Black Truffle present breathtaking, mind-bending works from Alvin Lucier; premiering a pair of pieces written for and performed by Oren Ambarchi and Stephen O’Malley (Sunn 0))), Æthenor), and released thru the former’s indomitable Black Truffle label. Lovers of life-affirming avant-garde music of all stripes need to stop what they’re doing and check this one, pronto!
Both works offer an extension of Lucier’s “elegant explorations of the behaviour of sound in physical space” which have been ongoing since the ’60s, and includes his best known work, I Am Sitting In A Room , a piece that has practically become required listening for anyone with an interest in 20th century avant-garde music thought and practice.
Specifically, Lucier’s work places great focus on the infidelities of instrumental phenomena and closely tuned pitches, often using pure, electronically generated oscillations in combination with single instruments in order to both highlight and blur their tonal and timbral distinctions. This LP documents two works in this vein, firstly on Criss Cross, his debut work for electric guitars, written especially for Ambarchi and O’Malley playing one semitone each in duo, and secondly on Hanover, a much grander tribute to Lucier’s father, Alvin A Lucier, who is pictured on the sleeve in 1918 with the Dartmouth Jazz band.
The A-side’s Criss Cross is truly one of the heaviest things we’ve heard in years. With Ambarchi on the left channel and O’Malley to the right, the duo improvise on a single semitone, generating thick, viscous waves of wobbling oscillations that merge in transfixing formation at the middle . So far, so simple, but the effect - which alters brilliantly on headphones or with proper amplification - is just staggering, baffling the senses with a richly saturated, undulating sonic pressure to visceral, psychotomimetic ends.
The first time we heard this piece on headphones it just floored us, but then we tried on speakers and tried to conduct a conversation at the same time. The effect was something like an anechoic chamber - the conversation couldn’t happen because our voices sounded louder in our head than in the room. WTF?! Just to push it one step farther, I also tried listening on headphones while on a plane, and can only imagine what the EasyJet staff thought of my eyes rolling in back of my skull. Quite honestly, I haven’t heard anything quite like it since Zbigniew Karkowsi & Topher Davidson’s Processor, and that’s a proper percy.
The B-side’s Hanover is just as precise, but the intensity and tonal variation is multiplied by he number of players, including O’Malley and Ambarchi on electric guitars joined by alto and tenor sax, violin, piano and bowed vibraphone. Here the tones are far more pinched and slippery, streaking the stereo field in iridescent timbral dynamics and almost lilting cadence, and with a far more delicate, intricate appeal when compared to the other piece.
It almost goes without saying that a new Alvin Lucier work is worth your time, but in case you’re under any doubts - this LP is just astonishing, ingenious, preternaturally brilliant stuff.
Tint is an intently focussed showcase of the sound sensitivities which have made Joe Talia a cult figure in contemporary electro-acoustic and avant garde circles. If you’ve ever been caught by the work of Oren Ambarchi, Jim O’Rourke, Andrew Chalk, John Duncan or Jean-Claude Éloy, you need to clasp ears on this album!
“Tint is the first new solo recording from Joe Talia in over a decade. Australian-born but now based in Tokyo, Talia is known to many listeners as a drummer (frequently collaborating both live and in the studio with artists such as Oren Ambarchi and Jim O’Rourke) and as a recording and mixing engineer responsible for dozens of releases across the fields of contemporary experimental music, wayward pop, and jazz. Alongside James Rushford, he is also responsible for one of the most legendary releases in the Kye records catalogue, the creaking electronic morass of Manhunter (2013). Lovingly crafted over many months in his tiny Tokyo studio, Tint is an album-length electroacoustic suite that brings together Talia’s expertise as percussionist, studio engineer, and performer on analogue electronic instruments (primarily modular synth and Revox tape machine).
Ranging from minimalist austerity to kosmische lushness, Tint refreshingly refuses the dark and moody sonic palette of much contemporary electroacoustic music in favour of an airy, at times almost weightless sound-world of gliding tones, skittering percussion, and burbling field recordings. Drawing inspiration from Jean-Claude Eloy’s epic concrète love letter to Tokyo, Gaku-No-Michi, Talia makes extensive use of his own recordings of his new home, but removes any sense of audio verite, abstracting them into transparent glosses of outdoor ambience or unidentifiable chimes and creaks. Flowing seamlessly between distinct episodes, Tint is compositionally controlled while retaining a sense of played spontaneity, eventually building to a maelstrom of analogue synth zaps and tape manipulated percussion that reflects Talia’s deep engagement with the relentless yet constantly shifting dynamics of free jazz.”
Leading on from a highly memorable debut collaboration, Crys Cole and Oren Ambarchi invite us farther into their shared world with Hotel Record, a poetic four-part suite of touchingly intimate and romantic themes framed in a surreally unique, aleatoric sound world, just as you’d be warranted to expect from this pair of esteemed sonic alchemists.
Recorded between Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand; Oakland, USA; Melbourne, Australia, and at EMS, Stockholm, Sweden, the sense of heavy-lidded intimacy is similar to Sonja Henies Vei 31, but found in a multiplicity of recording spaces and situations, each with their own subtle identity and appeal, and all generated from a broader palette of instrumentation and electronic production techniques.
The chorus of cicadas, scooter engines and croaking frogs in Pad Phet Gob is clearly located to nighttime in Thailand, but the rest are anyone’s guess. It’s better to just let yourself melt into their exquisite designs, such as the silky web of vocoder whispers and languorous subbass contained in Burrata, or likewise become absorbed in the gentle harmonic cadence of breathing organs tones and mottled, glossolalic murmurs in Call Myself, which ambiguously could be a sort of ASMR exercise, an encrypted document of phone sex or pillow talk, or something entirely else, all depending your disposition.
It all adds up to a patently more accessible, dreamy follow-up to their first LP together, and quite easily one of the most quietly seductive records you’ll hear from the abstract, ambient, electro-acoustic sphere this year - strongly tipped to fans of Félicia Atkinson’s Hand In Hand, Kassel Jaeger & Jim O’Rourke’s Wakes On Cerulean, or the new Teresa Winter side.
John T. Gast in total snake charmer mode, owning and aligning your chakras with two tracks “from the ark circa 2013”
Further to his exquisite wygdn 10” and Young Druid album in 2017, and the recent Docile hook-up with Tribe of Colin for TTT in ’18, John T. Gast scrolls back into the mists of his hard drive on BTEC Version #1 to roughly around the time we were first beguiled by his work as Henny Moan and just cottoning onto his now better known alias.
