft between 69's 'Jam The Box' and 'Desire', while ‘Don’t F*ck With The Dragon’ feels out a canny ambient techno space that morphs into a gnarly distorted drive, and the pacier ‘Buildbase’ evokes a strange, glyding headiness that will work a treat in the club.
On the other side of his style, we find cranky cinematic scenes in the sombre, rustling and quietly unpredictable design of ‘Storegga Slide’, and washed-out, screwed trip hop recalling Yo Yo Express Dieting in ‘High Tide’, before he wraps it all up with the Breadwoman-like alien folk of ‘Lowlands’.
Pretty f*cking special this one…Tipped!
Giant Swan's Robin Stewart mints Ifeoluwa's brand new Ipaadi label with a tight set of drum machine experiments described as “a weird love letter to ‘maximal minimalism’”. It's strong material that sounds like Pan Sonic, T++, Rian Treanor and Batu bunged in a blender.
Written back in 2017, these tracks are a singular excursion for Stewart, who says he won't be making tunes like this again. So we can thank Yewande Adeniran (Ifeoluwa) for convincing him to put them out - it's some of the best material we've heard from the Giant Swan camp to date.
Dry, rhythmic dance music that reminds us of Pan Sonic at their most grinding but spiked with an unmistakably Bristolian bump, it's bone dry but surprisingly funky. 'Triffid' is noisy and bullish, rolling across a brutalist 4/4 like a steampunk soundsystem in a far-off forest; 'Look Up' is completely different, with a broken, taught rhythm slipping between metallic Berlin-esque clonks.
'THCX' is our fave though, a high-BPM almost Singeli tempo cut that flickers with the digi-fuckt intensity of Rian Treanor's mind-sluicing recent material. Properly twisted alt-rave bangers for adventurous listeners and brave dancers.
Tenderly low-key R&B gems produced and emoted by Dodo, debuting on Hajj’s Dawn Records (Ronce, Art Crime) boutique
‘Brasse’ is a beautifully barely-there ballad sung in lilting autotune over simplest, yet effective, cello motif and woodblock, beside the weightless shape of ‘Focus,’ which feels less downcast but also bruised and longing. Kinda wish i’d paid more attention at French classes in le school now, curious to know what’s hurt him so.
We’re f*cking buzzing to tick Mappa Mundi’s enigmatic 1990 ambient album ‘Musaics’ off the vinyl wishlist, with thanks to Brian Not Brian’s Midnight Drive reissue schedule, who’ve necessarily expanded it from single LP to a 2xLP primed to play loud
A rugged outlier on the cusp of ambient sea change ‘80s into ‘90s, ‘Musaics’ presents 6 soundscapes realised by Jan Van De Bergh and Pieter Kuyl in “spontaneous sessions” with a sampler, drum machines and a computer circa 1990. The results are absolutely choice examples of that era, ranging from tuff but deep breakbeats to dead sexy proto-Goa styles including the lusting ‘Sexafari’ and languorous classic ‘Trance Fusion’, as recently hailed by Hunee and also reissued in the ‘Antwerp Bio Techno 1989-94’ EP.
So yeh, a favourite of ours for a good few years now, ‘Musaics’ is a little world unto itself, folding in all stripes of environmental sounds, acidic synths and lithe rhythms to terraform a psychedelic rave dream just prior to it all tipping into “hardcore”. As they state int he liner notes, the duo arrived art this style serendipitously via simply mixing two records together with a mixer. That might sound easy and obvious, but remember this was the start of Europeans pissing around on two turntables, finding that mythical 3rd track, and attempting to recreate its imaginary clash of textures, tones and grooves.
Like UK producers who were also applying the same Hip Hop-based ideas with a twisted lip and at faster tempos, Mappa Mundi did it slower, psychedelic, but still with a rugged appeal. It’s there everywhere from the very Bristolian parallels of opener ‘Urbi Et Mori’ with its depth charge subs, to the aforementioned beauty ‘Sexafari’ and its writhing 808s, to the mix of didgeridoo and rap knocks in ‘Serendipity (Take 1)’, and thru to full swing break in ‘The Oracle’ or the New Jack Swang of ‘Wölfli’, but hardly better than on ‘Trance Fusion’, one of the sexiest, enchating 11 minutes of slow dance music produced in 1990.
Meditative moods from the Chicago duo of bassist Josh Abrams and percussionist Chad Taylor. With Taylor on mbira and Abrams on guimbri, they transcend jazz, making subtle rhythmic ambience that links Arve Henriksen with Konono No.1 and Stella Chiweshe.
