New album from Mali’s Nahawa Doumbia, via Awesome Tapes From Africa.
"The meaning of “Kanawa” is so simple. We see our children trying to cross the ocean all the time. I said that many of our children die in the ocean and some of them while crossing the Sahara. Some climb over the wires across the borders and they have gotten shot. We have asked them not to leave and instead stay home. But I ask them why do they leave their country? Why do they decide to go? They said that they leave because of the family situation or problems, poverty, and unemployment. We told them if ever they are to leave, they should privilege legal ways.
They should abide by laws vigorously when they are to emigrate. That’s better than hiding in boats or adopting other illegal means. I ask them to stay and work in their country. So that we can help each other find a solution to this problem. I call on the UN and African leaders so that we can coordinate our efforts to find a solution, to create jobs for them so that young people stop leaving. This song is about that message and I chose it as the title of my album because I like it. My choice is because it is very meaningful and it is something we see on a daily basis. I chose it in order to alert and sensitize everybody about this question of illegal immigration. To sensitize our brothers and sisters. It is a message. That’s why I chose it as the title of my album so that everybody can learn from it and also so that there is a reduction in the number of people emigrating. To sensitize them so that some can stay home and grow the land. Leaving is not the only solution. That’s my message."
Fifth studio album from Still Corners.
"Building on 2018’s SLOW AIR, Still Corners return with an album about the myth and folklore of the open road. In a world where everyone thinks all the corners of the map are filled in, Still Corners believe there's something beyond what we see and feel, something eternal in the landscape of those never-ending drives.
With the shimmering desert noir sound the band has become known for, THE LAST EXIT takes you on a hypnotic journey, one filled with dilapidated towns, mysterious shapes on the horizon, and long trips that blur the line between what’s there and not there. Greg says, “We found something out there in the desert – something in the vast landscapes that went on forever."
THE LAST EXIT consists of eleven beautifully crafted songs with organic instrumentation, clean-toned guitar, spacious drums and the smoky croon of Tessa Murray. Album highlights include “The Last Exit”, “White Sands” and “Shifting Dunes” all of which evoke the vast space of the desert and rolling unconcerned skies."
Utterly fab off-world lo-fi pop construxions assembled using DX7, TR-909 and early samplers from Italian minimalist Tiziano Popoli. Imagine Visible Cloaks rescoring "Liquid Sky" and ur there.
Freedom To Spend's latest rifles through the catalog of Italian minimalist composer Tiziano Popoli, unearthing a series of unreleased recordings for soundtracks, radio and installations made between 1983 and 1989 with a modest studio setup. Influenced by glittery radio pop music, Popoli used the Yamaha DX7 synthesizer along with the Roland TR-909 drum machine and some early sampling technology to belt out a series of surreal cues and themes that sound almost frozen in time.
The distinctive FM sound of the DX7 was relegated to bargain bins for too long after practically defining the mid 1980s and early 1990s, but it's received a well overdue resurgence in recent years. Now the familiar sound (smooth, shimmering pads, plasticky stabs and bumping distorted basses) is easily available inside or outside the box, and it's become ubiquitous once again - hearing it here though, struck through with possibility, is an all-too-rare treat. Popoli uses these sounds without cynicism or reference, crafting angular pop forms from a backdrop of funk, prog rock and disco.
'Minimal Dance N.1' sounds like a long-lost Goblin cue, with fractured synths following eerie piano loops. Elsewhere, album centerpiece 'Mimetico Erettile' develops over fifteen minutes, blending paper-thin pads with marimba sounds that buzz lovingly like Steve Reich in an isolation booth. Each track sounds as if it could rattle off the hinges at any moment and that's exactly what we love about it.
Fantastic music that sings loud from a place of innovation and discovery.
Leone is the first meeting of electric guitarists Loren Connors and Oren Ambarchi.
"It’s somewhat surprising it’s taken this long as these two are connected by ongoing collaborators, like Jim O’Rourke and Keiji Haino. Connors, for more than 40 years, has continued to develop an iconic sound tethered to radical permutations of the blues. Ambarchi’s own multi-decade transfiguration of the guitar inhabits a rarefied realm of abstracted tones and dissonance pitched between improvisation and composition.
This album, like its title, is a sum of parts: solo performances by Connors and Ambarchi bookend a duo. On “Lorn,” Connors unravels an aggressive ternary form, with an opening section wrapped in distortion and extreme phasing that contrasts against ghostly, distant single notes. This side-long piece is a dramatic six-string reimagination of Connors’ beloved vocal arias. Ambarchi’s “Nor,” supplants a guitar performance with melodic, shifting organ-like tones that are swallowed into a fluttering, glitchy squall. The harmonics and pace is similar in complexity to Ambarchi’s most recent album, Simian Angel (Editions Mego).
On “Ronnel,” the duo, each audio landscape created by the two slowly rotates and overlaps the other. Connors’ lightly traced blue and black notes are boldly punctuated by Ambarchi’s bright bass-like pulses and ebullient synthy colors. It’s as if each is drawing the others’ portrait on opposite sides of a translucent sheet."
Autechre, aye, casually flip SOPHIE’s ‘BIPP' heater into a sort of freestyle pop diamond to get 2021 off on the right foot. We’re massively feeling this...
Way back in 2013, the addictive electro-pop additives of ‘BIPP’ helped position SOPHIE among the decade’s thrilling new talents after introductions made on the ‘Nothing More To Say’ 12”. SOPHIE has since admitted to a formative love of Autechre in interviews, so a certain circle is closed with Æ’s mix of ‘Bipp’, 5 years in the works and emphasising the original’s latin freestyle pop essence with sizzling hi-hat trills and that ultra vocal hook, but here deployed slower and with a rugged assymetry - more goretex than latex? Quite honestly it’s the best thing we’ve heard from Autechre in ages - properly forward, blunted business with a squashed Gescom vibe that pushes a lot of our buttons all at once. Oh and, over on the flip (vinyl-only), a SOPHIE rarity that for the moment shall remain unnamed.
"In 2015 when potential remixes of BIPP were first floated the unequivocal response from SOPHIE was “No remixes..” a long pause followed “..unless it’s Autechre”. We asked, and five years later an email from Autechre arrived “sorry this is so late, hope it's still of some use”. An Autechre live show recording from a Numbers show in 2005 had first inspired SOPHIE to source the equipment used to craft new music including BIPP, LEMONADE & more. The BIPP Autechre mx is 3 minutes 33 seconds long, stripped back and loose. Sounding like Autechre paying tribute to some serious late 80’s influences. The duo's interpretation channels an imagined transition point between NY electro and UK street soul, that pitched down SOPHIE vocal reconfigured into a wanna-be Latin Freestyle Natasha King, jiving over a deep slice of TR-606 funk technology.”
First original Kode 9 trax since 2015! The Hyperdub boss makes up for lost time with two sharp shots of mutant juke chicanery at the front of 2021
To be fair he’s not been quiet over the intervening years, issuing everything from remixes of classic computer game music to rare dubs off his Katasonix label (run with Mark Fisher), but ‘The Jackpot EP’ firmly makes up for a lack of new solo gear with two upfront and elusive workouts that read the pulse of the times.
His title cut is a full frontal raver, channelling 30 years of futurist dancefloor energy into a bucking form of ghetto-tech that rolls off-the-bone between slamming 4/4 and drill-style swag, twysted with shearing chromatic synths. However, ‘Rona City Blues’ is the one for us, applying vapourized synth thizz to skeletal percussion and heart-racing subs in a wickedly tense, but barely there, mutation of early footwork-juke and the up-to-the-second styles also explored by Rian Treanor or 33EMYBW.
In his essay ‘The Meaning of My Avant-Garde Hillbilly and Blues Music’, Henry Flynt talks about how his music should be analysed as an intellectual tribute to the music of the autochtone, setting aside plain folk references, but adopting academic insights to mold the music one makes as a folk creature.
"Much of Flynt’s discourse applies to the music of Glen Steenkiste’s Hellvete. Over the past twenty years he has been thoroughly investigating both the ethnic musical language of various regions as well as the contemporary pioneers that preceded him as a drone musician, internalizing concepts such as e.g. deep listening or just intonation. Casting off any redundant ideas or sounds, and stripping down the focus to develop singular concepts, his working method lead to pieces such as ‘Droomharmonium’, in which he shapes the endless variations on a theme, emphasizing detail and nuance rather than multitude. The Indian harmonium here serves as the main device to worship ancient ghosts and masters, and to preserve a continuum in a tradition that touches both folk and avant-garde culture. The materialisations are sustained tone compositions which become a means of appreciation of the people and cultures that paved the way for forms of mutual escapism. This might well be the core of what Hellvete’s music is about. As much as it is a form of self-entertainment – like folk music in the old days – it also invites the listener to a shared experience of sonic reverie, it is a casual gift to the community.
