Splashy junglist breaks and subaquatic bass flex from Melbourne’s Pugilist, making his debut mark on Whities Blue series after turns for Artikal Music Uk and ZamZam Sounds
‘Descendent’ is the big one, churning up loose jungliest breaks and bong-bubbling FX in a way recalling recent cuts by his Aussie counterpart Air Max ’97, whereas ‘Undulate’ sounds like an Applepips release from 10 years ago, and the drier half stepper ‘Encrypted’ works out in a spooky minimal grey area akin to Felix K.
After a string of seductively deep and rugged D&B, deep techno and experimental outings, Forest Drive West contributes two soporific rollers to Whities’ Blue series
The furtive ’Other’ feels out 8 minutes of agitated drums and pensive atmospheres hingeing around a full sunken subbass ballast in a calm before storm style, and ’time’ holds that tension tight but woozy with an hypnotic sense of minimalist restraint comparable to Peverelist or Batu.
Reissue of mid ‘90s trance and ambient downstrokes by Vancouver’s Pilgrims of The Mind
Tessellating neatly with Echovolt’s dreamy dancefloor aesthetic, ‘Subtropiques: The Early Excursions (1993-1994)’ wraps up a trio of gems originally issued on a 12” and compilation CD.
’Subtropics’, the title track of their 1994 debut, is a full wingspan flight from Canada via Dutch techno to the promised lands of Goa beaches, while ‘Digital 4A Groove’ from the same 12” comes down gently into padded, puttering 100bpm ambient zones, and comp cut ‘Chase’ leans in deep with slow 808 bass and bubbling, pastoral melodies led with a fragrant coal intoning “it’s a way of life.”
Hypnotic remixes of Hebrew-sung dream-disco, Mediterranean house and trance from Tolouse Low Trax, Benedikt Frey, Die Orangen, and Borusiade
A ‘floor-ready addition to Tel Aviv’s Malka Tuti, the EP revolves two remixes of Xen & Yovav, with Tolouse Low Trax turning ’Shavit’ into a signature, slow sprung and spacious burner making great use of the languorous vox, and Die Orangen’s muggy slow house spin on ‘Hayom Etmol’, whilst Plazmot’s ‘Orot Levanim’ is taken in contrasting directions, first on a swanging, grungy electro flex by Frey, and a strapping EBM uptilt by Borusiade.
Epically narrative-driven IDM/electronica from Canada’s Antwood on his 3rd LP for Planet Mu
“Tristan has always used conceptual frameworks to facilitate the writing process and ‘Delphi’ is no exception. This time Tristan worked with his girlfriend Olivia Dreisinger to develop a fictional character: the young lovelorn Delphi. She is represented throughout by a recurring melody, with the album developing the story around her. Deeper than this however, ‘Delphi’ represents the hurdles faced by modern lovers, and those felt personally by Tristan, as the album encompasses a wide range of his emotions. The character ’Delphi’ finds solace in escaping to a place, her namesake, the ancient Greek city. She gets lost in her fantasy, realising it is not as she had idealised.
“Olivia and I started making the album cover as soon as I knew what direction ‘Delphi’ was headed in. I took objects that had significance to me at the time of production and physically recreated them as “Delphi world” objects, so that the album’s narrative and each track are represented in the cover photo. If you flip the album over, there is a computer rendering by Paulin Rogues of the two landmarks in the ancient city of Delphi - not quite ancient or modern Delphi, somehow real life but also fantastical.”
Delphi is an album where the real and the fantastic combine, where functional club music meets evocative piano miniatures. “I ended up working on ‘Delphi’ for over a year, where it developed and grew in parallel to my own life. It became story-like, and I embraced the story-like quality of it.” Perhaps the story of ‘Delphi’ is the story of our own lives.”
Ultra-classique disco sophistication, heavily mined for samples and compiled for the good of the dance in 2019
“Strut present the first definitive retrospective of an icon of 1970s and ‘80s soul, jazz and disco, Patrice Rushen, covering her peerless 6-year career with Elektra / Asylum from 1978 to 1984.
Patrice Rushen joined the Elektra / Asylum roster in 1978 as they launched a pop / jazz division alongside visionaries like Donald Byrd and Grover Washington, Jr. “The idea was to create music that was good for commercial radio / R&B,” Patrice explains. “We were all making sophisticated dance music, essentially.”
Early classics like ‘Music Of The Earth’ and ‘Let’s Sing A Song Of Love’ were among Patrice’s first as a lead vocalist before her ‘Pizzazz’ album landed in 1979, featuring the unique disco of ‘Haven’t You Heard’ and one of her greatest ballads, ‘Settle For My Love’. Slick dancefloor anthem ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ and the ‘Posh’ album in 1980 led to her landmark album ‘Straight From The Heart’ two years later.
Receiving little support from her label, Patrice and her production team personally funded a promo campaign for the first single from it, ‘Forget Me Nots’. It went on to peak at no. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the album was later Grammy-nominated, while the track became a timeless anthem and popular sample.
Patrice’s final album for Elektra, ‘Now’ kept the bar high with sparse, synth-led songs including ‘Feel So Real’ and ‘To Each His Own’. It concluded a golden era creatively for Patrice which remains revered by soul and disco aficionados the world over.
‘Remind Me’ features all of Patrice Rushen’s chart singles, 12” versions and popular sample sources on one album for the first time.”
Hyperdub continue to blaze a trail around global ‘floors with a deadly Gqom EP from South Africa’s DJ Lag and OKZharp
Working with the more experienced studio hands of OKZharp, Gqom king DJ Lag’s signature style is buffed-up to optimal pressure while losing none of its raw, direct dancefloor traction.
In ‘Now What’ there’s a detectable extra space in-the-mix, and ’Steam One’ makes great use of sweet marimbas and sharp, pointillist drums, but it’s really all about the other two, namely the fiercely held stare-down pressure of ‘Nyusa’ with its viciously buzzing, distorted lead and speaker-worrying subs, and the pensile, unyielding dread of ‘Sambe’ which sounds like a super clenched, early Roska riddim.
Tight R&G and hard skanking goodness from Terror Danjah accomplice D.O.K. for the excellent Oil Gang crew.
The vacuum-sealed ‘6’ hits a classic seam of Timbaland or The Neptune-styled freaky R&G with squirrelly motifs and sexy voice tessellated in-the-pocket and so-stiff-its-funky-af. ‘Look Uno’ follows with a hard slamming skank recalling Oil Gang’s earlier Spooky killer ‘Coolie Joyride.’
Penelope Trappes and Stephen Hindman’s duo commit the dark, lusting synth-pop of ’Autonomy’ as the debut LP on their 4GN3S label
Written and recorded by the Aussie/American pair in London, ‘Autonomy’ leads on from their string of sides for The Vinyl Factory and Optimo Music with a late night special for contemporary wave riders, elegantly building their energies thru a mix of stark torch songs nodding to HTRK and Suicide, as well as dry-iced ‘80s disco swagger, cranky drum machines treks comparable to Hypnobeat, with crafty dashes of futurism in the serpentine roll of ‘We Are The Prey’ sharing space with the sanguine classicism of ‘New Politik.’
Special Request exerts hardcore Yorkshire G-Force while wearing his Y-fronts for the raving joyride of ‘Vortex’ with Houndstooth
Paul Woodford’s 4th album under the Special Request guise is also his loosest and nuttiest, monkeying around all aspects of his cumulative rave knowledge to draw zigzagging lines between electro, Detroit techno, breakbeat rave, jungle-tekno, and rushing hardcore trance in his own style.
On a handful of highlights he appears to crack out the same software FX employed on his Bobby Peru classic ‘Erotic Discourse’, namely in the mazy, AFXian electro chicanery of ’Sp4nn3r3d’, the Tango-flavoured hardcore nosedrip of ‘Vortex 150’, and his ruthless fast couplet of ‘Fett’ and ‘A Gargantuan Melting Face Floating Effortlessly Through The Stratosphere’, while the best of the rest draws on a very ‘90s sort of electronic dance music soul in the likes of his Luke Slater-esque techno buzz ‘Memory Lake’, and the rude rave rolige of ‘Fahrenheit 451’.
