Theatric melodrama from Glasgow’s Lucy Duncombe, making a grand debut on 12th Isle sure to appeal to fans of Julia Holter, Lyra Pramuk, Enya
Sibling piece to a longer, self-released tape (‘The Rapture of Cellular Accretion’), the two works of ‘Brace/Mend’ accomplish a lofty scope with soaring, consonant strings, organ and skilfully operatic vocals enacted by Lucy Dumcombe and co-produced by the artist with Kenneth Wilson and William Aikman.
‘Brace’ sees Lucy’s elegiac vocals deftly spiral around a sweepingly grand string and synth pad arrangement in a certain sort of gaelic romantic air redolent of Enya or Lyra Pramuk’s melodrama. ‘Mend’ is more low-key and succinct, resting a more reserved vocal performance on a bed of swaying organ chords that grow more rhythmically confident and rise up the register into dreamy thizz.
2nd release on Bambounou’s label is a crafty rub ’n tug session with Bristol’s Bruce
From the quietly restless palpitations and frayed syncopations of ‘Crash’ they nod to the Algerian style of ‘Rai’ with a gauzy dub techno edge, and splash around with chrome tinted synths and pensile rhythms in ‘Final Conference.’
Recorded while living off-grid in a French village, Perila's debut album proper is a dissociated, erotically charged throb of curling vocals, glassy synths, creaking environmental concrète, brushed jazz drums and submerged, dubwise subs. Like early Grouper spliced with Kenji Kawai's ominous "Ring" soundtrack, then re-assembled by DJ Spooky, Jake Muir and Vladislav Delay >> it’s properly time warping gear that's ineffably beautiful without being precious or cute.
Since moving to Berlin from St. Petersburg six years ago, Aleksandra Zakharenko has developed a unique hue in the ambient music spectrum. Leagues from the club-adjacent ambient posturing that her adopted city has centered in recent years, Zakharenko's sonic universe is sensual, poetic and narcotic, using elements of musique concrète, drone, dub and noise to reflect a mushy sensitivity that's as mysterious as it is tangible. Her sound has been refined by constant collaboration and her work with Berlin Community Radio, where she assembled regular podcast WET (Weird Erotic Tension) - a fusion of surrealist ambient sound and erotic ASMR poetry. And while "How Much Time it is Between You and Me?" has mostly shelved the spoken word, this muggy air of eroticism still circles her silky drones and subtle rhythmic strokes.
Pinkish clouds of granulated harmony float above a groaning modernist cityscape, expressed in subtly manipulated environmental recordings and occasional rhythms. On 'Time Date', the trace of a beat emerges with the spectral presence of a phantom limb, bubbling eerily beneath muffled, deadpan vocals. Long, psychedelic centerpiece 'You Disappear You Find Yourself Again', levitates fluttering drones that eventually slip from the pineal into neck, activating jazzy fumbles that point towards NYC's long-overlooked illbient zone. 'Memories of Grass' takes another left turn, sounding like Grouper's blurry "Way Their Crept" stickytaped to Eno's fwd-thinking '80s FM synth experiments.
The album's gently vibrating mass of jellyfish hues, vocal shards, and uncannily amplified small sound straddles a fine line between the unresolved nature of her sound and a more poised, certain style of agoraphobic pastoralism, as though she’s absorbing the sights outside her window, while keeping her thoughts intimately indoors. From the evocative track titles to their textured strokes, everything drips with a poetic, synaesthetic sensuality, articulating her sound at its most effective - formulating a perfect listen for anyone who craves the unruly, radical sprawl of art in all its unpredictable, fleshy realism.
Burial’s sophomore LP, originally issued in 2007 only a year after his pivotal debut, is another masterpiece of urban UK composition and innovative imagineering whose sense of melancholic space, pop-wise dexterity and dancefloor yearn has rarely been explored or surpassed since its release.
Where its predecessor was starkly paranoid, mostly instrumental, Untrue was gilded with gorgeous, cut-up R&B and UKG vox, and interspersed with segments of nocturnal reverie that played out like the OST for a yung UK romance that replaced posh, gurning actors with real life road characters and focussed on the spaces between - between the club and home; between night and day; masculine and feminine; waking life and dream life; Maccy D’s and alley doorways; being high AF and coming down.
It was and still is Burial’s love note to UKG and R&G, and by turns gave context and validated those genres for a lot of listeners who arguably wouldn’t have touched that sound, or at least dismissed it as pop pap or with some snide, racist undertone before Burial’s revivalist instincts hybridised it with trip hop and snarling D&B memes.
More positively, however, depending on which way you look at it, this album also opened the endorphin floodgates for a whole raft of f****e garage producers to get in touch with their feminine side, especially in contrast to prevailing, laddish dubstep rave trends, and, since that sound has faded away, it’s not hard to hear this album’s influence in the vocal processing of Mssingno, in the uneven, off-kilter swing and parry of Zomby, the patch-worked constructions of Jamie xx or Evian Christ, or in Deadboy and Murlo’s more boundary-pushing creations.
As with any album that gets a lot of attention beyond its putative scene, Untrue was an unintended red rag to the cynics and rockists - and even garage purists - but for almost anyone who recognises and appreciates that more modest, aching sort of electronic, UK street rave soul, it remains a really transcendent album that still grips like few others.
After releasing their 17th album 'Abolition of The Royal Familia' earlier this year, The Orb are back with further guest appearances on their remix album 'Abolition Of The Royal Familia - Guillotine Mixes'.
Including mixes from David Harrow, Moody Boyz, Youth, Violeta Vicci, Andy Falconer and more.
25 years since ‘Gore Motel’, Bohren & Der Club of Gore hold their smoky line of doom-jazz in a sublime, haunting 10th album that once again taps into that interzone between classic Lynchian motifs and fizzing gothic undercurrents.
The sylvan intimacy of ‘Patchouli Blue’ is a Bohren's ineffable skill at lulling listeners into richly hypnagogic states. As ever they prize a deep sense of cool yearning that hearkens back to the slow burn atmospheres of classic film noir as much as David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti’s soundtracks, dark ambient and the bluest jazz, plus the doom metal of Black Sabbath, Gore, and their dusty echoes in Earth. It’s surely a velvet cloak for the senses; essentially a heavily tranquilising sound, but one fraught with an existential angst that’s won them a captive audience over the years, and is fully in effect here.
As ever, ‘Patchouli Blue’ is a strictly all instrumental affair and was recorded in Cologne and Mülheim An Der Ruhr - site of all their recordings (bar ‘Mitleid Lady’) since the seminal ‘Sunset Mission’ (2000). It was composed by core members Christoph Clöser (Tenor Saxophone) and Morten Gass (Piano, Engineer, Producer) and is performed by them along with longtime member Robin Rodenburg’s plucked, stalking bass lines in a classically sulky, gratifying way bound to make your glass of single malt taste smokier, sweeter. As such, the album is really meant to be taken in one sitting, but if we’re to point out highlights, the slow rise of slinking drum machine and creeping arps of ‘Vergessen & Vorbei’ is just masterful, as is the distant, burnished, Vangelis-like synth glow and elegiac brass of their last call, ‘Meine Welt ist schön’. Basically it’s dead good for what ail’s ya.