We’d wager these are some of the earliest tracks he made in John T. Gast mode, and it’s not hard it draw a line between the durational meditation of his nine minute Terminator trudge ANGELA, with the slow pressure of wygdn_bashmenttk9, for example. However, DRITH is just out on its own, coming up with a briny electronic whine and clod-stepping drums that frankly sound like fcuk all else, beyond a barnyard of mechanical animals.
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.
Lock up your pets; Blackest Ever Black let Regis off the leash in two seek and destroy missions - his first new 12” in three years - coming quick on the heels of the unarchived Live In N.Y.C. 12” for Veronica Vasicka’s Cititrax.
A-side’s Version 1 is the greedier of the two, roving with that look in its eye from the first mauling bar of grumbling bass and incendiary distortion, thru a serpentine groove dissolving EBM, industrial noise techno with slow-burning, venomous effect until the final passage of paralysing strings by Asylum Ensemble.
B-side’s Version 2 appears to start on the dissecting table with the SAW-like sound of knives sharpening and talons clicking in the background, before untangling one of his fiercest lemon endeavours; a bitterly gleeful tussle of strapping EBM bassline and whipcrack snares with an over-the-shoulder vocal in the breakdown, before calving off into the abyss.
We can think of few artists who can come out of hiding so occasionally, yet remain at the front of their game, as Karl O’Connor does with The Master Side in both versions.
Take note, the master is in session.
Young Echo’s Ossia ruffs up and danks out the dance for Blackest Ever Black inna gothic Bristolian style
Crossing paths with BEB for the 2nd time following his crushing Red X session, Ossia grimly socks it to London’s finest with the recoiling stepper, Dub Hell; a sludgy hot slug of distorted, buzzing subs harnessed to trampling kick and dragged backward thru an echoplex to frazzled effect.
Following that leyline to a logical conclusion, Devil’s Dance distills and renders that negative energy as an arcane air for Beelzebub, marshalling brittle drum patterns on marching manoeuvres into an inky blacknuss of no return, with blood-curdling screams beckoning from the perimeters.
Not nice in the best way.
Invaluable first ever vinyl reissue for AMM’s groundbreaking and inspirational Ammmusic (1966) - a pivotal moment in the history of free-jazz/improvised music featuring the combined talents of Keith Rowe, Eddie Prévost, Cornelius Cardew, John Tilbury and others, now presented by Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle label on its golden jubilee, complete with a brand new re-master from Rashad Becker.
Revolving founder members Keith Rowe (guitar) and Lou Gare (saxophone) - both formerly of Mike Westbrook’s jazz band - together with Eddie Prévost (percussion), Cornelius Cardew (piano, cello) and Lawrence Sheaff (accordion, clarinet), the enigmatically acronymed AMM more or less scrawled the very simple rulebook for free-improvisation’s infinite complexity with the recordings and sleeve notes of Ammmusic.
It was recorded by Jac Holzman and released on his Elektra label, marking a precedent juncture of experimental avant-garde and the countercultural underground (by this point Elektra were issuing classic albums by The Doors, Tim Buckley, Judy Collins) and was produced by DNA, a group that included Pink Floyd’s first manager Peter Jenner, which perhaps lead to its influence on the improvisational context of PF’s debut album, particularly Flaming which took its title from this record’s A-side, Later During A Flaming Riviera Sunset.
Quite importantly, Ammmusic still sounds timelessly fresh and dynamic, with all the urgent energy and unpredictability you would hope from an improvised recording of such historical importance.
Typically lush ambient, neo-classical, chamber pop and film-score music from Berlin's Sonic Pieces label, this time from Spain's Rauelsson, highy recoomended if you're into Max Richter, Badalamenti, Harold Budd etc.
The album was recorded by the sea and it really comes across in the music's self-consciously grand scale, oscillating between the calm and the tempestuous.
Piano is Rauelsson's main weapon of expression, and like so many artists in this sphere, he looks to Harold Budd and Philip Glass for inspiration, his playing ranging from the digressive and heavy-reverbed to the driving and cyclical. It's hard not to feel like you've heard it all before - 'Fluvial' barely even bothers to disguise the fact that it has the same instrumental palette, harmonic progression and mood as half of Max Richter's Blue Notebooks.
But when he loosens up, there are some highly enjoyable moments: the string-laden 'Hourglass I' is a particular highlight, channeling the high sentimentality of Badalamenti's love themes with aplomb.
‘Surreal Air Fortress’ yields a series of liminal electro-acoustic enigmas and stark, poetic vocals by Chicago’s Coppice duo for Antwerp’s ever-probing Entr’acte label.
Cryptically weft from acoustic, studio-based recordings, digital production and processed field recordings, Surreal Air Fortress presents a suite of “songs for physical modelling and modular syntheses” by Noé Cuéllar and Joseph Kramer a.k.a. Coppice.
Melding sparingly used, solemn vocals with atonal sounds at oblique angles, the album carries itself with a dead curious mix of brute elegance and incisive abstraction according to a logic that’s brilliantly hard to unpick, and a strange pleasure to undergo.
The A-side’s Inside songs feel out three psychoacoustically probing scenarios ranging from a mix of David Sylvian-like vocals and ghostly, inverted industrial clangour in Privacy and Difference to the pure atonality of coils and fans fed thru an “inductive mixing table” on Surveillance, before the Sylvian-like vocals return amid a thicket of barbed guitar and prickling electronics in the charred rubble of The Wall.
B-side, the album goes to the Darkroom, gradually revealing three uncertain sound images that evolve from the bracing inharmonic distortion of Exposure to emerge ghostly from the murk of Solvent/Emulsion into what sounds like a fractured gothic torch song recorded by a shooting range in Wet Hologram.
Where so much music gives the answers before you’ve even asked a question, this album is a riddle within a riddle.
A veritable clash of the titans: Merzbow and Oren Ambarchi kick up a blistering freeform noise storm for the latter's Black Truffle imprint.
Recorded live May 13, 2012 at the Aurora Festival, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Australia, it features the pair duelling it out in bleakest, unrepentant, yet somehow controlled form. Across two sides they wash up waves of coruscating white noise over roiling, looming black bass shapes with attuned logic, culminating brobdingnagian banks of outright filth and noise with a cathartic and sometimes transcendent impact. Not for the faint of heart...