Experimental, avant-garde percussionist Jon Mueller presents some of his most impressive work in ‘Canto’, a steeply possessed invocation of reverberant doom and mesmerising vocal processes comparable with music by everyone from John Duncan and La Monte Young to Harry Bertoia and Lussuria
Last heard in these quarters on the ‘Tongues’ album, which we compared with a “life-affirming ayahuasca trip,” Jon Mueller returns with another deeply haunting suite in ‘Canto’, alchemising gongs, voice and percussion into diaphanous but filigree-detailed drone expanses that bookend a remarkable piece of sustained, extended vocal technique influenced by his studies with La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela, where, in Mueller’s own words: “The driving energy of drums is replaced by deep contemplation and wonder, question, confusion, darkness and ultimately, calm.”
Each titled after a Sufi text, the three tracks are intended to represent parts that create a whole, “just as a canto is a part of a longer poem.” In ‘Oil’ a lonely bell and sallow vocal mantra light the entrance to an exponentially cavernous space awash with shivering chimes and rumbling waves of metallic gong clangour - think John Duncan meditating in the middle of a ‘Sonambient’ performance by Harry Bertoia - while the layered vocal intonations of ‘Wick’ succinctly bend the mind’s eye with ancient magick, and in the final tract of ‘Flame’ he returns to an almost static space echoing with distant pulses in a way that reminds of Lussuria at his most occult and unsettling.
The label that gave us Space Afrika’s excellent 'Somewhere Decent To Live’ album last year returns with this quietly shocking solo debut by Berlin-based Russian, Alexandra Zakharenko aka Perila, who creates a sensual and highly unusual sonic tapestry where ASMR bleeds into sonic erotica in nuanced and intoxicating ambient dimensions. Highly recommended if yr into Félicia Atkinson, Huerco S, Leslie Winer...
Born in St. Petersburg and based in Berlin, Alexandra Zakharenko aka Perila cut her teeth as in-house designer and programmer at the recently defunct Berlin Community Radio (BCR) before co-founding the Russian online station radio.syg.ma, as well as WET (Weird Erotic Tension), an online community exploring ideas of sonic sexuality in podcasts mixing spoken word, poetry, ASMR and field recordings. ‘Irer Dent’ stems directly from two WET podcasts, revolving around readings of an erotic novel and a collection of poems by Nat Marcus and Inger Wold Lund, each set to absorbingly hypnagogic backdrops, and both accompanied by quietly seductive, original instrumental works.
In five parts the album traces a filigree line between reality and fantasy in a more literal way than the label’s previously all-instrumental releases. On ‘Nat’s Poems’ the voice of Nat Marcus regales a poetic account of Berlin nightlife woven with classic house lyrics from Rosie Gaines and Mr. White over 12 minutes of tumescent subbass and phosphorescing pads. Where sensuality is implied on that piece, it’s quietly explicit in the LP’s other vocal piece ‘Sweat’, which revolves around Inger Wold Lund recounting a dream about suppressed sexual desire in a hushed and unaffected manner amid a shimmering forcefield of spectral energy and meridian birdsong. Both pieces are complemented by extra subtle originals, including the barely-there, pink/purple hues of ‘Mouth Full of Tahini’ and the warm endorphin flush of ‘Message From Another Table.’
Slipping very sweetly into sferic’s liminal ambient space alongside Space Afrika, Echium and Jake Muir, ‘Irer Dent’ lends a distinct new shade of modern, adult, atmospheric emotion to the exploratory, Manchester-based label, answering a need for sincerity and intimacy in overwhelming times.
Much needed reissue of Zé Eduardo Nazario’s killer 1982 Brazilian jazz fusion gem, crammed with amazing rhythms and properly taking flight into psychedelia on the stunning B-side. Perfect for warm weather and altered states of mind...
“Zé Eduardo is a virtuoso drummer and percussionist with a prolific career as a musician and teacher. He was introduced to music in his youth and started playing professionally at the age of thirteen. In the late 60’s he was a regular at the famous Totem night club in São Paulo, where he performed alongside the pianist Tenório Jr. and other exceptional instrumentalists.
Poema da Gota Serena was Zé Eduardo’s first solo project and it was financed by the legendary Lira Instrumental, a collaboration between the ground-breaking venue, label and publisher for the São Paulo avant-garde, Lira Paulistana, along with the always interesting Continental Records, home to such luminaries as Tom Zé. The album was offered as a package deal simultaneously with the production of “ Flor de Plástico Incinerada ”, ensuring 2 studio sessions at JV studios in October 1982.
Each side of the album explores different duets which, with its suite formated tracks, give the album the feel of a cohesive whole. The first half of the A side, “ Energia dos Três Mundos” , is shared with the improvised saxophone of Cacau. Nazário delves into free jazz rhythms and plays his drums with a rolling and tumbling swing, using the kit in full, demonstrating the power of Brazilian jazz fusion. The second half of the suite takes us into a more tranquil mode. “ Só Prá Ouvir”, demonstrates Zé’s mastery on the glockenspiel, and Indian percussion instruments, such as the tabla and mridangam. Cacau, on his side, switches his saxophone for more delicate dancing flute driven passages, equal parts northeastern rhythms and deep Amazonian indigenous influences. The B side with “ Prá Pensar / Prá Sentir e Prá Contar” , contrasts heavily with the A side’s more organic and natural feel. In Prá Pensar Lelo Nazários’s synth clusters and electronic blasts strangely interact with the exploring, wandering percussion. This track leads into the sublime “ Prá Sentir e Prá Contar” where South Indian inspired vocals, performed by Zé Eduardo, accompany the graceful synth chords and fluttering percussion. The result is a hypnotic, otherworldly feel to the music that is infectious and takes the listener on an extraordinary journey.”
Dreamy, layered ambient interzones from Huerco S' West Mineral Ltd on the debut album by Pontiac Streator & Ulla Straus; a blissed out and hopeful double album that comes highly recommended if yr into anything from Jon Hassel to Burnt Friedman, Hype WIlliams, Newworldaquarium/154 and Madteo.
’11 Items’ is the textured first album by Pontiac Streator and Ulla Straus for Huerco S and his pals at West Mineral Ltd. The album sees the duo expand upon the hazy mindset of last year’s debut EP across a flux of ambient interzones where they transmute fleeting, everyday feels into a bouquet of ephemeral and organically unresolved scenes.
In an ambiguous style that has become key to West Mineral Ltd.’s aesthetic, the music is neither gloomy nor ecstatic but full of transitory sensations somewhere in between those poles. Each part feels pulled in multiple directions at once, resulting in a sublime schism between jazzy hustle and heavy-lidded electronics in ‘Item 1’, and a subtle underlying tension between layered dimensions of humid, dusky acoustics and congealed electronics on ‘Item 3’, while ‘Item 5’ dices with urges to dance/lean back, and ‘Item 10’ crystallises this idea of alchemic multivalency with an unmissable mix of fine grained mentasms firing like synaptic surges in iridescent grey matter.
The expanded double album format also allows a greater variegation of their overgrown, verdant electronics and free rhythms in a gently perplexing style of ambient inception. Each of the ’11 Items’ feels like an exploration of dreams within dreams in a way that beautifully parses the poetic from the prosaic and cannily reflects a certain hyperaware yet hypnagogic state of modern ambient music. It evokes that feeling of friends in a room communicating non-verbally, or that babbling, forgot-what-I-was-talking-about flow between relaxed but frayed and buzzing minds.
Creepy as f**k dark ambient and slithering rhythms from London’s Roberto Crippa on cult Italian industrial label; Second Sleep. Continuing the pursuit of a charred, abstract electronic muse found on his LPs for Portals Editions and We Can Elude Control, Crippa’s 3rd release masterfully manipulates listeners into a hypnagogic, primordial state of mind thru a process of patiently purposeful dematerialisation.
