Yet another dreamy peach from STROOM 〰, ‘Chosen Songs’ collects an unmissable introduction to the shadowy poetry and music of 48 Cameras; a long-running, mutable ensemble helmed by Belgium’s Jean-Marie Mathoul (✝ 04/07/2018)
Spanning 8 pieces, each recorded in one take between 2002-2013, ‘Chosen Songs’ notably features guest input from Michael Gira (Swans) and Robin Rimbaud (Scanner) among many others. However, the centre of attention is Jean-Marie Mathoul (1952-2018), whose poetry and musical ideas form the basis of the self-proclaimed non-band’s haunting electro-acoustic spaces and possessed air. Just from initial listens, we can already tell this is going to be a big favourite during the present and coming long nights. Fans of Félicia Atkinson, John Avery, Kreng or Jani Christou are almost certain to fall under this record’s spell.
“48 Cameras was the brainchild and life project of self-proclaimed non-musician Jean-Marie Mathoul († 04/07/2018), a social worker born and raised in Huy who carefully conducted 48C towards cult status. After hearing an album of William S. Burroughs reciting poetry, J-M decided to put poems and spoken word to music. He was a poet in his own right, having already published a.o. Une cure au cancer (A cure for cancer), a book of poems which at times was wrongly sold alongside medical books. At a literary event in Liège, Belgium, he met UK-based writer Paul Buck (author of the novel The Honeymoon Killers) and the two of them decided to collaborate and thus formed 48 Cameras. The name of the collective references photographer Eadweard Muybridge and a poem by Jim Morrison; "Muybridge derived his animal subjects from the Philadelphia Zoological Garden, male performers from the University. The women were professional artists' models, also actresses and dancers, parading nude before the 48 cameras'' (in The Lords and the new creatures).
It is important to note that 48C is somewhat of a non-band. The musicians and collaborators never actually recorded together, and to this day some haven’t even met each other. Before starting the recording process, J-M built an album in his mind: choice of album and song titles, who was to collaborate, even the artwork was clear long before the first note was played, leaving little room for surprises. All of this was carefully collected in decently structured Atoma notebooks full of polaroids, annotations and cut-out photos of paintings and advertisements of cigarettes. An avid smoker himself (as long time collaborator Calo recalls: ‘sometimes he was smoking three cigarettes at a time, he’d forget he had already lit one or two’), the notebook papers slowly transformed into nicotine colored archives of a project that often feels like the musical masterpiece of a recluse puppet master, overviewing and directing things from his attic home studio, aptly referred to as “the Observatory”.
Throughout the years collaborators sent their parts by snail mail on tape, DAT or even MiniDisc, and with the arrival of the internet some began to upload their contributions. Never, however, was the collective present together in the attic studio.”
Killer slo-mo techno slugs from Vienna’s Nonetheless duo on Florian Stöffelbauer a.k.a. Heap’s Neubau label
Verging on techno for an ambassador’s reception, the first batch from Felix Bergleiter and Florian Bocksrucker’s new pairing injects a sense of refined, Central European sensibilities to the ‘floor, where needed.
Working in parallel to styles pushed by the likes of Tolouse Low Trax and Vladimir Ivkovic at Salon Des Amateurs, the recoiling chug of Berlin’s Novo Line, or the trawling drag of Sweden’s Fishermen, Nonetheless deliver some serious traction with EP highlights in the unstressed machine squeal and pressure of ‘Exclusion Zone’ and the inexorable acid rolige of ‘Machine of Love and Hate’, plus a the Carpenter-esque groove of ‘Velvet’.
Bohren & Der Club of Gore refine and expand their neon lit blend of midnight jazz and dark ambience, finding romance and a sort of redemption in the heart of the abyss.
Musically, the key reference point remains Angelo Badalamenti's scores for David Lynch; a combination of plaintive sax, ominous synth drones and electronic piano situated at the interzone between dream and nightmare. ‘Zombies Never Die (Blues)’ - the first of the three long, immersive pieces that make up the LP - is apt for midnight revelation at the Roadhouse or Club Silencio; but as well as Badalamenti we think also of Tom Waits at his most unhinged and atmospheric, and of The Caretaker's sweeping, serotonin-depleted excavations of memory.
‘Catch My Heart', an unrecognisable cover of German metal outfit Warlock, evokes the decadence and submerged anxiety of 30s Weimar cabaret; vocals come from the band’s longtime cheerleader Mike Patton, channelling Tuxedomoon, Bowie and even the Brinkmann of When Horses Die into a louche but tortured croon. The title track brings the suite to a close, unbearable tension wrought out of a sparse, repeated Rhodes motif and brushed drums, recalling early Tortoise, For Carnation and the desert-dried doom of Earth. For all these comparisons, Bohren really are like no one else around, and Beileid is the kind of otherworldly, out of body listening experience we live for.
Classically carmine-toned Italian horror score from living legend Fabio Frizzi, for the comedy-horror ‘Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich’, directed by Sonny Laguna and starring Udo Kier
“Lakeshore Records and Fangoria Presents have teamed up to release Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich—Original Motion Picture Soundtrack which features an original score by legendary film composer Fabio Frizzi (Zombie, City of the Living Dead, The Beyond), digitally on August 10th.
This is the first soundtrack to fall underneath the banner Fangoria Presents from Cinestate. Written by by S. Craig Zahler (Brawl in Cell Block 99, Bone Tomahawk) and starring Thomas Lennon, Udo Kier and Barbara Crampton, the film was produced by Cinestate in conjunction with Fangoria and will have a limited release in theatres beginning August 17th. Based on the Charles Band cult classic, the new reimagining of the Puppet Master series has been garnering rave reviews for it’s over the top gore and dark humor.
Recently divorced and reeling, Edgar returns to his childhood home to regroup his life. When Edgar finds a nefarious looking puppet in his deceased brother’s room, he decides to sell the doll for some quick cash. Girl-next-door Ashley and and comic book pal Markowitz join Edgar for a doomed road trip to an auction at a convention celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the infamous Toulon Murders. All hell breaks loose when a strange force animates the puppets at the convention, setting them on a bloody killing spree that’s motivated by an evil as old as time.”
First ever collection of the pioneering British reggae Lovers Rock group Brown Sugar including rare singles, dubs and extended mixes. The album comes with extensive sleevenotes and interviews with Dennis Bovell, Pauline Catlin, John Kpiaye and Winston Edwards (Studio 16).
"Brown Sugar were formed by three young teenage girls - Pauline Catlin, Caron Wheeler and Carol Simms in South London in 1976. In the short period of time 1976-1980, the group - working with Dennis Bovell on the mixing desk and John Kpiaye (‘Brownie T) in the studio - recorded barely a handful of singles on the new Lovers Rock label, a number of which went to the top of the UK reggae charts. But success stopped there and with no album release and no industry support the group broke up in the early 1980s.
Following their split Caron Wheeler became the lead vocalist for the hugely successful group Soul II Soul, Carol Simms launched a solo career as Kofi (re-making a number of Brown Sugar songs with producer Mad Professor) and Pauline Catlin returned to education. nDespite their relatively low-key mainstream public exposure Brown Sugar (and the label on which their first records appeared) announced to the world a new genre of reggae music, Lovers Rock, which spoke for the first time with the sensibility of a new segment of British society; that of first generation-born Black British female youth.
And while Lovers Rock became synonymous with sweet love songs, Brown Sugar’s music in fact expressed far more; a righteous pride and consciousness in being Black and British, a political stance more often associated with UK roots groups like Black Slate, Aswad, Misty In Roots and other British reggae acts in the late 1970s. Brown Sugar were in fact their own genre of ‘conscious lovers rock’ - an expression of ideological black cultural pride.