The surrealist scenes of ‘Bloody Sirens’ documents London-based choral ensemble Musarc performing three works by Neil Luck at Extra City Kunsthal in Antwerp, Sunday 3rd October, 2015
Luck’s 4th work composed for Musarc, following from Misty (2010), Namesaying (2013), and Any’s Responses (2015), his new piece Bloody Sirens is presented as a report from an imaginary baseball match which conceives of the singers as individuals, rathe than a singing ‘mayuss’, who read from a score that includes a skull and plenty of errors and ellipses.
Yet another singular release on the boundary-oblivious Entr’acte, Bloody Sirens presents avant garde compositions for vocals which are simultaneously timeless, ancient, yet up-to-the-moment, both democratic in organisation and collectively keening towards a framework familiar to the Slip label’s excellent vocal works by Object Collection and Laurie Tompkins, as much as a wealth of historical works.
In Pessimist, Blackest Ever Black’s furtive D&B agent submits a killer debut LP recce from the no man’s land between jungle, tekno and greyscale electronics - a definitively Bristolian sound. Forming a logical expansion of the themes explored in his work with the Ruffhouse trio and in solo shots for A14 and Osiris Music UK over recent years, his first album finds him working in acres of negative space to fully indulge his worries for the dance, arguably resulting in a new high-water mark for the D&B album format.
Thanks to a natural predilection for minimalism and a fine tuned sensitivity towards textured, atmospheric detail, Pessimist succeeds where the vast majority of D&B long-players fail; fundamentally keeping our interest without resorting to beating us around the head with the latest plugin acrobatics. Rather, Pessimist uses techniques of stealth and guile to draw in and toy with his prey, resulting a far more intriguing and satisfying dispatch from the dark side of the echo chamber.
Like we say, it’s sculpted as a proper album, as opposed to a clutch of middling bangers, replete with intro, outro and a tempered transfer of energy between the tracks that necessarily curves the listener’s enthusiasm between pockets of dank ambience, dread dub dimensions and rolling, ghostly tech-steppers.
Aside from the bolshy techno of Peter Hitchens and clinical badboy rolige of Through The Fog, it’s all exclusive new material, churning up some robust highlights with Grit’s hunched and grubbing torque, and the stark, crispy Spirals, but we’d have to point to his No Matter What collaboration with Overlook for the LP’s most impressive mutation of pure UK bassbin pressure. If we’ve any gripes, though, it’s from the splashback of his breakbeats that come in half way thru Grit and dominating his Glued link-up with Loop Faction, but apart from those, it’s a proper dark fantasy.
Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle label rustles up a reissue of this absolute classic, Annea Lockwood’s 1970 tape piece Tiger Balm - unavailable on vinyl for over thirty years. The LP also includes a pair of unreleased pieces; the vocal and percussion study Amazonia Dreaming, and the beautifully suspenseful microtonal electro-acoustic levitation, Immersion. Breaking entirely with the dynamic language of musique concrète, Lockwood used a select palette of mainly unprocessed sonic elements chosen for their mysterious and erotic characteristics to open a space of dream logic and mysterious associations between nature and culture, the ancient and the modern.
“"Created while Lockwood was living in the UK, the side-long 'Tiger Balm' is a singular work within the cannon of tape music. Inspired by research into the ritual function of music, the piece explores the possibility of evoking ancient communal memories through sound. These unusual and evocative field recordings (a purring cat, a heartbeat, gongs, slowed down jaw harp, a tiger, a woman's breath, a plane passing overhead), presented as no more than two sounds at once, allowed one to flow organically into the next, their shared characteristics highlighted, opening a space of dream logic and mysterious associations.
The B side presents two pieces for percussion available here for the first time. 'Amazonia Dreaming' (1987), performed by Dominic Donato, uses unaccompanied snare drum and voice to evoke the nocturnal soundscape of the Amazon rainforest. Unorthodox techniques and materials (marbles, chopsticks, a plastic jar lid) transform the snare into a resonant field of sensual textures. 'Immersion' (1998), performed by Donato and Frank Cassara, is a slow-moving exploration of gentle beating tones, performed on marimba, tam tams, and gong. Like the other two works presented on this LP, it provides captivating proof of Lockwood's belief in the complexity that deep listening can reveal within seemingly simple sounds." --Francis Plagne
Oren Ambarchi sniffs out another rare cult classic for Black Truffle: presenting Max Eastley / Steve Beresford / Paul Burwell / David Toop’s assortment of Whirled Music improvisations on bull roarers, bird whistles, spinning gongs, and much more, on vinyl for 1st time in nearly 40 years.
Whirled Music was recorded live in performance at the IKON gallery, Birmingham, at the London Musician Collective, and at various outdoors spots during 1979. It pretty much marks the ground between the early work of instrument builder/musicians Structures Sonores Lasry-Bachet, the modern materials research experiments on Alku by EVOL and Edwin van Der Heide, and myriad, far-flung ethnic rituals ranging from Australian natives to football fans. The A-side is a single performance making use of all instruments at their disposal, whereas the B-side breaks down to a series of shorter recordings of specific instruments.
"It's one of the key documents of the inventive and energetic scene around the London Musicians Collective in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Originally released on Toop's own Quartz label in 1980, the LP features a remarkable series of performances made entirely with whirled and swung instruments and objects. Part of the second generations of British free improvising musicians, the prolific scene centered around the performers heard here chafed at the limitations present within the music and ideology of improvising legends such as Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Tony Oxley, and John Stevens. Where the first generations of British free improvisers often demonstrated a rigorous commitment to non-idiomatic free improvisation and instrumental virtuosity, musicians like Beresford reconnected with the dada antics of figures like Han Bennink and surrendered to joyful musical promiscuity, gleefully disrupting expectations around 'serious' improvised music through quotations (of anything from Beethoven to reggae) and deliberate amateurism. . . .
Beginning in 1979, Whirled Music was the title given to a series of performances in which a variety of instruments and objects, both home-made and store bought, traditional and invented, would be whirled to produce sound. In addition to variations on traditional instruments such as the bullroarer, Whirled Music also made use of whirled whistles, hand drums, radios, and microphones. Due to the danger this represented for both performers and audiences, the performers wore protective masks and were separated from the audience by a net. . . . Presented in glorious cassette-recorded room fidelity, the LP's first side features a single extended live performance in which percussive chattering, resonant gong-like tones, mysterious wind tones, and swells of delirious noise join together to create a sonic landscape as reminiscent of an environmental recording (wind in the trees, the squawking of birds) as of an ethnographic recording of the music of an unknown civilization. Although purely acoustic, the music has an unstable, dispersed quality reminiscent of the pioneering live electronics of the Sonic Art Union or even early Voice Crack. The LP's second side presents a series of shorter excerpts, including some beautifully sparse outdoor recordings where the sounds of the whirled instruments blend indistinguishably into the backdrop of environmental sounds." --Francis Plagne”
Intoxicating, nyabinghi-driven roots reggae showcasing the hypnotic and mystically attuned styles of Ras Michael & The Sons of Negus at Black Ark in 1980.