This is certainly true for the pieces presented on this album. They were first presented in a smoke filled and darkened art space in Ghent, Steenkiste surrounded by only a couple of candles and just enough stage light to see him erratically moving to the rhythm of the piece, occasionally twiddling the knobs of a Doepfer synth that processed the prerecorded harmonium tracks. Unlike most of his other performances this piece embraced the audience in a trance that was similar to that of an old-school rave club. Flynt writes: ‘The music should be intellectually fascinating because the listener can perceive and participate in its rhythmic and melodic intricacies, audacity of organization, etc. At the same time, the music should be kinesthetic, that is, it should encourage dancing.’ ‘Voor Harmonium’ does exactly that; it builds on the artistic ideas that have long been established in Hellvete’s oeuvre, but the ecstatic nature of these pieces merges the usual spiritual transcendence with one of determined physical bliss. It encourages both mind and body to step into the sound, to be enraptured, to celebrate."
Lovely Music’s cult chamber classic by the late, great “Blue” Gene Tyranny, cosmically coinciding with his recent exit from this mortal coil (*January 1, 1945 - † December 2020).
Robert Nathan Sheff, aka “Blue” Gene Tyranny, was a pivotal figure of the late 20th century US avant-garde whose catalogue joined the dots between the likes of John Cage, David Behrman, and Robert Ashley on one hand, and the likes of Peter Gordon, Iggy Pop and Laurie Anderson on the other; a spectrum of diverse composers and musical dynamos whose stylistic breadth speaks to the versatility and singularity of Tyranny’s instrumental talent and conceptual vision.
Tyranny’s 1978 solo debut ‘Out Of The Blue’ remains a perennial cult favourite, existing on the sweetest, inventive edges of rock, pop and avant-garde composition in a manner that was entirely characteristic of the amazing Lovely Music, Ltd. label, with whom he’s most closely associated. Quite simply, there’s little out there that matches ‘Out of the Blue’ for sheer charm, placing a deep knowledge of experimental and pop music’s internal workings at the service of a ripely melodic and dreamlike suite with results awaiting discovery by new ears.
Mind-expanding cello experiments for brave listeners: Judith Hamann approaches her instrument in completely unique ways, shifting expectations completely.
'Shaking Studies' is Judith Hamann's latest as a solo performer, and she uses this opportunity to examine the sonic possibilities of shaking. Channeling her body's rhythm in innovative ways, she expresses her own vibrations through the cello, allowing it to influence the shape of the sound completely. This is head melting stuff, music for anyone sick of the seemingly-endless drip drip of contemporary cello music that's about as gripping as a Hallmark card. There's no manipulative melancholy or awkward storytime cinema here, it's an exercise in sound and the body's impact on that sound.
Hamann's exploration of the cello is shockingly rigorous. She takes readings of the pulse of the cello, using them to shake against the strings, creating alien tones that create a backdrop for the entire listening experience. This isn't a record that can be classified easily - Hamann rejects the order of Western musical logic, instead searching for a sound than can only be described as fully human.
Classy debut album of horizon-scanning but intimate chamber compositions by Elori Saxl, seamlessly weaving a range of classical orchestration with field recordings and electronics
‘The Blue of Distance’ sees Elori draw listeners between the Adirondack Mountains in summer, and the middle of Lake Superior at the depths of winter, for a cinematic album that expresses a palpable sense of nostalgia and hope. Its title is inspired by Rebecca Solnit’s observation that faraway mountains appear blue due to light particles getting lost over distance, as outlined in ‘A Field Guide to Getting Lost’, and Elori uses that phenomena as metaphor for the music’s curious sense of physical detachment/immersion and elusive familiarity, meshing recordings of a 6 piece ensemble (Violin, Viola, Cello, Clarinet, Flue, Oboe, Bassoon) made in summer, with their re-sampled images, re-recorded thru the foot of ice beneath her on Lake Superior, to create an absorbing blur between place and space, and between physical gesture and artificial resonance. A quiet-minded one for fans of Ian William Craig, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, or the evocative, descriptive powers of Goldmund.
Oh my jeffing days, it finally happened! The Japanese edition of RZA’s seminal OST for ‘Ghost Dog’ finally lands to answer our prayers.
One of our most sought-after albums never to appear on vinyl (aside from a sneaky edition you could find at Hardwax if u were sharp-eared), RZA’s first soundtrack, for Jim Jarmusch’s mystic assassin thriller starring Forest Whittaker, has been top of our list since the day we walked out of the cinema after watching it in 1999 as a wide-eyed scrawny 16 y.o. That cinema has since been demolished, but our love for RZA’s score has never diminished, and we’ll happily sit with the looped-up 1 hour version of its ‘Ghost Dog Theme’ that was uploaded by some absolute G to YouTube on given day of the week.
With the benefit of hindsight, it’s not hard to hear the album as punctuating a whole epoch of music and culture, practically executing the final word on sample-driven, old skool beatcraft at a time when rap and hip hop were phase-shifting into the whole jiggy era of Timbaland and The Neptunes, and the old analog world of comic books and Kung Fu flicks on VHS were on the cusp of being consumed into the nostalgia industry - an idea perhaps neatly reflected in the film’s story about an assassin who prefers to follow ancient samurai codes of honour in an era of modern gangsters.
As many have discovered to their annoyance, it’s only this, the Japanese version, that carries the full soundtrack, where other versions were full of crap filler from Wu Tang affiliates. We’re talking some of RZA’s crispiest drum chops, soul stabs, and the most atmospheric work in his catalogue; 35 minutes of lethal neck snappers from the top shelf of ’90s hip hop, and we couldn’t be any more gassed to finally clutch a copy that will be coming to the grave with us.
(RZA voice) Raise your swwwords! Ultimate tip!
Featuring collaborations with Sufjan Stevens, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Yo La Tengo, Shara Nova, Mouse on Mars, Francis and the Lights and others...
"The music of CARM features horns in roles typically reserved for drums, guitars and voices, while also escaping the genre categorizations reserved for music featuring an instrumentalist as bandleader. It is not jazz or classical music, nor is it a soundtrack. This is contemporary popular music that features a sound normally used as a background colour and texture as the unabashed lead voice. According to CARM, aka CJ Camerieri, “It started with the question: ‘What kind of record would my trumpet-playing heroes from the past make today?’ I believe they would want to work with the best producers, beat makers, song-writers, and singers to create new, truly culturally relevant music, and that’s what I sought to do with this project.”
Produced in Minneapolis by Ryan Olson (Polica , Lizzo) and featuring collaborations with Sufjan Stevens, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Yo La Tengo, Shara Nova, Mouse on Mars, Francis and the Lights and many others. This is a completely unique sound that additionally serves as a survey of the collaborations that have come to define the artist’s career thus far. Says Justin Vernon, “I truly believe there isn’t a more accomplished brass player in the entire world of music. And this is way more than a ‘horn’ record. It’s a discovery of new heights with what is possible in creating music.” The album begins with an orchestral brass choir of French horns, which quickly gives way to a piano sample from Francis, as Stevens and Lupin combine voices over a lush bed of horns to sing ‘Song of Trouble’. The album bookends with the same piano sample used as a springboard to an iconic lyric by Vernon in the album closer ‘Land’. Between these two generation-defining artists we have upward sweeping melodies and fanfares reminiscent of Ennio Morricone.
The acutely original sound of Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo in ‘Already Gone’ give way to the virtuoso sound of Nova’s voice. A more experimental path emerges before the strings from Music bring us back to the piano sample that started the record. Instead of recycling well-trodden sounds, CARM offers a respite for those seeking an original voice."
Embryonic Free-Psych-Funk recordings from Parisian teenage improv-prog-combo (including members of French No-No Mod-Rockers Unity
"One of the most underrated and misunderstood directors to emerge from the rising smoke of the 1968 Parisian social explosion, Jean Rollin - a director with early links with the Paris underground, The Letterists, The Surrealists, improv theatre and the free-press - is best known for his films in the fantastique genre, producing the first French vampire film (Le Viol Du Vampire, 1968).
