The Milanese vanguard cough up a bittersweet debut of blistering electronics and bombed out spaces from a promising newcomer, capping a banner year of Haunter releases by everyone from Ossia to Zuli, Evol’s Roc and bosslad Heith
“German newcomer Ausschus debuts on Haunter Records with a 6-track offering, throwing in elements from the whole spectrum of contemporary experimental music. The subtle yet intense melodic work, put in a place of dangerous acoustic creatures (bit-crushed drones, metallic clangs, slow hard beats), allows him to explore both negative and positive affections.
The main goal is dominance—or rather, positive acceptance—of melancholia, using harsh frequencies as a crucible for one’s psyche, teaching how to stand amidst the noise, breathing it, accepting it as nutrition. It’s not a matter of riffing against listeners, but of accompanying them through different rooms, different states, and molding them according to their will and sensibility. Ausschuss’ use of space, reverb and harmony gives solidity to the sound, creating a proper environment in which insight and growth can happen freely.”
Robin The Fog’s Howlround project takes a noisier, visceral direction in ‘The Debatable Lands’, his spikily psychoactive debut for Touch
Under a title referring to the historic tracts of land between northern England and southern Scotland, which includes his hometown of Carlisle, where the LP was recorded on his parents’ kitchen table, ‘The Debatable Lands’ also acts a metaphor for the abstract no-mans-land of noise he conjures with two 1/4” tape recorders and a microphone.
Allowing the tape recorders as much agency as possible, Robin acts as an improvising conduit or medium in the mode of a gonzo Tony Conrad or Eliane Radigue, with a modicum of Yvette Fielding and The Hafler Trio. He presents four durational pieces ranging from tremulous, plasmic immersion in ‘Threip’, to something like a pummelling, underwater Masami Akita workout in the rhythmic noise of ‘The Black Path’, while ‘Talking Tarn’ invokes imagery of animist pagans worshipping lone, lofty bodies of freezing water, and ‘Moat’ resembles some kind of EVP interception, perhaps from Roman times, or maybe the ancient spirits of Mu, located in the stone circle-littered realms to the north of Carlisle.
Jamal Moss, I:Cube and Jay Daniel supply party-ready remixes of a highlight from Peggy Gou’s ‘Once’ 12”
A summer anthem of 2018, the Korean vocal and sleek deep house pull of ‘It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)’ are turned into a powerful, roiling, psychedelic house number by Jamal Moss, while Jay Daniel dances around and off the groove with shuffled hi-hats and claps synched to tuff bass and G-funk vamps. I:Cube takes the same elements for an effortless sort of Latin deep house ride in a debonaire vocal mix and a much darker, muscular, yet well toned ‘Parallel Dub’ executed with expert panache.
Reissue of an ace early release from Rephlex, dusted down and remastered for its 2nd wind by Switzerland’s Musique Pour La Danse
Produced by Marco Repetto and Stefan Riesen a.k.a. Synectics, ‘The Purple Universe’ was released in 1993 by Aphex Twin and Grant Wilson-Claridge’s Rephlex. 25 years later it resurfaces, freshly re-cut by Frederic Stader, to reel off 8 lush examples of European techno when it found its soul, circa the the phase shift from rave into its early-mid ‘90s golden era.
There are some real gems inside, none more so than the trance-techno flight of ‘Red Clouds’ and the Infinite-esque ‘Into The Unknown’, but also in their ‘Untitled’ stroke of acid elan, as well as the more esoteric parts, including the creamy ambient acid of ‘Free Sphere’ and the epic deep techno inception of ‘The Final Moment’.
A gaggle of experimentalists including UK’s Ian Helliwell rework (or Retime) Howlround’s soundtrack to Steven McInerney’s film, A Creak in Time’ for Psyché Tropes
Howlround’s patented spectral systems music provides rich, ghostly source material for the various tape manipulators, ranging from a weathered swell of ferric drizzle and guttural basses by award-winning composer Tom White, thru the warped convolutions of Merkaba Macabre, a fizzing bout of abstraction by Dan Hayhurst, and, most notably, a fractured collage by Brighton-based multimedia artist Ian Helliwell, who made the ‘Practical Electronica’ documentary about FC Judd and early British tape recording.
Howlround himself also supplies two new reworks of his own piece, one cochlea-chewing alien grub thing, and a curdled drone work recalling Leyland Kirby’s work as The Stranger.
Rude, swaggering dubstep infiltrated by US hip hop flavours
Leading on from his ‘Dyrge’ for Black Acre, Commodo bowls back to the bosom of Mala’s Deep Medi with sparking drums and offset subs synched to a crystallized sorta Reichian riff in ‘Rikers’, but the B-side leans heavier toward deep south styles, placing a canny UK style spin on woozy trap and Memphis pressure systems.
Immense, churning debut from 55 y.o. Japanese producer Baptisma, backed with a badass Hodge remix for Don’t DJ’s Disk label
Baptisma is the production alias of 菊永洋, who runs an art space and concert venue called Spacio Rita. We’re not sure how long he’s been making music, but his first release is highly accomplished, sounding out a pure rhythm & noise session that echoes Cut Hands’ investigations of Congolese percussion and occluded atmospheres as much as Don’t DJ’s own tricksy rhythms or the Indonesian artists spotlighted on Disk’s celebrated ‘Animisme’ 12”.
In his three originals, Baptisma turns out a grittily fluid flood of drums and dynamic, layered atmospheres, carrying a heavy momentum from the voodoo of ‘Pes#1’ thru the militant trample of ‘Pes#2’ to a sublime mesh of war-cry horns and slow, keening gamelan structures in ‘Pes#3’. Hodge is honoured with the task of remixing ‘Pes#1’, returning a colder distillation of pinched modular bleeps, deadly bass drum and bodily cross-rhythms.
Deep rave pressure from Roza Terenzi and D. Tiffany, following their inaugural Planet Euphorique session with killer electro and breakbeat rave joints, plus a soulful Jayda G remix
Melbourne’s Roza Terenzi goes down the rabbithole with a tight, chromatic electro wriggler ‘Electronique’, but the one for us is ‘Spirit Alien’ by D. Tiffany a.k.a. DJ Zozi a.k.a. Xophie Xweetland, recalling classic 4 Hero and forward UK rave styles in a way compatible with Tadd Mullinx’s X-Altera gear.
CV & JAB is Christina Vantzou and John Also Bennett, two artists that might already be familiar to many of you from their individual work over the years for the Kranky and Spectrum Spools labels. Together they have made this slowly engrossing album for Shelter Press - who else - perhaps one of the most elusive, uncanny and multi-layered “Ambient” albums we’ve heard in what feels like a long time, a worthy follow-up to a frankly astonishing sequence of releases on the label that started with Felicia Atkinson’s modern classic 'Hand In Hand'. If you’re into anything from Chris Watson’s field recordings to Vangelis and Badalamenti at their most romantic and evocative, or even Boards of Canada’s early forays into wildlife documentary pastiche, this one will sooth your mind like nothing else.
