Remarkable collaboration between inventor, synth pioneer and EMS co-founder Peter Zinovieff and preeminent cellist Lucy Railton, capturing a life-altering dialogue between two figures with a more than 50-year age gap between them, and with very little shared musical vocabulary. Pursuing common ground through an open-ended series of conversations and experiments, the pair somehow produce what we can only describe as creative alchemy; transforming banal conceptual triggers into a work seeping into almost mystical dimensions, with immense personal resonance.
Initially conceived as a live project between the pair and performed at various festivals internationally between 2016-2017, this 35 minute recording feels like just one possible manifestation of an ever-evolving process, a one-off reproduction of an impossible image. The pair started working instinctively, playing to each of their strengths - Railton’s radical ideas, energy and technique, and Peter's inventive, impulsive thinking. Fuelled by their surroundings and through an exchange of ideas, the process they eventually embarked on saw Zinovieff model a computer-synthesised composition made from a series of Railton’s cello improvisations, creating a complex cluster of intricate parts that couldn’t ever be performed by human hands. Over the resulting web, Railton added solo cello to create a kind of double-helix where you’re never quite sure where one sound begins, or ends.
In essence, Railton’s cello provides a radical variable - a sort of spirit in the machine - which is diffused, inverted and scattered by Zinovieff. At the atomic level: chaos reigns. Zoom out a bit, though, and you start to see filigree detail and shapes emerge. It’s this intangible aspect that makes the piece so much more than just a document of process, or experimentation.
It’s worth noting that Railton is here the catalyst for what can be considered Zinovieff’s definitive work in an illustrious career spanning 60 years; RFG is, remarkably, his first ever album. And despite its unwavering, un-sentimental spirit - it’s an album that ultimately speaks to a very modern human condition; the search for common understanding when there is so much that separates us. Inter-generational differences. Our interaction with, and perception of, the world around us. Our relationship with technology. And despite that very academic-sounding title; our individual need to find and nurture the things and ideas that bind.
Exceptional, 15 minute long dancer from Beatrice Dillon, blessing the 12 x 12 series with a concatenated ‘nuum sidewinder Can I Change My Mind?, where the London-based artist nimbly finds the square roots of jungle, techno, noise and minimalist dance music firmly anchored in steppers’ dub and West African percussive tradition. If you’ve ever been snagged by Sotofett, DJ Krust or Shackleton’s devilish dubs, this one’s for you!
Since first emerging with a highly regarded monthly NTS radio show, a reel of widely-praised mixtapes for The Trilogy Tapes, Blowing Up the Workshop and, most recently, a mix with Ben UFO for Wichelroede, Beatrice’s uniquely focussed solo works - including two excellent EPs for Where To Now? and a split with Karen Gwyer - along with two acclaimed LPs with Rupert Clervaux and her recent remix for Helm on the PAN label, have all come to define a curious juncture of worldly rhythm studies and probing electronics which arguably exists in a long lineage of avant-garde experimentation done at the service of ‘floors both real and imagined.
Can I Change My Mind? is Beatrice’s most tracky solo production to date, and also the most singular, adroit demonstration of what makes her tick, combining and parsing the most affective, tactile parts of Black Atlantic percussive patterns with a learned appreciation of dub-style economy and concrète texturing.
Across 13 minutes of morphing, fractious rhythm, Beatrice renders clear the prismic and rhizomic dub binds and syncopations that connect original, rolling African drum traditions with Afrobeat and highlife, and likewise between proper UK roots steppers, house and ‘90s jungle, or, for that matter, the mosaic of modern antecedents which continue to be informed by those styles - from the rites of Shackleton to Tessela’s visceral techno swerve and the mercurial grooves of Rian Treanor or her sometime collaborator, Kassem Mosse.
Urged by the intuition of a helpless riddim fiend and premo DJ, Beatrice nimbly synchs swollen, globular bass, needlepoint hi-hats and shocks of flinty amens at 150bpm in a deadly, mutating bogle, effectively exploring every interstice of half, double, and triplet-timed calculation with devilish sleight of hand and cadence; never letting the ball drop whilst suggesting myriad points of interpretation for the dancers and DJs.
It’s a singular work of experience, intuition and technique, and perhaps surprisingly only her 3rd solo release proper. But its daring ruggedness and stringency is a clear indication that Beatrice Dillon is only just warming up and coming into her own. There’s only one side, one track. But it’s all you need.
After two feverishly received albums as King Krule, plus another low-key outing under his own name, the 25-year-old from Peckham in South London adds further depth and substance to his oeuvre with another wondrous long-player called ‘Man Alive!’. It arrives packed full of his trademark sonic ambition and compositional skill, as well as the now-familiar corrosive lyricism and lurid social observation.
"In an accompanying video, his first foray into directing, Archy Marshall’s long-time love of cinema seeps, pulling influences from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s classic The Passion of Joan of Arc while still creating a typically wry King Krule visual."
Rapturous blasts of synth & sax from John Chantler and Johannes Lund, unleashing expressions of elemental chaos in their 2nd self-released throw down. It’s clear to hear the duo’s near-precognitive familiarity with each other’s sonic lust oozing out of all three pieces - brilliant stuff.
In the first they appear to scare the insides of a massive, resonating skull with their biting-point synth distress and dizzyingly breathless sax blurt holding a gloriously ear-flossing intensity for 14 minutes. At the mid-way point, the transition from tense hush to bestial discord and pastoral sound in ‘Open Field & Forest’ acts as crisply sparse and enigmatic palate cleanser for the B-side’s ‘Under Barn Floor’, which follows thru with guttural, sustained blasts of fog horn sax gnawed with insectoid electronic crackle and iridescent organ tones dispersed across the soundfield to stealthily breathtaking effect.
“Recorded during the summer of 2019, while the duo were on a residency in rural Sweden, the LP’s three works present a radical rethinking of aural collectivism. Each is a space within which the environment and its many actors — the floorboards of a barn, a grassy field, distant hills, insects, the pulse of an electric fence, or a passing tractor, threaded with the tones and responses of Lund’s saxophone and Chantler’s pump organ and synth — are given equal presence and voice. A clear, conceptual extension of both artists’ long standing pursuits of collaboration and the building of context, whether creatively or as facilitators, notably via Chantler’s Edition Festival in Stockholm, and Lund’s work within the Danish community as a founder of the legendary space, Mayhem. Andersabo represents a rigorously forward thinking rendering of utopian sound, inextricable from the joy, playfulness, and humour with which it was made. Two artist bound by friendship, dramatically opening the sense of creative possibility for the next.”
Exquisite neo-folk from Kiev Ukraine, 1995, dropping on the mind’s eye like freezer-fresh LSD to conjure bucolic imagery fraught with a frazzled, hyaline tension that could snap either way.
"Svitlana Nianio and Oleksandr Yurchenko are musicians with a long history in the still-mysterious Kiev Underground. Nianio’s first group Cukor Bela Smert [Sugar, The White Death] were active from the late 80’s through to the early 90’s, and following an intense period of touring, collaboration, experimentation and a string of mixtapes and self-published recordings, Nianio’s first official solo album ‘Kytytsi’ was released in 1999 by Poland’s Koka Records. Oleksandr Yurchenko, a longtime collaborator and a pivotal figure in the Kiev music scene, was instrumental in creating the Novaya Scena, a loose conglomerate of artists who encouraged each other to excavate both the sounds of the West and Ukrainian tradition. ‘Znayesh Yak? Rozkazhy’ (‘Know How? Tell Me’) is the duo’s most fully realised collaboration, an enchanting, complete world in which Yurchenko’s instrumentation and playfulness with form frames Nianio’s otherworldly soprano, recalling Liz Fraser steeped in contrapuntal melody and hymnal improvisation. Originally made available on a self-released cassette in 1996 (re-issued in 2017 by Ukraine’s Delta Shock label) where the album was twinned with ‘Lisova Kolekciya’ (re-issued on LP in 2017 by Skire) this is the debut release of ‘Znayesh Yak? Rozkazhy’ outside of Ukraine.
Recorded in an abandoned park in Kiev during a fertile period for artists and musicians following the collapse of the Soviet Union, ‘Znayesh Yak? Rozkazhy’ sees Nianio and Yurchenko combine Casio keyboard, hammered dulcimer, percussion, and Nianio’s unmistakeable soprano vocalisations to create music sympathetic to the specific locations in which they chose to record. Yurchenko’s contribution is perhaps more present on this recording than anything else we have heard from the duo. His percussive dulcimer playing provides the basis on which Nianio can weave delicate keyboard lines while playfully contorting her voice, shifting from a low register reminiscent of Nico to what could be perceived as the call of a bird or an animal in distress. Whatever the intent, the effect is haunting and beautiful in equal measure. There’s a prevailing earthiness on the recordings, found in the warm hiss of the lo-fi means of recording or the grinding, unspecified sounds that occasionally accompany the melody, like drones created on the fly by hands trying to keep warm in the ice. A prevailing mood of fragility and beauty seeps from these melodies, delicate moments of clarity spun by the two musicians. ‘Znayesh Yak? Rozkazhy’ is a dream spun in twilight, a crystalline, private world where the listener feels both alien and welcome.”
Magisterial debut LP from Rebecca Foon, a cello player involved with many of Montreal’s greatest bands, here presenting her quietly arresting vocals buoyed by cinematic string and piano arrangements in a suite of rustic folk-pop ballads, torch songs, and swooning dream-pop. RIYL Susanna, Marissa Nadler, A Silver Mt. Zion...
