Leading on from bullets by Low Jack, Clara!, Iueke and Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement, Le Disques De La Bretagne return with a killer EP of mutant reggaeton/drill zingers by french producer King Doudou featuring MC Buseta and Kaydy Cain - big tip if yr into Low Jack, Clara! Riobamba, Florentino…
Premo French producer and beat maker for Bad Gyal’s Spanish reggaeton hit ‘Fiebre’, King Doudou answers his call up to the crack squad at Low Jack’s Les Disques De La Bretagne in heavy style, doing gully drill with Baile Funk innovator MC Buseta and yung gun Kaydy Cain on ‘Novinha’, alongside the darker dembow knuck of ‘Tremendo Bumbum’, both replete with grade A instrumentals.
Over the past 10 years Doudou has been a central node of globalised bass music in France and Catalonia, delivering heat for everyone from Mad Decent and Mixpak to ZZK and Sound Pellegrino. For Editions Gravats’ unruly sister label, Doudou bowls a proper sidewinder with the whipsmart drill vamps and steel-fanged snares of ‘Novinha’ capped by the icy delivery of Kaydy Cain and MC Buseta’s mumbling inflection, while the B-side’s ‘Tremendo Bumbum’ comes looser, wild-eyed with restless reggaeton torque tempered by Buseta’s monotone, paso-doble chat.
A dead strong look for followers of new rhythms and voices from the Latinx dancehall.
After closing out Smalltown Superjazzz’ run in 2015, Mats Gustafson fires up its new iteration - Actions For Free Jazz - in the lacquer crackling, spittle-riddled investigations of ‘Link’ with avant-turntablist Christian Marclay
Both known for charting paths less travelled, here they point to strange, liminal zones of perception on their first collaboration, with Gustafsson’s electronically processed tenor and baritone sax channelling an ecology of wee beastie insect sounds against the the signature unpredictability of Marclay’s palette of turntables and noise.
The first cut is a proper ripper featuring both in a dual to unpick the maddest variety of fractured sounds in rapid flux, before they gel in grittier, viscous roil on ‘Nacre’ only to erupt with destructive noise force,and resolve with the melodic whirligig of ‘Superbad’.
Trust the other side is equally cracked up, running from playful scree recalling some alarm of Smegma and Sun Ra in ‘Old Rose’, while the rudimentary drones and hacked clatter of ‘Long Distance’ and the could almost be compared with Wolf Eyes’ sludgy trip metal smudges, and their title track attempts to invade your ears like a troupe of determined ants as Gustafsson’s sax acts like anteater slurping them up thru your other ear.
Party-ready double-header by The Juan MacLean and Zombies in Miami for Fort Romeau’s Cin Cin
NYC’s The Juan MacLean take the lead with subtle synth-pop references tucked into the sparkling jack of ‘Time Out of Joint’, and on a sultry mix of Freestyle, New Age house and New Beat acid nods in the chufty optimism of ‘Everywhere At Once’.
Mexico’s Zombies In Miami duo hold down the flipside with a serpentine Italo sidewinder ‘Lotus’ primed to hypnotise Cómeme freaks, and then like early Psychick Warriors of Gaia on a peyote trip with the locked in pressure of ‘Dance of Gopis’.
Alex Zhang Hungtai takes his instrumental work to ever more personal and moving levels on his soundtrack to a semi-autobiographical film meditating on the meaning of home in which Hungtai himself plays the main protagonist, returning to Hawaii to trace his roots. It arrives in the wake of some of his most significant artistic achievements; the stunning ‘Divine Weight’ album which knocked us off our feet in 2018, that incredible Love Theme album for Alter, and his appearance under the spotlights of The Roadhouse stage in Twin Peaks Season 3 as one half of house band Trouble alongside David Lynch’s son Riley.
Hungtai has captivated us since he emerged from Montreal’s burgeoning music scene at the early 2010’s as Dirty Beaches, and his movements since have taken turns that have been both unexpected and entirely in keeping with his unique aesthetic approach, pushing ever further into the rawly expressive style that has earned him cult-like status over the course of the past decade.
August At Akiko’s is in some respects his most unvarnished and personal work to date - infused with location recordings made in Hawaii, the music reflects the serene, introspective ambience of the film itself. Opening with the short, naked field recording of ‘Temple Bell’, and resolving with the harmonious glow and dissonant shards of keys in ‘Ocean Boy’, the soundtrack is dominated by two contrasting tracts featuring Hungtai on his favoured sax.
The first, ‘Sky Burial’ is a starkly brooding piece opening with a menacing rumble and clatter of ceremonial Buddhist music where he joins in, tentatively at first, but growing into a ripping display of wounded beast bleats and whirling shreds as febrile and roving as the background drums. In sharp contrast, the flipside is free of drums, leaving Hungtai blowing beautifully blue whims to himself. Unadorned and as vulnerable as could be, the side ends with a meditative solo piano piece which acts as a perfect distillation of the stillness and inner peace the film manages to capture so well, living in the seams between dreams, reality, and memory, with a temporality all of its own.
Itinerant Dubs return after 4 years MIA with a wood-burning acid banger backed with a wicked electro one-two
Up top they shackle a virulent, acidic/Italo arp with big, booming kicks and cracking snares, allowing loads of air in the mix in a way that will properly ricochet around the warehouse. Think Actress meets I-F.
Down under, they catch the zeitgeist in two sizzling electro numbers, working up one piece of biting point breakbeat electro tackle replete with Drexciyan hydro-licks, then with a darker echo old skool Bonesbreaks style.
From the underside of ‘90s ambient music, O Yuki Conjugate’s eerie meditation ‘Insect-Talk’ reappears, backed with slunky remix from Tolouse Low Trax, a Howes reduction, and the band’s own 2018 update
Hailing from Nottingham during the first waves of post-punk in the early ‘80s, Roger Horberry and Andrew Hulme’s O Yuki Conjugate issued a healthy handful of 4th world, or what they call “dirty ambient” releases and compilation cuts alongside the likes of Pump, Muslimgauze and other members of the UK post-punk/industrial/experimental firmament, with the best of their early phase appearing on Vinyl-on-Demand’s ‘Ambiguism 1983-1987’ compilation.
Fast forward a few year into the ‘90s, and ’Insect-Talk’ was a highlight of OYC’s ‘Equator’ LP in 1994. The track also appeared in a lesser known ‘Dry’ form on the ‘Twilight Earth’ compilation, and now 25 years later on this 12”, serving a slow mesh of brittle drums, wide bass and mantric gasps that Tolouse Low Trax makes even slower, smeared into all corners of the mix with woozy style, before Howes drives it out further for something like a knackered Dynamo groove, and, best of all, OYC revise with slippery reverse loops to sound like a lost Coil gem.