The album is a musical interpretation of Thoughts of a Dot as it Travels a Surface, a 90m panoramic wall drawing by Zin Taylor (a reproduction of which is included as a fold-out poster that comes with the vinyl edition). Through 10 tracks they render beautiful electro-acoustic meditations on the passage of time, which follows-on from their co-work on Vantzou's No. 3 album.
Vantzou brings a wealth of experience working between auditory and visual mediums to John Also Bennett’s synthesized and acoustic sound sensitivities, which have recently applied to his action in the Forma trio and a compilation of Pauline Anna Strom’s amazing Trans-Millenia Music for RVNG Intl, with a purposefully slow and immersive flow of acoustic piano and flute wrapped up in remarkably plasmic, spatially detailed synth contours.
In 10 parts, through a combination of literal track titles and abstracted allegorical inference, they describe the movement and feelings evinced by Zin Taylor’s massive tableaux, variously transposing his imagery of Cactus with Vent into webs of crystalline harmonics that acquiesce to brownian motion, or, as with the transition of Alfred Hitchcock Haze to Rock House With Door, a vividly synaesthetic transcription of figurative drawing to brooding, doomily Lynchian sound that brings to mind a wealth of captivatingly dank and alien imagery.
The vinyl package includes a miniaturised print of Zin Taylor’s Thoughts of a Dot as it Travels a Surface to peruse while you listen, so that you, like Christina and Bennett, can also make your own interpretation, and see how far their sonic translation differs with your own. Or then again, you could ignore it entirely and let yourself drift inside their free-formed dimensions without the cues. Either way, you’re in for a beautiful, open-ended and unpredictable trip.
‘Sonder Somatic’ is the debut Bruce album for Hessle Audio. If Monolake came thru in the UK during the post-dubstep phase, his music may have sounded a bit like this one.
“Bruce – AKA Larry McCarthy – is set to release his debut album Sonder Somatic this October on UK imprint Hessle Audio. The album packs 11 singular UK club tracks that evoke a distinctly emotive and dense energy, channelling detailed sound designs, tangled textures and club anthems for 2018 and beyond.
The record is deeply varied in styles, ideas and tempos; from the tight rhythmic groove of album opener 'Elo' to the weaponised onslaught of ominous club cuts 'What' and 'Cacao' - through drifting, meditative techno and the skeletal sound design of 'Ore' and 'Baychimo.' Each track shifts the tonal mood in subtle and distinct ways, whilst retaining a consistent icy sound palette infused with colour and human warmth.
The shapeshifting Hessle Audio imprint is run by Pearson Sound, Ben UFO and Pangaea. For over ten years, through their combined tastes they have continued to unravel and explore the edges of sounds and ideas from the wider dance music scene, across the boundaries of the functional and the experimental, with consistently innovative results. As a long time follower of the label, Bruce wanted to craft an album that continues their singular attitude and approach; incorporating vibes from UK soundsystem music as well as music from his home town of Bristol.
"From being a fan of their work from the very beginning, it's not only the music they have released that has informed my taste/work, but also the journey they have formed through the application of their attitude and approach." - Bruce
Much of Sonder Somatic was shaped by Bruce's own understanding of club culture as a whole, and predominantly his personal relationship with it both professionally and recreationally. The album was partly written as an attempt to capture that rare transformative feeling that can cause you to fully lose yourself in a club space, disconnecting from your immediate environment for a short time.
Sonder Somatic follows EPs for Timedance, Livity Sound, Idle Hands and Hemlock, and comes 4 years after his debut EP 'Not Stochastic' for Hessle Audio. The album pushes the boundaries of what club music can be whilst expertly refining his work as both a club producer and an experimental sound designer. With a unique sense of flair that sets him apart, Sonder Somatic is set to raise Bruce's profile across all corners of the dance world.”
Mark Barrott yields another lush study of life of the white isle, making his debut with the Running Back Incantations sub-division of Gerd Jansen’s label
“Most music does not come out of nowhere. Arising and appearing in a pre-existing system of influences, cross-references, roots, memories and desires, it either directly points towards a heritage or into the future. Mark Barrott’s Nature Sounds of the Balearics is a bit of both. The mastermind behind the International Feel label and the Sketches from an Island series presents an intermediary.
Technically, it’s his departure from a software based workflow and onto (or back to) a hardware driven creative point of view.
Philosophically, it deals with the schizophrenia of our times: the late Paul Virgilio’s dromology and logistics of perception versus a decelerated life outside of cities, internet algorhythmics (sic!) versus meditation, the excessive stock market (all track titles are derivates of that world) against a tactile way of living.
Musically, it is the outcome of what Barrott himself described as his „techno album“. For people whose definition of techno has to do with speed (again) and kick drums that might seem like a misinterpretation. Listeners who remember the Artificial Intelligence and Freezone compilations, various chill out channels or Detroit’s mellow moments, will tend to agree. „Nature Sounds of the Balearics“ miraculously evokes those days and times, without breaking his neck. It is as much at home in a Caribbean water utopia between dolphins and old fishing boats as it feels current and applicable in a Ridley Scott dystopia. And if meta levels aren't your thing: it’s just a beautiful album.”
Techno’s arch, dark alchemist Juan Mendez rolls out a powerful 2nd Silent Servant album with ‘Shadows of Death and Desire’ , arriving some six years after his ‘Negative Fascination’ side triggered a sea-change toward EBM and gothic sonics in a way that’s never been felt more strongly. The album also features the unlikely reappearance of longtime collaborator and vocalist Camella Lobo of Tropic of Cancer.
Over the past two decades the storied, L.A.-based producer has made his presence felt both by stealth and frequency. From his earliest work on LA’s Cytrax thru his pivotal role on early Tropic of Cancer releases and as recording and visual artist with Sandwell District, then later as the go-to-guy for fusions of post-punk, industrial, EBM and techno with DJ sets and releases as Silent Servant, Juan Mendez’s myriad efforts have inarguably exerted an enormous influence over contemporary techno and dark electronics.
With his sophomore album Silent Servant presents an affirmation of his prowess with properly physical effect, wielding some of the most strapping arps, possessed vox and moody pads in his catalogue. In contrast with ‘Negative Fascination’, its influential predecessor, the seven tracks of ‘Shadows of Death and Desire’ are defined by a toothier drive and bite, moving with shark-like momentum thru ruggedest club functions while allowing little room for anything like beat-less reflection or downtime.
Locking in with ‘Illusion’, he pursues singular, writhing permutations of EBM, industrial and post punk moods; taking in slathering highlights with the agitated bruxism of ‘Harm In Hand’ and the rotor-jawed syncopation of ‘Damage’, along with the trampling drone-dirge of ‘Loss Response’, and the needling panic attack dynamic of ’24 Hours’, before drifting off centre with the glorious, swingeing torque of ‘Glass Veil’, and a swooning goth finale in ‘Optimistic Decay’ which sees mendez reunite with longtime collaborator and vocalist Camella Lobo.
Exquisitely rendered in-the-mix by Joshua Eustis, we can practically guarantee that if you fell for the first album, this one will push your buttons hard, too.