Brown Sugar’s handful of three-minute love songs (often plus extended dubs) somehow manage to encapsulate all the complexities of identity, sexual politics and youthful righteousness of Afro-Caribbean youth living in Britain in the 1970s. Songs such as ‘I’m In Love With A Dreadlocks’, ‘Our Reggae Music’, ‘Black Pride’ and ‘Dreaming Of Zion’ spoke with a straightforward righteousness and consciousness that few roots groups could hope to match. The fact that they were all teenagers is even more striking.
Dennis Bovell comments, “For Lovers Rock we needed a pulpit, a way of saying ‘this is the style’. Sound systems were already saying ‘this is lovers,’ brandishing it in the dance. Ourintention was to create a style of music that my generation could identify with - one that had a beat, and you could dance to with your partner in a sound system setting.” Dennis Bovell’s mixes for the group gave a further dimension to Brown Sugar records - a sound system mentality, adding sound effects and dub elements. ‘I’m In Love With A Dreadlocks’ was the debut release for both Brown Sugar and the Lovers Rock label, a fitting calling card for both. The record was a hit on many sound systems across the UK, reaching the top of the reggae charts.
Although the career of Brown Sugar was short-lived, their legacy and influence remains significant and now, 40 years on from these first records, all of the members are still involved in music. Pauline Catlin has recently re-launched her career under a new moniker, Shezekiel; Carol Simms, aka Kofi, remains a successful solo artist, one of the queens of Lovers Rock; Caron Wheeler, after leaving Soul II Soul at the end of the 1980s, embarked on a solo career, before re-joining the soul super-group which she continues to front to this day."
Quick, melodic folk music for healing depression, from Madagascar
“June 2017, France. It’s 40° both inside and outside. At Studio Black Box, in the Haut Anjou, it is as if you were there, in Madagascar. And when the tape recorders start rotating, the musicians’ imagination feeds off the guts of their music : Malagasy bush, tropical heat, red dirt, sand, drought, corn, cassava, cockcrow, mooing zebus, lambahoany (fabric), leaf hut, fotaky house (mud), dust, portable generator, music, rhum, bodies frantically dancing wether in the dark or under the blazing sun…Tsapiky.
The album shall be named Valimbilo.
Bilo is a disease which strikes one’s mental health, depression is what western societies call it. When one is diagnosed with « voany bilo », a precise medical treatment is engaged and performed without doctors, nor medicine. To vanquish bilo, one has to use music.
The sorcerer solely decides upon the “good” day (the day which gathers the most positive aspects of the astrological conjuncture) to operate: the extended family hosts a ceremony ruled by many taboos, which can last up to a few days, and in which only one remedy is applied in high dosage : some Tsapiky.
They are “doctor” musicians whom talent is source of the cure.
They play for the patient, who has to be facing the orchestra : all of their attention is focused on the bilo, dancing in the sick person’s body : It has to be awaken, seduced, surprised and attacked from every angle before it is pressured, pressured until KO, until it can’t take the it anymore, stuffed with music. Then the patient is relieved, discharged, and the ceremony is over.
During the entirety of the ceremony, the patient picks a person who helps him/her get the bilo out of his/her system, this is what we call “valimbilo”, literally “husband/wife of the bilo””
Balmy Scando disco moves from Little Dragon on ninja
“Little Dragon wanted to bring new music into the world that has an airy and fun lightness to it. “For all the lovers out there, chant along! Dance for peace and unity in this world of madness!” declare the band. Lead singer Yukimi Nagano adds that the EP is about, “The force of love. Not only between two people but the force of love in this universe as the ultimate ecstasy. Whether that is while you’re dancing at a disco forgetting where you are or just staring at the moon on a clear night, it can be anything. A swim in the ocean, a glance at a stranger--it’s a personal individual thing. Call it what you want but we have all felt it. So, embrace the great mystery of everything that your brain can’t grasp and lose track in the most beautiful sense.”
The story behind the track’s origins is as idiosyncratic and left-of-centre as you would expect from a band that have spent their career consistently playing by their own rules. "It started with Fred searching for a wedding march inspired by a Swedish prog funk folk keyboardist called Merit Hemmingson”, explain the band from their Gothenburg bunker. “Erik got inspired by the track and started singing! After Erik wrote his vocal verses Yukimi got a bit worried about his lyrical abilities and stepped in to add her part on the song. Håkan flew to Germany to record a beautifully tuned clavinet. Once the clavinet was recorded Fred and Erik added their flavour with some drums and deep synth bass. For all the lovers out there, chant along! Dance for peace and unity in this world of madness.”
Since his recording debut as Choir Boy in 2016, Adam Klopp mined a sound swirls 1980s synth noir with captivating, cinematic songs sweeping with pensive sorrow and glowing hope. As a former member of the Mormon faith, Klopp spent his youth both in the pews of his place of worship, but also churning through DIY punk venues, before leaving the sect in the thick of a mission in Tahiti.
"The duality of faith and fiction are central to the lush explorations on his debut album Passive With Desire. Recorded at Studio Studio Dada, the album’s tracks permuted as bedroom sketches, awash with camp, the sting of loss, and allusions to halcyon days of nocturnal, electronic driven pop. Retaining elements of Klopp’s original demos, Passive With Desire was recorded with a full band and polished with trumpet, strings, as well as archival samples calling back to Klopp’s hazy youth.
Engineered by Klopp, Bret Meisenbach, and Stephen Cope, Passive With Desire is the entry point to Choir Boy’s world of emotive wit, novella kissed lyricism, and bouncy, synth-forward takes on traditional song writing bound by the universal themes of loss, desire, evolution, and exploration."
Cue gushing waves of nostalgia: Sandra Kerr & John Faulkner’s soundtrack forkids TV animation ‘Bagpuss’ is finally available on vinyl. It’s definitely one for the over ‘40s, and younger folkies who’re old at heart.
"Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss , Old fat furry cat-puss , Wake up and look at this thing that I bring, Wake up, be bright , Be golden and light , Bagpuss, Oh hear what I sing. 12th of February, 1974, and for an audience of small children at 1:45pm, a life irrevocably coloured by the wayward wonderings of one saggy cloth cat...
Some 44 years later and Earth Recordings opens the door to Bagpuss & Co. once again, revealing for the first time the original music in all its newly-mastered splendour. The 32 tracks that make up the main body of the compositions are – like all good folk music – a patchwork of traditional pieces, half-remembered tunes and pure improvisation. It's testament to Sandra Kerr and John Faulkner's musicianship that the recordings work so well, not only within the context of the television episodes, but as an album in its own right.
Of the recording, Oliver Postgate (in his exquisite autobiography 'Seeing Things') says: "Between them Sandra and John could play every sort of instrument from a mountain dulcimer to an Irish fiddle. They knew and could sing every tune in the world and didn't bother with written music, except as a last resort. They were exactly suited to Gabriel the Toad and Madeleine the Rag Doll and in those roles were happy to play whatever music and sing whatever songs would be needed." Those songs manifested themselves as reworkings of familiar tunes ('I Saw A Ship'; 'Row Your Boat'; 'Bucket's Burning'), takes on traditional ballads ('Brian O'Lynn'; 'The Frog Princess'; 'Weaving Song'; 'The Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket') and delicious flights of fancy ('The Bony King of Nowhere'; 'Turtle Calypso'; 'Uncle Feedle').