“Rebecca Foon, the composer and musician behind Saltland and Esmerine (and former longstanding member of Silver Mt. Zion) presents a new album entitled Waxing Moon. While best known as an incomparable cellist crafting textural soundscapes and instrumental chamber-rock in the aforementioned projects (and more recently recognized for her creative and organisational work as cofounder of Pathway To Paris), this new collection of songs finds Foon emphasizing piano and voice with striking intimacy and elegance, showcasing a captivating evolution in her always resplendent songwriting. The climate crisis has profoundly framed Foon’s political and artistic life for many years now, and Waxing Moon finds her writing and singing her most arrestingly direct yet poetic words, tapping universal and personal heartbreak in both despair and hope.
With Waxing Moon, Rebecca sets side the Saltland moniker – her electronically-tinged string-centric project from the past five years – to release this more personal new work under her own name. The album's ten songs are predominantly minimal and delicate, immersive and hauntingly beautiful – with vocal-driven tracks booked-ended by piano-based instrumentals, along with one up-tempo guitar-driven number ("Wide Open Eyes") that closes out Side One. While piano figures most prominently on the record, Foon continues to play cello on several tracks, complemented by gentle touches from a close coterie of musical guests including Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire) and Mishka Stein (Patrick Watson) on acoustic and electric basses, Sophie Trudeau (Godspeed You Black Emperor) on violin, Jace Lasek (The Besnard Lakes) on electric guitar, and Patrick Watson as co-vocalist on the dreamlike "Vessels". Foon co-produced the album with Lasek at Montréal's Breakglass studio and it sounds glorious.
Waxing Moon is Rebecca Foon's first eponymous release: a sublimely stunning, bracingly intimate, glimmeringly full-hearted new chapter in her celebrated musical catalog. Thanks for listening.”
An exceptionally weird and charming example of early ‘80s Japanese synth-pop, ambient dub, experimental prog, and acid folk, Masumi Hara’s ‘4 X A Dream’ (1984) is newly expanded with demos and reissued internationally for the first time
“A seamless mix of the organic and inorganic, the recent past and distant future, and the possible and impossible, Japanese multi-media artist Masumi Hara’s sophomore album arrived like a fish on the moon in 1984. An album filled with contradiction and purpose, 4 X A Dream is both balearic acid folk and damaged steel drum dub, hi-tech new wave balladry and ambient synth pop. Classical and neoimpressionist vibes haunt and entrance. Quite possibly the most unique LP you’ll ever add to your collection.”
Ben Chasny sets fire to his sound in ‘Companion Rises’ with a strong influence from kosmische electronics and psych-pop added to his root blues and avant-garde inspirations, arriving at a sort of Sci-Folk style shared by the likes of Current 93, Alexander Tucker and Sun City Girls.
“Six Organs of Admittance is back after 3 years with a new record, new techniques in sound generation, and a new attitude. Companion Rises has a driving force only hinted at with previous releases. Manipulating the rhythmic DNA from songs such as the bass-dominated “Taken by Ascent” (on his last record, Burning the Threshold), Ben Chasny has grown a new sound creature in his lab that is as welcoming as it is terrifying and as fun to listen to as it provocative and intriguing.
Methodologically, Companion Rises sometimes recalls the early-mid low-fi work of Six Organs, with modern techniques swapping digital processes in for the analog techniques of those early days, and algorithmic programs creating the rhythms rather than Ben’s overdubbed hand percussion. Also like those early records, Companion Rises has Ben creating all the sounds, doing all the recording and mixing the entire record himself. But do not mistake this as some sort of return to an older sound. One listen and it is obvious that this Six Organs of Admittance release is all in the present. One thinks of Octavio Paz’s oft used metaphor of the concentric circle, as Companion Rises returns to a similar place but is much farther out from the center.
Sonically, Ben’s songs are bursting with ideas, harmonically rich, gorgeously arranged; often presenting two versions at once, overlaying electric and acoustic treatments that interlock like two shards that form a single key. Companion Rises plays like a mutant joining of avant and good-time forces, as if Faust produced The Revolution instead of Prince, or This Heat recorded on top of Amon DuuI’s classic "Paramechanical World," but left a few of the original tracks to bleed through. Waves of electric fields wash across the record like a charged Pacific Ocean and guitar solos slice through at various intervals in a warped and fractured way of shreddage, not totally unlike the imagined sound of Edie Hazel jacking into the CPU in Tron.
Thematically, many songs on Companion Rises seem to navigate a similar Stellar-Gnosticism that 2012’s Ascent explored, but with a completely different set of stories. Whereas Ascent was locked into a narrative concerning a sentient Jupiter, Companion Rises presents a handful of folk-tales whose topics span in scope from panspermia to specific constellations, all written in a way that eschews new age presentation tropes and embraces the now. With Companion Rises, Ben has created a Sci-Folk record that feels totally in the right place welcoming in the new decade.”
The voice of the late, great Mark E. Smith appears riddled into four parts of freakish electronics by Jan St. Werner, his erstwhile bandmate in Von Sudenfed. Includes a chuckle-worthy cut featuring Mark reading Domino’s rejection letter to VS, lol
“Molocular Meditation is a bespoke light and sound environment featuring the voice of the Fall’s Mark E Smith. Smith is heard making observations on mundane objects, events and a range of meditation techniques basically associating his discontent with an apolitical british upper class. His voice forms the narrative component of an electroacoustic composition by Jan St. Werner placed in a hyper-real scenario evoking a state of transformation and deceleration. Molecular Meditation premiered at Cornerhouse, Manchester in 2014. This album presents a re-edited stereo version of the original multi-channel installation. Voice and guitar feedbacks were recorded by Werner and Smith at Blueprint Studios Manchester, electronics in Werner’s Studio in Berlin.
The B-side consists of unreleased new work partly written around the same time as Molocular Meditation in context of Werner's Fiepblatter Catalogue on Thrill Jockey. Back to Animals is a non-metric rhythm exercise frantically hybridizing percussive accents with synthesized pulse. On the Infinite of Universe and Worlds is the layout for an electronic opera on Giordano Bruno’s Renaissance writings which Werner was asked to conceptionalize for Finish festival Musica Nova. VS Canceled finds Mark E. Smith reading an email from Domino Records explaining their discontinuation of Von Sudenfed, a band Mark E. Smith had founded with Mouse on Mars' Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma in 2006. Their debut album Tromatic Reflexxions came out on Domino in 2007.
The vinyl record, cut with a diamond needle, delivers as much dynamic range as the digital format.”
Aïsha Devi’s Danse Noire imprint returns with this absorbing new album of glassy electronics and futuristic soundscaping from French-Canadian newcomer Racine, sitting somewhere in between the artificial life forms of Kara-Lis Coverdale’s ‘Aftertouches' album, the sweeping vistas of Autechre’s ‘Amber' and Arca at her most glacial.
Transmuting the worries of the world into sorely bittersweet electronic compositions, 'Quelque Chose Tombe' (something falls) offers a fully realised sound that makes a virtue of biting point dissonance, something that places Racine in good company among Danse Noire’s roster of fleshy conduits for what Aïsha Devi terms her "Spirit Liberation Front”. Fluidly adept at speaking the language of hyper-contemporary electronic music, they gradually sketch out a labyrinthine album intended to reflect a modern life of “grinning through worry, living in insecurity”, where “to be vulnerable is the new normal; afraid, a bare minimum”.
Racine wring as much emotion as possible from each curdled chord and warbling note in fractal patterns that connote the elusive nature of the future and the intense flux of emotions that never seem to go anywhere, but only compound into feedback loops of anxiety and impotent anguish as the bridges burn in front of us. They run from the remarkable ‘Sujet’ - a dead ringer for some of Kara-Lis Coverdale’s most emotionally absorbing and complex work, to the sublime 'Désordre Baroque’, where the same motifs are wrapped around barely-noticeable key changes that remind us of Talk Talk’s 'Laughing Stock's quietest moments, before a heavily vocoded voice fractures into several trajectories all at once, like mercury slivers on the loose.
By the time ‘Geranium’ arrives, choral voices, flutes and distortion take things to more epic and forlorn dimensions, with "Sans Titre” prescribing drone and bird song as a kind of short-lived catharsis.
crys cole beckons us to listen closer with the skin touch intimacy, isolationism and drone poetry of her 2nd solo album, leading on from a string of uniquely quizzical collaborations with Oren Ambarchi, Francis Plagne, Leif Elggren.
“Beside Myself is the second full-length release from Canadian sound artist crys cole. Known to many through her extensive collaborative practice with artists such as Oren Ambarchi, Leif Elggren and James Rushford, in her solo work cole uses contact microphones, voice, simple electronics and field recordings to create sonic environments that linger uneasily at the threshold of perception. Demonstrating how cole’s work has developed and deepened since the relative austerity of her first solo LP Sand/Layna (2015, Black Truffle), Beside Myself offers two lushly immersive side-long pieces that explore ideas of compositional drift.
'The Nonsuch' is inspired by the aural hallucinations experienced in the hypnagogic state during the onset of sleep. Opening with scratching contact mic textures and unintelligible vocal murmurs, the piece threads together live and studio performances with field recordings of urban environments to create a texture that is at once seemingly consistent and marked by constant transitions. Individual elements rise up from the background thrum only to disappear just as we become conscious of them; heterogenous sounds and spaces succeed one another with the unassailable logic of dreams.