20th anniversary repress of The Knife’s debut 7” single, with newly trimmed B-side
With the original long out of print, and now fetching a pretty penny on the 2nd hand market, The Knife’s legion disciples shouldn’t snooze on a new opportunity to snaffle the icy synth-pop tropicalia of ‘Afraid of You’ and its fizzy flipside featuring Karin Dreijer’s (aka Fever Ray) inimitably avian vocals turn of phrase, betraying clear traces of what they would cultivate into one of this century’s greatest pop projects yet.
‘Yellow’ is the life-giving debut album opus from pivotal London jazz player and band leader Emma-Jean Thackray, channelling sacred strains of everyone from Sun Ra to Alice Coltrane and even Funkadelic
Cementing a solid reputation as a catalyst of London’s jazzy groundswell in recent years, Thackray gathers a crack squad of the city’s finest for 14 variegated tracks deeply informed by ‘70s jazz fusion, but just as prone to veer off on cosmic or P-funk tangents. Recorded over the past 12 months of strife, ‘Yellow’ ultimately conveys a message of positivity thru classically schooled means, drawing upon examples of high black art, and effectively where they came from, to offer a whole vibe for those in need.
Hailed by the label as “exactly like the sort of thing we’ve been longing for over the last 12 months: a transcendent, human, shared experience” we’re inclined to agree; ‘Yellow’ is just the ticket to clear the murk with its cloud busting bursts of harmonic colour, plush vocals and elastic bounce. We advise checking for the effervescent bustle of ‘Third Eye’ at its core for a proper spirit lifter, and looking out for Sun Ra-esque gems in the cosmic beauty of album opener ‘Mercury,’ while dancers will be charmed by the bubbling takers of ‘Venus’ and the swingeing rug-cutters ‘Rahu & Ketu’ or ‘Our People.’
The 3rd album "The Wind is Strong..." by Cindytalk, an evolution of Scottish artist Cinder's early 1980's Edinburgh-based punk band The Freeze.
"Cindytalk is the mercurial, expressionist outlet of Cinder. She launched the project upon moving to London, inspired by the crossroads of exploratory UK post-punk and early European industrial. Her work thrives on chance and transformation, collaging elements of noise, balladry, soundtrack, catharsis, and improvisation. After a series of celebrated albums for the Midnight Music label as well as collaborations with This Mortal Coil and Cocteau Twins, Cinder migrated to the United States, becoming involved with various underground techno collectives around the Midwest and West Coast. Subsequent relocations to Hong Kong and Japan further expanded Cindytalk's horizons, resulting in a fruitful partnership with Viennese experimental institution Editions Mego, for whom she released five full-lengths of swooning, granular atmosphere. 2021 finds her as engaged as ever, at the precipice of long-awaited back catalog reissues alongside multiple new works, guided by her lasting love of discovery and deviation: “new pathways always being uncovered.”
'The Wind is Strong...' began life as the soundtrack to an experimental film by English director Ivan Unnwin entitled Eclipse (The Amateur Enthusiast's Guide To Virus Deployment), and was originally slated for release via Factory Records' video division, Ikon. Inspired heavily by Alan Splet's eerily disembodied sound design in David Lynch's Eraserhead, the collection's 15 pieces seethe between field recordings, wistful piano vignettes, and lurking metallic haze – a hybrid palette Cinder characterized at the time as “ambi-dustrial.” Unfortunately Ikon collapsed on the eve of the project's completion so the film was never distributed, but the Midnight Music imprint repackaged Cindytalk's score as an LP in 1990 under the name The Wind Is Strong... (full title: The Wind Is Strong - A Sparrow Dances, Piercing Holes in Our Sky).
Long out of print, the album remains one of the most elusive and adventurous in the Cindytalk discography, a mix of musique concréte, haunted reverie, and desolate beauty. Even unaccompanied by their intended visuals, this is overtly cinematic music, conjuring forests at dusk and shadowed corridors, equal parts remote and reflective. Cinder cites a belief that “all sound is music,” which fully manifests here, utilizing tape hiss, ticking clocks, flicking flames, and distant whispers as evocative accents in tapestries of luminous negative space.
Although Cinder included the subtitle “A Cindytalk diversion” in the sleeve notes, The Wind Is Strong... is crucial to the project's canon, demonstrating the depth and versatility of her unique ear and intuition. She describes each album as a direct response to the previous one, and in that sense The Wind marks a bold break from the coiled song-oriented post-punk of 1988's In This World, venturing into unknown, unnamed terrain, and finding foreboding new futures to call her own."
Detroit visionary Terrence Dixon scans stellar new horizons on the awe-inspiring 3rd chapter of his most cherished, foundational and inspiring album series.
Roughly once a decade since 2000 the pioneering Afrofuturist has offered a new landmark of deep, electronic music, and ‘From the Far Future, Pt. 3’ stakes one of 2020’s - and probably the next decade’s - leading examples of Detroit techno at its furthest, most experimental limits. This series of albums has consistently been the place to go for Dixon, and by extension the 313’s, most unruly but truest works, dashing between broken drums, dissonant alien synth tones, and the deepest recesses of the warehouse mind in a rudely distinguished calibration of Motor City mechanics. For us he’s right up there with the city’s deepest heads like Jeff Mills, Drexciya, Mad Mike, or Howard Thomas for producing some of that sound’s most vital, uniquely expressive machine music.
Dixon’s latest landmark sees him double down on the proprioceptive depth with acres of abstract, spatialised synth work while fine-tuning and ruggedly fucking with rhythmic conventions. From the black hole sensations of the album opener to abandoned space station ambience of ‘Found In Space’ and ‘Remarkable Wanderer,’ and the uncharted planet atmospheres of ‘By Land’ or ‘Rotation (Delay Mix),’ he has that side absolutely on lock, and in a way that lends proper cinematic cadence to the album’s flow of raggo muscle car drive between ‘Don’t Panic,’ the warehouse donuts of ’Spectrum of Light,’ a strobing deep technohouse centrepiece ‘Unconditional Love,’ and the widescreen warehouse-in-space scope of ‘Out of Darkness.’
Prime testament to Mika Vainio’s improvisational chops, recorded at the 2016 Berlin Atonal, where we imagine it must have sounded amazing in the cavernous Kraftwerk venue.
A precious snapshot of Vainio (RIP) in his prime, before he was taken too early in 2017, the performance burns with a livewire intensity that the label aptly compare to jazz, of which he was a keen fan, so it makes sense that he channels that sort of energy in his live shows. This set of lugs had the pleasure of catching Mika play a few times in Manchester, including a real stunner at the old BBC building, and this set is just as devastating as we remember him.
