Richard Skelton's latest transmission finds the reclusive artist ditching the mournful string drones of his last run of releases and embracing chilly, distorted electronics that should appeal to anyone into Yellow Swans, Alessandro Cortini, Johann Johannsson or Ryuichi Sakamoto's "Async".
It's hard to believe it's been almost a decade since Skelton's last vinyl release. "These Charms May Be Sung Over A Wound" follows a slew of regular drops on Skelton's own Aeolian imprint and moves in a decidedly fresh direction, ditching the acoustic instrumentation that has grounded the majority of his catalog. His last few releases (notably "LASTGLACIALMAXIMUM" and "The Oracle Bone") have explored darker sonic spaces, but have continued his obsession with bowed string drones, muddying them with eerie distortion and field recordings. Here though, Skelton has both feet fully in the electronic realm, layering overdriven synth tones to offer a sensitive, evocative foil to Lawrence English or Ben Frost's grandstanding "power ambient".
The ambience is powerful, certainly, but that strength emerges from the emotional content and the mere suggestion of gravitas. Without acoustic instrumentation, his familiar signature is a ghost that materializes in amongst analog sizzles and thick, oscillating bass tones. Waves of white noise and the occasional doomed hit of a kick drum echoes Yellow Swans' towering masterpiece "Going Places", but Skelton's vision is sparser and more anxious, distant and heavy.
Based in the valleys of the Scottish borders, Skelton translates his relative isolation from contemporary society into soundscapes that are almost futuristic, but lack the clutter of deconstructed club or awkward posturing of concept-heavy festival drone. His idea of the future sounds closer to Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky's visionary "Stalker" - seemingly out of time and out of place, with an eerie sense that the rapidly-shifting realty of the present is even more precarious than we care to realize.
"These Charms May Be Sung Over A Wound" feels like a potent reflection on a time of global isolation, societal collapse and the confusion of many potential futures, but chooses not to weigh us down with any kind of assertion. Rather, we are invited to project our own anxieties onto the album's groaning dreamworld.
Boss lass Helena Hauff tears thru 31 hardcore electro-techno zingers on her keenly awaited addition to Tresor’s Kern series after ace instalments from DJ Stingray and Objekt.
Throwing back to a phase of fast, hard and scuzzy electro from the late ‘90s to mid ‘00s, Hamburg’s finest goes hell for leather in the style that’s practically seen her block-booked for DJ dates until 2030. It’s pretty fair to say that Helena has single-handedly revived attention to a style that was once core to clubs from Detroit to Berlin, Rotterdam and Manchester before prevailing trends diverged for bassier pressures by end of the ‘00s. However, whether you were there back then or not, Helena’s cherry-picked bombs and rarities are bound to plug gaps in your knowledge and, quite frankly, light your arsch on fire.
Packing exclusive heat from herself with Morah (the bezerker industrial-electro od ‘Segment 3’) and allies including Umwelt, Machino, Galaxian and L.F.T., Helena simply does not let up with the fire selections and militant pacing, dispensing banger-for-banger with ghetto-tech highlights from Detroit’s DJ Godfather & DJ Starski and O-Wells, old skool UK hardcore from Q.D.T., Nasenbluten’s ferocious ’Intellectual Killer’, and deep Dutch electro from Maarten Van Der Vleuten to join the dots between cthonic hardcore dance musics from the late golden era, and its long shadow, from across the globe.
David Toop illustrates the sound from the back of his eyelids in ‘Apparition Paintings’, accompanied by notables such as Áine O’Dwyer and Rie Nakajima to rustle in the undergrowth of Fourth World ambient, atomised jazz-fusion, and country-folk with curiously plasmic results subtly contrasting his recent ace, also for Lawrence English’s Room 40
“Maybe these titles, torn as they are from cinema screens and the pages of literature and philosophy, give a feeling of romantic or sexual love or some dark pool of nostalgia but that’s not it, or it could be if you want it for yourself but not for me, not now; for me it’s about the teeming proliferation of complex events in the world, their vivid, hyperreal intensity as this human life steps closer to its end and their sense of fading, like a mist that thins out to leave not a clear bright day but almost nothing of substance as all that beauty is crushed, burned, dug up, wiped out, to be replaced by banality, so it’s about a language of love and desire in which we speak openly to all the unknowns, the speculative, the ancestral, the forgotten, the different, the extinct, the unimaginably distant and vast, the incomprehensibly small and intimately close, the fast or the slow, as if as we spoke we were becalmed in a wooden galleon off the coast of Java, sleeping microscopically in soil of a thousand years hence, hearing the voice of a dead person from the rim of a vibrating cup, gliding backwards and weightless through the alleyways of a city unrecognisable yet heartbreaking in its poverty, speaking in conference with winged and amphibious beings, crouching in a cavern whose opening only reveals the spectre of many wonders now apprehended as memories of the skin, heard through cheekbones, nostrils, the crepitation as a neck turns, pains of the knee and thumb and some not yet fully understood sensation within the throat which suggests a way of comprehending that which is being lost of this magical place. All I desire is what already exists or once existed, now falling asleep outside the world.
Don’t ask me about genre or consistency. Who cares? Half the world is drowning; the other half is in flames. Each story is an animal, a plant, something you drink, a surface you touch, a faint line, some memory emanating from a cardboard box. “’Things’ in themselves are only events that for a while are monotonous,” wrote Carlo Rovelli in The Order of Time. Maybe sounds are melting ‘things’, tired of the monotonous real.
Apparition painting is the term used to describe a certain type of ancient Chinese painting of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In these works, often associated with Chan (Zen) teachings, the ink used to depict the subject was exceptionally pale, the background lacking in any detail. As Yukio Lippit has written: “This combination results in remarkably self-dissembling images that somehow compromise their own visibility. Apparition painting appears to capture its subjects in mid-fade, as if managing to preserve only a dimly translucent afterimage of a bygone entity.”
Some observations about this epic package - the biggest iteration of which is over 8 hours long (not including the bonus DVD) - it’s incredibly well executed, smart, thoughtful, insightful - a proper fucking masterclass in how to go about painstakingly assembling and reissuing archival material (without getting into a discussion about whether or not Prince would have wanted these vaulted tunes to see the light of day).
The good news is that even if you go for the most threadbare version here, you’ll be in possession of the best this set has to offer. Two things that shine out above everything else here; Prince was a really good editor of his own work, the version of Sign O The Times that saw the light of day is stronger than any of the proposed other iterations of it - better then the Camille album would have been, better than Crystal Ball, better than Dream Factory - although the Vault tracks included in the bumper edition allow you to assemble any one of those albums for the first time using official masters. The tunes themselves - as much as ’The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker (With Horns)' is just totally fucking incredible to hear - the version you know is infinitely superior, and being able to witness Prince's editing process is one of the great pleasures of this set. Same thing goes for ‘Forever In My Life’ - what was almost a country pop tune ended up as one of the greatest linndrumm ballads ever made - and now you can hear what could have been, and thankfully wasn't.
Secondly - the mastering - by Bernie Grundman - is properly astonishing, especially if you grew up with an original version. Grundman doesn’t just go for loudness here - although the master is significantly louder than the version you’ll know - the detail, space and lightness of touch is the thing that elevates this set to absolute greatness. Listening to the remastered version of ‘Forever In My Life’ - just as one example - will alter yr perspective on pretty much everything. Also - what a fucking tune.
The vault stuff - there is about 4 hours of it - a complete dream come true. The best of it - 'Emotional Pump' (a sort of 'Feel U Up' variant), 'Big Tall Wall' (fucking drums!), The Cocoa Boys (slow, syrup horn funk), 'Rebirth Of The Flesh Original Outro’ (Camille missing piece) - to be honest - it’s all pretty amazing, even ‘Wally’ is on this - surely the most elusive of all the vaulted tracks.
Anyway, if yr an obsessive - you'll need the bumper set, if yr a newb - start with the basic remaster - either way, after running through all 8 hours three times in 2 days, we feel v strongly once again that the original version of this album - benefitting massively from this new remaster - is really one of the greatest ever made - and what we thought could never be improved on, now somehow sounds better than ever before.
Prince forever <3
'Clouds' is a perfectly measured suite of warm and hazy downbeats from Gigi Masin, Marco Sterk (Young Marco), and Johnny Nash recorded in the heart of Amsterdam's red light district over one weekend in April, 2014.