Back in March, prolific cellist and composer Lucy Railton released her long awaited solo debut for Modern Love; an intense and multi-layered opus that reminded 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.
Included in the five-CD collection are 14 of the revolutionary composer’s best known and most acclaimed pieces, including: Music for 18 Musicians, Different Trains, Tehillim, Eight Lines, You Are (Variations), Electric Counterpoint, Come Out, The Desert Music, and Drumming.
Out of print on vinyl since 1989, the award-winning Kronos Quartet performance of Steve Reich’s momentous ‘Different Trains’ is made available again via Nonesuch, backed with Pat Metheny’s recording of ‘Electric Counterpart’
“On Different Trains, which combines string quartet with taped speech, Reich evokes his American childhood during World War II while also addressing the Holocaust. The New York Times declared it "a work of such originality that 'breakthrough' seems the only possible description."
Electric Counterpoint was written for Pat Metheny, who gave the world premiere performance of the piece at Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival in November 1987. The guitarist performs against multiple pre-recorded tape of himself—and "splendidly," said the New York Times. The piece is "filled with jazz and funk-inflected rhythms, reveling in the spirit of American vernacular culture ... [and] finds Mr. Reich capitalizing on his strengths. Here, at the point furthest removed from convention, is where his creative juices flow most freely."
The first Grouper album in 4 years finds Liz Harris stripped of FX, pairing her vocals with skeletal piano gestures in beautifully pregnant space. For anyone familiar with the miasmic fuzz of Grouper’s previous releases, the relative clarity is quietly shocking in effect, revealing her songs and sound at their most vulnerable, and, in the process, locating a newfound strength in fragility.
Grid Of Points was recorded in Wyoming shortly after Liz finished recording Grouper’s Ruins out in Aljezur, Portugal, and on the most immediate level it seems to describe the difference in recording locations between windswept Atlantic coastline and sparse, landlocked insularity. The seven songs were written over a week and a half, with the process curtailed by a bout of what she describes as “high fever”. What remains forms some of Grouper’s most legible lyrics and intimate instrumentation, with each piece framed by stark, unprocessed space working in the same role usually occupied by her billowing sheets of harmonic distortion.
Untreated and unfiltered, Grouper's voice rings plaintively clear, sometimes layered in ephemeral harmonies or curling off with jazz-soul wise inflections shadowed by modest piano phrasing in a crepuscular style that links back to all her previous work. Yet, in places the clarity is such that it almost feels like we the listeners have just been hearing her songs with clogged ears for the past decade and longer.
Ultimately, these results perhaps most acutely resonate with the etymology of Liz’s moniker - ‘Grouper’ as in member of a Fourth Way commune, The Group, which was inspired by the philosophy of George Gurdjieff, whose mystic meditations surely linger in the magick of Grid Of Points.
Chromatic conjurer Tim Hecker meets traditional Japanese Gagaku musicians from the Tokyo Gakuso ensemble on ‘Konoyo’, a dreamlike dramaturgy of noise, dissonance and aching melody recorded during several trips to Japan
The Canadian’s 9th solo release ‘Konoyo’, like its predecessor, ‘Love Streams’  also finds Hecker drawn to acoustic instruments and collaboration with a larger ensemble or collective, this time working with the Tokyo Gakuso ensemble after commanding an Icelandic choir on his previous album. However, the results here have a different purpose, swapping out ecstatic density for an intently refined and spacious approach, allowing his processed sources to ring out beautifully un/true in a sort of parallel dimensional harmonic spectrum.
In ‘Konoyo’ Tim Hecker effectively establishes a whole new set and lighting design to stage his patented play of paradoxes - lone/collective; organic/synthesised; consonant/dissonant - with the synaesthetically heightened skill of director, set designer and conductor rolled into one. The results are thus among his most subtly yet richly theatrical or cinematic, riddled with romantic, if abstract, narrative and a yearning pathos, and effectively collapsing myriad traditions - electronic, acoustic, Western, Eastern, classical and new age - into a spellbindingly sonorous, mercurial triumph.
From raving screwballs to darkroom EBM and tribalist heat, Hodge sees 2018 out in fine style for BH following a smart hook-up with Laurel Halo
Hodge’s 2nd Berceuse Heroique 12” of 2018 sees the Berlin-based Bristolian working deep into his signature style of busy-but-cool groove with excellent results in the mentasm-streaked rolige of ‘Raptors’, and the clenched punch of ‘Xenomorph’, whereas the other two are all about swingeing percussive parry and Afro-Latin flex.
For new initiates and avant-garde fiends alike, this Xenakis collection renders a breathtaking survey of works by the radical composer, theorist, architect and engineer, spanning the period 1956-1974 and featuring some of the greatest works of the 20th century, including the awe-inspiring sonic architecture of ‘Persepolis’.
Inarguably one of the most important composers to blend electronic process and classical orchestration, Greek-French artist Iannis Xenakis made an indelible impression on the 20th century with his staggeringly complex feats of musical engineering. Regularly cited as an influence by composers ranging from Russell Haswell and Florian Hecker thru Autechre and Reinhold Friedl, Xenakis’s polymath pursuits in hybridising music, architecture and mathematics generated a bewildering array of sounds and structures which have rarely, if ever, been bettered in terms of their sheer scope, scale and technical ingenuity.
It’s possible to break down Xenakis’ approach to composition, and its results, as an extension of his experiences in armed combat, fighting for Greece’s left wing liberationists against the German army and later the British during WWII, with the latter leaving him blinded in one eye. He would eventually leave Greece in 1947 after graduating university with a degree in civil engineering, and before he could be conscripted into the Greek army, who didn’t look favourably on left wing sympathisers. Moving from Greece to Paris left him with a sense of guilt at betraying his friends, and a sense that “I had to do something important to regain the right to live. It wasn’t just a question of music - it was something much more significant.”
That significant something turned out to be a mind-blowing, multi-disciplinary oeuvre practically unprecedented in the history of music, architecture and art; a radical synthesis of ideas which embraced new technology and abstraction as a means to realise and create a new world in the aftermath of WWII. Like the Italian futurists before him, Xenakis would draw on the chaotic soundfield of war, and combined with a strong knowledge of experimental classical music and a special nous of maths, Xenakis’ subsequent studies with Olivier Messiaen and work with Parisian architect Le Corbusier would prompt him to composing groundbreaking new music during the 1950s.
This 2CD contains works from that era, stretching right back to the pranging clangour and jet-like eruptions of Achorripsis [1956-57], an early example of his stochastic style of composition, thru the dizzying, chronic dynamics of Syrmos , and to some of the earliest work composed by a computer, the 7090 IBM, in ST/48(St/48-1,240162).
But it’s Xenakis’ ’60s/‘70s work where his genius is mst evident, from the breathtaking scope of Polytope De Montréal  - written for four orchestras in the same space in the French Pavilion at Expo ’67 - to the gobsmacking dimensions of his seminal Persépolis , which was realised for the Shah of Iran, plus the frankly terrifying, computerised wormhole of Polytope De Cluny [1972-74].