Natural Information Society's Abrams has been using the guimbri, a lute-style bass, for years, but it's rarely sounded better than it does here, alongside Taylor's resonant mbira. Taylor was drawn to the mbira as a "spiritual instrument" after hearing it used on a Pharoah Sanders album, his deep connection with it shines here as it takes center stage, underpinned by Abrams deep plucks.
This isn't straightforward jazz by any means, operating in a spiritual mode not a million miles from Sanders (or indeed Alice Coltrane) that defies categorization. It's a pleasure to hear the two players go head to head like this - the premise is simple but the results are ineffably beautiful.
The guess-again label R=A pull out a mystic beauty by Mitar Subotic (Suba) aka Rex Ilusivii (King of Illusions) following unarchived issues of his exceptional work by Vladimir Ivkovic’s Offen Music and Gilb’R’s Versatile in recent years.
‘Fool For Love’ is a poetic 23 minute synthscape rescued from the mists of time (recording date is unknown, but likely mid/late ‘80s) to reveal the most expansive iteration of Subotic’s profound sound in current circulation. It’s an extremely hypnotic trip, of the sort where perceptions of time and space slip away and sound becomes atemporal, synaesthetic and hallucinogenic. It’s definitely best received with eyes shut, where the ostensibly monotone drones will reveal their surreal internal fluctuations and inceptive nature like a magic eye painting deciphered within a dream.
Fans of Eleh or 0PN will be in their element with this one.
Unmissable first vinyl pairing of superlative ’60s avant garde works by Alvin Lucier, supplying refreshed introduction for two canonic and uniquely life-affirming recordings, or as Robert Ashley says "There is nothing like "Vespers" in the literature of music. It is a completely new way of defining what music is, and the definition is given to us in a purely realized form".
’Vespers’ simply leaves us shivering with the pleasure of sound at its purest, igniting the proprioceptive senses with frankly phenomenal results that leave our hairs standing on end. Now plated up with 1968’s ear-boggling ‘Chambers’, which with hindsight now sounds uncannily like a conceptual inversion to ‘Vespers’, the two works’ contrasts serve to highlight the genius and - for want of a better word - absolute magic of Lucier’s compositions. With bags of wit, pragmatism and ingenuity that ignite the senses and potentially make listeners perceive the world differently, pieces such as these historically marked a schism with staid, crenellated old world ideas of what music could be.
“Vespers (1969) and Chambers (1968), the two works featured on this LP, witness Lucier rethinking the material and conceptual possibilities of music at every turn. First released as Lucier's contribution to the Sonic Arts Union's lone LP, Electronic Sound, in 1972, Vespers is a work generated by two equal actors —the performers and the space that they occupy. Conceived following a chance encounter with hand-held echolocation technology —the Sondol™, a pulse oscillator that emits short, sharp pulses at variable repetition speeds, producing echoes from the reflecting walls of a space to register relative location and orientation— it stands as one of the first works in history within which the decisions made during the performance are solely based on acoustics, allowing sound to be equally the content and structural determiner.
Written as a poetic "prose score", for the realization of Vespers, each performer is equipped with a Sondol™ and asked to move blindfolded within a defined space, moving from one point to the next using only echolocation, taking what Lucier describes as "sound photographs" that reveal discrete details of the given area. As the recording unfolds, the aptitude of this image becomes increasingly clear. While an aesthetic relationship to the movement of musical minimalism, embarked upon by a number of his peers, has often presented itself within Lucier's work, of all of them this is arguably most present within Vespers. Despite the radical leap it presented within the history of the sonic arts, Vespers was not the first of Lucier's works that began to specifically address the relation between sound, perception, and space. Notably Chambers, composed the year before in 1968 and embedded with the wry humor which lingers below much of the composer’s output, explored the theme on a brilliantly miniature scale.
As a total work, Chambers contends with the relationship between the knowing and understanding of what we hear, our perception of the source of a sound, and its relation to space. When viewed in the immediate context of Vespers, as it is here, it presents as an unexpected inversion of what was to come. While it plays on the relation of sight and the sonic actor, here what is seen and unseen takes on a dynamically different role. Equally, there is not one space to perceive, but many. For the realization of Chambers, battery-operated radios, tape recorders, and various kinds of electric toys are hidden in paper bags, shoes, kettles, a suitcase, and other small resonant spaces, which not only limit the perception of these object to their sounds alone, but take on the role of acoustic actors on the sounds within, each space becoming as individual and distinct as the object it contains. Taking it one step further, rather than being static, these "chambers" are carried by performers into larger ones —those in which the work is performed— further altering the sounds which occupy them, drawing the ear, once again, to the action of that which contains a body of sound.”