It's all about louche vibes and glowing notes, gently absorbing and transducing the buzz of the streets outside the studio's open windows into eight elegantly reserved improvisations segueing between lush ambient drift, dub-wise solo piano pieces, and chiming late night jazz patter. In that sense, there's striking similarities between 'Clouds' and the recent Sky Walking album by Lawrence and co., but where they really go for the looseness, Gaussian Curve keep it supple yet tight, bordering on adult contemporary suaveness anointed with finest hash oil. Imbibe slowly.
Living legend Terrence Dixon and Jordan GCZ (of Juju & Jordash fame) team up for a killer 12” resulting from sessions recorded in September last year.
Dixon is still for our money one of the most influential and least acknowldeged Detroit producers of our time, you can hear his blueprint in a whole swathe of modern electronics from Actress to NWAQ and beyond, we honestly can’t remember if the guy has ever made a bad record - either under his own name or under his Population One tag.
This hookup here finds him in more exploratory and brooding form alongside fellow explorer Jordan GCZ, whose love of classic Source/Move D/Reagenz is on display here with what sounds like a modern adjunct to Moufang’s legendary KM 20 recordings - basically the best of that era.
In other words - this is the good shit.
Highest grade ‘80s/early ‘90s post-punk weirdness from Stano, reaping highlights of his five LPs in a necessary retrospective - highly recommended to fans of his collaborators Michael O’Shea and Roger Doyle, and even Planxty and My Bloody Valentine, who both contribute…
“Following on from our 2018 repress of his debut album “Content to Write in I Dine Weathercraft “ we’re delighted to present an Anthology of Stano’s productions spanning the start of his solo career in 1982 to his 1994 “Wreckage” LP. Featuring 18 tracks from the five LPs he released in that time span on double vinyl with extensive liner notes, it is a comprehensive look at one of Ireland’s more enigmatic musical characters.
A member of the legendary punk / post-punk group The Threat which disbanded after lead singer Maurice Foley disappeared to join the Hare Krishnas, he had set up his outsider stall early on. The Threat had Stano on synths, one of the first female bassists in Deirdre Creed and their debut single was produced by progressive trad musician Donal Lunny of Planxty. Stano’s solo career of improvised electronic music continued in this vein of the unexpected – sitting outside both the country’s mainstream and alternative rock scenes.
An indigenous musical industry with few resources even at the top level – studios, labels and venues being scarce – and with few of the cross water big independent acts venturing over the Irish sea to play Dublin in the early 80s, it was an isolated place where due to its intimate size the more traditional rock bands nestled in close proximity to the few electronic acts. News travelled through a small scene via fanzines such as the influential Vox, which was associated with Stano publishing his poetry and releasing his debut 45 « Room », the Peel & Fanning shows of course and the newly established Freebird records.
Eschewing both live performance and the spotlight for studio collaborations he worked with a number of Irish musicians - Roger Doyle, Michael O Shea, Daniel Figgis, My Bloody Valentine - and following the debut on local rock label Scoff records he signed to German experimental label Dossier where a further two LPs – 1986’s The Protagonist 28 Nein and Daphne Will Be Born Again the following year - were released. Signing to U2’s Mother records, he released their first Long player “Only” on the label which garnered praise from the UK music press including LP of the week in The Guardian. The final LP of this anthology featuring collaborations with Colm O'Coisoig of My Bloody Valentine "Wreckage" was released on Independent label Hue Records in 1994.”
‘Music From Memory’ sets sail with a compilation of lo-‐fi beach funk and lazy synth jams from the Rhode Island keyboardist and ocean loving Leon Lowman.
"As well as a devoted painter and surfer of the East Coast, the synthesizer loving Lowman privately released two albums “Syntheseas” (1980) and it’s follow up cassette only “Sound Horizon” (1982). Something of a homage to his love of the local seashore and the women he was trying to woo there, the albums also express Leon's pure love of the synthesizer sound and reflect his unique melodic wanderings. With Leon's albums meeting little commercial success at the time of there release, both albums have in recent years become highly sought after. Along with previously unreleased material from the time, “Liquid Diamonds‘ highlights Leon Lowman's unique blend of low fi synth funk and surf ambience."
Remastered & Re-Edited & Remixed versions of the ‘Quare Groove’ classic first released on the group's own Feral Records imprint in Ireland in 1985.
"Originally inspired by Con O Laoghaire,s trip to Carnival in Trinidad ‘where a woman told me she would see me later at a fete when she was looking ‘Hot and Sexable’’. This is the full vocal version sung by Denise Keogh. As well as an extended club mix of the original, the set feature three other versions, all are reimagined by Morgan Buckley (Wah Wah Wino / No 'Label') using source stems from the original 1985 master lacquer and multitrack tapes courtesy of Windmill Lane Studios."
Two slices of pineal-gland tickling fyoocha club music here from Object Blue and TSVI, who combine their talents, Voltron-like, to emerge with music that's one part tricksy post-IDM and one part absolute club banger.
'Thought Experiment' is an exercise in forward motion, with stuttering kicks tumbling over off-world ambience and airlock blasts as if Autechre were making dance music again (in space). Flipside 'Turing Machine' brings breaks into the mix, allowing mind-bending modular bleeps and squiggles to undulate under complex-but-danceable percussion clouds that make us dream of clubs past. And it's not like we deserve it at all but there's a Loraine James mix of 'Thought Experiment' too that takes the "LP5"-ish kick stutters into near-footwork territory cuz why not? Well good.
Jungle deconstructionist Sophia Loizou materializes on planet Houndstooth for her third album "Untold", a multi-disciplinary project that includes an AV show, a lecture, special artwork and a book of poems.
Bristol-based academic, author and sound artist Sophia Loizou impressed with her first two albums, 2014's "Chrysalis" and 2016's acclaimed "Singulacra". Both records filtered a deep knowledge of dance music through opaque clouds of drone and ambient noise, re-contextualizing familiar sounds while reducing them to digital dust. "Singulacra" found its footing in jungle, exploring the genre's woozy euphoria in ways not a million miles from Lee Gamble's "Diversions", transforming driving rhythms into ghostly echoes and faint memories.
"Untold" is a further development of these ideas, taking the skeletal approach of "Singulacra" and building it into a many-headed multi-disciplinary project. Here, Loizou bills her tracks as "a series of speculative sonic landscapes" letting the natural world inform the sound in attempt to remove it from humanity. So the icy breaks, rolling subs and ethereal pads are now informed and shaped by natural dynamics: "a lion's roar or the rhythm of a dolphin's echolocation emissions," reads the press release.
This isn't something that's likely to be immediately discernible to most listeners but the concept def raises an eyebrow or three. No doubt the project is most enjoyable with its full AV presentation - as it stands though, "Untold" is an accurate representation of the progressive commodification of breaks and ambient music. The familiar sounds are omnipresent, but the driving force of jungle has been dislocated: breaks are left to fizz into muted impotence and melodies dance and tease, refusing to resolve comfortably. By attempting to remove the music's human element, Loizou has come eerily closer to the algorithmic uncanny valley of a Spotify playlist or a generative videogame soundtrack. Ambient jungle to relax/study to, maybe?
Astral Industries dilate their portal to reveal another gorgeous ambient vision from Rod Modell & Chris Troy’s long running Waveform Transmission project.
Extant since their 1996 CD, Waveform Transmission returned with a 2LP in 2017, and now allow further inspection of their alien ambient terraforming with the project’s immersive 3rd release.
For 70 minutes the duo synch minds as spirit guides for the lushest trip thru alien underwater zones, feeling out unfathomable gamelan reverberations and diaphanous synth pads with a real synasethetic colour-sound appeal for those susceptible to such sensations.
It’s patently some of Modell’s lushest, purest ambient work, with the romantic leanings of Chris Troy pulling the sound away from the dubbier obsessions of DeepChord.
One of Germany’s oddest entities, Schlammpeitziger plays it cool and dubwise in their mischievous and craftily art-pop style for arch Krautrock facilitators, Bureau B.
The musical alias of illustrator and performance artist Jo Zimmerman, Schlammpeitiger has been a persistent presence in the Cologne scene since 1992, with scattergun but singular records strewn over A-Musik, Pingipung and Sonig - and even Domino at one point. With ‘c in Der Echokammer’ he emphasises a sort of lilting dubbiness that was long there in his off-kilter sort of songwriting and music, but he apparently didn’t notice until his friend, “reggae expert” Bettina Lattak pointed it out to him. The result is a sun-drenched, lean but plush album of colourful songs that somehow split the difference between airport reggae and Kraftwerk; lounge music for the Hamburg Space Shuttle Terminal?