Charmingly knackered, gas-huffin’ lower case rock ’n roll songs by Bobby Would for scruffy young folk with a lot on their mind, out now on Low Company.
“"IT’S HAPPENING TO YOU, AGAIN…" Lovelorn, tranq’d-out, majestically understated rok y roll lullabies and dub-pocked, acid-damaged, pain’-it-dark drone-punk from Robert P. of Heavy Metal and Muscle Barbie++, coming over like some celestial 4AM face-off between George Harrassment, The Great Unwashed and Can. Gulp. Yeah this is a record so patently, self-evidently brilliant that we have to stop ourselves from calling it an instant classic (oops). There are some affinities with the homesick jangle of Itchy Bugger’s Done One, an album which R. played on (and painted the cover for), and the songs sure are pretty (find me a more romantic refrain in 2019 than ‘Luna''s "You and me / shivering in the street"), but Baby feels like more of a TRIP, as if some 23rd century Martian moptop-pop combo crash-landed at a dosed up Kensington houseparty circa ’66, plugged in their gear and got stuck right in: hypnotic space-guitar ultra-reverberant and in a permanent state of comedown/dissolve, choppy death-surf riffs and gently weeping leads ringing into infinity, squeezed and smeared for every last trace of scorch and sting…wooiii!
There are some echoes too of banner UK DIY/squat-wave and the mildewed NZ psych of the Spies and the Renderers, but all shot through with a kinda Teutonic sensibility/rigour, loopy and ultra-repetitive - equal debts to the full-throttle drainpiped psycho-beat of 39 Clocks’ ‘Dom’ and the glacial ambient-glam sampledelia of Love Inc.’s ‘Life’s A Gas’ (!). Rare to encounter a record as simultaneously heart-rending, sonically intrepid and effortlessly SWINGING as this. Couldn't be more in love.”
Vibrant Malawian “Banjo Music” from Madalitso Band, making their international debut with Switzerland’s Bongo Joe. Stripped down and direct songs about orphans, patriotism, and the woman you can’t live without
“Madalitso Band have walked the streets of Lilongwe (Malawi) their whole lives, playing songs about life, love, hardship and beauty, which they compose together in a kind of trance, with words never being written on paper. But here they are, eight songs on record for a first international release. Songs like the title track Wasalala, about the orphan girl who glows, Nambe, the woman you just can't live without, and Vina Vina Malawi, the celebration of a country. Some call it traditional, some call it trance, in Malawi it's called Banjo Music, but no matter what, it'll make you dance, and more than that, though you don't know the language, you'll be singing along like you did. The home-made one-string slide bass, known locally as Babatone, four string guitar, cow-skin foot drum and two lush voices in harmony are what we want to present, undiluted and in their natural state.”
Fresh from 1981... this is Leroy Burgess' grand boogie masterpiece and one of the greatest albums of the post-disco era...
Re mastered for 2015 and released in conjunction with Salsoul. 8 classic tracks including the Larry Levan remix of " I Know You Will”.”
An impossible-to-find, ’95 Memphis rap tape surfaces on vinyl for 1st time via Gyptology, a new "Egyptian Archaology" styled re-issue label
Leading on from Shawty Pimp’s ‘Comin’ Real Wit It’  - which was dished up by Delroy Edwards’ L.A. Club Resource and sold out within days back in 2014 - its sequel, ‘Still Comin Real’ reprises that woozy slow drawl on 11 slurps of syrupy goodness.
As to be expected, noise artefacts carry over from the original, short-run tape edition, but it wouldn’t be a proper, OG Memphis rap session without that haze of tape grit. Safe to say that Gyptology know this, too, and see vinyl as the most faithful, sympathetic form of preservation.
Thus, you can trust the sound is raw as; a distinct adjunct to the prevailing NYC and LA hip hop styles of 1995’s golden era, working with rude, stripped down production values and vibes that have significantly withstood the test of time, and since laid the roots for a lot of contemporary southern rap, hip hop and R&B.
Orchestra Of Constant Distress are Joachim Nordwall (The Skull Defekts, iDEAL Recordings), Anders Bryngelsson (Brainbombs, No Balls), Henrik Rylander (The Skull Defekts, Union Carbide Productions) and Henrik Andersson.
"One core dynamism within the field of music is the relationship between performer and spectator. The audience listen and watch the musicians enjoying themselves and through that they get an experience of joy. This requires a system of believing where organized sound can be recognized, and is therefore music as such. Upon listening to Orchestra of Constant Distress´ third album you might want to question this meaning of tonality.
Through catatonic riffs and uncanny sounds we are as listeners left with a situation where we do not know how to distinguish bad and good, pleasure from displeasure. OoCD seems to be moving beyond their decent from such bands as Brainbombs, The Skull Defekts and Union Carbide Productions towards a tension of disbelief."
Furtive EBM explorations from New Mexico/New York’s Santiago Leyba, stomping from sludgy cranks to puckered machine funk and bitter noise
Marking the first full length LP on LA’s Private Selection, ‘Western Vices’ is also Santiago’s 2nd solo LP, after a 2017 album and EP spent getting to grips with this sound for Unknown Precept.
Intended to be played loud, the album stakes the out darkest ginnels and junctions of the contemporary, retro-futurist EBM sound, exploring the fetid gooch where OG ‘80s industrial, ‘90s fetish dungeon styles and millennial noise instincts intersect and infect like something venereal.
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, controversial occultist and iconic founding member of COUM Transmissions, Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, brings to a close a series of collaborations with Carl Abrahamsson which now spans three decades and which finds P-Orridge narrating over immaculate ambient tapestries, delivered at time-dilating pace.
Electing to use their own names, ’Loyalty Does Not End With Death’ is the final part of a spoken word trilogy initiated in 1990 with the Psychick TV & White Stains side ’At Stockholm’, and proceeded by their ‘Wordship’  album as Thee Majesty & Cotton Ferox, and is the first appearance the pair have had together on vinyl. It’s the sound of two cosmically-travelled minds crossing paths again after a long absence in which they’ve been able to chew over the bare essentials - love and magick - via vibrant poetry and beautifully charged forms of ambient music.
In nine parts they conjure a warmly meditative space, where Abrahamsson’s characteristic tones, cut-up electronics and gentle rhythms comfortably lay the bed for Genesis, who inhabits and enlivens the pristine scenes like an observant dark interpreter, translating the incomprehensible and revealing the divine through their psychedelic prism.
The spellbinding results were recorded in New York and Stockholm 2017/18 and could feasibly have occurred at any point between 1990 and now. They are blessed with a pacing, intuition and timelessness that pays testament to an enduring creative friendship, taking the form of writing, interviews, photographs and film for nearly 35 years, bringing to resolution an almost life-long arc.