For 42 minutes severed in seven parts, he ruthlessly hacks and pulverises the air with his signature style of expressive electronic noise and thuggish drums, generating rare levels of buzzsaw distortion in 13 minute centrepiece ‘V’, and trekking deep into isolationist noise abstraction in ‘III’, and saving his finest biting-point crunch for the grouchy finale. Aye, it's a bruiser.
Sparkling electric guitar duels that mingle Morton Feldman's avant minimalism with Roy Montgomery's delicate dream-drone.
'Visitations' pits London-based guitarist Leo Abrahams against New York legend Shahzad Ismaily and that's really all you need to know. The two are already so well established: Abrahams has collaborated with Brian Eno, Paul Simon and Imogen Heap, and multi-instrumentalist Ismaily, a member of Ex Eye and Secret Chiefs 3, has collaborated with Lou Reed, John Zorn, Laurie Anderson and Laraaji to name only a few. Together they make music that's notable for how effortless it seems; breathing in avant-minimalism but never trudging into awkward, stuffy territory, they seem to bounce ideas off each other with playful ease.
There's a cinematic quality to 'Visitations' with its tangled strings and sparse atmospheres. At times, it sounds as evocative as Neil Young's enduring improvised score to Jim Jarmusch's doom Western "Dead Man", but never dips too far into cloying darkness. Described by the pair as "anti-virtuosic", this surprisingly humble set should appeal to fans of Jim O'Rourke, Dylan Carlson, Nels Cline and Derek Bailey.
Mellow, warm spirited ambient groovers from Naarm duo OK EG; started in 2019 and completed in the aftermath of 2020’s historic bushfires that ravaged the region
Revolving Lauren Squire and Matthew Wilson, OK EG have worked in pursuit of an ecologically sound style since 2018’s ‘Pebble Beach’ 12”. Their music draws from the abundant natural landscapes of Victoria in deep south Australia that have since become a frontline of environmental catastrophe - 18 million hectares burned in 2020 - for a purposefully slow and contemplative sound shimmering in balmy proximity to styles explored by the Efficient Space label, or even by their regional neighbours CS + Kreme or YL Hooi.
‘Intertidal Zone’ follows with four tracks of melancholy Balearic moves, opening with the sparkling synths and lilting percussion of Phil Stroud on ‘Precipitation’ and snaking from the supple slow-mo acid of the title tune to a sort of windswept chug in ‘Littoral Drift’ and shoring up with additional licks of flute by Adam Halliwell, and Korg bass from Jack Doepel, on the pastoral bop of ‘Golden Hour.’
Legendary psychedelic guitar music from the Islamic Republic of Mauritania finally available on vinyl!
"Originally released as a double CD in 2010, Wallahi Le Zein! has persisted as a cult classic, a collection of a rarely heard and utterly unique underground music scene, raw and unfiltered. For fans of the more raw side of Sublime Frequencies, Sahelsounds, the ripping tape-hiss psychedelia of Les Rallizes Denudes, and anyone remotely interested in GUITARS.
The LP version we now present is intended as an immersive entry into this music: gnarled and virtuosic electric guitars weave hypnotically throughout melismatic sung poetry and exclamations, pulsing hand drums, party chatter, buzzing rigged desert sound systems, and all manner of the ambient sounds of Nouakchott wedded to oversaturated cassette in all its swirling, breathing, psychedelic glory. Operating entirely outside of any local recording industry, these songs were collected from bootleg tape stalls, wedding souveniers, and networks of musicians, expertly curated, researched and produced by Matthew Lavoie.
Drawing from the deep well of Mauritanian classical music, the gamut of musical modes and the tidinitt lute repertoire are transposed to the electric guitar - often with frets removed or additional frets installed, “heavy metal” distortion pedals and phasers built into guitar bodies, blurring the lines between Haratine and Beydane musical cultures, the ancient and the futuristic. At times transcendent and transfixing, and conversely a furious and cascading intensity that commands jaw-dropping attention."
Hard-body synth-pop genius from SOPHIE, cooking up the 1st of two face-glazing 12”s completing her Product album after the Bipp / Elle session and Lemonade / Hard.
From the initial rush and drip-off, Msmsmsm hits with ambassador-grade narcotic potency before launching into this year’s freakiest EBM trap bounce and coldest, clammiest peak.
On the flip, Vyzee is an el3ctro-house hymn to jackin’ off your nut, soused in fluoro alco-pop impurities and warped ‘floor suss.
Sophie lands on Numbers with two razor-sharp shots of electro futurism.
'BIPP' comes off like the prodigious child of Miami Freestyle reared on AFX's 'Windowlicker' and a diet of sugar-glazed silicon; a stunning mutation of cybernetic pop syncopation. 'Elle' is its conjoined cyborg sibling, mute apart from the ability to whistle like Goodiepal's mechanical bird and so painfully beautiful that to experience it's saccharine, sliding string glissandi and elegant contours is akin to staring at the strobing eyes of a dancefloor medusa and exploding to a cloud of MDMA crystals and champagne fizz. Or something. We think it's really very good, you know.
Impeccable, hi-res electronic pop from British-Canadian pop deconstructionist BABii. Like a radio-ready, defanged PC Music with occasional lapses into noisy punk and breakcore.
On her second solo album, BABii tears through fractured electronic pop with the help of regular collaborator Iglooghost and umru. Detailing her feelings of abandonment as she was dragged from Yorkshire to Kent and to Canada by her nomadic father, BABii ties sad songs up in a glittery bow of glitchy percussion and wheezing synths. Influenced by SOPHIE and the hyperpop set, BABii curves the glass shattering foley IDM into pleasing R&B shapes, emerging with singalong plalist pop songs that sound decidedly current.
Wandering mystic Jackson Bailey aka Tapes returns to Good Morning Tapes on a vinyl edition of his ’Silence Please’ suite, as found on a rare cassette edition in 2018.
After ticking off musical trips to Japan, the Caribbean, and Nebraska, we return to Tapes’ Indian sojourn for a hypnotic reminder of his omnivorous tastes, rolling out four cuts of balmy tabla and new age arp ragas that take on a new life on vinyl. It’s kinda mad how he applies a Midas touch to everything in earshot, always getting down to the quintessence of whatever style he picks, but always with a sort of necessary, raw vivacity that knits all his work together.
DJs, early morning dancers and Yoga enthusiasts will be in their element; the awning drones and rippling tabla of ‘Part 1’aligns the chakras for a supple session taking in something like Charanjit Singh-meets-Steve Reich in the phasing loll and harmonious choral motifs of its Part 2, before he brings the crunchy drums forward in Part 3 primed to get Goan sand tramplers going, and really pushes out to the stars in the supremely heady 7 minutes of Raagini Ni, with its lushly coruscating, just intonation tuned arps allowed to bleed into the red.
Enchanting introduction to the exquisite, smoky melancholy of a Japanese jazz and blues singer/songwriter/composer who collaborated with Ryuichi Sakamoto and penned some 30 solo albums, yet is scarcely known in the West.