Broshuda outlines an anxious but lush ambience on his first LP for Soda Gong.
Steeped in the experimental electronic spirit and atmospheric mood that ties classic Berlin and European city music to its current waves of operators, ‘Contemplative Figuration’ defines Broshuda’s sound as a product of its environment; mapping aspects of late ’90s/early ‘00s glitch minimalism to more fractal, amorphous, semi-organic structures, each bumped with a K-likemlushness that will riddle listeners into the music’s textured topography.
Quietly glowing into being with the warbling synths and Mike Cooper-esque strums caught of ‘Kakigori’, the album folds in and around itself between chamber-like ambient dub of ‘Obj. Contraire’ feat. a vocaloid Elen Huynh, and free floating structures recalling Marina Rosenfeld’s work with Ben Vida in ‘Cypher’, whereas ‘Airlite DMV’ blushes with a MDMAde-up romantic pads, and ‘Leg’ shows his smart, low key beat chops a la some Yves Tumor aside, and the bullet-time dembow warp of ‘Pagoda’ feat. Guest input by Manta is the one for all the dancers.
Master of mysterious minimalism, Miki Yui helms the latest Hallow Ground with a beautifully poised and slow burning suite taking in deep-listening durational works and lighter, elusive sensations recalling Bellows and the oneiric seductions of Elodie.
Miki’s follow-up to a quietly acclaimed solo side for Cusp Editions, and her Realistic Monk collaboration with Carl Stone ‘Realm’ in 2018, ‘Aperio!’ Takes its title from the latin for ‘April’ and its original etymology, “to open” or “to reveal”, which works as a neat metaphor for the way her music revels in quiet nuance, and how it unfolds with an almost preternatural stealth.
Drawing on a related spectrum of strategies ranging from field recordings to synthesis and electro-acoustic processes, Miki’s music distills and crystallises a latent abstraction and oddness from physical experience and the “real” world into a series of warmly inviting, intimate scenes that gently trigger the imagination. The 10 minutes of rolling sinewaves in ‘Listening (oneness)’ summons comparison with Eliane Radigue’s enigmatic Arp process, while ‘Dancing (swamp)’ feels like music for an underwater lounge, and the fractured audity of ‘Dreaming (now)’ hits right on the waking/dreamlife sweet spot, along with the mesmerisingly precise tone poem of’ Rhyming (colours)’, and the Bellows-like low key otherworldliness of ‘Babbling’, whose sensitivities are coincidentally, perfectly brought to life in the mastering by Giuseppe Ielasi.
Bunita Marcus is subject of a first vinyl release with her ‘Lecture For Jo Kondo’, written for Morton’s group, Feldman & Soloists and premiered in 1985, and now accompanied by a dramatic new David August deconstruction .
“Not a lecture in the literal or recognisable sense, the piece is dedicated to the Japanese composer Jo Kondo, who was a friend and exchanger-of-ideas with Marcus. “I think it is a demonstration of the serial patterning I developed by being inspired by his Kondo's ‘Standing’ and how that just messes with your mind”, says Bunita, adding the following:
“’Lecture For Jo Kondo’ was conceived as an instrumental work. The voice part is just another instrument – an optional instrument at that. This isn’t a work where I took a text and wrote music to it. I wrote the music, heard and sensed a speaking part, but it took me a few years to get text that worked in this context. I met the Nico Vassilakis and got to love his work, so I added a speaking part using excerpts from his poem ‘Lowered and Illuminated.’
Musically and compositionally innovative, LFJK? is one of the first works to use consonance in the second half of the 20th century that was not tonal. It also introduces the idea of serialism as an aspect of neuroscience: “This is something that Jo and I had in common. This piece is based in complex theories I am calling ‘serialism’ and showing how Repetition + Mutation = Patterning. It is this patterning that is the basis of musical language and thought”, explains Marcus.
Taking listeners into a sound space unlike any they’ve been to before, the 20 plus minute piece is both dissonant and beautiful. The prominent broad strokes of LFJK are an alternating exchange between Bunita’s voice performance and Adapter Ensemble’s sound clusters, where a repetitive violin refrain at the fore is joined by flute, percussion and piano.
99Chants label owner and notable electronic musician David August provides a more machine-based deconstruction, changing most of the instrumentation and sound design, but maintaining the same narrative. He transports the listener through different environments, all equally connecting to Bunita’s voice, but changing the point of view. Within the release’s illuminating artwork is August’s visual score for his version, where traditional notation is replaced by a Kandinsky-esque abstract diagram.”
New age ambient bubble-bathing vapours and BoC-like beats from Canada’s Khotin, making a mellow, warm hug of a debut on Ghostly International
Smushed with musical sentiment to match its title, ‘Find You Well’ draws a warmly analogue-sounding bubblebath of ambient electronica and slow moving beats that land somewhere between BoC and Deru on the wistful nostalgia scale. It’s music almost custom made for Autumn, rustling up a woozy and lowlit sound full of warbly charm and wobbly rhythms that will please the sweetest toothed fans of early ‘00s ambient melancholy in highlights such as ‘Heavyball’ and the Ulla-esque collage of cottony pads and answer phone messages in ‘Outside In The Light’ and the heavy-lidded drowse of ‘Your Favourite Building’.
Rare studio recording of singular guitarist Tashi Dorji improvising in his maverick vernacular of American-Bhutanese blues - a must check if you like Keiji Haino, Derek Bailey, Cam Deas, Ben Chasny, Sir Richard Bishop.
Arriving after Dorji’s collaborations with everyone from Aaron Turner to Mette Rasmussen and C Spencer Yeh in recent years, the hugely versatile improviser is spotlighted solo with utterly captivating results in ‘Stateless’. Presented as an intensely emotive expression of the “confusion, rage, helplessness and resolve of an immigrant in America today” the recording witness Dorji take blues guitar back to its lyrically expressive roots as a voice of dispossessed people, reeling off a burning range of emotions from his flying fingertips that speak to his exceptional ability to conjure fleeting feelings, sustain or suspend disbelief, and remarkably change direction in the blink of an eye.
From the song titles to the unmistakably impassioned instrumental delivery, Dorji has a lot to say and does so in beguiling style ranging from flurries of quick witted barbs that sound like two guitarist duelling in the parts of ‘Refusal’, to a spellbinding quick/slow fusion of East and West sensibilities in ‘Statues Crumble, Heroes Fall’, and almost baroque, lilting figures that he puckers and twists out into stranger mutations on ‘The Swelling Fruit About to Shatter the Husk of the Old World’, always with a with a masterful balance of sparing precision and directness that holds listeners to a seat-edge intensity befitting of the album’s intentions.
Canny London label Laura Lies In pull together a class of 2020 portrait featuring screwballs from DJ Marcelle, James Marrs, Joe Beedles, Syncom Data, Tony Njoku and more
Spanning offset, earthy grooves and more abstract lines of thought, ‘LLI 008’speaks to the breadth of LLI’s activities since 2016, vacillating crafty oddities by previous label alumni with smart works by an expanded network of allies and new additions to the gang such as Manchester’s Joe Beedles and renowned DJ Marcelle in their producer role for one of the set’s strangest treats.
Introductions first; Simon Benjamin debuts with the grubbing slow techno sidewinder ‘Vera Boila’, and Africa 70 member Tony Njoku gets under the skin with his plaintive chamber soul piece ‘The Ghost That Escaped (Rework)’, where Vanessa follows in suit with the haunted ambient-pop drift of ‘Test’, and Copenhagen’s Astrid Sonne presents the folksy, Björk-like choral beauty ‘Strong, Calm, Slow’. Trust DJ Marcelle to follow their own nose for offbeat swing rhythms and drunken keys in ‘Of Course, Why Do You Ask’, and Joe Beedles tests out some dead slippery but razor sharp computer music tekkers.
Returning to the label’s embrace, Eben Bull follows action on the CVX side with the electro-dub ace ‘Geology’, contrasting neatly with Syncom Data’s scratchier styles in the same niche. James Marrs keeps it perplexing with some Hecker-esque vocal manipulations, and Tara Clerkin weaves flutes and tape into ribboning shapes on ‘The Reek’, all keeping the label’s remit wide open and serving a great entry point for anyone LLI curious listeners.