The counterpart to Madeleine and Gabriel's more polished ditties are the interludes from the mice; a raggle-taggle chorus that accompanies the creatures' efforts of help (with the mice once famously going on strike when they were not permitted sang as they worked). Again, Postgate muses: "Once I had worked out a few episodes I would make a very rough list of the bits where I though music would be appropriate. I would send it to [Sandra and John] to think about. Then we would borrow a fairly silent room in a remote house and, taking the various articles that we intended to celebrate with us, would spend a happy day with a tape recorder, thinking up and recording whatever songs and tunes came to mind."
The outtakes provide an intimate – and often very humourous – insight into the trio's work ethic, if it can be called such a thing. (By all accounts they sound as though they're having a very jolly time indeed.) Highlights include alternative opening words and end music, as well as Postgate sound-checking in character as Bagpuss. This never-before heard audio provides a real treat for fans (and indeed those new to the Smallfilms stable) – affirmation again to the enduring quality of these special recordings, and the beloved programme that inspired them. "An accidental classic of the folk-roots underground that we never dared hope we’d hear with such clarity."Stewart Lee.. And so their work was done."
‘My East Is Your West’ appears here in its full unedited glory, Sarathy Korwar’s album is in collaboration with the UPAJ Collective, a group of estimable Indian jazz and classical musicians, members of which include Tamar Osborn (On The Corner Records), Al Macsween (Omar Puente, Pee Wee Ellis) and Aditya Prakash (Anoushka Shankar).
"A unique homage to the Spiritual Jazz music of the 1960s and 70s and to artists such as Alice Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders. It’s a culturally diverse album rich in musical colour. Sarathy Korwar’s pioneering approach and ethnomusicological background allows him to develop and innovate upon the Indojazz genre.
Fans of Korwar include Floating Points, Gilles Peterson and Keiran Hebden. Of his previous album Four Tet said: “Refreshingly different, this is a deep and powerful listening experience.” Korwar has won great acclaim supporting Kamasi Washington on tour. More recently he’s collaborated with London luminaries Binker and Moses and Shabaka Hutchings."
Loose, bashy, funked-up house chops from the LMYE duo, leading on from solid 12”s for Idle Hands and Funkineven’s Apron Records
Bridging the gap between rugged US originators such as Theo Parrish and Rick Wilhite, and UK rogues such as Altered Natives and Mr. G, LMYE (Lend Me Your Ears) marks out gritty, soulful territory with the 10 tracks of their eponymous debut album.
On the first disc they swang out with the swollen subs and frayed percussion of ‘All Aboard’ inna UK style, whereas ‘The Gift’ gets down with wilder sample cut-ups on a Soundhack or Shake tip, and ‘Song Six’ slings it jazzier, duskier, with powerful bass weight.
The 2nd disc opens with a wicked, Pepe Bradock like flurry of avian keys and frisky swing on ‘Elements’, along with the killer Steve Gurley styled 2-step of ‘XTC Rising’, a Todd Edwards-flavoured buzz in ‘Hypnotised’, and serious deep rave panache in ‘Steel City Blues’.
Young Hunting kneel before Ancient Methods’ Persiphonic Sirens with two cinematic synth vignettes clad in beautiful sleeve adorned by Nick Hedges’ photo; ‘Street, running down to the Tyne, Newcastle (1970)’
The keener eared and clear of memory may recall Young Hunting from their 2011 debut on Blackest Ever Black, before they became Dalhous. We’re not sure if these two tracks are new material or vintage cuts from back in the day, but either way they’re some of the strongest we’ve heard from the Scottish duo.
The A-side’s ‘List of Indignities’ is a gloriously sullen, wordless hymn to heck sung by a burned-out synthetic chorale, while the flip side’s ‘Melancholia’ is a heart-rending swell of coruscating harmonics and sore, plangent chord changes bound to speaks to the bitter romantic in all of us.
Mercurial, nippy, ‘Anoima’-style Nigerian highlife, reissued on vinyl for the first time
“For the casual fan of Nigerian music, certain names immediately come to mind at the mention of the phrase “Igbo highlife”—internationally recognized stars like Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe, Celestine Ukwu, Oliver De Coque, and The Oriental Brothers. Intermediate students of the genre might cite less universally lionized but still tremendously influential players like the Ikenga Super Stars, Mike Ejeagha, or Goddy Ezike. The true aficionado, however, is likely to chatter enthusiastically about someone like Franco Lee Ezute, and how he was the avatar of a spirited new take on the style that revitalized and redirected the genre in the 1970s and 80s.
To this contribution to the conversation, the purist might counter that Ezute, and others of his ilk (King Ubulu, Ali Chukwuma, Rogana Ottah, Bob Fred, Mmadu Osa International Band, etc.) despite singing in what appears to be the Igbo language and utilizing Igbo cultural motifs, technically do not qualify as Igbo highlife at all. Instead, they should be categorized as Anioma sound.
But what exactly is Anioma sound? Well, that can often be a complicated to quantify as the concept of “Anioma” itself, and both continue to stoke passionate debates: Is Anioma music simply a variety of Igbo highlife, or its own unique genre? And are the Anioma people Igbos… or something else altogether?
The word “Anioma” is an acronym encompassing the names of four language groups in present-day Delta State, Nigeria: Aniocha, Ndokwa, Ika, and Oshimili. The tongues spoken in these regions are generally considered to be mutually intelligible with standard Igbo, and are frequently counted among the over 30 distinct dialects of the Igbo language. Over the years, the Anioma peoples have variously been described as “Western Igbos,” “Bendel Igbos” and “Delta Igbos.” But many indigenes of this area stubbornly maintain that despite speaking variations of the Igbo language and bearing what sound like Igbo names, they are not of Igbo descent culturally or genealogically. Contemporary Anioma historians have popularized the theory that they are descendants of the Bini peoples in neighboring Edo State who migrated to the western border of Igboland and took on much of the language and culture. While there is not much substantial evidence to support this narrative, it’s one that is easy to believe when you listen Anioma music—specifically the highlife produced by the natives of the Ndokwa (or Ukwuani) area. On the surface it sounds like Igbo highlife, but something about it is… different.”
Josephine Foster raises a stained-glass lamp and shepherds us spelunking the depths of spirit in this four-part double album.
"Following the fame of her voice are choruses of winged entities (and a space shuttle) that ascend and descend a maze of spirituals: ritual prayers, blues laments, vestal hymns and jubilant benedictions. The edges of the natural world are revolving backdrops from which our narrator perches upon symbolic precipice or saunters desolate snow-blanched forest, exploring eternal themes of mortality and morality, beneath the moon and in occasional dialogue with a mysterious lord of love, an ambiguous mystical figure.
Accompanying herself on guitar, piano, organ, harp & autoharp, this cycle of 18 new songs hearken back to various facets of Foster's anachronic oeuvre (the esoteric balladry of This Coming Gladness, native rhythms of Blood Rushing, somnambulist waltzes of I'm a Dreamer, the Shaker primitivism of Hazel Eyes, I Will Lead you). Celestial humor and devastating innocence are delivered with contributions from Victor Herrero (lead guitars), Gyða Valtýsdóttir (cello), Chris Scruggs (pedal steel), Jon Estes (bass), as well as cameos by members of The Cherry Blossoms and others. Recorded, engineered and mixed by Andrija Tokic at his Nashville Bomb Shelter Studio, mastered by John Baldwin, and produced by Josephine herself."
Brian Eno’s pioneering ambient cornerstone is available on vinyl for the first time in over 30 years!‘Discreet Music’ (available as a single LP or half-speed mastered 2LP), is here available on this facsimile reproduction affording a whole new generation the chance to bathe in some of Eno's most pivotal and important work.