A spiritual successor of sorts to that Dadawah LP, which was also reissued by Dug Out and which left such an indelible mark on our listening lives, Promised Land Sounds - Rockin Live Ruff N Tuff is distinguished by a more upward, bubbling battery of drummers and drenched in widely reverberant, echoic FX perfectly captured by Lance on the Black Ark desk.
The vocals are floating five feet high and deeply devotional, lead by Ras Michael chanting, squawking and holding his own amidst a wavy haze of drums and vibes whose cloud like dimensions sounds as though the recording was exhaled onto wax rather than inscribed.
It’s proper communal music, rolling with the kind of timeless, rounded pressure that comes from lots of time spent playing together, somewhere between The Upsetters and Sun Ra for levels of cosmic intuition and elevation, especially so in the otherworldly 15 minutes of I Ya I.
Not to be missed!!!
John Duncan and Andrew McKenzie (The Hafler Trio) explore the greyest areas of psychoacoustic and psychosexual drone noise back in 1991, newly remastered for this reissue on Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle.
“Black Truffle is thrilled to announce the first reissue of legendary performance and sound artist John Duncan's forgotten gem Klaar, originally released by Extreme in 1991 and partly created in collaboration with Andrew McKenzie (The Hafler Trio). Duncan is perhaps most well known for his notorious early performances pieces, which explored violence, self-denial, and the establishment of extreme psychological and physical states in both artist and audience. Alongside these transgressive experiments, Duncan began to create audio works primarily using short wave radio. Where some of Duncan's earlier recordings are composed of magnificently sculpted but abrasive walls of noise, Klaar, recorded while Duncan was living in Amsterdam, occupies a more meditative territory.
Opening with 'Delta', which layers long tones seemingly sourced from slowed down voices over a distant, watery field recording, the remainder of the first side is occupied with the epic title piece, which arranges shortwave radio abstraction, vocal experiments, and field recordings (street sounds, fireworks, monastic chants) into an episodic cinema for the ear. The second side is dominated by the long, brooding 'The Immense Room', where layers of shortwave interference and field recordings are gradually built up into a pulsing, wavering bed of sound infused with a subtly disturbing sense of psychological unrest. This rises to the surface near the end of the piece as sexual moans and ominous rumbles crisscross the stereo image before being abruptly brought to a halt.
A singular work of electroacoustic composition, Klaar is both compositionally sophisticated and infused with a sense of mystery and a vital reality often lacking in more academic experimental music; it sits proudly alongside contemporaneous recordings by Duncan's friends and collaborators Jim O'Rourke and Christoph Heemann and is a must for anyone interested in their work.
- Francis Plagne”
Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle label coughs up the eighth live document of his nonpareil trio with the legendary Keiji Haino and Jim O’Rourke. All considered, these guys are pretty much the tightest/loosest avant instrumental group out there right now, blessed with a time-and-space bending dexterity that allows them to fuse some half century of research in free jazz, out rock and kosmiche electronics into blinding new forms.
On the A-side they prowl like a pack of predatory animals hunting down a noble but tired old prey, methodically and precisely attacking and breaking down the lumbering body of rock music in an increasingly ferocious whirlwind of fanged guitar slash and tearout percussion until they’re bathing a strangely tranquil bloodbath. With the B-side they lock into a martial distortion drill around Ambarchi’s steady, Wold-like snares rolls and sky-collapsing harmonics with stoically unrelenting force.
Side C brings the trio at their most abstract, moving from near silence, perforated only by the shivering chimes of toy piano, spookily signing into he ether where Haino exclaims in English from somewhere deep in the unfathomable mix, and O’Rourke petrifies the air with ungodly, alien EMS synth voices that speak to us in the uncanniest way. All change again on Side D, as they broach the 4th wold thru some back door entrance, scanning its undergrowth with Haino’s flute, vox and guitar urged on by pouring tribal toms until hey lay waste to the scene with pure guitar napalm.
Trippy, rugged and mutant electro-dub slugs from Belp on Munich’s Jahmoni Music...
Fair to say that help have coined their own sound here, melding the kind of brute but agile drum machine rhythm found on a Prostitutues release, with a madcap palette of vibes that jumps from kosmiche synths to dub and jazz in a silty mix of ambient and noise textures.
A total collector’s fancy from 1990, the hypnotic percussions of ‘Elephant’s Easy Moonwalk Through The Night’ finds an ideal new home on Bernd Friedmann’s nonplace.
Drum nuts, dancers and ersatz ethnomusicologists will have a field day with this one.
New York Jazz ensemble Onyx Collective release their debut album ‘Lower East Suite Part Three’
"Isaiah Barr, leader of Onyx Collective, has frequently collaborated with other New York musicians such as Dev Hynes (Blood Orange), Nick Hakim, Julian Soto and Wiki (Ratking).
For fans of Nick Hakim, Ezra Collective, Yussef Kamaal, BadBadNotGood, Shabaka Hutchings, Moses Boyd."
Leon Vynehall trades in vicarious nostalgia on his new album, a record inspired by his grandmother’s tales of moving to New York City from south east England in the ‘60s. The results flirt with the ’floor but are generally better defined by their sweeping string arrangements and tender use of field recordings which lends a immersive sense of space and place to Vynehall’s jazz-wise piano strokes.
“Vynehall has released two extended EP's so far, his 2014 breakthrough Music For The Uninvited (3024) - a record inspired by the funk, soul and hip-hop tapes his mum used to play on car journeys which finished the year on a plethora of 'Best of the Year' lists including Pitchfork, FACT and Resident Advisor who called it "one of the most eclectic and rewarding house records you'll hear all year" - and 2016's Rojus EP (Running Back) which saw Vynehall building more layers and broadening the depth of his music to widespread critical acclaim including DJ Mag's 'Album of the Year' and 'Best New Music' from Pitchfork for fan favourite single 'Blush'. On both, he was crafting luscious grooves that were destined to dominate dancefloors. Nothing Is Still however, is defiantly atmospheric and textural, and finds him harnessing his passion for early contemporary minimalist composers such as Gavin Bryars as well as records like Philip Glass’ Koyaanisqatsi and Terry Riley’s A Rainbow In Curved Air.