To celebrate the launch of (the) new Rollinade series, documenting some of the finest musical moments of the director's career as an avant-gardener, counter-culture vulture and Gallic vamp-tramp, Finders Keepers presents the entire unreleased soundtrack from the ultimate French vampire hippy flick 'Le Frisson Des Vampires' for the first time." "Imagine an early Gong/Ame Son/ Soft Machine session fuelled by a 1000 year old acid infused blood transfusion".
Act!’s soundtrack to a series of Snapchat filters by artist Karen Vanderborght; scrolling sequences of GIF-like melodic vignettes and thizzy timbral warble, very much in a prism of neo-ambient, handheld and desktop music from Eno and Hosono to James Ferraro or Visible Cloaks
“GREY MATTER AR is a series of Snapchat filters created by artist Karen Vanderborght that explores the poetic and existential potential of AR (Augmented Reality) and social media - suggesting selfies as self-reflective mirrors informed by the wisdom of our elders.
Beginning in 2018 – Karen filmed and interviewed 10 seniors who brought diverse and universal wisdom to some of life’s biggest questions. Andrew; an Ojibwe leader who lived through the residential school program, Alf; a church organist who publicly came out as gay at 80, Anne; the first black Senator in Canada – all the seniors provide unique and profound perspectives on life and aging. See their words, thoughts, and appearances transpose and intersect with your selfhood in an edifying engagement on themes of age, memory, oppression, regret, and resilience. These filters, soundtracked by ACT!, were released exclusively to Snapchat in 2019 and are available now.”
Ivkovic & Smagghe are bang on the nose with a personal love note to ’90s-‘00s electronica rounding up cheap bin gems from I-F, Cylob, The Back Dog, Funckarma, Seefeel and many more from a hazy, inspirational era
Depending your age and location in the late ‘90s, the terms electronica and IDM probably have shifting meaning to every listener. Vladimir Ivkovic and Ivan Smagghe both worked in record shops during this phase and their proximity to the good stuff is evident across ‘A Future Of Nostalgia’, with 12 tracks that exemplify the cross-section of shoegaze/ambient/acid/electro/breaks which emerged from the more unconventional artists of that pivotal era. Trust it’s not intended as any sort of comprehensive survey, but more a personal mixtape style selection, highlighting classic and rarities they look back upon most fondly, surely turning up more than a few obscurities that will have bypassed even the most ardent connoisseurs and owners of moth eaten Warp t-shirts.
It’s been amusing to see a wave of insatiable all-night (and day) house types digging this sound in recent years, so the timing of ‘A Future of Nostalgia’ could hardly be more apt for anyone diversifying their bonds beyond the usual grooves, just as the original tunes would have appealed to a motley cross-section of, as they put it “pop kids getting through to the dancefloor via Aphex Twin and nerdy house heads dissolving their four to the floor into the futuristic world of Warp compilations” back in the day.
If you’re looking for highlights, tip-of-tongue obscurities such as Zugzwang’s lilting beauty ‘Euphonic’ and Marcia Blaine School For Girls’ folksy whirligig are right up there for the lip-smacking daytime dancers, while Move D and co’s I.F. turn for Fax is tipped for couch-inclined gouch-outs along with Replicant’s kosmiche arp trip ‘Analiz’, Abfahrt Hinwil’s ‘Tech 7’ is prime MDMA trigger material, and Marco Passarani’s ‘Ixora’ flings us right back to far more innocent, wide-eyed times.
Heat-seeking first international issue of a sought-after session from South Africa, 1986 by the legendary Condry Ziqubu ov Harari fame
One of the biggest names in South African disco, Condry’s career had already seen him play with seminal acts since the ‘60s including The Flaming Souls, The Anchors and The Flaming Ghettoes, plus a stint with the biggest band in the country in the mid ’80s, Harari - leading him to be listed on the apartheid government’s national security watch list - by the time he penned ‘Gorilla Man.’
The title track sets the scene with brilliant intro of the type you might find on a modern-day YouTube video, before rolling out the stickiest sort of SA disco boogie groove, and ‘Confusion Ma Africa’ follows with a more harrowing scenario of wails, choppers, and gunfire that gives way to a more brooding sort of SA groove, sealed with Condry’s killer vocal. ‘Kati’ is more in bubblegum flavour of SA dance music, and the slick, proto-deep house/boogie of ’She’s Impossible’ is the one for us (“She say my mother is the ugliest thing in town”, looool).
Hypnotic proto-Raï from Algeria circa 1979-1989 by Drissi El-Abbassi, a pioneer of the style who bridged its early roots with the era of multi-track digital recording during the sound’s rapid evolution, making for an insane set of microtonal synths, psych guitars and drum machines for fans of Cheb Khaled, Omar Khorshid or Omar Souleyman.
‘Rai Sidi Bel Abbes’ plays deeply into one of the core influences of borderless Algerian/Egyptian label Nashazphone, highlighting a figure relatively unsung beyond the North African Arabic diaspora, introducing his unusually balmy, soft-voiced take on a genre that came to be known for its harder edges. Set to a mix of microtonal Roland synthesiser leads and swaying drum machines, El-Abbassi’s vocals emote with particular clarity and sensuality, carrying the jazz and psych rock-inspired early sound into a prototype of its current form across eight songs that chart his transition from working with principal group Les Freres Zergui, to selections from recordings by his own band’s influential releases during the mid-late ‘80s.
Drissi El-Abbassi was 17 in 1978, when he joined one of the main groups in Oran region, Les Aigles Noir, working as “stage animator” - a sort of hypeman, also responsible for relaying lyrics to the lead singer, at weddings and parties - and by 1979 he was a member of Les Freres Zergui, who pioneered the use of wah wah pedals and drums in the style of Rai; a new sound established by Messaoud Bellemou and his troupe, that incorporated trumpets and sax into a distinctive new Algerian genre. He cut his teeth playing two shows a night at the weekends with Les Freres Zergui, and his first solo tape came out that year with Zergui on guitar. Following Zergui’s passing in 1983, and the dissolution of the band, El-Abbassi set up his own group, embracing new technology and helping progress the style alongside legendary producer Meghni Mohamed for labels such as Editions Anwar, Editions Maghreb, and Editions Saint Crepain.
The eight songs on ‘Rai Sidi Bel Abbes’ cover a spectrum of El-Abassi’s work during 1979-1989, from the mouth watering microtonal psych licks and nagging machine grooves of ‘Zedti laadab aliya’ to the lissom guitars and accordions of ‘Khalouni neck’, showcasing his smoothly contoured vocal cadence in finest style on cuts that resemble melodic Lovers Rock vibes in ’Trig maaskar’ and intoxicatingly sensual highlights ‘Jat jat’, plus the passionate, psychedelic ache of ‘Manetzouedj manebni dar’, or ‘Djibek liyam’, which should appeal to fans of Omar Khorshid as much as Omar Souleyman.
Brutally anxious and sensitive noise techno tribute to underground comic artist Mark Beyer, shredding noise harmonics and ragged-out techno pulses for fans of Merzbow, Russell Haswell, Eva Justka, Astral Social Club...
Savage noise tekno psychosis from Valerie Smith, a hairy man from Paris who also makes music as Z.B. Aids, here paying dues to the bleak underground ‘80s comics of Mark Beyer for a fierce debut with vital Algerian/Egyptian label, Nashazphone
‘We're Depressed’ acknowledges a severely modern sense of anxiety in torrents of bilgy rhythmic noise that pumps in a vein of esoteric activity linking Pat Murano’s Decimus to Ewa Justka, to Masami Akita and Sun Ra. Burned out dance pulses rev into murky warehouse space, delivered with a hands-on style that feels as uncannily descriptive as Mark Beyer’s often wordless comic strips’ approach to a world of emotional bleakness and naive beauty.
The artist recorded all the material on 4-track in winter 2017/2018, following his nose and Beyer’s inspiration into mesmerisingly uncomfortable head spaces. The pulsating, obliterated mass of ‘Encastré ter’ sets the tone for a crushing session rounding from the harsh stress test sonics and surprising moments of lucidity in ‘Baroud d’honneur’, and the tonal degradation of ‘Vice de cercle’, saving up his druggiest sort of psychedelic rhythmic noise for the 12 minutes of ‘Fou de rage il mange sa mère’, and what sounds like Sun Ra doing flashcore in ‘Habitable.’