We can’t reasonably describe this set as anything other than indispensable for fans of electronic music from its inception to the modern day.
One of Convextion’s most in-demand classics, ‘Crawling & Hungry’ is finally repressed along with his ace ‘Venus In Spurs’
A total inverted-anthem in our Pelicanneck shop back at the start of this century, Convextion’s ‘Venus In Spurs’ 12” remains a high water mark of dub techno to this day. While in any normal circumstances the A-side would be hailed a total pearl, it’s really all about the B-side’s ‘Crawling And Hungry’, one of Gerard Hanson’s very deepest emotional punishers, stretched out for 11 minutes of Basic Channel-style dub chord meditation with the additional glow of Detroit techno proper and Area54 ambience.
Ask almost anyone who knows or owns this cut, they’ll probably put it in their all-time top 10. Goes for us at least.
Opal Tapes return to their roots in rock and metal with reissue of Sloth’s ‘Getting Ready for Christmas (It’s All About Malt Liquor)’
Bish speaks: “A true oddity, Sloth have worked peerlessly since 1994 covering a world of sludge rock, bizarro outsider pop and experimental noise musics.
"Getting Ready for Christmas" is a darkly comic collection of losercore in the vein of some of Twisted Village releases (Luxurious Bags, Major Stars) or maybe Sentridoh but charged with a painful pathos of lonliness and destitution and a dense heaviness. Released approximately in 1996 (Dom can't be sure exactly) these first four "Untitled" tracks are met on the flip with a pure wall, representative of Sloth's current output. A flipped switch and erasing of everything that precedes it.
Opal is very happy to reissue these recordings from an act who, along with their contemporaries and split partners, Floor, Fleshpress and Noothgrush, formed an important part in my early listening and introduction to the odd and extreme ends of music.”
A rare vinyl edition of three works by Luigi Nono - a pivotal figure of the Italian avant-garde - all composed and recorded in the mid ‘80s.
A lesson in fine-tuning acoustic perceptions, meant for focussed reception in keeping with Nono’s concept of “new listenings”: "This no longer means revolutionizing the entire linguistic system ie. a subversive attack on the institution of music; rather it means progressively expanding the technical possibilities of sound produced by traditional instruments and the perceptive faculties of the listener."
It includes the highly pensive and masterful use of space and silence in A Carlo Scarpa for large orchestra, plus the death sigh electronics, contrabass flute and contrabass clarinet apparitions of A Pierre, and perhaps most enticingly, a stunning 30-minute B-side piece called Guai Ai Gelidi Mostri and inhabited by “electronically treated winds”, scything strings and utterly haunting vocal swells.
As with most everything on Edition RZ, it’s a crucial dispatch from the brink.
Scorching, playfully grooving jazz peach from 1979 Japan - the only recording made by Mitsuaki Katayama, released on the legendary Johnny’s Disk Record.
“Studio Mule present a reissue of Mitsuaki Katayama Trio's First Flight, originally issued in 1979 on Johnny's Disk Record. Johnny's Disk Record is an independent jazz label run by the owner of jazz cafe Kaiunbashi No Johnny, located in Rikuzentakata City in Iwate prefecture, Japan. The legendary label released a string of albums of high quality but down-to-earth music, spanning from modern jazz and avant-garde jazz to left-field pop. Albums such as Farewell My Johnny/Left Alone (1980) and Aya's Samba (1978) have reached cult status among fans as some of the best works to come out of the Japanese jazz scene.
This debut album by drummer and actor Mitsuaki Katayama is a Japanese jazz masterpiece consisting of five original compositions. The no-filler album includes the tracks "Unknown Point", a danceable jazz samba with tight and powerful drumming and the melancholic "Arizona High Way", a tune that perfectly epitomizes what Japanese jazz is about. "It's Over" features beautiful piano work by Kichiro Sugino, a promising pianist who tragically succumbed to a chronic illness and couldn't fully realize his potential.”
Black Merlin gnashes at the ‘floor agin for Berceuse Heroique after sunning his ass in Indonesia
Tacking back to the dance via weirder outposts, the British artist stretches out between signature, oily EBM, hypnotic ambience and viscous modular roil on the ‘Void’ EP.
The first plate is smeared with the pendulous triplet rhythms and intoxicating reverb dynamics of ‘Void’, and the proper darkroom impulse of ‘Machine’, while the 2nd plate delivers the cranky industrial slug of ‘R24’ before dieting sidelong into the ritualistic modular synth styles, art best in the star-eyed kiss-off ‘Mod’.
Deep and rugged Detroit-style dub techno and electro from Japan’s Stereociti in Waveguide mode for Mojuba
Named after his personal imprint, Waveguide signifies a switch to tuffer styles for Ken Sumitani, taking in raggedly filtered dub chords and heaving subs in ‘Quod’, and a filigree weave of entrancing Detroit arps in ‘Cubic Roots’, whereas the the other two are proper electro missiles, skidding like a classic Ultradyne or E.R.P. in Tightrope’, and with hi-tech funk suspension on the rapid-fire ‘Lemma’.
Expert digger/editor Mori Ra on the chop again for BH, grooving between sweet folk dance, screwed boogie, gamelan driven disco-house and elegant jakbeat...
This volume of ‘The Brasseries Heroique Edits’ follows a wavy line from harp-led blends of folk chant and boogie to a killer, Thriller-esque downstroke on the front, before pushing the tempo with the lissom moire-ra of gamelan rhythms, seraphic synth voices and grooving 4/4, and a sublime house percolator.
A unique, prickly flora in the garden of Edition RZ, ’Klangregionen 1951-2007’ offers an unparalleled and riveting overview of Josef Anton Riedl’s pioneering concrète and electronic noise music; ranging from his time at the GRM c. 1950’s thru his later years, when he made important contributions, alongside Nikos Mamangakis, to the soundtrack for Edgar Reitz's incredible Die Zweite Heimat series.
Of proper historic pedigree, Klangregionen 1951-2007 renders a fascinating cross-section of Riedl’s oeuvre, collecting material previously released on vinyl, along with a number of premieres, which all make their first and only appearance on CD here thanks to the great Edition RZ. Frankly, it’s a treasure trove for adventurous listeners who hold an interest in any aspect of electronic and noise music, and where it came from.
As the set reveals, Josef Anton Riedl (1929-2016) was way ahead-of-his-time. After early studies in Münich, he began in earnest with electronic and concrète composition in 1952, charting a course that would take him to the GRM in 1953, to Köln’s NWDR studio in 1955, and Gravesano with the legendary Hermann Scherchen in ’59, before a spell as director of Siemans Studio for electronic music between 1959-66, and subsequently turning toward multi-media events, both in production and organisation, with the Musik/Film/Dia/Licht galerie in Munich, and the Kultur Forums in Bonn (1974-82), and since 1987 with the Bonner Tage Neuer Musik festival and Musica viva festival Munich.
