Innovative approach and method generates naturally distinctive and driving electro-acoustic results in the début solo album by Jason Sharp - a regular collaborator and member of the scene surrounding Montreal’s Constellation. Imagine Colin Stetson recording for Cologne’s Magazine label and you’ve nearly got the measure of this one
“This music was performed wearing a customized heart monitor providing a single pulse to trigger analogue drums, sine wave patterns, controlled feedback, and synthesizers in real time. All electronic rhythmic material stems from this source…
Jason Sharp has emerged as one of Canada's most fascinating New Music composers in recent years. From his roots as a saxophonist in Montréal's fertile jazz and improv scene, Sharp developed as a soloist with drone-based durational music, circular breathing, and an increasing exploration of the body and technology.
His impressive 2016 debut A Boat Upon Its Blood was a molten and musically diverse work of modern composition inspired by a Robert Creeley poem, distinguished by Sharp’s use of a heart monitor and amplified breath to trigger various rhythmic and textural electronic elements – alongside his own saxophone playing and contributions from guest players on violin and lap steel guitar.
Stand Above The Streams expands on this approach, with Sharp having further developed his custom Midi and synthesis apparatuses, and most notably collaborating on these compositions with Adam Basanta, whose renowned practice in sound art, sound installation and autonomous sound systems makes for impressively immersive, layered and complex new work.
All sound sources on Stand Above The Streams originate with Sharp (with the exception of violin from the album’s co-producer and mixing engineer Jesse Zubot on one song): bass and baritone saxophones, heartbeat, pulse, and breathing are played/processed in real time through Sharp's own signal-bending synthesis rig and through Basanta’s bespoke 'controlled feedback' amplification system. The album's rhythms are generated wholly from Sharp's similarly controlled breathing and heart rate. The results are utterly gripping, with melodic and micro-tonal elements flowing amidst waves of atmospheric pink and brown noise, low-end modulation and calibrated distortion.
Through four parts each running in the 10-minute range, Stand Above The Streams conjures an evocative, abstracted survey of organic nature, perhaps from on high, like a satellite scanning and processing data across diverse and slowly changing landscapes. The album also sits very comfortably alongside the recent resurgence in synth-based soundtrack music (John Carpenter, Tangerine Dream et al) – though as alien as it can sometimes sound, there is an unmistakable human element and underlying warmth that courses through the tensile strength of this music, electrifying it with the viscera of the body.”
One of The Helen Scarsdale Agency’s most prized units, Fossil Aerosol Mining Project vent a cryptically elusive, hauntological suite of mid-fi compositions working on the cusp of ambient noise and avant-garde electronics in a way that should resonate with fans of the recent Pendant album on West Mineral Ltd, the romance of William Basinski’s knackered loops, or the shoegazing tinder of Jefre Cantu-Ledesma. We warmly recommend shutting your eyes and wrapping yourself up this one for a properly gauzy and deeply synaesthetically heightened trip.
“The Fossil Aerosol Mining Project continues their post-industrial dialectics through their "songs of enhanced decay and faked resurrection." This cryptic ensemble from the American Midwest has been quietly producing such works since the '80s, with a deep catalogue highlighting a uniform brilliance in the exquisite reconstruction of exhumed cassette tapes and moldering 35mm film stock.
On August 53rd, Fossil Aerosol has collaged their reclamations of found sounds into an inquisitive, dynamic cinema of the ear. The tape loops and recombinant samples create elliptical orbits and vertiginous spirals. Down-pitched, disquieting rumbles form the foundations for much of Fossil Aerosol’s compositions, which mutate the fractured, crumbled, and mildewed artifacts into patterned yet shifting phrases. The result seems like hybrid, time-compressed mimicry of the evolution of our media-driven language.
The official statement from the ensemble reads as such:
"This album, arranged specifically for Helen Scarsdale, might be considered a prequel to The Day 1982 Contaminated 1971, featuring the damaged remains of certain pop culture pleasantries in a less decomposed state than found on the previous vinyl release. August 53rd, a month extended to accommodate a changing climate, predates the day 1982 contaminated 1971."
Such inquiries characterize the many non/fictions that contextualize the work of Fossil Aerosol. Through the process of decoding lost melodies and dialog of the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, Fossil Aerosol intentionally or unintentionally deflates the vanity of consumerism while at the same time providing an archaeological view of contemporary culture.
These conceptual frameworks would be meaningless if Fossil Aerosol did not deliver on the aesthetics. And deliver the Project most certainly does. August 53rd harbors the rich enigmas of distressed sound collages found in the work of likeminded artists such as Philip Jeck, Felicia Atkinson, and of course Fossil Aerosol’s occasional collaborators :zoviet*france:.”
Japan’s fearless multi-instrumentalist and cultural provocateur Keiji Haino has made a career out of his free-form musical improvisations and diverse collaborations. Whether deconstructing American blues to a few rogue notes hanging across chasms of empty space in his solo endeavors, sparring with the nebulous fringes of psychedelia in Fushitsusha, or teaming up with musicians like Faust, Boris, Jim O’Rourke, Stephen O’Malley, John Zorn, and Peter Brötzmann for fleeting aural experiments. Haino’s work is never pre-planned or structured, but rather a completely spontaneous exploration of chemistry, texture, and dynamics.
"SUMAC’s tenure is much younger than Haino’s, though guitarist/vocalist Aaron Turner has covered a similarly large swath of musical territory across numerous projects and collaborations, from the sedated drones of recent projects with Daniel Menche and William Fowler Collins to the modern compositions of Mamiffer and all the way back to the restless evolutions of post-metal stalwarts ISIS. With his cohorts Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists, Erosion) on drums and Brian Cook (Russian Circles) on bass, Turner has dissolved the rigid forms of heavy music, searching for a balance between disciplined precision and unhinged musical barbarism, crafting music that vacillates between meticulously detailed instrumentation and uninhibited forays into oblique abstraction.
For American Dollar Bill - Keep Facing Sideways, You're Too Hideous To Look At Face On, Keiji Haino and SUMAC met up in Tokyo’s Goksound recording studio to track a series of unrehearsed, completely non-premeditated sessions. Captured across several reels of tape, the collaboration harnessed Haino’s tension-inducing use of empty space on songs like “I’m over 137% a love junkie, and it’s still not enough” while pushing SUMAC’s dissident metal vocabulary on “What have I done (I was reeling in something white...)”. Throughout the course of its hour-plus length, American Dollar Bill pushes and pulls at the strictures of metal and bends the stylistic formalities of improvised music to create a sonic purge unencumbered by convention.”
DAF go balls-to-the-wall on their Conny Plank-produced Gold Und LIebe
Feat 10 strapping tunes including hi-velocity highlights in the hyper rock ’n roll swagger of Absolute Körperkontrolle and the earlier-written zinger Werschwend Deine Jugend, plus a popcorn-like charmer Liebe Auf Den Ersten Blick.
A massive influence on everyone from Powell to Helena Hauff, DAF are among the most important electronic artists of the ‘80s and a massive influence on electronic dance music ever since.
Kouhei Matsunaga swings the dance ass-first with the quantum funk of Parallel Tempo for excellent, emergent Swiss/Italian label -OUS.
Furthering his hot streak of releases that takes in Hallucinogenic Doom Steppy Verbs  for Diagonal, thru his Sparrow’s Garden for L.I.E.S., and the Exit Entrance LP for DFA in 2017, the Japanese producer/illustrator renders five bendy aces between the zig-zagging, pendulous form of Parallel Displacement, a masterful mutation of EBM and 2-step in Blue and Purple Horses, and the colourful, crisply weightless swingers dynamics of Universal Gesture.