Brooding fusions of darkwave pop and ‘80s movie synth moves from Not Not Fun veteran Profligate on Brooklyn’s Wharf Cat Records
“'Too Numb to Know' showcases Profligate continuing to shirk the heavy electronics of his early years for razor sharp pop. On 2018's 'Somewhere Else,' Noah Anthony delivered dark pop gems while adding live instrumentations, reinvigorating his songwriting and sonic palette. This new song-driven approach gained praise from Resident Advisor, Pitchfork, Bandcamp Daily and The Wire, exposing Profligate to new listeners.
Too Numb to Know followed Anthony from coast to coast, as he recorded his first demos in Philadelphia and then moved to Los Angeles, a city he found creatively challenging and emotionally depleting. After the theft of his computer—and with it the work he'd done on 'TNTK' in L.A.—Anthony took a friend's suggestion and moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he finished the album and added contributions from allies like Matchess, Lazy Magnet, Gel Set, and Missions, among other.”
Richard Dawson and co’s unique troupe Hen Ogledd brim with timeless indie-disco-pop pep and folksy whim in the follow-up to ‘Magic’ and their killer ’Bronze’ slab.
Notably also counting Dawn Bothwell, Rhodri Davies, and Sally Pilkington (Bulbils) in their number, Hen Ogledd tap back into a strong vein of classic and experimental indie songwriting, fusing ideas from late ‘70s and early ‘80s post-punk and disco-not-disco with more arcane influence from British folk and psychedelia in a sorta familiar but pretty much unprecedented way.
Unmistakeably and pleasingly accented by the sort of Geordie falsetto found on Dawson’s prized solo works, as well as Bothwell and Pilkingotn’s harmonised lilt and snarls, the songs are sometime a bit too much brio for more furrowed heads, but anyone open to a bit of daft pop charm will find something to cling to in ‘Free Humans’.
The results are generally less rabbly than our fave of theirs ‘Bronze’, and more prone to colour and lushness from the uplifting processing of ‘farewell’ to the Wire-like indie-disco drive of ‘Earworm’, and and the acid house disco plushness of ‘Time Party’ or the cantering pomp of ‘Crimson Star’, where Dawson’s vocals genuinely got us chuckling. However it doers get freakier and twisted with ’Skinny Dippers’, a curiously gothic-meets-Italo ode to the thrill of wild swimming, and the impishly possessed hot-step of ‘The Loch Ness Monster’s Song’ for rugged good balance to the effortless elided contradictions of their music.
Moscow’s OL doubles the output on his Asyncro label with an asymmetric, beats-driven definition of modern Russian ambient featuring Sensational and his Serwed collaborator Flaty along for the ride
‘Wildlife Processing’ weighs in as OL’s 2nd solo album proper, sharing a batch of 2017-2020 recordings after last year’s ‘Dismeteo’ debut with Motion Ward. The sound I atypical of current Russian electronics; cold but shatterproof, doing odd things with pliable mutations of hip hop, techno, electronica in a way shared by his collaborator Flaty, as much as Buttechno, or the buckled techno on Gost Zvuk.
A feel for hyperreal sensuality is key to the appeal of Ol’s music and in strong effect here. Taking the natural world in and out of the box until its no longer identifiable as either results in crafty Autechrian organisms such as the slithering ‘Sim Career’ and the Gescom like boom crack of ‘Bercy Station’, or his iridescent stepper ‘Low Enforcement’, whereas ‘Senor22’ works like a washed out Bellows oddity surfaced from the neo abstract deep ends. Micxail aids in the sealing the album’s elusive, fractal qualities with class collaboration on its hypnagogic, gauzy closer ‘Inasan’, and Flaty evens its off-keel style in a smart techno stepper for the ‘floor ‘A4’ that feels like a weightless Ossia tune.
Telas is Nicolás Jaar's 6th full length album, and follows Cenizas from earlier this year.
"Telas (Veils) is multiple things at once. It's a visual terrain created by artist Somnath Bhatt. It's a record by Nicolás Jaar, with key contributions from Milena Punzi (cello), Susanna Gonzo (voice), Anna Ippolito & Marzio Zorio (instrument makers), and Heba Kadry (mastering). It's a digital terrain created by Abeera Kamran where the sounds and illustrations of Telas live in their primordial states. The site was imagined by Abeera, Somnath and Nicolás as a panspermic terrain where no matter -whether existing in thought, physical form or other- has a solid or unmovable origin.
Multiple parts of the music were first played during two shows at The Kitchen in NYC in the fall of 2017, alongside performances by Africanus Okokon and Patrick Higgins."
40th anniversary edition of NWW’s darkly beguiling 3rd album, seeing Steven Stapleton go solo in a slowly spirit-gnawing side of collapsed concrète jazz cut-ups that recall pre-echoes of Mica Levi and Demdike Stare at their most zonked
‘Merzbild Schwet’ documents Stapleton left to his own devices in the studio later in 1980 after bandmates Heman Pathak and John Fothergill left due to dissatisfaction with their collaborative efforts on ‘To The Quiet Men From A Tiny Girl’. The results, in their own way, are perhaps more detectably coherent, in the sense that this is the sound of one man’s mentalism, and not the combination of three who can’t decade who’s weirdest. As such, it’s a real warper, with one side seemingly nodding to a classic Neu! B-sides from behind lysergic eyes, and the other striking deep into a vein of theatric avant-garde.
Recycled from hacked and spliced jazz samples, the A-side’s ‘Dada x’ slops over the front with knackered drums and smeared brass tones that recall the B-side to ‘Neu! 2’ (itself crafted last minute in the studio, using slowed down samples of the same record’s A-side) as much as Micachu & The Shapes’ & London Sinfonietta’s ‘Chopped & Screwed’ session, with additional stirrings from a French pop record adding to the oddness in a way that also recalls Ghédalia Tazartès and that amazing Joseph Hammer side for PAN.
‘Futurismo’ is a very different beast though, stretching out 24mins of pineal, searching-in-the-dark atmospheres that feel like they strayed from an avant garde theatre work or modern classical conservatory, with pealing woodwind and arcing spectral keys paving the way for mind-bending corridors of patchworked sci-fi vocals, shatterproof industrial clangour, and Stapleton's patented plasmic electro-acoustic audness.
Gabrielle Roth’s highly sought-after dance meditation soundtrack from 1996, previously only available on CD, first release on audiophile 45rpm double heavy-weight vinyl.
"Through direct encounters and training from the era’s noted psychologists, philosophers, anthropologists, and spiritual gurus, she single-handedly rediscovered and redefined the ancient shamanic technique of ecstatic dance, establishing a method she named 5Rhythms in the late 70’s.
The practice of 5Rhythms consists of five movements: Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical and Stillness. Through this dance sequence difficulties and obstructions in life can be identified and ultimately overcome. The sequence of the rhythms helps create waves that allow the dancer to reach a point of inner stillness. It is a globally recognised movement meditation practice with over 400 qualified teachers in more than 50 countries. Though Gabrielle Roth passed away in 2012, her spirit and legacy have been passed down through her family and extensive followers. It is still being practiced today.
Music plays a key role in these workshops. Following the shamanic tradition of using live percussion as a driving force, the music is necessarily rhythmic in nature and repetitive enough to focus on self-movement without invasive melodies or lyrics to distract one’s mind. It must be fairly lengthy in duration, with the journey defined by the pulsing waves of emotional flow that guide the body’s movement. The music was not intended to be consumed while socialising, but as an aid to the internal journey into one’s soul. It is minimal, abstract, and atmospheric. As a result of these characteristics (or rather functionalities), their albums didn’t fit into any conventional styles at the time of their release in the early 80s. Theirs is a pure form of dance music that also shares many commonalities with ambient music in the modern context. Yet ambient music had yet to establish itself as a genre at the time despite the early efforts of Brian Eno while underground dance - the genre with which it shares many of its stylistic qualities - was yet to be born. Their releases were rarely appreciated outside of workshops. Between 1982 and 2008, Gabrielle and her husband Robert Ansell produced 16 original albums as Gabrielle Roth & The Mirrors. Robert brought together some of the best studio musicians that New York had to offer while his son Scott - who later became a Grammy-winning sound engineer - recorded and mixed all of their crystal clear productions.