Milan and Haunter Records’ Heith pushes into the abstract with mulchy brownian motion on the first dispatch from Saucers, a new label minted specifically for his gear.
The first saucer sees Heith shed further signifiers of his sound, ego, aesthetic, in pursuit of an illusive/elusive and vaporous muse that leaves much more to the imagination. Over its five tracks ‘Mud’ explores a multiplicity of possibility in each moment, masking more layers and intriguing sensation with each careful stroke, from the pensively pregnant ‘Eva2’ thru the arrhythmic and dissonant keen of ‘Extra Melma’, to the power ambient drag dynamics factored in ‘Yoga Of Stealth’, to the greased pig wriggle and calligraphic slashes of ‘?’, and the blossoming fractals of ‘Mud Queen’.
John Beltran revives his much-loved Placid Angles alias for a new album on Lone’s label, Magicwire
Last heard over 20 years ago on ‘The Cry’ LP with Peacefrog, and before that on a classic 12” with Open House, ‘Aquatic’ and a seminal Buzz compilation, Placid Angles has since become the preserve of the deepest Detroit heads and fans of intricate, jazzy, melodic techno everywhere.
It’s really not hard to hear how the Placid Angles sound has informed Lone’s nostalgic, gauzy style of breakbeats and techno, especially after ingesting ‘First Blue Sky’. From the aerial breaks and plush sophistication of ‘the title track, thru the twilight garage-techno of ‘Angel’, to the romantic sweep of ‘Vent’, via wild breakbeats and ecstatic divas in ‘Earth and Everything’, in the sub-blushed chords of ‘Bad Minds’, and the stressed ambient tone of ‘1700’, the spiritual kinship twixt Lone and Placid Angels is laid bare for everyone to revel in.
Levon Vincent keeps up the stride of his ‘Dance Music’ series with signature suss on Pt. 3
The mighty A-side hearkens back to his 10 year old classics with swingeing interplay of massive, heavy subs, jagged chords and spitting hi-hats all tweaked with hands on the desk for club-enveloping effect.
B-side he turns the lights lower for a stripe of sleek, velvet-cloaked kicks and tense midnight pads recalling Carl Craig’s ‘Darkness’, before stepping up with a super minimal deep house swinger hingeing around phasing, Reichian marimba motif.
Ukranian/Japanese duo Tamayugé hex the trippy headz at Paris’ Akuphone with a ‘marishly cute but f**ked up invocation of ‘Baba Yaga’, the witch-like Slavic folklore figure. Check for strangest feels in the murky Finnish psych styles of ‘Chornei, what sounds like Phew duelling Elvin Brandhi on ’Tamago’, or a Breadwoman baked from infected rye in ‘Herbert Song’
“After Ko Shin Moon, The Dwarfs of East Agouza and Praed, Akuphone continues its sonic exploration of freaky electronic music with Tamayugé!
Blend of experimental music, creepiness melancholia and kitschy tones, this surprising collaboration release his first album Baba Yaga.
At the head of: Maya Kuroki and Tamara Filyavich, a Japanese and a Ukrainian now based in Montreal. Maya Kuroki's phantasmagoric vocals and dreamy guitar added to Tamara Filyavich's team of electronic ghosts fresh out of her nightmares and invite is to a strange ritual, between tormented performance and feminist ceremony. Like Baba Yaga, an ambivalent character of the Slav Mythology, both part of Japanese and Ukrainian cultures, Tamayugé’s music brings scary and exciting shivers and open to an enigmatic imaginary.
The mysterious and unsettling Tamayugé’s universe is somewhere between Phew, Laurie Anderson and The Residents!”
Anna Homler presents a new album of quietly inquisitive collaborations following that acclaimed RVNG Intl reissue of her eponymous 1982 debut, which famously depicts her Breadwoman character (imagine John Merrick channelling an ancient babushka) providing a combination of inimitable gauzy electronics and vocal abstractions. On this new album she hands co-production over to PAN-affiliate Steven Warwick aka Heatsick, Gang of Ducks’ Alessio Capovilla, Mark Davies alias The Pylon King and the late Steve Moshier, who produced the original Breadwoman tape.
In opener ‘O’sa Va’ya’, Capovilla buoys Anna’s starkly impassioned cry with floating organ passages to utterly transportive effect, a kind of detached mirror image of This Mortal Coil / Liz Fraser’s take on 'Song To The Siren’, while Steven Warwick lends a more retro-futuristic melody to ‘Nepenthe’, named after the ancient Greek drug of forgetfulness, but ironically working as the most memorable piece on the album, framing Homler against a divine choir of herself and undulating, iridescent arps.
Steve Moshier appears posthumously on the album’s standout title track, underlining Homler's prelinguistic vocal with 15 minutes of whirling ambient passages that do much to highlight her instinct for inescapably formless shapes; a genuinely alien, multi-faceted and uncompromising exercise in sound art that we still can’t fully get the measure of several listens later.
Ambient pop brilliance from London’s scuzzy underbelly and the duo of Guy Gormley with Sam Bardsley, with sensitive co-production by Nathan Jenkins aka Bullion.
After appearing on Bullion’s Deek Recordings in 2015 with ‘Don’t Touch Me Now’, the Never duo remain coy to a T in their eponymous mini-album, luring us in with the heavy-lidded Bullion co-production ’Submission’, before sashaying a twilight world between the Robert Wyatt-like pop sweetness of ‘Up’ and the meditative MIDI pop of ‘The Park’, before keening sidelong into the creamy whorl of ‘Everybody Knows’, and then working out something like Gas meets HTRK at Burial’s gaff in the standout slow thrum of ‘The Street’, and rounding up with the strung-out, balmy CS + Kreme-like balearics of ‘Agnes’ in very satisfying style.
Gassed on nature, BXP unfurls his more sensitive, elemental ambient side, then stretches out with two slow treks working shades away from Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement
“An ecstatic recon through the meaning of isolation where field recording unfolds the ambient/techno sides of BXP’s production. Born from nature, crafted in studio: techno meant for wide landscapes.
"Islands" is the result of a long search spent seeking sounds on various islands during his journey through south-east asia with a Tascam recorder and several directional microphones. He captured natural sounds from jungles, dunes, beaches and wild urban landscapes, not to mention the deep sounds of the Earth’s elements: the sea, the wind, the interaction between man and nature.”
By turns lysergic, wistful and doomy, Jim Williams' soundtrack for Ben Wheatley's baffling period piece, 'A Field In England' neatly reflects the films psychedelic feel.