'In Praise of Blandness (Chapter IX)' also focusses on drift and transition, but in a much more single-minded way. Over a rich, slowly-evolving organ drone, cole reads a passage from the French sinologist François Julien’s book In Praise of Blandness exploring the concept of ‘blandness’ in the Taoist aesthetics of sound. Beginning crisp and clear, cole’s voice becomes gradually less distinct over the course of the piece, the spoken words blurred by resonant frequencies à la Lucier’s I Am Sitting in a Room until we are left with only the rhythm of incomprehensible speech. The text that cole reads acts a perfect description of her aesthetic project: ‘We hear it still, but just barely, and as it diminishes it makes all the more audible that soundless beyond into which it is about to extinguish itself. We are listening then, to its extinction, to its return to that great undifferentiated matrix’.
- Francis Plagne (November, 2019)”
Djrum strikes a fine balance between his beats and rekindled classical piano skills, also featuring Zosia Jagodzinska (Cello), and Lola Empire (Vocals). Check for canny highlights in the rudely serpentine swerve of Sex and the scrollin hardcore tapestry of Showreel, Pt. 3.
“'Portrait With Firewood' is Felix’s most personal body of work to date, the product of an emotionally turbulent 2017, capturing the range of feelings and emotions he went through in vivid sonic beauty. By putting aside his previous sampleadelic approach he returned to his childhood instrument of the piano as a core starting point.
"It's a confessional record… I realise that's a word mostly used to describe singer/songwriter rather than (largely) instrumental music, but I think it's apt. There's a sort of emotional candour.”
Felix is classically trained in the jazz tradition and influenced by the likes of Keith Jarrett and Alice Coltrane. Previously he was shy at the prospect of fans hearing his piano playing, but determined to overcome this fear he has brought forward a new honesty to his work. "Finding the confidence to work with my own piano improvisations was a big part of that. Once I had figured out how I was going to make the music, it actually fell in to place rather quickly.”
Felix's goal was to create something "overwhelmingly beautiful", but also to capture the "inherent melancholy in beauty in all it's impermanance and fragility". He took inspiration and solace from performance artist Marina Abramovic. "She has an incredibly deep understanding of the human condition, and expresses it in such a poetic way. Many of the themes of her work had particular resonance for me over the course of 2017 as I worked on the album. I was moved to tears on several occasions watching her videos or reading about her work.”
Felix collaborated with cellist Zosia Jagodzinska and vocalist Lola Empire. Jagodzinska recorded several takes of improvisations over the track 'Creature' which Felix would chop, pitch and layer into new melodic lines and seed throughout the album.
Felix's new approach expanded to experimentation with field recording, contact micing his beloved piano and purchasing his first hardware synth, all in service of enriching the personal, humane quality of the record. "Music helps me to communicate the sorts of things that I find almost impossible to put in to words. I think the process for this album has helped me create a more rich and emotionally complex body of work than I have managed before.””
Among electronic music’s most intriguing new artists, Zoë McPherson devilishly complicates her sound in adeventurously strong 2nd album starring Elvin Brandhi and Greetje Bijma. Really strong LP this.
Chasing up her debut LP ’String Figures’ (2018) and last year’s collab with Rupert Clervaux, ‘States of Fugue’ frames Zoë’s sound at its most elusive/illusive and cryptic, weft with samples of uncertain origin and sledding into unexpected places of enquiry.
"On ‘States Of Fugue’, Zoë Mc Pherson orchestrates a very personal, tactile and fluid journey through emotions that range from subdued calm through to outright rage and playful devastation. She takes plunges into the deepest depths, lead by multiplied voices from the distance, with sounds crawling from beneath the surface of bass-frequencies, with what we can only describe as a rubbery synth glue (check ‘Growth’) before untangling all the tension in a whirlwind of mangled percussion (Exile) and letting completely loose on the rhythm-driven ‘Taste’… And this is just a pointer towards the three opening tracks!
As the record continues, we visit vast worlds via Zoë Mc Pherson’s forward-thinking, left-turn taking sound. We haven’t even reached the polyrhythmic banger ‘Tenace (Dogs On Road)’ and the vocal disturbance of ‘Get It!’ yet, and we’re already super-charged on Zoë’s unique energy.
Although her roots as a drummer can be heard throughout the record’s versatile and deft appliance of off-setting rhythms and the unique unscrewing of percussive elements, it’s the use of her voice that carries the record through so effectively. The direct stream of voice that locks in and out through each tune, wether in a directly understandable form or in a more guttural, effected shape really gives the record its feeling. The noises are relatable even in their strangest shape, and the narrative only compliments the sentiments of sound within. On ‘Learn Your Language Faster’ with Elvin Brandi on vocals, Zoë found her perfect match in terms of this vocal-charged message."
Shanghai’s pioneering SVBKVLT imprint finally make one of last year’s defining albums available on vinyl for the first time. 33EMYBW tangles up footwork, deco-club music and trilling trap wrapped in complex, futuristic electronic structures accross 7 tracks, with additional remixes by Lechuga Zafiro, Ikonika, and Hakuna Kulala’s Don Zilla.
Originally Issued on download formats late last year to coincide with its live premiere at Poland’s Unsound festival, ‘Arthropods’ is now available on a limited vinyl pressing for the first time and manifests as the alien spirit twin of the soul-seeking creatures 33EMYBW brought to (semi)life in the ‘Golem’ album. Her animist powers appear strengthened here, generating unique constructions that synthesise aspects of footwork, deco-club music and trilling trap with crystalline melodies and a virulent, gremlin-in-the-machine sort of madness.
This stuff is pretty much exactly what we reckon a lot of folk imagined music to sound like in the year Blade Runner takes place. From the lush pads and flyaway chorales of ’Symmetry’ 'Arthropods' delivers a futurist rush of probing electronic tones and posthuman, bone-bending rhythms between the rail-gunning attack of ‘Tentacle Centre’ and the tri-step trills of ‘Induce’, packing thrilling runs into dembow DNA mutation with ‘Adam Bank’ and a sort of militant sino-soca-footwork style in ‘Arthropods Continent’, while ‘Drum3’ sounds like it evolved from a patch left on a synth in the Radiophonic Workshop.
For the remixes, Ikonika evens out ‘Arthropods Continent’ into a sort of bucking ballroom workout, and Lechuga Zafiro reins in ‘Adam Bank’ with a fidgety parry, but Uganda’s Don Zilla keeps it out there with a cyclonic twyst on ‘Drum3.’
Spritely harbinger of doom Grimes coughs up her long-in-the-making grungy riffs on climate change and modern worries in a hugely anticipated 5th album of puckered, penetrative pop brilliance.
Under the ‘Miss Anthropocene’ mantle, Canada’s Claire Boucher aka Grimes transmutes the psychic anxiety of modern life into a 10 song concept album about an “anthropomorphic goddess of climate change”. The record has a much darker vibe than 2015’s ‘Art Angels’, and sees her craftily come to own the media’s implications that she’s some sort of “villain” due to her relationship with Tesla founder and multibillionaire, Elon Musk; taking on a sort of anti-hero role or caricature inspired as much by fictional characters such as The Joker as the gods of Roman mythology in order to personalise and make relatable the almost hard-to-grasp scale of climate change, rather than guilt-trip you into doing your recycling.
It’s surely fair to say that ‘Miss Anthropocene’ is the ultimate manifestation of Grimes bittersweet style of cyberpunk techno-pop. All the ideas found on her run of albums since 2010’s ‘Halfaxa’ are now distilled and refined into a sound that hits the spot dead-on, twisting the last 25 years of emosh pop and prevailing underground trends - from grunge and nu-metal to ethereal wave styles - into her singular, subversively ironic strain of wavey techno-pop. It’s a sound that will surely resonate with anyone over the age of 30, and we can only hope that the irony isn’t lost on youngsters taking up the fight against climate change in earnest, as Grimes’ POV appears to acknowledge and smudge a subtle cognitive dissonance between the broad sections of society termed boomers, Generation X, Xenniels, Millennials, and Generation Alpha thru her self-produced and written palette of sonic and lyrical references.
From the cold breeze of LP opener ’So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth (Algorithm Mix)’, with vocals placed high in the mix over stark, roiling electro, to the relative optimism of ‘Idoru (Algorithm Mix)’, which is flush thru with bittersweet melodies recalling her early records, the album is a richly absorbing and entertaining experience, enlivened with mutual souls such as Pan Wei-Ju on highlight ‘Darkseid’, and I_o in the proper power pop of single track ‘Violence’, which shares a confidence in common with ‘My Name Is Dark (Algorithm Mix)’, while ‘You’ll Miss Me When I’m Not Around’ mixes cartoonish and melancholy in equal measures, and ‘Before The Fever’ highlights the generational/stylistic/emotional difference between Grimes heart-on-sleeve style of pop and, say, the numb shrug-pop of Billie Eilish.
What you are listening to is the sound of a forgotten instrument. It has existed since the middle ages, but the earliest example still intact is from 1608.
"Once a staple in most households in the low countries, it is a true folk instrument, of the people, mainly played in the past by women who used their kitchen tables as a resonating surfaces to amplify & accompany traditional religious & secular tunes. Nowadays it seen rarely outside of museums in Brussels & other places you most likely have never heard of. It is not spectacular, its simplest version is just a long thin box with strings on top. Some of the strings are melody strings, which have frets placed underneath them, some are drone strings that have no frets. Traditionally it was strummed with a goose feather & notes were made by sliding a hard stick with a handle, from fret to fret on the melody strings leaving the drone strings ringing openly. The constant hum of the drones is where the name of the instrument comes from: bumblebee, which in Flemish, is a hommel.