Born in 1942 in a small, northern Japanese fishing village, Maki grew up during the era of American occupation and cultural imperialism, eventually moving to Tokyo and nurturing a passion for the records of Billie Holliday and Mahalia Jackson, which would lead her to perform on US military bases and cabarets and subsequently cover many US traditional folk and blues for the Japanese market.
With her distinctive voice she's seemingly possessed by the spirit of her heroes - Billie, Nina, Mahlia among them - and apparently had the mysterious countenance to match her unusual aesthetic.
We'll have to take that for granted from Hitoshi Jin Tamura's photos and Alan Cummings' enlightening liner notes, but Maki's music remains the best gauge of her character, taking in big band experiments along with an amazing, sitar-lead psych-out, plus runs into modal, spiritual jazz and the kind of lounge styles that prompt imagery of Bill Murray or some lonely salaryman clutching a single malt in the shadows of a Tokyo bar.
First vinyl edition of Scritti Politti’s hip hop-inspired 4th album, originally released in 1999 after a decade long hiatus, and to head-scratching reactions from longer term listeners.
After crafting some of the ‘80s most enduring classics, Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside ended that decade disillusioned with music, and retreated home to the Welsh Valleys where he spent years listening to US hip hop. By 1999 he returned with a hip hop-skooled album ‘Anomie & Bonhomie’ that boldly challenged the band’s legion fans, setting his unmistakably blue-eyed soul vocals to production that leaned almost into rap-metal and pop-punk, and even featured Mos Def guest spots, with one of its highlights ‘Tinseltown To The Boogietown’ being remixed by Pete Rock, Rob Swift and Ali Shaheed Muhammad.
After a blazing succession of Sound System heaters, Dug Out offers a spiritual session of seminal nyabinghi grounation from Dadawah circa 1974, perhaps the most mind-expanding, important spiritual dub reissue we've heard this last decade.
It's most likely a large influence upon the work of label head Mark Ernestus in his Rhythm & Sound guise, recalling the magical spirituality of classics like 'Making History' among others in the hypntoic, shuffling pace and intangibly smoky aura that seems to evaporate from the grooves with each listen. The group is led by Ras Michael, guiding a traditional set up of nyabinghi (ceremonial Rasta drums), bass, guitar, brass and Piano organ in four extended excursions over sublime, psychedelic terrain without a worry in the world.
As with much of the best reggae, much of the magic was elicited and embellished in post production, with Lloyd Charmers and Federal engineer George Raymond apparently staying up all night after the session to mix the recording, imbuing the tracks with a dazed, wide-open and echoing personal space. Keeping the standards impeccably high, the album was lovingly restored at Abbey Road and looks every bit the classic that it is. Big up Dug Out, this going to be on rotation round here for years to come.
2nd of two essential 12”s completing SOPHIE’s year-defining Product album, containing the blinding DJ tool L.O.V.E. and bon jobby stadium pop peak of Just Like We Never Said Goodbye.
The Evol-esque mentasm of L.O.V.E. is a staple of SOPHIE’s live shows, commonly used as a bridge between the big pop hitters but also more than standing out as a highlight in its own right.
Just Like We Never Said Goodbye is a stadium anthem for 2015; hopefully the kind that will be played in Wetherspoons’ in 20 years when all the old ale drinkers die and they reinstall jukeboxes.
Solid unreleased posthumous material from dance-punk mainstay Sam Mehran, who played in Matrix Metals, Curse, Flashback Repository, Explorers, Test Icicles, MELT, The Sweethearts and more.
Mehran passed away in July 2018, and he left behind not only a colorful 15-year recording legacy but a large catalogue of unreleased music. His father and friends have put together "Cold Brew" to celebrate his solo music, and this is the first time it's been released under his own name. The songs have been selected from over a hundred tracks, and are presented without any additional production or remixes. Mehran wanted to make an instrumental rock album, and that's what we're presented with - admittedly edged with the humid spikiness of beat scene hip-hop.
Green Gartside and co’s addictively sugary turning point album crops up for a masterclass in blue-eyed soul styles.
Upon its release in 1985, ‘Cupid & Psyche 85’ marked a radical leap for the once squat dwelling communists from new wave dreamers to chart-worthy pop pucker. Prior to this record they had markedly political and philosophical leanings set to a mix of almost folksy whims, disco and reggae lite, as found on a handful of Rough Trade releases, but with ‘Cupid & Psyche 85’ they mounted a sly assault on the charts, drawing on Green Gartside’s love of Aretha Franklin’s aching soul for a far more polished sound that would parallel the likes of Prefab Sprout’s entry to the US billboard charts.
In many ways its not hard to draw lines between Gartside and the Sprout’s Paddy McAloon; both are reclusive genius types who saw the other side of the pop machine and disliked it, and both made some of the ‘80s greatest power moves, as Scritti Politti did with the likes of ‘Absolute,’ which now uncannily reminds us of trotting around Co-Op during early lockdown (it was on their in-store radio A-list), and the natty funk of ‘Wood Beez,’ their seminal prayer for Aretha Franklin, which is coincidentally co-produced by Arif Mardin.
Kiwi singer-songwriter Maxine Funke makes ineffably pretty homespun folk that will surely appeal to anyone into Sibylle Baier, Liz Harris, Bridget St. John or Vashti Bunyan. A proper special, once again, from A Colourful Storm.
'Seance' is an understated wonder; Funke has released an acclaimed run of low-key DIY folk records on labels like Feeding Tube, Next Best Way and Epic Sweep, and this latest is possibly her most resolved to date. Minimal but never icy, Funke's songwriting is tender and focused, but her voice is the key here, as she uses delicate tones to illustrate an internal world brimming with love and loss.
Using just guitar and voice, Funke meditates on themes using dreamlike imagery and tangled poetry - they seem simple, but take countless listens to unpick. There's euphoria, anxiety, romance and pain hidden beneath her wavering words, it's a pleasure to hear something so uncluttered and free from posturing. <3
4 side long tracks from Shackleton, Deadbeat and Appleblim - 45 mins long = Dub Conference Vol. 1. Practically a Skull Disco reunion; Appleblim’s brooding originals come backed with Shackleton and Deadbeat remixes.
On the same release for first time since 2008, Appleblim and Shackleton dance around ‘Warsaw’, with the original’s wavy 0PN-like arps contrails, tinfoil patter and nightgaze bassline stretching out to a proggy 10 min horizon, before Shackleton’s remix realigns his vision with gamelan-like tuned percussions and spectral dubbing which, like Appleblim’s original, subtly marks distance travelled sine their seminal early works. ‘Bladed Shogun’ follows with Appleblim giving strong nod to T++’s metallic dub mechanisms, which Deadbeat tempers and extends across 12 minutes of vaporous dubbing and air-stepping bass.
LA and NYC-based percussionist and composer Booker Stardrum's third NNA set is hyperactive, mind-expanding and mouthwateringly elastic. It's like Supersilent, Chris Corsano, Golden Retriever, Eli Keszler and OPN in a hot tub filled with liquid MDMA >> basically fucking next level.