"Ben Wheatley’s black-and-white chamber horror, set amidst the strange margins of the English Civil War, is a puzzling, inexplicable nightmare, made all the more disturbing by Williams’ spare, brooding score of early music textures that gradually morph into electro-psychedelic overload, aided by Martin Pavey’s sound design and, in one terrifying sequence, the use of Blanck Mass’s ‘Chernobyl’."
Classy 1st release of sleek Italo-electro, deep minimal techno and rugged ambient styles from Finland’s Émotsiya label
Sansibar follows up a recent outing for Natural Sciences with the effortlessly dreamy Italo-electro flow of ‘Vaseline’, while Ann Hiko (Noah Kin) appears to scan the skies for an incoming chopper that hovers overhead raining night-flight melodies.
Helsinki local Denzel brings the vibe more intimate with the swanging hustle of ‘Distractions 01’ recalling DJ Richard or Galcher Lustwerk vibes, and Estonia’s Endamisi Salamisi keeps it low key but insistent with the wide open, pendulous electro shift of ‘Rentzel’ in a way recalling vintage Metamatics.
USA’s heaviest D&B producer Homemade Weapons goes on hard and tech with ‘Gravity’, his 2nd album following 2016’s ‘Negative Space’
Operating on the opposite side of the planet to D&B’s power centres hasn’t held back Homemade Weapons from developing his own, tightly coiled style, as displayed with cutthroat intensity throughout ‘Gravity’.
Taking what he needs from gnashing late ‘90s styles and modern halfstep pressures, the Seattle-based producer hits heavy with hardship brawlers such as ‘Red Tide’, or like a skittish Source Direct on ‘Lingchi’ with Artilect, while ‘Heretics’ and the cyclonic dynamics of ‘Virga’ show off his most spacious, pensive drum programming, and the likes of ‘Constants’ and the swollen halfstep ballast of Lamia’ should find favour with Pessimist types.
Falty DL leans on a proper brukbeat flex, channelling varying degrees of 4Hero/Dego and jazz/hardcore/Footwork-related rhythmic madness for UTTU
Straight out of the gates he runs needlepoint drum programming and helter skelter jazz keys at 150bpm with dizzying flair in ‘Untitled 111vgr’, before ‘Beast’ trims back to a 125bpm electro ride with vacuum sealed production for freshness.
On the other side his hardcore darkside electro urges come into play on ‘One For UTTU’ in a way recalling classic Octagon Man/J Saul Kane, before turning on a 2-step pivot, just like they did in the late ‘90s, and ‘Piano 4_9_18 feux master Erie 25%’ session off on a downstroke recalling Roza Terenzi/D. Tiffany’s ambient electro gems for Euphorique.
Plaintive, eerily plangent pop dirges from Carla Dal Forno, making good on her newly minted Kallista label after her immaculate run for Blackest Ever Black.
On ‘So Much Better’ she saddles up a shuffling lament, poised like a lighter Nico with introspective lyrics about the romantic and the mundane laid over a spacewalk waltz groove.
The instrumental ’Fever Walk’ is more lugubrious, with leaden drums and burnt-out bass underlining ghostly synth notes and the faintest glimmers of her voice.
Proper peach, this one.
A little less than two years on from 2016’s Plum, Californian scrap polymorphs Wand return with their fifth long playing record, Laughing Matter.
"By now, Wand is the shifting but unmistakable collaboration between Sofia Arreguin (keys, vocals), Cory Hanson (guitar, vocals), Robert Cody (guitar), Lee Landey (bass) and Evan Burrows (drums). Laughing Matter is marked by the confidence and exuberance of a band that has lived, feuded, thrived and grown together through years of dedicated jamming, touring and recording, across western and eastern states, continents and mind-sets. In this world that insists we must increasingly rely upon ourselves, Wand listen to each other, and this is the sound.
Largely recorded on the infamous southern border of broken, decadent America, Laughing Matter belongs to the after-life. After the dull flood. As rock n roll lurched sideways and fell away, drunkenly lost in a funhouse mirror of…recycled Funhouses. With no major label funding, no management or lawyers, no corporate distribution, near zero social media presence and no commercial dealings whatsoever (with only poor, pitiful Drag City to help them carry the flag!), Wand have toured the world a bajillion times in five years and made four varied and compelling records while accumulating a devoted following. There may be a future in rock music beyond slapping rote regurgitations onto a lifeless syntactic grid. Wand are proof you don’t have to be an industry toy to sell records – that, with devotion and time, the seeds you plant with intention and care will grow back into the world.
Swerving between out-of-focus parable, travel diary, pep talk, polemic, love song, and lullabye, Laughing Matter is a tough and tender album, its eyes on a lot of prizes. Where Plum held the tension of its five band members getting on their feet, the songs on Laughing Matter are concentrated and relaxed, even as they search for the right accusations to hurl at cynics and megalomaniacs. The music is distilled and sculpted from an ash heap of collected improvisations, riven with audio-verite; the methods and instrumentation are traditional handmade rock ‘n’ roll. Yet the unorthodox arrangements of “Scarecrow”, the joyous embrace of pastiche and disruption on “Walkie Talkie”, the radical eclecticism of shapes and approaches on “Thin Air”, the ascendant choruses of “Wonder” are all decidedly contemporary.
This music is not revivalism or throwback; Wand are a precision instrument, a band that probes and teases style, genre, trope and anachronism into material, according to a law of motion that is aimed directly toward an uncertain future. Laughing Matter is a record about love in a time of terror, about making the best use of the surveillance technology available today. It calls you down from panic room labyrinths, to work the deep tissue of unravelling trauma we all carry so dear. The 15 songs on this record face their energy outward, to take with you through a common world that can’t suffer its human abusers much longer. Laughing Matter encourages you to shake hands with your old demons, to lay your pathologies to rest, to hold your spirit close, and let your body do what’s next."
Luke Younger's Alter label limns the underground zeitgeist in ‘Alert!’, a compilation starring gems from Teresa Winter, Anna Peaker, Moin (Raime), Mumdance, Space Afrika, The Modern Institute and many more beside.
Entirely sourced from the UK, ‘Alert!’ could be heard as a reading of pre-Brexit or Brexit-limbo mindsets, if you’re that way inclined, or more simply as a cross-section of the UK corpus at the end of a strange decade. Either way, you’re going to get a lot of canny, unexpected gear, ranging from cold bedsit blooz thru to freeform techno, twitchy post-punk and modular n0!ze gristle.
We’re naturally drawn to highlights in Teresa Winter’s unpredicted techno pounder ‘A free woman in an unfree society would be a monster’, and also to a sterling example of Teresa’s sometime collaborator and Leeeds peer Anna Peaker on the elegiac organ etude ‘Helicidae’, while Space Afrika nest the tactile ambient fragility of ‘Yuly’, and Mumdance impresses with nerve-chewing modular freakout ‘Path of the Seer’ - big tip for fans of The Sprawl.