Abul Mogard makes an ever welcome return with a suite of starkly brooding shoegaze drone pieces mostly generated from an old Bechstein upright piano built in 1891. If yr into Cocteau Twins & Harold Budd's 'The Moon and the Melodies', Deathprod, Ryuichi Sakamoto or Jim O’Rourke, this one’s for you.
Inspired as much by the instrument’s rich harmonic textures as the Italo Calvino short story that lends the album’s track titles, ‘In Immobile Air’ collects five works written by Mogard during the ill-fated Spring of 2020. Thematically, the album dwells on Mogard’s typical concerns with memory and states of mind, and comes to feel like the musical rendering of a soul preoccupied by their mortality. As such, it can be read as a suite of instrumental hymns for a world coming to terms with its current condition and state of static unrest, evoking a stillness of air in its glacial movements while reflecting a gnawing sense of something impending. Yet, it’s simultaneously and quite profoundly soothing in its widescreen harmonic shifts along the knife-edge between bliss and dread.
The album arrives after a pause in Mogard’s prized oeuvre since 2019’s ‘And We Are Passing Through Silently’ with a humbly arresting presence that perfuses all of his best work and keeps his listeners rapt for more. The handful of pieces speak to both Mogard’s rich inner life, and the inner voice of his instrument. Using analog and digital equipment, he transforms the melancholic simplicity of his melodies into a quietly dreamlike space. The title track lays out this bare aesthetic with wilting, elegiac notes that vaporise into a timbral thizz, before its brooding course takes in the oblique beauty of ‘Clouds’ and tarry drones recalling recent Deathprod moves in ‘Black Dust.’ He finally emerges from the murk most poignantly with the clearer keys of ‘Sand’, only to shore up somewhere more contemplative and abstract, in the low key magisterial expanse of ‘On a Shattered Shell Beach.’
Tom Halstead and Joe Andrews finally inaugurate their long-in-the-making RR label with this deadly new Raime 12”, a precision-tooled exploration of negative space, sinogrime, found Youtube dialogue and colossal subs. The ghosts of grime, jungle, dub, and industrial musicks run deep with this one, here rendered with perhaps the most shockingly pristine, eye-catching production of their career to date.
Following on from ‘Am I Using Content Or Is Content Using Me?’, their 2nd EP of 2018 locates Raime in pursuit of challenging, non linear, and often beat-less structures ruptured by the shrapnel of online culture. The hardcore continuum still haunts their sound, but the concrète soundscapes they create make use of a spectra of techniques to camouflage its presence in any overt way. What remains is a skeletal render that implies delirious momentum. With every chime, sample, snare and sub honed to staggering effect, it becomes an exercise in hyperclarity and propulsion.
There’s no one really honing this sound in quite the same way, while there are parallels with weightless grime and the crystalline electronics of early Arca, Sophie, Rabit etc, Raime trigger a different kind of dynamic, one that fills acres of space with a more nervous, angsty energy directly connected to a lineage of UK club styles. It’s basically anything but background music and feels like a culmination, or perhaps a diversion from a path Raime have been following for almost a decade. If this new label allows them the space to untangle that carefully considered aesthetic, we’re f*cking there for it.
Black Ark In Dub is another piece of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s limitless musical puzzle.
"Featuring a bedrock of deep and heavy rhythms recorded at the Black Ark just before its demise, Black Ark In Dub features bass heavy spooky dub deconstructions of ‘Jah Love Is Sweeter’, ‘Ethiopia’, ‘Lion A De Winner’, ‘Open The Gate’, ‘Guideline,’ and ‘Mr Money Man’, along with an embellished dub version of Ras Keatus I ‘Dreadlocks I’ and the much sought after ‘Guidance’ a longime Jah Shaka killer exclusive to this set.
Originally released in 1981 the hard to find Black Ark In Dub remains a frozen sonic timepiece, captured at the beginning of the end of one era and poised at the start of another. This re-mastered release adds Lackley Castell ‘Jah Love Is Sweeter’ (vocal cut to the opening track ‘Jah’) plus Black Ark Vol. 2 the follow up album to the acclaimed Black Ark In Dub that unsurprisingly for an Upsetter release took a different path. More vocal oriented the album features extended dubwise cuts of Caol Cole’s ‘Ethiopia’, The Originals ‘Got To Be Irie’, Junior Byles ‘Mumbling & Grumbling and The Inamans ‘How Deep Is your Love’, along with an alternate take of the Silvertones roots classic ‘Give Thanks’ with flute overdub and a couple of solid do-overs from Third World man Bunny Rugs."
’Trippin’ Musik’ is Nurse With Wound’s most significant new dose in a while, collecting 3 epic discs of steeply psychedelic sonics that may well alter your breathing and heart rates and mental state. No tracklisting provided, play however tf you like.
Following from the reissue of NWW’s ’Soliloquy For Lilith’ boxset, ‘Trippin’ Musik’ relays the most recent findings from Steven Stapleton and co’s ongoing psychedelic research / surrealist reconnaissance / occult practice in electro-acoustic and avant-garde spheres. As the title suggests, it’s one for the journey, taking up whole sides of vinyl with intensely and intently focussed recordings that often take over 20 minutes to say their psychedelic piece in a cryptic language of abstraction.
Whether you take drugs to listen to this music or not, the effect is likely to live up to the title, but we’re pretty certain it will be stronger with than without. One disc features a whole side of what sounds like a folk song fractalised and slowed down by Carl Stone, while another also sees them strung out in desert guitar scenes sort of like a digitized interpolation of Earth jamming with Soisong, and the side of rapidly panned gasps is practically guaranteed to send your head into a tailspin given the right conditions, before it all shores up in a deeply lysergic scene of strolling, head-squashing, liminal/laminal electronic timbres that feel like classic kosmische slowed down and exhaled by an AI.
Trust the efficacy of ’Trippin’ Musik’ for psychoactive potential is right up there with the most potent sonic substance. Approach with spare time and a well stocked freezer for best results.
Black Ark Vol. 2 is another piece of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s limitless musical puzzle.
"It’s a bedrock of deep and heavy rhythms recorded around Jamaica =just before the demise of Perry’s famed Black Ark Studio. Black Ark Vol. 2 is the follow up album to the acclaimed Black Ark In Dub that unsurprisingly for an Upsetter release, took a different path.
More vocal oriented, the album features extended dubwise cuts of (former wife and co-producer) Carol Cole’s ‘Ethiopia’, The Originals ‘Got To Be Irie’, Junior Byles ‘Mumbling & Grumbling and The Inamans remake of the Bee Gees hit ‘How Deep Is your Love’, along with an alternate take of the Silvertones roots classic ‘Give Thanks’ with flute overdub and a couple of solid covers from Third World lead vocalist Bunny Rugs.
Originally released in 1981 the hard to find Black Ark Vol. 2 remains a frozen sonic timepiece, captured at the beginning of the end of one era and poised at the start of another."
Richard Youngs and co’s experimental disco band meet Norwegian improvisors Lemur in a lissom quartet of ecstatic, hopeful jams following their album for Night School.
‘Amor/Lemur’ began life in Glasgow at the start of 2020 when the two sets of musicians played together for the first time and jumped straight in the studio the following day. Guided by groove, and sparingly layered with Youngs’ distinctive vocal, plus Luke Fowler’s synthlines, the results are broadly split between a decidedly live-sounding first side, and a second side subject to studio-as-instrument treatments rendered by mixing/engineer Paul Savage, and tape manipulations by Jason Lescalleet.
The lolling expanse of ‘Unravel’ sees the massed until open out with a folksy disco earthiness comparable to Arthur Russell circa ‘Springfield’, and leading into the pastoral glade-like opening strains of ‘Stars Burst’, which soon looks into a quick and pounding disco-not-disco motion. However we’re more partial to the other songs, with the devilish detail of the dubwise mixing coming into play on the mesmerising lilt and splashy drive of ‘Fear’, and to slippery effect in the slower, serpentine hustle of ‘For You’ with its nagging, lagging drums.