Endless Waves Volume One was originally released on their own private label in 1996 on CD. Comprised of a selection of their past recordings, the first part acts as a seductive entry point into their rhythmic sound world, with Roth’s voice intoning gentle instructions over each track. The opener Body Parts commences with a series of rolling polyrhythmic beats to prepare the body for meditation. From there the music shifts through a series of ambient moods that evoke each of the ‘5Rhythm’ states of being. Atmospheric synths and stately violins combine to help ease into movement on Flowing. Didgeridoos and funky bass lines evoke masculine energy on Staccato before the tumbling rhythms of Chaos encourage the uninhibited release of one’s mind and body. The soft vocal harmonies of Lyrical help the listener towards a lighter, more fluid, and creative state of being creating a becalming state that continues with the deep ritualistic chants and languid drums of Stillness.
The second part of the album consists of a non-guided version of the same journey. Freshly recorded for the album’s release in 1996, the band deliver up an equally vital series of brilliantly realised rhythmic excursions. In the words of Gabrielle Roth: “I have found a language of patterns I can trust to deliver us into universal truths, truths older than time. In the rhythm of the body, we can trace our holiness, roots that go all the way back to zero. States of being where all identities dissolve into an eternal flow of energy. Energy moves in waves. Waves move in patterns. Patterns move in rhythms. A human being is just that, energy, waves, patterns, rhythms. Nothing more. Nothing less. A dance.”
Debut album of perfectly buoyant psych-pop/odd-fi dance with a real bedroom-built charm from Otto, chasing up a string of wonky pearl singles with his first LP for London’s PLZ Make It Ruins (Vegyn, Arthur).
Bubbling with an inventive, all-at-once optimism, rude club quality, and woozy melancholy that recalls Panda Bear or Bullion as much as AFX, Squarepusher and Yves Tumor, the sound of Otto is a delirious proposition that’s bound to catch due attention. He’s surely an enviably creative type with a swelling archive, with only two of his four singles and EPs’ tracks appearing among these 14 new ones, which all spill over with colourful ideas, bow-tied with chirpy IDMelody and kissed off with memorable vocals and hooks that linger.
‘Clam Day’ is a wee beacon of proper, outre poptimism in dark times, is what it is. From a low bitrate-smudged pop vignette worthy of Ariel Pink in ‘Jumping Jane’, to the eyedose acid-house-pop wink of ‘Crystal Hole’, thru deliquescent dill ’n bass pop a la late ‘90s AFX or Squarepusher in ‘Sprained My Ankle’ and ‘Rain Jacket and Shorts’, he proves uncannily adept at doing heartache indie-pop on ‘Guess My Crush’ and ‘Chlorine’, alongside the PC Music-gone-pastoral styles of ‘Spirit Theme’, while still making room for the exceptional intravenal ambient techno dynamics of ‘Microplastics in My Bloodstream’. Honestly we’re beaming, totally under his spell and in need of a number for Otto's acid dealer.
All new compilation placing the spotlight on the Swiss experimental and electronic scene of the ‘80s and the early ‘90s. 'Intenta' assembles hidden gems, sought-after titles and newly mixed versions. It places leftfield synth-pop next to otherworldly jazz, and joins the dots between lyrical post-punk excursions and proto-house experimentation.
"The compilation covers a period of transition: When songs mutated into sounds. When synthesizers and samplers became the règle du jeu in DIY music-making. When a politicized youth movement slowly gave way to the hedonistic embrace of techno culture in Switzerland. Intenta mines the outer fringes of a scene yet to be. Many of these experimenters were pretty much on their own. Often the only way you would get in touch was at the local synth dealer.
A spirit of bold improvisation inhabited studios between Geneva and St. Gallen: these artists were articulating pop sensibilities (Air Project, Sky Bird, D-Sire, Peter Philippe Weiss), entering computer worlds (Claudine Chirac, Olivier Rogg, Carlos Perón), exploring exotic shores (Andreas Hofer, Bells of Kyoto, Fizzè), building future discothèques (Aborted at Line 6, Carol Rich, UnknownmiX) or finding glacial bliss (Dressed Up Animals, Elephant Château, I Suonatori).
The compilation was put together by Matthias Orsett and Maxi Fischer. Intenta unfolds as a sonic story that is laid-back yet energetic, sultry yet daring. The two crate diggers set out to meet with many of the artists arrayed here. Memories were shared, wine bottles opened. There were moments of sadness: Karl Lienert Löwenherz (Dressed Up Animals) and Claudius Scholer (Sky Bird) passed away during the making of this project. What remains of this journey into the backrooms of Swiss popular culture, is Intenta. If you listen closely, it will reveal a nation on the move. Beyond the Matterhorn, there is sweetness and light."
Coil’s gaping vaults give up their esoteric erotic massage parlour soundtrack supplemented by tracks from 1993’s ‘Themes For Derek Jarman’s Blue’. This is Coil at their most beautiful - in places best compared to Art Of Noise's 'Moments in Love'...
After recently cropping up on one of the Threshold Archive CDs, Coil’s seven tracks of creamy new age parlour music make a kinda incredible release on their own, with the culminating cuts for Derek Jarman making for a very happy ending in certain Coil fan’s fantasies. For the most, this is Coil doing sensual New Age music in a very early ‘90s style, all choral harmonies and blushing digital pads primed for your comedown or floatation tank session, but edged with that unfathomable sense of eeriness that’s practically made Coil a byword for all things queered and quasi-mystic.
It gets very weird when the masseuses’ hands turns to tentacle with the plasmic ooze of ‘Part 5’, and in the mix of raga drone and sleazy rhythmic creep in ‘Part 6’, with the set all arranged to lead up to a tantric disco noise climax as only these guys could in the pair of Jarman soundtrack parts recalling their work on the sort sibling soundtrack release, ‘Gay Man’s Guide…’.
DJ Pete aka Substance knocks out two hammer trax in aid of Berlin’s Paloma club on the label set up to support the venue during the Corona Virus crisis
Trust they’re both belters, trotting out some proper marching tackle in the cold, twisted techno girder of ‘Gannets’, and stepping up a gear with the rictus EBM techno drive of ‘Grey Feather’ with its darkroom vocal and gnashing 909s. There’s hardly a better way to support the charmingly dinky Paloma, located above Kotti in X-Berg, than bagging one of these and getting your dancing clogs on.
Quietly coy and beautiful Belgian blooz from legendary coldwave units Smalts and Alain Neffe’s Human Flesh paired on vinyl for first time by Stroom.
Plucked from the shadows of 2006 and 1994, respectively, both songs share a vibe that may well resonate with modern woes. Whether you understand the Dutch lyrics or not, both songs surely deliver their emotive freight thru the slow, genteel music and lowkey captivating vocal styles that call to mind Bill Callahan strumming away with The Durutti Column.
The ponderous vibe of ‘Periodiciteit’ was recorded by Smalts (the later form of Minny Pops) in 2006, and sets Pieter Mulder’s backdrop of soft keys, synths and angelic string strums (sitar/harp?) to a 1966 text by Louis Lehmann in hauntingly melancholy form ideal for soundtracking scenes to the movie of your own life. ‘En De Stad’ by Alain Neffe’s Human Flesh may have been recorded 14 years earlier in 1994, but patently borrows from the same dark oak cabinet of feelings as Smalts’ side, with Trespassers W’s Cor Gout adapting original French text from 1971 into Dutch in a hazy chamber-like arabesque weft from Neffe’s chiming DX7 & SQ1 sampler textures, and spindly-feely guitar by Insane Music fellow Daniel Malempré.
In eleven years of deep digging, Dark Entries has uncovered many curiosities, lone exemplars of the scarsest breeds. They are lurking in Croatia, on the streets of New York, maybe in the back of your own dusty closet - these odd-ball Italo and synth-wave monsters are too rare to live, too divine to die. Once-lost creatures now have a home with Dark Entries’ new Endangered Species series. The inaugural edition features five specimens previously deemed extinct, only mentioned passingly in lore and speculation, but now safely preserved on vinyl.