Elsewhere the quality doesn’t let up: Raime’s Moin and their drummer, Valentina Magaletti’s Tomaga, both turn out tuff, jagged post-punk steppers; Acolytes catch a properly febrile vibe in the blown-out gabber kicks and writhing electronics of ‘Feelings’; Helena Celle drops a playful stripe of computerised EBM; and Glasgow represents with a barrage of saltiness ranging from The Modern Institute’s scally techno banger to an apoplectic Apostille in ‘It’s Not Right’, and an absorbing oddity by sound artist and radio producer Mark Vernon.
Heather is Sharon Van Etten’s longtime collaborator and band member. Since the release of her last album Heather has toured with Alela Diane and Lisa Hannigan, and has opened twice for The War On Drugs. Invitation features vocals and synth contributions from Peter Broderick. RIYL: Sharon Van Etten, Weyes Blood, Marissa Nadler, Julianna Barwick, Julia Holter.
"Invitation was conceived on the Oregon coast, an outlier among American landscapes, where vast stretches of empty beach are decorated with silver driftwood and towering pines. It is here among the dunes, tide pools and colossal rock formations that Heather spent her childhood summer day-trips. And it is here that she returned as an adult to construct her newest LP, an album of dreamy baroque-pop that swells and whispers with grand string arrangements, intimately descriptive lyrics, and impassioned songcraft built around earnest piano melodies, painting a lifelike picture of the locale in which it was written.
In the years between her early youth and the creation of Invitation, Heather has played in Efterklang, Horse Feathers, the live bands of Laura Gibson, Lisa Hannigan, and Damien Jurado, and has also been a longtime collaborator and bandmate to Sharon Van Etten. But while this list may seem enviable for an aspiring young musician, any experienced player will know that the life of a touring musician comes with its own sacrifices. Lasting relationships and financial certainty can be tenuous, as can mental stability itself. Feeling this first hand, Heather traded her usual launchpad of Brooklyn for the sleepy town of Pacific City where she would quietly take a job cleaning houses for a cast of local eccentrics, sitting down at the piano in the off-hours to unpack the personal tragedies and triumphs of the intervening decades since her first trips there.
Throughout Invitation, floral tendrils of sound design and dynamic strings decorate the edges of each track, propelling the album beyond mere singer-songwriter fare into something altogether more grand and immersive in scope. And somehow still, the album maintains a humble quality throughout. It’s not about the epic and beautiful physical features of the Pacific northwest seaside that first stirred Heather Woods Broderick as a child. It’s about how the stillness of such settings can unearth the disquiet often buried by the infinite distractions of a life without pause."
‘Fog Horns’ is a much rawer, almost aggressive, panic-raising answer to Marshall Ingram’s seminal ‘Fog Horn Requiem’. The artist really uses the sound as dense blocks to be intersected, conjuring an anxious state that makes us feel as though on a collision course between massive objects in low visibility...
“French sound artist Félix Blume keeps pushing the boundaries of field recordings for our enjoyment. “Fog Horns” captures the sounds of boat horns in Piraeus, Athens, Greece, the port city that serves some of the most important ferry routes in Greece nowadays. Yes, boat horns are annoying, sometimes disturbing and even absurdly disrupting if you live in a port city or one that is blessed with the arrival of cruises. We all know that. But we also knew that recordings of funerals could be tricky, and Félix Blume pulled a gem out of last year’s “Death In Haiti - Funeral Brass Band & Sounds Of Port Au Prince (CREP51)”.
And he has done it again. The A side reveals a long track recorded during a fog horn concert whilst side B features three 'remixes' of the same recordings, paying respect to what Ingram Marshall did in “Fog Tropes” in three different 'movements'. In a way, B side sounds like the perfect soundtrack for the recent remake of “Suspiria”. But Thom Yorke got in the way.
Jokes aside, there’s something magical about these horns. In the eighteen minutes of the first side, Félix Blume explores the concept of a concert played by those horns. The horns dominate but sounds of the surroundings create a perfect balance to the drone hysteria. The surrounding sounds are the heartbeat of this track. The horns are the metal section of an orchestra, while the rest works like the strings. Hidden melodies are revealed when you listen to this with your full attention, and the more you do it, the horns become less present, vivid. It’s one of the many crafts of Félix Blume, the more you live with his music, the more you focus outside the plot.
If those eighteen minutes sound tremendously real, the three tracks on the other side feel like a horror film. The warmth disappears to become cold ambiance, beautifully textured and enigmatic sounds take over. Horns are still heard, but they’re a different kind of horns. It seems that Félix Blume is playing with our perception, from bliss to horror. A honk will never be the same again.”
Sleazy, night-stalking house trax from Romania’s Khidja for NYC’s DFA
Opener ‘Don’t Feed the Animals (Hiding In Your Room)’ channels John Carpenter into the club; ‘Devil Dance’ massages muscular modular tones into a clipped and trippy swing; ‘I Can Never Relax’ weaves EBM inspirations into a throbbing electro-house chassis; and ‘I’m So Bored’ works splashy, fluid percussion into a sizzling darkroom frolic.
“Having established themselves with previous releases on labels like Hivern Discs and Malka Tuti, Khidja get darker, dubbier, and more twisted on In The Middle Of The Night. We find the record in the witching hour, and the tracks represent the cycle of nighttime mentalities, revealing the various directions the mind can wander in the place between consciousness and unconsciousness – mania, paranoia, even boredom. It all makes for a raucous dancefloor experience, with the duo bringing something new and heavy to the DFA roster.”
Former Engineers songwriter Mark Peters pays a final visit to his debut solo album ‘Innerland’ with a collection of reworkings from Ulrich Schnauss, Moon Gangs, Odd Nosdam, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and many others.
"‘Innerland’ was one of last year’s most surprising sleeper successes. An intentionally low-key album of windswept instrumentals inspired by Mark’s move back to his native northwest, it gave musical nods to Eno, Talk Talk, Vini Reilly and Richard Thompson, and first appeared as a limited-edition cassette before being expanded to a full vinyl, CD and digital release last April. Something about its beautiful simplicity struck a chord and slowly but surely – thanks to word of mouth, as well as the support of the likes of Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 6 Music and positive reviews everywhere from Uncut to The Times – it worked its way into people’s hearts.