“NHK yx Koyxen walks at any speed and on any surface he desires to trance-scend. His Parallel Tempo EP takes a mindful plunge into layers of rigorously murmuring gestures. Speed is relative to size. As they are streched and bent, the planes engage in parallel movement. this is an exploded drawing, unlocked from time.
The Japanese artist and producer NHK yx Koyxen has been unveiling his unique vocabulary through a continuous stream of sound for many years. Performing on electronic music's timeless DNA, he offers those who step in a resonating space, in which loose objects are bound to embrace each other.
Afro-Cubist house prophet Jamal Moss dons his Hieroglyphic Being robes for the most varied, layered and timbrally rich solo mission in his cosmic musical arc thus far. Think Sun Ra, Thelonious Monk, The Weather Report, Larry Heard, Marshall Allen, Pekka Airaksinen, Adonis, Miles Davis, Armando Gallop, Jon Hassell - but most of all think of deep Black musics and Chi house as a portal to other dimensions.
Armed to the gills and wingtips with the plushest hardware line-up we’ve seen on a Jamal Moss recording - organic flutes, piano, guitar, drums, alto sax, Hammond organ, Korg Triton, Linn drum, Korg DDD-1, DR 5 drums, Casio RZ1, Ensoniq Mirage Firelight CMI Series III, Moog Mother 32, Allen & Heath Zed 24 mixer - it’s perhaps understandable that the results feel more lustrous and grand than his usual, stripped and tracky results, seemingly pulling some influence from recent years work with instrumentalists such as Sarathy Korwar, Shabaka Hutchings, Orphhy Richardson and more.
In a subliminal and physical elevation and expansion of styles, the album shapeshifts thru 9 stages variously wrestling with and dancing around the ‘floor, making for one of the first Jamal Moss albums we’d genuinely say sounds as great on headphones, walking around absorbing sights, as it does on home stereos or jabbing you to dance.
Surreal, coruscating psychedelic folk and lysergic pop. RIYL Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Sun City Girls, Bill Orcutt
“Ricochet Screen is the first proper LP from New York based TINT (aka Zane Morris). Encompassed as an overview of his solo recordings dating as far back as 2007, Ricochet Screen unfolds as a storied arc on the obsessiveness of composition, conception, and mechanism.
Culled from ad hoc recordings in vacant industrial buildings, lunchroom cafeterias, and bedroom studios, the record functions as a meditative associative collage regarding a rebounding from omnipresent glass monitors, intrusive security measures, and indeterminate barriers.”
INA-GRM’s Christian Zanési, artistic director behind the invaluable Recollection GRM archive reissues with François Bonnet and Editions Mego’s Peter Rehberg, cues up his own turn on the series with 1st ever download and vinyl editions of Stop! l’horizon ; his absorbing debut of electro-acoustic process for the Parisian institute’s nonpareil label.
Notching up Recollection GRM’s 20th release since the label started with Pierre Schaeffer’s Le Trièdre Fertile  in 2012, the two works Grand Bruit / Stop! l’horizon offer a grippingly fascinating insight to Zanési’s personal oeuvre and, by turns, the ears behind some of the most important, educational electronic music reissue series to emerge in the last decade.
Both works on offer are relatively modern, when compared with much of the Recollection GRM catalogue, which dates back to ‘60s. In that sense, they feel comparatively fresh, with Grand Bruit  recalling a densely layered and techno-psychedelic sci-fi soundtrack, like some extended scene from Alien 3 spent hiding from a xenomorph, while Stop! l’horizon  could just as easily be the accompaniment to a scene from Alien where Ripley gets utterly lost in the maze of air ducts on Nostromo.
Safe to say this is a must-listen for fans of sci-fi sonics and abstract electro-acoustic music. But of course that’s just one glib interpretation of these brilliant works, so we’ve included Zanési’s own notes for disambiguation below.
Moor Mother and DJ Haram roll their first 700 Bliss release into play with the ticking bombs of Spa 700 for Rabit’s Halcyon Veil - following up the label’s mighty Les Fleurs Du Mal LP and MHYSA’s widely acclaimed fantasii album late last year.
Both graduates of the Philadelphia house party scene, Moor Mother and Haram operate on a clearly intuitive and woke level, matching aggressive but agile lyrics and delivery with taut but dextrous fusions of Arabic drums and pumping Jersey bass. After débuting their 700 Bliss alias on the track 29th from Moor Mother’s The Motionless Present , the YY + YY pairing question club music’s fringes with the kind of razor sharp insight and direct yet freaky effect that we’ve come to expect from a Halcyon veil release.
Across the EP strings and drums intersect Moor Mother’s distinctive, urgent vocals and lean jabbing electronic production in a manner ripe for avant clubs, turning up strong highlights in their straight winner Ring The Alarm with its choppy Timbaland-meets-Mutamassik flex, and with a cold militancy on Scully, whilst Cosmic Slop is perhaps the most powerful example of their seething pressure.
Rezzett own that fuzzy mid-fi electronic sound on a cracking eponymous début album, landing nearly 5 years on from their self-titled EP, also issued on Will Bankhead’s TTT label.
In possession of a sound that feels like exotic birds nesting a vintage studio inside your ear, Rezzett, along with the likes of Jamal Moss, Actress, Terekke and Huerco S., have been responsible for redressing the fidelity of dance music with fairly radical yet subtle incision and insight over the best part of this decade.
Thru various process of attrition, they've made a virtue of purposefully muddy and unclear resolution, embracing and fetishising the infidelities of analog hardware noise for a sort of shabby chic appeal that lends itself to closer attention in headphones as well as a sort of psychedelic friction on the ‘floor.
It’s perhaps fair to say that Rezzett have really come to define that sound at its murkiest, most romantic, and diverse, pulling from house, jungle, garage and ambient noise paradigms to forge something viscerally affective and memorably their own, as experienced between the mottled VHS memory-bank shakes of Hala, in the squirming, sore but lush Sexzzy Creep, and the salty angels tears of Yunus in Ekstasi, with the rusty grime and jungle shanks of Gremlinz and Worst Ever Contender lending a cranky, rinsed out finale.
Abyss X follows a notable turn for Halcyon Veil with her steeply enigmatic début of mystic composition for Aïsha Devi’s Danse Noire
“Taking its title from a Minoan legend that deals with rage, greed and destruction, the latest release from Abyss X expands and reconstructs conceptions of aural space and time. Out on Danse Noire, Pleasures of the Bull finds the multi-disciplinary artist and producer flirting with the sounds of hard jazz while mystifying the parameters of experimental music across several distinct movements, thus allowing the listener to break free from their sonic principles.
Intoxicating, ambient textures mesh with Abyss X’s own expressive vocals, as well as the sounds of the traditional Cretan lyra, played by Maria Skoula. Her sound modification creates a collage of temporalities – allow yourself to move outside linear dimensions, and her to confide in you. Prog rock guitar lines twist stolidly beneath warped vocal samples, and the timbre of the bowed lyra permeates the atmosphere in a thick, suffocating haze.
As the listener travels through space and time, so too does the artist. Abyss X delves into the fullness of her craft, drawing from her background in theater and performance, in addition to the frenzied energy of her live shows as a musician. The music throbs with a frantic yet unmistakably deliberate drama. Pleasures of the Bull feels like a gentle punch in the gut; a compelling auditory performance and a bold exploration of the narrative album format.”