Written and predominantly performed by Vynehall with additional musicians including a ten-piece string section arranged by Amy Langley, Finn Peters (saxophone and flute), and Sam Beste (piano) whom completed the final recording sessions that took place at Konk Studio’s - Nothing Is Still was mixed by Blue May in London before making its own transatlantic flight to New York, where it was mastered at Sterling Sound by Greg Calbi.”
Proper rave mutations from X-Altera, the killer new alias coined by Tadd Mullinx (J.T.C./SK-1/Dabrye/Charles Manier/X2/TNT).
Striking hot and delirious, but with razor cut production packing stacks of ideas into every track, X-Altera is instantly shaping up to be one of our favourite of Tadd Mullinx’s myriad projects.
Taking inspiration from the ‘ardcore phenomenon of 1990-1993, the sound effectively works in the pocket of years before the jungle references of his Soundmurderer & SK-1 duo, hearkening back to that fertile period when everything was in flux, as shards of Detroit techno clash with Ragga Dancehall, US garage, Lowlands techno, electro and boogie-jazz style vibes in a delirious style meant to make you dance better, harder, nuttier - facking ‘ardcore, innit?
In recent years, it’s a style that many, many have tried, but more often than not become lost in translation, or simply without the actual ‘hardcore’-ness. Safe to say X-Altera has it down pat, though, taking cues from classic early 4Hero and their Reinforced label, plus the likes of Foul Play, Mark Pritchard and a plethora of unsung heroes, to put a class new spin on the classic sound and legendary era.
There are too many highlights to mention, but take it on trust this one’s a must-check if you’re into 4Hero/Dego, A Guy Called Gerald, Goldie, Lone, HATE, Global Communications.
Haunting, enlightening, spellbinding; ‘Bush Lady’ is the definitive musical opus by Alanis Obomsawin. A member of the Abenaki Nation and one of Canada’s most esteemed and decorated documentary filmmakers, Alanis recorded ‘Bush Lady’ for CBC, Canada’s national broadcaster, in 1985, but was unhappy with the lead song, ‘Bush Lady’. She re-recorded the song and self-released it as part of new edition, which the marvellous Constellation have now picked up for this reissue, some 33 tours later
Combining her knowledge of traditional Abenaki songs, learnt in her home community of Odanak, with lyrics in french and english, and more modernist arrangements drawing from jazz and classical, Bush Lady paints an engrossing and unforgettable portrait of the venerable singer, songwriter, and storyteller which has somehow managed to evade the attentions of reissuers until now.
The 2-part, 13 minute long opener Bush Lady, Pt.1 + II make a transfixing introduction with Alanis’ mix of traditional and modern vocals dancing free over a tumpin’ drum and expanded with searching fiddle that beautifully tails off with her vocals in the 2nd part. Meanwhile, Theo, Pt. I + II find Alanis singing/speaking in french over a central, steady drum motif joined by the kind of lush woodwind you might expect from a mid ‘80s CBC release (think BoC feels), while Odana reserves the album’s lushest arrangement till last, with Alanis in chanson mode against a fittingly plush, almost filmic backdrop of strings and wind, and Of the Earth and of the Sea remains a timelessly universal message.
We wager some ears are about to fall madly in love with this album…
On her Thrill Jockey debut, acclaimed guitarist Marisa Anderson’s music is boundless. Anderson is undeniably a master of the North American traditions of country, folk and blues on guitar. On ‘Cloud Corner’, Anderson expands on those styles as well as instrumentation.
"The solo guitar work of Marisa Anderson owes its familiar tones to her awareness of history and her mastering of her instrument, yet it is completely new. Marisa Anderson filters musical history through her own personal experiences, as a traveller in life and in music. A curious and gifted player, Anderson has spent over 35 years of performing forging her singular, instantly recognizable voice. Marisa Anderson’s ‘Cloud Corner’ is hopeful in the face of any discord, a resplendent diverse sound sanctuary that shines, a mirror of the horizon it looks towards."
Hugo Massien plays deep into and out of Tectonic’s signature sound with four brooding, bass-heavy cuts on the cusp of dubstep, garage and electro
Proceeding his 12”s for XL, 17 Steps and E-Beamz, Advanced Aerial Threat starts out with the hollowed but threatening half step techno of the title cut, switching to plush keys and brittle 2-step in Ursa Minor, and needling yet soothing electro on Candy Flip, before Divisions From the Start steps out like Batu meets Jon Hopkins.
Protomartyr return with the ‘Consolation EP’, which they recorded in part with friend Kelley Deal (The Breeders).
The release follows last year’s fan and critical favourite ‘Relatives In Descent’.
After an eventful year of touring throughout their native Australia - including runs with labelmates MONO and likeminded pioneers Tortoise - and featuring alongside the work of artist David Hockney at the National Gallery of Victoria, post-everything quintet Tangents return with another album, and another stylistic detour. RIYL: Can, Four Tet, Tortoise, The Necks.
"New Bodies continues Tangents' rummage through countless varieties of electronics, rock, dub, noise, and free improv jazz that defines the group's acclaimed aesthetic. The spacious dub of a plucked cello gives way to a minimalist breakbeat tableau resting over rhythmic prepared piano; a staid electronic groove is gradually absorbed into washes of frenzied improv; staccato synths are woven into tumbling avant-rock; and shimmering free drums phase over static loops of piano, guitar and cello."
John Parish, the twice Ensor-nominated composer and Mercury Prize-winning producer delivers a brand new collection of songs, including a duet with his longtime musical partner PJ Harvey.
"‘Bird Dog Dante’ was completed in a busy year for Parish. On top of being the musical director of the extended PJ Harvey band on their ‘Hope Six Demolition Project’ world tour, he produced acclaimed albums for Jenny Hval, This Is The Kit, Nadine Khouri and Aldous Harding. ‘Bird Dog Dante’ features duets with both PJ Harvey and Aldous Harding, as well as drumming from Harvey’s bandmate Jean-Marc Butty. In addition to touring with his own band in April, Parish is playing a commemorative show of Nick Drake’s music at St George’s, Bristol in what would have been Drake’s 70th year."
On a long awaited solo LP (his first in 13 years!), the man from Mountains wraps up listeners in a lyrically expressive but entirely instrumental suite of new age modular synth music elliptically contoured between burbling choral voices, hyaline quivers and sonorous subs leading to moments of timeless, sublime revelation. Synth-o-naut’s will be in their element here
“The music of Brendon Anderegg is a hall of mirrors, multilayered and self-obscuring. Largely filtered through Mountains, his pioneering electronic project with Koen Holtkamp, Anderegg emerged as a solo artist in the late ‘90s. In recent years, Anderegg has become sought after for his film scoring and audio work with his studio Telescope Audio, contributing to Emmy-nominated films 102 Minutes that Changed America and 9/11: The Days After for the History Channel, and working with clients from ESPN to Laura Poitras’ Praxis Films.