Recorded with Deerhoof's John Dieterich, "CRATER" is a bizarre and brilliant cosmic blast of sound that's focused around - but not limited to - percussion. Stardrum's background is in free jazz, which grounds the record, but it never feels tied to one discipline or another, instead dancing around dance music, experimental noise and ambient, soundscaping and improvised instrumental spontaneity.
This is physical music. Tracks like 'Fury Passage' and 'Bend' are jaw-unhinging splatterdrum masterworks that seem to explode from Stardrum's tactile performance. But then the 8-minute 'Steel Impression' adds a different element, burying the unglued percussive throb underneath cinematic brassy drones and looping noise.
'Parking Lot' is even wilder, pepping up percussive elements with anxious, minimalist electronics and sounding like a particularly chirpy SND in the process, while closer 'Walking Through Still Air' maybe accidentally mirrors the feeling of a club night winding down as horn drones slowly cave into rapid, rolling kicks. Well good.
Echospace returns with another deep transmission from the vaults, emerging here with vintage material culled from old tapes recently discovered by label head Steve Hitchell from "Intrusion", most likely another Echospace alias.
'Intrusion dub' is classic Echospace, all the requisite elements of sonorous bass, inpenetrable analog crackle and well crafted techno and house rhythms all in place. Hitchell's cv313 mix is a muted affair, boiling the track down to a glowing residue of padded kicks and static, while the Phase90 reshape is our favourite here, adding some kicking percussion to produce a narcotic and deadly club number that will destroy anyone lucky enough to hear it played out on a proper system. The final side winds things down into ambient bliss in classic deepchord/echospace fashion.
Irresistible ’71 Afrobeat classics by Fela & The Africa ’70 resurface for a 50th Anniversary chop up
Incendiary on any ‘floor, ‘Open & Close’ features all three original cuts intact, with digital editions revolving the complete 12 minute version of ‘Swegbe & Pako’ that’s usually sliced in half on vinyl pressings. Originally dispensed in 1971 as the curve of Fela’s powers was approaching take-off, the EP is revered for its driving, jazzy title tune - a proper floor filler in any hands - and also packs slower heat in the swingeing funk of ‘Swegbe & Pako,’ plus the UP stepper ‘Gbagada Gbagada Gbogodo Gbogodo’ for dancers with moves to burn.
Official reissue of Hiroshi Suzuki’s glorious jazz-fusion-funk holy grail Cat (originally released in 1976), sourced from the original masters and available on limited edition 180 gram vinyl mastered at half speed for full audiophile sound, as well as on digipack CD. Both versions come with liner notes by Teruo Isono.
"Celebrated in jazz collectors circles, in the lofi beat scene, and among music diggers around the world, Cat has become one of the most sought-after Japanese jazz albums of all time and, much like Ryo Fukui’s Scenery, has fascinated old and young generations alike.
Cat was recorded in October 1975 at Nippon Columbia Studio, while Hiroshi Suzuki was visiting his home country of Japan after moving to Las Vegas in 1971 to play with Buddy Rich and perfect his craft. Back on his old stomping grounds, the man known as Neko (Cat) immediately reunited with his dear friends for an epic two day session of groove magic. The chemistry was still intact. The skills and style had grown.
The result, Cat, is a smooth masterpiece, a deep and soulful affair where stunning trombone solos by Hiroshi Suzuki flirt with Takeru Muraoka’s heavenly saxophone and the sensual rhythm section of Hiromasa Suzuki (keyboards), Kunimitsu Inaba (bass), and Akira Ishikawa (drums)."
Downwards descend on Mute’s legendary producer/engineer Paul Kendall, serving as the label’s in-house producer thru the 1980s and '90s, working with Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Nitzer Ebb and Wire - for a new album of surgically precise and invasively curious post-industrial thrills and murky intrigue that comes highly recommended if yr into anything from Mika Vainio to Masami Akita, Recoil to Bruce Gilbert.
Kendall’s oeuvre has paralleled the alternative history of post-punk and industrial music for over 40 years; after crossing paths with Karl O’Connor (aka Regis) in 2018, Kendall now takes his solo bow, proper, on Downwards with the fiercely uncompromising and absorbing results of experiments executed during the pits of lockdown in 2020. They arguably resemble a form of disembodied industrial techno searching for a fleshly new host to inhabit, all amorphous and bristling malforms untethered from percussion and sent to rabidly gnaw the senses via various strategies of blizzarding attack, textural attrition, and structural abstraction which can be heard as a side effect of Paul’s ongoing hearing loss from too many loud studio sessions.
It’s not hard to clock why Regis was smitten with the material as the pair clearly share a lust for gristly scuzz and tempered, concentrated emotion. However Kendall’s music is more obtuse and comes from a warped perspective inspired by his fascinations with macro photography (magnifying minutiae), with his famously keen ear for detail leading the album into stranger spaces between the wires and noises. Effectively hashing the limen of perception, he invokes a spectra of ghostly, hallucinatory tones by combining recordings of his voice and a Leaf Audio "Microphonic Soundbox", an experimental wooden instrument with metal springs, rods, sand paper and a kalimba, and then funnels them through processors and FX.
The result is a sequence of layered, alien-sounding tracks that push thru industrial and harsh noise zones, yet sound as sonically focused as the heaviest techno - between the fetid clank of ‘Restless’ and drone rock torpor of ‘Are You In?’, drawing us into the gooch clammy integers of ‘InHarmonic’ and animated maelstrom of ‘Nowhere. Twisty,’ to recall the surreal insights of CoH Plays Cosey on the roiling sensuality of ‘Missing The Fence,’ and serve serious head swill material in ‘ReBurst.’
A lost standout of ‘90s industrial/experimental rock, Cindytalk’s 4th album takes a timely, newly expanded reissue bow with NYC’s Dais.
Conceived and framed as a “call to arms” for Scottish independence on release in 1994, ‘Wappinschaw’ is so named after the process of weapons inspection by Scottish chieftains when readying their clans for battle. From ancient times, to the ever present ‘90s, to current cries for Scottish independence, Cindytalk’s music continues to hold its ground as a vital part of the Scottish post-punk/industrial/experimental landscape, speaking to long held urges that feed into the tensions and expressions of a singular music scene. No doubt it’s a classic by one of its most fascinating artists, whose catalogue connects This Mortal Coil in the ‘80s to hardcore techno in the ‘90s, and a series of remarkable electronic albums for Editions Mego in the past decade.
It’s unmissable for its strikingly unadorned take on Ewan MacColl’s folk classic ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ (as famously covered by Roberta Flack) as its opening shot, and goes on to take in Cindytalk classic ‘A Song of Changes,’ alongside inclusion of legendary Glaswegian writer Alasdair Gray on ‘Wheesht,’ and stirring atmospheric designs in the likes of ‘Träumlose Nachte,’ and 11’ bagpipe soundscape of ‘Hush,’ while a trio of additional works lurk at the back, bringing some anthemic gaelic rock on ‘The Moon Above Me,’ and snarling, serpentine styles on ‘In Sunshine,’ plus the kind of gothic industrial rock that begat current Regis styles in ‘Old Jack Must Die.’