By the end of the year it had also worked its way into Rough Trade’s top 10 albums of 2018 and, to celebrate, another limited edition vinyl only version called ‘Ambient Innerland’ was released, an even more introspective iteration that stripped away all of the percussion.This new version, however, is completely different. It finds Mark looking outwards, away from the bleak, post-industrial landscapes of Wigan, and inviting eight different artists from around the world to interpret and translate the instrumentals of ‘Innerland’ into their own musical and geographical languages. German sound artist Andi Otto takes ‘Twenty Bridges’ and turns it into a weird world music groove, the cello recalling Arthur Russell, the rhythm Holger Czukay circa ‘Movies’; Polish composer Olga Wojciechowska sprinkles stardust all over ‘Mann Island’, morphing it into a slice of febrile, filmic techno; former Disappears and now FACS frontman Brian Case wrangles ‘Windy Arbour’ into a dark, dystopian drone; as previously heard last year on a limited edition lathe-cut 7” single, Ulrich Schnauss subtly re-frames ‘May Mill’ as elegiac electronica, the kind of oddity that could have graced a Tears For Fears B-side circa ‘Songs From The Big Chair’; Moon Gangs, aka Will Young from BEAK>, climbs ‘Gabriel’s Ladder’ and finds some delicate drone’n’bass; American producer and DJ Odd Nosdam takes his experience of working with Boards Of Canada and turns ‘Shaley Brow’ into a sinister tape collage, entirely in keeping with the murky history of the locale; E Ruscha V, the erstwhile Medicine guitarist also known as Secret Circuit, converts ‘Cabin Hill’ into Balearic Blue Nile;
finally Jefre Cantu-Ledesma lights up ‘Ashurst’s Beacon’ as an inferno of deliciously distorted shoegaze.
All eight are so disparate and yet they hang together perfectly, resulting in an exciting musical journey to somewhere completely new."
Composed by director Slava Tsukerman himself using an array of early analog synthesisers and samplers, he mixes original compositions with electronic versions of symphonic classics to striking effect.
"The score is dizzying, hallucinatory and off kilter. Completely wild and free from the trappings of both traditional film and score Tsukerman lets loose with a score that is at times terrifying, at others soothing but always interesting and like nothing you have ever heard before. The score peaks with “Me & My Rhythm Box” featuring a performance by Paula E. Sheppard that has become a staple DJ’s the world over. Far ahead of its time, both the film and the score have had lasting influence on todays culture. Everyone from Larry Tee, Fischerspooner, Lady Gaga & SIA have borrowed something from it."
20 years since his Planet Mu debut, Leafcutter John brings his ecstatic prog-electronica virtues to Border Community for a bright and spacious album of driving krautrock rhythms and intricate melodic fancy wrought around field recordings of the Norfolk coastline and the North Sea
“During the summer of 2017 exiled Yorkshireman Leafcutter John returned to his one-time home of Norfolk (having graduated in Painting from Norwich’s School of Art and Design back in 1998) and set out on foot along the sixty mile section of Norfolk Coast Path which runs from Hunstanton to Overstrand, trusty audio recording device in his pocket. “And very soon the physical act of walking began to make me think about music,” he explains. “My footsteps dictated the tempo and imagined melodies accompanied me as I slowly moved along the increasingly wild and magical stretch of coastline. Stresses of the city were replaced by the fall and rise of the North Sea and endless salt flats. Sounds from the environment filtered in and I would stop often to record what I was hearing around me.”
Back home in London, the hours of amassed field recordings would form the backbone and inspiration for a whole album worth of outpourings from John’s six-years-in-the-making modular synth. From the evocative sound of sea birds on Pillar and Stepper Motor to the colourful conversation from a country pub in This Way Out, the apposite selection of samples which made the final edit provide the perfect jumping-off point for John’s synths to soar with abandon, at times uplifting, frenetic, haunting, hypnotic or meditative, but always atmospheric and with unstoppable propulsion.
“Above all else, I wanted the album to exude a sense of constant forward motion but at a very human scale,” says John. Thus drummer friends Tom Skinner (Hello Skinny) and Sebastian Rochford (long-time collaborator in the twice Mercury Prize-nominated band Polar Bear) were roped in to lend their suitably clattering human momentum, on Doing The Beeston Bump and Dunes respectively. Working in tempos to match his walking speed throughout - “whether trudging along a rainy shingle beach or running up wildflowering clifftop paths” - Yes! Come Parade With Us is perfect traveling music, and once unleashed upon the world is sure to provide the soundtrack to plenty more journeys to come.”
Egyptian electro chaabi powerhouse Islam Chipsy and Eek hit 6 deadly ways with Cairo’s 100 Copies, following on from the ravenous reception to their incendiary live LP and ‘Kahraba’ side for Nashazphone
One of the fiercest live acts on the circuit right now, Eek and their flamboyant, synth-wielding frontman Chipsy Islam place the experience of years of rowdy shows at the service of their strongest studio recordings in ‘Kahraman’. The six songs firmly spell out the range of dual drummers Mahmoud Refat and Khaled Mando and their electronic component, touching on techno-folk psychedelia in the anticipatory ‘Day1’, before cutting loose like the wildest house band in Arabia with ‘El Daynasour’, and bringing it down to their slowest hustle ’n grind in ‘Fast Track’.
They’re on peak form in the rattling stepper ‘El Zantor’, and at best in the swingeing groove and veering microtonal flux of ‘Saba Zamzam’ and the sparring closer, ‘Zardana’ with Chipsy twirling some of his hottest vamps.
An amazing slab from Glasgow’s fecund subterrain, ‘The Funnel’ is Wojciech Rusin’s debut razz of field recordings and choral composition riddled with rug-pulling edits and keeling turns of phrases - arguably a spiritual parallel to László Hortobágyi, Black Zone Myth Chant, Jani Christou, Él-G
A big clue to the cryptic chicanery of ‘The Funnel’ is the fact that Wojciech Rusin builds his own instruments, which accounts for some degree of the odd tonalities at work. But when you factor in the field recordings of Port Talbot Steelworks, and his patent knowledge of renaissance polyphony, it all just becomes more brilliantly complicated and unfathomably idiosyncratic.
Across seamlessly segued sides, they weave strategies and logic from the GRM to soil dynamics and avant-classical skools in a remarkable diffusion and collection of energies, swaying in viscous grit one second, then waltzing with Richard Youngs-like folk vocals that bifurcate into dramatic polyphony the next minute, before stranding you in a lift with beelzebub chatting shite in tongues about the weather the next, only to expectorate your head and anticipations in scenes of gunky pastoralism and Noz-like feedback loops of choral vocals and windswept bleeps.
We could run ourselves circles trying o describe it any further, but save for your amusement, we’d rather just get back to listening to this one, and leave the freaks to grapple with it all in their own time.
Don’t sleep on this one, it looks stunning, too.
Houston meets Bristol at the hands of Sam Binga...