June represents Brendon limiting his tools and thereby departing from his previous approaches to creating music. Folding time, space, and ambience across June’s two sides, a shimmering expanse of synthesizer-fed structure and tone emerges: a singular sonic landscape with varied emotional triggers from melancholy to playful. The music on June is a complex network of layers, combining to create a congruous whole. Collapsing history into its own contemporary sonic movements, Anderegg’s methodically created work falls in the lineage of electronic pioneers like Bernard Parmegiani, early ambient projects like Tangerine Dream, Popul Vuh, and Cluster, and puts his solo work in the realm of New Age figures like Michael Sterns and JD Emmanuel.
A singularly beautiful and challenging work, June marks the long overdue reemergence of Brendon Anderegg as a solo voice. An immersive two-side realization made for contemplative, meditative listening, June is contemporary electronic synthesis in the most literal sense of the word.”
It’s safe to say that Steven Legget has been somewhat measured in his approach to releasing music. The Newcastle native was behind the Four Hands moniker, with releases alongside iconic industrial figures Zoviet France on Signals From The North and the classic ‘Hizou’ on Claremont 56 back at the turn of the decade.
Steve Leggett pays tribute to one of the last functioning civil saunas in the UK, Newcastle’s Turkish Baths, with an immersive suite of cello, electronics and field recordings layered and arranged to reflect the woozy, slow motion, drug free endorphin rush of the bath house
Stemming from a live performance given by Leggett at the Turkish Baths, the results were edited and recombined with recordings made on location in the islands of Paxos and Loutro, South Crete to create a timeless air of luxurious ambient tranquility that seemingly turns the new age introspection of an isolation tank into a shared experience.
The sauna here is taken in a broader cultural context reflective of how it relates to Newcastle and its fertile rhizome of experimental musicians. On one level, the sauna can be taken as a metaphorical, exotic oasis of calm in the cold, hardworking and hard-playing North Eastern English city, and, on an related tip, it roots back into the city’s long-standing home as port to a rich mosaic of North and East African, Arabic and Middle-Eastern cultures, as well as outward-looking artists such as Zoviet*France, with whom Leggett has previously shared vinyl space.
As each tracks blushes its convective layers of strings and electronics, the results become only stronger thru acknowledging their provenance, and the whole project beautifully comes together as a swirling testament to the blend of idiosyncrasy and open-minded, folk-wise nature and timelessness of music from this region.
Infinite Music is an entrancing drone experience. A collaboration between Spacemen 3’s Sonic Boom, Zombie Zombie’s Etienne Jaumet and Celine Wadier, a master of Indian Dhrupad singing and tanpura.
"Recorded live at Teatro Maria Matos, Lisbon in September 2017, the performance is released on magenta vinyl. Young was an inspiration on John Cale and original Velvet Underground drummer Angus MacLise, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, George Harrison, Brian Eno, Jarvis Cocker, Stereolab and the classic Spacemen 3 album Dreamweapon. La Monte’s influence in the hands of this eclectic trio is timeless and beautifully evocative. “I’m not suited for these times but I am suited for the world I created.” La Monte Young.
Meditative, durational works for a 17th century organ, horn, trombone and microtonal tuba written by Ellen Arkbro, who has previously composed for early music ensembles and studied Just Intonation with La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela and Jung Hee Choi - Huge Recommendation.
“For organ and brass is comprised of two works by the Stockholm-based composer Ellen Arkbro. Both works focus on tuning, intonation and harmonic modulation. In previous projects, Arkbro composed for early music ensembles, wrote a series of durational pieces utilising synthetic tones and processed guitars, and, most recently, presented a work lasting 26 days at the Stockholm Concert Hall. for organ and brass looks back to Arkbro’s studies in Just Intonation with La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela, and their disciple Jung Hee Choi in New York, as well as with kindred spirit Marc Sabat in Berlin.
The title composition was written for an organ with a specific kind of historical tuning known as meantone temperament. It was only after locating an appropriate instrument—-the Sherer-Orgel dating back to 1624 in St. Stephen’s Church in Tangermünde, Northeastern Germany—-that Arkbro set about recording both for organ and brass and its counterpart, three. “Hidden within the harmonic framework of the Renaissance organ are intervals and chords that bare a close resemblance to those found in the modalities of traditional blues music,” explains Arkbro. “The work can be thought of as a very slow and reduced blues music.”
The work moves gradually through a series of long, sustained tones played by the organ and in parallel by a brass trio comprised of horn, tuba, and trombone. Arkbro’s treatment of pitch resembles the tuning strategies of La Monte Young. The brass parts were performed by microtonal brass trio Zinc & Copper, a group whose repertoire has included works by C.C. Hennix and Christian Wolff.
In Arkbro’s words, “the brass instruments and the organ fall into patterns of interaction in which a new breathing instrument emerges.” three, which follows the 20-minute title work, deploys the same principles of harmonic relativity. In removing the organ from the instrumentation and switching to a different meter, three acts as an intimate counterpoint to the ritual drone cycles of the title piece.
Ellen Arkbro is currently studying for her Master’s degree in music composition at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. Her work has been performed in Brooklyn, Stockholm, Norberg, Bologna, Gothenburg, Berlin, Birmingham, and Malmö, and on Swedish National Radio.”
Yowling, white hot punk snot from NYC, 2018
“Stucco Thieves is the new LP by New York City's The Sediment Club. This new collection of nine songs marks 10 years since the band's formation in 2008. Stucco Thieves tells an abbreviated and frank series of human bankruptcy accounts from the post Pax-Americana perspective. The Sediment Club wrench and berate their instruments to make Stucco Thieves a concise, brutal landscape filled with tales that range from slapstick to cruel. Hapless characters embody greed, change form, and reflect on the crumbling infrastructure of a “cobalt ruin.” Stucco Thieves holds our shared predicament of doom in the casual pass of a snarl, “a dungeon shook,” and a dropped bag of dirt. Honey's chromosomes are dying fast, falling out of vogue, and turning to a “shadow soon.”
For 10 years, The Sediment Club have shown a commitment to dissonance while touring their brand of it extensively around North America, challenging audiences and rallying fellow outsiders. They will continue to do so into the next decade.”