Brilliantly invasive psychoacoustic probes from a new name to the Editions Mego hivemind. Imagine Florian Hecker making techno with Peder Mannerfelt and you’re not far off this one. Check ’23:59  off (Ping timeout:2sec)’, and if you like that you’ll go ham for the rest
“Jung an Tagen is practicing sonic animism on a molecular level. With ‘Agent im Objekt’ he confronts us once more with a form of highly abstracted electronic music - puristic clubsounds for an accelerated future.
Kicking off with an accumulation of high-pitched, psychoactive sounds, ‘Agent im Objekt’ takes us into a hyperreal sphere reigned by sonic entities. Playing with swarm-dynamics and singular signals, moments of distance and proximity and noise textures that stimulate our perception, Jung An Tagen transgresses the common syntax of clubmusic. His strategies resemble computer music composition and focus on timbre, texture and structure in an almost analytical way. The sounds filtered from his synthesizer are polished and bright, but behave in an astonishingly organic way, forming propulsive melodic sketches. Arranged in multiple layers of versatile polyrhythms, the tracks are nurtured by the forceful dialectics of precisely arranged chaos and ecstatic order.
With his titles, Jung An Tagen is further adding an enigmatic narrative to his tracks, transcending the actual sphere of the dancefloor towards fictional storytelling. Following the structure of a one-sided chatlog, they evoke associations from the X-file series or mystery novels, revealing a brainteaser that is drawn from mysterious coordinates and secret codes.
In addition the official video »20:03 [Y] HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?« underlines Jung An Tagen's interdisciplinary interest in synaesthetic processes. Developed in collaboration with the programmers JeongHo Park and Scott Sinclair the video visualizes particle explosion data from CERN - the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Inspired by Peter Kubelkas ‘Arnulf Rainer’, the resulting geometric figures are exposed to a ’complimentary stroboscope’ that glitches your receptors and stimulate your brainwaves with photo- and EEG-stimulation close to seizure, inducing a hallucinative reality.
‘Agent im Objekt’ is playful but analytical, uplifting but mentally disturbed. While the dynamic use of reoccuring motives forces your body to move, cerebral timbres provoke a series of stimuli to massage your brain. It is intellectual body music that might mark a poetic turn in progressive dance music.”
Fred Welton Walmsley III (Lee Bannon) completes his esoteric ambient metamorphosis with Dedekind Cut’s melancholic Tahoe album for arch American electronic drifters, Kranky Records - home to some of the some of the finest atmospheric ambient works of recent decades by Stars of The Lid, Loscil, Tim Hecker.
In key with Kranky’s heritage, Dedekind Cut very neatly plays to the label aesthetic on Tahoe with a widescreen suite of slow, windswept synths layered into expansive harmonics evoking cinematic and psychedelic sensations. They range from pop-ambient pockets of bittersweetness to more brooding tracts of durational immersion, with each connected by an overarching feeling of sadness or unresolved strife.
It’s all very much what you’d expect from a Kranky release, until you start paying closer attention. Where Kranky’s chorus of ambient angels have often spent decades on their craft, developing personalised timbral sensitivities and sound identities, the shapeshifting Dedekind Cut’s newness to this particular field is betrayed by the more elusive reach of his soundsphere, but the artist makes up for a lack of tonal richness by conveying his intent more directly thru the arrangement and overall feeling, or soul connoted by his compositions.
Such a madness, Ismo Laakso’s Ofelia comes off like a wild pre-echo of Mica Levi, Teresa Winter and Paavoharju on its long overdue release thru Sähkö’s Puu after languishing as a demo CD in a drawer for nearly 20 years, only to be rediscovered last autumn.
In a way that resonates with our most febrile musical dreams, Ofelia sounds like a scrambled radio transmission which modulates with jazz-wise logic and timing between myriad sources, juxtaposing their lopped ends in a spellbinding play of anticipation-baiting, oneiric logic.
One moment we’re listening to an almost machine-like english vocal serrated by radioactive electronics (Translucent), while the next we’re in the midst of sloshing, unsteady breaks and ambient soul vocals joined by angelic, Hassell-style chorales (The Favourites of the Emperor), or disoriented by fusions of Finnish monologues with field recordings and visceral electronics (Koskenhaltija). Soon enough we’re drawn into a surreal scene of baroque and jazz-wise chamber music (Smell), and then what sounds like Charlemagne Palestine duetting with Maja S.K. Ratkje (Ofelia), and never with any kind of explanation or reason for how we got from points A to B. For some folk, that actually probably sounds like a nightmare, but if you’re a bit of weirdo, we reckon that it’s all is going to spin you out in the best sense.
Very highly Recommended!
The avant-garde answer to a collab between Martine McCutcheon, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jools Holland, anyone?
“Privately pressed to LP in 1978 under the name J. Jasmine and made especially for the Ann Arbor Film Festival, with artistic collaboration from the festival’s founder and Once Group artist, George Manupelli, My New Music is the debut album by Jacqueline Humbert and David Rosenboom. Featuring a cast of Mills College personalities like David Behrman and Sam Ashley on backup vocal duties, this song cycle is at every turn boundary-pushing and gender-busting, yet still hilarious, sweet, and genuine, all delivered in a post-genre, art-song, cabaret musical style that happens to boast some serious avant-garde chops, courtesy of Rosenboom. If it weren’t so spot on, you’d swear it was a guilty pleasure.
As J. Jasmine writes, My New Music is a collection of personal stories and private desires, exposed, articulated, performed and dedicated to the hope that one person's fantasies can contribute to another person's freedom. Get lost in J. Jasmine’s world for a little long while, and be free.”
The notion of rhythm and sound takes on mutant new meanings at the hands of meter-tweaking mavericks, YoshimiO (Boredoms/OOIOO), Susie Ibarra, and Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe.
‘Flower of Sulphur’ finds the trio working together for the first time after meeting in various other configurations, with results that loosely fall under the improvised free jazz banner, but hold back from the brink by way of an underlying, rolling funk logic and a defined clarity of rhythmelodic texture, rather than the expressive mayhem ‘free jazz’ suggests. Think falling down a tessellating MC Escher staircase for an hour…
“Susie explains the idea: "We had all performed in different configurations before but never together as a trio. I think actually I have met each YoshimiO and Robert at different times when collaborating on larger works with Tarek Atoui. But we had not performed together as trio. I was very happy with the prospect to play a trio concert, as I could imagine the sonic palette could be very interesting, being that we each come from different aesthetic backgrounds but enjoy crossing into various sonic territories.”
The resulting recording of their collaboration, Flower of Sulphur, is a transfixing piece of continuous improvisational work which explores the direct relationship between the artists and their individual configurations. The album takes the form of the trio each playing their principal instruments with no specific goal other than the exploration of the space in that moment.
This spontaneous composition showcases the freedom and musical immediacy of all three artists’ ability to interplay as well as their individual unique techniques to create engaging experimental sounds. Flower of Sulphur was recorded at Roulette in Brooklyn in front of an audience; the trio are hoping to make additional live performances throughout 2018. The hour long instillation builds to a captivating crescendo elegantly fusing immersive layers, rewarding the listener with a true emotive experience.”
One of the leading lights of Ethiopian music presents his first new material in an age on Lala Belu for Awesome Tapes From Africa - the label who were instrumental in showcasing his work to wider audiences with the compilation Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument: Shemonmuanaye in 2013, and later a reissue of reissue of his Tche Belew  album.
