In the 15+ years that have elapsed since 'Loop Finding Jazz Records' first shuffled out of his ambrosially dusty speakers, Jan Jelinek's most famous album has acquired an almost mythical status. Originally released via Pole's defunct Scape imprint, it now finds new life via Jelinek's own Faitiche label, for a new generation to marvel at one of the finest examples of loop-based electronic music typical of the early noughties.
Taking what reads like a pretty austere set of ingredients, Jelinek's technique revolves around a trio of elements which consist of second long cuts of 1960's-70's jazz recordings, the loop-finding modulation wheel (do your homework!) and the Moiré effect; albeit rendered in the acoustic as opposed to the image and spectral domains.
If all this sounds a bit academic, be assured that on record it is anything but; as crumbling edifices of mealy rhythms slowly pulse into life and swirl around your head like snow storms clashing with a dust devil. Taking sediments of fathom deep static then skimming the best stuff from the top, Jelinek opens through the dampened echoes of 'Moiré (piano & organ)' wherein a slow-motion thrum of spiraling clicks, rustles and analogue tones conspire to give the impression of recondite perspectives that extend well beyond the constituent elements.
Elsewhere, 'Rocky in the Video Age' instills a gratuitously optimistic blush to the aquatic micro-sound ebb, 'Moiré (Strings)' is a perfect companion to Basinski's disintegrating tape archive, whilst 'Them, Their' represents an aural crease so sleight you can only catch its distinctive gleam from the corner of your eye.
Current 93 coven Tibet & Stapleton unfurl more outtakes from ‘Musical Pumpkin Cottage’ as extended addendum to the ‘Threat Of Memories’ 2LP + 5CD
The 20 year vintage recordings both appear in vinyl for the first time. The A-side’s take on ‘The Dead Side Of The Moon’ uncannily coincides with the Chang’e 4 probe proof that organic material can grow on the moon. The piece itself is remarkably different to the 1996 CD edition, omitting the original’s krautrock freakout finale in favour of a sumptuous sidespin into Indian raga drone, with Tibet’s vocal pitched to childlike tones against a swell of Shruti box and electro-acoustic apparitions.
The B-side’s ‘Frail Albatross’ is effectively a stripped down version of the track ‘DreamBreath’ found on ‘Threat Of Memories’, swiping away Tibet’s vocal but leaving his meditative gasps at the fringes, buffetting the piece’s pulsing axis of Craig Leon-like chromatic chronics and Coil-like electronic gremlins.
The ultimate "Disco House Bomb" from one of the all-time greats, Frank Timm, aka Soundhack, aka one half of Smith N Hack - whose debut album now arrives almost exactly 20 years after his debut 12" was releases back in 1999.
‘Wet Will Always Dry ‘is the blistering début album by Blawan. Arriving 8 years after his first move, ‘Fram’ for Hessle Audio - during which time he’s forged the Karenn duo with Pariah, set up his Ternesc label, and played to the biggest crowds of gurners in the world - Blawan’s first LP is a gnashing statement of intent that finds him sticking ever closer to what’s served him well thus far, while also folding in subtle new traces of his own vocals to great effect.
Like the recent Surgeon album, Luminosity Device, Blawan’s first album finds him tactfully in tune with his modular set-up after years of coal-face experimentation. The result is a sound that lies right on the biting point between clarity and distortion, delivering a thrillingly caustic experience for dancers already locked his martial swagger.
That biting point is fully in effect in the hovering search-and-destroy synth tone that snakes around opener Klade, and it continues to defines the albums strongest moments, from the whipsmart mix of T++-alike hydraulics and kinetic lead of Tasser to the virulent, Haswellian snarl and gobble of North, to the stark, skeletal dancer Stell and Kalosi’s napalm burn.
It’s arguably more difficult than ever for a techno artist to eke out their own sound nowadays, but that’s just what Blawan’s done with Wet Will Always Dry. Bravo.
Heart-rending shoegaze entries from the master of rose-tinted but thorny ambient pop hymns, landing smart on the heels of his nostalgic pangs collected in the recent Songs of Remembrance / Songs of Forgiveness LP reissues. The struggle is beautiful and warmly recommended!
Accompanied by the languorous basslines of Drew Piraino on the record’s broadest and most affective pieces, Jefre’s chiming guitars and muffled drums form hymns to rare feels, with the distancing effect of distortion connoting the effect of age, as serene moments appear move ever farther out of reach.
That effect is felt most strongly in the transition of ‘Love’s Refrain’ from something like a crumpled tape recording of shimmering yacht rock thru to its coruscating, noisy finale, and the dense weight of humid air and featherlight chirrups in ‘Little Dear Isle’, while the other side pushes off from the sore synth chorale of ‘In Summer’ and into the slackened drums of ‘Blue Nudes (I-IV)’, again underlined by Drew Piraino’s murmuring bassline, with Jefre pushing the upper registers into the red, before collapsing into the tape noise and lone piano refrain of his ‘Prelude’.
Rod Modell (aka Deepchord) heads up the Our Lady of the Flowers collective, debuting with a sublime consolidation of dub techno, ambient-pop and psychedelic shoegazing frameworks.
Pointing his ferric particulates to magnetic north for a nightlight to mythical lands, Modell and his bandmates - Kevin Dunham, Jeri Frantz, Erinn Pegan, Jay Buckets and Warren Doss - use Tibetan gong feedback, field recordings of religious ceremonies, and crude homemade electronics to feel out a series of imperceptible segues between low fidelity sound worlds linked by infrasonic bass.
To be fair, we’re not sure if the vast majority of home stereo set-ups can actually reproduce infrasonic bass levels at perceptible levels, but the subs are so low as to verge on barely-there. That air-trembling low end pressure underlines the transition between eight sections, although you’d be hard pushed to pick out where they start and begin, and that’s probably the point - the drifting voices and amorphous, opiated tones are intended to pull listeners out of earthly mindsets and into lucid dream states, with a breezy nature that literally and metaphorically sweep the mind’s eye clear and preps it to be massaged by Our Lady of The Flowers’ subtly suggestive gestures.
As thrilling and unpredictable as anything in Deerhunter’s near 15-year career, ‘Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?’ was recorded in several strategic geographic points across North America and produced by the band, Cate LeBon, Ben H. Allen III and Ben Etter.
"Forgetting the questions and making up unrelated answers, Deerhunter’s eighth album is a science fiction album about the present. Exhausted with the toxic concept of nostalgia, they reinvent their approach to microphones, the drum kit, the harpsichord, the electromechanical and synthetic sounds of keyboards. Whatever guitars left are pure chrome, plugged straight into the mixing desk with no amplifier or vintage warmth."
"Now signed to Mogwai’s Rock Action Records, the band’s fifth album does not disappoint and will certainly please fans of their previous works. It will also appeal to fans of The Cure, Frightened Rabbit, The National, Interpol and Editors."