The score by ROB (Maniac, Horns, Campfire Creepers) is an equally intense tour de force mixing traditional horror synth tropes alongside techno, brooding ambience and an almost industrial style assaults on your senses.
"He manages to deliver something that is brutal yet beautiful, unsettling yet melodic and ultimately masterful that proves he is working on a different level to almost every composer using synthesis today.”
Crépuscule present an anthology of classic early recordings by The Pale Fountains, the pioneering indiepop band from Liverpool whose first single appeared on the label in 1982.
"Something On My Mind combines a 12 track vinyl album with a bonus 19 track live CD. Side one of the album features six studio tracks, including all tracks from the maxi single released by Crépuscule/Operation Twilight in June 1982, as well as unreleased second single Longshot For Your Love plus two songs recorded for the Crépuscule compilation albums Ghosts of Christmas Past and Moving Soundtracks.
Side two features 6 live tracks recorded in October 1982 on the celebrated Crépuscule package tour Move Back-Bite Harder, which saw the Paleys matched with Antena, 23 Skidoo, Cabaret Voltaire and Tuxedomoon. The bonus live CD packaged with the album includes complete performances by Pale Fountains from Brussels (5 October) and Leuven (6 October).
At the end of 1982 the group signed to Virgin and went on to release the acclaimed albums Pacific Street and From Across the Kitchen Table. Praised as “our greatest songwriter” by NME, Michael Head went on to form Shack in 1987 with brother John, while percussionist Nathan McGough moved into management. Trumpet player Andy Diagram also played in Diagram Brothers, Dislocation Dance and James. Sadly bassist Chris ‘Biffa’ McCaffrey passed away in 1989."
‘The Emotional, Cosmic & Occult World of Joe Meek’ is a sterling survey of just some of the legendary record producer’s pioneering efforts in establishing the sound of 20th century studio recordings
The story of Joe Meek is too long and wild to properly spell out here, but suffice it to say the man blazed a trail in his time, whether innovating recording techniques such as overdubbing, sampling and reverb, recording the first British rock single to reach #1 in the Billboard charts with The Tornados’ Telstar, or seeing right thru a young Rod Stewart (he only agreed to record Rod’s early band on the proviso that he fucked off).
So, yeh, Meek’s indelible influence is writ large across the history of rock & roll and subsequently electronic music, and this compilation offers a superb study of just some highlights from his known 245 releases (45 of which charted in the top 50, and 1000s are still in storage), including the incredible proto-techno pulse of Crazy Drums by The Outlaws, and the cavernous, spooked out pop of The Blue Men’s Valley Of The Saroos, and Mike Berry’s jangling Tribute to Buddy Holly.
Brian Leeds a.k.a. Huerco S adopts the Loidis alias for this hypnagogic house turn on Hank Jackson’s Anno label, taken from his archive circa 2014-2016.
Following his recent emergence as Pendant, A Paradise, In The Place I Sit, The Floating World (& All Its Pleasures) appears to inhabit space between that alias and Brian's Huerco S styles, firstly feeling out a dub house blueprint layered with lush pads in A Parade - think Andreas Tilliander meets Shinichi Atobe - then following lusher lines of inquiry akin to 154’s Wherever You Go, I Will Follow on A Place Where I Sit, and then beautifully stretching out in a sun-baked jazz house style on The Floating World (And All Its Pleasures).
A bit of a no brainer if you ask we…
Electro specialist Lowfish, a boss of Suction Records, makes an overdue return to the motherboard with six cuts of tactile 808s and adroit synthlines on ‘Hypersensitivity’, his first solo release proper since 2011.
A prolific producer between the late ‘90s and thru the ‘00s, Lowfish has been notable by his absence from the release schedule in recent years, bar a few compilation cuts for Analogical Force and Fundamental Records.
With Hypersensitivity the Canadian artist sticks firmly to the guns that got him thus far, delivering a purist and beautifully effective session swerving from very Pye Corner Audio-esque acid-electro in Arp294ms and the super crafty nudges of Study for Arp and Other Synthesisers, to cover more widescreen synth-pop feels in Favourable Report and a strange cinematic transition from cawing crows to reticulated electro in the title track.
If you’re new to this guy, make sure to run thru his back catalogue on Suction Records, and also check out the work of Skanform, the synth-pop alias also behind Sleeparchive.
After a fancy flight with Arcola, Jamal Moss comes home to Mathematics for ‘The Language of Strings’, a 14 track collection of, in his own words; “Cerebral sonics sketched out in the form of body music for the home listener”
As always with the prolific Chicagoan, you may feel like you heard this one before, but pay closer attention and he still manages to keep us absorbed into his grooves with unique, natty sleights-of-hand applied to rhythmic variations and chromatic vamps that pop off across the record, serving to only draw listeners ever closer into Jamal’s parallel universe.
If anything, Jamal has only gotten more prolific in recent years, but his off-the-cuff tekkers feel more efficient with it, here giving 1:1 representations of the encrypted images and instinctive calculations that scroll thru his head, mutating from brittle, bare-boned jackers to louchely hypnotic house swingers and a haul of grubbing, brukken rufige, always with those glorious chromatic arp signatures, and keeping one spicy uptempo rocket tucked away at the end.
Vladimir Ivkovic’s Offen Music have the privilege of presenting Geins’t Naït & Laurent Petitgand’s possessed Gallic atmospheres to the uninitiated with ‘Make Dogs Sing'; a collection of 13 new, previously unreleased songs that plunge us into GN’s etheric otherworld ahead of a reissued classics, upcoming on Low Jack’s Editions Gravats
Through the looking glass of Geins’t Naït & Laurent Petitgand the world appears seductively psychedelic. Taking in woozy waltzes and shimmering keys on the one hand, and a palette of pebbledashed electronics and mutant voices on the other, the group’s contemporary sound hints at some French analog to the film music of Wim Wenders or the eerier styles of mid-latter phase Coil, and works at a safer distance to the gnarled grooves of their cultish late ‘80s industrial releases, which are maybe better compared with Din A Testbild, NWW or TG.
Judging from the sounds on Make Dogs Sing, Geins’t Naït have matured somewhat since their critical early phase. Rather than pranging drums and psychedelic electronics, they now apply similar principles of dislocated mixing trickery and groove-focussed methods to a breezier set of cues taken from film music and experimental ambient spectres, resulting a uniquely dissociative effect as the albums slips down the wormhole, back first, with any glimpses of light fading in front of you until their slowly ravishing, narcotic effect takes hold.