Comprising the virtuoso accordionist and keys player’s first new material since those reissues triggered a worthy career resurgence, Lala Belu catches fire in all six parts with a vitally tough and expressive sound that feels like Mergia has thrown off the more genteel jazz vibes of early releases in favour of a fierce, freer jazz and funk flex to proceedings.
The guy’s gotta be knocking into his 70s now yet shows no sign of letting up here, sounding utterly alive and full of feels from the opening cut’s switch from mellow sway to bustling jazz and blazing electric keys, thru the head-down funk chops of Addis Nat, to the swingeing organ lines and percolated percussion of Anchihoye Lene.
He chills out beautifully well on the sublime solo piano piece Yefikir Engurguro, which sweetly recalls the magic of Emahoy Tsegue-Mariam Guebru, while Gum Gum sounds perhaps closest to his debonaire early recordings.
Lone gets it right on these rugged but lush UK ravers, nailing a crafty blend of dembow knuck and early ‘ardcore bruk spiralling to a widescreen, flute-led new age peak in Temples, then swanging out with the infectious rub ’n tug of ruffcut Detroit house and fluoro nEuro trance lines on Hyper Seconds.
NYC minimalist returns to Spekk with ‘Fallen’ some 14 years after he provided the label with its 1st release, ‘January’. Despite the time difference, the two albums share a lot in common...
“When I sit down to write an album I will usually come up with a technical and compositional concept to help focus my writing. Whether it is a restricted palette of instruments or a specific way of approaching the writing, this practice has helped me explore different processes and helps keep the album focused. My previous album Somi was such an album. Hyper-focused and very deliberate in creation. However, there are times where I want to be more relaxed and just write what comes freely. In a way Fallen is such an album.
When I began writing it the only strong rule I put on myself is that it would be my first album centered around the piano as the main instrument. There were times when I wanted Fallen to be an album for solo piano but the more I pushed and explored the more I was drawn to accompanying the piano with modular and Moog synthesizers, tape machines and the occasional guitar. Fallen was supposed to be, after all, a relaxed album, one that would come quickly, off-the-cuff, and with little regard to any rules or restrictions. It, however, ended up being one of the longest albums for me to create; well over a year and a half, as it had coincided with a particularly dark and difficult time in my personal life.
As the album progressed the thoughts of a freer, solo-piano sound quickly faded as layers of disintegration and noise came to the foreground. Half-broken tape machines and plenty of ghostly echoes helped hide the honesty of the piano as I hid myself, and my music, away under the cover of abstraction. In a way I feel that Fallen is most like my album Northern. One that was intended to be more free-spirited but became very much about a particular place and time.”
Terence Dixon and DJ Koze rework two Efdemin tunes of nearly 10 year vintage
Detroit’s Dixon taking America back to its African foundations with mellow, mid tempo flow of thumb piano-like melody and dubbed-out chants, whereas Koze edits Acid Bells for a tighter, driving effect.
Expertly researched survey of Japan’s golden age take on Jazz. Check for highlights in the nippy clip of ‘White Fire’ and ‘Unknown Polint’ for some proper dancers, or the likes of Takeo Moriyama’s ‘Kaze’ for a more sultry take on classic jazz tradition
“In the years following World War Two, Japan developed one of the most insatiable, dynamic and diverse markets for jazz. For a crucial period of little over a decade – from the late 1960s to the early 1980s – Japanese jazz culture progressed at an astonishing rate, producing an extraordinary array of artists, recordings and record labels that created some of the most forward thinking and impressive jazz to be committed to tape. This amazing journey is explored on ‘J Jazz’.
This compilation from BBE uncovers some of the most sought after and rare material from this period and pulls together key artists who shaped the post-war modern jazz scene in Japan.
‘J Jazz’ includes obscure and sought after rarities like the bass-driven power jazz of Koichi Matsukaze’s ‘Earth Mother’, the holy grail rarity of Aizawa Tohru Quartet’s ‘Dead Letter’ and the loping majesty of Takeo Moriyama’s ‘North Wind’. This collection takes the listener into deep spiritual jazz, post-modal impressionism and fierce dance-floor fusion with material from artists and composers whose names are generally only known to committed collectors of Japanese jazz. Fumio Karashima, Mitsuaki Katayama, Takeo Moriyama and Kiyoshi Sugimoto are among the names featured on an album aiming to shed a little light on the shadowy world of Japanese jazz clubs, tucked away in the neon backstreets. This music demands a wider audience and BBE are excited to deliver a landmark compilation, lifting the veil on this wonderful and mysterious area of the global jazz catalogue.
None of the tracks featured on ‘J Jazz’ have ever received an official release outside Japan before. The albums the tracks are taken from are extremely hard to find and often fetch huge sums on the collector’s circuit. Originally pressed in small numbers on independent and private labels such as Union, Johnny’s Disk, Whynot, ALM and VAP, these tracks are now available for everyone to enjoy.
Compiled by Tony Higgins and Mike Peden, both long-time collectors of Japanese jazz, ’J Jazz’ brings together the very best in modern jazz from Japan, recorded during a critical period of musical and cultural transition that saw composers and musicians not only assert a new artistic identity but also create a lasting musical legacy.”
Originally released in 1991 as a limited run of 100 self distributed cassette tapes.
The 5 tracks touch upon Ambient, Dub, House and Balearic styles and show an ambition to create timeless music in the vein of Ultramarine and The Orb. 25 years later these songs finally reach a wider audience....on cassette, again....
Dragon’s Eye Recordings proprietor Yann Novak unfurls a mesmerising, meditative suite of processed field recordings on Touch. Imagine the elegant protagonist of Richard Chartier’s Pinkcourtesyphone took a stroll at dusk with Biosphere in the L.A. ‘burbs…
“Yann Novak is an artist, composer, and curator based in Los Angeles. His work is guided by his interests in perception, context, movement, and the felt presence of direct experience. Through the use of sound and light, Novak explores how these intangible materials can act as catalysts to focus our awareness on our present location in space and time. Novak's diverse body of works – audiovisual installations, performances, architectural interventions, sound diffusions, recording, and prints – ask participants to reclaim the present moment as a political act.
His album Ornamentation was released by Touch in 2016. He also runs his own label, Dragon's Eye Recordings. In March 2018, Yann will be touring Europe, including dates in London, Berlin and others.”
Sweden’s spikiest, boundry-oblivious rock group give one last hurrah with this eponymous slaughter for Thrill Jockey. Following more than a decade of defying categorisation and relaxing on labels as far flung as Diagonal and Important, Joachim Nordwall and co take this opportunity to blast out eight jams tangoing from the xmas-ready combo of noisy dub and sleigh bells in A Brief History of Rhythm, Dub, Life and Death to the shark-eyed krautrock drive of The Beauty of Creation and Destruction, via the Suicide-al Clean Mind, and the punk chutzpah of All Thoughts Thought.
A Message from Joachim Nordwall: “Our new album, simply entitled The Skull Defekts, marks the death of the band and an important farewell to those who have cared. It holds many echoes of our history but it is music that is present and now, and it’s hopeful in its own darkness. It carries some kind of positive desperation knowing what we knew while recording it. We worked with Mariam Wallentin as our fourth member on this one, and she brought in something new; new creativity, new blood. Her contributions were important.
