Lower case, DIY studies in avant-garde composition and Japanese folk by Cafe OTO co-founder Keiko Yamamoto and Rie Nakajima for Mana Records, the label run by Matthew Kent (Blowing Up The Workshop) and Andrea Zarza (British Library)
“O YAMA O explores a certain domestic and democratic quality of everyday life, born through associations to folk music of Japan and a folding of myth, tradition, and routine; the non-spectacular and the sublime.
Formed of musician and artist Rie Nakajima and Cafe OTO co-founder Keiko Yamamoto, the group has performed since 2014 at venues and festivals such as noshowspace, Ikon Gallery, Wysing Arts Centre, Supernormal, Borealis Festival, Mayhem, and allEars Festival.
Nakajima’s performance often focuses on the use of found and kinetic objects, using modest items such as rice bowls, toys, clockwork, balloons and small motors as instruments to create a “micro orchestra”. Elements are layered into impressive and immersive atmospheres. Yamamoto alternatively floats and charges through this with body and voice; chanting, incanting, thundering, whispering, stamping on the floor.
Their debut album consolidates their musical conversations into keenly paced studio music, the duo working with additional instrumentation and a resolved focus on melody to provide vivid portraits of folkloric Japan in song.
They move between pop and the philosophical, defined by the overall space afforded to texture and movement. In small, delicate sound an intimate musical climate is established that reflects on life, telling stories of improvised clockwork, whispered dreams, small movements of the hand and the rhythm to be found in the shuffle of a deck of cards.
Grandly theatric and dramatic flourishes add solidity to these illustrations, operas driven by the swooping energy and power of Yamamoto’s voice can be playful or emotionally charged, particularly when the duo arrange themselves in ensemble with violinist Billy Steiger and percussionist Marie Roux. Production by David Cunningham creates the shadowy presence of a leftfield Flying Lizards dubwise depth that adds subtle strangeness to the atmosphere. The result is something raw, full-bodied; full of energy, grace and mystery.”
Séance Centre serve an astonishing 2LP by L.A. composer and voice-over artist MJ Lallo, making good on the promise of her ‘Star Child’ 12” with a stellar showcase of wonderfully expressive glossolalia and bobbling drum machine patterns embedded in vast synth backdrops. What a find?! Big tip to fans of Jon Hassell, Laurie Anderson, Ramzi, Breadwoman, The Art Of Noise!!!
“Take Me With You is a revelatory voyage through the captivating universe of voice artist and poet MJ Lallo. The works on this 2LP compilation were all recorded in her home studio between 1982 and 1997, primarily using drum computer, synth and her own voice processed through a Yamaha SPX 90 digital effects unit. They range from wordless harmonizer mantras and primitive drum computer meditations, to psychedelic latin dance-floor anthems and synth-drenched end-of-the-nighters.
Lallo has created her own inimitable galaxy of sound where the human voice, liberated from the constraints of language and abstracted using digital technology, is able to explore the outer realms of human expression, like Joan La Barbara with an Eventide and a new-age sensibility. Although Lallo’s flight path is distinctly her own, her journey converges with other travellers as diverse as Jon Hassell, Laraaji, Stereolab, William Aura, Laurie Anderson, Meredith Monk, Gertrude Stein and even Terry Gilliam (whose film Brazil was a big influence on Lallo). Like something beamed in from another planet, Lallo’s work is both fascinatingly strange and strangely familiar, and will leave a lasting impression for lightyears to come.”
Low-key, ambient updates of Washington Go-Go and boogie from D.C. area’s Davon Bryant a.k.a. Dreamcast
‘Outer Space’ bumps with a high-grade THC potency, distilling Go-Go into vaporous electronics, while ‘Up 2 You’ follows an old skool line of jazzy R&B boom bap, Future Times style.
Sarah Davachi serves her 2nd album of 2018 with ‘Gave In Rest’, offering a studio developed follow-up to her mesmerising album ‘Let Night Come On Bells End The Day’, which has quietly dominated our listening lives for months already...
As her beatific blends of early church, medieval and Renaissance musics have patiently and patently revealed over the past five years, Sarah’s works for piano, organ, synth, and woodwind demonstrate a unique gift for extracting and reworking the most affective spirits of church music to a secular appeal, effectively voicing a sort of metaphysical minimalism that could be explained as a result of deeply focused technique, but is perhaps better regarded as a timeless form of sonic alchemy.