It’s a Swedish house thing. Börft boss Jan Zwarre Svensson a.k.a Frak returns to his early project, Villa Åbo, for six deep and rude acid rub downs.
Named after the former bank he grew up in and later founded Studio Styrka, site of early Frak and Alvars Orkester recordings, Villa Åbo is a funky study in teenaged fascinations and nostalgia for dance music’s golden era.
Reprising the vibes of his 1997 releases, ’Ticketiketas’ and ‘Tagetes’, Villa Åbo pays tribute to classic NYC/Chicago/Detroit styles with the ruddy flavour his music’s become prized for, running from the slompy Chi-town grit of ‘Acid Clearout’ and the submerged deep house of ‘Rings of Cross’ to the slow swagger of ‘Elektro Formage’ on the front, then giving the floor something to bite on with the skudgy motion of ‘Zürish’, and rounding out on the killer, Anthony Shakir-esque bomb, ‘Brain Charter Disco’.
Vocal studies by Dutch minimalist Machinefabriek, working with Richard Youngs, Marissa nadler, Peter Broderick, Chantal Acda and Terence Hannum.
“With Voices is the newest recording by Dutch composer Rutger Zuydervelt under the moniker Machinefabriek. True to its title, the album’s eight pieces exhibit Zuydervelt’s use of cassette recorders, tone generators, radios, synths, and other hifi curio to construct bewildering aural architecture around vocal work from Peter Broderick, Marissa Nadler, Richard Youngs, Chantal Acda, Terence Hannum (of Locrian) and others. These human voices are featured as musical instruments rather than mere vehicles of lyrical content, resulting in a sub-linguistic mosaic of primordially stirring moods.
The initial spark of With Voices was kindled while Zuydervelt was in Taipei creating music for a dance company. In the final days of his trip, a dancer named Wei-Yun Chen caught Zuydervelt’s ear with an instagram video featuring a voice that turned out to be Wei-Yun’s own (she would end up on the album’s seventh movement, a piece that features dissected bits of Taiwanese poetry amid low-pitched murmurs and whispering fogbanks of static). The encounter stirred Zuydervelt to create a single 35 minute soundscape upon which each vocalist on With Voices was encouraged to improvise, be it talking, reading, singing, or wordless, guttural intoning. Such vocal smatterings were then used to determine how the other tonal elements should be arranged, dictating where each musical passage would ultimately lead. “The idea was for everyone to just do what came naturally” he recalls, “the element of unpredictability was important to me.”
Indicative of this approach “III” (the tracks are simply titled with Roman numerals) slowly winds like ivy through staccato phrases spoken by Zuydervelt’s peer Peter Broderick, whose micro-incantations skip along mechanically only to telescope into monastic grandeur at the track’s midpoint; the vibrations of vocal cords are often stretched to a seismic hum to form the heavy implements in Zuydervelt’s toolkit. On “V”, tape recordings of Berlin electronic artist Zero Years Kid (aka Joachim Badenhorst) sputter with their own apparent intelligence like a faulty AI attempting to interpret reels of human speech in some ruinous library of the distant future. Finally, a siren-like Marissa Nadler leads the suite to its lullabic endpoint with overlapping wisps of harmony devoid of accompaniment ending the album on an angelic note.
In these moments, like much of With Voices, warm-blooded arteries seem to have grown around bits of well-designed artifice to form something warmly alien, soberly futuristic, and inherently satisfying. More than simply an album of collaborative features, With Voices is a mutating collage of modern minimalism that challenges as often as it comforts. There is an alchemical, metallurgical quality that arises from Zuydervelt’s unique way of merging humanness with abstraction, harshness with beauty, and unintelligibility with familiarity on what may be the most affecting Machinefabriek release to date.”
The mothership has landed! Unseen Worlds finally deliver a premiere edition of Laurie Spiegel’s rare 1991 follow-up to ‘The Expanding Universe’ , filling a gaping hole in electronic music collections across the known world
The jaw-dropping ’Unseen Worlds’ was first released on CD in 1991 by Scarlet Records, but the label went defunct soon after, leaving Laurie seeing to any further pressings. She issued a 2nd CD edition on her Aesthetic Engineering label in 1994, but since that sold out, her amazing album has become very hard to find. Perhaps understandably, that scarcity is probably because nobody wants to sell their original copy, making this new pressing an invaluable window onto ‘Unseen Worlds’ in all senses of the phrase.
In the years between her debut and sophomore sides, Laurie moved away from the New York new music scene to focus on other projects, most notably the MusicMouse software; an “intelligent instrument” allowing for greater real time automation of her equipment. MusicMouse for Macintosh, Amiga and Atari gained a lot of traction with rock artists and paid her bills, and effectively allowed Laurie up to focus on the aspects of music which interested her the most - improvisation and artistic process.
Freed from the more laborious constraints of electronic music composition, Laurie’s artistic-technological breakthrough gave her greater tactility and control in the composition process. The result is some of the lushest and vivid electronic music you’ll ever hear. In the impossibly smooth pitch gradients and timbral complexities of the opening ‘Three Sonic Spaces’ trio, and the hallucinogenic harmonics of ’Sound Zones’ we hear the MusicMouse in blinding action, while the rest of the LP is no less impressive; leading us thru breathtaking black hole sonics on ‘The Hollows’; into mind-bindingly vast noise scapes on ‘Two Archetypes: Hurricane’s Eye - II’; while the shimmering beauty of ‘Riding the Storm’ are right up there with classics by Jean Claude Risset or Roland Kayn; and moments of exquisite beauty like ‘Strand of Life (*Viroid*) and ‘From a Harmonic Algorithm’ give way to the rarely paralleled scope of ‘Passage’, one of those epic electronic music works that makes wading through all the other stuff truly worthwhile.
‘Rare Ravers’ is The Dead C’s umpteenth album of end-of-the-line Kiwi rock, and their 6th LP dished up by Ba Da Bing! following ‘Trouble’  and a 2013 split side with Rangda.
By now regarded among noise rock’s greatest exponents, The Dead C’s Bruce Russell, Michael Morley and Robbie Yeats continue to hack new paths thru thistly fields of guitar distortion in ‘Rare Ravers’, which, for the record, has nowt to do with glowsticks or warehouses, but everything to do with ideas of reverie and a lust for psychedelic transcendence.
“Disguised as the meandering outpourings of vacant thought and activity dialed simultaneously from zero and ten. Formed in the cauldron of a fevered mistake resolute. Surrounded by ignorance, dis-interest, and the attention of the carefully self-selected. Recorded and burned through a thousand galaxies of dust and doubt and endless infinite wonder, transforming both time and space. Forever exiled to the very bottom of the world to reflect on the struggling desperate pile above. Recognizing any contribution as minuscule and insignificant when placed within the greatness of the other, the dominant insolent preening satisfied, continually shouting the pre-eminence of the first world order.