Sounding like a mulched Mika Vainio work or Shapednoise on quaaludes, Crippa’s ‘Ascent’ either appears to enact a sisyphean struggle or even simply give up at the start, and proceed to circle whatever it was intending to ascend. The results remain low lying and even face down in the murk, melting out into rivulets of gravelly rhythm and muddy texture. But there’s a dark romance in this collapse of the senses, relishing a sensuousness that perhaps only comes after synapses are bombed out from excessive drink and drugz, or whatever takes you there, where thoughts, like Crippa’s music, flow effluent and iridescent, bubbling up strangely pleasant feelings from the dank to intensify your end times wallow.
Amsterdam stalwart Darling and his wee daughter Lexi will charm your socks off with their debut for Juju & Jordash’s Off Minor
Apparently Lexi, who looks no older than 6 y.o. (maybe 6 and half), played all the synthesisers on the record, which means she steals the hat from NON’s remarkable ’SAFA: New York City’ set as one of the youngest artists ever to cross these pages, if not the youngest. Anyway, she gets all the sticky gold stars for her input, colouring her synths inside and out of her dad’s stripped down drum tracks and acid lines with a confidence beyond her years.
From ambient songs about her maw in ‘Mama is Een Poes’, thru the fluffy spirals and bubble-blowing synth spumes of ‘Television Plant’, to the cutesy cartoonish dream sequence twinkles of ‘Crocodiles Are Birds’ and ‘Land on Island Land’, we can assure you that it doesn’t sound like the work of a primary skool kid. But then again we haven’t heard many recordings by primary skoolers, and maybe there’s a wave of Fisher Price and Yamaha-wielding pre-teens about to usurp all the old, white blokes? Let’s just hope so.
Crushingly dark and ominous avant-classical nocturnal scapes from Tehran-based Siavash Amini, marking his debut with Lawrence English’s Room 40. Amini’s work in ‘Serus’ is often scowlingly serious, but not without its moments of spacious, harmonic relief that bring the album’s underlying themes about sleep and dreams to life in suitably heavy-lidded, edge of nightmare fashion. One to be filed in your New Iranian Electronics folder, and another strong release in what's proving to be a vintage year for Room 40.
““Every night is two nights, according to Maurice Blanchot. The night the body spends in sleep is not the same as the night the dreamer spends in dreams. The sleeping body may lie under the stars, and the dreamer may dream of the stars—even of a journey to the stars—but the night of the dream is a night without stars.”
From Siavash: The Idea of this album, when I first started drafting it, was to continue what struck me as very interesting yet simple idea; night. I became interested in different definitions of what night is, our perception of it and what night means physically to us as well as symbolically. I came across the idea of ‘other night’ described by Maurice Blanchot, during my research. It started me recognising night as something we experience as ‘the night of sleep’; it is night that we resist in sleep, by way of dreaming. Things became more interesting for me during many nights of not sleeping and intoxication, and an eventual nervous breakdown. This experience, culminating in me spending three days in ICU, gave me pause to think about Blanchot’s words.
Slipping in and out of consciousness my mind, which had already experienced a blurring of what one might call the ‘other night’ and the night itself, by being in half sleep most of the time. I felt myself far way from all my surroundings and at the same time being very attentive to some details in the objects around me. It was as if my body and mind where in an in-between state. I can only describe this as being distant or more precisely being in the dark. Objects and people showed themselves out of proportion and mostly dim. A feeling to describe this sensation, the word for which I only came across later, is ‘Serus’. There was a sense of repetition and familiarity in some feelings and emotions that I had towards some objects like sensing I knew them but not exactly from where or when. It was as if my body was resisting sleep and my sleepy mind was resisting being awake, only to dream of another type of the world that I could be awake in.”
Rarely has an album owed so much to production... Low return with their most daring, experimental release in years, co-produced by James Blake's man at the controls B.J. Burton, at times verging on a layered, pulsing electronic sound you'd associate with the likes of Andy Stott. Doused in distortion, throbbing electronics, submerged vocals, side-chain effects - this could easily have been a nauseating exercise in modernisation; but instead the strength of the songwriting shines through for one of Low's best = a standout full-length for 2018.
"In 2018, Low will turn twenty-five. Since 1993, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker—the married couple whose heaven-and-earth harmonies have always held the band’s center—have pioneered a subgenre, shrugged off its strictures, recorded a Christmas classic, become a magnetic onstage force, and emerged as one of music’s most steadfast and vital vehicles for pulling light from our darkest emotional recesses. But Low will not commemorate its first quarter-century with mawkish nostalgia or safe runs through songbook favorites. Instead, in faithfully defiant fashion, Low will release its most brazen, abrasive (and, paradoxically, most empowering) album ever: Double Negative, an unflinching eleven-song quest through snarling static and shattering beats that somehow culminates in the brightest pop song of Low’s career.
To make Double Negative, Low reenlisted B.J. Burton, the quietly energetic and adventurous producer who has made records with James Blake, Sylvan Esso, and The Tallest Man on Earth in recent years while working as one of the go-to figures at Bon Iver’s home studio, April Base. Burton recorded Low’s last album, 2015’s Ones and Sixes, at April Base, adding might to many of its beats and squelch and frisson beneath many of its melodies.
This time, though, Sparhawk, Parker, and bassist Steve Garrington knew they wanted to go further with Burton and his palette of sounds, to see what someone who is, as Sparhawk puts it, “a hip-hop guy” could truly do to their music. Rather than obsessively write and rehearse at home in Duluth, Minnesota, they would often head southeast to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, arriving with sketches and ideas that they would work on for days with Burton. Band and producer became collaborative cowriters, building the pieces up and breaking them down and building them again until their purpose and force felt clear. As the world outside seemed to slide deeper into instability, Low repeated this process for the better part of two years, pondering the results during tours and breaks at home. They considered not only how the fragments fit together but also how, in the United States of 2018, they functioned as statements and salves.
Double Negative is, indeed, a record perfectly and painfully suited for our time. Loud and contentious and commanding, Low fightsfor the world by fighting against it. It begins in pure bedlam, with a beat built from a loop of ruptured noise waging war against the paired voices of Sparhawk and Parker the moment they begin to sing during the massive “Quorum.” For forty minutes, they indulge the battle, trying to be heard amid the noisy grain, sometimes winning and sometimes being tossed toward oblivion. In spite of the mounting noise, Sparhawk and Parker still sing. Or maybe they sing because of the noise. For Low, has there ever really been a difference?"
‘The Vanishing’ is a steeply beguiling album of electro-acoustic chicanery where endlessly inventive avant-garde icon Ambarchi meets longtime collaborator Martin Ng and Sydney’s new music performers, Ensemble Offspring
In a mesmerising push and pull of acoustic and electronic sound, Ambarchi & Ng reprise their duo behind a trio of LPs c. 2000-2006, but newly augmented by new music specialists Ensemble Offspring, who instrumentally translate the pair’s guitar and turntable sketches into a disorienting play of extreme low end frequencies and hypertense, high register tightrope stunts. If you were keen for Ambarchi & O’Malley’s work on Alvin Lucier’s ‘Criss Cross’, the ‘Woods’ piece is a total knockout.
“On the opening piece, the aptly named ‘Simulacrum I’, bowed violin harmonics mimic feedback tones & dispersed vibraphone attacks recall the glitching bell textures prominent in Ambarchi & Ng’s earlier work for electric guitar & turntable, which were themselves often uncannily reminiscent of acoustic sounds such as Tibetan prayer bowls. On ‘Woods’, two vibrating bass drums create an ominous landscape of rumbling tones that call to mind Ambarchi’s past work with abstract doom lords Sunn O))).
Channelling giants of 20th century music such as Giacinto Scelsi & Luigi Nono, as well as contemporary composers like Klaus Lang, the restrained palette of strings & percussion present throughout the record creates a distinct sound world, yet each of the five pieces possesses its own compositional identity. On ‘Recife’ (arranged by Australian composer James Rushford), Ambarchi & Ng’s guitar & turntables join Ensemble Offspring for one of the record’s highlights, a delicate tapestry woven from subtly overlapping sonic events.