Where her previous records were documents of a shorter time spent with her instruments, Sarah dedicated herself on ‘Gave In Rest’, spending a summer giving deeper consideration to how Renaissance musicians experimented with new instruments, forms and texture, and “how the quietude… and the openness of physical space, the stillness of altars“ in churches would have affected how they wrote. Subsequently recording with Howard Bilerman at Montreal’s hotel2tango (home of myriad, seminal Constellation recordings), Sarah brought those instrumental ideas to life with the modern addition of tape delays and chorusing effects to infuse and render shimmering new layers of timbral depth to her plaintive melodic gestures, and with a subtle yet unmistakably visceral impact.
In album opener ‘Auster’ she uses tape to slow down a recorder and open up its vibrating innards, revealing a tremulous, transfixing soul in the most humble of instruments, while the LP’s closer ‘Waking’ finds her locating elusive echoes of Baroque harmonies in that most soulful machine, beautifully realigning its putative purpose. In between, her tracks’ moods and titles chart a slow passing of day and night, from he ghostly elegance of ‘Third Hour’ to her sylvan ‘Evensong’, thru to the stately yet lip-wobbling beauty of ‘Matins’ at the album’s core, and perhaps best of all in the achingly evocative coruscation of ‘Gloaming’, a song we already know we’ll be returning to for many, many years to come.
The loaded, polysemous word ‘soul’ springs to mind, on the one hand connoting lofty notions of transcendence, contemplation and reverence, while on the other also helping to define a gentle, slow-burning modesty and broad appeal to practically anybody with ears and a functioning sense of empathy. But most of all, ‘Gave In Rest’ will strike a chord with anyone who listens properly and attentively. To use another loaded phrase, the devil is beautifully apparent in its gilded detail.
Beau Wanzer carves back to L.I.E.S. for the first time since debuting under own name in 2013
There’s been no shortage of material released since his debut, but this cranky quintet of frazzled electro and offbeat industrial slurry marks up his most potent gear in years.
Uptown he coughs up the EP’s biggest dancefloor cut with the shadowboxing electro of ‘The Grim Whim’ beside the blank-eyed industrial torpor and melting acidic slosh of ‘Wick Hunny’, whilst the downtown brings the beastmode roil of ‘He Spilled My Drink’, the effluent muck of ‘Moistures’, and the acidic sputum of ‘Shitty Cough 3’.
Peverelist feels housey on the 50th release from Bristol’s Idle Hands label, shop and bass community centre
Marking his first outing since the ‘Tessellations’ album in 2017, the Avon don plays deep into Idle Hands’ forward soulboy briefin both parts, cooking up a lean and clean sweep of percolated dub chords and slinky latinate hustle on the swingeing ‘Left Hand’, before tucking the groove tighter in-the-pocket with the plasmic apparition of ‘Right Hand’, a daring, barely-there stroke of swing music for the late night/early morning dancers and smokers.
‘Radikale Akzeptanz’ is the ruggedly sculpted debut of synth-pop deviation from Belia Winnewisser for Präsens Editionen, the label wing of Lucerne’s zweikommaseiben magazine
Widescreen in scope and caustic in texture, ‘Radikale Akzeptanz’ offers a definitive dose of Belia’s style following her 2017 split tape with L. Zylberberg, also for Präsens Editionen. Over its eight tracks, Belia scales form iridescent steepled drone and depth charge synth shocks to a transfixing piece of Skull Disco-esque dance music, covering everything from blistering dream-pop and shoegazing EBM between.
Susie Ibarra’s feted percussive skills mingle with the the DreamTime ensemble for a heavy-lidded, melancholy, and contemplative album of jazz, folk, avant-classical and world music themes...
“Susie Ibarra is one of the most significant female percussionists and composers of our time, known for her work as a performer within contemporary, avant-garde, jazz, classical, and world music, having worked with the likes of John Zorn, Yo La Tengo, Mamadou Kelly, Marc Ribot, and many more. Perception, self-released in December 2017 and now being distributed through Thrill Jockey, is a beautiful piece of art, layering sound and centered around the way one perceives the world around them, and how this dictates one’s reality. Ibarra also released an album earlier this year on Thrill Jockey, Flower of Sulphur, with multi-instrumentalist YoshimiO (Boredoms, OOIOO, SAICOBAB) and artist Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe (Lichens, OM).