The work he produced over this period is some of the most striking concrète and electronic noise we’ve ever heard. From the outset of this set, the shearing angularity of Paper Music I, 1961/70 sound remarkably fresh and distinctly prescient of music made 60 years later, while his later take on Cage’s Fontana Mix, here as Mix Fontana Mix, 1974/76/79 is one of the best, freakiest, we’ve heard - clearly pre-echoing the mad fuss of Russell Haswell and reams of Japanese noise music. Factor in breathtaking percussive workouts such as Silphium, 1969/70, the totally alien vocal diffusion of Leonce Und Lena, 1963/64, or the Roland Kayn-esque tonal warp of Studie 62 II, 1962 and you’ve got a truly astonishing, diverse body of work which requires much closer attention.
An added bonus for us is the revelation that Riedl was responsible for much of the experimental music in Edgar Reitz’s incredible second series of Heimat : Chronicle of a Generation, which we are only now realising was strongly related, or possibly even loosely based upon, Riedl’s own life; as the series follows a young composer who moves to Munich in the 1950s, undertaking classical piano studies which expand into experimental music as he looks to find a new musical voice and language for the generation of German youth who grew up in the shadow of WWII. The parallels are arguably striking and unmistakeable, and serves to render this collection in a fascinating new light.
For fans of anything from Daphne Oram’s alien abstractions to Gottfried Michael König’s harshness, thru their modern antecedents in Russell Haswell, Autechre or Emptyset - or indeed Heimat - this collection is utterly essential!
Unique, engrossing room recordings of Kaliff pipe organ dirges played by composer, sound technician and multi-instrumentalist Kali Malone, released earlier on in the year on a super limited tape run and now finally pressed up on vinyl for wider public consumption. Very little we’ve heard in 2018 has affected us as much as this elusive, magical record.
In four pieces recorded at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, it’s the characteristics of the room itself that add a crucial dimension to these pieces, sounding worlds away from the cavernous reverb associated with church acoustics. Instead, these dry recordings bring out all the fragile warmth and intimacy that’s rarely associated with this multi-faceted, sacred instrument. Removed from its traditional, godly environment - the effect is startling.
The magick also lies in Kali's capacity to produce rich, swirling, gaseous overtones. There’s a preternatural sensitivity toward these peripheral sounds, coaxing intoxicating spectrums of quivering hi-register fluctuations and sonorous bass at a pace that draws the listener in and seems to reduce everything around to a meditative serenity.
Organ Dirges stands in a line of records borne out of serendipity rather than any planned, grandiose gesture. Recorded more or less off the cuff over just a few days onto a portable zoom, it’s a testament to Kali’s compositional instinct that these 4 pieces sound so resolved and purposeful. Every small detail sounds intentional without being controlled, right down to the almost unbearably moving disintegration at the very end of closing piece 'Fifth Worship’, like a slow descent into darkness.
It’s interesting to note that Organ Dirges was first played at a huge iron mine, the acoustics once again altering the perception of these alchemical pieces. Indeed, we can attest to the contrasting experience we’ve had playing this record in different spaces - on headphones, quietly at night in small rooms, loud on monitors in large spaces - always revealing something new, always transporting us somewhere else.
An incredible, uncanny record.
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!
Tunisia’s Deena Abdelwahed inhabits a fascinating space between tradition and technology, history and futurism in her strikingly moody debut solo album ‘Khonnar’, following from production credits on Fever Ray’s ’Plunge’ and use of her tracks in mixes by M.E.S.H. and Paula Temple. Subbass fiends need to check the final track ‘Rabbouni’, while fans of Jasss and Muslimgauze will gets strong kicks throughout...
“Deena Abdelwahed’s first album is shifting the epicenter of contemporary electronic music south. Pronounced “Ronnar“ (an essential detail so as to avoid facile misinterpretation by French- speakers) it is a term that makes the most of Tunisia’s cultural and linguistic spectrum. It evokes the dark, shameful and disturbing side of things, the one we usually seek to hide, but which Deena instead sticks our noses in with her debut. It is a testament to Deena’s coming into her own as a world citizen, and as an artist. A self-construction made of frustrations and constraints, borne of retrograde mindsets, which are not the prerogative of either the East or the West, and which she tirelessly strives to expose and break.
Throughout the 45 minutes of “Khonnar“, Deena breaks down the codes of bass, techno and experimental music, and writes the manifesto for a generation that does not seek to please or to conform, taking back control of its identity – with all the attendant losses and chaos. A new creative world order is taking shape, a new tilting point between north and south, the response of a connected and liberated youth who takes the control of the new decolonization.”
Amazing record! Avant-pop enigma Leslie Winer slinks the plasmic, recursive matrices of Jay Glass Dubs in a brilliant but unexpected marriage of husky trip hop and psyched-out dub styles on Your Mom’s Favourite Eazy-E Song for Bristol’s excellent Bokeh Versions.
Finding common, scorched ground between Jay’s gutted structures and Leslie’s abyssal, esoteric insight, YMFEES serves to perfectly highlight the similarities and mutabilities common to both artist’s oeuvres, which have previously shared label space on The Tapeworm, and both share a keen lust for the dankest ends of the dub pool.
With Winer’s lyrics reprinted in swirling ellipses and contoured kerning on the inner sleeve, and presumably (and smartly) designed to mirror the elusive structure of Jay Glass Dub’s arrangements, the listener is offered some kind of star chart thru their no-man’s-land mental dub scapes of ricocheting riddims and droll reportage from the brink of consciousness.
In a dancefloor situation, we’d imagine these tracks to trigger some healthy bewilderment, as bodies get snagged on Jay’s cranky churn and heads spun by Leslie’s stream-of-non sequiturs in Woodshedded, or likewise bullied by the blown-out bass and genuinely spooked, over-the-shoulder vocal of About The Author. However, it’s most likely to be consumed in solitude, which is probably the most appropriate for really getting into the album’s strangest nooks, such as the deliciously OOBE-like detachment of No Famous Actors featuring Winer as HAL-like ghost in the machine, or the masterfully heavy-lidded drowse of Cogged featuring a barely-there Winer suspended above Dubs’ murkiest, hypnotic strokes.
What a beauty?! Don’t sleep!
An hour of the deadliest club malfunctions from Portugal's peerless Príncipe crew taking in a proper haul of mostly unheard Batida heaters, knotted drums and deep, wavey house mutations for a frenetic and deep session of raving madness...
Príncipe continued to showcase their hyperlocal sound in 2018 with a handful of incredible releases that reached a peak with a session of fierce but soulful kuduro, R&B, trance-techno, drill and jump-up jungle hybrids from P.Adrix - in our view perhaps the most thrilling club LP we heard in 2018.
From that starting point, this hour-long session - the first ever tape released by the label - continues a rough and barely containable rhythmic push and pull that starts with deep house swagger and slowed down acid styles on the a-side, turning into proper rhythmic madness on the flipside - from tribal drums to the roughest syncopated dance music and nexx gennn anthems you’ll likely ever hear, compatible with tribal house, Afro-beats, UKF and Kwaito - to maddening, adrenalised effect.
A pure dose of blazing tropical heat from one of the best labels in the game...