Finally, the closing side-long title piece acts as the perfect summation of the record as a whole: beginning in silence, it builds into a densely buzzing texture of closely tuned harmonics before gently returning to the silence from which it came. Intended as the next step in a continuing project in which Ambarchi & Ng will go on to use these two LPs directly as part of their live performances, The Vanishing is a unique document of two artists reimagining the potential of their previous work, made possible through collaboration with a group of world-class musicians.”
Gogeous, while-away ambient improv thought bubbles expressed in the northern wilds of Canada. A must check for fans of Jonny Nash, Suzanne Kraft and Gigi Masin works...
“Like many Canadians, Joseph Shabason and Ben Gunning like to untangle themselves from urbanity and disappear up north a few times a year. Unlike other cottage-goers, Ben and Joseph don’t while away the ur-time on jet-skis and lounge on docks reading pulpy mysteries. Instead, they bring a car full of synths, drum machines, saxophones, guitars, samplers, effects, and recording equipment to jam the days away in a cabin-fever inducing haze of wood smoke, cedar musk, hot wires and jazz sweat.
Muldrew, recorded on the northern Ontario lake by that name, is the culmination of several years of this collaborative tradition. Resisting their penchant for composition and arrangement, the duo embarked on this project with only an open framework that encouraged restraint. The result is a sparse and improvisational album, hung on enough structure for each song to evoke a distinct, albeit ambiguous mood. Space is paramount and even the most digital elements breathe with the resonance of the room and mingle with creaking floors. The resulting album is steeped in the placid stillness and northern ambience of a lake at dawn, and the emotive expanse of a forest at dusk. Imagine an ECM cottage-series, or Jon Hassell, Hiroshi Yoshimura, and John Martyn scoring a Bela Tarr film set in rural Canada. This is the future-proof music of metropolitan polyglot minds invigorated by nature’s mute refusal to follow a click-track.”
Thom Yorke yields his most enjoyable solo record yet with ‘Anima’, shapeshifting back into avant-pop mode after last year’s OST for the remake of cult horror ‘Suspiria’.
Bridging experimental pop songwriting and electronic dance music dimensions, Yorke and his trusty studio partner Nigel Godrich yet again sneak classy contemporary rhythms and ideas into the diet of traditional songwriting. The nine songs of ‘Anima’ also find Yorke porous to a modern Afro-Latinate phase shift, embracing slinky permutations of dembow tresillo patterns and needle-point electroid 2-step in an ever finer balance of melodic conventions and the inexorable thrills of electronic music. Most crucially, acknowledging those rhythmic accents that come from beyond mostly white, western rhythmic hegemony.
That slinky drive and flow gives the album an effortless appeal, carrying it from the pendulous, schizoid vocals of ‘Traffic’, thru the writhing ‘Twist’, before catching Yorke at his most endearingly scuffed, bluesy and soulful with ‘I Am A Very Rude Person.’ The halfway point is marked by a real future classic in his catalogue with ‘Not The News’ laying a fine seam of Autechrian reggaeton and phasing riffs for some of his patented, dramatic flourishes, while the in-the-pocket shuffle of ‘Impossible Knots’ highlights a canny link with Scritti Politti’s early ‘80s balance of post-punk and new pop, before ‘Runwayaway’ feels pulled between psychy Tuareg desert blues, krautrock, lilting eldritch folk and AFXian acid in a way that perhaps only Yorke could nail quite like this.
'Dawn Chorus', perhaps the album's centrepoint, places the vocal high and up front in the mix for an open encounter with the sublime. There's nothing really to it - like all the best songs.
The Mannequin boss and The Hacker gel forces in a brittle and sticky mix of synth-pop, EBM, and coldwave themes delivered under their own names
’Présence Du Futur’ is a solid example of when projects amount to beyond the sum of their parts. Packing decades of experience between them, Amato & Adriani apply razor sharp editing to muscular drum machine rhythms, steely synths and cranky FX in four parts actually worthy of comparison with the templates they draw from, as opposed to yet another formulaic EBM colouring book.
The restless arps, fanged hi-hats and roving bass of ’Falling Inside’ triggers a kilelr session that takes in tendon-tightening EBM/electro torque in ‘The Language of Numbers’, before Cabaret Voltaire’s Stephen Mallinder sets off the cantering ‘Liar’ with a darkroom ready vocal, and ‘Power & Persuasion’ heats the blood with slow burning, lurking bassline yoked to death stare jack.
Valerio Tricoli and Anthony Pateras’ Astral Colonels debut on vinyl with a masterful study in tension between tape and solo piano for cult Italian “industrial” label; Second Sleep.Both adept improvisors and collaborators, Revox tape maestro Tricoli brings his subtly unpredictable, ferric rifts and sleights to Pateras’ longheld focus on hallucinatory electro-acoustic phenomena, creating a seat-edge anticipation for the listener from only their fractured nudges and harmonic shifts.
The two sides contrast in their approach and appeal. On side A’s ‘The Difference of Similarity’ the music feels haunted and fractal, as though caught in a k-hole or like sleepwalking a creaky stately home, with keys wilting in the manner of The Caretaker’s music, and blown around long, wide, moonlit corridors before this playfulness contracts into colder, frozen stasis and pinched microtonal frequencies. By contrast the B-side’s ‘The Similarity of Difference’ is much brighter, allowing the keys to ring out in stumbling flights and flurries diffracted in mid-air by Tricoli’s spindly fingers on the Revox, putting his Jérôme Noetinger-styled chops to nearly imperceptible yet psychedelic use.
We look forward to slipping into other dimensions with this LP playing the background.
Kooky blends of chanson and crimped electronic grooves by underground french legend Ramuntcho Matta
“The poet, producer and visual artist Ramuntcho Matta is coming back to music with 96. 96 – as 96 hours were needed to record this new album. Ramuntcho points out that behind this dazzling recording, years of experience enabled him to achieve the mix of spontaneity and intimacy of the album.
He was the man behind the success of Eli Medeiros’ Toi mon toit. As a matter of fact, Ramuntcho Matta likes to put artists in the spotlight, as he has done with Brion Gysin, Don Cherry and many others. However this time he decided to put himself in the spotlight, with this record which sounds very 90s – with a wink to Bill Laswell for the bass – but still very contemporary. The album unveils a dark atmosphere, as if Bashung had lost himself in a Lynch film.
Alongside the album release, Ramuntcho Matta and Akuphone have decided to make the entire discography of the artist available on Bandcamp. Each Friday since the beginning of this year, an album has been put online and made available for listening and downloading.”
Séance Centre source an astounding bounty from Guadaloupe’s Gwakasonné, spanning balmy slow songs and gripping, uptempo drums nodding to Afro-Cuban, Pre-Colonnial and indigenous traditions under its colourful Caribbean wingspan
““Stop here!” exclaimed Robert Oumaou as we passed a mango tree on the side of the road just outside of Point-a-Pitre, the balmy capital of Guadeloupe. He filled a plastic bag with ripe fruit, and we set off on our journey across the small Caribbean island in search of musicians he hadn’t seen in years. On the way, we shared stories in broken French and English, stopping at truck stops to eat delicious fried fish. Robert took me to his hometown, and placed a mango and a flower on the grave of his teacher and mentor, a local poet. The seeds of Vwayajé (Traveller) were sewn on this trip, but shortly after returning home, I heard that Robert was ill, and he sadly passed away in 2018. This compilation was originally intended as a way to share Robert’s brazen work with a wider global audience, but it now also serves to immortalize his indomitable spirit.