After helping shaping (hyper)pop music for the past decade, A.G. Cook presents their 2nd solo album in the slipstream of ‘7G’, their 2020 debut LP, proper
In case you’ve been snoozing under a rock for the past half decade (we wouldn’t blame you tbh), we’ll remind you that A.G. Cook has gained renown as the game-accelerating producer for Charli XCX. He’s also produced for Jónsi (Sigur Ros) and Kim Petras, as well as some of PC Music’s hottest property including GFTOY over the interim, leading him to be hailed as a pioneer of an emergent “hyper pop” style in the process. However, if you’re “of an age”, it’s maybe best to place his work in context stretching from Scritti Politti’s shiny pop to Max Martin (Britney, N’Sync, Backstreet Boys et al), but with additional strong influence from boy racer style Makina and Eurodance, to boot.
His 2nd album ‘Apple’ is an ideally marmite and aspartame flavoured example of Cook’s style, firing 10 shots of hyper-pert contemporary composition, taking in whiny autotuned country pish on ‘Oh Yeag’ and avant-terrace-ready anthems such as ‘Xxoplex’, next to craftier highlights of gurning chamber-pop experiments in ‘Animals’ and the flighty ‘Stargon’, plus the needling niceness in ‘Airhead’, breezy airport reggae pop in ‘The Darkness’, and stadium-sized bedroom pop in ‘Lifeline’ starring Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek.
Let’s be honest, it’s kind of disposable shite and we’ll probably never listen to it ever again, but ‘Apple’ remains an intriguing symptom of recent decades’ hypermodern culture.
One of Prurient’s most captivating raids on the borderlands of power noise and symphonic doom rears its furious head for this epic gatefold edition on Hospital Productions, 10 years on from its original release on double tape and then as a single, shortened vinyl pressing for the legendary Load Records in 2007. This is the first time these tracks have been on vinyl in their full, original form.
Pleasure ground stands as a key part of Prurient’s most brutal quadrant alongside The History Of Aids (2002), Black Vase (2005) and Cocaine Death (2008), its immolating rage renders Fernow at an early crest of his energies, consolidating the hi-pitch intensity and bile of Whitehouse, with the majestic, meditative inspirations of Nordic Black Metal and a more personalised lust for synth tones and pulsating electronic undercurrents.
Its four long tracks are riven with the paradoxes that make Prurient’s music so compelling and practically a genre unto itself, meting out a sound in Earthworks / Buried in Secret that’s simultaneously nerve-gnawing yet bleakly tender, or weighing up caustic harshness with a melodic vulnerability in Apple Tree Victim that appeals far beyond the bombed-out no mans land of pure noise to intersect with the entrails of EBM in the raging but poised thunder of Military Road - one of his finest moments, bar none - and coldwave pop and fetishistic synth themes in Outdoorsman/Indestructible.
If you’re willing to bite down you will find a depth of bittersweet flavour submerged beneath the tidal waves of white noise, filled with nuance and vulnerability, slowly dragging you into the abyss.
Newly mastered by Rashad Becker and making its first appearance on vinyl, 'inside means inside me' finds Ulla in an existential daze, conjuring a solitary phantasy woven around recorded telephone conversations and familiar // hard to place field recordings that are mazy, beautiful and unsettling, with an effect that feels like a flotation tank session inside someone else’s head. Followers of Ulla’s work, Sam Kidel’s ‘Disruptive Muzak’, DJ Lostboi’s ambient hymnals or Vladislav Delay’s Chain Reaction pearls should spend some time inside this one.
Pieced together from airspun recordings made in Philadelphia during spring 2020, ’inside means inside me’ holds a subtle mirror to the new world’s psychic ambiance of existential, slowburn dread. Prizing the sensitively insightful, lower case manner that made Ulla’s 'Tumbling Towards A Wall’ album so memorable, here the sound is more poignant, the dissociative flux used to perhaps more therapeutic effect for an ephemeral reading of the times.
In the first half, Ulla makes a subtly heartbreaking use of fragmented phone calls and shimmering pads, but embedded in the music’s weft they take on an unsettling resolution that’s hard to place. On the flip, more entwined conversations snag in the breeze with location recordings and scudding hypnagogic washes on a signature low key movement that will keep you feeling swaddled but uneasy until the end.
The master of the tape loop returns with "Lamentations", yet another collection of eroded drone for low-light dreamers, captured and constructed from tape loops and studies from Basinski’s archives – dating back to 1979 – Lamentations is over forty years of mournful sighs meticulously crafted into songs. They are shaped by the inevitable passage of time and the indisputable collapsing of space – and their collective resonance is infinite and eternal.
Those familiar with Basinski's catalog won't find a lot new here - not a complaint - like the molasses-slow shots that made David Lynch's "Twin Peaks: The Return" so eerily affecting, Basinski's spine-chilling repetition drags u into a state of near-hypnosis, focusing on the tiny details as they crumble in and out of view.
"Lamentations" is the perfect title; we've been spinning this on repeat as the constant chatter of apocalyptic news bubbles thru social media and every newsreel across the planet. It's hard to tell exactly what Basinski is lamenting but it doesn't really matter - each track sounds like a fragment of our past slowly fading from view. As "The Disintegration Loops" mourned a New York City that had been lost, "Lamentations" feels like a memorial for something else huge and all-encompassing. Nostalgia's a hell of a drug.
1981 South African Soul-Funk-Jazz from the master tape vault of the As-Shams/The Sun label by the creator of the Black Disco albums.
"As underground jazz fermented in the social and political powder keg of early-80s South Africa, composer and bandleader Pops Mohamed retired the Black Disco moniker in favour of Movement in the City. Their second offering yielded one of the most treasured releases in the As-Shams catalogue by way of Black Teardrops (SRK 786150), a singular blend of down-tempo and atmospheric South African rare groove featuring Dollar Brand saxophonist Basil "Manenberg" Coetzee and bass wizard Sipho Gumede on stand-out cuts like "Lament" and "Camel Walk." This carefully restored Sharp-Flat reissue in an edition of 500 puts the album back in print for the first time in 40 years."
The final performance by legendary electronic music catalyst Mika Vainio depicts the Pan Sonic co-founder at his blistering best only months before he passed away in 2017
‘Last Live’ is demonstrative of the singular way in which Vainio harnessed elemental electronics to his will. Recorded at Cave12, Geneva, on 02.02.17, the set is presented here post-edited by Stephen O’Malley and Carl Michael Von Hausswolff, at EMS, Stockholm, to unleash a definitive blast of raw electronic forces that speak unflinchingly to the unpredictable nature of his improvised noise. Quite simply, Vainio is unmatched in his field for this sort of work, and this session stands as testament to the inspirational conviction and devastating effect of his music.
While it may not be immediately apparent on first listen, Vainio’s music has long drawn influence from myriad, intense forms of music. Be it techno, delta blues, dub, black metal, or sheer isolationist minimalism, it was all there, collapsed into a black hole of sound that could be as bloody-minded as it was heart-rendingly sensitive, often in the space of one cut. ‘Last Live’ portrays these unapologetically human characteristics in Vainio’s typically frank yet oblique manner, with each section candidly expressing polarised extremes of sound, from the first part’s transition between jack-licking drones to skin-tearing distortion, while the 3rd and 4th capture him at his most rhythmically disaffected, strongly recalling the almighty, juddering forces of his ‘Kilo’ (2013) album.
Pure Bugandan thunder from core Nyege Nyege Tapes unit, Nilotika Drum Ensemble, demonstrating the sort of drum circle tempest that has charged up all of the label’s revered parties since day dot
Revolving around seven drummers around leader Jajja Kalanda, Nilotika Drum Ensemble play devilishly complex rhythms owing to traditions from across the country, from the Iteso of eastern Uganda, to the Bugandan styles that encompass the capital city Kampala and their tribal south central regions. They’ve been at it for over a decade now, but the rhythms predate them by manifold more years, stemming from ancient central African traditions.
‘Ejokawulida’ rolls out a cascade of swingeing polymetric rhythms from the Iteso tradition that mesh and swarm in ravishingly complex patterns, somehow hingeing around a precise, internal logic of a quantum clock that can’t be read but only understood by dancing limbs. ‘Kekusimbe’ follows on a variant of Ugandan traditional music called Bakisiimba, where, to our ears, it feels like time is moving forwards and backwards simultaneously as the patterns switch on the spot between slow swagger and slow/fast palpitation with turbulent dynamic and discipline.
Blinders, both of them.
Ana Roxanne follows up the short-and-sweet "~~~" with this devastatingly beautiful full-length for Kranky, joining the dots between the label's past and present with heartbreaking sounds that remind us of Labradford, Windy & Carl, Grouper and beyond.