Ruth Mascelli of Special Interest docks their new solo debut of driving bathhouse techno and steamy ambient variations with Disciples.
Forging a new path parallel to their Psychic Hotline gear and work with New Orleans’ Special Interest, Mascelli slips between sleazy techno and curdled ambient for the chemise soirees and suchlike. ‘Sauna’ gets into a humid darkroom mindset with meat motor grooves and spoogy acid lines, followed by strokes of throbbing house in ‘Petri Dish’ and the kinkier veins of ‘One For The Voyeurs,’ before expending his ‘Libidinal Surplus’ with a round of high velocity acid techno. The rest is mostly given to his softer side, offerign a curdled new age rub down with ‘Hydrotherapy,’ and the Tin man-esque slow acid of ‘Circle of Shit’ and ‘Sunrise,’ plus the bittersweet, elegiac admission ‘Missing Men.’
“Ruth Mascelli comments: “This album is an audio diary of adventures had at various bathhouses, dark rooms, and gay clubs while on tour with Special Interest and traveling on my own. It was a way of wrapping my head around my own experiences in those very specific surroundings but also an attempt to connect to the current of queer history flowing through those spaces. Cruising dystopia, libidinal contact, anonymity & risk - rites of passage with a potent lineage.
I was in a particularly dark and cavernous sex club when I heard an unstable melody crackling from down the hall. Instead of a proper sound system this place had the kind of network of tinny intercom speakers you would find in a school. The sound of a degraded pop song several rooms away getting lost amidst the chorus of heavy breathing was the starting point for this project.
I think of each individual track as it’s own room or physical space. Some may be lonely, some crowded, but I tried to leave them open enough to walk around and explore.”
Hugh Small of post-punk legends Vazz plays ambient jazz with Brian Allen Simon (Anenon) on their first album collaboration, finding a fitting home on Jonny Nash’s Melody As Truth
Best loved around our way for Vazz’s small but immaculate run of mid-‘80s releases, Hugh Small is also an adept solo pianist, as found on Stroom’s ’Submerged Vessels and Other Stories / Piano Music (2014-2016)’ comp, and here beautifully expounds upon that side of his art with multi-instrumentalist and LA lynchpin Brian Allen Simon of Anenon and Non Projects esteem, who was last on record remixing Ryuichi Sakamoto. Together they pursue a sort of liquid ambient jazz bliss and melancholy, bending cues from spirited classics by Alice Coltrane and Don Cherry with a healthy amount of their own musical personality for a sound described variously as “Ambient-Punk, Abstract-Jazz, Disaffected-Classical, it’s whatever the fuck you want it to be!’ :-)” by Hugh Small.
Over the album’s 10 pieces, Small’s keys meet a luscious haze of saxophone, synthesiser and guitar shimmering in close proximity to the styles of Jonny Nash’s recordings with Suzanne Kraft, but distinguished by a swooning freedom of the duo’s own making, appearing to these ears as a blend of rolling, romantic Scottish pastoralism and duskier, opulent LA panoramas. We can hear that fusion seeded in their take on Vazz’s ‘Kazimierz,’ which previously catalysed these recordings after Hugh serendipitously heard Brian improvising over it on his Dublab radio show, while the rest of the album follows on with all original material; air-spun vignettes of summer breezed keys and flights of fancy where their feet barely touch the ground.
Wanton Witch debuts with a brace of surrealist, haphazard airlock club deconstruxxions that sound as android and alien as SVBKVLT's treasured catalog and as mischievous and exuberant as Lotic, E-Saggila or Ziúr. Properly future, properly damaged, properly güd: grotesque electronix for fetish clubs, strip clubs or LAN parties.
Opening with the disembodied clatter of a distant Brazilian rhythm and a warped Ha crash that mutates into pressurized trap, Wanton Witch's self-titled debut album shouts is message from the rooftops. The producer and DJ was born in Malaysia on Borneo Island, in an isolated community where she learned to appreciate sound and performance. But it wasn't until moving to Bangkok that she would develop her taste for trap, techno and deconstructed club. There, she co-founded the NON NON NON queer collective, now a nightlife staple for the Thai capital. This thirst, passion and relentlessly brave expression colors every moment of the album, in its heaving, rapidly-morphing rhythms, its flickering synth melodies and its kinetic, body-shaking movement.
From the winking queer club references on 'Daddy's Girl' and the robotic chant of "IDENTITY" on 'Do I Pass' to the crawling neo-gabber intensity of 'Looping Projection of You' and the wonked Asian disco of closer 'The Beautiful Trauma of Being', there's a vivid humor to Wanton Witch's approach. Aware of the solipsism of so much queer art, the album almost lampoons the premise, folding Wanton Witch's experience into the music but razing it to digital dust in the same breath. It's self-aware music, that's been assembled with a DJ's mindset and the sensitivity of an artist who has an intimate relationship with the sensuality of sound and the nature of presentation.
These are tracks we can imagine seeping from the cursed speakers of some sex dungeon in Central Europe just as easily as they could be poised on the main stage at Unsound or a catwalk in New York City. It's transgressive, cynical and deliriously psychedelic music, a molten cauldron of IDM, R&B, hard dance, techno and foley noise. And with Wanton Witch guiding the rudder, it's never merely an exercise in aesthetic. In fact, it makes us crave a dark room more than we have in ages.
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.
Earlier this year The Caretaker provided closure to a 20 year-long act that has uncannily lurked in the shadows of so many of our listening lives. Clad for the last time in Ivan Seal’s specially commissioned artwork, ’Stage 6’ found The Caretaker mirroring the ultimate descent into dementia and oblivion, using a patented prism of sound to connote a final, irreversible transition into the haunted ballroom of the mind that he first stepped into with 1999’s ‘Selected Memories From the Haunted Ballroom’. This final dispatch is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the most immersive and intangible of his two-decade arc, not to mention one of 2019's most moving records.
Invoking Jack Nicolson’s caretaker in Stanley Kubrick/Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’ as metaphor for issues revolving around mental health and a growing dissociation/dissatisfaction with the world, the project really took on new dimensions in 2005 with the 72-track, 6CD boxset ‘Theoretically Pure Anterograde Amnesia’, which was accompanied by an insightful unpacking of its ideas by cultural critic Mark Fisher aka K-Punk; a stalwart of the project who identified it (alongside music from Burial and Broadcast) among the most vital, emergent works of Hauntological art - a form of music often preoccupied with ideas about memory and nostalgia (but one distinct from pastiche), and the way that they possibly overwhelm, occlude, or even define our sense of being; ideas that resonate with Fisher’s own assertion that capitalism essentially undermines collective thought, distorts the individual, and has tragically lead to a worldwide increase or even ubiquity of mental health-related issues.