Context is always key with historic releases, and could hardly be more so than with ‘Discreet Music’. Famously, Eno was hospitalised following a car accident in 1975, and while laid up, his friend Judy Nylon brought him a record player and an LP of harp music. The music only came out of one speaker, and at low volume, and the incapacitated Eno struggled to do anything about it, so he accepted this as a new mode of hearing music as embedded in the ambience of the environment. While Eno had previously arrived at similar conclusions with Robert Fripp on ‘No Pussyfooting’, here the idea ironically became more firm, yet diffused in the classic style he would develop on ‘Ambient 1: Music For Airports’ and over his next 40 years of recordings.
The two pieces on ‘Discreet Music’ beautifully play with this idea of a background music. To make the title piece, Eno established a near autonomous system of synth and tape loop feedback which rendered his simple melodic motifs, input via synthesiser, as 30 minutes of calmingly serene wilt and decay whose simple, plaintive elegance patently endures now, over 40 years later. The other piece finds Eno’s ideas applied directly to classical music with a much slowed-down take on ‘Three Variations on the Canon in D Major by Johann Pachelbel’ performed by The Cockpit Ensemble, conducted by Gavin Bryars.
Out of print on vinyl for over 30 years, Brian Eno’s foundational ambient recording is finally placed back in circulation, newly remastered.
While we could be here all day debating when ambient music really became a “thing” (others may argue it was ‘Discreet Music’ or Harold Budd’s ‘The Pavillion of Dreams), the putative consensus remains that Brian Eno birthed the genre, proper, with ‘Ambient 1: Music For Airports’.
Originally dispensed in 1978, it is perhaps one of the most commonly referenced ambient recordings in the history of electronic music, marking the point where musical composition became conceptually and truly decentered, diffused, and practically taken out of the composer’s hands, yet still conveys something ultimately human; serving to enhance or encourage our unique ability to reflect, meditate (ok, so I saw a video of Goat meditation the other day, so maybe we’re not that unique?!).
Brian Eno’s 6th studio album, ‘Ambient 1: Music For Airports’ was conceived while waiting hours for a flight at Cologne Bonn Airport in Germany in response to the airport’s uninspired sound atmosphere. I’m actually struggling to think of what airports sound like now, apart from cackling hen do’s and crying kids, but we can imagine that ‘70s airport muzak could have been seriously bland. Enter Eno and his cosmic imagination, who imagineered the solution with synths and tape loops, and the help of peers such as Robert Wyatt, who provides the keys looped up on ‘1/1’, along with engineering by Conny Plank and longterm collaborator Rhett Davies.
It’s maybe hard to imagine ambient music without this record. From the radiant serenity of the first part, to the angelic choral drift of the 2nd and 3rd sections, thru to the shimmering, quietly optimistic promise of the 4th part, this is a record that defines the ideal of sublime and contemplative music - sound freed of heavy-handed connotation, and succeeding by way of gentle, unchallenging inference.
Sepulchral, shoegazing goth-pop modelled in the classic image of Cocteau Twins, Kate Bush, The Sundays
“SRSQ (pronounced seer-skew) is the solo project of Kennedy Ashlyn (vocalist/keyboardist of Them Are Us Too). Creative voids aren’t filled, but rather holes left that push the edges of the present into new realms of consciousness. SRSQ’s pulse began after the death of Kennedy’s closest friend and TAUT collaborator Cash Askew, a casualty in the sudden and tragic Oakland Ghost Ship Fire of 2016. Driven by loss, SRSQ became the vehicle for Kennedy’s transformative process, exploring nuance, nostalgia, reflection, and reconciliation, manifesting in the aural landscape of Unreality.
As a debut, Unreality is entrance into a new form of storytelling, traversing the present while pulling from a deep swath of experience, immersion, and sound. Like the impulse it pulls from, each song evokes the complex duality of meditation—where simple intersects with infinite. Ambient synthesizers that approach harshness, relentless arpeggiations act together with Kennedy’s vocals as a lush weapon, weaving cloudlike fables over orchestration that’s familiar and foreign. Trance-like at times, yet always rooted in cadence and structure, the synesthesia of sound and feeling takes cues from the delicate miasma of Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, or Dead Can Dance, using their example as the ground floor for building a new temple of frequency. Kennedy proves an adept architect of rhythm, using sequenced electronics as a deep backbeat that allows the harrowing beauty of her vocals to lead the journey.
Produced by Matia Simovich of Inhalt, Unreality is simultaneously crisp and full, each tone and note occupying its own unique sonic world - grief butted against power, tracked to a heavy heartbeat.”
Classy reissue/compilation of mid ‘90s deep house pearls from Ed Marshall’s Dreamscape, by the people for the people at PPU
Applying the same stringent quality filters as PPU have previously applied to boogie, their first house reissue, proper, collects seven charms that were originally dispensed by New Age House Records between 1994-1995.
It’s all pure killer, no filler, from the hair-kissing strut and horny lixx of ‘New Age’, to the kinky lather of ‘Forevermore’ and the mad technoid jam, ‘We Are’ on disc 1, thru the exulted vocal house brim of ‘New Day’, and a new, 45rpm cut of the divine shimmy, ‘To Think We Just Met Yesterday’ on the 2nd disc. Party guaranteed.
Brian Eno’s ‘Music For Films’ is a definitive example of a “soundtrack for an imaginary film”. The first of three volumes, it features a number of short tracks recorded 1975 - 1978, and includes styles and equipment that also carried over into Eno’s work on David Bowie’s ‘Low’. It has been our of print on vinyl since 1982
First issued in 1978, ‘Music For Films’ was first promo’d a few years earlier in edition of 500 as a collection of potential pieces for filmmakers. This reissue of the official release features 18 gorgeous shorter form pieces (especially when compared with his tendency for durational works) that were intended to lend subtle emotive colour to films. They feature a combination of Eno’s patented synth work with more conventional instrumental contributions from Robert Fripp, John Cale and Fred Frith, among others, and would appear in films ranging from John Woo’s ‘A Better Tomorrow’, to Derek Jarman’s ‘Jubilee’, and Jim McBride’s ‘Breathless’
Filling the gap between Eno’s ‘Discreet Music’ and ‘Another Green World’, and his later classic, ‘Ambient 1 (Music For Airports)’, this album is clearly blessed with Eno’s rarified, breezy feel for melody and space, making concise, pointed use of textural fusions and contrasts in a way that resonates with, as much as stands out from, his other work during that era.
The Death of Rave plates up the first ever vinyl release from NYZ; the cult, algorithmic/generative music project of award-winning artist/scientist Dave Burraston (Bryen Telko, Noyzelab), featuring one track using synths given him by Richard D. James - a peer and star of Dave’s famous ’SYROBONKERS!’ interview. ’It comes highly recommended to followers of Russell Haswell’s kaotic gnash, the mind-bending tunings of Aphex Twin, the visionary algorithmic scapes of Roland Kayn, and Eliane Radigue’s microtonal meditations.
’SHFTR FRQ’ showcases the breadth of Burraston’s experimental research into algorithmic/generative composition. The A-side revolves 14 succinct blatz ranging from cranky percussive pieces to queered microtonal dissonance and SAW II-like atmospheres - notably including one track made on a Sequentix Cirklon sequencer and PreenFM2 synth gifted him by Richard D. James - while the B-side contains a steeply immersive spectral drone tract that (never) ends in a locked groove, especially cut at D&M, Berlin. The results are wholly unique and speak to the endless, playfully experimental variation of NYZ’s art/research. They reveal visceral, alien microcosms of curdled microtonal tunings and proprioceptive chicanery bound to thrill and induce strange, new sensations in even the most hard-to-please fiend of electronic music.