The hommel has all but disappeared from the collective memory of Flanders. If it is seen outside of a display case, it is usually being played in a static way, denied the right to evolve & find a more contemporary voice. It has thus been replaced in the hearts of most Belgians by acoustic guitars & the more well known Appalachian dulcimer, which strangely enough is a descendent of this instrument: the grandparent is lost, the grandchild is celebrated. The first hommel I saw was years ago at the Volksinstrumentenmuseum in Gooik. Curious to how it would sound, I suggested to my father that we make one. A seasoned woodworker, he was up to the challenge & so we began... The sides & top are made from Douglas Fir recovered from an old bookshelf. The headstock block (schroevenstuck) is maple. The end block (staartstuck) is a piece of Oregon myrtlewood & the fretboard... I have to say I don't remember. We cut & sanded the wood, sawed the guides for the frets & set them in, created the bridge & nut out of ersatz granite, found some tuners from an old guitar & assembled the pieces together. Is is not the most elaborate example of a hommel, but, with the relationship I have forged with it over time, it's a beauty to me.
I do not play in a traditional way: I pluck, fingerpick, tap & bow amplified flat wound electric guitar strings. I change the notes with my fingers, metal sticks, bottlenecks steel tubes & the hard stick with a wooden handle, which has a special name : the vlier, which is a more local, Flemish Brabant, name of the instrument itself. I play in a tuning to be in harmony with the tin whistles you hear from time to time & occasionally play shakers I made by hand from branches, wire & bottle caps. The songs in this collection are not traditional either, they are inspired by cycling around Flanders & the landscape that surrounds my home in Niemandaal, a small village in the Pajottenland of Flanders, not far from the capital city, but isolated enough to not hear the constant hum of the highways. It's a nice place to relax, filled with what I would call elegant micro-landscapes: simple combinations of fields, grass, streams, small farms, rolling hills... Sometimes called the "Tuscany of the North", wine is replaced by lambik, a naturally fermented sour beer & it is well-known as being the place where Pieter Bruegel the Elder would set up his easel.
Until I was 40, I only played at home. Thanks to my friends at Herberg Rustiek, who released some tapes & encouraged me to play outside. I made my first public concert on top of an old slag heap near Liège. Since then, I have been invited to play a few concerts in Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Portugal, France & Japan. Thanks to Okraïna, you now have this record in your hands. I chose to keep the recordings quite raw in the hope that the natural reverb & warmth of your listening space can evoke the music's spirit & that you will have the impression I am playing next to you in the same room. I highly recommend listening through speakers rather than headphones.
If you would like to learn more about the hommel, I strongly suggest tracking down the out of print "De Hommel in de Lage Landen" written by Herbert Boone in the mid 1970's, coming to one of my concerts, or if you happen to be walking around Niemandaal & notice a warm light coming from my living room: knock. I just may invite you in to share a gueuze & play a few tunes.”
Delicious dose of Belgium gloom-pop from who else but Stroom, holding a candle to the mid-‘80s run of Gerry Vergult’s Fred A. output in a charming shadowplay of dark comedy and cabaret or Belgian “kleinkunst” conjuring imagery of lowlit bars, lofts and drizzly cobbled streets...
“A first appearance of Fred A. – the brainchild of Gerry Vergult – was noted in ’84. Gerry, who already had a foothold in the music scene with the Flemish cult ensemble Aroma Di Amore, was in need of a new creative disguise, to get some ideas out of his system. He managed to get three of his tracks on a split-album with Le Travo and his wistful song ‘November’ even became a modest radio hit. The minimalistic disposition of Fred A. was reinvented when Gerry accidentally met Gerrit Valckenaers. Upon their very first meeting, Gerrit proved himself a virtuoso on the primitive synthesizer that Gerry just had bought and G and G decided to team up. A second record was wrapped up shortly after and the tone was set.
In line with the artist inside Gerry, Fred A. was a two-faced act. His musical grasp to the new wave-movement was countered by his lyrical love for Flemish and Dutch ‘kleinkunst’, and his progressiveness as a composer was in stark contrast with his restraint as a performer. With Fred A., Gerry had unintentionally – and to his regret – manoeuvred himself into the role of frontman. This resulted in a short-lived career as a live act, with only one single gig as Fred A. in a local venue in Leuven in ’86. Somewhere below the current, Fred A. would always remain a living room project.
The often downhearted lyrics in Gerry’s songs were most of the time autobiographical. “The explicit nature of my lyrics was closely tied to my personal life. To this extent that I almost feel embarrassed when I look back at it today. I often ask myself why I needed to put things that way, but I just had to write some things off my chest.” Despite his lyrical talent, Gerry never felt like a writer, neither he ever felt like a singer. “Every single day I had 10 musical ideas welling up, but for 10 lyrical ideas it took me a year.” It caused Gerry’s productions to gradually drift towards the instrumental and after a failed attempt to reinvent his old work under a new alias, he finally drew a line under his Fred A. remnants.
‘De Angst Voorbij’ is an anthology of those remnants, with eight songs derived from the most fertile period in the musical career of Fred A. The record translates how Gerry opened up again to his late musical endeavours, recalling the 30-years younger version of himself. “The music on this record is a testimony of my life back then. It is delimited in time, that’s why this whole feels coherent to me. It shows who I was back then and what I stood for. And that’s worth cherishing.”
Prolific cellist and composer Lucy Railton releases her long awaited solo debut for Modern Love; an intense and multi-layered opus that reminds us of everything from Alvin Lucier, Beatrice Dillon and Nate Young, to Valerio Tricoli and Popol Vuh.
A prolific performer who has appeared on countless recordings and collaborations with many important figures in contemporary music over the last few years, Paradise 94 is, remarkably, Railton's solo debut - featuring archival, location and studio recordings which serve as a time capsule of all the myriad disciplines and influences that have brought her to this point in time. It both plays up to and shatters expectations of her music, which harnesses a duality of energies - acoustic/electronic, real/imagined, iconic/iconoclastic, pissed-off/romantic; out of place and androgynous - resulting in a visceral emotional insight and rare narrative grasp.
Variegated, asymmetric, and located somewhere between her usual fields of exploration, Paradise 94 gives free reign to aspects of her creativity that have previously been subsumed into collaborative processes and interpretations of other composers’ work. Here, she’s free to probe, sculpt and layer her sounds through a much broader range of techniques and strategies, placing particular focus on non-linear structural arrangements and exploring the way her cello becomes perceptibly synthetic through collaging, rather than FX. At every turn Paradise 94 is bewilderingly unique.
The A-side unfolds an oneiric, inception-like sequence traversing temporalities, timbres and tones from what sounds like a spectral ensemble playing on a traffic island in Pinnevik, to bursts of rabbit-in-headlights trance arps emerging from meticulously dissected musique concrète in The Critical Rush, and a collision of masked vocals, string eruptions and a deeply moving, light-headed Bach rendition in For J.R.
On the other hand, Fortified Up on side B tests out a far rawer approach, sampling herself playing the same glissandi over and again, which she layers into a sort of perpetual, sickly motion, the Shepard Tone riffing on the listener’s psychoacoustic perceptions before calving off into a cathartic dissonant folk coda in its final throes.
In the most classic sense, you can only properly begin to f*ck with something from the inside once you truly know it. Railton’s dedicated years of service have more than equipped her with the nous and skill to do just that, gifting us with what will no doubt be looked back on as a raw, exposed and important solo debut in years to come.
Additional Note: The album features Beatrice Dillon on acetone drums on 'To The End', Gard Nilssen on cymbals and glass samples recorded and provided by Nicolas Becker on ‘The Critical Rush’. Organ extract on 'For J.R.' (Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott) is composed by J.S. Bach and performed by Kit Downes, drain pipe is performed by Koichi Makigami.
Serious levels of subbass on this deeply weaponised debut from Minos, backed with a gritty but debonair Claude Young remix
Making a strong first impression, Minos lays the subs on with a trowel in the druggy electro swag of ‘Brown Sauce’, and rolls off the bone into Batu-like terrain with ‘Coaxial Drive’, while a pair of canny ambient interluud show off his textured sound design chops, and ‘Aquaplaning’ dances on a mentasm-laced electro rave pivot. It’s also great to see a relatively rare appearance of Claude Young, remixing ‘Brown Sauce’ with a signature ruff but suave touch.
A long overdue survey of minimalist new music composer and multi-wind instrumentalist Jon Gibson, a pivotal performer with credits on classic records by Arthur Russell, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Moondog, Theatre of Eternal Music...
“Since the mid-1960s, Jon Gibson has played a key role in the development of American avant-garde music. As a versatile reed player, he has performed with everyone from Steve Reich and Philip Glass to Terry Riley and La Monte Young. In the 1970s, Gibson would emerge as a minimalist composer in his own right and release two exceptional albums, Visitations and Two Solo PIeces, on Glass' Chatham Square imprint.
Songs & Melodies brings together recordings from 1973 to 1977 (mostly previously unreleased), featuring prominent figures in New York's scene including Arthur Russell, Barbara Benary and Julius Eastman. This double LP collection showcases the breadth of Gibson’s expressive range – from introspective piano meditations to cerebral ensemble works – and the subtlety of his radical compositional techniques.