Perception was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Olivier Chastan and performed with the DreamTime Ensemble, consisting of Claudia Acuña (vocals), Jennifer Choi (violin), Yves Dharamraj (cello), Jake Landau (piano and guitar), Jean-Luc Sinclair (electronics). While processing grief and loss in her life, Ibarra found her senses more vivid and channeled those heightened feelings into dynamic, expressive pieces, from melancholic contemplation to percussive bombast to jagged grooves. Ibarra crafted the detailed arrangements of the album to reflect varied impressions and perspectives of the album’s musicians as well as the listener’s. The range of sounds and emotional artistry on the album are bolstered by Ibarra’s own unique perspective as a practitioner of traditional Philippine Kalinga music, jazz, and contemporary composition.”
Following singles and remixes for the catalogue, Famous Eno steps out with his first Swing Ting EP proper; six heaters for the club - showcasing the full range of the Irish producer's floor-focused abilities
"With vocals from Uniiqu3, Killa P, Bay-C, Trigganom, Bryte and input from friends Gafacci, Sinjin Hawke and Zora Jones, Music For Clubs is exactly that, soundsystem-ready weaponry for DJs from all corners of the globe.
EP opener Make it Clap features New Jersey scene Qween Uniiqu3 over a ravey, raucous beat sure to provide reloads galore either side of the Atlantic. Longtime - a fixture in tastemaker DJs sets heads to London to find grime legend Killa P deftly riding Eno's deadly riddim. Bay-C of Jamaican supercrew TOK makes an appearance on bashment banger Gal a Bubble, before Ghanaian wizard Gafacci drops by to co-produce the skippy afro-house bubbler Ranting. Accra-based MC Bryte showcases his microphone dexterity on Money Collector with set-closer Life rounding things off neatly with Killa P & frequent collaborator Trigganom on fine form over the skewed otherworldly backdrop aided by Sinjin Hawke & Zora Jones.”
Lisbon’s finest Bruno Silva aka Ondness aka Serpente aka a bunch of other monikers (google it) presents a schizophrenic split EP on Sucata Tapes, featuring different projects on each side.
“Ondness showcases what Bruno’s ‘main’ project has been elegantly and quietly doing for a while. Sound debris, chopped beats and rejected samples are intertwined to create two unique epic tracks that travel far and wide between the zones where you wished you would be.
Serpente delves deeper into Bruno’s repetitive mantra styles. Blasting sample based beats into a disparate whole, and coherently collaging it all through vivid sleep walking techniques.
In our (not so humble) opinion, an extremely welcome addition to the ever growing Sucata Tapes catalogue.”
One of the year’s most crucial wave reissues, Stano’s debut LP ‘Content to write in I dine Weathercraft’ is a seminal and sought-after Irish post-punk album starring two rare appearances by the near-mythical Michael O’Shea. Nothing less than an essential recommendation to anyone familiar with the Michael O’Shea LP, Finders Keeper’s ‘Strange Passion’ compilation, or early Dome experiments!
We can barely contain our buzz over this reissue. From its wild DIY drum machine programming to the appearance of O’Shea’s cymbeline-like home-built instrument and the cut ’n splice, layered song arrangements, ‘Content to write in I dine Weathercraft’ is one of those blue moon reissues that, in hindsight, seem to blow away so much other, better known material from the era whence it came.
As spotted with ‘Town’, a highlight of Finders Keepers’ great Cache Cache compilation, ‘Strange Passion’, Stano’s mix of hands-on drum machine rhythms and bittersweet songcraft remain among the strongest examples from Dublin’s punk/post-punk scene of the early ‘80s. And judging from the 2nd hand asking prices of ‘Content to write in I dine Weathercraft’ in 2018, quite a few other listeners are patently aware of his prowess, too.