More fire from Suzanne Kraft’s SK U KNO, this time with a little help from Ramzi. We were totally obsessed with that 'U KNO’ LP last year, and this one’s a total pearl - on a more angular and smoke-filled tip.
The opener ‘Shopbeat’ is an almost autonomic, hazy roller landing somewhere between Actress, T++ and Innerzone Orchestra, while Ramzi supplies the sludge on ‘Founded’ and closer 'Accelerate Me Wildly’ splinters outside the grid on a moody, blunted, but uplifting late night number.
"Future Islands release ‘Singles’, their debut album for 4AD and their boldest and most immediate work to date. The Baltimore trio consists of enigmatic frontman Sam Herring, bassist /guitarist William Cashion and keyboardist / guitarist / programmer Gerrit Welmers. Herring’s poetic tales of heartbreak, love and loss are up front and in high fidelity, thanks in part to a newfound creative partnership with producer Chris Coady (Beach House, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Grizzly Bear)"
Sandblasted freeform dembow weirdness that harnesses the ramshackle energy of Clara!, the blunted atmospheres of Kelman Duran, and Demdike Stare's genre-shifted audio excavation. Next level.
The latest release on special guest DJ and D. Tiffany's xpq? imprint, "Rico!" continues their quest to chart club music's outsider fringe. It's the latest set from Dan Rincon and Michael Red's La Fe project, and documents a productive weekend at Rincon's Montreal studio where they realized the studio was haunted. Every time they'd make a banger, the lights would flash uncontrollably.
On opener 'Alta', the duo bend dembow rhythms around a mess of sirens, offworld chatter and detuned synths. It's chopped 'n screwed dancehall, sounding chemical as f*ck without ever losing the fwd motion. From here the sounds dissolve into a fractal froth of acid-dipped rhythms and hotknived drones. 'Axtal' is a syncopated surrealist dub cave excursion that sounds like Vladislav Delay on a particularly messy weekend, while the flip returns to blazed reggaeton territory.
'77' is particularly absorbing, with dubstep wobbles filling the gaps between dancehall thumps and modular gurgles. It's not a million miles from Low Jack or Equiknoxx's skeletal island experimentation, and manages to sound painstakingly oblique without ever losing that club-ready throb. Must be the ghosts.
Mix Mup and Kassem Mosse deuce down a trio of slompy, dish-rinsing house deviations on the 3rd TTT X Palace 12”, following there examples of Theo Parrish and Omar Souleyman X Rezzett.
We’re all over the A-side like last night’s dinner on unwashed plates, loving those sloshing, pitch-bent drums that sound like someone washing a Roland machine in a saucepan under a cold, running water whilst Laraaiji doodles in the background, or something.
Chorus Beach is it’s drier counterpart on the B-side: a squeaky fresh slow house swinger elevated with mystic, discordant pads; and Watching Gischt hustles a deeply rude and loose house style somewhere to the left of Theo P and STL.
Ambient music's favorite Rock 'n Roll Hall of Famer Alessandro Cortini returns with his highest profile solo album to date. "Scuro Chiaro" is a frazzled selection of 8-bit RPG riffs, tape-dubbed arpeggios, sandblasted rhythms and saturated power ambience. A finely matured cask blend of early OPN, Tim Hecker, Emeralds and Prurient.
The faint throb of industrial electro underpins Cortini's umpteenth solo record. His obsession with synthesizers has characterized his last run, from the minimalist loveletter to Roland's underrated MC-202 "Sonno" to "Avanti", which was written on the EMS Synthi AKS MKII. On "Scuro Chiaro", particular synths are no longer the focus, but Cortini's keen focus on texture and minimalism is still central.
Each track appears to be built from the simplest ingredients, maybe a single melancholy arpeggio or bare drum pulse, but swells slowly to reflect the timbre and shifting tone of the instrument. Cortini treats his electronic boxes as if they were built of lacquered wood and horse hair, and betrays a passion for an era when the serendipity and unpredictability of the analog realm was far more constant.