...linking with Paul Wall on the brooding low rider ‘All Cap’, then with Bristol MC Redders again for the dutty dancehall of ‘Vandilero’, and Rider Shafique for the cold bogle of ‘Organic’, plus a Zomby-esque instrumental ‘I’m An Adult’ with Halogenix, and a canny beatless roller with Om Unit, ‘Find A Way’.
‘Echoes’ is a sultry beauty from Synclavier whiz Frank Harris and Venezuelan vocalist Maria Marquez, collected and issued together for 1st time by New Zealand’s Strangelove Music. Joining the dots between Sade, MFM’s sublime ‘Outro Tempo’ comps, and Decha’s ‘Hielo Boca’ ace, you do not want to overlook this one!
Really, this one’s pretty immaculate, a marriage of devilish drum and synth programming oiled with classically dreamy, seductive vocals, wrapped up in the future/primitive spirit of the mid ‘80s, when early synth adopters such as Harris were remodelling pop with avant, electronic soul alchemy.
It’s practically worth it for the sublime opening couplet of cumbia rhythms and aching vox in ‘Canto Del Pilón’ and ‘Campesino’ alone, which are nigh on impossible to find on original 7”, but when they add in the likes of his rippling arabesque ‘Ethnicity’, alongside the captivating sashay of ‘Tonada De Ordeño’ beside the diamond-cut adult soul of ‘Loveroom’ form their ‘In A Minor Mode’ LP, plus the full wingspan swing of instrumental ‘Tenderloin’, and experimental cumbia innovations on ‘Field Trips’, and the pastoral sweetness of ‘Bein’ Green’, you looking at an absolute no dusty, no question.
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.
Elegantly transportive and deeply dreamy, ‘Malam Minggu: A Saturday Night in Sunda’ is the first vinyl and download reissue of a 1991 compilation CD of traditional Indonesian gamelan and folk songs recorded between 1978-1985. Don’t miss Group Gentra Madya’s haunting ‘Gupay Pileuleuyan’ or the exquisite precision of their ‘Sambal Lada’, and the swingeing, Senyawa-esque syncopation of flutes, drums and vox in ‘Kulu Kulu Gancang’ by Mang Memed Group
“Akuphone resumes its reissue operations with its latest compilation, Malam Minggu: A Saturday Night in Sunda. This release brings us once again to Southeast Asia, with a stopover in the Indonesian archipelago – to the region of Sunda in western Java. As its name suggests, this collection immerses us in the vibes of Sundanese nights at the turn of the 1980s.
During the post-independence climate of the 1960s, Presidents Sukarno and Suharto encouraged artists to renew and innovate traditional Indonesian art forms in an attempt to limit and control the spread of Western music - which was banned from broadcasting in 1961. This policy saw a revival of traditional musical styles like gamelan degung, and the emergence of Indonesian singing genres: jaipong and pop sunda.
Recorded between 1978 and 1985, this unique and surprising selection presents some of the most popular artists of the time, such as Nano S. and Tati Saleh. It is richly documented by Southeast Asia music specialist Édouard Degay Delpeuch.”
Mutant R&B starlet Lafawndah places her vocals front and centre over bashy, technoid backdrops produced by Aaron David Ross (Gatekeeper/ADR) and others on her debut album ‘Ancestor Boy’, following up her recent link-up with Midori Takada.
“The debut full- length album from Lafawndah, ANCESTOR BOY, released via her own label imprint CONCORDIA, is a bracing statement of intent, heralding an artist unbound in scope, scale, and intensity. She opens 2019 with bold single DADDY, plotting new territory onto her own highly personalized map of influence – a map drawing the club, composition, and pop into thrillingly unresolved, ultramodern erotics.
Lafawndah’s 2018 was filled with myriad musical highlights and successes - including a celebrated performance featuring peers Tirzah, Kelsey Lu and more at London’s South Bank in December, growing from her acclaimed HONEY COLONY mixtapes. Meanwhile her heart-stopping inter-generational music & film collaboration with japanese ambient legend Midori Takada in Le Renard Bleu (with KENZO and Partel Oliva) continues to echo into new forms, with a full production performance titled ‘Ceremonial Blue’ premiering at the Barbican, London in April. And streaming now, her achingly beautiful self-directed video for JOSEPH - a lullaby and an ode to newborn life co-written with Jamie Woon and also featuring on ANCESTOR BOY - has set Lafawndah apart as an independent director with a singular vision spanning multiple media and artforms.
Having in her prior self-titled and TAN EPs upturned geography, in ANCESTOR BOY Lafawndah digs deep to unravel geology, mining emotions of the deep past and future. The album’s physicality is elemental; its memory, mineral. It is a becoming- of- age story for a people yet to come, created out of a need to find the others. In the middle of the album’s sonic and lyrical onslaught is the desire to share the uncertainties of growing up when you don’t belong anywhere. Crafted with the aid of fellow travelers Nick Weiss, Aaron David Ross, and James Connolly,
ANCESTOR BOY’s maximalism- it’s overflow of detail, of feeling, of ideas- serves to amplify a frequent lyrical motif: the sensation that one body, one lifetime, isn’t big enough for what you’re feeling. The record is pregnant with memories shared across more than one mind, recalling the storytelling antagonisms of Nina Simone at her most strident and unpredictable. In response, the rhythmic aggressions of her music have grown even more determined and psychedelic, drawing a line in fire between Jimmy Jam’s turnt industrialism on Control and the furious unease of Red Mecca- era Cabaret Voltaire.
With a palate equal parts chrome and dirt, ice and depth, Lafawndah’s finesse with song architecture imbues the LP with an uncanny addictiveness: anthems loaded with trap doors.
ANCESTOR BOY imagines a pop music that is neither imperial nor local, but a freedom of movement; a residue, perhaps, from the album’s nomadic creation between Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York, London, and Paris.”
Straight-up knockers from Chicago hit squad Traxmen aka Gant-man, Paul Johnson, Robert Armani and Eric Martin
Robert Armani puts in a serious shift with the distorted wallop of ‘Caution’, next to the all-time Chi anthem ‘Let Me See You Butterfly’ with classic vocal and skipping’ flow conducted by Paul Johnson.
Paul Johnson puts his potty mouf to dutty use again on the naughty nursery rhyme melody of ‘F___ N Sucking’, before slinging the piano house power-up ‘Outta My way’.
Nice new age ambient synth vibes with a tropical humidity offset by breezy slow grooves, from Vancouver, CA’s Khotin for the summer romantics and smokers...
“Beautiful You needs little framing. “No distinct storylines or themes. It’s really just a collection of songs as rudimentary as that sounds,” Khotin-Foote explains. But the title of the album arrives with some lore: in high school, Khotin-Foote found a handwritten note on his windshield that read “Beautiful you, thanks for the smile.” Whoever left the note, they gifted the producer with this anonymous phrase that perfectly suits the work now, here, years later. Paired with the record’s cover, an ASCII-rendered photo of his mother and her parents living temporarily in Italy as refugees in the '80s, the information graphs a malleable outline for listeners to shape into their own experience. A sensation akin to déjà vu, of misremembered hospitable climes, broadcast via ambiguous transmissions, birdsongs, melody and static.