In Dave’s own words: “SHFTR FRQ is a series of experimental studies into simple synth setups controlled by varying levels of generative complex systems [MANIAC cellular automata]. Recorded over the last 6 years on an ever changing hybrid of equipment encompassing the domains of modular & MIDI based microtonal sound synthesis [analogue & digital]. Setups were always ultra-minimalist, often with just the MANIAC cellular automata sequencer and 1 or 2 modules/synths to provide a consistent sensory focus. The studies range from ultra-short sequences, micro-ditties, investigatory motifs, to a full length high spectral drone meditation.
+ [Special note for track A9 - SHFTR_CA#BB1] => A huge shout of thanks to Richard D James for gifting me a Sequentix Cirklon sequencer and PreenFM2 synth during my Regional Arts Fellowship in 2017! This was the first track I made using this gear."
For more technical info on NYZ and his research in Cellular Automata, run check his Noyzelab github page.
Heart-on-sleeve dramatics from Seoul-born, Boston-based 24-y.o. artist MMPH - a classically-trained musician whose Cello studies at Berklee College of Music soon evolved into these grandiose, romantic and tragic electronic symphonies
In recent months MMPH has been credited with production on records by serpentwithfeet, David Byrne, and Lauren Auder, as well as a tender remix handling of ‘Braid’ by Perfume Genius. Followers of Nico Jaar, 0PN, Arca will likely get something out of MMPH’s angsty emotive gut load.
Left Ear keep ‘em coming with reissue of ‘Percussions Pour La Danse’, a sought-after 1989 side of computer-processed rhythmelody written for the choreography of Tony Kenneybrew. Afro, balearic, cosmic disco ‘eads and fiends gonna freak out over this one, especially for their 9 minute, Pekka Airaksinen-like jazz out on ‘Vas Y Peter’
“Percussions Pour La Danse was a collaboration between North American born jazz & contemporary-dance instructor Tony Kenneybrew and French musician Jean-Pierre Boistel. Tony, a Washington native who had studied, taught and danced professionally since the age of 12, found himself in France in the late 80’s. It’s here that he linked up with like-minded musician Jean-Pierre; who had recently returned from a 6-month trip to West Africa. A trip that helped refine his craft that begun in the early 70’s.
The music was created for Tony to use when teaching contemporary jazz-dance classes and to accompany live performance, allowing students to “dance slowly, rapidly and change speeds without changing the tempo!”. This work of rhythmic research was based on the “Balance of The Walk”; in 4 times, in 6 times, in 7 times & in 3 times. In order to reach the spatial possibilities he was striving for, Jean-Pierre would also use computer assisted programming to sample and re-play his own instrumentation. This allowed him to lay down the tempo of the track and then play live over the top, which in turn gave him the freedom to add the desired instruments and effects to each song.
Jean-Pierre’s use of instruments such as the Kalimba, Talking Drum & Sanza gives the album a distinctly African feel, while contemporary Jazz-dance time signatures adds a unique perspective to these traditional instrumentations creating an ethereal balance between the old and new.”
Kassem Mosse and Lowtec mint their Kolorit duo for Workshop with six tracks of frayed percussion and wigged-out rhythmelody in a ruffcut cosmic house style.
Littered with surprising twists and turns, Kolorit’s ‘Workshop XXI’ catches both producers at their loosest, jazziest and rawly psychedelic, with stacks of sloshing rhythms and woozy licks that lead dancers right down the rabbtihole.
If we’re playing favourites, the jiggy jazz parry of ‘D1’ gets us dancing like boneless marionettes, and the teetering percolations of their C-side get right under the skin, but the best of the lot is their lysergically frazzled Afrobeat fuss scrawled across the A-side.
Salty modern synth-pop from Amsterdam, the first release on De Vlieger, a new label coined by Job Jobse. RIYL Fad Gadget, John Maus, Robert Rental
“This collection of short songs by Karel marks the first release of my new label, De Vlieger.
I will always remember the first time I saw Karel live. Jumping and flying across the room. One moment hanging from the ceiling, the next taking a plunge into the night. His feet in the air and his head in the clouds.
A desire to release music from friends had always been there, but only when I witnessed Karel's unique energy and his ability to write a perfect pop song in just a few lines, this desire took its first form. The results are six synthwave songs that are low on fidelity, but high on feeling. Recorded between 2016 and 2018 at his home studio, using three synthesizers and a drum computer.
- Job Jobse”
A slow paced 60 minute piece performed by the 18 musicians 'vvolk' - one of the only acoustic ambient orchestras in the world, composed by Stijn Cools.
"This is the 3rd album in the 'Book of air series', as part of the granvat platform curated by the brothers Stijn and Bert Cools. As in the 1st Book of air album 'Fieldtone' and the 2nd 'vvolk', the parameters time and sound are again widely present. This time the 3 interwoven bass lines give the deep drive and foundation of the sound, completed with a layer of acoustic instruments and sparkling chords on top. 'Se (in) de bos' is inspired by the fluctuation objectivity of our daily observations.
'vvolk investigates performing and improvising music, in close relation to present time; what are the possibilities in playing music, when changes in this music pass by unnoticed? How do we as musicians relate to the running time of a performance? This clearly challenges the improvising musicians, and makes audience and performers discover new territories in collective improvisation."
Continuing the Cape Verde series Mar & Sol bring this fantastic masterpiece of an LP ”Nha D’stine” from the legendary singer Américo Brito and his band Djarama. Includes insert. TIP!
"Originally recorded in 1983 on a private press by Américo Brito , and now in 2018 we bring it back to life with the stamp of our label, from Mar & Sol records to all the world."
Smoky, low-key, leftfield house and beatdown styles from dj sacom, Elise, Patrick Flint and HANAH on London’s Man Band rec.
dj sacommakes their recorded debut with the dusty, Dilla-esque lope of ‘Wisdom’, and Rinse France resident Elise sends smoke signals with the crispy, smudged house hustle of ‘Seropram’ on a Kassem Mosse or Parris-like tip.
Bristol’s Patrick Flint serves the EP’s 2nd recorded debut with a haze of trilling flutes and drum machines sounding out somewhere to the quieter side of Hodge or Kowton, and Parisian HANAH serves the record’s 3rd recorded debut in a sloshing, grubbing percussive workout that sounds like it was recorded in the roof of a public swimming baths.
All killer, no filler 4-way from Amsterdam’s Knekelhuis, turning out rugged, psychoactive dance music from Sabla,Patricia Kokett, Maoupa Mazzochetti, and Job Sifre
Presented as a “document of modern contemporary music”, all tracks could have feasibly been made at any point between 1980 and now, which is pretty symptomatic of these flatland times, to be fair.
Up top, Sabla follows a pair of strong 12”s with Gang of Ducks and Disk with ‘Chant’, a haunting rhythm excursion focussed on pure rhythmelodic cadence and possessed by elusive electronic duppies. Patricia Kokett follows with ‘Luxor’, flipping the script of their slow and heavy ‘Diabel’ 12” with pulsating drums and dizzy hi-register squeal.
On the other side, Maoupa Mazzochetti works a tangy sort of Arabic, aerobic mysticism with the psychedelic spin and bump of ‘644 Beauty Marks’, and Job Sifre leans on the downstroke with the On-U Sound-esque ace, ‘We Are Monsters’.