Gwakasonné is the ecstatic articulation of Robert Oumaou’s artistic and political vision, a unified expression of his interests in American jazz, pre-colonial rhythms, Guadeloupian independence, and Créole poetics. Over the course of three albums, all released in the 80s, Robert piloted a revolving cast of musicians, a venerable who’s-who of Point-a-Pitre avant-jazz pioneers, to deftly intone his creative communal concepts. The songs on Vwayajé are compiled from these three releases, Gwakasonné, Temwen, and Moun, along with an electronic mantra taken from his 2007 solo album Sang Comment Taire. Viewed from our current artistic and cultural landscape, Robert’s work is exceptionally enduring, grounded in its declarations of freedom and foundational use of the Ka (drum) and voice, and prescient in its borderless explorations of protest folk, electronics, ambient atmosphere, music from the African diaspora, and spiritual jazz. The long-form hive-mind expression of the group has parallels with similar explorations by The Grateful Dead, electric Miles, Pharaoh Sanders, and even the Boredoms, but these are only oblique references for a truly peerless sound. Like other conceptual children of Gérard Lockel, the group was part of a progressive movement of like-minded musicians, such as Serge Fabriano, Dao, Erick Cosaque, and Gaoulé Mizik, who embraced Lockel’s modernist ideals, fusing Gwo Ka drumming and tuning systems with contemporary jazz and vanguard recording technologies. Robert’s ecstatic phrasings, embrace of electronic instruments, and daring lyrics set the group apart as the beatific expression of a sagacious soul.”
Mysterious Sydney singer songwriter Justine recorded one album in ’79, which was never officially released. Left Ear have chosen two tracks for a 45 RPM 12” single, which they feel best highlights Justine’s unique vocal talents and songwriting ability. Here the crafty songstress wields melancholic soul and a funky Jazz inspired number with personal and reflective lyrics, both with an intimate and honest approach.
"Elusive Sydney songstress Justine (Bradley) almost entirely wrote, produced and arranged her sole LP in ’79, an album that was funded by a radio station as the beneficiary for emerging talent. The music was created specifically for radio play without any intention of being manufactured. Luckily however, a friend with ties to a pressing plant known aptly as ‘Midnite Flite’, managed to sneak into said plant one evening and press up a small number for the enjoyment of family, friends & those involved.
Left Ear have decided to release what they consider to be the two most significant tracks from this release onto a 12” single, now for the enjoyment of all. The A-Side will feature the haunting ‘Wordless Songs’, a melancholic soulful number which according to Justine explores the “capacity to comprehend a partner’s internal quest for authenticity and connection”. The B-side ‘Mama Didn’t Tell Ya’ is more uplifting in both tempo and arrangements comprising an extended outro, while the lyrics remain just as personal and reflective.”
Unmissable debut from Cairene artist 1127, getting right under the skin with abstract electronics comparable to Autechre, Lag Os, or Heith releases - TIPPED!!!!
Approaching ‘Tqaseem Mqamat El Haram’ we’re strongly reminded of the idea that “writing about music is like dancing to architecture.” In that sense, the music is sending us breakdancing in Cairo’s dusty flux of multi-period buildings and making us do the splits on a pyramid.
It’s just incredibly riddled with richly characterful sounds that are shredded into mind-bending geometries, from convulsive knots of noise to calmer passages inhabited with Arabic voices and powerfully rhythm-driven bits spitting strange vocaloid artefacts. To our mucky ears It all evokes the feel of a Neil Blomkamp flick shot in Cairo 2050, where stifling heat and pollution means everyone wears breathing apparatus and hover cars sputter about its dusty sprawl.
The endless wellspring of electronic Afro-funk and boogie spurts Nkono Teles’ cutting edge ‘80s Nigerian ‘Party Beats’ from the legendary Tabansi label. OG copies are known to trade for $700 on the 2nd hand market and it ain’t hard to hear why - this is street funk gold!
“Few creative geniuses epitomize the Tabansi label’s broad-stroke approach to music than the late Nkono Teles. Cameroun-born and Nigeria-bred, this innovative multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer and engineer was one of a select handful of backroom boffins that West African artists and producers would habitually call upon when they wanted a ‘modernist’ Afro-pop sound that would appeal across borders.
A pioneer of electronics in African music, Nkono Teles was equally at home with synthesisers, drum machines, guitar effects and computer programming as traditional instruments. One of West Africa’s most prolific producers during the 1980s, Teles is credited with more than 150 productions, spanning the work of more than 100 artists and groups.
Of Nkono Teles’ three solo-artist LPs, ‘Party Beats’ is, by far, the most innovative and characteristic. He plays all instruments, and was apparently always the first to admit that singing wasn’t his forte; hence the utilization of an eleven-piece choral section! The raw electronic effects used here have always been sought-after by breaks and hip hop producers as well as DJs, with original copies of Party Beats regularly changing hands for anything up to $700.”
Marking the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Brian Eno’s classic ambient excursion with his brother Roger, and studio whizkind, Daniel Lanois, re-enters the vinyl orbit for the first time since 1983, bolstered with booster pack of previously unreleased material.
Conceived as a soundtrack to Al Reinert’s 1983 documentary, ‘For All Mankind’, the wide-eyed wonder of ‘Apollo’ has taken on a life of its own as one of Eno's best loved and most influential ambient trips, especially for the divine choral of ‘An Ending (Ascent)’ which also made its way onto movie and doco soundtracks (28 Days Later, Traffic, Trainspotting) and was sampled by Burial in ‘Forgive’. Out of print for too long, the original LP is now remastered for this edition and extended with a new re-do of the soundtrack by Eno and his original co-pilots
Frankly worth it for ‘An Ending (Ascent)’ alone, ‘Apollo’ is also flush with key ambient themes that would strongly influence its antecedents, and it’s not hard to hear how its dusty, sanguine country themes would influence The Orb or the likes of Calexico and a thousand other starry-eyed wanderers in the ‘90s. Eno would go on to state that he was influenced by country music as a child, received from an Armed Forces radio station in Woodbridge, was used to “give the impression of weightless space”, and while it’s maybe not the first thing it connotes for us, Eno’s use here has made floating country & western guitars a key part of the classic ambient music makeup.
So to the bonus disc, a “reimagining” of the original Apollo soundtrack that sees the Eno’s and Lanois reprise that gently awe-struck feeling of watching Apollo 11 land on the moon. It starts off with the super slowed weightless smudge of ‘The End of a Thin Line’ along with the elegant deep space waltzer ‘At The Foot of a Ladder’, and future classic material in the tremulous beauty of ‘Under The Moon.’
The American trumpeter and Norwegian percussionist run thru works by James Weldon Johnson and Thelonious Monk, and a tribute to Don Cherry.
"Recorded in Oslo’s small and intimate St. Edmund’s Church the 13th of December 2017, this LP features compositions by James Weldon Johnson, Thelonious Monk and Joe McPhee plus two by McPhee and Nilssen-Love."
Tindersticks’ Stuart A. Staples supplies his superb 5th work for a Claire Denis film with the OST for ‘High Life’, including a Tindersticks song sung by the film’s lead, Robert Pattinson
For Claire’s first english language film, Staples reflects its noirish pathos and sci-fi thriller themes with a suitably dark, sexy and suggestive suite of “void” drone vignettes created in long studio experiments with his Tindersticks bandmates plus Dave Okomu (The Invisible) and Seb Rochford (Sons of Kemet) a.o. on array of tactile, acoustic and electric instruments, accompanied by vocals from the BBC singers and a string orchestra.
Together they effectively worked “in the darkness”, with players only given minimal or even no direction in the recording process, in order to convey the sensation of moving into the absolute unknown of a black hole. Together they arrive at an open-ended conclusion that’s simultaneously pensive and languorous, static and transitory, alternating the effect of making listeners feel like a speck of fluff in cold expanse of space, pregnant with dread, with shocks of visceral violence in the deathly metal rupture of ‘Rape of Boyse’ and the tremulous beauty of ‘Willow’, a plush downstroke of Tindersticks genius steeped in early Scott Walker vibes.