The album was written over the last five years, when the LA-based, Oakland-raised artist released that debut EP. While that record was initially dropped quietly, it was eventually picked up and reissued by Matthewdavid's Leaving Records last year, bringing her almost spiritual vocal-led sounds to a much wider audience.
Ana Roxanne grew up obsessed with her mom's collection of 80s and 90s R&B CDs, singing along to them obsessively while simultaneously training her voice more rigorously as part of a church choir. Years later, she was introduced to Hindustani classical music and her connection to her voice and its potential shifted drastically. When she returned to Oakland, she began to refine her craft studying at the prestigious Mills College, learning to work with synthesizers and becoming obsessed with the deep devotional music of Alice Coltrane. And all of these sounds - these connecting threads - are present on "Because of a Flower".
The album is remarkable in its sublime coherence. Roxanne blends styles, influences and cultural reference points so seamlessly it's almost like reading a diary or a book of poems. From the beginning of the album, which opens on a spoken word piece snipped from a harmony textbook, we're transported to a different world. As billowing drones drift peacefully into view, Roxanne's voice echoes above like kisses from a distant reality. This is deeply personal music, and Roxanne is unafraid to bear her soul and assuredly reflect her identity as an intersex person, imbuing her sounds with a vulnerable sincerity that's impossible to fake.
From there, we're ushered lovingly through songs that unify different elements (muted guitar phrases, fragile drum machine loops, disintegrating film snippets) beneath Ana Roxanne's spine-tingling vocals but retain a rare cohesion. Each track is markedly different, but the album hangs together so perfectly it's almost impossible to separate a single moment from the sublime whole.
It is many things and one complete entity simultaneously. Anyone who's been enthralled by Kranky's classic sounds, from Labradford to Windy & Carl to Grouper, absolutely needs to grab this immediately; utterly unmissable music and one of the best records of its ilk we've heard this year.
Albarika Store is home to many rare recordings, from more traditional folkloric and Sato styles, to the funk, blues and psych inspired workouts of the All Mighty Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou, as they referred to themselves.
"Many of the original records are sought after by DJs and collectors asprime examples of Afro-funk, Afro-Latin and Afropsych sounds. The next in the series of reissues by Acid Jazz presents a straight reproduction of the incredibly hard to find Poly-Rythmo ‘Vol. 4’ album, originally from 1978. For DJs and dancers this album has long been about the killer track ‘Aiha Ni Kpe We’, an incendiary Afrobeat recording which will activate any dancefloor anywhere. “Every time I listen to the Orchestre Poly Rythmo… Wow, I just discover something new in the music” - Gilles Peterson This is the first exhaustive trawl of the archive and will see the label presented in a way that ensures its historical importance is recognized. Trips to West Africa have secured original master tapes and the process of transferring is ongoing. Over the next few years a comprehensive reissue campaign is planned."
Belgian synth whizz Milan W follows Hiele’s lead on Universal Exports Antwerp, a new label set-up by Allon Kaye (Entr’acte), with a curiously emotive iteration of generative music which crosses paths with the most charming Stroom digs as much as Coil’s cod-classical works
“Generative music seems to imply a systems approach to music, or a system that once created can utilise randomness in a creative way. The benevolence of nature’s creativity belies this musical term, and can flip the word ‘generative’ to mean to involve constantly flowing creativity with purpose. In Europe there was a time in the Pagan Renaissance when architecture would mirror nature’s generative quality. Sculptures and columns were to imply animation or movement. That’s where Milan W.’s album comes through in 2020. His music involves the night shadows of Europe’s architecture
and its growth.
In Bloom personifies itself by showing Antwerp’s influential ‘Night Play’: a term that can relate to many European cities such as Bologna, Vienna, and so on and so on. The leftovers of Renaissance and gothic architecture are everywhere in Europe still; layers of ruins that can generate
the impression of simultaneous time periods. Tracks like Spa and Helium Queen reveal and revel in the power of shadow movement that is generated by the night.
In Milan W.’s past works, the poignant and simple creative play of dark wave and synth beat music was his vehicle for expression, but now on In Bloom he departs to a touching sidereal impressionism allied with Coil’s instrumental pieces on Horse Rotorvator — an album whose cover portrays the potential powers of the pavilion just as Milan W. is portraying the generative soul and alienation of Europe’s ‘Night Play’. Because of In Bloom we can come to believe that there is a secretive energy in alienation, a playfulness that is alight at Night.
[Text: Spencer Clark] “
Wonderfully daft exotic synth adventures from a surely winking and besequined Elko B, frothing his organs like a long-forgotten bandmate to Señor Coconut who was chucked out of the band for smoking too much angel dust and getting his ruffles mucky. ‘Bingo Shuffle’ is the one for us
“Here we add a new classic chapter to tradition. A tradition known as the many exotic sounds of Maestro Elko B. The multi instrumentalist member of bands like ‘The Horse Head Bed’, ‘The Groovecats Deluxe’, ‘Dino And The Chicks’ and many more has once again composed a new solo album for Ekster. This fine and tasty selection of musical pieces vibrate colourful echoes ranging from blossoming fountains over casino-esque gambling. Space-cowboys play hide and seek with childlike innocence in an adult world.
Many of the songs on “Realm of Rides & Romance” have found its origin in Blijweert’s work as a composer of soundtracks for theatre, dance performance and artistic installations. Cinematic reflections providing EXO “Paradise Moods” by this multitrack one man band. Recorded from 2017 to 2020, Elko has expressed finding inspiration in chance, the Sphinx, the casino, the Decap organ, colonialism, bats and frogs.”
Analogue synth wizard Martin Jenkins returns to Ghost Box with a glorious vision of retro-futurist electronics in ‘Hollow Earth’, the sequel to ‘Stasis’ 
At just under 1 hour long, ‘Hollow Earth’ weighs in as one of PCA’s most significant, broadest artist albums (as opposed to compilations). It finds the widely beloved project reeling inwards after the extrospective exploits of his ‘Stasis’ LP to reflect on themes of “subterranean exploration and submerged psychologies.”
Gassed on the spirits of Berlin skool synth improvisation and the new age chuff-on that informed early ‘90s house music, the album unfurls as a nightflight over undulating internal topography, roaming from signature slow techno wonders to weightless, vocodered waltz in ‘Descent’ and furtive, ghostly shapes in ‘Claustrophobe’, before raising the energy level with strident dance tracks such as ‘Mindshaft’ and ‘Core sample’. But it’s int he later quarters that we find some of the most precious material, such as the deliciously moody atmosphere and sylvan slink of ‘Dancing Shadows’, the mind-bending noise sculpture of ‘Quad Tape Substrate’, and his Carpenter-on-quaaludes emulation, ‘Buried Memories’.
Mad strong set of panoramic electronics somewhere between Autechre, Cairo’s 1127, Helm and Porter Ricks, deploying two side-long isolationist dubs that sprawl from washed out low-end spasms to fractured triplets that ricochet and escalate into a brutal, beautiful wall of sound. Pretty special this one!
Unglee Izi, whoever he or she may be, follows the single-minded but expansive course of a handful of solo albums since 2016 with a glacial confluence of booming subs and shivering hi-hats with slow-burning textural attrition and sublime pads that develop into a heaving mass of synth noise. That dense bleakness is held in elemental balance with moments of astonishing beauty, like peaking up above the mist to catch a glimpse of vast panoramic vistas at night.
’Sécurité du Premier Monde Tracteur Directrice de LASMA’ on the A side treks from reverberating bass hits and gamelan-like shudders up steep ravines, joined by rising cold winds and biospheric bleeps into blizzard-like dynamics, eventually revealing a peak of string pads and basses recalling the crest of ELpH’s ‘pHILM #1.’
The B-side deploys relentress trills and hi-hat rhythms descending a sheer granite face of synth pads that open out with a staggering sense of foreboding scale, only to calve away in avalanches of digital noise in the most visceral sense possible.
TIPPED to anyone looking for a frequency thrill.
Cyber-punkish, freestyling industro-house pressure from Iueke on his maiden mission for L.I.E.S.
Never one to fit in a box, the Parisian producer churns up a pair of free-handed jakbeat oddities in the wayward model of Jamal Moss or Noleian Reusse, but added dub flux, letting his drum machine and sequencer patterns rove on and off the beat in waves of viscous bass and rhythm.