"The first cut on Endangered Species Vol. 1 is the previously unreleased electro-New Wave gem “Munich” by John King, an artist best known for his work as one half of the Dust Brothers, lauded producers of the Beastie Boys’ legendary Paul’s Boutique. “Munich”, a Danceteria-ready cut produced in 1983, sheds some light on King’s earlier interests, bridging between freestyle and emotive synthpop. Next up is a rare demo version of The Actor’s “Picture 210”. The Dutch duo here channel both the minimalism of Kraftwerk and the Surrealism of Throbbing Gristle to create one of the finest teary-eyed Goth club anthems. Brazil is a synthpop band from Croatia, and they feature with their 1990 cover of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World”, which is sure to turn some heads on the dancefloor. The eerily faithful production belies Brazil’s re-working of the song’s lyrics. “L'Étranger (Ana Gharib)” by Jamal Khe follows, a pearl originally only available on an impossibly rare French 7” from 1983. Khe is from the Ain Beida region of Algeria, and his Arabic vocal melodies perfectly complement the propulsive percussion and airy arpeggios from producer Jacky Bourgogne. Closing the record is the previously unreleased “Abemus Mind” from Marzio Benellil’s project Nightless. Recorded in 1983, this moody, low-tempo Italo groover features Gregorian chant-inspired vocoders and jazzy piano courtesy of Benelli’s collaborator Marco Falagiani.
All songs were mastered for vinyl by George Horn. The sleeve is the first in a series of endangered animal designs by Eloise Leigh, featuring the glam tiger in its natural, 1980’s habitat. Also included is an insert with lyrics, photos, and notes. Please assist us in our efforts to preserve this planet’s weirdest beasts."
Massive beams of choral light and and cavernous shoegaze-ambient introspection from sylph-like spirit Julianna Barwick. Her fourth solo LP in four years is riddled with more nuanced electronic dream-pop and peppered with notable input by Jónsi (Sigur Rós), Mary Lattimore and Nosaj Thing.
“A distinctive meditation on sound, reverb and the voice, “Healing Is A Miracle” is a record built on improvisation and a close affinity to a couple of trusted items of gear, from which she spins engrossing, expansive universes. Additionally, Barwick draws on the input of three collaborators with whom she has nurtured deep friendships with over the years: Jónsi (Sigur Rós), Nosaj Thing and Mary Lattimore; who each gently nudge out at the edges of her organically-evolved sound.
Recorded in the wake of a seismic shift in her life following a move from New York—where she had lived for 16 years—to Los Angeles where she is now based, the title of the record came to her after thinking about how the human body heals itself, of the miraculous processes we pay little attention to: “You cut your hand, it looks pretty bad, and two weeks later it looks like it never happened… That’s kind of amazing, you know?” It’s a sentiment that feels particularly apt for the moment. From there, she conceived of the record’s simple statement title, ran it past a couple of friends, and it was settled. Like with the record itself, and all of her work, it’s about following her gut, and seeing where it takes her.
“Healing Is A Miracle” began life in spring of last year, when Barwick sat down with her vocal looping set-up and began sketching out some ideas for new solo material. “It had been so long since I had done that,” she recalls, “making something for myself, just for the love of it… it was emotional, because I was recording music that was just from the heart, that wasn't for an 'assignment' or project… it brought me to tears a little”.
Part of the joy also came from a small but significant switch up to her recording process: the addition of some studio monitors—a birthday gift from Jónsi and Alex (Somers)—having previously recorded all of her music on headphones. “The first song I remember making with those was the first song on the album, Inspirit.” she explains, “When I added the bass I really felt it in my body, you know, in a way you just wouldn’t with headphones… it was kind of euphoric and fun. I got really excited about making the record in that moment, and I think that really had an impact on the sounds I ended up making.”
Reissue of ear-flicking improv jazz lead by Japanese maestro Masayuki Takayanagi: frighteningly tight and brimming with shifty detail; a classic example of his “non section music” from 1975 brought to light by the amazing Blank Forms Editions
Another prism-challenging and head tweaking ace from the label that brought you stunners by CC Hennix and Graham Lambkin with Joe McPhee, not to mention the last Masayuki Takayanagi New Direction Unit side ‘April is the Cruelest Month’ in 2019, this one packs recordings of his ‘Another Revolvable Thing’ concert in Shinuuku, Tokyo, 1970 in chronological sequence for the first time, spanning the spacious “gradually projection” part, a wild bit of stairs-falling-up-stairs solo drumming, and the utterly head-spinning brilliance of their “mass projection” throw-downs.
Just tip-of-the-tongue sizzling stuff full of confoundingly precise and never repeated movement, it’s sure to ping the pleasure centres of all free improv heads. They sound like a live band playing Parmegiani one minute, or a load of tropical birds let loose in Harry Bertoia’s shed the next, with the mutability of Matsuyuki’s guitar playing maybe best considered like a calligraphic Japanese adjunct to the harsher markings of Derek Bailey, for example. Surely all matched by a shockingly tight unit of Kenji Mori (reeds), Nobuyoshi Ino (bass, cello), and Hiroshi Yamazaki (percussion), whose atomised playing and edge-of-seat anticipation appears to cooperate at supernatural levels of live craft recalling everyone from Ornette Coleman to Kenji Haino.
Blows the cobwebs away we tell ya. Not to be missed!
Baudelaire’s ‘Les Fleurs du Mal’ set to stark solo keys, with skeletal, unadorned production by Susanna and Deathprod giving crystal clear focus to the vocals that really brings the poetry’s timeless, dark realism/fantasy to life with perfectly tempered, immersively minimalist but opulent style of musical dramaturgy and staging...
“Like much of Baudelaire’s work, Susanna’s music probes the limits of desire, and confronts the simultaneous wonder and meaningless of existence. He is often considered one of the first modern poets, whose urban observations frequently dipped into fantasy, sensuality, fevered imagings and eerie horror. Susanna’s selection of ten texts from his masterwork The Flowers of Evil (translated by Anthony Mortimer) cover the full spectrum of Baudelaire’s conflicted expression.
Here you’ll find a creepy cast of witches, pagans, wolves, perverts, thugs, ghosts, vampires and demons. The songs struggle with lust and saintliness, angels and demons, tenderness and sadism, and the relentless march of time, the destroyer. Beauty with an edge of strangeness. Sin as a swallowing abyss. In Susanna’s haunting settings and performance, the poetry of Baudelaire has found its ideal transmitter.”
Self-generating composition ‘abtasten_halten’ finds Frank Bretschneider’s austere yet playful rhythmic minimalism at its most inventive, turning the sound of two VU meter needles into endlessly fascinating permutations via software and synth modules; an ideal candidate if we’ve ever heard one for Jan Jelinek’s Faitiche label.
“Frank Bretschneider on abtasten_halten: "abtasten_halten (sample_hold) is a largely self-generating composition for a modular synthesizer system. Self-generating here means that as soon as a current flows, the various modules interact, but within limits set by the composer via the connections between the modules (patches): timing, tempo, timbres, dynamics. These conditions are kept variable to a certain extent or left to chance, so that the composition created is always similar but never the same. On the one hand, the use of random generators opens up possibilities that would not otherwise have been considered. On the other, it offers the fascination of the unfinished and the unique: totally unexpected musical events that you might hear only once. abtasten_halten combines my preferences for percussive music in general and electronic music in particular. Largely avoiding repetitive structures, the piece is more like a free improvisation, quiet and diffuse, but also extremely dense, in ever-changing contrasts and transformations.
The tone generators are two modified VU meters whose needles, driven by trigger impulses, create a simple one-bar pattern by hitting against a metal spring that is connected to a piezo element. The tempo is continuously varied over a period of about ten minutes by several mutually modulating LFOs, ranging from about 0.06 Hz up to the lower audio range of about 18Hz. The percussive sounds thus obtained are then passed through low-pass filters with moderate resonance and random frequency modulation to additionally color the sound. Further processing is then executed by an echo module whose tempo and repetitions are again determined by random parameters. Finally, the audio signal is occasionally enriched with reverb to add more spaciousness to the sound."
Cult imprint Ghost Phone summon four strong doses of their spectral club soul, taking Brandy, Angie Stone, SZA, and Summer Walker to the haunted dancehall.
Echoing classic strains of US R&B with a UK-tempered mood, the results cover a weightless take on Burial’s flex in ‘Brandy Tool’, while ‘Miss You Anymore’ feels like Joker after a hard breakup, and the way they draw a folksy eldritch elegance out of ‘Babylon’ heavy recalls Various Production, with a killer redraw of Summer Walker and Drake’s ‘Girls Need Love’ gives the ‘floor its hardest feels with trilling 808 and heart-smacking vox.