Umberto deserts the Italo disco themes to explore rustic, dusky, cinematic panoramas in his first side for Thrill Jockey. Features pedal steel guitar played by Joe Winslowand cello and bowed banjo by Aaron Martin
“Umberto is an artist whose work is distinctly cinematic. Composer Matt Hill’s performances and delicate compositions taken together have the cumulative ability to surprise. Hill, whose Umberto moniker is an homage to director Umberto Lenzi, is an experienced and active film composer, most recently scoring the film All That We Destroy. In addition to film and commercial work, Umberto has released a number of lauded solo recordings. Hill’s compositions stand apart as beautiful as they are impenetrable, with pulsing synths that hint at 80s slasher films while pensive string passages evoke emotions without being sentimental. On Umberto’s Thrill Jockey debut Helpless Spectator, his haunting music is otherworldly and affecting alike, leaving the listener with an unsettling and profound air of mystery.
Umberto’s early recordings harken back to classic synth-driven sci-fi and horror soundtracks. Helpless Spectator uses synthesizers in an entirely different manner. Cold, looming monolith tones are now warm, softer pads that envelope the listener while guitar, cello, banjo and pedal steel add movement and light. Still, Hill unsettles with his arrangements and melodic phrasing. As a composer, Hill has moved to more extensive use of live instrumentation. In addition to playing guitar, bass, and piano himself, Hill worked with fellow composer and recording artist Aaron Martin who played cello and bowed banjo on the majority of the album. “Idaho Joe” Winslow’s pedal steel guitar adds depth and subtle countermelodies to “The Higher Room” and “Leafless Tree.””
With incredible tactility and nuance Nicola Ratti (Bellows) evokes odd, bittersweet sensations and stimulates the proprioceptive senses in his definitive new solo opus for Students of Decay.
As usual Ratti gets the most out of minimal input on ‘Continental’, but where his previous string of LPs up to and including 2017’s ‘The Collection’ were defined by their austerity, his music now feels more expansive, sensuous, and subtly illuminated. It was conceived of by Ratti as a “series of big rooms or places to get lost in, full of small details and characterized each by a single flavor or perfume” and we can vouch the fact that he’s beautifully achieved his aim within.
The album’s eight tracks tease the listener’s sense of anticipation and orientation with an uncanny, calmly psychedelic potential perhaps equivalent to the effect of microdosing or jetlag. Entering the gates of ‘Palace’ he comes off like K. Leimer playing in the official residence of Rashad Becker’s Notional Species, and continues to work inside that imagined aesthetic between glassy geometries also recalling the quietest side of Sote in ’nº1’, while ’nº2’ suggests an electro-acoustic simulation of Japanese gaga or Korean classical court styles, and ’nº7’ comms off like Bellows at the beach. However the Lp’s trippiest highlight is reserved to ‘Cuarto’, where a quualude-loaded Dale Cornish drawls over non-Newtonian bass texture and tart harmonic fumes, before ’nº8’ melts and tootles like a semi-organic Pierre Bastien creation left to shrivel and curdle in the sun.
It’s the most satisfying stuff, a real eight course taster platter for the ear.
Julia Holter’s divine debut album proper appears here in an expanded 2LP revision of the OG Leaving Records edition includes an extra ‘Introduction’ and ‘Interlude’ parts and more headroom for its enchanted sonics. One of the strangest, most mermorable and quietly influential albums of the twenty tens.
In 2011 the album appeared like a dream that was difficult to shake. Traversing a haunting mixture of avant-garde scenery into sublime passages of plaintive songcraft and steepled organ refrains in only the first track, it knocked us for six and still does, becoming one of those records we don’t listen to everyday, but one which resurfaces like a rare, perennial bloom. Now at the opposite end of the decade in which it was released, we can safely say it’s among the strongest records of this strange decade.
Reentering its oneiric corridors feels like a flashback, especially in the exquisitely Lynchian dimensions of ‘The Falling Age’ where she channels Julee Cruise at her most ghostly, while the Laurie Anderson-esque pop of ‘Goddess Eyes’ still casts its spell with surreal effect, and the dream-pop fireworks of ‘Celebration’ has lost none of its capacity to freeze the spine with an ecstasy comparable to Alice Coltrane, and which, with hindsight, now recalls Teresa Winter’s intimate psychedelia.
The additional pieces are subtle cherries on top, with the scene setting fog horns and vintage Hollywood-like SFX of the introduction, and her etheric interlude of drifting baroque organ beautifully helping to expand the LP’s theatrical framework, based on the Ancient Greek play ‘Hippolytus’ (aka the ‘Tragedy’ of the title).
A classic of our age.
Ruddy minimal house and electro from Cong Burn’s Chekov and Howes, joined by newcomers Doppelate and Camin for the series 5th group excursion
Up top, Leeeds-based Chekov runs the bobbling subbassline and kinky cowbell winks of ‘Math (Squared Mix)’ with a camp wiggle, while London’s Doppelate plays it drier, tucked in-the-pocket with the bumpty groove and wibbly old skool scratches of ‘Rreal.’
Down town, Russia’s Camin recalls a late ‘90s / early ‘00s electro suss in the tight, pendulous pressure of ‘Duct’ (bringing fond memories of Manchester’s Sequence events), and label CEO Howes teases that electro style somewhere more frayed and blissed out in ‘B.E.D.’
Straight-up, double deep club pressure from Pépe Bradock, following up his superb recent LP with a return to the centre of the ‘floor
Built for long, immersive sessions and DJs who like to lather it up in the mix, both sides see the French producer really stretch his legs. Up top, he enacts deeply dubbed out house voodoo with the powerful, M5-like subbass ballast of ‘Peeped Booths’ supporting a swirling display of range-finding chords, windswept claps and psychedelic electronic glitches that could easily go on twice the length and we’d never get bored.
On the B-side, ‘Klezmorim Telepathique’ sees him tweak the filter envelopes on a strident sort of disco groove layered up with acid klezmer licks in a way reminding reminding of those Acid Arab grooves and vintage Turkish psychedelia.
Salty, playful jaxx from bassbin prancer Mickey Pearce, chasing up his ‘One Hundred Smiles’ LP
While it’s probably not a prerequisite for joining the Accidental family, Pearce does sound a lot like Matthew Herbert with the loopy drums of ‘Smelling Incense’, albeit more chaotic and nutty, whereas ‘Dig Me Up’ is more atypical of his style, lurking on the edge of UKF and garage and lit with dippy lead, and ‘Reflux Stance’ catches him swaggering with tresillo trills and chirruping avian synths in the EP’s slinky, rude highlight. Aces.
Legowelt dons his legendary Gladio robes for a back-to-basics Chi-house and electro session on L.I.E.S.
Last spotted in 2007 wandering near Hadrian’s Wall, Gladio eventually found his way back to his crypt in The Hague where he’s been been busy on these bangers, supplying strong and direct stripes of club gear between the sleepwalking techno slugger ‘Of Hyperborea’, heroic NRG disco themes on ‘Olympus Panspermia’, and class electro shifters in the pacy push of ‘De Astra Planeti’ and a scuzzy punch called ‘Fist Of Gladio.’
Lifted is a stellar new project sparked off by Matthew Papich (Co La) and Future Times overlord Max D for PAN.
Realised and rendered together with Jordan GCZ and Gigi Masin, among others, their debut LP '1' is an elegant exercise in breaking free of the grid, consolidating a spectrum of congruent ideas and idiosyncratic styles with a beautifully communal spirit putting a contemporary spin on the freedoms of '70s jazz fusion. From initial studio sessions recorded by Matthew and Max in their respective Baltimore and Washington DC studios, they incorporate synth and piano overdubs dialled in from Amsterdam and Venice, hashing out an inter-continental web of hyaline electronics, jazz ballistics and alien dance patterns that surprises and delights with every turn.
Stepping into vividly new territory with the fractious post-footwork spurts of '3D', their kaleidoscopic world twists between the sheer computer jazz fusions of 'Intoo' and visionary 4.1 World house in 'Total Care Zero', glyding on the digitally creamed quintessence of 'Bell Slide' to the intra-dimensional ambience of Gigi Masin's keys and Papich's 3D FX in 'Silver', and adroit Afro-futurist jazz in 'Mint' starring 1432R co-founder Dawit Eklund on bass + synth. On a lysergic level of production detail, '1' is up there with Pete Kember's work on the recent Panda Bear album, but the dextrous grooves and intoxicating jazz vibes place it over the horizon, just beyond Move D's classic Conjoint project or Detroit's Urban Tribe classics.