The stuff I wrote for it was of course colored by the fact that we were not comfortable as a band. I think Fagge’s stuff was too. And there in the studio, we realized how much we love creating together. We love playing together but it just had to stop. The Skull Defekts might be our strongest album musically. It is the album that might be the most composed one. It is well prepared musically and of course holds improvisational parts, but probably less than before.
This is our last album. The Skull Defekts has been an important part of our lives. It is no longer.”
Breathtaking works of electro-acoustic concrète abstraction dating to 1978-79 from the inestimable archive of INA-GRM, Paris.
One of INA-GRM’s pivotal figures, François Bayle is subject of a 2nd entry to the Recollection GRM reissue series with Tremblements , offering two works of alternately harder-edged electronic abstraction and enchanting, crystalline dimensions which have been unavailable on vinyl for more than three decades.
Apt as both an educational transmission for fresh electronic explorers, and a stunning example of the precision and clarity afforded by the legendary Group De Recherches Musicales facilty in Paris, Tremblements gives another mind-meltingly evocative plunge into exquisite other worlds of sound.
Nope, not the ‘90s house act, but rather Philadelphia’s original ‘80s synth trio, The Nightcrawlers, are subject of this revelatory compendium from Mexican Summer’s Anthology Recordings. Spanning 14 works in just over 2.5 hours, The Biophonic Boombox Recordings form a gateway to distant, lo-fi but fantastical dimensions
“Deep, diverse, and unheralded, the Philadelphia ambient electronic music scene of the 1980s is explored with The Nightcrawlers’ The Biophonic Boombox Recordings, an expansive archival collection documenting the hard-knuckled kosmische synthesizer trio’s home recordings self-released and distributed over 35 cassettes between 1980 and 1991.
Featuring the farthest reaching spacescapes of those cassette releases – improvised straight into the mic of a JVC Biphonic Boombox – none of these performances have been released beyond the original format, and essentially went out of print when Nightcrawler Peter D. Gulch got tired of dubbing them to blank tapes to mail-order through his Synkronos label and sell at live shows. Restored and recalibrated from the original cassettes, The Nightcrawlers’ music has never sounded better or so readily accessible.”
Nathan Fake leads a merry, if bittersweet, dance on Sunder, the follow-up to Providence, channelling that album’s mix of eldritch, gothic, cosmic electronics into five cuts firmed up for ‘floors both physical and imagined.
Colour and space are key to the styles exhibited on Sunder, as Fake manipulates his lustrous, chromatic harmonics into various states across five driving, undulating and tracky designs wending from the mesmerising, gaseous keen of Sunder and the more loping tilt of Arcaibh to lush, awning, widescreen synth washes and kosmiche triplets recalling Alessandro Cortini in Serotonin Drops, before dancing around the empty village hall psych rave of Cloudswept and flowing into the piquant vertiginous arp scales of Lea like some rustic english answer to Lorenzo Senni.
Hailing from England’s Old Coast, Mordant Music reminisces a long since evaporated Albion during 10 minutes of foggy, reverberating clag and eyes-rolling-in-back-of-’ead synth and flute solos.
The Baron sums it up better than we ever could:
“Internal side-tryp with a very blue Ray manning the turret, a digital lycanthrope stalking magnetic looms & a VHS salve lining KFC's toilets...it's all in the extras...IBM ::”
Karin Dreijer’s Fever Ray returns with the first release in 8 years since the celebrated self titled debut in 2009. She now tweaks the formula while retaining the enigmatic air of ‘80s synth-pop at the project’s core, redressed with rhythms better related to the modern Afro-Latin diaspora and underground fetish clubs, thanks to co-production by Príncipe’s NÍDIA, Peder Mannerfelt, Paula Temple, and Deena Abdelwahed.
Where Fever Ray was blue and black, achingly gothic, Plunge is ultraviolet and lusting, with Karin Dreijer aka Fever Ray poised like some gynoid harpy, enunciating her uniquely seductive, stressed and clipped syllables in a spectrum of screeches, naif sing-song, autotuned turns-of-phrase and etheric flights, all matched by equally piquant, urgent synthetic backdrops.
Highlights are myriad, striking from the front with evil, EVOL-esque synths wrapped to a industrialised dembow swang on Wanna Sip, and floating a superb blend of Errorsmith-like squeaks with railing reggaeton snares and a deliciously bittersweet duet with Tami T in A Part Of Us, whilst the NÍDIA-produced zinger IDK About You is surely primed for widespread dancefloor aktion, and the syncopation of giddy arpeggios and dancehall-meets-EBM drum programming in To The Moon And Back underline a piece of modern pop perfection.
There’s maybe one dud, when the folk strings spoil Red Trails, but ultimately this is a hugely satisfying listen, and a dead welcome return form one of this century’s most innovative pop stars.
The long awaited Remix album, featuring reworks from Andy Stott, Oneohtrix Point Never, Electric Youth, Alva Noto, Arca, Motion Graphics, Fennesz, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Yves Tumor, S U R V I V E and Cornelius...
We shouldn’t have to be writing this, but naturally the Jóhann Jóhannsson remix of Solari takes on a much darker shade of blue in light of his recent, untimely passing, yet it equally stands out as the LP’s most uncannily suggestive highlight. R.I.P..
Elsewhere, Yves Tumor can be trusted to handle Zure with a sensitively suspenseful sort of R&B/quasi-ambient breakbeat flip, while Andy Stott feathers Life, Life into an elegiac airborne waltz, Alva Noto catches Disintegration in a sublime, quiescent state, and Arca lends his own, original, tortured torch song vocal and windswept beat to a rework of Async with utterly heart-breaking impact. Yelp, this one really gets us.
Terekke herds his wooliest flock of ambient Improvisational Loops for Music From Memory following the cultishly-acclaimed Plant Age album for L.I.E.S.. This time he evaporates any trace of percussion to leave listeners wrapped up in billowing harmonic structures with a deeply meditative, almost anaesthetising effect set to resonate with a raft of new ears.
It’s perhaps not surprising that Matt Gardner a.k.a. Terekke conceived his second LP as an aid for yoga in the esoteric-functional style of those late ‘70s/early ’80s new age pioneers whose work is having such a strong effect on contemporary styles. As the original new age gear was crafted in response to emerging thoughts of AI consciousness, secular spirituality and as a means detach oneself from the capitalist reality of Reaganomics, in 2017, at the dog-end of capitalism, perhaps the need for this stuff is as great or greater than ever?
Unless you exclusively fxck with harsh noise or are a bit of a bastard, Improvisational Loops is almost guaranteed to melt your worries and soothe your mind, running the equivalent of a hot bath while simultaneously massaging your temples and holding a zoot to your lips so you don’t get the roach wet. Just bliss. It’s that good!
Growing Bin burst into 2018 with a bang, crash and symbol splash, uniting a premier pair of percussion obsessives for a supernatural mission into the heart of the rhythm.
Dressed in the pitch black of Dusseldorf stands Wolf Mueller, master of the tropical drums and seven time Salon Des Amateur breakdance champion. Repping Cologne and Berlin is Niklas Wandt, Germany’s funkiest drummer and a mixed musical artist as adept in experimental jazz as demented Eurodance. Standing toe to toe in a no holds barred, no drum unstruck groove contest, these two titans will make you swing your pants like a Crash Bandicoot victory dance... so stretch out and step into ‚Instrumentalmusik von der Mitte der World‘.