Mesmerising peak time techno from the ancient Russian city of Tambov on Nina Kraviz’s label
Tracks from Vladimir Dubyshkin’s Trip debut ‘Cheerful Pessimist’ have turned up regularly in Nina K’s recent sets, and it ain’t hard to hear why.
Between the effortless acid missile ‘Bellissimo’, the skull-scraping vocal processing and pulsating bass of ‘Machines Behave Badly’, and the breakneck pelt of ‘Rooyggbiv’, one thing is certain - you won’t be sitting still.
After turns by Burnt Friedman and Max Loderbauer, Marionette return attention to Benjamin Kilchhofer’s lilting drum patterns and bittersweet electronics on The Book Room, his broadest and most significant release to date. Followers of Burnt Friedman’s rhythmelodic arrangements, the ersatz ethno vibes of Don’t DJ or Shackleton’s hypnotic patterning will find lots to delve into here.
“Benjamin Kilchhofer is not new to the world of recorded music, yet he doesn’t seem to fit into a particular scene or group. As an outsider he is, however, fully immersed and melded into his own universe. He mentally escapes to a parallel world and weaves an alternate reality which would otherwise not exist in his daily life. Kilchhofer avoids the spotlight and therefore isn’t really visible in today’s culture of ever changing content and social media. This is where Marionette steps in to attempt to shed as much light as possible on this unique and incredibly talented artist.
The Book Room is Kilchhofer's musical diary, it's his library of emotions. It's a fairytale, an imaginary place shaped by exotic cultures, an escape from modern society, a collage of real and imagined experiences. You can hear influences abstracted from a wide number of musical approaches: the story-telling nature of folklore music, naive and conflicting rhythms of tribal drums, melodies and pads reminiscent of classical minimalism and microtonal experimental music, the freeform approach of early electronic music and krautrock, and buried deep within the tracks some hints of hedonistic dance and club music.”
After a series of increasingly inward-looking, conservative LPs since her stunning debut, Julia Holter finally unleashes her imagination in technicolour once again on ‘Aviary’, an expansive observation of the ratchet madness that makes up the world today.
“Aviary is an epic journey through what Julia Holter describes as “the cacophony of the mind in a melting world.” Out on October 26th via Domino, it’s the Los Angeles composer’s most breathtakingly expansive album yet, full of startling turns and dazzling instrumental arrangements.
The follow-up to her critically acclaimed 2015 record, Have You in My Wilderness, it takes as its starting point a line from a 2009 short story by writer Etel Adnan: "I found myself in an aviary full of shrieking birds." It’s a scenario that sounds straight out of a horror movie, but it’s also a pretty good metaphor for life in 2018, with its endless onslaught of political scandals, freakish natural disasters, and voices shouting their desires and resentments into the void
Aviary, executive produced by Cole MGN and produced by Holter and Kenny Gilmore, combines Holter's slyly theatrical vocals and Blade Runner-inspired synth work with an enveloping palette of strings and percussion that reveals itself, and the boundless scope of her vision, over the course of fifteen songs. Holter was joined by Corey Fogel (percussion), Devin Hoff (bass), Dina Maccabee (violin, viola, vocals), Sarah Belle Reid (trumpet), Andrew Tholl (violin), and Tashi Wada (synth, bagpipes).”
Chris Carter plugs a large gap in his discography with ‘Miscellany’, containing a previously unreleased batch of cosmic ‘70s synth abstractions, plus the first ever vinyl pressings of ‘‘Disobedient’ and ’Small Moon’, as well as a new edition of his classic ‘Mondo Beat’ . For any self-respecting fan of Throbbing Gristle, X-TG, Carter Tutti, or CTI, this is a genuinely essential motherload direct from source.
Arriving in the wake of the influential synthesist’s ‘Chris Carter Chemistry Lessons Vol.1’, this boxset extends a necessary catch-up to many listeners, as well as a salve to collectors who can now complete their Chris Carter vinyl collections. Between the four respective albums inside, Mute survey the years prior to Carter’s pivotal debut ‘The Space Between’ , which was recorded in the run-up to TG’s original demise, and the years post his participation in the short but extremely bright early phase of the world’s most notorious band.
The ‘Archival Recordings’ disc is perhaps of greatest interest, historically and artistically. Spanning 1973-77, it covers the years just before, and after, Throbbing Gristle’s conception, when Carter was clearly in thrall to kosmische and psychedelia, but not beholden to them. Across 13 parts, Carter’s take on space music and pulsing early electronics is definitely less whimsical, much darker than other music of that period, progressing chronologically over the LP to reveal a full embrace of electronic music’s dark allure by the time we get to the hellish miasma of ‘See Sick’ .
However, if we follow that chronologic logic beyond his years spent in TG (1975-1981), it’s clear to hear that Carter’s music becomes less dark and more sensual, funked and melodic with the languid lines and supple rhythms of ‘Mondo Beat’, including the classic ‘Moonlight’ which would become a dance anthem around Europe and the US (and reissued by Optimo in 2011). Skipping a grip of classic CTI and Carter Tutti material, that logic also extends to ‘Disobedient’ and ’Small Moon’, issued over 1998 and 1999, and exploring inquisitive strains of sound design more mystic/etheric, than outright dark, noisy or “Industrial” - all quite symptomatic of late ‘90s PMT.
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.
One of the most influential, insular and multi-layered albums of the last three decades, created through endless hours of improvisation - involving almost fifty musicians and recorded in complete darkness, 'Laughing Stock' is an album that has attained almost mythical status since its release in 1991.
Following the commercial success of their singles "It's My Life", "Life's What You Make It” and album "The Colour of Spring”, Talk Talk retreated back into the shadows and produced two albums that defied categorisation. After the release of the first of these (Spirit of Eden) and a proolonged court case, the band parted ways with EMI and signed to iconic jazz imprint Verve who financed the long and complicated recording of Laughing Stock. Assembling almost 50 guest musicians, Mark Hollis is said to have demanded they record in almost complete darkness, improvising for hours to produce individual parts without hearing any backing tracks or surrounding material. Most of these recordings were discarded, but from what remained Hollis and producer Tim Friese-Greene pieced together a record that is essentially one long sequence of overdubs separated out into six long tracks.
Laughing Stock was to be their last album - on its release the NME described it as “horrible” and many listeners were left perplexed by its insular, unfathomable dynamics. But in the time since, Laughing Stock's legacy seems to have grown in stature with every year that has gone by. You can easily see the stylistic and conceptual markers left by Talk Talk in the way that bands like Radiohead went on to explore more open-ended, diverse sound sources and stylistic shifts - feeling able to experiment without fear of alienating a large fanbase as if it were the most normal thing in the world for a band with considerable chart success to do.
"Laughing Stock" is not only one of the most absorbing albums of the modern era, it’s also a masterclass of production and construction, a relic, perhaps, of an era when artists could completely disconnect from the pressures of their surroundings and dive deep into the wormhole...