That's our summer listening sorted, then!
Rawest, illest hip hop/dub mixtape from '98 by Wordsound capo, Skiz Fernando Jr a.k.a. Spectre, feat contributions from sometime Madteo collaborator Sensational, Kevin ‘The Bug’ Martin’s Techno Animal alias, Bill Laswell’s Dubadelic project, Godflesh’s Ted Parsons and more.
This is a fine history lesson for many yungers, and a red-eyed flashback for many heads who came thru in the '90s. Originally released on cassette in edition of only 100 copies, it documents late night sessions recorded in New York during the formative era of abstract and experimental beats - a natural progression from more gangsta and hardcore styles to someplace more esoteric, smoked-out, and featuring contributions by non-rhyming MC Sensational, the earliest iterations of Kevin Martin (The Bug) as Techno Animal, and The Jungle Brothers. I
n the parlance of the day; it's a trip, boy. Most of the tracks were produced or "reduced & jinxed" by Spectre, including a number of on-the-fly basslines and drum loops lending it a really frayed and lop-sided quality that producers have tried to recreate since, and definitely sounds leagues away from the last half decade or so of trap trills. But it's also weird for the inclusion of pitched-down, spoken word intros for each cut, framing it closer to a radio show than typical mixtape. Ultimately it's a heady shot-to-the-dome from late '90s New York, which sounds like a different world altogether from our 2015 perch. RIYL vintage Mo'wax, DJ Screw, Company Flow!
Rare-as-chuff Belgian modal jazz diamond from 1969, reissued for the first time by Finders Keepers. OG 2nd hand copies trade for the price of a month’s rent and bills. You know what to do
“The lesser-spotted jazz atoms that formed the fusion of Futurist Flanders! It might sound like an ambitious claim but having been a firm fixture at the top of many European jazz collector want lists over the past decade Finders Keepers wouldn’t be alone when proclaiming this extremely rare, lesser-known two-track 7″ from 1969 as one of the best jazz 45s of all time! Alongside Polish pianist Krzysztof Komeda’s soundtrack 7″ for the film Cul-De-Sac and ranking closely with François Tusques’ commemorative Le Corbusier exhibition 45 (featuring Don Cherry) this format-specific release known only as Brussels Art Quintet might well sit at the top of the podium while striking similarities and arguably combining the best stylistic traits of both aforementioned contenders.
This is all speculative and clearly a matter of individual opinion but it’s not often that one should find a recording from this era, comprising such high production qualities, keen compositional values and robust craftsmanship spread across two equally spellbinding individual tracks, all of which awards this record justified hyperbole albeit subject to a 50 year delay. It is safe to say that this unique release is “rare” on many levels. Like all privately pressed art projects this 45 comprises some serious outsider art trappings. However, on closer inspection it also stands as a pivotal record in the micro-genre of Belgian jazz, pin-pointing an early axis for some vital progressive jazz players who went on to become sturdy pillars of the central European happening.
Essentially as a five-piece, the short-lived Brussels Art Quintet neatly combines members of both the mythical Babs Robert Quartet (early exponents of Belgian spiritual jazz) and key players from the leading progressive jazz/rock/funk unit known as COS (formally Classroom) who would stand as close affiliates of the likes of Marc Moulin, Kiosk and Placebo through the 1970s. Reproduced in close collaboration with COS leader Daniel Schell, who, under the early guise of Daniel “Max” Schellekens, authored both tracks that make up this facsimile 45 single, this one-off single includes the only known output by the Brussels Art Quintet thus marking the essential in-road to instantly start and complete your entire BAQ collection not without reliving the early germination of the froward-thinking jazz fusion that came to shape Belgium’s truly unique movement.”
Lee Gamble knocks out two 'floor-ruling edits and exclusives on a surprise PAN white label drop.
Up top: his bucking, aerobic edit of 'Steelhouse Chaconne', reworked in honour of Brumland as 'B23 Steelhouse' with lush drops, screwed vox and slamming, modulated kicks at 130mph-thru-eccie fog momentum - at once pelting but floating.
Down below: 'Motor System' is extracted from the 'Koch' album and extended for your 'floor's satisfaction with tricksy, on-the-fly drum machine fills and filter f**kery.
Both sound much louder and dynamic than the album cuts - primed for the DJs, dancers and big soundsystems.
‘Another Life’ is Amnesia Scanner’s hyperreal début album for PAN. The Finnish production/design duo’s most significant release locates their EDM/pop voice proper after a string of prism-pushing singles, EPs and mixtapes issued since 2015 by Young Turks and Gum Artefacts
Bending EDM pop with warped sound designer sensibilities and a sci-fi visionary’s lust for post-human possibility, Amnesia Scanner’s music has come to define its era with unflinching form. They embrace the most compelling, even grotesque aspects of hyper-commercial dance-pop with an accelerationist alacrity that’s also shared by the boundary-realigning styles of fellow artists such as Arca and Sophie, who, like AS, started out in the sound designer’s playground of mid-’00s electro and tech-house minimalism, but have evolved into something mutant, transcending and redefining conceptions of humanity in their music.
Informed by a singular perspective on technology and the way it mediates contemporary experience, ’Another Life’ is ostensibly binary in the extreme - you’ll probably either love or hate the upfront garishness and unapologetically cybernetic nature of their music. But on another level, the character of AS’ synthesised voice, known as Oracle, and their warped pop conventions, both inherently play with ultra contemporary ideas of ambiguity in a way that’s symptomatic of a socio-political climate dominated by notions of gender fluidity and fake news. In effect ‘Another Life’ can be heard as an attempt to locate the analog nature of human sensation within computerised systems.
The results are effectively an exaggerated, syncretic synthesis of current Caribbean dance-pop, nu-metal, and trashy electro-punk with all elements turned up to 11 on their virtual amp, presenting a shockingly surface level reflection of contemporary culture that’s revealed a line in the sands of time between listeners of differing generations, and how they read meaning into their music. In other words, AS are the ‘ugly’ sneakers of modern music.
One of Pan’s earliest and most memorable LPs, this collage by Joseph Hammer is the most beautiful headfuck of a record, inviting listeners to tune in and drop out into multiple dimensions at once.
An American artist born in Hollywood, CA, 1959, Joseph Hammer turned his fascinations with sci-fi and AM radio into psychedelic gold with the frayed loops and station strafing dynamics of ‘I Love You, Please Love Me Too.’ Following on from Pan’s wildly flung selections of pachinko parlour recordings by Ilios, early Schimpluch Gruppe works, and musique concrète by Sewer Election, Hammer’s offering kept the label’s remit blindingly wide open with a roiling flux of snagged voices, riffs and spectral electronic interference that perhaps most uncannily reflected the dense flux of pop cultural data and musical history that was being uploaded to the internet and ingested by algorithms in 2010.
In its para-dimensional effect, the two long pieces of collage will surely remind anyone old enough of dicing around with an old analogue radio dial during formative years, picking up the usual pop detritus along with voices from overseas (and maybe even phone calls from down the road - this used to happen!). That innocent charm is key to the appeal of ‘I Love You, Please Love Me Too’, but there’s a also a crafty logic that underpins the whole thing, steering it away from, say, the daftness of People Like Us, and placing it in that special category of WTF?! classics by Robert Ashley, Carl Stone and The Automatics Group.
Surely the most innovative dancefloor album you'll hear in 2017; complete joyful abandonment that's both utilitarian and absolutely daring in form. You dont need a PHD to get behind this one, though having one in quantum mechanics might help you unravel the seemingly endless energy levels woven into its fabric - having taken no less than 13 years to construct. It’s guaranteed all-killer, nay filler, pet.