The front cover artwork, a hand-drawn diagram by Gibson, originally appeared in the program for a March 1974 concert at Washington Square Church in Greenwich Village. While this concert was not the first to feature the composer exclusively, it would be a pivotal event in Gibson’s early career as a composer.
Superior Viaduct is honored to present this long overdue archival release that not only documents Gibson’s important work, but also a crucial period in NYC musical history.”
A more concise and direct album than their eponymous debut, Ride The Skies finds Lightning Bolt planting themselves firmly at the vanguard of noise rock, going so far as to make music approaching conventional song structure.
Take for example the two-handed tapping euphoria of Brian Gibson's explosive bass on the title track: it's like a quotation of Van Halen's 'Eruption' rerouted through a half-dozen pitchshifting pedals. Levels of recording clarity have been upped too, to the point where you can almost decipher Brian Chippendale's distorted, frantic vocals. Almost.
Considering this is an album of tight, blistering rock music, the standard of musicianship is pretty astonishing. These guys go way beyond mere tightness, somehow being able to sound free and inventive at bpm counts most musicians would find prohibitive. Ace.
Inimitable what-the-f*ckery from Lolina, answering the big question on everyone’s lips with ‘Who Is Experimental Music?’. Imagine Biz Markie meets Thomas Brinkmann and you’re only half way there…
Formerly known as Inga Copeland during her years with Hype Williams, Alina Astrova a.k.a Lolina is one of the most distinctive electronic composers and voices of her generation. ‘Who Is Experimental Music?’ works an acute right angle to what you know of her music, radically breaking down song structures until they barely resemble any convention, but somehow still recognisable as Lolina songs.
Save for a legible vocal louchely urging you to ‘Let Go’ in the first track, Lolina inhabits the tracks in a much more elusive way than we’re used to. She’s variously expectorated, masticated and hacked-up across the six tracks of severed glitch, grungy bass, and even some mad spin on Indian classical techniques, just not as you may have come to expect from her puckishly melodic avant-pop styles.
Exploring a sort of jilted funk for the enervated generation, Lolina wildly scrabbles between the Biz Markie meets Brinkmann vibes of the opener, to psychotomimetic sample syncopations in ‘Good or Bad’, to sound like Phil Minton in a tumble dryer with ‘Glitching’ and ’Strobing’, and her closer ‘Who is experimental music?’ sounds a bit like like Rian Treanor and Goodiepal on a bender, but ultimately it’s all Lolina, and the maddest thing she’s ever put to record.
The return of Japanese music ensemble Maher Shalal Hash Baz with this not quite "best of".
"Je est un autre" is a reflection of Tori Kudo's evolution as a composer, from playing with seasoned musicians, to playing with people just starting out, from playing with meticulous scores, to playing call & response melodies written down, to the songs here on "Je est un Autre": instant improvisations based on keyboard compositions that Tori plays for the group. Yes, that is it. He plays a recording of himself on the keyboard, with singing or humming sometimes and he leaves it to the "big band" to interpret this on the spot. Sometimes, you can make out the melody, other times it is quite obscure, as if a sort of common shyness flows out of the collected instrumentarium. And other times, well, it is a big party.
Mr Kudo and the group were invited to tour Europe to celebrate 20 years of the project Le Ton Mité, members of which are absorbed into the ensemble. The recording evolves from the static sound of hermetic conditions to the live concert in the later tracks. The studio here, is a trendy concert hall in Brussels Les Ateliers Claus. You hear the applause of the brave ears that weathered the ride of accidental psychedelia & moiré of various notes fading into and out of each other. This is only a sliver of the material from the 20 hour recording marathon documenting the new composing/playing style of Mr Kudo & snippets from the last concert of the March 2018 tour. Perhaps the album should be called "Je est un autre : Volume 1" in a vague reference to "My Brother The Wind" series from Sun Ra. In any case, here you have four sides of ten inch vinyl to take you on a journey into Maher: Je est un autre…”å
Andy Bey is one of those few jazz vocalists who are so singularly personal and distinctive in style that they communicate the material they choose more in the manner of an instrumentalist than a vocalist.
"On these recordings from 1995, his first after 1974’s “Experience And Judgment”, he sings and accompanies himself on piano on a series of standards, including four by Duke Ellington (including “I Let A Song Go Our Of My Heart” and “In A Sentimental Mood”), two by George & Ira Gershwin (“Someone To Watch Over Me” and “Embraceable You”), Cole Porter’s “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To”, Jerome Kern’s “Yesterdays”, and others by Ann Ronnell and Tadd Dameron. The setting is intimate and showcases his broad range from baritone to falsetto and his angular and often sparse piano accompaniment. This is the first time these recordings have been issued on vinyl.”
Avant R&B star Mhysa follows her acclaimed debut ‘fantasii’ - one of the definitive underground albums of 2017 - with its sister side, ‘Neveah’ for Hyperdub; a sprawling mosaic of raw, introspective R&B ballads, including a haunting take on a Nas classic in ‘breaker of chains’.
“MHYSA started NEVAEH in the fall of 2017, shortly after the release of her debut album 'fantasii,' honing the albums sentiments while touring, recording audio notes and writing lyrics on her iPhone to de-stress. All of the tracks were then recorded in her flat in West Philadelphia, some with the input of lawd knows, a frequent collaborator on their Scraaatch project.
NEVAEH is MHYSA’s intimate reflection on the black femme experience from multiple vantage points ranging from sex and sexuality, self-love and self-discovery, black empowerment and lineage, pleasure and lack of it. She describe the album as “a prayer for Black women and femmes to be taken to or find a new and better world away from the apocalypse…NEVAEH is a safe space, a sort of negro heaven.” These ideas are declared from the opening skit where MHYSA reads out Lucille Clifton’s 1994 poem “won’t you celebrate with me”.
The album is deeply personal but easily relatable. The intimacy is heightened by scattered acapella moments, covers of classics such as Nas’ - 'If I Ruled the World' and a reprise of 'When the Saints'; songs that reference black pop culture, interludes and drifts, where MHYSA’s delicate voice is laid bare and enhanced by spacious instrumentals. She describes tracks like 'Brand Nu' and 'w_me' as throwbacks to the melancholic R&B her mother raised her on, updated through a queer lens. “I wanted to really get into the form of R&B on this album which is also why it ends with a gospel track which I feel is quintessential R&B. "
However it’s not all melancholic, the lead track, plus the mischievous 'Sanaa Lathan', and the skeletal 'w_me', where MHYSA uses her breath and vocals with a live druml, have found themselves in Kode9's sets recently. MHYSA also explores sensuality in the build up to the apocalypse, on tracks like 'before the world ends.'
On NEVAEH’s progression from fantasii, MHYSA says, “I wanted to be more vulnerable with my tracks and experiment with vocal range…I wanted to write more complicated vocal melodies that would be harder for me to do.” What's more MHYSA's production experiments with new techniques, live sounding digital instrumentation, playing keys, using her voice in new ways - much of which was self taught, in the tradition of the musicians in her family who came before her.”
Yorkshire electrobot Tom Knapp aka SDEM coughs up his 1st 12” of cracky dancefloor complexity on CPU
Unavoidably comparable to Autechre’s nervy tics and the asymmetric ructions of Dalglish, ‘Index Hole’ spurts brittle, overpronating bones and knotted tendons at every angle, rolling out form the hyperstep of ‘Arc Rail’ to crooked hip hop-tyle rhythmic anticipations of ‘BX16’ on the front, then wrestling with sheared metallic textures and gut-twysting bass in ‘Mitherer’, and yoking back to a clunky electro style shades away from his early Skams with Mortal + Chemist.
The breathtaking expanse of ’In The Sea’ was the 1987 follow-up to Ellen Fullman’s groundbreaking classic of 1985, ‘The Long String Instrument’. Only ever available on a hard-to-find tape, this is its necessary first ever reissue.
Collapsing millennia of musical practice and research into a singular sound, Fullman’s 2nd recording of her self-built instrument engulfs the senses in unfathomably complex overtones generated by 25m-long strings which are tuned to Just Intonation and played with rosined hands. Ellen’s sound effectively bridges the deeply mysterious sound of Indian classical music and the kind of contemporary minimalism explored by Ellen Arkbro and Kali Malone, and should be sought out by any listeners seeking sonic transcendence.
“Ellen Fullman began developing The Long String Instrument in her St. Paul, Minnesota studio in 1980 and moved to Brooklyn the following year. Inspired by composer and instrument builder Harry Partch, Fullman’s large-scale work creates droning, organ-like overtones that are as unique in the world of sound as her vision of the instrument itself.
Along with her 1985 debut album – appropriately titled The Long String Instrument – Fullman’s only output in the 1980s would be two self-released cassettes, In The Sea and Work For Four Players And 90 Strings, recorded in 1987 at an unfinished office tower in Austin, Texas. This double LP collection features music from both cassettes as well as a previously unreleased piece from 1988 at De Fabriek in Den Bosch, Holland.
Ethereal and exquisitely paced, these rare recordings capture minimalism's quiet radiance. Within a musical landscape that has seen the rise of contemporary drone practitioners like Ellen Arkbro and Kali Malone, Fullman is sure to find a legion of fans.”
Available on vinyl for the first time since its original release in 1984, Outernational Sounds presents Build An Ark pianist Nate Morgan’s second outing for the celebrated Nimbus West label – the conscious and spiritualised sounds of Retribution, Reparation.