By using fusty samples from an obsolete analog format, and by doing so in the 2nd decade of the 2nd millennium, The Caretaker perfectly and perversely bent ideas of anticipation/expectation with his arrangements, playing with notions of convention and repetition with effect that would lead some listeners to wonder if the same record was being released over and again. When combined with Ivan Seal’s bespoke painting for each release from 2011’s ‘An Empty Bliss Beyond This World’ onwards, the project crystallised as a real gesamtkunstwerk for these times, and one arguably defined by a stubborn and intractably chronic drive against the grain of modern popular culture, or even a refusal of it.
And so to the project’s final goodbye. Drifting from the silty departure of ‘Confusion so thick you forget forgetting’, thru the smudged anaesthetisation of ‘A brutal bliss beyond this empty defeat’, and the abyssal, distant echoes of ‘Long decline is over’, to the increased pauses that punctuate the final side’s piece, ‘Place in the World fades away’, it eventually leads to a final coda that breaks the fourth wall.
Here, with the outside world muted and only the timbral residue remaining like smoke, everything moves as slow as a Lynchian dream sequence - until a conclusion so ineffably sublime occurs that we can’t mention it for fear of waking up.
Jonny Trunk draws an astute link between ASMR and ‘Mechanical Keyboard Sounds’ in this perfectly peculiar side of recordings by bespoke luxury mechanical keyboard maker, Taeha Types, featuring Recordings of 12 bespoke mechanical keyboards.
Up there with the oddest and most brilliant Trunk sides, ‘Mechanical Keyboard Sounds’ takes a closer look and listen to the ubiquitous tool found on desktops everywhere, and may even make you develop a newfound appreciation for the humble keyboard. Prompted by a neighbour - Stuart London aka futurecrime - to check the growing online scene for bespoke and customised mechanical keyboards, Trunk was struck by how satisfying the sound of a well-tuned keyboard could be. A conversation was started with ‘tuber Taeha Types, who is recognised as the go-to guy for this sorta thing, and the result is this uniquely gratifying slab of 12 recordings of rapid taps made on some of the finest keyboards money can buy.
If one weren’t told otherwise, the recordings may well resemble close-miked documentation of insects, some esoteric ritual, or a game of backgammon sped up, but closer inspection reveals sequences of these flurries that are possibly identifiable as furious delete keying or hammering a return button. And this is where it gets interesting, as each recording reveals to the listener the idiosyncrasies of each keyboard and its custom parts which, like custom built cars, use a huge spectra of parts both vintage and bespoke to achieve the users’ dream build and preferred levels of tactility and clickiness.
The models all range from customised 1986 vintage to bespoke 2019 models made with milled aluminium and lubed with the same grease that NASA use. Stuart London highlights the Nixdorf switches on the ’TGR 910 RE’ as particularly satisfying to his ears, and they are to ours, too, but the ‘IBM P70’ with its tinny plate spring switches is also tickling our fancy, but christ that ‘Chicory KB5160AT would get on our tits if we had to use it all day. Like customised keyboards themselves, this record ain’t for everyone, but you don’t need to like them to enjoy this record, much in the same way we’ve previously enjoyed C Spencer Yeh’s recording of an unplugged RCA Mark II Synth.
Timely reissue of Herbert’s classic concrète house potterings with Dani Siciliano, still sounding as warm and groovesome as it did on its release back in 1998. A true evergreen
Back in print for first time in 20 years, ‘Around The House’ returns slightly abbreviated and reshuffled but in essence the same, hearty album of deep house with a subtle experimental edge, placing Matthew Herbert’s patented domestic sampling tekkers at the service of richly soulful songwriting and dancefloor readiness.
Herbert’s catalogue may have proliferated in every direction since this album’s release, but it remains a true touchstone in his catalogue and even in the wider sense of UK house music, marking a high water mark of the scene’s creativity and one of those records that has transcended boundaries between the club, living room, bedroom, and headphones.
'Mas Amable', our record of the year 2020.
Call it deep reggaeton, avant-dembow, whatever; Mas Amable was easily our most rinsed record of the year, a sidewinding trip through slippery, mutable 90/180bpm metrics for lovers of rhythm and sound of all shapes and colours.
Following the reticulated deep house-paced hybrids of his acclaimed 2017 debut, 'Mas Amable' displays a serpentine guile that surely lives up to Brian Piñeyro’s moniker. Through 50 minutes, he dangles the dance by a fine conceptual thread that ties a constant rhythmic skeleton to subtly shifting tonal and textural variables. We start from shoreside ambience and lush field recordings, into hip-gripping dembow permutations and tripped-out vocals, elegantly and rudely shifting the pressure gauge from a gentle propulsive sway to darker steppers and wavey, whistling melodies, before neuro D&B stabs light up the dance and it all fades out on a deep blue reggaeton tip.
Like a mutable organism imperceptibly transforming before our eyes, ‘Mas Amable’ is both effortless and unfathomable, a heady trip through liquid, morphing tressilo drums and junglist markers that, at their peak, provide ample space for LA Warman’s vocal narration, imbuing proceedings with an eerie prescience and an existentially weary message. It all makes for a unique and richly immersive experience that we said back in April would rank among the definitive records of 2020. And at the end of this brutal, relentless year... here we are.
Ulla & Perila’s newly formed Log duo arrives on Experiences Ltd with a sublime full-length suite of dubbed-out, warm and fizzing energies, reminding us of Vainqueur’s classic Elevation productions for Chain Reaction, and the most dense, tranquil moments from Wolfgang Voigt’s GAS excursions. Ulla and Perila have each supplied us with some of the most rinsed and satisfying records of the year, this one might just be the best of the lot.
‘LOG ET3RNAL’ sees the pair building on a blossoming creative synergy formed over 2020 lockdown, which resulted in a pair of low-key trips for Portugal’s silence box, and now this full suite of peaceful gestures inspired by rambles in the forest. An obvious reference point is Wolfgang Voigt’s GAS recordings transmuting the feel of the Black Forest into ambient gold, but Ulla & Perila’s take on this timeless notion is detectably more fractured and frayed, textured like fruiting brambles that gently snag the ankles, and decayed with a beautifully deciduous tone ripened for autumnal immersion.
Weaving synthetic micro-fibres and burnished pads into 11 gauzy visions, they coax a palette of iridescent melodies, ephemeral vocals and organic rhythms into scenes that suggest a sort of sleepwalking sojourn into the woods, or a simulacra thereof. Their patient approach is enchanting, allowing their synthesised, micro-fibrous forms to naturally grow and sprawl, but with careful hands pruning the results into bonsai-like vignettes that absorb listeners into swirling dioramas of the real thing, bringing the outdoors inside.
Ambitious, genre-melting, world-building, poetic Black sonic confuzzion from Brooklyn's L'Rain. "Fatigue" refuses to stay still for a moment, dissolving blues, gospel, jazz, experimental electronics, prog, new age and psych rawk into a luscious, theatrical production that practically jumps from the speakers.