Songs drift at a leisure; environments and voices pass by, some distinguishable, others pitched down or truncated to single words. In the case of “Vacation,” the message comes into focus over time, beginning in fragments, assembling above a suspended note to sublime effect. On “Merged Host,” a cycle of melodic phrases becomes punctuated by a clipped half-time beat and injected with a sample’s reoccurring comic relief (“I am so happy / how great I am”). On album closer “Planet B,” nostalgia is encountered head-on, with coiling and smooth synth lines twisted and spiraling around a nodding and assured percussion pattern.”
We're onto volume 3 of Shackleton's Deliverance series and his rhythmelodic magick is in full flow.
Shack's new modular palette appears to remain unchanged from the last few releases, but it feels like he's more in control and able to follow the line of his 3rd eye. 'Headcleaner' unfurls nearly 12 minutes of chiming drum patter synched with globular subs in mutating patterns, seeming to move one way whilst the slow-arcing pads rove at another tempo entirely, making the whole piece move like some backa spoon inversion of Cut Hands that takes a Balearic trip half way thru.
With 'In Norwegen ganz verwegen' he locks into a fluidly psychedelic pulse pursuing quicksilver likembe thru a zig-zagging maze of sloshing water sounds, distant siren calls and sparring toms like the hieroglyphic soundtrack to some ancient Greek myth.
This stunning first outing on Yves Tumor’s Grooming label was released this summer in a run of just 100 copies and is already selling for sillies second hand. For us it's easily one of the most overlooked and vital releases of the year - this new edition comes with new artwork in a run of 200 copies, an essential cop for those of you yet to experience its wildly original mix of choral aggression and cavernous percussion sounding quite unlike anything else we heard in 2018.
Sepulchral, majestic, Kill is John Bence’s sophomore release following a début for Nico Jaar’s Other People in 2015. Since then Bence has also appeared as part of Ashley Paul’s new ensemble on her striking LP, Lost In Shadows for Slip, as well as playing in support of Grouper earlier this year.
Where Bence’s first record, Disquiet was a sort of palimpsest of re-scored composition, Kill finds him unfurl a shocking three part movement for vocals, cello and bellicose drums that should leave no one uncertain of his talents. And in that sense it’s really not hard to hear why his music has been snapped up for release by Yves Tumor’s label, as the pair patently share a feel for music both fuelled by and navigating overwhelming emotion.
In the first part, he shapeshifts from something like prime, latter day Coil in a section of reverberant cello and ghostly keening, to erupt in Prurient like howls and psychotomimetic scat like a possessed, Welsh mining choir.
By contrast, the 2nd part is pure entropy, vocals layered and decaying into extremes of the soundfield, leading to a passage recalling Aíne O’Dwyer’s haunted situations, before a real denouement comes with the sublime closing coda of vaulted vocals into noirish strings and recursive industrial percussion.
Keep a very close eye on this one...
Properly seminal deep house dubs from Moritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus with Tikiman (Paul St. Hilaire), originally issued in 1996 and now repressed for 20th anniversary edition.
The strident but plasmic nine minute groove of Acting Crazy (Club Vocal) is just about the most perfect, immersive balance of NYC deep house, Jamaican roots reggae and Berlin minimalism that you’ll ever encounter - a rare slice of shut-your-eyes and dance magic that never fails in the right situations. There’s also a shorter Instrumental which is pretty much an alternate mix of Maurizio’s M6, and a nipped edit of the vocal mix, all demanding that DJs buy two copies to really get the most out of it.
Basically every home needs a copy of this and every other plate on Main Street Records, but depending on who you ask, this one more than any other.
As Round One for the Main Street label, Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald made one of house music’s most enduring 12”s; I’m Your Brother.
The club and edit versions are a masterclass in appropriating Chicago house with your own style, whilst Ron Trent and Chez Damier’s Chicago’s Twisted Mix brings it right home.
Rolling down from the heavens with a total shockout intro, Basic Replay dig deep into the vaults for another selection guaranteed entry into the front of your dancehall pile.
Legendary keyboard whizz Jackie Mittoo is on fine tinkling form, riding the Ayatollah riddim with some hazy synthetic electronical embellishments atop a heavy heavy digital subbass rhythm. Mittoo version's the alltime classic 'Mash down Babylon' on the flip, installing a lush lick of African guitars and working the rhythm up with some driving organ chords in his inimitable style.
Devendra Barnhart presents a compilation of demos pestered from the archives of Vashti Bunyan, Arthur Russell, Nils Frahm, Helado Negro and many more in ‘Fragments Du Monde Flottant’ - this is the only place to get that previously unreleased Arthur Russell peach on vinyl...
"Devendra Banhart presents a very unique & precious compilation featuring his best friends never heard before demos. Among them some of the yesterday and today’s most talented musicians and singers of the folk-pop-experimental scene. This handprinted album comes randomly in six different colored cardboard featuring one of six of Devendra’s drawings.
"I’ve always loved demos, often much more than the final version, in fact. My favorite John Lennon song is a demo , its called Friend of Dorothy , it’s a masterpiece...
Please enjoy this anthology of intimacy before everyone on it freaks out and doesn’t want you to hear their demos (on the bright side , at least 5 of them will show up at your house and pay you the big bucks to get this back!) This comp has taken years and years to put together, wow, has it been that long? Yep.
Love Above All,
For anyone who knows these records already - you won't need much of a sermon from us about their stature and greatness. If you don't know them - you're in for a treat.
Rhythm & Sound was the project that Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald turned to after their seminal series of recordings as Basic Channel came to an end. From 1997 until 2002 the label released seven 12" EP's which pretty much defined the direction so much electronic music would turn to in its wake - and it still continues to exert a colossal influence, for better or worse. It's perhaps hard to remember over a decade later just how little these productions sounded like anything that preceded them - taking the essence of dub and breaking it down until all that was left was a vapour trail of melody and a colossal bass echo. We could spend an hour listing all the music that basically came along and copied this template in the intervening years but, the thing is, none of what followed comes anywhere near these productions in terms of substance, none of it has aged in the same way.
"Mango Walk / Mango Drive" was the second release on the label and, for many, remains its finest moment. The a-side features an original production from the Wackies vaults by Azul & Bullwackie recorded in 1979, with an incredible 9 minute revision from Mark and Moritz on the flip. The version that appeared on the Rhythm & Sound 'Compilation' is over two minutes shorter.