A former member of The Threat (also found on ‘Strange Passion’), John Denver Stanley or Stano recorded his first album in Dublin’s Alto studio, in the basement of late C.18th Irish Nationalist leader Robert Emmet’s house, where he made sublime use of the studio’s natural reverbs, inviting around pals and peers to work in a musique concrete-like method of playing, processing and editing to achieve the wickedly unpredictable, flowing chicanery of his first album.
The two appearances of Michael O’Shea and his Mo Chara (a self-built, 17-string, zither or cymbeline-like instrument with pick-ups) are noteworthy not just for their haunting beauty, but also their rarity, amounting to the near-mythical busker’s only known recordings outside an eponymous classic for Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis’ Dome Records. Whether meshed with Stano’s drum machine and echoplex FX in ‘Seance of a Kondalike’ or layered with his Sitar and Stano’s tabla-esque tweaks in ‘A Dead Rose’, the effect leaves us a shivering mess, to be honest and still scratching our heads why there’s no recent, significant reissue of O’Shea’s own work.
The rest of the LP is no less brilliant in it’s own way, roundly speaking to the diversity Stano, a self-described “non-musician”, and his intuitive way with sound. From the almost lusting funk of ‘White Field (In Isis)’, to the wild-pitching drum machine of ‘Blue Glide’, thru the icy elegance of the grand piano in ‘Out of the Dark, Into the Dawn’, to the sheer concrete sound design of ‘Melting Grey’ and again with that deadly machine swagger on ‘Emma Wild’ and ‘Room’, we’re left in no doubt this LP is a true, overlooked classic of its time.
Switched-On Eugene documents the Eugene Electronic Music Collective and some of the many synthed-out gures in and around Oregon’s iconic hippie stronghold during the 1980s.
"Whether connected by membership, geography, or the tape trading scene, the artists in and around the EEMC shared compelling visions of the future we now inhabit, vividly captured on home-recorded tapes and distributed via zines, classi eds, and local radio. Switched-On Eugene is a deep dive into a heretofore forgotten sonic microcosm unlike any other."
Aman!!! is a newly formed project by Tasos Stamou (Greek bouzouki & Turkish saz) and Thodoris Ziarkas (blues guitar).
"The duo explores the borders of improvisation in the context of traditional music, especially focused in the musical heritage of Greek Rebetiko and other styles of the South East Mediterranean. The project reflects reflects both musicians' interest about reinterpreting traditional music in a contemporary, non sterilized form whilst dealing with music tradition in their very own special way; abstract prepared-strings improvisations blend back-and-forth with original old songs of '30s and '40s phonography.”
Forever developing her ‘Music as Art’ aesthetic into a meeting point between technically brilliant Plunderphonic technique, and ludicrously funny Toilet Humour, Vicky Bennett’s ‘People Like Us’ project reaches another zenith with the release of this excellently titled ‘Recyclopaedia Britannica’,
It's a compilation of selected works recorded between 1992 and 2002, utilising an array of distinctly british quirks in the construction of mock-lounge music intercepted by gaffs, blips, and narrative absurdities. Vicky has become a master of malladjusted social commentary. Fans of John Oswald, Stock, Hausen and Walkman, Negativeland and Matmos will want to check.
Preeminent sound artists William Basinski and Lawrence English roll out the quietly breathtaking ’Selva Oscura’ as the first fruit of their collaborations spanning the past half decade and more.
Mantled in reference to Dante’s Inferno, ‘Selva Oscura’ literally translates to ‘Twilight Forest’, a title which serves as metaphorical device for the way Basinski and English’s lives in transit have serendipitously crossed paths over the years between Zagreb, L.A., and Hobart, in a variety of situations. On another level it also speaks to the nature of losing one’s way in place and time, which is beautifully reflected in the music’s disorienting, otherworldly ebb and flow flux.
Using a palette of sounds broken down, magnified and inverted from macro to micro scales and vice-versa, and mailed to each other between L.A. and Brisbane, the results map out vast tracts of psychic terrain that shift like the sands of time, with sounds perpetually rearranging themselves on the granular level to render a broader, slow moving tapestry of sublime, anaesthetic quality.