Brian Eno’s pioneering ambient cornerstone is available on vinyl for the first time in over 30 years!‘Discreet Music’ (available as a single LP or half-speed mastered 2LP), is here available on this facsimile reproduction affording a whole new generation the chance to bathe in some of Eno's most pivotal and important work.
Context is always key with historic releases, and could hardly be more so than with ‘Discreet Music’. Famously, Eno was hospitalised following a car accident in 1975, and while laid up, his friend Judy Nylon brought him a record player and an LP of harp music. The music only came out of one speaker, and at low volume, and the incapacitated Eno struggled to do anything about it, so he accepted this as a new mode of hearing music as embedded in the ambience of the environment. While Eno had previously arrived at similar conclusions with Robert Fripp on ‘No Pussyfooting’, here the idea ironically became more firm, yet diffused in the classic style he would develop on ‘Ambient 1: Music For Airports’ and over his next 40 years of recordings.
The two pieces on ‘Discreet Music’ beautifully play with this idea of a background music. To make the title piece, Eno established a near autonomous system of synth and tape loop feedback which rendered his simple melodic motifs, input via synthesiser, as 30 minutes of calmingly serene wilt and decay whose simple, plaintive elegance patently endures now, over 40 years later. The other piece finds Eno’s ideas applied directly to classical music with a much slowed-down take on ‘Three Variations on the Canon in D Major by Johann Pachelbel’ performed by The Cockpit Ensemble, conducted by Gavin Bryars.
Out of print on vinyl for over 30 years, Brian Eno’s foundational ambient recording is finally placed back in circulation, newly remastered.
While we could be here all day debating when ambient music really became a “thing” (others may argue it was ‘Discreet Music’ or Harold Budd’s ‘The Pavillion of Dreams), the putative consensus remains that Brian Eno birthed the genre, proper, with ‘Ambient 1: Music For Airports’.
Originally dispensed in 1978, it is perhaps one of the most commonly referenced ambient recordings in the history of electronic music, marking the point where musical composition became conceptually and truly decentered, diffused, and practically taken out of the composer’s hands, yet still conveys something ultimately human; serving to enhance or encourage our unique ability to reflect, meditate (ok, so I saw a video of Goat meditation the other day, so maybe we’re not that unique?!).
Brian Eno’s 6th studio album, ‘Ambient 1: Music For Airports’ was conceived while waiting hours for a flight at Cologne Bonn Airport in Germany in response to the airport’s uninspired sound atmosphere. I’m actually struggling to think of what airports sound like now, apart from cackling hen do’s and crying kids, but we can imagine that ‘70s airport muzak could have been seriously bland. Enter Eno and his cosmic imagination, who imagineered the solution with synths and tape loops, and the help of peers such as Robert Wyatt, who provides the keys looped up on ‘1/1’, along with engineering by Conny Plank and longterm collaborator Rhett Davies.
It’s maybe hard to imagine ambient music without this record. From the radiant serenity of the first part, to the angelic choral drift of the 2nd and 3rd sections, thru to the shimmering, quietly optimistic promise of the 4th part, this is a record that defines the ideal of sublime and contemplative music - sound freed of heavy-handed connotation, and succeeding by way of gentle, unchallenging inference.
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.
Bossman Aphex Twin coughs up a full gob of brainsmarts after teasing with some ace promo over the past few weeks
Fronted by the preceding ’T69 collapse’ sidewinder, the rest of the EP is actually stronger than that cut hinted at. ‘1st 44’ is the kind of darkside, slow/fast electro-dub workout we’ve craved to hear him make for time, while ‘MT1 t29r2’ also explores a sort of mutant electro-dub momentum, but spliced with a breakbeat hardcore fluidity riddled with proper gremlin synth voices.
Like we said, it only gets better, though, especially in the way he juggles complexity with a sort of rarified dance-pop elegance in the frenetic poise of ‘abundance10edit[2 R8’s, FZ20m & a 909]’, and the fine tuned tangggggggg and mouth-watering pads of his jelly-limbed drill ’n bass exercise, ‘pthex’.
The new album Pastoral, by Gazelle Twin, exhumes England’s rotten past, and shines a torch over its ever-darkening present.
"Told through a troupe of multi-gender voices, in vernaculars old and new; from the shrill echo of folksong to tabloid-tinged jaunts, the artist aka Elizabeth Bernholz, presents the notion that “there is horror in every idyll, and danger lurking beyond the “quaint” ”. The village square - once host to centuries of public torture - becomes a floral framed postcard, dolled-up for the Summer Fête. A sunny, afternoon walk over the hills unsettles a cloud of angry flies feeding from unidentifiable remains. Bigoted vitriol gently murmurs amidst tearoom chatter, as the neatly framed pastoral picture dissolves into a solemn ennui."
The big-lugged punks at Brooklyn’s Wharf Cat Records yank out 工工工, or Gong Gong Gong’s 2nd album of jangly no wave honk and trample with ‘DÌXIÀ BEIJING 地下北京’, recorded at the Xinyuanli Underpass, Beijing on 05/05/2017
The mid-90s were a period of going as far out in all directions as possible – and Luke Slater’s The 7th Plain tracks were certainly about exploration of the deep space of the imagination.
"Cosmic, analogue, orchestrated, they still represent some of the most emotionally intense music ever to come out of the techno realm. Whether built on percussive frameworks or sweeping nebulas of dissipated sound, Slater’s synthesizers still sing space-travelers’ tales compellingly and beautifully.
For this reason, Ostgut Ton sublabel A-TON launched back in 2016 with The 7th Plain’s Chronicles I, establishing itself as a platform for archive, ambient and art-related releases. This first eight-track compilation was split between classics from the albums My Yellow Wise Rug and The 4 Cornered Room on the one hand and previously unreleased tracks on the other, with the goal of providing a different, remastered framework for Slater’s futuristic visions from the past.
In contrast, Chronicles III is made up solely of music from the General Production Recordings label catalogue and stylistically skews less toward percussive techno-funk and more toward free-form broken rhythms – though tracks such as “Lost”, “Time Melts” or “Millentum” stand strong as hybrid pillars of both.
Luke Slater pioneered the UK's electronic landscape as Translucent, 4 Slots For Bill, Planetary Assault Systems, The 7th Plain, Clementine, and later as L.B. Dub Corp, by partly focussing on, partly bypassing the traditional, puristic values of techno. Together with Dave Sumner (Function) and Steve Bicknell he also operates as LSD.
Ultimately, when listening to all three parts of Chronicles, it’s apparent that 7th Plain music is cut from the same emotional cloth, one related strongly to the backroom, the chillout, the after-party, the solo headphone voyage. These weren’t and never should be considered separate zones from the dancefloor.
In other words, as Luke Slater puts it, in the mid-90s, they were “part of the night, part of the experience... where ideas could be shared.” And like Global Communication, Mira Calix, The Future Sound of London, the Artificial Intelligence generation, Slater's 7th Plain was a response to those hallucinatory, spiritual, but still social spaces at the heart of underground communities – and the magic is still strong in it."