Jonathan Fitoussi’s awning kosmische epic ‘Plein Soleil’ sets the tone for Transversales Disques Obliques series with a maiden voyage into deep space cinematic ambient
A successor to 2019’s ‘Mirages’ collaboration with JB Dunckel (Air) and this year’s lush split with Ariel Kalma, the latest Fitoussi side scopes lushest panoramas schooled in ‘70s and ‘80s French synth music as much as their German counterparts, layering banks on analog synths (Buchla, EMS Synthi, Moog, Pro-One models) and the retro-futurist tones of a Cristal Baschet sculpture into creamiest kosmiche visions that link back thru JD Emmanuel, JMJ, Aphex Twin and 0PN.
You’d be silly to leave with checking for the SAW-style arps of ‘Corolles’, and once snagged there’s lots to accompany one on the way to bed, or perhaps off out for a spot of stargazing or bivvying on a wild camp with the likes of his tingly beauty ‘Dunes’, the wide-eyed ‘70s sci-fi terraforming of ‘Oceans’ and ‘Continent Blanc’ and his arcing arp dance ‘Soleil De Minuit’.
Hot debut album flex from Italy’s Piezo - highly recommended for the Rian Treanor, Beatrice Dillon, Batu and Kelman Duran heads / new on Hundebiss - label behind Kelman’s ace ‘1804 KIDS’
Making good on the promise of Piezo’s off-kilter and cruddy cuts for Version, 81 and Wisdom Teeth in recent years, ‘Perdu’ sees his rough-hewn style of FM synthesis shapeshifting into raggo jungle, shatterproof techno and rolling UK raver styles that rub up the right way alongside the label’s amazing Kelman Duran album and Lil Ugly Mane’s cult hip hop trips.
The 11 track see Piezo showing his teeth and diversifying his bonds between the sleepwalker swagger of ‘Ox’ and more bolshy technoid rolige like ‘Castrol’ and a standout number in the Rian Treanor-like Singeli-meets-D&B of ‘Rowina’, with the scuffed, hypnotic rhythms of ‘Blue Light Mama Magic’ hitting right between Batu and Don’t DJ. They all prang out at us from the thicket of textures and angular rhythms, and make best sense when absorbed in its wilds and you come across the lilting, glitching 4th World ambient simulacras ‘Amore Tossi’ and ‘QZak.
Most of Lyon’s musical scene is composed of men originating from eastern Algeria, but since the 1950s, the Croix-Rousse and Guillotière cafés have counted musicians from all over Maghreb.
"These cafés were social hubs, where these individuals met up weekly, playing together and sharing their everyday life experience —but they also had a major role in the development of popular music of French-based North Africans. In Lyon, Le But Café in the 3rd arrondissement or the bars on Sébastien Gryphe Street in the 7th arrondissement were among these: one could conduct business there, getting booked for a wedding, a baptism, a gala, or a studio session... all took place there.
Playing together in Lyon. The practice of music was cross-regional with different North African influences, but also with local traditions. These versatile musicians also absorbed new local influences: music within the context of immigra- tion was a perfect school for musical cosmopolitanism. Chachacha or tango versions of some Cheikh El Hasnaoui tracks come to mind, or Mohamed Mazouni’s jerks and twists. Like their predecessors, the musicians in this compilation brilliantly integrate raï or staïfi tunes with disco aesthetics or funk guitar riffs as Nordine Staifi did. You could also think of Salah El Annabi who used the “ Oxygene ” theme (1976) by Jean-Michel Jarre, the Lyon-based composer and electronic music pioneer. “As we say around here, mixed weddings make good-looking lads!” said Abbès Hamou, a musician from Place du Pont. Following on from their musical traditions and unrestrained inventiveness, the musicians’ repertoire naturally assimilated their era’s aesthetics and technologies."
The first Mister Saturday Night Records release in a long while. It’s by Russell E.L. Butler, and it’s called “Blah Blah” - three tracks made in Prague at the Synthesizer Library and one track made in Russell’s pre-New York home in Oakland.
"What are my dreams when they are spoken into real space? Are they statements centering my desires? Are they indictments to hold myself accountable to my vision of life? My consciousness is meandering and at times I celebrate this drone of words. Stripped of meaning, to reveal what’s beneath. Not an answer, but further questions. The purpose of the mantra is to quiet the conscious mind until the spirit takes over. Place is important. It grounds the abstract in our humanity. These things came from somewhere. Many places. To culminate into one. Connecting them all. And creating something entirely new. Not an answer, but more questions."
Hugely playful 2nd album of pop intricacies from Moscow’s Kate NV, chasing up her 2018 debut for RVNG Intl with a devilishly detailed batch touching on ‘80s Japanese pop, Kate Bush’s dream-pop, jazz-fusion and kosmiche ambient
Not wasting a second on bad energies, ‘Room for the Moon’ is brimming with utopian pop spunk and nanoscopic levels of production detail that add up to a delightful definitive portrait of an artist in her creative prime.
From the YMO-esque rhythmic froth and digitally-dubbed prism of ‘Not Not Not’, thru what sounds like Visible Cloaks jamming with Lifted in ‘Du Nu’, to the swirling raga-like arps of ‘Tea (Full Cup Version)’, its tangier partner ‘Lu Na’, and the Radiophonic-esque ambient pop baubles of ‘If Anyone’s Sleepy’, this alum deserves the ears of pop lovers as much as those who can see the link between pop music and the filigree crafted structures of Beatrice Dillon.
…And the earth crack'd to reveal Scott Walker & Sunn 0)))'s colossal offspring 'Soused' in its riveting, tragic glory.
Four years on from their intended collaboration in 'Monoliths & Dimensions', the arch avant-crooner meets the robed duo (and Tos Nieuwenhuizen) at the apex of their powers, presenting a peerless, operatic vision of doom metal informed as much by Native American history and the underground US psyche as experimental jazz and electronic dynamics. We can safely say it matches and surpasses our high expectations of the project, offering a complex, widescreen portal to a chiaroscuro world slashed in black by Anderson and O'Malley and illuminated by Walker's range of possessed vocal personas, from anguished despair to internal torment and shocking convulsions.
Embarking over the bull-whipped Moog bass momentum and banking riffs of 'Brando', Walker is a disturbing yet utterly compelling presence enticing us to cross thresholds into the arcane, uncanny worlds animated by Sunn 0))), whether projecting across the molasses drone trudge of 'Bull' or alternately wilting and lashing out from the percussive attacks and abyssal tar pits of 'Herod 2014'. By 4th song 'Fetish' their path has narrowed to a 'marish corridor of re-amped synth ghouls and spectral noise before distant drums abort the pregnant drones somewhere in the final third, for closing shot, 'Lullaby' to emulsify their unheimlich resolution at its most dramatic, synth-fired and intimate. It's a genuinely remarkable session, surely one of 2014's best.
It's always worth considering the route Scott Walker could have taken following his flirtation with the charts back in the sixties - an endless procession of 'farewell' tours, some dodgy dance collaborations and a slew of moribund chat-show appearances.
He might have even got rediscovered at Glastonbury. However, rather than set-off down the tried and tested slope of endless rehashing of the mythical glory years, Scott Walker has somehow installed himself as one of our most esoteric songwriters - fusing a love of European poetry and experimentation with the intense melodies of A-grade Americana.
Opening through the death-rattle and roll of 'Cossacks Are', Walker's new album 'Drift' is the dictionary definition of the word singular - taking the listener on a highly personal journey that veers from the baroque ('Cue') though to the flippantly paranoid ('The Escape'), without once breaking sweat. With a vocal style that can't help but draw comparisons with the somersaulting larynx of Antony, Walker seemingly delights in the grand gesture; making the likes of 'A Lover Loves', 'Jolson And Jones' and 'Buzzers' edicts on the power of bare-bone production when mixed with such raw talent.
As a new generation emerge in his vision (see London's The Irrepressibles), 'The Drift' proves that Walker still has the modernistic streak which makes his records so enduring. Drift away...
Minor Planets completes a trilogy of cosmically themed electro-acoustic albums by UK and Berlin based trio Twinkle3, 15 years in the making.
"This third installment is once again all about the unique synergies the group discover in combining free group improvisation with studio and musique-concrete techniques. The group's combined love of everything from Lee Perry to Noh Theatre via Karlheinz Stockhausen and King Sunny Ade lead them to respond musically to create a single universe where they all coexist and interact. Aleatoric analogue sequencing, chamber-like acoustic improvisation and dub treatments become distilled into a distinct and emotive narrative that takes us on an exhilarating hyperspace cruise to the outer reaches.