The A-side’s ‘Mono No Aware’ (Japanese for “the pathos things” or “a sensitivity to ephemera”) is a captivatingly transient and hypnagogic work of sferic tones and sprawling wide bass, lulling listeners into a state of lushest melancholy with the allure of a time-lapse video of autumnal weather patterns. ‘Selva Oscura’ follows with a discernibly darker and submersed appeal, as though the clouds have come down to us (or us to them?) and we’re left wandering the firmament, initially swaddled in a creamy grey-pink expanse marbled with pealing partials, before crossing oceanic basses and gently touching down to pinch ourselves.
Tom Halstead and Joe Andrews finally inaugurate their long-in-the-making RR label with this deadly new Raime 12”, a precision-tooled exploration of negative space, sinogrime, found Youtube dialogue and colossal subs. The ghosts of grime, jungle, dub, and industrial musicks run deep with this one, here rendered with perhaps the most shockingly pristine, eye-catching production of their career to date.
Following on from ‘Am I Using Content Or Is Content Using Me?’, their 2nd EP of 2018 locates Raime in pursuit of challenging, non linear, and often beat-less structures ruptured by the shrapnel of online culture. The hardcore continuum still haunts their sound, but the concrète soundscapes they create make use of a spectra of techniques to camouflage its presence in any overt way. What remains is a skeletal render that implies delirious momentum. With every chime, sample, snare and sub honed to staggering effect, it becomes an exercise in hyperclarity and propulsion.
There’s no one really honing this sound in quite the same way, while there are parallels with weightless grime and the crystalline electronics of early Arca, Sophie, Rabit etc, Raime trigger a different kind of dynamic, one that fills acres of space with a more nervous, angsty energy directly connected to a lineage of UK club styles. It’s basically anything but background music and feels like a culmination, or perhaps a diversion from a path Raime have been following for almost a decade. If this new label allows them the space to untangle that carefully considered aesthetic, we’re f*cking there for it.
Phantasmagoric sci-fi soundtrack styles from Swedish synth-fondler Johan Öhman Sollin, landing square between the styles of early 0PN, Hype Williams, and James Ferraro.
Marking his debut for iDEAL after more than a decade of trading as Johan Rohbau, Time Deleters, Knife and Ape, Minimen, and Sphinxes for a handful of secretive labels, J.Ö.S. draws from classic pulpy ‘80s cyber-goth and video nasty horror soundtracks for a personalised and totally immersive suite of home-brewed, synthy hauntology.
Essentially relaying the sound of loooong Scandinavian nights where there’s not much else to do other than frighten yourself to sleep, ‘Ultra’ perfectly connotes the clammy feel of ‘80s horror/sci-fi soundtracks and their fixations with body horror, technology, and the occult, figuratively using tape recording techniques and embracing the infidelities of decay to conjure 10 bittersweet, poignant scenes that could have feasibly accompanied the imagery of ‘Decoder’ or some John Carpenter knock off...
Optimo Music serve your disco with five ‘80s-styled bobby dazzlers by Noo
Primed for peak times in red-lit rooms, ‘EP4’ turns out handy jams in the full beam chug of ‘Just Can’t Give It Up’ and the S’Express-esque acid-Italo-house of ‘Tripchild’.
CAVE are kind of beyond time. You might feel like it’s been a while since you’ve seen or heard them but when you see or hear them again, that moment will feel like ‘Allways’.
"During the making of the last album, ‘Threace’, CAVE was in the process of becoming a quintet. They toured the world afterwards, playing on four continents and eighteen countries - as close to everywhere as they could get. Then they took a minute. They recorded it over time, in Chile and then Chicago. You can hear all of this, the energy of liveness, the reps, and consolidating expanded possibilities within their new alignment, the time away, the distance and the freshness of returning to recorded sounds, everywhere on ‘Allways’.
In the past, much has been made of CAVE’s use of particular compelling tropes but their inspiration comes from everywhere - Miles, psych, beats, exotica, library music, rock, punk, the Germans, the New York guys too, minimalists, the Dead, music from India, everywhere. This is a bunch of guys playing rock-based music in a way that pushes them forward from everything they’ve experienced. When you listen to the new CAVE you hear guitars - lots of them - bubbling under, scratching, fanning, locking in and taking off, soaring on acid-washed wings, with keys that pump, burr and whoosh in and out of the rhythms.