"Pianist Nate Morgan (1964-2013) was a central figure on the Los Angeles jazz undergound. A core member of the circle around the legendary bandleader, pianist and community organiser Horace Tapscott, Morgan had been part of Tapscott’s U.G.M.A.A. (Union Of God’s Musicians and Artists Ascension) since he was just a teenager, and was a key member of the Pan Afrikan People’s Arkestra, known as ‘The Ark’. Through the 1980s and 1990s he kept the PAPA flame alive, organising the Ark’s sprawling songbook, running legendary jam sessions, and keeping LA’s deep jazz roots well watered. By the early 2000s he was bringing hard won knowledge to a new generation as part of the Build The Ark collective. He was a musician’s musician, at the beating heart of the radical, community-minded Los Angeles jazz network that Tapscott and his associates had first put together in the early 1960s.
Retribution, Reparation was the second of the two LPs Morgan recorded for Tom Albach’s storied Nimbus West imprint. His first, Journey Into Nigritia (Outernational Sounds OTR- 008), had been a declaration of arrival laced with energies drawn from Cecil Taylor and Coltrane. One year later, with nods to Herbie Hancock (‘One Finger Snap’) and Ellington (‘Come Sunday’), Retribution, Reparation was a confident statement of purpose. Politically charged with pan-Africanist and Black nationalist sentiments inspired by Marcus Garvey, and titled with uncompromising directness, the album focusses the soundworld of the Ark into a surging, restless masterpiece of spiritualised modal jazz. With Danny Cortez on trumpet and Ark stalwart Jesse Sharps on saxophones the frontline is explosive (this set is also one of the few places the extraordinary Sharps can be heard in a small group setting), while Fritz Wise and Ark regular Joel Ector hold down the rhythm section. Morgan’s forceful, Tyner-like chords and virtuosic solos and bind the music together. From the poised drama of the opening dedication to Tapscott’s U.G.M.A.A. (‘U.G.M.A.A.GER’) to the propulsive militancy of the title track, Retribution, Reparation spreads the word: ‘Advance to Victory, Let Nigritia Be Free!’"
Prayers are answered with Vainqueur’s Reductions 1995-1997, a compilation of in-demand cuts from René Löwe’s seminal Chain Reaction 12”s and Elevations CD, including the vinyl premiere of Antistatic and first ever appearance of Antistatic II on any format, all available on wax for the first time in over 20 years!
For anyone who came thru during the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, Vainqueur records were required listening - beyond Maurizio’s M-Series and the Basic Channel catalogue, they’re some of the strongest dub techno trax in existence. Now, two decades later, they still appear regularly in the mixes of those in the know, but their 2nd hand prices have steadily crept up in parallel.
To newcomers and older fiends alike, this 3LP selection provides a perfect overview of Vainqueur’s most feted period (not withstanding his all-time banger Lyot , but that was a kinda one-off). The first disc revolves his banging Reduce 1 and the monotone brilliance of Reduce 2, whilst the 2nd disc renders the more tender gasps and dub chords of Solanus (Original) and the heady Elevation II - both masterclasses in German techno minimalism - while the 3rd disc significantly presents the flared chords of Antistatic, taken from the Elevations CD, on vinyl for the 1st time, backed with the exclusive-to-this-12” Antistatic II.
Strong showcase of fast, broken techno and juke mutations from Italy’s XCPT Music crew
Modes boots off with the straightjacket funk rolige of ‘FB2thsn’, and Train to Eltanin throw down the decimated IDM/acid-jungle-techno beside the rugged footwork tekkers of ‘Yeah Boy’ by DJ Plant Texture. Nothus drags the tempo down for the broken techno parry of ‘Konnor 3012’ in a way recalling Concrete Cabin’s brand of rudeness, and Marco Segato spits out the choppy bruktek rhythms of ‘Pirate Utopias [live]’, while Soreab wraps up with the nagging, Batu-esque motion of ‘AVP’.
Sleepless early ‘90s rave pressure from Brussels-based Caustic 14, sourced from folders of unreleased gear c. 1993-1996
Entirely symptomatic of the tilt towards faster tempos that occurred from 1992 until the end of the decade, ‘Basic Moves 12’ shells 6 speedy and bleepy jungle-techno and sci-fi inspired electro-techno missiles made in what Caustic 14 (and, erm Nigel Farage) term ‘BRUXHELL’.
Working in parallel to their UK and US counterparts at UR and Warp, Phillippe Mertens and Sebastian S, aka Caustic 14 outlined their intent as: “We were eager to share our individual sound universes with each other and see where it would take us. These compositions emerged during many sleepless nights spent watching videos of science fiction series such as Babylon 5 or Star Trek, scrutinising each episode while composing.”
That results a strong mix of classic vibes, setting off with the Carl Craig-esque strings and breaks of ‘The Quest’, and the chunky Juan Atkins-like roller ‘The Crusade Has Begun’, plus the metallic acid electro ace ‘Lost Generation’ feat. Mike DMA on disc 1, while disc 2 is loaded with the lathered rave wriggle of ‘Making Magic’, a crackshot electro banger recalling Suburbank Knight in ‘Technosius (Electro Mix)’, and the PAS-like cascading arps of ‘Think Thanker’.
Luscious first survey of late ‘80s/early’90s work by Brazilian anthropologist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Priscilla Ermel; a beautifully “universal” dream sequence of sound owing to indigenous Brazilian music, Tai Chi and new age synth styles
“Music From Memory is delighted to announce a retrospective of an artist long-loved by the label, Brazilian composer and multi-instrumentalist Priscilla Ermel. Origens Da Luz brings together a selection of recordings drawn from a body of work that was originally recorded between 1986 and 1994.
Priscilla was raised in a musical family in São Paulo and learned the cello and guitar at an early age. She then embarked on a deeply personal musical journey that would travel from origins rooted in Tom Jobim and Chico Buarque to recording the music of the natural world and the communities around her. A film-maker and anthropologist by training, Priscilla is a lifelong student of a universal music. Disillusioned with contemporary European classical music, she spent long periods living with indigenous populations in Brazil, collecting instruments that she would later combine with synthesizers and field recordings. After studying with the renowned Taoist master Liu Pai Lin, she integrated the slow-moving pace of Tai Chi into a music that connects intimately with a multiplicity of cultures at the same time that it unmistakably reflects her Brazilian soul.
Combining sounds drawn from the history of Brazil with her own explorations of analogue sound technology, Priscilla’s music opens up a mystical space, where ancient and modern evolves into a new language. Compiled by John Gómez and released on 2xLP, Origens Da Luz offers a panoramic view of this artist’s unique and mesmerizing sound world.”
In Japanese folklore, Afuma indicates a time of day marked by spiritual or mysterious encounter. In Latin, one who inhales. Together as Afuma, Stefan Tcherepnin, and Taketo Shimada breathe sepulchral energies into the brooding, cosmic fringes of guitar-based song vernacular.
"Tcherepnin’s baritone and Shimada’s lap steel guitar intertwine, smearing across world’s-end horizons that propel Tcherepnin’s ragged, foreboding vocal delivery and its lyrical portents of departure, of life’s vessel unmoored onto a fathomless periphery. Shimada, a Tokyo-born musician and artist who has lived with Herbert Huncke and worked with Henry Flynt, also contributes Indian double-reed instrument shehnai to the band.
And Stefan Tcherepnin, a contemporary artist and composer in fourth generation (continuing the family heritage of his great-grandfather Nicholas, grandfather Alexander, and father Ivan Tcherepnin), embellishes their dirge-scapes with electronics from the Sonica, a lute shaped version of the Serge synthesizer developed by his uncle. A family friend and student of Maryanne Amacher, Tcherepnin’s piano playing alongside Marianne Schroeder’s additionally graced Blank Forms Edition’s publication of Amacher’s Petra. Tcherepnin and Shimada are joined by drummer David Silver for Songs From The Shore, their debut LP, featuring artwork in the form of A Rip In The Void, a newly commissioned painting by Bobby Beausoleil."
Incredible compilation of Mika Vainio’s earliest work with Janne Koski and Tapio Onnela in pioneering Finnish industrial/noise unit Gagarin Kombinaatti circa 83-85. Vainio was just 20 when these recordings were made...R.I.P
Until now, the only locatable evidence of Gagarin-Kombinaatti’s existence was an intriguing listing on discogs - a single track featured on a 2CD of early Finnish avant-garde - but now Sähkö prove they were a real, and rather wicked band, taking strong cues from TG, Einstürzende Neubauten and Test Department, and moulding them into a brace of cranky, funked-up garage industrialisms.
It’s very easy to hear Vainio’s signature noise laced throughout the collection, from the bladesaw blizzards of Survos, to the cold, clipped drums and brooding bass tone of Reikäkorttia, or the windswept atmospheres of Osat, for instance.
But they’re only component elements of the band, which, thanks to the rudimentary recording techniques, sounds as though they’re soldered together, sparking up expressive, freeform jams ranging from the cold swagger of Tiedonantaja to proto-techno drum patterns and workshop noise in Ukaasi and the dirgey crawl of Raskas / Chemical Weapons.
Murky but pastoral, UK-style dub techno from Blank Mind founder Dance
Rolling on his 3rd 12” since debuting in 2012 and delivering the ‘June 2018 - June 2019’ album for Blowing Up The Workshop, Sam Purcell’s Dance swaggers a blunted line of influences from Gqom, UKF, Kwaito and dub audness in the A-side’s bottom-heavy ‘Studio Pads’, before the B-side’s ‘Murmur’ slows down to a balmier pace and atmosphere with warm, oozing subs and scudding dub chords recalling a more smudged adjunct to Parris productions.