Clive Bell is a virtuoso of the Shakuhachi. His aesthetic takes us on a timbral journey between noise and pitch, expressed and phrased rhythmically by the contour of human breath. This creates a perfect context and focus for a music that moves seamlessly between rhythm, suspension, time modulated analogue states, dissonance and melody. Richard Scott and David Ross share a background in acoustic free improvisation and have pioneered new approaches to rhythm using self-designed analogue systems. On Minor Planets these seemingly paradoxical orthodoxies cross-pollinate in a spirit of wonder and optimism to produce original and experimental music that is both life affirming and uplifting."
40th anniversary edition of NWW’s second album dating back to 1980, wickedly complicating their enigma with a perplexing surrealist collage of psychedelic freeness and communal industrial jams
Available on LP for first time in 30 years, ‘To The Quiet Men From A Tiny Girl’ is still as strange and twisted an album as its title and that artwork would suggest. It marks the group near the start of their bent curve, with Steven Stapleton joined by early members Herman Pathak and John Fothergill, and French avant-garde legend Jac Berrocal on Conch, for a decimated trip into sub- or pre-conscious sound arrangements that get under the skin and unpredictably writhe with a raw, unsettling sensuality dislocated somewhere between snuff film ambience and post-industrial organism.
Leading down their overgrown garden path from 1979’s legendary ‘Chance Meeting On A Dissecting Table Of A Sewing Machine And An Umbrella’, the band’s follow-up could have conceivably moved in any direction after that unprecedented start, and it bloody well does; tripping balls in a way that juices, un-stitches, and messes with then pre-existing frameworks of free jazz, industrial music, and avant-garde experimentalist expression: or simply what would become known as NWW musick.
In tortuously durational side-long works they morph amp hum into licks of fiery psych guitar and cut-up concrète, initially forging a sort of lysergic caveman rock fronted by clangers, that descends into bestial howls, pockets of squealing guitar abstractions and what sounds like a a flock of jazzy geese. And that’s only the first side. The second is equally un/hinged, with cut-up voices pranging from the ether against backdrops of machine elves unscrewing a cavernous workshop at midnight, then gelling into the sickliest music box mælodies and back to avian jazz frolics from another dimension. The band were apparently unhappy with the results of this album, and it remains a fucking weird piece of experimental history.
This compilation opens with a bright and luminous sound exploring at first a narrative, musical dimension, with a moving energy. As a counterpoint, the second half takes us into an intimate and interior space, ending the album in the opposite sphere - calm and ethereal. Each track on the album is produced with a different process, resulting in a wide exploration of landscapes, tonalities and textures.
"POLE - FADING „Fading“ is taken from my forthcoming album and was composed in Spring 2019 while I was working on music inspired by "The Loss of Memory" (Dementia). Very old and long-forgotten details from the past slowly come back to our minds where they remain active, while we forget the most recent memories. We are „Fading“ back to our early days in childhood while we are losing present memory, cognitive skills and physical abilities we have learned during our lifetime.
DANIELA HUERTA (FEAT. CORNELIA THONHAUSER) - LEITMOTIV ‘Alluring black roses in a past dream’. Inspired by words and suspense of movie trailers from the 60’s & 70’s with a slight B movie touch
SAMUEL ROHRER - THE GRID ‘The Grid’ is a reflection on how we are dominated by a descending movement of materialistic desire, which undermines our full potential. Recorded in Berlin, this piece is part of an ongoing process to organically blend textures of percussive and melodic synths with acoustic percussion, singing drums and its overtones
VLADISLAV DELAY - SIX ’Beyond pattern, we are taken aback to the very beginning of development’. Created early 2014 before ”Visa” album. Music has been kept as it was originally made
JAKE MUIR - NILAS Nilas, a thin elastic crust of ice, was recorded at the Banff Centre for the Arts, having been inspired by the cold climate there. The piece is sourced from material given to me by Chris Herbert, plus two personal field recordings made in Banff and Iceland
HOTEL NEON - MONOLITH Written and recorded by Hotel Neon in Dayton, OH, Philadelphia, PA, and Baltimore, MD. "Monolith" is a reflection on vast landscape, and in particular the power that high mountains have on us: motionless, timeless, and monolithic forms that still manage to play very active roles in shaping our imagination. "I knew when I had looked for a long time that I had hardly begun to see.” - Nan Shepherd
International Anthem coax a chilly but lush new age ambient and spiritual jazz suite from a revered L.A. duo Carlos Niño & Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, taking their cues from Chicago’s legendary Lake Shore Drive in early winter and sounding out like Alice Coltrane on ice.
Finding a logical and natural home for two of North America’s most esteemed contemporary jazz players, ‘Chicago Waves’ sees the west coasters adapt their typically lush sound during a performance at the city’s iconic South Shore Cultural Centre, after rehearsals in Makaya Craven’s Universal Beings, with gently frosted and widescreen results surely ripe for one of USA’s most prominent, open-minded jazz labels.
Anyone familiar with the pair’s sprawling catalogue of solo and collaborative records and performances for others on Leaving Records, Stones Throw, and myriad other labels will recognise the duo shifting their usually warm and expansive style to a sound that clearly evokes colder places. However they can’t help but allow light to colour the scene with rich string movements and avian woodwinds that describe life in early winter with a exquisitely filigree mix of nods to wintry classical composition filtered in a subtly unusual way thru Latinate new age and spiritual jazz’s classic blend of African, Indian and Far eastern modes. We imagine this would all sound lush in the tropics at Christmas.
The second of three albums released in 1999 for the cult label co-run by Richard D James and Grant Wilson-Claridge, Samurai Math Beats exists somewhere between the outsider jungle mined by labelmates Aphex Twin and Squarepusher and the sun-bleached public information music of Warp artists such as Plone and Boards Of Canada.
"Whilst many listeners at the time were left scratching their heads at the full on collision of hyperkinetic rhythms and arcade game melodies, in many ways the record pointed the way towards future musical mutations, from the frenetic BPMs of footwork to the deconstructed pop music of Mica Levi.
It also marks the launch of a new Disciples sub-imprint, R.A.T.S. Whereas the main Disciples LP series documents unreleased tracks and creates new bespoke collections of an artists work, and the ‘half-disciples’ cassette series takes deeper dives into the catalogue of the focus artist; the R.A.T.S. series is a bit more traditional and will release select represses of out-of-print albums, with original art and masters faithfully reproduced."
In May 2018, Jaimie Branch took up a month-long residency in the shipping container-turned-recording studio at Pioneer Works, an arts center down the street from her home in Red Hook, Brooklyn. She called up Jason Nazary, and he rolled by the studio loaded with acoustic drums, electronic triggers, modular FX unit, synths, sequencers, and a myriad of processors. Branch engineered the sessions, and brought her rig to the table: trumpet, synths, delay/looper pedal, auxiliary percussion, and a Roland TR08 drum machine. They did what they always do — rolled tape and started from nothing.
"In the Fall of 2019, they set out for the “Ante-Myths Sonic Projections Tour” that took them across the US alongside DC duo Blacks’ Myths. For the journey, they self-produced a super limited-edition tour tape, Tour Beats Vol. 1, which features recordings from those Pioneer Works sessions.
For Summer 2020, International Anthem is proud to re-present Anteloper’s Tour Beats Vol. 1 on 45RPM 12” vinyl in a package featuring artwork by Branch, photos by Richard Ross, and liner notes as poem, again, by Rob Mazurek..."
Deadly tight and deeply swaggering jazz grooves from Chicago dynamo Makaya McCraven, joined by an illustrious ensemble for a ravishing suite, RIYL owt from Carl Craig to Tortoise, Squarepusher and Plug .
Expanding 2018’s ‘Universal beings’ album, proper, ‘Side E + F’ share further results of the sessions helmed by Makaya McCraven, and also featuring a crack squad of LA’s Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and Carlos Niño (whose related LP is also ace) and Anna Butterss’ devilish basslines, plus Tortoise’s Jeff Parker from Chicago, and Shabaka Hutchings on the London cuts, with myriad other notables contributing to the album’s lissom swing and cool drive.
Check for highlights everywhere from the in-the-pocket hustle of ‘Everybody Cool’, to the Innerzoen Orchestra style bustle of ‘Half Steppin’’ and ‘Mal Attack’, to the delectable psychedelic syncopation of McCraven’s needlepoint drums and Butterss’ lissom bass in ‘Butterss Fly’, or the low key shuffle of ‘Her Name’ and ‘Isms’ at the album’s aching downstrokes.