Half-speed mastering of ‘Allways’ at Abbey Road has allowed the activity at all frequencies to present with a liquid fullness and ripe detail. ‘Allways’ is a blueprint for your ears to read and a map for CAVE to follow through the world."
Imaginative, impressionistic reframing of field recordings, intended for close listening
“From Geneva Skeen - As I’ve tried to understand what is happening now without judgement––a collapse of systems, boundaries, and symbols that crumble faster with each forcible attempt to reinstate them––I am finding equal failure in streamlined, singular methodologies for both comprehension and composition. Outside, reason and rationale wane in heft and clarity. Representation in a world that refuses fact is uncertain and deceptive. Time is complicated by the failure of the linear. Inside, what we see is not what we hear, what we hear is not what we think, what we think is not what we feel, and so on.
The dread incited by this precarity is difficult to interpret without announcing failure: the anxiety of watching our own hourglass is palpable and demanding. I feel existence in this moment has required a move away from my own humanity in order to simply live in it, live through it, live with it while refusing to release the idea of environmental recovery. It is to request your humanity to unwillingly shift, to mutate toward something sharply resilient and relentless. The sounds on this record embody this sense of mutant consciousness. It is, for me, a representation of a vigorous sprint towards complexity, towards the interdependencies that serve as stop-gaps, towards freaky, slippery, compounded stacks of reality.
The title, A Parallel Array of Horses, is derived from a geologic phenomenon in which a block of a specific type of rock has been completely separated by mineral veins from its counterpart within another body of rock, and then stacked upon multiples of others like it. Sounds on this record are both recorded and produced: the album opens with recordings of a Mojave wind storm and closes with the world’s largest colony of Mexican free-tailed bats departing their cave to roam the summer night air of Southeast Texas. Both scenes are landscapes of precarity, politically or meteorologically or otherwise. Interspersed are a variety of electronic instruments and processes, and compositional techniques that are variously clear-cut or intentionally buried by digital processing. Tracks three and four are composed entirely with my own voice––my own body as the original playback mechanism for experiencing the world, but manipulated, elaborated upon, and layered to express a more complex interpretation of that subjective reality.
Through listening, I find myself able to retrace my steps back to a sense of decentered, porous presence––the present is still here, with all of its shifts and confusion and valuable interdependencies. No matter is created or destroyed, only new forms arise.”
The songs of Will Oldham have been written most often for the aliases of Palace or Bonny. Their identities, kept necessarily separate from Will’s, the songs were written to create a singular encounter, to be shared among those who choose to listen.
"‘Songs Of Love And Horror’ is a rare entry in this oeuvre: a Will Oldham album, with the writer taking a turn as singer. As befits the nature of this project, the songs are sung and played by Will alone, in a setting enjoyed by fans of his music - that of one voice and one guitar, the better to savour the spare changes and starkly-cut lyrics, operating in quiet tension and ultimate collaboration.
Will brings to the songs all that he has learned from his stage-crafting fellows over the years, singing new versions that quiver like fresh young things in the air of today."
Freaky garage-techno minimalism from Deadboy, providing Trule’s wicked first release
Intently focussed on the groove rather than melodic or harmonic aspects, see find Deadly at his very best between the scissoring micro-funk of ‘Klint’, the almost Herbert-styled parry of ‘Pack It In You Two’, and an outstanding workout named ‘Nomos’, where he really goes in with whirring, techy twysts and freaky, spaced out synth jabs perfectly offset with hiccuping 2-step vocal edit.
Steve Albini’s Big Black classic - listed in the top 100 records of the ‘80s, according to Pitchfork - comes around for its umpteenth reissue
Driven by a Roland drum computer, Albini and his cohorts slash and burn thru 13 songs about fucking, Colombian execution techniques, bread that gets you high, and humanity’s inevitable descent into darkness, along with a blistering cover version of Kraftwerk’s ‘The Model’. What more could you ask from a record?
Kompakt presents a new LP and audiovisual venture by Danish producer Kasper Bjørke and close cohorts. Epic and in length but always captivating,
"‘The Fifty Eleven Project’ is an entirely ambient concept album, that interprets and evokes the emotional rollercoaster Kasper experienced, from his cancer diagnosis and throughout the five years of regular check-ups. The week of album release marks his 2nd anniversary of getting the all-clear.