'Fatigue' is multi-instrumentalist producer Taja Cheek's second album and sounds like a fully-realized work in a way that few albums really do right now. Cheek makes pop music, but it's shot thru with a thirst for experimentation that feels vivid, unhinged and completely absorbing. Refusing to stay in a single place for long - her songs are broadly influenced by vintage R&B, classic pop and high-minded prog or jazz fusion, but each is dipped in the sparkling essence of a plethora of wide-ranging sounds and ideas.
'Find It' is bluesy, soulful and driving, but mid-way through melts into screaming ambience, with haunted vocals, distant choirs and lifted horns. 'Suck Teeth' is gauzy, psychedelic and jazzy, with funk bass underpinning Cheek's sensual vocals, but gradually increases the pressure until it bursts into almost vintage metal by the final squeak. 'Two Face' might be our fave, all kaleidoscopic Stereolab-esque wyrd funk, that drifts thru clouds of noise and echoing vocals with surprising grace.
"Fatigue" is charming, smart and brilliantly realized. It sounds huge and shows Cheek's impressive production prowess, but retains a memorable pop simplicity while tackling heady, visceral subject matter and experimenting with wildly divergent production. It sounds like the rich history of Black American music but refuses to be constrained by its legacy, letting loose through culture and pointing to the future with eager caution.
Though it's hard to pick a winner among the estimable Black Jazz catalog, this 1972 release from bassist Henry "The Skipper" Franklin would have to be near the top of the list.
"Franklin got his start woodshedding with Latin maverick Willie Bobo in the mid-'60s and went on to play with The Three Sounds, but probably his most notable gig prior to this debut album was his stint in Hugh Masekela's band (that's Franklin playing bass with Masekela at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival). For The Skipper, Franklin assembled a crack outfit that included a horn section of trumpeter/flugelhornist Oscar Brashear (Bobby Hutcherson, Ry Cooder, Donny Hathaway) and tenor & soprano sax man Charles Owens (Buddy Rich, Horace Tapscott, John Mayall) along with a Masekela bandmate in electric pianist Bill Henderson and ace drummer Michael Carvin (Pharoah Sanders, Lonnie Liston Smith, Freddie Hubbard).
This is such a unique, organic recording that it's hard to make comparisons; definitely a little fusion, a little '60s Blue Note feel, and the usual Black Jazz journey to the more lyrical, pop-inspired ("Little Miss Laurie") and funk-infused ("Plastic Creek Stomp") sides of jazz, but perhaps the best comparison is late-'60s Miles before he went electric. In any case, The Skipper is just a joy to listen to from start to finish, beautifully recorded by Black Jazz producer Gene Russell and blessed with some really fine writing, most of it by Franklin himself. First-time LP reissue and a must-have!"
Penultimate, 5th Stage of The Caretaker’s ‘Everywhere At The End of Time’ series charting severe levels of musical/mental deterioration and sensory detachment through four extended, smudged and hallucinatory side-long pieces.
As we near the end, ‘Stage 5’ sees our protagonist enter a near-permanent state of confusion and horror. Mirroring the endemic deterioration of dementia’s latter phases, were pulled through the most extreme entanglements in the series so far; repetition and ruptures, barely maintaining a connection to waking life and a sense of self.
In the most classic sense, we become witness to an abandonment and dissolution of ego, as the mulch of bygone ‘78s totally loses itself in a way that connotes misfiring synapses failing to properly relay information at advanced levels of the disease.
It feels as though our skull is being scraped out, uncovering hellish layers of accreted sensation and mulched imagery, occasionally recognising calmer patterns, only for them to fray into the ether before it’s possible to parse and dwell on them.
At this point it’s also perhaps worth pointing out the uncannily profound synchronicity between the timelines of ‘Everywhere At The End of Time’ and Brexit, which both started in 2016 and are due to wrap up in spring 2019. It should be no stretch of the imagination to read into their parallel progression from nostalgia and historic/collective amnesia, to progressive dementia and complete obliteration of (the) sense(s).
D.K.’s blissed performance at intimate S. Korean venue The Edge becomes the latest LP on 12th Isle
Following in a familiar vein to D.K.’s enchanted fortcoming Good Morning Tapes EP ‘The Goddess Is Dancing’, the Paris-based producer of Vietnamese descent spies a rolling soundscape of lissom rhythmic contours and finely graded harmonic humidities across the tranquilising expanse of ‘Live at The Edge’.
Everything inside feels to float gradually higher from the ground and hold a mid-air conference of chirruping avian electronics, wilting gamelan-like tones and DMT-breath synth chorales on the A-side, while the B-side introduces purring low end and nimbly stepping percussion until it wins up in massage chamber ambience.
The fourth in a series of six albums from The Caretaker cataloguing the effects of early-onset dementia. Featuring four extended, smudged and hallucinatory side-long pieces - the darkest and most immersive music from The Caretaker to date.
The Caretaker slips into the first “post awareness” stage of Everywhere At The End of Time. The ability to recall singular memories gives way to confusions and horror; the beginning of a process where all memories begin to become more fluid through entanglements, repetition and rupture.
Leyland Kirby connotes the transitory cognitive breakdown of moderate into severe late stage dementia; memories of the good times are recollected in picnoleptic flashes as the music struggles to follow consistent trajectories, instead fluctuating between a fractured mosaic of ideas and elusive emotive gestures, still occasionally able to gather coherent thoughts.
In aesthetic, the sieve-like mindstate of stage 4 vacillates a serene sort of psychedelia with utterly paranoid and petrifying mental subsidence. Smudged traces of sublimated music hall memories give way to shocking tracts of atonality and discord with runaway logic, perpetually tumbling farther into states of mind perhaps best compared with K-Hole-like dimensions or the babble of after-hours psychonautic journeys.
The concision of previous stages is here replaced with wandering, side-long tracts. Three of those are titled Post Awareness Confusions and correspondingly explore and reflect agitated mindsets as they navigate an ephemeral, confusing complexity of structures. The other piece is called Temporary Bliss State and starkly contrasts the other parts in a coherently lush traverse of ambient crackle and glittering melody…
Heartsick boogie aces from Anthony Naples, poking out his first release of 2016 as a sort of autumnal toddy for chapped dancers and reveries of warmer times.
Leaker swivels out on a slow, shifty electro boogie glyde with a steady core of phasing bass and ticking rimshot smudged by psychoacoustically shifty pads; sounds sorta like a sharpened NWAQ joint.
The sluggish jack of Moments Magicos feels more sore, blue, like one of V/Vm’s saltiest new beat tributes, early trance on 33-not-45, or Pye Corner Audio at their gauziest.
Kuniyuki´s 'Earth Beats' RemixesdBy Mr. Fingers (Larry Heard) across 3 remixes totalling over half an hour of Mr FIngers bliss.
Now re-released with a new re-master and new artwork - classic Mr Fingers gear!