Hot-wired IDM/jungle/industrial rhythms and dreamlike ambience from Florence, Italy’s Train To Eltanin project
Leading from Train To Eltanin’s 2018 debut 12” with CyberspeakMusic, ‘4D R.E.M. Computation’ is a 7-track EP of nimbly crafted electro and drill ’n bass spams interspersed with icily melodic works and trancey arp rushes that attempt to emulate the brain’s activity during R.E.M. sleep,.
The jagged IDM jiggle of ‘Swimming Angels’ recalls their Italian brethren D’Arecangelo and Skam’s Jega, while the likes of ‘Page Table Isolation’ and ‘Ariverb’ touch on a crankier electro sound recalling Seefeel’s Mark Clifford, and at best they come off like DJ Stingray going toe-2-toe with Lorenzo Senni in ‘Unexpected Store Exception’, and the heart-in-mouth lift of ‘Ricominciando Dalla Fine’ that closes the LP with a lush flourish.
The fifteenth release on Second Circle sees the label’s first exploration into an artists archival works; this time bringing together a selection of four early tracks by the seminal English musician Richard H. Kirk under his Sandoz moniker.
"As founding member and driving force of pioneering Industrial band Cabaret Voltaire, Richard H. Kirk began his solo project Sandoz in 1992, evolving out of and running in parallel to Cabaret Voltaire’s evolution in sound from innovators of Industrial and post punk electronics towards pioneering works within Techno and House.
Taking the name from Sandoz Laboraties, a pharmaceutical company best known for inventing LSD in 1938, Kirk’s somewhat lesser known solo project evolved out of Cabs’ fascination and own development of Acid House and Rave culture, whilst leaning more heavily on Jamaican Reggae and Dub influences.
Presenting a selection of four mind-bending tracks, originally released between 1992-1993 on his very own Sheffield-based Intone label, SC015 further reveals Richard H. Kirk’s unique and visionary voice within electronic music."
Lithe, computerised, jazzed up broken beat from anonymous artists, with a tumpin’, deeper house remix by Dan Shake
“The 44th Move occurred during the six match chess battle between Deep Blue (IBM) vs Kasparov (Grandmaster) in 1996/97. The 44th Move per se represents the moment when a human being (Kasparov) realised he was facing a superior intellect (Deep Blue).
The 44th Move was a glitch? The 44th Move is the anonymous combination of two established creative minds adding bugs to the source code of Jazz.
From the word go ‘Broken’ is unquestionably crafted by two skilled musicians. Intricate drums, twinkling melodies and a sultry bassline generate a thoughtful composition comprising multiple interlocking layers and compelling emotion.
On the flip, Dan Shake packs more punch with a house remix complete with purposeful kick drums, however it still retains the original’s charm by incorporating all of its classy elements.”
Masami Akita’s dazzling 1996 classic ‘Pulse Demon’ rears its grimacing head on Relapse’s expanded 2019 reissue
Emerging from a pivotal period in Merzbow’s oeuvre, ‘Pulse Demon’ has remained one of the project’s most prized emissions ever since. More or less defining and destroying the square root of noise (blistering, howling chaos) and techno (loopy, hypnotic linearity), the album’s original eight tracks, plus the fiercely technoid bonus cut ‘Extract 1’ epitomise the notion of being so wrong that it’s dead right; doing everything that hoary old musical convention said you should’t, and letting it all hang out with thrilling, almost rubbernecking results that are almost too cataclysmic to witness, but one can’t help but ogle at.
Aye, it’s not for everyone, but if you’re not everyone, leave your keys in the pot and come party like its the end of the fucking world. Practically worth it for the mesmerising op-art jacket alone.
Tweaky, rugged acid-house jackers from Italian producer Bawrut, making a rare foray away from Ransom Note with his debut for Life & Death
‘Rollin’’ metes out a cosmic-tribal vibe lead by live-wire synths and sizzling drums, whereas ‘Terza’ tempos out a sort of Italo-house booster and ‘Drum Beat’ kicks it harder, freakier in a proto-Italo-techno style.
Killer, brazenly ruffcut, abrasive jams from Daisuke Imamura’s DJ Die Soon for Rabih Beaini’s Morphine Records.
Hailing a full length of this material forthcoming in March 2020, the rusted clangour and mulch doom of these tracks should get the rhythmic noise and Japan-o-philes salivating for his cyberpunk gunk.
Up top, ‘Propagate’ is a nagging jack attack in a style somewhere between Beau Wanzer and Russell Haswell, while the strange title of ‘Jon Stewart and Colonel Sanders with the dog’ signifies the sorta head-slopping gear found on the B-side.
So this one’s been a lonnnnnng time coming. The Nurse With Wound List is a by now legendary list of artists and bands that original Nurse With Wound members Steven Stapleton, John Fothergill, and Heman Pathak included on their debut album 'Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella' (1979) and then expanded on 'To the Quiet Men from a Tiny Girl (1980)'. In the 40 years since the list was first published, it’s become something of a shopping list for collectors of outsider and avant-garde music - with many of the names on it only becoming known in recent years - and many still completely unkown. On this first volume of a new series, Finders Keepers undertake the massively rewarding task of issuing as much of the list in a series of themed volumes, kicking off with ‘France’. Wigs will be flipped with this lot, including deadly psych downbeats by Igor Wakhevitch, lysergic wooze by Jean Cohen-Solal, Pierre’s Henry’s haunting ‘Générique (Thème De Myriam)’, the joyful voodoo of Horrific Child, and syncopated machine rhythms by Jean Guérin.
“After years of mythology, misinterpretation and procrastination Nurse With Wound’s Steven Stapleton finally chooses Finders Keepers Records as the ideal collaborators to release “the right tracks” from his uber-legendary psych/prog/punk peculiarity shopping list known as The Nurse With Wound List, commencing with a French specific 'Volume One' of this authentically titled 'Strain Crack Break' series. Featuring galactic Gallic rarities (previously presumed to be imaginary red herrings) this deluxe double vinyl dossier demystifies some of the essential French free jazz and Parisian prog inclusions from the alphabetical “dedication” inventory as printed the anti-bands 1979 industrial milestone debut.
When Steven Stapleton, Heman Pathak and John Fothergill’s anti-band Nurse With Wound decided to include an alphabetical dedication to all their favourite bands on the back of their inaugural LP the notion of creating a future record dealers’ trophy list couldn’t have been further from their minds. By adding a list of untravelled European mythical musicians and noise makers to their own debut release of unchartered industrial art rock they were merely providing a suggestive support system of existing potential likeminded bands, establishing safety in numbers should anyone require sonic subtitles for Nurse With Wound’s own mutant musical language. Luckily for them, the record landed in record shops in the midst of 1979’s memorable summer of abject apathy and its sound became a hit amongst disillusioned agit-pop pickers and artsy post-punks, thus playing a key role in the bourgeoning “Industrial” genre that ensued.
On the most part, however, the list , like most instruction manuals, remained unreadable, syntactic and suspiciously sarcastic… As potential “real musicians” Nurse WIth Wound became an Industrial music fan’s household name, but in contrast many of the names on The Nurse With Wound List were considered to be imaginary musicians, made-up bands or booby traps for hacks and smart-arses. It took a while for the rest of the record collecting community to catch on or finally catch up. Since then, many of the rare, obscure and unpronounceable genre-free records on The Nurse With Wound List have slowly found their own feet and stumbled in to the homes of open-minded outernational vinyl junkies, D’s and sample hungry producers, self-propelled and judged on their own merit, mostly without consultation of the enigmatic NWW map.
But, to the inspective competitive collector’s chagrin, one resounding fact recurs, NWW got there first! via vinyl vacations, on cheap flights and Interrail tickets, buying bargain bin LPs on a shoestring while oblivious to the pending pension worthy price tags after their 40 year vintage, Stapleton and Fothergill, even if you’ve never heard of them, were at the bottom of the pit before “digging” became paydirt. And NOW at huge international record fairs that occur in massive exhibition halls (or within the confines of your one-touch palm pilot) amongst jive talk acronyms such as SS, PP, BIN, DNAP and BCWHES the coded letters NWW have begun to appear on stickers in the corner of original copies of the same premium progressive records accompanied by a customary 50% price hike to titillate/coerce the initiated as dealers extort the taught. Like “psych” “PINA” or “Krautrock” did before, “NWW” has become a buzzword and in the passed decades since its first publication The List has been mythologised, misunderstood and misconstrued.
It’s also been overlooked, overestimated and under-appreciated in equal measures, but with a growing interest it has also come to represent a maligned genre in itself, something that all members of the original line-up would have deemed sacrilegious. Bolstered by the subtitle “Categories strain, crack and sometimes break, under their burden,” all bands on the inventory (many chosen on the strength of just one track alone) were chosen for their genre-defying qualities… A check-list for the uncharted.