Ruggedly pendulous and hypnotic house trax from Pyramid Lake and Sage Caswell, with discoid Quarion remix and deep electro re-rub from Mr. Beatnik
Pyramid Lake is the new alias of Canada’s Nautiluss. Working with LA’s Sage Caswell, they turn out the frayed garage-house lather of ‘Palms On Fire’, while Pyramid Lake struts solo in the dub-rounded skank of ‘Ital Vital’.
Quern smooths out the kinks and burrs for a rolling electro-disco-Italo rework of PL’s ‘Cease & Desist’, and Mr. Beatnik lets it flow easy breezy on an eletcro-soul remix of the title cut.
One of Coil’s most prized and distinctive albums, ‘Black Light District’ arises again on 2LP reissue with Dais Records, with all remastering and reproduction under the auspices of the group’s Drew McDowell. A phantasmagoric soundscape for those who shine darkly…
“During the transitional period in which Coil’s primary leadership, Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson and John Balance, reorganized their creative direction by taking on new membership in the group through their inclusion of Drew McDowall, Coil took a drastic turn towards the metaphysical unknown. Employing the subtle handiwork of Coil’s “real life” members, as well as the cleverly guised aliases and spiritual collaborators, the band chose to filter their identity through a the nome de guerre, Black Light District, setting the precedent of Coil’s future exploration of otherworldy influence.
Recorded during the Winter of 1995/96, Black Light District reflects more on their formal avant-garde pursuits and academic interests rather than their industrial pedigree resume. Starting off with an obvious nod to John Cage with their introductory “Unprepared Piano”, the tone is prepared in exactly the same way… unpredictable. Conceptually abstract, Black Light District shows Coil’s old guard disregarding the pop rhythms found on previous albums, such as Love Secret Domain, and fully embracing their experimental electronic trajectory. Subtle patterns of looping melancholy and malaise are placed delicately underneath ghostly electronic timbre. Approaching their creative method as something from the beyond, another realm in which sounds blur and performers seemingly appear from the ether.”
Mega digidub artillery form TNT Roots, backed with a spiralling version by John T. Gast, who’s also behind its release on 5 Gate Temple
Somehow manifesting as TNT Roots’ first 7” after more than a decade of CD releases via his Lion Musik label, and a recent 12” with London’s Bokeh Versions, the keen trample of ‘Chant Down Babylon Verse 2’ is a deadly steppers bullet eager for deployment on the biggest rig DJs can lay their hands on.
The British “neo-dub” producer finds a strong spiritual and physical ally in John T. Gast on the flip, who faithfully handles a ‘Gast Version’, running extra mentallic FX and extending the ting with an extra layer of gorgeous, dreamy ‘90s ambient pads, with no loss to the original’s heavy momentum.
‘Ambient 4: On Land’ is Brian Eno’s eighth solo studio album and the final instalment of his foundational ambient series that started with ‘Music For Airports’
Recorded between 1978 and 1982, ‘On Land’ sees Brian Eno take a decidedly darker turn, using samples and tape loops from the cutting room floor of previous sides to create a soundsphere of seamlessly shadowy ambient drift.
Perhaps most intriguingly here, Eno found the synthesiser to be of “limited usefulness”, and turned his attentions to physical objets, such as pieces of chain and sticks and stones, to shape what is effectively a form of ambient concrète music, rather than the gentle synthy lushness it’s more commonly associated with.
Featuring guest contributions from Jon Hassell (trumpet) and Bill Laswell (bass guitar), and engineered by ‘Danny’ Lanois, ‘Ambient 4: On Land’ is a total classic of eldritch-tinted, British ambient pastoralism, with all the dark underbelly that notion entails.
Mano a Mano, Kowton & Parris remix each other to the bone for Glasgow’s pivotal Rubadub gang
Both masters of economy, they pitch in super dank and restrained riddims raring for amplification on a proper system. Kowton’s is the most stripped down, with barely-there flickers of percussion trading space with air-shuddering subbass, always on a tense build into vacuum-like relief. Parris marginally fleshes out his side with spidery webs of dubbed drums and globular subs, but the tension is chronic this time, as the groove overpronates in spiralling forward motion until the bass/snare locks in for the final stretch.
The new album Pastoral, by Gazelle Twin, exhumes England’s rotten past, and shines a torch over its ever-darkening present.
"Told through a troupe of multi-gender voices, in vernaculars old and new; from the shrill echo of folksong to tabloid-tinged jaunts, the artist aka Elizabeth Bernholz, presents the notion that “there is horror in every idyll, and danger lurking beyond the “quaint” ”. The village square - once host to centuries of public torture - becomes a floral framed postcard, dolled-up for the Summer Fête. A sunny, afternoon walk over the hills unsettles a cloud of angry flies feeding from unidentifiable remains. Bigoted vitriol gently murmurs amidst tearoom chatter, as the neatly framed pastoral picture dissolves into a solemn ennui."
Mesmerisingly concentrated techno minimalism from Swiss producer Laurent Peter a.k.a. Tresque
Both cuts are all about long, arcing, incremental developments, taking at least 12 minutes to properly unfurl. ‘Espere’ works sloshing triplets into a loping, heavy-lidded zombie swagger, whereas ‘Solstici’ is more about pumping, grungy bass and glacial drone movement.
Tunisia’s Deena Abdelwahed inhabits a fascinating space between tradition and technology, history and futurism in her strikingly moody debut solo album ‘Khonnar’, following from production credits on Fever Ray’s ’Plunge’ and use of her tracks in mixes by M.E.S.H. and Paula Temple. Subbass fiends need to check the final track ‘Rabbouni’, while fans of Jasss and Muslimgauze will gets strong kicks throughout...
“Deena Abdelwahed’s first album is shifting the epicenter of contemporary electronic music south. Pronounced “Ronnar“ (an essential detail so as to avoid facile misinterpretation by French- speakers) it is a term that makes the most of Tunisia’s cultural and linguistic spectrum. It evokes the dark, shameful and disturbing side of things, the one we usually seek to hide, but which Deena instead sticks our noses in with her debut. It is a testament to Deena’s coming into her own as a world citizen, and as an artist. A self-construction made of frustrations and constraints, borne of retrograde mindsets, which are not the prerogative of either the East or the West, and which she tirelessly strives to expose and break.
Throughout the 45 minutes of “Khonnar“, Deena breaks down the codes of bass, techno and experimental music, and writes the manifesto for a generation that does not seek to please or to conform, taking back control of its identity – with all the attendant losses and chaos. A new creative world order is taking shape, a new tilting point between north and south, the response of a connected and liberated youth who takes the control of the new decolonization.”
Peder Mannerfelt plays into the widest angles of his “power ambient” sound on ‘Daily Routine’, a killer study into the way rave music intersects domestic life...
The 10 tracks range from decade-old productions to hyper new cut-ups of his brothers' records bought in London in summer ’88, but all betray an increasing embrace of complexity and layered, asymmetric design that will keep his ever-growing mob of followers fascinated at every turn.
The preceding single track ‘Temporary Psychosis (VIP)’ is a definitive highlight, riding the finest line between deadly rave function and pranging unpredictability, while other dancefloor highlights come on strong in the pointillist rave puncture of ‘Sissel & Bass’ featuring a killer vocal by Sissel Wincent, and the rabid churn of ‘This Machine Shares Memes’.
But that would be to neglect the album’s central pschedelic nature and the way it will be used, at home, in prosaic domesticity, where the far flung and undulating topography of pieces such as the sardonic ‘Introductions & Aspiration’, the darkside creep of ‘Cigarettes (Eurofierceness Mix)’, and the exasperated rave of ‘How Was Your Day? (Numb)’ will likely induce listeners to laugh, bruk out, curl up, and climb the walls in their own personal space.