The tracks are rooted in the eerie genre sound universe of John Carpenter, and tempered by Cortini's well-documented interest in vintage videogames. The repetitive, loping melodies are directly linked to a long-gone era of Commodore Amiga shovelware, filtered thru the composer's knowledge of noise, early synth music and Krautrock. The result is ambient, industrial and electropop all at once, fermented into almost beatless musical liqor: steeped in nostalgia, but expertly restrained.
One of Parmegiani's most in-demand recordings finally makes it to Recollection GRM's invaluable reissue programme. Soaked with the intuitive power of brain-scanning sonic properties, tones fade and explode with stunning neuronic intensity; a sort of interface enabling natural sounds or analogical synthetic sounds to release digitally synthesized sounds. We suddenly swing from one domain to another, from the instrumental to the electroacoustic, from a language we understand, to an 'unknown language'.
Violostries (1963/64), 16'39
"Premiered and recorded in April 1965 at the Royan Festival - France, by Devy Erlih (violin) & Bernard Parmegiani (sound projection). Violostries represents the intersection of several musical research directions, presented as two simultaneous dialogues - composer/performer and instrument/orchestra. After a short introduction tutti very spatialized: 1. Pulsion/Miroirs: multiplied by itself, the violin is projected into the four corners of the sound space. 2. Jeu de cellules: concertante piece for violin and audio medium, the latter being made up of very tightly woven microsounds. 3. Végétal: slow and invisible development following a continuous time, resulting from an internal and permanent processing of the matter.
Capture éphémère (1967, 1988 version), 11'48
This work was composed in four tracks in 1967 for quadraphonic diffusion. Remixed in stereo in 1988. Premiered at the Studio 105 of the Maison de la Radio, Paris, May 1967. Sounds - noises that circulate as time unfolds - continue to exist despite our recording them. Breaths, fluttering wings: ephemeral microsonic sounds streaking space, sound scratches, landslides, bounces, vertigo of solid objects falling into an abyssal void, multiple snapshots forever frozen in their fall. As many symbols leave inside us the permanent trace of their ephemeral brushing against our ear. Some day, a desert, a sound, then never again.... Somewhere, in my head and body something still resonates... resonance, what could be more ephemeral.
La Roue Ferris (1971), 10'45
Premiered at the Festival des chantiers navals, Menton, on August 26, 1971. Sound projection: Bernard Parmegiani. La Roue Ferris (Ferris wheel) spins, merging with its own resonance, stubbornly perpetuating its variations. It only sketches a regularly evolving movement around a constant axis. Each of its towers generates thick sonic layers that penetrate each other, producing a very fluid interweaving. The crackling of the origin eventually metamorphoses into sonic threads whose lightness recalls highaltitude clouds, cirrus clouds, haunted by the cries of swifts twirling in the warm air. The wondrous arises and dies off, leaving us with an illusion of duration."
An unmissable piece of techno history, combining the talents of Basic Channel's Moritz von Oswald, early Tresor resident and Orb mainstay Thomas Fehlmann and Detroit pioneer Juan Atkins. Stargazing techno futurism that's rarely been bettered in the three decades that followed, it cemented an important early bond between Detroit and Berlin.
In the early 1990s, von Oswald and Fehlmann began working together, constructing remixes as 2MB (or 2 Men in Berlin) and then bringing Detroit pioneers Eddie Fowlkes and Juan Atkins into the fold under the 3MB moniker. '3MB feat. Magic Juan Atkins' was released in 1992, and captures Techno as it was evolving from the early no-holds-barred electro-sci experimentation of The Belleville Three (Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May) to include innovation from across Europe.
Few European contributors covered as much ground as Moritz von Oswald, who paved the way for Berlin's minimalist sound with his early productions alongside Mark Ernestus. With this short, sharp collection of tracks however, Atkins, von Oswald and Fehlmann made a direct link between the sounds developing in the USA and those booming from clubs in Berlin.
Opening with a synth-heavy Atkins edit of 'Bassmental', the album starts as it means to go on with Atkins absorbing the tweaky austerity of the German set and filling it out with flashes of energetic Detroit euphoria. 'Die Kosmischen Kuriere' is another high point, building a lithe 4/4 throb over a classic Model 500-style synth bassline and post-Göttsching chords. The most memorable moment however is 'Jazz is the Teacher', that gets both a von Oswald and Fehlmann version as well as a rework from Atkins. This track is one of the era's finest moments, and Atkins' version with its neck-snapping bassline and acidic ascent of heavily-phased percussion still sounds undeniably fresh; the Berlin remix instead digs further into the jazz canon, expanding the rhythm with swung rides and adding vibraphone action that von Oswald would continue to explore on his more recent trio releases.