At long fucking last Errorsmith relinquishes his long awaited new LP for the good of the dance, twysting Black Atlantic rhythm patterns with computer music in a way that pushes all of our buttons at once. The album’s key is cheekily embedded in the title, as the arch Berlin disco sound designer assuages Superlative Fatigue by properly drilling down to the truth of the matter - the purest, most effective grooves and scintillating sounds to flip wigs like nobody else.
As with Erik Weigand aka Errorsmith’s strongest club productions such as the legendary Donna  as part of MMM with Fiedel, thru to Protogravity  with Mark Fell, the dancefloor is squarely in focus on Superlative Fatigue. However, this is Errorsmith solo, and as such it serves to bridge a fair gap between the innovative, oblique constructs of his Errorsmith #1  EP, and the unflinching documentary of his avant practice in Near Disco Dawn - Live Recordings 2001-2003 , perfectly consolidating his avant-garde and populist tendencies with little concession to either side of the dichotomy.
To be clear; Superlative Fatigue is a proper party record. Entirely written using Weigand’s self-developed Razor software (as wickedly deployed by Mark Fell on the Manitutshu album), it inventively gives voice to the impish computer spirits that have been dancing around his head all those years since his last solo output; placing a keen knowledge of current macro trends and myriad, classic subgenres to utterly compelling service, then ratcheting the effect thru singular manipulation of their accents, tropes and structures with a necessarily scientific approach perhaps only comparable to Rashad Becker’s on the Traditional Music For Notional Species volumes.
No messing, the pinging dancehall of Internet of Screws is in our top 5 tracks of 2017, and the uncanny valley anthem of My Party is likewise among the year’s most ear-worming, while the likes of Centroid and the face-twysting sourness of I’m Interesting, Cheerful and Sociable place the freshest spin on UKF and electroid Afrobeats we could hope for, and the suspension-lowering Retired Low Level Server is possibly the baddest acid-hall riddim since Acid Rain Records’ year 2000 template.
For anyone into anything from Nídia, Equiknoxx, M.E.S.H., Marfox or Nigga Fox, this remarkable record is a real no brainer - one of the deadliest, freshest club records we've heard for years.
So the vault has finally been properly cracked open for this first collection of previously unreleased original version and guide tracks Prince put together for other artists. For us, the real draw here is Prince's own version of ‘Make Up’ - but there are pearls aplenty throughout.
Straight to the good stuff; Vanity 6’s ‘Sex Shooter’ and ‘Make Up’ - the former a classically lascivious purple funk number, the latter one of the most singular, hooky and weird productions in Prince’s entire catalogue; here imbued with extra androgynous brilliance with his own staccato delivery, Sheila E’s 'The Glamorous Life’ featuring those killer, incessant Linndrumm claps, and The Time’s ‘Jungle Love’. Basically, everything sounds better with Prince on it.
'Manic Monday' and ‘Nothing Compares To You’ are also here, as well as Martika’s 'Love… Thy Will Be Done’ and much much more - and while some of these tracks may not be the first thing you’d race to find in the Vault, they still offer a fascinating insight into Prince’s songwriting process, altering his vocal style to the brief, perfecting every note.
But yeah, even just for ‘Make Up’, this is essential gear.
Nexx-level club dynamixx from Berlin's M.E.S.H. for new music thunk tank, PAN.
As a co-founder and resident at the influential Janus club-night, M.E.S.H. is hard-wired to the core of Berlin's accelerated night scene and deeply connected to the global digital arts diaspora thru collaboration with contemporary artists, Aleksandra Domanovic, Fatima Al Qadiri, Arca and TCF, among others. Operating at the intersection of electronic hip hop, techno and chimeric sound design, the 'Scythians' EP motions a bracingly fresh sound modelling skeletal 808 patterns perfused with hyper-criss foley and thrillingly sheer synthetic textures.
From the tumbling gyroscopic vectors of its eponymous opener, the EP yields a series of proper future-shocks, streaming dazzling data bursts from the hyper-detailed, diffuse techno swing of 'Interdictor' thru the breathtaking fireworks and industrial-strength slowfast 808s of 'Captivated' to the ascendant choral arrangement of 'Imperial Sewers' and the chrome-plated ambient vortices of 'Glassel Finisher'. We'll make no bones about it: the 'Scythians' EP is one of our favourite releases of 2014 so far, and comes strongly recommended to fans of Visionist, Evian Christ, E+E, TCF, Sudanim, Total Freedom…
Restlessly shapeshifting composer Marc Richter turns out his 2nd album of the year already for Thrill Jockey with a further study in gurning dissonance following from the smeared brass and unearthly churn of ’Seven Horses For Seven Kings’
“Black To Comm masterfully manipulates sound, his alterations rendering sources unidentifiable and serving as a sort of portal to new realities. Composer Marc Richter collapses the past, present and future of recorded music into kaleidoscopic pieces that transcend genre, bristling with detail: an intense sensory sonic experience. Before After charts a hallucinogenic journey through polar extremes of emotion and to the outer reaches of sound, is a perfect companion to the darker Seven Horses For Seven Kings.
Richter’s technical approach to making music is deeply rooted in his philosophy of time. He points to a quote from early electronic pioneer Eliane Radigue: "everything is an interval, we are always in-between. And in this interval, between two states, there is a continual expression of invisible variations, imperceptible transitions." Before After exists in that fluid, liminal space, drawing on sounds and influences from disparate pasts and using these to synthesize new futures. “They Said Sleep” applies contemporary studio techniques to ancient material, creating a Chopped ‘n’ Screwed edit of an early medieval folk song. “The Seven Of Horses” expands on the language of Bulgarian Folk by adding abrasive new textures, processing piano sounds through analogue filters. Even Richter’s own material is ripe for reinvention, “Etas-Unis” and “Perfume Sample” both revisit elements of music from Seven Horses For Seven Kings with results that are entirely new and revelatory of the compositional and sound sculpting skills of Richter.
Before After was written during the same sessions that gave birth to Richter’s recent, highly acclaimed, Seven Horses For Seven Kings. The intentionally crafted companion pieces mine similar raw sonic materials to yield radically different results. Where Seven Horses was a dark work focused on anger and desperation, Before After finds faint glimmers of hope in the same sources. By reappraising the past Richter divines new futures, opening up parallel timelines and sonic universes. The album bookends the current phase of Richter’s output as Black To Comm, a decisive statement piece that leaves the future of the project tantalisingly open-ended.”
The lithe, picky pointillism of ‘Oglon Day’ kicks off a promising quartet project between luminaries of the avant-garde and experimental music
On their debut release, we hear Oren Ambarchi nimbly synch with Mark Fell’s skittish bass drum patterning, while Aussie percussionist Will Guthrie adds a sizzling freeness on his kit, and we presume that Montreal scene lynchpin Sam Shalabi adds the shimmering micro-tonal colour on guitar.
The result on the A-side is a sort of krautrock-techno-jazz jam that feels like a more plugged in and unfeasibly tight answer to The Necks, or an MvO Trio performance where Tony Allen has electrodes rigged to his tendons and some cheeky blert spiked their sparkling water before they got in the studio. ‘Ogle Day 2’ then reminds of the pointillist precision of Kukangendai, whom Mark Fell has previously remixed, with a more tensile contrast to day 1 that’s only diffused thru Guthrie’s effervescent hi-hats and when Shalabi pipes up to smooth off the angles.
ASC plumbs the depths of the grey area in his latest album of D&B/techno/dark ambient mutations.
Seriously when does this guy come up for breath? Hope he has good ventilation in the studio. Anyway, ’Realm of The Infinite’ is up to par with anything else in his catalogue. Whether alloying classic Reese bass with IDM hyperstrcutures in ‘Nocturne’, rolling out serpentine acid techno in ‘Nautilus’, ‘90s trance in ‘Black Rooms’, or scuba diving into slow techno on ‘Arsenic Bite’, and endlessly reverberating, underwater dynamics on ‘Aphotic Zone’, the results are exactingly up to standards one would expect from ASC.