It's a long player.”
Following a trio of sprawling, planet-gargling double-LPs, 2013’s self-titled LP on Skrammel, and Second Launch (2015) and Eclipsed (2017) on Blackest Ever Black, Bremen – J. Tiljander and Lanchy, previously best known for their contributions to Brainbombs’ long rapsheet of genius-and-brutality, but latterly exponents of a rarefied cosmic melancholy – return with Enter Silence, their most concise, and powerful, album to date.
"Once again the Uppsala multi-instrumentalists combine elements of trogged-out psychedelic rock with a deadly serious Arctic minimalism and weeping modal improvisations that owe more to the outer limits of jazz and burnt-out free music from Japan. It’s connoisseur’s space music, grown-up and grievously honed; outwardly inclined towards the epic but studded with details that reward attention and introspection.
There’s always been a strong undercurrent of sadness animating Bremen’s work, and that existential burden is present and correct on Enter Silence, culminating in the all-out cosmic anguish of ‘Palladium’. Even ‘The Middle Section’, whose ragged chords are nothing if not the sound of optimism and defiance, sounds like it’s navigating some kind of unsayable trauma. But this band has always allowed plenty of room for bonehead slash-and-burn as well: see here especially the Stoogeian/39 Clocks-ish rock’n’roll of ‘Aimless Cruising’ and the pulpy quasi-cinematic tension of ‘Sinister’, or the brilliant ‘Too Cold For Your Eyes’, a blast of voidal motorik that sounds like a cranked-up Clean. "
Avant-rock, concrète and jazz blasts from the time-served Gallic vanguard. RIYL Nurse With Wound, Ghédalia Tazartès, Lol Coxhill
“Jac Berrocal, David Fenech and Vincent Epplay return with Ice Exposure, their second album for Blackest Ever Black. A sequel and companion piece of sorts to 2015’s Antigravity, its title couldn’t be more apt: sonically it is both colder, and more exposed – in the sense of rawer, more volatile, more vulnerable – than its predecessor, capturing the combustible energy and barely suppressed violence of the trio’s celebrated live performances with aspects of noir jazz, musique concrète, no wave art-rock, sound poetry and spectral electronics all interpenetrating in unpredictable and exhilarating ways. While there are moments of great sensitivity and even a cautious romanticism, the prevailing mood is one of anxiety, paranoia, and mounting psychodrama: close your eyes and Ice Exposure feels like a dissociative Hörspiel broadcasting from the seedy backstreets of your own troubled mind.
Before he picks up an instrument or opens his mouth, Berrocal’s unique and compelling presence can be felt: a combination of studied, glacial cool and anarchic, in-the-moment intensity that has served him well over a long and storied career. It was honed during his time as a theatre and film actor, and in the 70s Paris improv scene, it powered his influential Catalogue group in the 1970s, numerous seminal, sui generis solo sides, and far-sighted collaborations with the likes of Nurse With Wound, Lol Coxhill, Pascal Comelade and James Chance which have seen him come to be valorised by two generations of avant-garde agitators and eccentrics. Now in his eighth decade, it comes with an added gravitas, perhaps, but no less energy or vitality. On Ice Exposure, his lyrical, instantly recognisable trumpet playing is a key feature – see especially the ghostly, dubwise take on Ornette’s ‘Lonely Woman’, the dissolute exotica of ‘Salta Girls’, and the sublime echo-chamber soliloquy ‘Opportunity’. But more often it’s his voice that commands centre-stage, whether casually discharging surreal poetic monologues or moaning in animal despair – a vocal tour de force that transcends language and culminates in the Dionysian frenzy of ‘Why’, Berrocal’s half-spoken, half-howled exclamations jostling with David Fenech’s slashes of dissonant guitar, over Badalamenti-ish, panther-stalk drums.
Fenech’s origins are in the mail-art scene of the early ‘90s, when he led the Peu Importe collective in Grenoble, and since then, in addition to his own recordings he has worked as a software developer at IRCAM and played with Jad Fair, Rhys Chatham and many others. Together with Vincent Epplay he is responsible for Ice Exposure’s inspired arrangements and vivid, vertiginous sound design. Epplay is a visual artist and composer with particular interest in aleatory composition, concrete, and the reappropriation of vintage sound and film material. He and Fenech fashion a remarkable mise-en-scene for Berrocal to inhabit, one that embraces cutting-edge electronics while also paying homage to the best traditions of outlaw jazz and libidinous rock’n’roll (‘Soundcheck’ invokes the brutish spirit of Berrocal’s hero Vince ‘Rock N Roll Station’ Taylor). On ‘Blanche de Blanc’, Berrocal’s voice is framed by a groaning, ghoulish orchestra of industrial drones, while ‘Equivoque’ evokes the most humid and hostile Fourth World landscapes and ‘Panic In Surabaya’ lives up to its name, a hectic, pulse-quickening concrète collage that leaves you gasping for air.
This is a searching and singular trio operating at the absolute peak of their powers, with an interplay that transcends studio and stage and occurs at an almost telepathic level. Ice Exposure is a triumph of that group mind, an underworld dérive as life-affirming as it is unnerving and psychologically precarious.”
Slowdive, Gwenno, Mark Peters and XAM revise Sobrenadar’s sultry shoegaze EP, ‘Y’ for Sonic Cathedral
As you may have predicted, Slowdive offer the strongest highlight with the dreamlike momentum of their take on ‘Del Tiempo’, while Wigan’s Mark Peters - former bandmate of Ulrich Schanuss in Engineers - also gets it right with a gently buoyant version of Cruce’, and ‘Inhabit’ becomes a sloshing, recursive pop gem peppered with pitching vocal treatments, shimmering synths and sweetly elusive rhythms at the hands of XAM.
Continuing Subtext’s exploratory electronics and devastating sonics is the expansive Ego De Espinhos, the debut full-length from twenty-two year old Porto, Portugal-based artist Gonçalo Penas.
“Described by Penas as a series of “self-exorcisms,” Ego De Espinhos is the cathartic outcome of a highly introspective process. Shaped by opposing forces and instincts, the LP touches on themes that are at once intimate, yet omnipresent. Splendor confronts destruction; id confronts super-ego.
Created solely with digital instruments designed and built by the artist, Ego De Espinhos is the result of Penas’ improvisations. Tracks such as “Introdução, Umbigo” and “Tecto Falso” were recorded in one take, and evidence a stark, dramatic emotional palette.
The release begins as Penas chooses to reject rigidities, customs and conventions of experimental electronic music. Of his process, Penas says: “Personally, I feel that creation should come from a completely free act of will. It is a place where there should be no rules, no expectations, no rights and no wrongs.”