Next level material that's an early indicator of the breadth of exploration techno would offer. It's dancefloor material that never stops reaching for the stars.
Flitting back and forth between German and Spanish, multi-disciplinary artist Viktoria Wehrmeister creates a vividly angular, post-industrial sprawl on her second album. Think Lucrecia Dalt or Gudrun Gut, but channeling the haphazard, free-form energy of Finnish eccentrics Paavoharju or Islaja.
While Wehrmeister's 2019 debut solo album "Hielo Boca" was almost whisper-soft and guided by her production and songwriting curiosity, "La Vida Te Busca" moves into more confident territory. Here, she makes an effort to refine her songwriting, but continues to provoke listeners with jagged left-turns, unusual linguistic choices and peculiar instrumentation. Using repetition, chants and grinding industrial rhythms, Wehrmeister recalls Lucrecia Dalt's idiosyncratic freeform electronics, but drives it thru solidly industrial territory, using her voice like a broken, overdriven synthesizer.
It's self-reflective music that speaks to life's humdrum weirdness, and the sounds she ekes out of her gear aptly sketch a world that might be unique, but is easy to harmonize with. At any moment we dip from chaos into near peace, from synthesized whirrs and blurs and screams to near lullabies. Bizarre, and all the better for it.
This is ace! Prolific Detroit/NYC jazz drummer Gerald Cleaver serves a sterling 2nd album of electronic music, calling to mind Sun Ra, Terrence Dixon, Pekka Airaksinen, Dennis Weise
Attached with the statement “It is very important to me to stress the importance of Tribe. Community is everything" Gerald Cleaver pays homage to his spiritual home city Detroit’s important electronic music scene, also weaving strong influence from his decades playing in myriad NYC jazz constellations - playing skins alongside legends including Roscoe Mitchell, William Parker, Wadada Leo Smith, Marcus Belgrave, Lou Reed.
His drummer’s instincts at at the root of seven cuts cultivating FM synthesis, pulsing drum machines and touches of keys and trumpet by Cuba’s David Virelles and US player Ambrose Akinmusire, respectively, into wonderfully effervescent and playful works that remind us to many, many touchstones, but delivered with a verve and open-ended, psychedelic aesthetic that’s dead easy to get lost inside.
Mica Levi’s original soundtrack to an animé by acclaimed artist and Turner prize nominee Phil Collins - the film was illustrated and designed by the revered Marisuke Eguchi and is a follow-up to Levi’s award winning work on 'Under The Skin' and ‘Jackie'. Trust, this one’s a bit special.
This is Mica’s first musical accompaniment for animation, once again using her signature palette of dissonant strings and combustible electronics that just completely get to us every time. She paints a series of sweeping backdrops to the film's blend of classically-schooled anime and up-to-the-second CGI designs in a way that we find it hard to imagine any other contemporary soundtrack producer could have managed - somewhere between Arthur Russell, John Carpenter and Johann Johannsson.
The film is set in a near future where carbon-based energy is outlawed and supposes a paradoxical scenario, one where fossil fuels - the ostensible accelerator of humanity’s progress and decline - become energy for the toil against state oppression and enforced inequality. In doing so, it resonates with anime’s strong tradition of exploring eco-feminist themes and power dynamics, both socio-political and technological.
The central Delete Beach theme, a diaphanous section of airborne synth-string contours and charred guitar distortion carved in pirouetting turns-of-phrase, appears in Japanese and English-narrated versions as well as an Instrumental mix. They are divided by the beat-driven Interlude 1 and interlude 2 - which is perhaps the standout piece on the whole score and possibly in Levi’s impeccable oeuvre generally - a mix of string slashes mixed with opiated chopped ’n screwed rhythms comparable to her breathtaking deconstructions with the London Sinfonietta.
After her work underlying and exploring complex characters in Jackie, a biopic of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and the alien-woman metaphors of Jonathan Glazer’s Under The Skin, Delete Beach follows suit with an impendingly tense, viscerally affective sound that reflects and conveys a sense of independence in the face of uncertainty, of a struggle against imposed forces or control systems.
It’s another beguiling testament to Levi’s role as one of the most original and eminent composers of her generation and, once again, leaves us convinced that she's more or less peerless in this field...