Taking to their task with the joyful abandon of two big kids getting creative with the Kindergarten music tray, Müller & Wandt marry dripping electronics, Froesean pads and rubber-limbed basslines with tribal polyrhythms, C2 claps and Indonesian shakers - and that‘s only on the A1. Comprising of three trance-inducing epics, a handful of medium-sized movers and a couple of freeform interludes, this dynamic double pack could almost pass as a lost Library masterpiece; but our mind guides go Furthur, fusing esoteric funk and free-jazz freak-out a truly transportive experience. Prepare to enter a world of techno totems and neon skulls, shades of Yello and excellent birds. Within these grooves lies a transdimensional pathway between the Temple of Doom, the Twilight Zone and De Palma‘s Paradise, brought to life in a shamanic rite.
Forget the healing frequencies of Growing Bin‘s ambient outings, this time we‘re dancing for mental health.”
Zola Jesus joins the Adult Swim Singles Series with Blind
Following last year’s well received Okavi LP and the lead of Chino Amobi, The Body, Jenny Hval and many other before her to bless the series with one of her trademark gothic dance pop aces.
From their beginnings in 1992, Cologne native Jan St Werner and Dusseldorfer Andi Toma have consistently challenged electronic music's paradigm in often surprising and always intriguing ways. Idiology is the duo's seventh album and is no exception to this rule, as MoM surround themselves with strings, woodwinds, brass and the band's own heavily modified fleet of machines in the St. Martin's Tonstudio.
Fans should once again brace themselves for the inevitable shock of the new as Germany's most irreverent audio renegades have created the perfect soundtrack for a highly sinister dance party. Kicking off with 'Actionist Respoke', the album's first single, MoM officially declare their independence from glitchtronica's shoegazing legions. Longtime collaborator Dodo Nkishi lends a uniquely warped vocal sensibility to the track which already features MoM's darkest grooves to date. The rest of the album continues to thicken the group's sonic stew.
Tracks such as 'Presence' and 'Catching Butterflies With Hands' have their populist intentions undermined by Werner and Toma's meddling hands, while the duo reprise their flirtation with the orchestral as heard on the opening tracks from 2000's Niun Niggung. At the other end of the spectrum, 'Introduce' is a truly evil slice of twisted lympho-zoid hip-hop. Idiology takes no prisoners in its dual-pronged assault on the conventions of modern music. Only with the loungy closing number, 'Fantastic Analysis' (a term Werner and Toma invented to describe their working process), do Mouse on Mars let the arrangements breathe a long sigh of relief, the calm after the storm.
To enable these stylistic achievements MoM enlist the help of partners in crime such as: Nkishi, the multi-talented Harald 'Sack' Ziegler, house icon Matthew Herbert on piano, violinist Matty Arouse, in addition to fellow programming wizards Adam 'Vert' Butler and F.X. Randomiz.
Ben Chasny’s (Six Organs Of Admittance) Hexadic system for composition is put to great, if beguiling use by the likes of Stephen O’Malley, Tashi Dorji, Richard Youngs, and Meg Baird a.o. on Hexadic III for the first time outside of Chasny’s Hexadic solo releases.
Based around a system of relating shuffled cards from a standard deck of playing cards to notes on a guitar, the system encourages the user to work within unusual tonal combinations, most often with uniquely “off-key” results that feel pretty damn strange for the listener.
The LP is inarguably dominated by one cut, Stephen O’Malley, Tim Wyskida and Marc Urselli’s Solastalgia, which eats up most of the B-side. Slowly churning up drums , electric guitar and abyssal bass, it features Sunn 0)))’s O’Malley working about as close to the OG Earth template as we’ve ever heard him, but also with a sleight, off-kilter spin that distinguishes it as something different.
Predictably, Richard Youngs also renders great results from the Hexadic system with his nerve-jangling eruption of keening distortion, while Phil Legard also impresses with a stark yet beautifully lilting work for organ entitled Zoa Pastorale.
Even by Príncipe’s ridiculously high standards, this is jaw-droppingly good, fierce but soulful hybrids of kuduro with R&B, trance-techno, drill and jump-up jungle, in our view some of the most thrilling music made by anyone in the world right now...
Príncipe kick off 2018 in a big way with the remarkable début by P. (as in ‘Producer’) Adrix; a 22 year old artist originally from Lisbon, now based in Manchester, who is equally adept at crafting full tilt, teched-out bangers as effervescent electronic soul music. His first release, Álbum Desconhecido is a supreme example of the innovative scenius in Angolan-Portuguese music, ratcheting the thrilling dynamics of Lisbon’s ghetto bass sound with deadly edits and pressure highly compatible with the UK’s jump-up jungle, drill or soca grime vibes.
Building on ground-breaking work forwarded by producer/DJs Marfox, Nervoso, Nídia and Lycox in recent years, Álbum Desconhecido is jaw-droppingly fresh, delivered in 9 short sharp stings between the seasick drill of Zelda Shyt and the laser-guided trance lixx of Viva La Raça, trading in a mix of virulent, adrenalised energy and soulful rollige that sets fire to any ‘floor.
It’s clear and present in the turbulent, rug-pulling subs and febrile polyrhythms of Bola De Cristal, and to blinding degrees in the high-wire tension and bone-freezing edits of 6.6.6, whereas the zipping flutes of Ovni bind roots and future with breathtaking, needlepoint incision, leaving Sonhos to provide a dead sweet, even romantic contrast with the melancholic meditation of Tejo for fine measure.
It's a boldly expressive and immediately effective sound that drives listeners to a rare but timeless sort of rave ecstasy - thrillingly synthetic and infused with an unmistakeable lust for the dance. In the right hands, it’s dangerous stuff.
You’ve been warned!
Nurse With Wound’s Colin Potter hooks up with Alessio Natalizia (aka Not Waving) and Guido Zen for this new album for Ecstatic; a sublime trip by three highly skilled synthesists that comes highly recommended if yr into Klaus Schulze, Vangelis, John Carpenter or Eduard Artemiev.
After stranding listeners in deep space with Schleißen 4 in 2015, Potter, Natalizia and Zen regroup along the percussive vectors of Shut Your Eyes On The Way Out - three years in the making and taking cues from Kosmische, abstract EBM and obscure library sounds for seductive new horizons of pulsing rhythms and floating ambient dub tones.
The trio control the mission with masterful skill and sleight of hand, prompting routes for the user rather than signposting the way with cliché. Of course, it’s hard to escape some sense of homage or reverence for the original forms, but they do so with such sensitivity to the material and “the journey” that the results simply transcends that heritage, to arrive somewhere, timelessly, out there.
They chart a steady course, slowly melting from cryogenic stasis to map out free floating space in Articulated, then holding their course despite the gravitational pull from massive objects in Rhythm Did Not Change, and under pressure of slow disco G-forces in the pulsing beauty of Linda, leading to the interception of panicked bleeps in Chaosmosis.
Over on the B-Side When Time Stops Moving the mission becomes very Tarkovsky-esque and surreal, with those lysergic drones really coming into their own, before the upside down tonal sculpting of Unsystematic Waves re-aligns the user’s brain functions in preparation for the stunning dynamic proprioception of Che Osmosi, where the route ahead becomes scrambled in a delirious tangle of nagging arpeggio melodies and pill-belly pulses, emulating pretty much how you’d feel, lost but happy to be zillions of light years from terra firma.
Wickedly damaged acid jack traxx from Novo Mundo, the first act not called Niagara to release on Lisbon’s Ascender label.