In Ego De Espinhos, Penas turns away from his own technical background, and towards a journey of forward experimentation. This follows his education in Music Production and Technologies at Porto’s School of Music and Performing Arts. For the first time, he finds the freedom to articulate himself sincerely, unearthing beauty and acceptance amidst wreckage and devastation.”
For over a decade, guitarist/vocalist Steve Gunn has been one the American music’s most pivotal figures
"Conjuring immersive and psychedelic sonic landscapes both live and on record, releasing revered solo albums ranking high on in-the-know end of year lists, alongside exploratory collaborations with artists as diverse as Mike Cooper, Kurt Vile and Michael Chapman (whose most recent studio album he produced).
Gunn is known for telling other people’s stories but on his breakthrough fourth album, ‘The Unseen In Between’, he explores his own emotional landscapes with his most complex, fully realized songs to date."
Kora-player Sourakata Koité’s ‘en Hollande’ is one of ATFA’s most treasured digs. It’s been available on their blog since 2010 and only now sees a proper reissue, rendering a spellbinding session of quicksilver melody and buzzing harmonies on the 21-string instrument, sometimes combined with vocals, as on the arresting, almost rap style of ‘Djonol’ or the anxious melancholy of ‘Dioula’
“Sourakata Koite is a Paris-dwelling kora-player from Senegal. He is a griot, which means he is a story- and history-teller and singer. He accompanies himself on the kora. The kora is the most representative instrument of Manding music and culture. It is a harp-lute with 21 strings. The instrument is more than 600 years old and has existed in its present form for about 400 years. The griots often make their koras themselves, using a great dried gourd, a thick stick and two smaller sticks and a scraped goatskin. In the old days they used strings of skin, but nowadays often plastic fikshingline is used. The kora is held with the last three fingers of each hand at the small sticks on both sides of the strings. The strings are played by both thumbs and forefingers. With one hand the accompanying part is played and with the other the more free melody. Koite has performed in most African countries and also in a great deal of Europe.’
Nkisi rolls out a modern classic with ‘7 Directions’ for UIQ. A masterful debut album informed by African Cosmology and Congolese rhythms, it’s aesthetically comparable with music ranging from Autechre's ‘Incunabula’ to The Connection Machine’s ‘Painless’ and Lee Gamble's hyperprisms, but ultimately it’s peerless in the (hyper)modern field...
Specifically referencing the writings of Kongo scholar Dr Kimbwandende Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau and the African Cosmology of the Bantu-Kongo, ‘7 Directions’ is offered as a gateway to hallucinatory mindstates via aerobic mysticism, focussed on the idea that rhythm has the capacity to modulate and experiment with conditions of perception.
Nkisi inimitably unlocks and retunes the body’s rhythmic anticipation with breathless batteries of polyrhythms that arguably make the majority of Western dance styles sound like rote line dance music for folk with little imagination in their bones. In each direction, her drums writhe and rattle in a simultaneously ancient/futuristic style - ancient because they explicitly reference percussive traditions way older than Western civilization, and futuristic because they’ve never been presented in this way before, alloyed with cosmic synth pads that draw lines from Detroit to the Lowlands and back to source, way out in the cosmos.
But rather than closed systems for study and analysis, Nkisi’s trax feel like living, bristling organisms, virulent systems that only become activated with user participation, where those ideas can begin to take root, grow and mutate via kinesis.
Caspar Brötzmann Massaker’s masterful debut album from 1989 - remastered.
"The power trio’s blunt force execution is directed by Brötzmann’s explosive and exquisite six string conjuration. Channeling Hendrixian vibrations, mixed with hard German industrial atmosphere."
Caspar Brötzmann Massaker’s masterful second album from 1989 - remastered.
"The power trio’s blunt force execution is directed by Brötzmann’s explosive and exquisite six string conjuration. Channeling Hendrixian vibrations, mixed with hard German industrial atmosphere."
Mirage-like new age and early-techno synth groves from Nigeria’s Hama on Sahel Sounds, the amazing label behind that sublime Luka Productions album and the ‘Music From Saharan Cellphones’ sets
Neatly summed up by the label as a re-appropriation of 4th world ethnoambient music, ‘Houmeissa’ lands on the mind’s eye like a lysergic dose. Hama’s ten instrumental songs re-voice traditional nomadic herding ballads, ancient caravan songs and ceremonial wedding chants with colourful synthetic means to resemble something like “a Saharan 1980s sci-fi soundtrack or score to a Tuareg video game.”
We advise running straight to the pulsating, ruggedly elegant charge of ‘Bororo’, the flooding chromatics of the title track, or the deeply trippy, off-key cascades of ‘Takamba’ for the strongest flavours. You’ll know exactly what to do next.
Massive tip for fans of Rizan Sa’id, Black Zone Myth Chant, early B12!
Wolfgang Voigt’s ambient techno evergreen mercifully reissued as a standalone release for the first time since 1997, and its inclusion in the sumptuous Gas ‘Box’ set, now remastered.
Right up there with ambient techno’s greatest slabs, ‘Zauberberg’ is a classic balm for overworked minds and stressed bodies. As the 2nd Gas album, following the project’s eponymous debut, it pressed deeper into a uniquely dense yet diaphanous mixture of ambient and modern classical themes, exploring a breathtakingly lush, Black Forested adjunct to the sort of ambient/dub/techno austerities explored by other contemporary German producers such as Basic Channel, Monolake and the rest of the Berlin cabal surrounding Chain Reaction/Hardwax.
As with all GAS releases, It’s possibly difficult to provide any definitive description of ‘Zauberburg’, as we’ve usually fallen under its spell and towards the pillow, or at least drift off into a half-lidded reverie before it finishes. In that sense, we can only limn it from sub- or unconscious recollections, but the two effectively merge into one, as Voigt’s patented, distanced kicks mirror the soft throb of arteries heard muffled in a pillow, and the strings feel to descend with the inevitability of nightfall, all leading to the same conclusion - your head caressed by the sandman.
For obsessives fiending a fresh copy, or those lucky noobs about to pop their Gas cherry, this album is 100% essential.
A cocktail of sultry disco from late night ‘80s Tokyo, compiled by Toshiya Kawasaki for Mule Musiq
“Midnight In Tokyo is a compilation series that aims to be the perfect companion to nights in Tokyo, collecting tracks by Japanese artists that sound best at night. Vol. 2 (STUDIOMUL 006CD/LP, 2018) focused more on '80s jazz fusion, but the latest installment, Vol. 3, picks up where Vol. 1 (STUDIOMUL 001CD/LP, 2018) left off, bringing together forgotten soul, disco, and new wave gems.