They both take over 10 minutes to say their piece, with ‘Les super des cendres’ hustling a hovering strings and flapping drums into a labyrinthine, psychedelic club cut that gets progressively psychedelic, and ‘Des fureurs héroïques’ follows thru with tangled square bass and frayed, Afro-centric rhythm suss.
Completely head-warping Persian progressive dub nuggets from LA's Maral. Where else are you gonna find Lee "Scratch" Perry, Crass's Penny Rimbaud, oversaturated beats and Iranian classical and folk samples mashed into a fuzz of echo and tape hiss?
Few genres have been as rinsed, but Maral's "Push" arrives to remind us that innovation is still possible within dub's expansive parameters. The LA DJ and producer impressed with last year's bizarre and brilliant "Mahur Club", but truly centers her own dynamic universe on "Push", finding the psychedelic sweet spot between trip-hop, dub, club music and Iranian folk and classical styles.
From the opening blast of 'Kerman Wobble' - all echoing Iranian vocals and lo-bitrate beatbox hits that sound as if they're about to snap whatever tape spool they're cycling on - it's clear that Maral is wielding her fusion with intent. The fingerprints of dub are everywhere, as vocals get trapped in delay vortexes and rhythms are fired thru disintegrated FX chains. When Lee "Scratch" Perry shows up on 'Protect U', it doesn't feel like just another feature, it feels like a blessing from one generation to another.
You should know by now that we're into sonic world building here, and with a collection of samples, loops and FX, Maral has built a four-dimensional soundscape we never want to leave. It's the connecting thread between Tricky, Sote, DJ Spooky, Demdike Stare and DJ Rupture and like-minded contemporaries Thoom, 8ULENTINA and Lara Sarkissian. "Push" is an astonishing debut and one of the stand-out albums of the year, miss at your peril.
Casey MQ hits square between the eyes of How To Dress Well, PC Music and SOPHIE with their debut album on Toronto’s Halocline Trance. Shatterproof but tremulous vocals examine a sense of identity against a pop-tart set of self-productions by the artist, and beats from the artist known as Egyptrixx
““Watching old tapes of myself, I realize much of my childhood world was a multi-faceted obsession with boybands. Before even knowing about sexuality, I was seduced by their guise of desirability: a 5 men crew with subtle homoerotic tendencies singing about wanting ‘the girl’ and basking in the surrounding fandom. These images pervaded my childhood and plagued me with confused desire. I was enriched and enchanted by that world - I wanted every piece of it, I wanted to be a part of it. When I watch videos of my childhood, I can sense the purity of a child living his dream in real time. babycasey is playing alone: filming the band, introducing the band, performing as the band; he is every member, and the host, and the crowd. I can see babycasey engrossed by these figures. I wanted them and I wanted to be them, but hetero-normative expecations designate these as mutually exclusive possibilities. And so I attempted to give up my desire and become the desirable. I became a singer as a child because I loved it, and yet still, praise from the outside world came coated with normative, traditional values: ‘Sing like this and you will get all the girls.’ Success meant extinguishing a woman’s agency. It meant that desirability could only be validated through a hetero-normative gaze. Performance became my vehicle for success and my path towards an aspirationalist dream: be a star and be valued for beauty, sex and power. ‘Make some noise’ - be a force so powerful as to command young minds. It’s a deceit, and yet a child can be entranced. The melodies, the dancing, the images - pain and pleasure permeating within babycasey’s imagination."
Overmono play around with bittersweet tunings in a set of trancey-tempered glyders marking their return to XL
The supple techno roll and twirling lead of the title tune, and the brooding flight of ‘Aero’, roll out like Kieran Hebden getting smudged on K - a bit Four Ketty, if you allow - while ‘Clipper (Another 5 Years)’ swangs out with bustling garage-techno breaks and warped bassline tunings recalling Thom Yorke strong solo works, and ‘Verbosa’ tilts off with intricately woven ambient electro-techno patterns not a million miles away from Call Super’s recent album.
New reissue of Nuno Canavarro's cult, anomalous classic, Plux Quba (1988) - which was previously reissued as the first release on Jim O'Rourke's Moikai label in 1999 (and again in 2004) - prompting a new generation to fall for its surreal and sublime charms.
Making a virtue of squirrelly electronic skips and clustered tones as integral to the composition, Plux Quba effectively, and uncannily, foreshadowed the aesthetics of classic German electronic records by Oval and Mouse on Mars that would emerge in the years after its release. It's possible to explain away the connection by the fact that Christoph Heeman bought and played the record to a circle of friends in Cologne - including MoM's Jan St. Werner among them - and the rest, one could say, is history.
One of only two solo albums recorded by Portugal's Canavarro, it remains a deeply enchanting album - the sort of stuff you might expect to hear in a pink-hued æther dream or documented by Smithsonian Folkways on a mission to other dimensions. With hindsight we can now say that if you're into anything from Oval's Systemische to Actress' RIP or AFX's Computer Controlled Instruments, you're probably susceptible to this sorta magic, too.
Second in a series of three releases, a 45 Minute doublepack featuring some of the most engrossing House music you’ll likely hear this year or any other...
We’re still dazed from the 1st volume, but Will Long and DJ Sprinkles have already cued up their 2nd session, with Mint / Clay landing handsome on Terre Thaemlitz’ Comatonse.
The format and aesthetic remains the same as Vol.1, namely two raw pieces by Will Long, backed with extended overdubs by Sprinkles amounting to thee deepest house this side of Larry Heard’s nuclear love bunker, all subtly executed and held up as a comparison to the aesthetics and intentions (or, ironically, the excess and lack of) of that sound in relief of current, conceptually-detached takes on the original NYC deep house sound which Sprinkles was instrumental in shaping as a downtown DJ during that formative era.
Again, Will Long, who’s best known for his experimental ambient work as Celer, proves that it ain’t what you’ve got but what you know and can do with it that matters. Under-Currents places sparing samples of T.R.M. Howard - a mentor of Jesse Jackson - amidst a dream sequence of carbonated hi-hats and lingering chords urged by a plump bass drum, whilst Get In & Stay In nods to civil right activist and current Georgia congressional representative John Lewis in a lush haze of crepuscular chromatics and loping swing.
On the flipsides, DJ Sprinkles contributes another pair of incredible overdubs, lending Long’s minimal elements a richer, fleshlier feel, whether with additional breakbeats or nimbly lowering the bass and layering up spirited flutes and Rhodes. Suffice to say, they’re absolute mind-melters.
Quite crucially, the concept never gets in the way of the music, perfectly demonstrating the symbiotic nature of the music and politics in the way we imagine they intended; I mean it’s not like they want you to sit in a corner of the club pondering their ideas, but they’re definitely worth bearing in mind, especially for the DJs, dancers and promoters who act as gatekeepers for this music.
Mind-bending, phantastically dark and complex spectral music for 16 grand pianos, saxophone and electronics, from Romania’s Horatio Radelescu, originally issued on the crucial Edition RZ label in 1990 amidst their rather important early streak of releases. Includes bilingual (German/English) liner notes. RIYL Iancu Dumitrescu, Iannis Xenakis, Reinhold Friedl, Autechre
His solo debut LP upon issue in 1990, the two pieces on Clepsydra / Astray arguably amount to Radulescu’s definitive early works, following an impenetrably technical approach to achieve highly idiosyncratic and distinguished results which place him among the most important practitioners of the tricky-to-define spectral music - a form of computer-aided electro-acoustic composition that “foregrounds timbre as an important element of structure or language” and rooted in earlier ideas by Xanakis, Stockhausen, Varèse et al.
Like we say, by its nature, it’s as tricky to define the parameters of spectral music as it is to define the notion of timbre, but the composer himself has a very good stab at it in the sleeve notes, which are among the most literally technical and baffling we’ve encountered.
However, from what we can make out, the astonishing Clepsydra, written for 16 Sound Icons - or 16 grand pianos tilted on their side and played with bows - is conceptually based around the titular, ancient greek water clock mechanism, and explores a jaw-dropping, flowing spectra of glistening, garrotting and razor sharp strings creating a 22 minute experience akin to K-holing in a gyroscope around a hall of mirrors. Queasy as hell, but rewarding with it for those with a constitution for such stuff.