We're v into this one...
Gloryland is Plyxy’s steeply enigmatic and intoxicating début tape of ambient darkness for Ascetic House. Following introductions made on the digital only release Eat Your Gods [Anti/Anti, 2017], the NYC-based Russian artist stealthily unfolds his sound as one of the strongest, most focussed suites of atmospheric mood music this side of Tarkovsky scores or Drew McDowell’s modular gremlins
“Gloryland is the seminal EP from PLYXY, the ambient/noise project of NYC-based polymath Ros Knopov. A refugee from the Soviet Union, he hails from Dnepropetrovsk, the rocket-making capital of the former Communist state. Driven by a desire for improvisation, and obsessed with process, PLYXY weaves manipulated field recordings and Soviet-era film samples through an array of analog Eurorack modules and samplers, creating cinematic environments of despair and nostalgia.”
Rhodri Davies, Dawn Bothwell and Richard Dawson’s Hen Ogledd transmogrify from psychedelic no wave time travellers into a wild, inimitable pop unit on ‘Mogic’, their 3rd album together, their debut for Weird World.
Named for a Welsh word describing the historic region between southern Scotland and northern England, the band has grown from the locus of Davies on harp (++) and Dawson on guitar (++) to incorporate Dawn Bothwell and Sally Pilkington on vocals and multiple instruments - most curiously credited with Red Witch Violetta, Pipa Del’ochio, Mooer Green Mile, Hott’s Rombah, among others, between them.
If you copped either of Hen Ogledd’s first two LPs, logic would dictate that this one was always going to be a bit mad, but hardly anyone could have predicted where they’re going with ‘Mogic’, as the band’s combined, contemporary rationale and arcane urges fulminate a persistently unpredictable sound that ties up influence from all corners - vacillating hot-stepping post punk with plaintive folksong, rubbery primordial techno and lysergic indie-pop.
Other notable inclusions clem from sax virtuoso, Mette Rasmussen on some of the album’s strangest/seductive moments, the Canterbury-esque opener ‘Love Time Feel’ and the brilliantly daft indie-pop of ‘Tiny Witch Hunter’ with Dawn Bothwell’s seemingly sung down the wrong end of a telescope, and also the subtle but pivotal percussion of Will Guthrie. But we can very simply sum this one up as far exceeding the sum of its parts.
Gotta be one of 2018’s most beguiling, trend-oblivious pop records.
An unlikely yet riveting union, Powell Tillmans present the intense feelings of ’Spoken By The Other’, their debut collaboration for XL
Fulminated over the course of the last year, ‘Spoken By The Other’ is the result of the pair meeting at Wolfgang’s Tate retrospective in 2017, and subsequently committing their nascent relationship with a key performance commissioned for Berlin’s Atonal 2017 edition. Described as a “traumatic experience” by Powell, the show patently wasn’t enough to put them off working together again, with their “messy” formative experiments now firmed up into something remarkably unexpected from either side on ‘Spoken By The Other’.
The EP finds them both at a turning point in their respective career arcs - Wolfgang Tillmans turning away from his role as a world-renowned photographer toward music; while Powell is beginning to loosen up and diversify his bonds beyond his early, innovative dance music mutations into warped tonal designs. Fair to say they both recognise this in the other, and catalyse something probing, new and emotionally penetrating in the process.
Between the breathtakingly anxious, gurned-up vulnerability of their piloerect trance nocturne, ‘Feel The Night’, and the Arca-esque vignette ‘445’, they convey a flux of physically affective and emotionally curious sensations ranging from the visceral, textural intensity of ‘Tone Me’ to the bittersweet love note ‘Doucement’ on the A-side, and over to the sustained anxiety of ‘Speak Out (Version)’, and the smeared, bleary contours of ‘Rebuilding The Future’, where their shared passion for the wonk and oddness of reality is dissected and rebuilt in their own image.
Flying Lotus’ label marks 10 years in the game with ‘X’, a 36 track compilation featuring 22 brand new, previously unreleased cuts by Thundercat, Martyn, Georgia Anne Muldrow, mr.oizo, Jameszoo, Dorian Concept, Iglooghost +++
Trust Jameszoo to make it freaky on ‘Flake’, while mr.oizo knocks out the searing disco bullet ‘Ham; DJ Paypal coughs up the hot footwork drums of ‘Slim Trak VIP’; FlyLo chips in his remix of Brandon Coleman’s ‘Walk Free’; Ross From Friends roll out the deep house of ‘Squaz’; and even George Clinton turns up on WOKE’s ‘The Lavishment of Light Looking’.
“For the last ten years, Brainfeeder has reminded the world that the future is only as far away as it needs to be. It’s less a label than an international conspiracy to conquer clichéd sounds, a glowing neon helix re-organizing the DNA of hip-hop and house, jazz and ambient, techno and soul, funk and footwork and every other strain of beat music that eludes compartmentalization. The Flying Lotus-founded label has become a sanctified refuge for those who believe that nothing is too weird, genre is largely obsolete, and the wildest style will always reign supreme.”
Knockout album of smoky jazz-pop, cinematic strings and filigree electronics from Eiko Ishibashi, who comes off like Japan’s answer to Julia Holter in the uneasy hauntology of her 6th album opus.
‘The Dream My Bones Dream’ finds Eiko delving into her family history, following the death of her father, coming to terms with the discovery that he came of age during Japan’s occupation of Manchurian China in the 1940s, when his father - Eiko’s Grandfather - worked as a railroad man in occupied territory. The album is about imagining a past she never knew, and about how that past can inform the future - in particular her own.
As a noted improvisor on percussion and piano, Eiko’s sense of intuition is key to her music, and ‘The Dream My Bones Dream’ would appear to be a study in locating or understanding the source of her core instincts. Over its 9 songs, she describes a journey of discovery and reflection in expansive, near-cinematic terms, loaning from her practice writing for theatre and cinema to shape an album enriched with subtle emotional cadence and tempered instrumental virtuosity.
From the anxious dawn of dissonant brass smear in ‘Prologue: Hands On The Mouth’, her journey wends from the rustling chug of ‘Agloe’ and its sweeping emotive arrangement, thru the inquisitive jazz chords of ‘Iron Veil’, to the reflective pool of hovering organ in ‘Silent Scrapbook’, and the fleeting feels of anger and sadness in ‘A Ghost in a Train, Thinking’, before her timelessly sumptuous title track comes off like the sonic denouement of a classic film, and the pulsating electronics of ‘Tunnels To Nowhere’ signify a rush to the future, and the melancholy resolution of ‘To The East’, and the ultimate uncertainty connoted by swirling, bittersweet strings and tentative double bass in her ‘Epilogue: Innisfree’.
R.I.Y.L. Brian Eno, Jon Hassell, Beverly Glenn-Copeland, Laraaji, Robert Rich, Harold Budd.
"Anne, the second album By Toronto saxophonist and composer Joseph Shabason, is a tonal essay on degenerative illness. Delicately and compassionately woven with interviews of Shabason’s mother from whom the album takes its name, Anne finds its creator navigating a labyrinth of subtle and tragic emotions arising from his mother's struggle with Parkinson’s disease. Across the nine vivid postcards of jazz-laden ambience that comprise the album, Shabason unwraps these difficult themes with great care and focus revealing the unseen aspects of degenerative diseases that force us to re-examine common notions of self, identity, and mortality. Shabason’s uncanny ability to manoeuvre through such microscopic feelings is mirrored by his capacity to execute a similar tightrope-walk through musical genres. His music occupies a specific space that is as palpable as it is difficult to pin labels to.