The compilation opens with Japanese rare groove classic "More Sexy," a provocative song by Yoko Hatanaka. "Kimi No Yume," from the album Yume No Yonbai (1984) by Masumi Hara, is one of the best Balearic acid folk songs to come from Japan. "Silhouette Call" is an electric bossanova track in the vein of Antena, from a rare album called Octopussy (1982) by Yuki Nakayamate, a singer-songwriter who worked with Motoharu Sano. "Theme Of High School Student" is a dubby cut featured in the Japanese film Kougen Ni Ressha Ga Hashitta (1984), written by Atsuo Fujimoto (Colored Music), one of the key artists in the recent wave of global interest in Japanese music.
"Get To Paradise" is a stone-cold funk jam by Mari Kaneko, who was known as the Janis Joplin of Shimokitazawa. Following that is one of Japan's greatest new wave disco tracks, "Hannya", taken from Tomoko Aran's popular third album Fuyu-Kukan (1983) produced by Masatoshi Nishimura, who was part of Friends Of Earth with Haruomi Hosono. Masako Miyazaki, whose rendition of Seawind's "He Loves You" is a fan favorite, puts her own spin on Earth, Wind & Fire's "Fantasy," singing in her accent-heavy English, giving the song an undeniable character.
"Watashi No Koukoku" is a certified disco-boogie classic by Junko Sakurada. The Brazilian-esque jazz fusion, "Sunshine Bright On Me" is by fusion group Kangaroo, who were often billed as "the japanese Shakatak". "Stranger's Night" is a synth-pop number by Maiko Okamoto, which bears a suspicious resemblance to Rah Band's "The Shadow Of Your Love". Electro-pop disco "Singing Lady", off the sole album by The Fad sounds like something Giorgio Moroder could've cooked up.
"Magic Eyes" is a disco anthem recorded by Tetsuji Hayashi's disco project, The Eastern Gang. Following that is Japanese soul gem "Crazy Baby," found on a rare 7" entitled Minato No Soul by Rinda Yamamoto also composed and arranged by Tetsuji Hayashi. Closing out this collection of 14 Japanese rare groove goodies is "I'm In Love", a bittersweet mellow dance number by Tomoko Aran.”
We’re all stardust, innit? Jeff Mills acknowledges this matter with ‘Str Mrkd’, his banging first chapter in the Star Marked odyssey
Taking the project’s cues from ‘Abali’, which first appeared on ‘Confidentials 5-8’ [AX-009b, 2006] and now opens this 12”, Mills spins his concept out into three new cuts; opening out into the slow, sylvan Detroit ride of ‘Patterns In Nature’, then locking into mind-bending, phasing minimal techno rhythmelodies and drones with ‘Helix Nebula’, and drifting off course into potently hallucinogenic electro with ‘Aquarius’.
Mills fans - miss this at your peril!
We might be drowning in a sea of re-issues right now (not least ones from long-forgotten synthesizer pioneers) but ever so often something comes along that’s really very special indeed.
Laurie Spiegel’s ‘The Expanding Universe’ is hardly a forgotten or lost gem, but this new re-issue is without a doubt one of the finest things we’ve heard (and no doubt will hear) this year. The album managed to supplant itself in the subconscious of electronic music ever since its release in 1980, and in recent years it has gone from strength to strength forming the building blocks that gave us Emeralds, Oneohtrix Point Never, Rene Hell and so much more. Spiegel’s use of the interactive compositional software GROOVE formed the backbone of her works, and little did she know at the time that the fusion of live and software would become the norm in 2012.
That’s enough history though, the extensive liner notes should be able to reveal plenty to satiate that appetite, the fact of the matter is that it’s Spiegel’s music itself that has stood the test of time. Not quite as reckless and ominious as the blippy sci-fi of the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop pioneers and far more exact and economical than the oft-compared Terry Riley, Spiegel produced electronic music that was both fun to listen to and incredibly deep. It’s no surprise that Bach is mentioned on the record cover as an influence, as while the tracks are electronically composed and performed there is a clear backbone of traditional classical composition that gives her music the power to get the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end.
On top of the original tracks that formed the 1980 release, Unseen Worlds have done an incredible job of scouring the archives to provide a veritable treasure trove of additional material. So often the bundled tracks with reissues are simply a collection of crap demos and live performances, but not so here – there’s almost too much to go through and every single little bit is worthy of as much praise as the original record itself.
Highly promising newcomer Nazar gets down to bassbin business on Hyperdub after introductions made on Kode 9 & Burial’s ‘Fabriclive 100’ mix.
From phthalocyanine grime to blown out techno and distorted drill, the ‘Enclave EP’ is one of the freshest/crankiest sessions you’ll hear from London in 2018. It’s unmistakably Hyperdub, repping fractious madness that’s compatible with Gqom, Príncipe styles and loads of deconstructed club musics, yet patently distinguished as UK rave.
Opening with the virulent weightless synths and cold bass knocks of ‘South Border’, the EP delivers a deadly payload of non-standard club pressure with the mutant Gqom of ‘Warning Shots’, and a severely blunted sort of Burial-does-drill sound in ‘Airstrike’ featuring Hyperdub’s secret weapon Shannen SP on vocals, along with the swerving murder of ‘Enclave’ on a killer Angel Ho-styled sci-fi flex, plus the Dutch Bubblers’ troubles of ‘Konvoy’ and a very smart cinematic closer with ‘Ceasefire’.
This may well be the strongest Hyperdub debut since Burial’s seminal ‘South London Boroughs’, or at least since Doon Kanda’s first entry. A must check!
As part of Finders Keepers’ ongoing dedicated Jodorowsky soundtrack series the label presents the original film edits from the 1979 studio sessions featuring Steve Hillage (Gong) and members of Cossi Anatz.
"From Guy Skornik, the composer and arranger behind Popera Cosmic and Pour Pauwels, comes the enigmatic instrumental cues that provided fellow existentialist and notorious auteur director Alejandro Jodorowsky (‘The Holy Mountain’) with the soundtrack music to what is now considered his rarest and most overlooked feature film, ‘Tusk’.
Following his mind melting masterpieces ‘Fando & Lis’, ‘El Topo’ and ‘The Holy Mountain’, Jodorowsky’s ‘disowned’ attempt at a family film retains the director’s ongoing demand for intense, experimental film music, resulting in what is undeniably one the best kept sonic secrets from the darker corners of this coveted filmography. Cherrypicked from pre-recorded synthesiser-fuelled cosmic pop sessions by Skornik, these compositions provided ‘Tusk’ with arabesque new age synthesis alongside fullblown ambitious electro rock, as well as classic French Fender Rhodes-driven romanticism during some of this lesser-spotted movie’s most memorable moments.
Presented here in isolation, Guy Skornik’s multifarious futurist-pop evokes worthy comparisons to Ash Ra Tempel, Eno’s Bowie and Suzanne Ciani, mapping an unlikely journey between Magma and 10cc in the process. Don’t ignore Jodorowsky’s ‘elephant in the room’ - you never know what’s hidden in the trunk."