In-depth 24 track survey of Luke Slater’s deep space techno project, heavily inspired by classic Detroit techno, ‘70s Teutonic kosmiche and the psychedelic experience of UK rave
“In the afterglow of rave's white heat, the mid-'90s were a period of going as far out in all directions as possible; Luke Slater's The 7th Plain tracks were about exploration of the deep space of the imagination. Cosmic, analog, orchestrated, they still represent some of the most emotionally intense music ever to come out of the techno realm. Whether built on percussive frameworks or sweeping nebulas of dissipated sound, Slater's synthesizers still sing space-travelers' tales compellingly and beautifully. For this reason A-TON launched back in 2016 with The 7th Plain's Chronicles I (ATON 001CD/LP), establishing itself as a platform for archive, ambient and art-related releases. With the release of Chronicles II (ATON 006CD/LP, 2018) and Chronicles III (ATON 007CD/LP, 2018), the journey continued further into outer and inner space.
Now, Chronicles I-III complies all three volumes in a special-edition. Chronicles II and I are divided between previously-released material, and four unreleased future classics. Chronicles III is music from the General Production Recordings label catalog and skews less toward percussive techno-funk and more toward free-form broken rhythms. Slater pioneered the UK's electronic landscape as Translucent, 4 Slots For Bill, Planetary Assault Systems, The 7th Plain, Clementine, and later as L.B. Dub Corp, by partly focusing on, partly bypassing the traditional, puristic values of techno. Together with Dave Sumner (Function) and Steve Bicknell he also operates as LSD. Chronicles is a three-part series of Slater's The 7th Plain project, including both previously released and unreleased material. Ultimately, when listening to all three parts of Chronicles, it's apparent that 7th Plain's music is cut from the same emotional cloth, one related strongly to the backroom, the chillout, the after-party, the solo headphone voyage. These weren't and never should be considered separate zones from the dance floor. Slater's 7th Plain was a response to those hallucinatory, spiritual, but still social spaces at the heart of underground communities; and the magic is still strong in it.”
Zoe McPherson’s standout ‘String Figures’ album remixed by Ben Vince, N1L, Strahinja Arbutina and more in decimated dancefloor styles
In Ben Vince’s ‘Perculator Mix’, Zoe’s ‘Sabotage’ is agitated and torn up over sunken subbass, whereas Sukitoa o Namau give it a more sloshing, spacious rework focussing on pranging percussion and guttural vocal sounds.
UIQ’s N1L gives a cement mixer treatment to ‘Komusar’, resulting some sorta Afro-concrète churn, and Bartellow kneads the same elements into a squashed tribal grind.
The most impressive transformation comes from Hester-1 with the ruggedly balletic plies and hi-wire tension of their ‘Hardingfele’ remix, and Strahinja Arbutina follows recent 12”s for Vivod and Natural Sciences with the cold woodblock punctuation and offset techno roil of his take on ‘Deep’.
New on Posh Islation.
“The story of the passenger liner MS Scandinavian Star stays adrift. Tragic and complex, the details are out there in the electronic ozone, still yet to find closure. From sea port to Ethernet port, Malthe Fischer's project navigates the themes of the narrative that unfolds to this day.
His debut album 'SOLAS' makes this journey with a series of heart-wrenching affairs in crisp detail. Appearing on Posh Isolation's recent compilation 'I Could Go Anywhere But Again I Go With You', Fischer's Scandinavian Star project here marked a long-anticipated return. Since his self-titled and widely loved cassette for Ascetic House, Fischer has been most prominent in the band Lust For Youth.
His hand is also across much of Posh Isolation, having mixed and mastered a number of releases. 'SOLAS' shares some of the floaty, melodramatic electronics of Lust For Youth's most elegant moments, but it's a different flavour of heartbreak and intrigue being pushed by Fischer in his solo work.
A symphony of disembodied voices trail across 'SOLAS'. Gesturing toward longing and hope, and occasionally struggling to get out of the misty collage of stumbling rhythms, it's as if we are listening to a form of wonder being mechanized before us.
The surface of Fischer's work is dense in detail, but falling for and fixating on the smallest thing often blossoms the most treasured effects. Minor acoustic instrumentation is precariously balanced against thickets of cut-up recordings and samples, the hybrid charge of the synthesizers holds everything together without letting anything recede.
As soft as 'SOLAS' feels, it stays sharp and bites at times, even through four-to-the-floor whispers. There's a memory of something communal in it all, and this is what holds on.”
Empty raves. We’ve been to a few, and even hosted some, and now Paper Dollhouse take the feeling of dancing by yourself as cue for their follow-up to albums with Finders Keepers’ Bird, and their recent(ish) side, ‘The Sky Looks Different Here’
“Brand new eight track EP of shadowy techno and Deckard's apartment nightside ambience from Paper Dollhouse, following the sold out in 24 hours Plutonic Rainbows cassette for her MoonDome imprint. Recorded in North London and acting as another quickfire prelude to the new, as yet untitled, Paper Dollhouse full length currently being produced with Asher Levitas of Old Apparatus/Planet Mu. Empty- Rave features eight tracks (with a hidden extra track on the tape) of mind-bending serotonin reduced rave trax stripped of the smiley facsimile and transported to the outer reaches of the city. The sounds divert between chewy synth (emerald)web's calling to mind the most frosty outer reaches of Legowelt and Hieroglyphic Being whilst continuing to tread down the tow path of more club focused sounds as found on the Chain Reaction style Sparrow. Inspired by a meeting with fellow Finders Keepers label mate Suzanne Ciani, Pudding Rain came to life while Empty Rave and Lumin carry the weight of the world across the end of the weekend blues, the falling dusk slowly swallowing whole the atmosphere of a post-daytime party laid bare.”
‘1929 - Das Jahr Babylon’ is Thomas Fehlmann’s soundtrack to a documentary about Berlin in 1929, a time when the effects of the Wall Street Crash and the Young Plan for WWI reparations begin to crumble the Weimar Republic, hastening the conditions for Naziism to flourish
Employing his signatures of dubwise repetition, crackle, and woozy polka rhythms, Kehlmann’s soundtrack mirrors the good times of the 1920’s Weimar Republic, but also connotes something darker, lurking, foreboding, with both subtlety and tact.
“To compliment the internationally lauded TV series "Berlin Babylon", German director Volker Heise has created a documentary about 1929, the fateful year during Germany's "Weimarer Republik" in which "Berlin Babylon" is settled. Heise's stirring documentary portrays Germany's sizzling capital that is faced with radical changes by the dark forces whom are about to toss the world into the abyss we know as World War II. This marks the second time that Fehlmann is partnering up with Volker Heise after 2010's marathon documentary "24 Stunden Berlin" which was released as "Gute Luft" (KOM211, KOMCD81) in the same year.
Fehlmann's composition for "1929" consists of sample material taken from the era and thwarts the exaggerated lust for life with threatening undertones that anticipate the dawn of mankind's darkest chapter so far. Although all the sounds breathe yesterday's atmosphere this soundtrack bursts with modernity. Fehlmann accomplished the daring feat to musically render the unsettling resemblance between the political situation 90 years ago and our current time.”