On Anne’s second track “Deep Dark Divide” rays of effected saxophone shine behind clouds of digital synthesizer that echoes the sound of jazz in the late 80s, but with a Jon Hassell-esque depth of sensibility that consciously subverts the stylistic inoffensiveness of that era. There is detail and idiosyncrasy beneath Shabason’s dawn-of-the-CD-era sheen that elevates the album far beyond a mere aesthetic exercise. Still, the sounds on Anne are not so experimentally opaque as to stand in the way of the album’s through-line of sincerity and emotionality. When dissonance is employed it is punctual and meaningful, like on album-middler “Fred and Lil” where a six-minute cascade of breathy textures builds suddenly to an agitated growl, only to abruptly give way to Anne Shabason speaking intimately about her relationship to her own parents. Snippets of such conversations see her taking on something like a narrator role across Anne while the sound of her voice itself is sometimes effected to become a musical texture entwined into the fabric of the songs without always being present or audible. On “November” Shabason lays muted brass textures atop a wavepool of electric chords provided by none other than the ambient cult-hero Gigi Masin, one of Anne’s many integral collaborators.
The serene tragedy of the album distils itself gracefully into the ironically titled album closer “Treat it Like a Wine Bar” wherein flutters of piano and mournfully whispered woodwinds seem to evaporate particle by delicate particle, leaving the listener with a faint emotional afterglow like a dream upon waking. There is a corollary to be drawn here with what it must be like to feel one’s own mind and body drift away slowly until nothing remains, while the collection of memories and abilities that we use to denote the “self” softens into eternity. On Anne, it is precisely this fragile exchange of tranquillity and anguish that Joseph Shabason has proven his singular ability to articulate."
Another amazing entry from ‘70s Ethiopia, introducing krar player, singer and national icon Asnakech Worku to the world at large with a beautiful collection of songs made alongside Hailu Mergia at the height of her career, most notably on a haunting prototype of Mergia’s standard ‘Tche Belew’
“There is perhaps no woman more cherished in modern Ethiopian history than Asnakech Worku. As a musician, actress, dancer and cultural icon, Asnakech inspired and challenged society for decades, until her death in 2011. From her beginnings as Ethiopia’s first theater actress in 1952 to her acclaimed film appearances to her days as a club owner-turned-master musician, Asnakech’s inimitable confidence and charm made her a household name. She earned endless accolades across the artistic spectrum.
She made seminal recordings of unforgettable original compositions, as well as legendary renditions of traditional songs, that became national staples. With a singular sense of style, glamour and sex appeal that sometimes stunned mainstream society, Asnakech wore clothes no one else wore and said things no one else said. Staid notions of how women should dress and behave didn’t apply to her. Battling a mentality that until the early 1950s had men wearing dresses to play female roles in the theater, Asnakech became a national treasure on her own terms.
Her family wasn’t pleased with Asnakech becoming an azmari—an itinerant praise musician who sings, often in bars, for tips—and didn’t bother her, especially after Emperor Haile Selassie I began to emphasize theater and music in society, officially legitimizing her career. Asnakech became an internationally-celebrated performer of Ethiopia’s ancient harp, the krar, making her one of the most visible female musicians of the 20th century. All this while leaving controversy, broken hearts and a changed cultural landscape in her wake.
In 1975, keyboardist and bandleader Hailu Mergia got a call from the owner of Misratch Music Shop to do a recording with Asnakech and he went for it. This recording is a nearly-forgotten artifact of the remarkable icon’s singular legacy, remastered and available outside Ethiopia for the first time. It also provides a rare glimpse into Mergia’s work as a arranger-sideman in the Addis Ababa music scene.”
From the golden era of Warp, B12’s ‘Time Tourist’ is reissued for the first time, newly expanded with four bonus tracks previously found on their B12 Records archives volumes
Somewhere between a computer game soundtrack, pulpy sci-fi score, and an armchair accelerant, ‘Time Tourist’ holds a special place in the pantheon of mid-late ‘90s electronica/IDM. Some of it sounds pretty dated now, but the innocent sincerity of of B12’s retro-futurist aesthetics still glow from highlights such as ‘Infinite Lites (Primitives Mix)’ and ‘The Radiophonic Workshop’.
Pearson Sound rolls out the 3rd 12” on his Pears label...
Inspired by the construction site outside his studio, ‘Rubble’ opens the session with strapping bass arp riveted in place by cold snare crack and needling hi-hats. ‘Earwig’ catches him testing out a sort of 95bpm acid dancehall style, and ‘Our Spirits Soar’ occupies the B-side at 45rpm for spot of late night biz, pairing wheezy G-funk synthlines with bashy, rolling techno for, in his own words, “smokey late-night dancefloors when the house lights creep up”.
Cosmic, new age techgnosis from Belfast’s Touch Sensitive - home to David Holmes, Barry Lynn (Boxcutter), Cherrystones.
“A soundtrack for gutted metropolises, virtual sanctuaries and utopian enclaves, 'Sentience & Sapience' is a seamless, psychedelic journey through possible near futures in the age of Artificial Intelligence.
Its overlapping arrangements alternately evoke glittering digital realms and bleak, decrepit landscapes populated by ghostly natives drifting in fractured and multiplying realities. Eastern drones, processed guitars and field recordings are warped, dubbed to cassette and re-sampled again. Meditative gongs and bells punctuate the mix, as human-sounding voices drift in and out intoning synthetic chants. Digital and analog textures dissolve into a continuum, suggestive of blurred and vanishing boundaries between the natural and the artificial; the real and the simulated; the evolved and the designed…
Inspired by the outlandish prophecies of Tech guru Ray Kurzweil, and the Transhumanist evangelism of 20th century psychonauts like Terence McKenna and Robert Anton Wilson, ‘Sentience & Sapience’ is an album for bewildered Homo sapiens contending with intelligent machines in the shadow of the singularity.”
Slinky, rude, and darker-edged London house pressure from Hugo Massien, following the styles of his 12”s for E-Beamz, Tectonic, XL and 17 Steps onto Blackdown’s Keysound
Equally adaptable to glam clubs and scuzzy warehouses, the vibe of Massien’s ‘ Remnants / London Underground 2014-16 EP’ swings from spare, square-bass driven deeptech swang in ‘You’re The Only’, to grimier, electroid house rolige on ‘Lowkey’ ft. Calle Lebraun, before tucking it somewhere moodier with the shadowy skulk of ‘Pleasure System’, and shaking out the natty swivel of ‘Powerhouse’ with its whirring hi-hats and nagging bleep coda.
Out of print on vinyl since 1989, the award-winning Kronos Quartet performance of Steve Reich’s momentous ‘Different Trains’ is made available again via Nonesuch, backed with Pat Metheny’s recording of ‘Electric Counterpart’
“On Different Trains, which combines string quartet with taped speech, Reich evokes his American childhood during World War II while also addressing the Holocaust. The New York Times declared it "a work of such originality that 'breakthrough' seems the only possible description."
Electric Counterpoint was written for Pat Metheny, who gave the world premiere performance of the piece at Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival in November 1987. The guitarist performs against multiple pre-recorded tape of himself—and "splendidly," said the New York Times. The piece is "filled with jazz and funk-inflected rhythms, reveling in the spirit of American vernacular culture ... [and] finds Mr. Reich capitalizing on his strengths. Here, at the point furthest removed from convention, is where his creative juices flow most freely."