The score by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans is tense, brooding and a genuinely scary listen...
"It’s pitch perfect in creating mood and atmosphere one minute and letting loose into complete madness the next. The package was designed by Jay Shaw and we wanted to really give you a sense of the movie when you open it."
It's been nearly five decades since Joe McPhee assembled a group of musicians to perform the weekend concerts that would become Nation Time, his debut LP.
"It was December 1970, thirty-one-year-old McPhee was inspired by Amiri Baraka's poem 'It's Nation Time,' and the students at Vassar College didn't know what hit them. 'What time is it?' shouted the bandleader. 'C'mon, you can do better than that. What time is it?!'
"The music on Nation Time came out of the fertile, but little-known creative jazz scene in Poughkeepsie, New York, McPhee's home base. Two bands were deployed, one with a funky free foundation featuring guitar and organ, the other consisting of a more standard jazz formation with two drummers and the brilliant Mike Kull at the piano. Across the concert and the next afternoon's audience-less recording session, the band was ignited by McPhee's passion and his gorgeous post-Coltrane / post-Pharoah tenor. On 'Shakey Jake,' they hit a James Brown groove filtered through Archie Shepp, while the sidelong title track is as searching and poignant today as it was during its heyday.
"Originally released in 1971 on CjR, an imprint started expressly to document McPhee's music, Nation Time has a sense of urgency and inspiration. Additional material from those December days would later appear on Black Magic Man, Hat Hut's first release. In fact, the first four records on this seminal Swiss label all featured McPhee.
"Nation Time was largely unknown a quarter century or so later, when it was first issued on CD through Atavistic's Unheard Music Series. On Corbett vs. Dempsey, we reissued the album along with all known tapes leading up to and around it as a deluxe box set, but the standalone LP has long remained incredibly rare. Now is the time for a new generation of freaks to lose their shit when settling into the cushy beat of 'Shakey Jake' and answer McPhee's call with the only appropriate response: It's NATION TIME."
– John Corbett
‘Love Hates What You Become’ follows Lost Under Heaven’s 2016 debut, ‘Spiritual Songs For Lovers To Sing’.
"The band wrote the album in Manchester before traveling to Los Angeles to record with producer John Congleton, known for his Grammy-winning work with St. Vincent, Swans, Explosions In The Sky and Sigur Rós. Congleton also introduced the band to Swans drummer Thor Harris, who plays on the record. “We were without a drummer or a real band,” explains Ellery. “I just concentrated on writing the songs rather than making a sound. We turned up in LA with that as our starting point, this collection of Guitar & Piano demos that I’d sent through.”
Those demos included some of the most accomplished songwriting of his career to date, such as momentous album closer ‘For The Wild’. “I started writing that song years ago almost as a pastiche of trying to write real this rock ’n’ roll saviour,” he reminisces. “The rock ’n’ roll revolutionary feels such a culturally irrelevant cliché now, we’re living in a mechanised world seemingly indifferent to the longings of the human soul.”
Merzbow, Nyantora and Duenn’s 3 Rensa trio churn up Grade A+ improvisations for Entr’acte with the first vinyl edition of their ‘Redrum’ recordings.
Leading on from Nyantora & Duenn’s collaboration on the ‘086-087 Area’ CD for Entr’acte in 2017, on ‘Redrum’ introduces Merzbow as a vital, variable catalyst in their next venture for Antwerp’s finest. Recorded at Red BullStudios in Tokyo on 3rd August 2017 over the course of three hours, the results are edited for length in six parts to reveal a deeply uncanny intuition and amorphous nature to the trio’s music.
It’s maybe not what you might come to expect from a record involving Merzbow. Tempered by his collaborators’ leanings towards sound art and electronics, they triangulate a steady but swirling mid ground where free jazz notions collapse into noise and industrial musicks. We’re not entirely sure why each track bears one of their names after the title, i.e. ‘Redrum Session 1.1 Merzbow’ or ‘Redrum Session 2.1 Duenn’, as we were under the impression each track is a collaboration. But never mind, as the results each smudge space-time in fascinating new ways, from the oxidised electro-acoustic fulminations of the first, thru the spheric ceramic roil of the 2nd, to arcing space rock-outs in the 3rd and 4th, thru to abyssal black hole sonics in the 5th, and an exhilarating transition from pummelling percussion and noise squall to vaporised conclusions of the 6th.
The brothers Overmono rave between tribalist and ambient jungle-tekno and stepping IDM on return to Whiities
‘Lil’s From’ works out natty, rolling breakbeat edits in a way recalling Peder Mannerfelt’s broken styles, whereas ‘Quadraluv’ rolls out on a flighty mix of ambient techno and rude jungle swerve, and ‘Yell0W_Tail’ swings out into breezy IDM dimensions.
Vinyl edition of Clint Mansell’s soundtrack to Ben Wheatley’s black comedy ‘Happy New Year, Mr Burstead
One of, if not the only decent bits of telly from the xmas gone, ‘Happy New Year, Colin Burstead’ features a browbeaten ben Whetaley regular, Neil Maskell, attempting to hold a NYE party for his family in a posh pile. A cutting study in the dynamics of British families and society (that probably applies elsewhere, too), the storyline gets more intense as the characters inevitably get pissed, leading to some kind of Helena Hauff-type german techno DJ character turning it into a rave as the family she was invited to meet breaks down into a feud, with the eponymous Co0lin trying to hold it together.
Clint Mansell’s original soundtrack is a mix of baroque and folksy themes common to Wheatley flicks, favouring lots of bittersweet strings and keys, and even includes an original song sung by the character played by Sam Riley (Ian Curtis’ doppelgänger).
Ric Kaestner’s impossible-to-find, esoteric ambient gem surfaces on vinyl for first time, taken from one of only 2 known copies of the original tape. Happy endings for all collectors of obscure new age and under-the-radar ambient music! RIYL Dominique Lawalrée, Brian Eno, JD Emmanuel...
“Recorded and released in 1987, the original cassette bore a minimalist plum tree design on the cover and music soothing to match. There are only 2 confirmed copies of the original cassette, one of them was used in the restoration and revival of this classic new age album.
Five years after the New Age cult-classic album Music For Massage hit the shelves, it’s sequel was silently released. Never intended for consumer sale, Music For Massage II was only known to a select few masseuses and tape collectors. The very definition of esoteric. Musically, it’s both an homage to how far the genre had come in those five years and served as a predictor of what was to come. Comprising elements of Folk, Drone, Ambient, Ethereal, Minimal, Modern Classical, the recording is quintessential of all things New Age. These are sounds meant to induce healing, therapy, and relaxation. Hand crafted by Ric Kaestner and inspired in part by an encounter with one of the fathers of modern music, John Cage, for actual massage or for casual listening, it holds its own almost four decades later.”