In the sun-baked mode of previous Niagara 12”s, this soundalike session turns out two hypnotic blocks of natty acid, stepping up with the flying hi-hats, zig-zagging 303 lines and dubbed-out chords of Dezembro and then locking into a more bucking formation with the monotone jack tackle of Leviathan, and cooling off to the glassy chiefs of Arsenale.
Addictively raw hip house styles from a then-incarcerated Mix-O-Rap, performed and recorded in the big house’s music room every week while he was inside. If you fell hard for his DMR tape back in 2014, or the For Thugz 12" in 2015, money says you’re susceptible to thee baddest, homebrewed strains and this one will knock you sideways. It’s giving us chuckles that they’ve actually listed a mastering engineer cos it sounds like this gear was dug out of dumpster - and we say that with high praise! Love to hear a dialled in cipher between this guy and Cosmic Dennis Greenidge…
Mix-O-Rap says: “I wrote this album in prison. I went to the music room every week to play on their keyboards. I studied different styles of beat patterns and sound recording to be a recording engineer. I wanted to create this new sound, so I took go-go, hip-hop, house, and drum and bass to blend up a new pattern of beats with a DJ sway. So I rapped on it. I need a perfect mix sound so I used a reverb gate, small room because I was in a small room. I used my moms blankets to trap the sound waves in the room. I use a digital mic from radio shack and was rapping with a blanket over my head to trap the sound waves. I played my keys in F flat to deepen the tone. I put tom toms on it to fill the spaces with handclaps to have that snap. Then I put a reverb gate on every instrument to get the lo-fi audio sound. I mastered it with all knobs on zero. Equalizer on zero. I mastered my own sound by tweeking and listening with cheap headphones. So that’s why I call myself Mix-0-Rap because I master my mix and DJ rap style with a touch go-go rapping.”
Karen Gwyer returns with 'Rembo', her first full LP for Don't Be Afraid - a propulsive, functional affair dotted with colour and narrative, a record that calls firmly to the night...
"Live performance is where Gwyer's ideas come into gradual but vivid fruition, with tracks often evolving over "five or six shows" before reaching the studio. Throughout 'Rembo', dozens of shows and endless stolen studio hours have informed 38 minutes of uncompromising body music.
"What I'm doing is trying to challenge a certain way of thinking", she explains. "I feel like, without it being said, I get treated as a warm up act for DJs. And I also feel like when I go and play, I want to disprove that notion. I'm standing there for an hour, and I don't necessarily know what's going to happen. I have a loose idea, but I'm definitely working the crowd. I'd like people to shift their thinking in regards to what producers are doing, and to acknowledge the fact that there's a lot of decision making happening on a second-by-second basis, and a lot of it is improvisational."
Throughout her youth in Michigan, with Detroit on the nearby horizon, the city's time-honoured musical heritage slowly sank under Gwyer's skin. First through public radio, late night transmissions and endless cassette recordings, then on the life-changing local rave scene.
"Before the internet came along, you were listening to the radio, and you knew who the DJ was, but you had no earthly idea who the records were by", recalls Gwyer. "You just listened to the music, and you didn't listen to the people. And because you didn't ponder their personalities, you weren't engaged in the process. And I loved it, it was pivotal to me. I still have records on tape, and I have no idea who made them. I lie awake at night thinking about how am I ever going to find out what that track is? I have a snippet of it in my mind, but how will I ever know?"
'Rembo' then, is in some way a tribute to those transformative moments caught on tape. And while the pressures of raising a young family means that Gwyer has fresh pairs of young ears to potentially inspire, instead, this is a record that calls firmly to the night; an album to transport both artist and listener to dark, sweaty rooms, to shared escapism and unexpected moments of electronic transcendence..."
Pye Corner Audio brings his wood-fired analogue sound to Lapsus Records after touring the houses of Mondo Tees, Polytechnic Youth, Analogical Force and More Than Human already in a productive 2017 cycle.
In a smart play of contrasts, we hear much-loved and lesser-heard sides of PCA’s sound in Where Things Are Hollow. The supple, rolling arpeggios and acid tweaks of Resist, and his wobbly, chromatic cosmic chugger Northern Safety Route both bear the hallmarks of Martin Jenkins’ signature dancefloor romance.
However, fans should be very intrigued to hear him go beat-less and weightless in the other two parts. With Mainframe he conducts a stellar display of piquant bleep motifs and arcing choral pads converging into a gently distorted and dissonant harmonic smudge at the track’s peak, and Continental Drift seemingly operates on the opposite side of that wave with a sullen stir of low end swells and light pollution aurora reflecting the scale of the track title.
Firecracker’s elusive Gavin Sutherland (Fudge Fingas) relays a mystic house doozy with Pattern Transform under his Other Lands alias, as last heard on the Mac-Talla Nan Creag  compilation.
Framed as “occupying the space between alien-revisited exotica, classic jacking house workouts and a BoC 'Chromakey Dreamcoat' kinda vibe” by the Edinburgh label, its a trustworthily deep end trip finding its maker taking his beloved house music to new limits of the style.
A-side; he comes off like Carl Craig taking a trip around Orkney island stone circles with Julian Cope on Descent Into Nasqueron, which is worth it for the outta-nowhere drop alone, whilst Chapel Perilous Closed practically usurps Actress at his own game with a mid-fi swirl of synth-brass and strings in smoky electro-acoustic air driven by a well-cladded kick drum. B-side is just as strong, catching a breezier spring in his step with the gaelic plies and Detroit jazz pivots of Late Feeling Yourself, then giving it those come-tae-beed bucky eyes on A Paddle Around The World, which riffs in the same warm, alien waters as Sun-Ra, Jamal Moss, or Les Gracies.
Poppin’ electro-boogie produced by Melbourne’s Benny Badge, with a Astral electro-soul rerub by his alter ego, Freekwency featuring your RDA of sax harassment by Jack Doepel.
Backed by the wobbly strut of Midnight Run and the chromatic grease slick of Korea Town.
November 2017 August 1988, Spacemen 3 embark on one of the strangest events in the band's already strange history. Billed as "An Evening of Contemporary Sitar Music" (although consciously omitting the sitar), the group would play in the foyer of Watermans Arts Centre in Brentford, Middlesex to a largely unsuspecting and unsympathetic audience waiting to take their seats for Wim Wenders' film 'Wings of Desire'.
"Spacemen 3's proceeding set, forty-five minutes of repetitive drone-like guitar riffs, could be seen as the "Sweet Sister Ray" of '80s Britain. Their signature sound is at once recognizable and disorienting - pointing as much to the hypnotic minimalism of La Monte Young as to a future shoegaze constituency. On this double LP reissue, Dreamweapon is augmented by studio sessions and rehearsal tapes from 1987 that would lead up to the recording of Spacemen 3's classic 'Playing With Fire' album. 'Spacemen Jam,' featuring Sonic Boom and Jason Pierce on dual guitar, is a side-long mediation on delicate textures and psychedelic effects."
Certain to claim its place in pop-loving hearts everywhere, ‘Few Traces’ is a glorious introduction to the admirable optimism and romance of Mark Renner’s American songcraft. Few Traces surveys a near decade of Mark Renner’s scarcely released and unreleased material from 1982 to 1990, embracing and evoking the timelessness of his artistic statement: a wordless translation of the individual’s musical experience, met with the poetic expression of being here.
"Mark Renner first encountered punk while a teenager in Upperco, a country town in rural Maryland. Growing up on his family farm, he became a young acolyte of the British exports hitting not-so-distant Baltimore record store shelves in 1979 / 1980 and was baited by an area musician-wanted ad declaring Ultravox a primary touchstone.