By contrast the dynamic of Astray, premiered in 1984 and written for identical duos of saxophonist playing six saxes (bass, baritone, tenor, alto, soprano, and sopranino) and another on Sound Icon (grand piano turned on its side), but with each duo playing at different speeds, explores another set of timbral integers with seemingly more space in the mix, to more inquisitive, coolly probing effect.
A remarkable slab by any standards. Recommended!
Hybrid uptempo club constructions from Montreal-based Slick Shoota. A gram of messy rave energy sprinkled into a wrap of footwork, trap and jungle sonics.
We might still be a few months from the function, but Slick Shoota has provided a soundtrack that has us gasping for a large speaker and baggie of whatever. The producer and DJ cut his teeth in Norway running the notorious Ball Em Up night and was inaugurated into the Teklife family back in 2015; now he's based in Montreal and this selection of sci-fi tinged bass exposition is a testament to his persistent globetrotting.
Influences here are easy to place, but are melted into a hybrid sound that's high-tempo but not strictly tied to one framework or another. The relentless thrust of footwork is omnipresent, but garnished with elements snatched from jungle and hardcore, bassline and trap. Standouts are the wobbly 'Delahaze', a cheeky bassline-cum-club stomper that sounds like it was engineered on the cursed space station in "Event Horizon" and 'MTL Hardcore', that accurately reflects the DIY energy of Slick Shoota's adopted home with 12-bit breaks, chopped vocals and rolling rave stabs. Oof.
Two years since 'Splazsh' topped a stack of annual polls, Actress presents his 3rd, and most coherent album, 'R.I.P' - his 2nd for Honest Jon's.
Despite being a vital cog in the machinery of underground UK dance and electronics since at least 2004 (when he released his 'No Tricks' debut), it's fair to say that it's only in the last few years he's made the shift from cult concern to acknowledged auteur of some repute. His work with Damon Albarn's DRC Music, beside a legendary DJ set at Sonar and killer remixes of Shangaan Electro, Panda Bear and Radiohead all certify the fact; so expectations are no doubt set high for 'R.I.P'.
Produced exclusively on hardware and inspired by Milton's classic poem 'Paradise Lost', he's arranged his most labyrinthine, esoteric release to date; a timeless set of 15 tracks traversing crystallized radiophonics and subterranean Techno with a psychedelic sideswipe that leaves us dazed and beguiled. By assimilating machine-like characteristics - his notions of "seeping yourself liquid into the machinery" and "I'm just an instrument, I'm completely dead when I write" - he's become an interpreter, a symbiotic conduit of semi-lucid visions into the interzone whose revelations contain the potential to manipulate your consciousness in magical ways compared to the prosaic intentions of so much bland and overwrought electronic music out there.
The newfound clarity and fluid narration of 'R.I.P.' makes this the most intriguing chapter in the Actress saga so far - an unmissable experience.
Recorded at INA GRM and Steamroom, covering a period of thirty years, the gap between the two visits Jim O'Rourke made to the GRM, featuring Eiko Ishibashi on piano, Atsuko Hatano on violin and viola and Eivind Lonning on trumpet .
"Shutting Down Here" is an exceptional recording, commencing GRM's brand new series of releases "Portraits GRM" and covering 30 years of activity from Jim O'Rourke. O'Rourke first visited the studio as a dedicated fan in the 1980s, returning three decades later with his own legend now set in stone. But the pre-supposed dialog between apprentice and master is difficult to excavate; the sounds presented on "Shutting Down Here" melt into each other: piano from Eiko Ishibashi, viola and violin from Atsuko Hatano, Eivind Lonning's trumpet and electronics and other elements from O'Rourke himself.
It's a graceful, poignant fusion of past, present and future, with fragmented pre-digital cyber-drones mutating into acoustic textures, swelling into jubilance or deep-diving into whirlpools of dissonant doom. There's a story here, somewhere, self-referential and non-linear, sipping the auteur's mysterious legacy and contributing criticality. O'Rourke has dedicated four albums to visionary director Nicolas Roeg (Drag City quadrilogy "Bad Timing", "Eureka", "Insignificance" and "The Visitor"), but "Shutting Down Here" might be closest stylistically to Roeg's idiosyncratic, deconstructed vision.
"Due to the wide dynamic levels, please adjust your volume accordingly."
One of the most influential, insular and multi-layered albums of the last three decades, created through endless hours of improvisation - involving almost fifty musicians and recorded in complete darkness, 'Laughing Stock' is an album that has attained almost mythical status since its release in 1991.
Following the commercial success of their singles "It's My Life", "Life's What You Make It” and album "The Colour of Spring”, Talk Talk retreated back into the shadows and produced two albums that defied categorisation. After the release of the first of these (Spirit of Eden) and a proolonged court case, the band parted ways with EMI and signed to iconic jazz imprint Verve who financed the long and complicated recording of Laughing Stock. Assembling almost 50 guest musicians, Mark Hollis is said to have demanded they record in almost complete darkness, improvising for hours to produce individual parts without hearing any backing tracks or surrounding material. Most of these recordings were discarded, but from what remained Hollis and producer Tim Friese-Greene pieced together a record that is essentially one long sequence of overdubs separated out into six long tracks.
Laughing Stock was to be their last album - on its release the NME described it as “horrible” and many listeners were left perplexed by its insular, unfathomable dynamics. But in the time since, Laughing Stock's legacy seems to have grown in stature with every year that has gone by. You can easily see the stylistic and conceptual markers left by Talk Talk in the way that bands like Radiohead went on to explore more open-ended, diverse sound sources and stylistic shifts - feeling able to experiment without fear of alienating a large fanbase as if it were the most normal thing in the world for a band with considerable chart success to do.
"Laughing Stock" is not only one of the most absorbing albums of the modern era, it’s also a masterclass of production and construction, a relic, perhaps, of an era when artists could completely disconnect from the pressures of their surroundings and dive deep into the wormhole...
Flaming Tunes was recorded by Gareth Williams (ex of This Heat) and his childhood friend Mary Currie and released on cassette in 1985. A hodgepodge of lo-fi pop songs, experiments and location recordings that sound like they were never intended for public consumption, it’s by chance or design one of the most moving, personal, memorable DIY/experimental pop albums of the 20th century, you better believe it.
As Mary Currie describes it: "Flaming Tunes was a collaboration that came out of a friendship. Gareth and I would meet at 'Danger de Mort' Gareth's house in Balham usually during the daytime when my son was at nursery. Sometimes we'd be joined by others. A room full of instruments and things that could make noise. We made some of our own too and used available objects for percussion. Later on we had more sophisticated equipment - full size keyboard and 12 track recording facility. Sometimes things happened and sometimes we just indulged ourselves in making a bit of a racket. I can't begin to describe how Gareth put things together and this was often done well into the early hours of the morning. I'd go away and come back and what had started out as a fragment had become another flaming tune."
After a bootlegged version came out in the late 90's, Life & Living Records - an independent label operated by Williams' close circle of friends (Williams himself passed away in 2001 at the age of 48) - went back to the original master tapes and painstakingly restored and remastered the audio. As for the music itself - oh gosh, where to start? On one level - it's a hodgepodge of lo-fi pop songs, experiments and location recordings that sound like they were never intended for public consumption. And yet - these tunes just don't let go of you once you've spent any amount of time with them. Take "Breast Stroke" for instance - just the most unforgettable, life-affirming three and a half minutes you'll ever spend with a piece of music. The fact that the percussion was made on a casio keyboard and what sounds like a peculiarly British variant of a human beatbox, well, it's just the icing on the cake.
Really, words just do no justice.
This lot have released 5 x 12”s anonymously over the last 3 years via Hardwax and there’s no info about them anywhere, pretty sneaky.
They now land on Mana, a label so esoteric it has a flowchart on its website showing you how to get from Luc Ferrari to Nico Jaar in one short leap.
There are 4 long tracks, one per side, each clocking in at 15 mins and each taking time to expand into being. There is persistent water drumming, the a side is all exotic melodica, nature sounds and bells with Flanger-esque bass humps plus some water drumming, side 2 has a very burial mix sounding bassline sat low in the mix to give the water drumming more presence, side C is more reflective and serene tropical vibes, with side D giving it some classic dub pressure and location recordings which we think we once heard Bill Kouligas play on the radio a few years back and which is dope as fuck.
So yeah, it sounds a bit like a k-hole version of Burnt Friedman & Atom Heart’s early Flanger gear crossed with Burial Mix and that incredible water drumming vid dust to digital posted a while back on there tweeter.