Up until the release of his debut album in 2014, Shinichi Atobe managed to stay off grid since his release on Basic Channel’s Chain Reaction imprint back in 2001. He delivered the second-to-last 12” on the label and then disappeared without a trace, leaving behind a solitary 12” and a trail of speculation that led some people to wonder whether the project was in fact the work of someone on the Basic Channel payroll.
That killer Chain Reaction 12” was also a long time favourite of Demdike Stare, who had been trying to follow the trail and make contact with Atobe for many years before a lead from the Basic Channel office turned up an address in japan and - unbelievably - an album full of archival and new material. That material was compiled and released back in 2014 as Butterfly Effect.
And what a weird and brilliant album it is - deployed with a slow-churn opener that sounds like a syruppy Actress track, before working through a brilliantly sharp and tactile 9 minute Piano House roller that sounds like DJ Sprinkles at his most bittersweet, before diving headlong into a heady, Vainqueur inspired droneworld. It’s full of odd little signatures that gives the whole thing a timeless feel - like a sound bubble from another era.
Crackshot 12” of electro-dub jazz-fusion from London’s Lunch Money siblings, backed with an almighty Equiknoxx remix - one of their very best!
Doing it the right way, under their own steam and laying down proper roots, Lunch Money’s 1st 12” is a beguiling introduction to their style of future jazz first mooted on the ‘Flashing Neon Signs’ 7” in 2016.
On the A-side they cook up a wild brew of strings, double bass and perpendicular brass parts spun out in roiling dub with ‘Living 3000’, before going all ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ with ‘Informant’, and leaving us wondering wtf just happened.
Equiknoxx’s remix of ‘Living 3000’ caps another banner year for JA’s most fwd squad, with Time Cow and Bobby Blackbird turning out the bolshiest, most psychedelic, and powerful turns in their whole discography. They aren’t messing yano!
After no-wave legends Liquid Liquid broke up in 1984, singer Salvatore Principato took some much need to time to revaluate his musical direction. Renting a studio on the Lower East Side with Ken Man Caldiera. It was there that they started their next musical project, Fist of Facts.
"In 1985 Ken Man showed up in the studio with this IBM AT computer. It had a 1/2 MB of RAM and some Voyetra software that could sequence music, becoming the duo’s backing band. Fist Of Facts contributors included Mark Cunningham from Mars, Felice Rosser, Genevieve De Monvel Boutet, Carlos Vivanco, Scott Hartley from the Liquids and a whole host of others.
Fist of Facts expand the natural groove that Liquid Liquid established over their quick career, with a strong political message combined with abstract dub soundscapes."
Two masters of very different string instruments, Ellen Fullman and Okkyung Lee, colour in ‘The Air Around Her’ with beguiling microtonal timbres at a time-melting pace for John Chantler’s 1703 Skivbolaget, Stunning, highly absorbing recordings.
Setting up her famous long string instrument in the 26 metre length of Stockholm’s Kronobageriet - Sweden’s former royal bakery - Ellen Fullman brings a lifetime of dedication to her unwieldy and uniquely resonant instrument, while preeminent improvising cellist Okkyung Lee acts as a more agile counterpoint, subtly contrasting Ellen’s glacial cadence with a broader range of quicker strokes and pointed extended technique.
Produced by John Chantler and recorded by Maria Horn during the First Edition Festival for Other Music, Stockholm on 20th February 2016, ‘The Air Around Her’ takes its title from a quote in ‘Vermeer Interiors’, a poem by Margaret Rabb, from her book ‘Granite Dives’. In both parts, Ellen and Okkyung play with sound as light, conducting a tonal shadowplay of inherently vast scope and ambition that comes with any recordings of Ellen’s long string instrument, as it always requires a good deal of time and space to properly tune and set up.
The results are swept around the space of the old bakery, captivating in their keening swoons and nimble plies, and also the smoothness and friction of their flux of overtones, seeming to coruscate and bend in mid-air in tingling ecstasies, always pulling the ear to the full extent of the room’s parameters.
Following on from ‘Dimensional Space’ on Echospace [Detroit], CV313, aka Stephen Hitchell offers up his second album, ‘Glass City Sessions’ on Minimood, featuring five profoundly immersive tracks that come as a double vinyl release only.
"CV313's signature dub techno sound has been a blueprint for the genre and is created on vintage hardware; all sounds, static, tones and paranormal occurrences are left in to render it as atmospheric as it is. The five expansive recordings that make up the abum are actually based on live recordings from a DEMF aftershow night back in 2000 in Detroit.
“The music is a bit creepy and so was the experience of this live show” says Stephen Hitchell, “It was an old dingy warehouse about 10 miles out of downtown Detroit, right next to the now abandoned Eloise asylum, but there are many stories of it still being haunted”. Indeed, that theme of haunted locations around Detroit echoes through the five tracks and makes them a truly cinematic experience."
With "Smells Funny" being their sixth album in seven years, this explosive and expansive trio have gone from strength to strength, gathering respect from both rock and jazz camps.
"Although there is enough riffing here to satisfy the headbangers, with "Smells Funny" the trio are venturing into the more free and open landscapes explored on their previous album, "Black Stabat Mater". This new album also sees Mollestad truly coming into her own as an amazing lead guitarist as well as a dependable riffmeister. But let´s not forget how important the rhythm section is to make it all work so well. Ellen Brekken is an accomplished bassist, equally comfortabel holding down a groove and taking off on technically complex runs.
Then there´s Ivar Loe Bjørnstad, not your typical rock drummer, not your typical jazz drummer, but very comfortable in both areas and in possession of that loose swagger Nate Chinen mentions in his writing about "Black Stabat Mater in JazzTimes, and thus in many ways defining their common ethos: Her trio, which has Ellen Brekken on bass and Ivar Loe Bjørnstad on drums, caught my ear then with its audacious style references: the loose swagger of early Black Sabbath; the density and prowl of peak Led Zeppelin; the expeditionary urge of Jimi Hendrix; the incantatory fervor of John McLaughlin."
Raw and original house music from Mix Mup, leading on from his MM/KM link-ups with Kassem Mosse
Up top he herds the Detroit-modelled hustle of ‘Clear Drive’ with its wooden kicks and recursive FX opening out into lush synth pads and rude bassline, whereas ‘Flair’ is all about gritty, hypnotic motion in a Marcellus Pittmann or Howard Thomas style, and the B-side’s ‘Pa Toppen’ puts some strut in your pipe.
Capturing The Space Lady in her natural habitat - the streets of late '70s San Francisco - beaming messages of peace and harmony via cover versions of pop classics
The collection includes an ohrwurming 'Major Tom', the haunting 'Ghost Riders In The Sky' and a hypnotic version of 'Fly Like An Eagle' among others - and original material played on a then-new Casio keyboard (bought after her accordion was robbed) whilst typically dressed like some flamboyant character from a Greek play.