This nascent band and a pair of other group experiments flamed out under the typical totem of despotism. In their ashes Renner began recording independently around 1983 with a portable four-track, electric guitar, and classic Casio CZ101 synthesizer. Aside from John Foxx-era Ultravox, Renner’s process was inspired by the period’s electronic pioneers venturing into deeper, romantic pop pastures: Yellow Magic Orchestra, Bill Nelson, The Associates.
With his tools and teachers in place, the blueprints for Renner’s sound were laid out – metronomic, skeletal rhythms built on sturdy yet singular drum machines supporting luminescent guitar and synth lines, Renner’s reverent voice guiding the fables and construction.
Most directly influential, Renner’s enthusiasm for Days in Europa, the third album by Scottish new wave band Skids, would lead to a correspondence and long-distance tutorship with Stuart Adamson. Before Adamson would achieve worldwide success co-founding the group Big Country, a chance friendship with Renner would impart great confidence in the young musician from Maryland, who, after a visit in Edinburgh, would then travel to London to demo an early version of “Half A Heart” featured in its final form on Few Traces.
The sum of Renner’s music is one-part literary, one-part painterly. The artist cites the individualism of Herman Hesse as a guiding force, and there are overt references to W. B. Yeats and John Greanleaf Whittier among other authors. Lyrical themes evoke the presence of the ancient past, much like early Felt songs or the spiritual visions of Van Morrison. (Tellingly, Renner cites Morrison’s 1980s albums made between Inarticulate Speech of the Heart and No Guru, No Method, No Teacher as musical influences.)
Apart from his writing, Renner explored music as a complement to visual language: many of the dream-like instrumental passages presented across Few Traces were originally implemented as sound elements for exhibitions of his paintings. Renner pursued wordless music as a pure aesthetic in its own right, pristinely balanced segues and open-ended compositions that lead to pasture but not without shepherd.
Compiled three decades after the music was originally put to tape, Few Traces collects Mark Renner’s early music but strives not to simplify or reframe it. (Mark is still active making music and painting) The instrumental explorations remain on par with the great ambient adventurers of the period (Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Roedelius), while the vocal and guitar-centric songs crystalize across similar terrains being transversed by Cocteau Twins and The Chills.
Few Traces highlights in intuitive sequence gems from Renner’s scarce discography and archive: the self-released debut All Walks of This Life (1986), the aptly titled follow-up Painter’s Joy (1988), plus early singles, compilation tracks, and exemplary songs that saw no original release. The collection allows an intimate look at an artist growing into their sound and surroundings, finding the in between echoes and spirituality of the individual.”
Fauna Mapping is the lush result of Jonny Nash and Lindsay Todd’s jollies in Bali, 2017, where they immersed themselves in the island’s gamelan music, indigenous culture and abundantly diverse natural environments.
It’s essentially the Firecracker boss and Melody As Truth storyteller’s interpretation of the term Exotica, using a blend of strategies gleaned from ambient synth music and field recording to convey a sense of space and place, and in a way saying it without saying it.
The results call to mind the synaesthetic binds of David Ventura aka Suga’s Transflora A/V project, but sans the visual part (you can fill in the gaps though), as much as K. Leimer’s c. ’81/82 output and quite obviously the Hassel, Eno and Byrne classics. However the distinction lies in Nash’s grasp of up-to-date, gaseous electronic dynamic and the unique guidance of Lindsay Todd, a renowned set of ears who takes his first ever co-production and writing credits here, lending the set a psychedelic unpredictability that you don’t usually find in Nash’s work, and which sets this slab apart from the field.
Sub Rosa’s vital Early Electronic Series yields a fascinating and unprecedented collection of Indonesian Electronic Music 1979-1992 with the 1st survey of work by Otto Sidharta; a graduate of music composition at Jakarta Institute of Arts, electronic music composition at Sweelinck Conservatorium Amsterdam, and recently a doctorate from Institute Seni Indonesia Surakarta.
A pioneering figure within Indonesian Electronic Music since his début composition Ngendau , Sidharta has operated amid a small network of prism pushers in relative seclusion from the power centres of electronic music for nigh on 40 years. Since the start of his oeuvre, Sidharta’s work has been concerned with environmental sounds, integrating natural and electronic sources in a way that could be said to reflect the sound ecology of his home land as much as his personal imagination.
As the first collection to reveal Sidharta’s work beyond his home country, this set serves an increasingly rare encounter by revealing a hitherto un or little-known, yet fully formed and genuinely new, perspective on electronic music ranging from deliquescent gong works to dense blocks of gamelan abstraction, computerised chimes and totally unearthly oddities.
Make no mistake though, this isn’t some sort of Hassell-esque 4th world simulation or recreation of traditional music with plugged-in means. Rather, it’s better regarded as a fine mix of academic rigour and methodical electronic music techniques realised at the service of romantic, esoteric notions of space and place; vividly conveying sensations of heat, psychedelia, violence - both natural and political - with an immersively dreamlike effect from both within and post Soeharto’s brutal dictatorship.
Simply, if 4th world music is too fluffy for ya, but you like its Eastern-oriented ideas of new tunings, rhythms, imaginary spaces, this one is strongly recommended, especially to fans of Coil, Rashad Becker, Gottfried Michael Koenig, Pauline Oliveros.
In light of his hugely acclaimed and recently reissued classic 'If You're Into It, I'm Out Of It', CDB’s monstrous 'Scylla & Charybdis'  plate creeps back out of whatever hole it slid down for a 10 year anniversary reissue on his Hamburg-based CFET label.
Scylla & Charybdis is a first rate example of breakcore at its mutant and gothic best, executed by one of the sound’s definitive operators. In two 12 minute parts - De Babalon unfurls scenarios traversing from darkly cinematic, atonal strings and looming bass to lurching hybrids of Alexandra von Bolz’n’s doom metal vocals with distended speedcore rhythms and harpy chorales in Scylla, while the B-side’s Charybdis tests out a more mercurial, fluid blend of rolling 180bpm jungle breaks and uncannily naif vocal from Panacea-collaborator, Hanayo.
Geir Jenssen aka Biosphere rounds up 18 tracks in honour of Christian Hollingsæter, director of the Insomnia Festival, who died unexpectedly in May 2017, only 35 years old.
All material comes from artists based in Trømso, the Norwegian city within the arctic circle, covering a gamut of styles from Ande Somby’s yoiking to the wistful space of Biosphere’s Northern Oscillations and blue techno by Mental Overdrive. All proceeds from label sales go to Christian’s son, Julian.
The Unknowable is a completely improvised, spontaneous group-composed body of music created by legendary saxophone and flute player Dave Liebman together with celebrated percussionists Adam Rudolph and Tatsuya Nakatani.
"Dave Liebman, whose legendary, more than fifty year-long, career has seen him work with Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, John Scofield, Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Bob Moses and Richie Beirach, collaborates here with Adam Rudolph, himself one of the deepest percussionists of the last half century, whose collaborations encompass Don Cherry, Pharaoh Sanders, Bill Laswell, Herbie Hancock, Omar Sosa and several members of the AACM, and with Japan-born percussionist and sound innovator Tatsuya Nakatani. The result of this extraordinary meeting of the minds is music that stems from the worlds of free and spiritual jazz, yet goes beyond; It is incredibly open, has no north, south, east and west, it is simultaneously music of all humanity and of the cosmos."