By the end of the album you won’t be able to find a way out. But don’t fret, the effect will come to pass, eventually.
Tindersticks' Stuart A. Staples returns with Arrhythmia, his first solo album in thirteen years. Arrhythmia is immersive and experimental, both recognisably the work of the Tindersticks’ frontman and simultaneously a stand-alone, unique piece of work. It's a provocative album where electronic experimentations and rare multi-instrumentations interweave, wrapping themselves around unconventional but utterly spellbinding song structures.
"Written in what Stuart A. Staples describes as “a lost year”, Arrhythmia began on Christmas day 2016 when he was drawn to the studio to record the beginnings of A new real, the album’s hypnotic opener of glitchy electronic loops with a sly nod to disco. A year later the entire album was complete, a process which involved Staples struggling between his own free sense of timing and more mechanical rhythms and what he describes as “a growing need for each song to take a turn, to lead them into strange places, keeping the feeling or effect of the song, but only as a memory.”
The second track Memories of love is indicative of Arrhythmia’s time-less experimentation and musical exploration. A stark and delicate melancholy opens up to rich and increasingly vivid chiming bells. There’s a feeling that the song has two diversely distinct parts unexpectedly, yet perfectly, married. Closing side 1, Step into the grey offers a dark romanticism reminiscent of early Tindersticks with a crescendo of freestyle percussion and strings.
Side 2 of the album consists of a 30 minute instrumental track Music for ‘A year in small paintings’. The piece began its evolution back in 2012 when filmmaker, and long-time Staples collaborator, Claire Denis first saw the serial of works by the painter (and Staples’ partner) Suzanne Osborne and wanted to turn these 365 oil paintings of the sky into a film.
As friends and musicians passed through Staples’ studio he asked them to watch and react to the paintings. As Staples explains “From these recordings, I chipped away at its form, guiding and editing. Each time there was an exhibition of the work there was a newly evolved version of the music to accompany it.” Eventually the creative process came full circle when Claire Denis’ film Un beau soliel interieur (transl. Let the Sunshine In), featured the paintings, and their music became inextricably linked to the film’s soundtrack. Improvisations of the themes from Music for ‘A year in small paintings’ were also contributed by The Julian Siegel Quartet."
Four Flies Records release their first archive compilation of Piero Umiliani's work and the first compilation focussing on the Maestro's legacy in years.
"Studio Umiliani" is a collection of sunken treasures and hidden beauties yet to be re-released, and of stunning unpublished works surprisingly unknown for quite some time. The project, born from the initial effort of Andrea Fabrizii, who has far and wide been exploring Umiliani's soundtracks before anyone else, led Four Flies research to seek for new unreleased recordings at the Maestro's archive.
A challenge that Pierpaolo De Sanctis from Four Flies Records accepted without hesitation – with the help of the Umiliani family. His two daughters Alessandra and Elisabetta Umiliani, true keepers of their father's memory, together with their husbands Francesco Argento and John Linkowski, and of course, Piero's wife Stefania Baffa, have been pivotal in compiling this exciting project.
The result is a cross-cutting portrait of Umiliani's activity during the golden years of his Sound Work Shop, the studio- laboratory where he has been playing, creating and experimenting with total freedom from 1969 to 1983."
Classy, well-studied and naturally charming post-punk pop crammed with snagging hooks and melodies.
“It stands to reason that many vital albums come critically close to never being made. The eight-track upshot of doubt, upheaval and financial strain, Stains on Silence by Girls Names is one such release.
Following 2015’s blitzing Arms Around a Vision, and the parting of drummer Gib Cassidy just over a year later, the Belfast band suddenly found themselves facing down a looming void. “There was a finished – and then aborted – mix of the album, which was shelved for six months,” reveals Girls Names frontman Cathal Cully. “We then took a break from all music and went back to full-time work. We chilled out from the stress of rushing the record and not being happy with it, as well as being skint with no impending touring on the cards and constantly having to worry about rent.”
The stumbling blocks that proved a strain became the album’s defining breakthrough. Recorded in various locations including Belfast’s Start Together Studio with Ben McAuley, Cully’s home and the band’s practice space, spontaneous creation, cut-up techniques and self-editing took centre-stage for the first time. "We started tearing the material apart and rebuilding, re-editing and re-recording different parts in my home in early Autumn last year,” says Cully. “When we got them to a place we were happier with we went back into Start Together Studio with Ben McAuley to finalise the mixes to what they are now."
Where AAAV proved a brazen statement of intent, Stains on Silence bounds forth as its feature-length comedown. What could have seen the band buckle became an opportunity for approaching things tabula rasa. During its two-year transmutation, Cully, bassist Claire Miskimmin and guitarist Philip Quinn had a single aim for their fourth album: to make an old-fashioned record clocking in around 30 to 35 minutes in length that made the listener reach straight for repeat. From the Bang Bang bar-summoning swoon of opener '25’ and the submerged disco doom of ‘Haus Proud’ to the rapt, dub-leaning ‘Fragments of a Portrait’, Girls Names have excelled in their goal by forging an LP of synchronous nuance and defiance.
Marked by the presence of drum machines and programming throughout, these eight masterfully-woven tales are once again commandeered by founder Cully, whose words, understated yet defiant, mine purpose and meaning from the mire ("I want to bathe again, I want to swim again / In a pool of twisting bodies, blackened gold." — ‘25’). But while Stains on Silence came critically close to never being made, having lived with it, reconfigured it, and guided its metamorphosis from flickers of inspiration and half-formed schemes, it’s both a statement of pure perseverance, and a head-on confrontation with ambivalence that couldn’t be more assured.”
Reissued on vinyl for the 1st time, Ambienti Coassiali’s soothing synths reveal a lush other side to cult Italian drone/noise pairing Pazuzu and Soda Caustica, a.k.a. Capricorni Pneumatici
Using a Yamaha DX7 and two Revox A77 tape recorders, Ambienti Coassiali coax out a hypnagogic suite in six parts, originally intended as the first of future volumes, but ultimately destined to be the series’ only instalment until a Spare Rooms album crept out in 2017, 29 years later.
Reissuing the original tape release in its entirety, this 30th anniversary edition is the first vinyl pressing of Vol.1 - Room 1-6, giving a whole new wave of listeners a chance to bathe in the glorious, creamy light of its lush, new age-oriented opening and closing stanzas, along with some gorgeous, much subtler parts in between, from the floating harmonic structures of Stanza 3 to the playful underwater jazz notes of Stanza 5.
Ripe for fans of the sweetest treats from Melody As Truth or Music From Memory.