They're all taken from the only known recording of her legendary street performances (documented in the physical release's liner notes and archival photos), which has since become an outsider music classic feted by everyone from Erol Alkan (he included her take on 'Major Tom' in his 'Bugged In' mix for !K7) to Kutmah and John Maus.
Thanks to the fantastic Night School label for bringing this album to wider attention, it's easy to hear her music's influence on like-minded avant-pop music, from John Maus to Julia Holter and Group Rhoda, Pram, Laika, and far beyond. If you've got even the slightest interest in that sound, this record is just so damn good.
For their second release, NBN Records select Walter Mecca, the enigmatic character out of Paris' suburbs, who built an extensive catalogue over the last decade under various aliases on his own imprint Weirdata.
"He steps up here to deliver his first vocal opus "Lose Control" under the moniker of Waltaa as we discover another side of the multi-faceted artist. The result is a truly unique hybrid R&B project spiced up with touches of Jazz fusion.
Blending contemporary vibes and early Timbaland productions on the hit single "Ready Or Not" , his song writing and arrangements are further illustrated on the smoothed-out low funk of the two-part title track - "Lose Control" .
An alien in the music industry, Waltaa reaffirms his eccentric character, staying out of step with current trends while maintaining a timeless quality, rooted one foot in the next.”
Potent midnight melancholy from Brussels, featuring Victor De Roo debuting under his own name after introductions made as Vanderschrick on a delectable 7” for Stroom
Picking up where his 7” left off, and with more room to play with on ‘Nachtdichter’, De Roo unfolds his sound along more lonesome, lofty lines with the chirruping tape nose and hushed downbeat delivery of ‘Gewoon’, before penning the kind of red-lit synth-pop we could imagine cropping up in a Gaspar Noé flick with the slick but brooding dungeon boogie of ‘Voorbenachte Rade’. On the other side, the artist’s Belgian synth heritage bleeds thru in the floating spectral figures of ‘Beland In Bed’, and the EP’s title cut regresses to a sort of smacked-out drone rock dirge recalling Clay Rendering as much as Pseudo Code.
Quietly unmissable, this.
Shadowy Berlin techno stalwarts Pom Pom sell up to Ostgut’s A-TON with a typically enigmatic album of murky ambient, industrial and electronica
For years the preserve of techno neeks and anyone intrigued by the racks of identikit black labelled and sleeved 12”s in X-Berg’s Hardwax and Space Hall racks, Pom Pom has done well to maintain its anonymity in a the current, hyper-commercialised and surface level state of things in techno right now.
Still, nobody has a clue who’s behind the label, apart from maybe A-TON, who bring the artist(s)/label to a wider audience with ‘Untitled II’, which, to our ears, sounds like the work of more than one person, as it ranges from comedown drones to purring electro offcuts and arpeggiated nightflights with a subtle shift in accents that, to be fair, could be the work of one as much as many.
Preeminent sound artists William Basinski and Lawrence English roll out the quietly breathtaking ’Selva Oscura’ as the first fruit of their collaborations spanning the past half decade and more.
Mantled in reference to Dante’s Inferno, ‘Selva Oscura’ literally translates to ‘Twilight Forest’, a title which serves as metaphorical device for the way Basinski and English’s lives in transit have serendipitously crossed paths over the years between Zagreb, L.A., and Hobart, in a variety of situations. On another level it also speaks to the nature of losing one’s way in place and time, which is beautifully reflected in the music’s disorienting, otherworldly ebb and flow flux.
Using a palette of sounds broken down, magnified and inverted from macro to micro scales and vice-versa, and mailed to each other between L.A. and Brisbane, the results map out vast tracts of psychic terrain that shift like the sands of time, with sounds perpetually rearranging themselves on the granular level to render a broader, slow moving tapestry of sublime, anaesthetic quality.
The A-side’s ‘Mono No Aware’ (Japanese for “the pathos things” or “a sensitivity to ephemera”) is a captivatingly transient and hypnagogic work of sferic tones and sprawling wide bass, lulling listeners into a state of lushest melancholy with the allure of a time-lapse video of autumnal weather patterns. ‘Selva Oscura’ follows with a discernibly darker and submersed appeal, as though the clouds have come down to us (or us to them?) and we’re left wandering the firmament, initially swaddled in a creamy grey-pink expanse marbled with pealing partials, before crossing oceanic basses and gently touching down to pinch ourselves.
Amazing record! Avant-pop enigma Leslie Winer slinks the plasmic, recursive matrices of Jay Glass Dubs in a brilliant but unexpected marriage of husky trip hop and psyched-out dub styles on Your Mom’s Favourite Eazy-E Song for Bristol’s excellent Bokeh Versions.
Finding common, scorched ground between Jay’s gutted structures and Leslie’s abyssal, esoteric insight, YMFEES serves to perfectly highlight the similarities and mutabilities common to both artist’s oeuvres, which have previously shared label space on The Tapeworm, and both share a keen lust for the dankest ends of the dub pool.
With Winer’s lyrics reprinted in swirling ellipses and contoured kerning on the inner sleeve, and presumably (and smartly) designed to mirror the elusive structure of Jay Glass Dub’s arrangements, the listener is offered some kind of star chart thru their no-man’s-land mental dub scapes of ricocheting riddims and droll reportage from the brink of consciousness.
In a dancefloor situation, we’d imagine these tracks to trigger some healthy bewilderment, as bodies get snagged on Jay’s cranky churn and heads spun by Leslie’s stream-of-non sequiturs in Woodshedded, or likewise bullied by the blown-out bass and genuinely spooked, over-the-shoulder vocal of About The Author. However, it’s most likely to be consumed in solitude, which is probably the most appropriate for really getting into the album’s strangest nooks, such as the deliciously OOBE-like detachment of No Famous Actors featuring Winer as HAL-like ghost in the machine, or the masterfully heavy-lidded drowse of Cogged featuring a barely-there Winer suspended above Dubs’ murkiest, hypnotic strokes.
What a beauty?! Don’t sleep!
The collaborative venture of Turk Dietrich and Michael Jones, Belong inhabit a sonic territory that seems perpetually out of sight - giving the same effulgent warmth as standing with your back to a sunset, or glimpsing a blizzard through a frosted window.
Spectrum Spools scan back to the early work of Second Woman’s Turk Dietrich with reissue of his and Michael Jones’ first album together as shoegaze duo Belong. While there’s maybe no obvious connection between the hyper dance music of Second Woman and the romantically sore, heavily textured tones of October Language, look a little further and it’s possible to locate a shared lust for keening transcendence and a lush tension between freeness of expression and discipline of intent between the two projects.
But no worry if that’s not apparent. Just think of it belong as a sublimated MBV or echo of Fennesz and you’ve got the measure of this abrasively beautiful album.