Forty years after Nurse With Wound’s first record, Finders Keepers Records, in close collaboration with Steve Stapleton remind fans of THIS kind of “lost” music, that there once existed a feint path which was worn away decades before major label pop property developers built over this psychedelic underground. As long-running fans and liberators of some of the same records, arriving at the same axis from different-but-the-same planets, Finders Keepers and Nurse WIth Wound finally sing from the same hymn sheet resulting in a collaborative attempt to officially, authentically and legally compile the best tracks from the list, succeeding where many overzealous nerds have deferred (or simply, got the wrong end of the stick). Naturally our lavish metallic gatefold double vinyl compendium would only scratch the surface of this DIY dossier of elongated punk-prog peculiarities hence out decision to release volume one in a series which, in accordance with Steve’s wishes, focuses exclusively on individual tracks of French origin, the country that unsurprisingly hosted the highest content of bands on the list. Comprising of musique concrète, free jazz, Rock In Opposition, Zeuhl School space rock, macabre ballet music, lo-fi sci-fi, and classic horror literature inspired prog, this first volume of the series entitled Strain Crack And Break throws us in at the deep end, where the Seine meets the in-sane, introducing the space cadets that found Mars in Marseilles."
For the good of your health, Warp have re-pressed one of electronic music's golden moments. Like many we've lived with this album for a long time now and it safely ranks in our personal best ever list...
Jeff Mills invites us to look inward in the form of his Every Dog Has Its Day series. The last time we had an installment came 17 years ago, just enough time for a periodical cicada to emerge from the ground, finished with its former life as a nymph.
"The series itself has acted as a barometer of the times, and Mills feels after a long lay off it’s time to rehash his Millsart persona and gauge the here and now, and where we fit in. The record itself will be the fifth chapter. It’s donned in a specific colour, taking heed from its predecessors. The first four were gold, silver, pearl, and sky blue. Now it’s time for red: the first of the series to be a primary colour, it was chosen for its connotation. Red, being very emotive, stirs different feelings in us all; lust, love, rage, power, energy, desire, passion. This music is a tool for us to see the world as is, and be able to reflect inwards to see what we are. It’s not your stereotypical electronic dance track or DJ tool. Each of the eight cuts has a story behind it and invites the listener to get lost in it and curate their opinions about it or themselves. Stripped and left in a way for true music listeners, those with unconditional love and appreciation for a master at their craft.
Mills himself has said, “You never figure out life, you just get used to it.” Reflected in this record is that sentiment, that life doesn’t present to you the answers because there are none. What is right and just for you, may not be for me, so how can I share with you any secrets. Electronic music can act as a guide, a catalyst of your headspace; it is not the map. The sixth edition of this series is soon to follow in spring dressed in brown, continuing to deliver a spiritual and emotional raft for you to see that Every Dog Has Its Day."
Could this be the world's first experimental MOR album? Nah, but time has decided it is perhaps the most supreme. Wackos of the world, take over...
Named after the Nicolas Roeg film of the same name (in fact several of Jim’s albums are named after Roeg films, R.I.P), Eureka features a huge cast of ensemble players - many of them core members of the same Chicago underground scene that O’Rourke was part of until the turn of the century which this album predated by a few months - including Edith Frost, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Rob Mazurek, Bob Weston, Ken Vandermark, Darin Gray and others.
O’Rourke's obsessive mastery of any genre he turned his attention to is by now almost taken for granted, but when Eureka came out in 1999 people were shook by its mainstream appeal and beautifully produced, almost overly sweet arrangements. In hindsight, it’s easy to peg Eureka as O’Rourke’s pop masterpiece; a beautifully crafted collection of accessible but highly intricate songs that lodge themselves deep in your mind almost instantly, with nods to everyone from Bacharach to Fahey with several unpredictable trajectories in between.
An absolute avant-pop masterpiece.
Force of nature, Elvin Brandhi (Yeah You) meets the Nyege Nyege squad at their villa HQ in Kampala, Uganda, for this gnashing batch of semi-improvised rudeness on Slikback’s Hakuna Kulala imprint.
The result of Elvin’s extended stay at the villa in April, 2019, ‘Headroof’ piles her chopped and auto-tuned vocals on salty blast beats built from field recordings of Evangelist churches, patched together with the voice of local rappers Hakim and Swordsman Kitala, plus cranky rhythms wrenched from the desks of Boutiq studio manager Don Zilla and Congolese producer Oise.
All 10 tracks packed inside are as febrile as you might hope for if you’ve any knowledge of Elvin’s breakthrough work as a catalytic improvisor with her dad in Yeah You, establishing an oeuvre that has seen her go toe-to-toe with everyone from marble-mouthed MC Sensational to Rhodri Davies and Afrobeat legends Tony Allen and Pat Thomas over the past decade, while on their side the Kampala crew fully pay testament to the electric energy coursing thru contemporary East and Central African music right now.
Like Rian Treanor’s FACT mix or the upcoming, amazing Metal Preyers LP on NNT, the meeting of UK and UG artists generates something really special and unique in ‘Headroof’. Ranging from invocations of demonic spirit voices in ‘Hakim Storm’ to a 9 minute wide rush of percussive voodoo and possessed, glibber-jaw vocals that resemble air-horns, it’s a f*cking madness is what it is, enacting a riveting push and pull between rictus grime frameworks in ‘Ghott Zillah’, the concrète surreality of the title track and ‘Door 2 Porte Parole’, or what sounds like a ruffshod Arca in ‘Etiquette Stomp’, while ‘Troffj’ spirals off on haywire blast beat vectors and ‘Rey’ wraps it all up like an unresolved soundcloud rap classic. Mad, brilliant stuff.
TSVI’s debut album ‘Inner Worlds’ pays testament to the breadth and focus of the Nervous Horizon label co-owner’s take on the hard drum style he shares with Wallwork and DJ Plead
Splicing cues from Caribbean dancehall, Angolan tarraxho, and Arabic trance with a core influence of Sufi ideologies and bellydance styles, ‘Inner Worlds’ wraps up TSVI’s weltanschauung with a banging set of drums intended to realign your chakras.
Born and raised in Italy by parents who practice Hinduism, and now based in London, TSVI hatched his sound in 2004 in the wake of post-dubstep and UKF, leading to a handful of 12”s on his Nervous Horizon label that effectively sees post-dubstep and UKF as unfinished business.
His debut album is intended as “an inner journey through different states of meditation and self-discovery”, and uses atmospheric sound design to fill the gaps between his prominent, syncopated rhythms, searing trance lines and crisp electronics. It’s all most effective in the heavy tarraxho traction of ‘Jinn’; the canny pre-echoes of Beatrice Dillon’s ‘Workaround’ album in the sloshing drums and instrumental samples of ‘Mesmerize’; the militant dancehall dread of ‘Neutrino’; and the DJ Haram-like Mahraganat drums of ‘Hossam, while ‘Inner Worlds’ and ‘Safi’ see to his plusher side with layered synth harmonies and spiralling trance-pop vocals.
Chasing up his BOXED001 shot, hotly tipped Lloyd SB fires a full round of diverse, hyper-slippy grime X ballroom mutations on the Nervous Horizon label from his Sheffield stomping ground.
Certainly getting your £s worth here, cramming eight riddims on one plate with little sacrifice to quality, taking in the Kode 9-favoured ballroom stinger Boida Flare beside the foundry-cut Ha stabs and escalating trance arpeggios of Hypercube and the scything club construction King of The Castle up top, and twisting to more technoid styles in the low key, Bubblin’ thumper Pirate Bay, and helter skelter Ruff Sound styles in The Portal feat. Wallwork.
Arriving at the heels of late 2019’s ‘No Treasure But Hope’ LP, Stuart Staples and co present new versions of that record’s ‘See My Girls’, plus the David Boulter instrumental ‘A Street Walker’s Carol’, and the skronky dance of ‘Blood and Bone’ starring vocal by Stuart’s daughter, Sidonie Osborne-Staples.
You’ll find ‘See My Girls’ in a nipped video edit faithful to the original, and a much more tropical, spaced-out ‘Le Chien’ version reworked in a mix of Arabic licks and psych-dub bass, while the David Boulter instrumental is saddled up for dusky nights on the porch with Will Wilde’s harmonica and clip-clop drums, but the best of all is Sidonie Osborne-Staples turn on the martial scoring of ‘Blood and Bone’, lending it a hushed urgency that kinda echoes the fraught madness of her cover art illustration, too.
This album was recorded during Thollem's 2017 residency at Brooklyn-based multi-discipline mecca Pioneer Works. It's the second by Radical Empathy, which combines three uncategorizable improvisors.
"Michael Wimberly has been astonishing folks since his days in Charles Gayle bands and Steve Coleman & Five Elements in the early '90s, and has gone on become a composer and educator of note. Nels Cline has spent decades changing people's ideas about the role of the electric guitar in multiple contexts, ranging from Wilco to Anthony Braxton (think about that!) as well as many projects as a leader; this is his fourth album in trio with Thollem, and a fifth will follow next year, also on ESP. Some people have given ESP-Disk' flak (and "flak" was not the first word choice here) about putting out Thollem McDonas albums. "He's not in the jazz tradition," they say, and even though their idea of the jazz tradition includes Albert Ayler, we like to think that this album will make their little, closed minds explode.
The heavy electronic sound of the first track, with its swathes of distortion, put it very much in Noise territory, with Wimberly contributing coloristic accents and heavier flurries of rhythmic activity. After the twenty uncompromising minutes of "Collective Tunnels," for "Conscious Tunnels" Cline switches to a guitar tone John Abercrombie wouldn't shy away from and Thollem sits down at an acoustic piano (for a while) -- though their free improvisation is just as uncompromising. The timbres cease pacifying jazzers when blippy 1950s electronic sounds slinkily slither from the speakers. Then the piano comes back, but the guitar's tone gets dirty. Genre boundaries are crushed underfoot as the moods continue to vary wildly as "Conscious Tunnels" covers an amazing breadth of timbres and textures."