“Just two weeks before my 35th birthday, doctors discovered a tumour during a routine scan. The prognosis was positive, but the anxiety that accompanied the diagnosis was incredibly difficult to navigate.
I felt this urge to document what I was experiencing through music, but at the same time, I didn’t want to begin recording before my final hospital examination; not until I knew for certain I was going to be okay. On October 16th 2016, after five long years of regular CT scans, x-rays and blood samples, I left department 50 11 for the last time.
I wanted to document the gamut of feelings – both light and dark – using these long instrumental compositions as the narrative, and the track titles as a cronological guideline. The album chronicles a journey from discovery of the tumour, to the operation and frequent examinations; from feeling a beacon of love and light in the birth of my son (in the same hospital), to finally leaving that waiting room for the last time.
The project has been a therapeutic way of me processing the diagnosis, the constant fear of relapse and the light in being healed. Throughout the process I used the music to fall asleep to — and as a sonic space to meditate in and contemplate my journey. My hope is that others; healthy, ill or next of kin, will be able to use ‘The Fifty Eleven Project’ in that same way.”
The base of the album was composed on vintage analogue synthesizers, reverbs, echo and sequencers – using the computer solely as a recording device – by Kasper and synth wizard Claus Norreen, in the latter’s Copenhagen studio. The violins, violas and cellos are composed and played by the Italian composer Davide Rossi, who has also worked with Ennio Morricone, Jon Hopkins, Röyksopp, The Verve and Goldfrapp. The piano parts are composed and played by Danish musician Jakob Littauer (of Kompakt labelmates Jatoma) on an old upright piano in a studio, and on a Steinway Grand Piano in the concert hall at the Royal Danish Music Conservatorium.”
Restless sound explorer James Ginzburg (Emptyset) commits his definitive solo opus with debut LP ‘Six Correlations’, an immersive trench of dense harmonic expression consolidating influences ranging from Gaelic folk music to Iranian and Indian classical styles and generative composition techniques.
Originally composed for a commissioned performance in Berlin and recorded in early 2018 over three days, ’Six Correlations’ considers the relationship between the organic and the digital world as a meditation on whether modernity implicitly represents a long slow goodbye to nature: to everything that is not integrated into the networked world.
Rather than a eulogy to the Anthropocene, Ginzburg renders an optimistic, imaginative solution to the disappearance of nature and non-digital culture, seeking out new, harmonious relationships between organic instruments and technological process. Using a hand drum, piano, voice, shruti box and Roland SH-101, he beautifully puts that idea into practice on 6 tracks that short circuit and play around with conceptions of consonance as organic bliss and dissonant noise as chaotic malevolence.
Between the undulating box drone of ‘Light, Timed - A River’, and the swelling gust of bagpipes in ‘Above Water, Inside’ he locates and conveys a mercurial, bittersweet soul at the biting point where consonance and dissonance dissolve into pure sensation, conjuring a harmony of feelings that transcends time, space, light and sound with the lushest yet, crucially, humble and broad appeal.
Swooning, melt-on-the-mind solo piano studies from Shida Shahabi, an Iranian-Swedish composer in possession of a sublime grasp of melody and airy meter, as revealed across eight pieces clearly inspired by Erik Satie and warmly recommended to fans of AFX’s prepared piano works, or the melancholy of Goldmund and Dustin O’Halloran.
“Shida Shahabi is a Swedish-Iranian pianist / composer, currently based in Stockholm. The beautiful, intimate and homespun piano of ‘Homes’ marks Shida’s debut release and the fourth in a row of new albums by female-fronted artists released on 130701 this year.
The entirety of the album was recorded at various home locations. During the writing process, Shida was renting a one bedroom appartment which she used as a studio space, before moving to a new house in the midst of the recording. So the music was actually written in one home studio and recorded in two different living rooms, hence the title, ‘Homes’. A sense of this homeliness and unpressured ease is clearly audible across the album – something utterly natural and unforced. There are no whistles and bells attached here, no big name guest performers or hired studio hands. Absolutely beautifully played and composed, it is a deeply charming record that exudes a confident warmth and an emotional depth and honesty in every note. Its production eschews the prioritising of cleanliness, with a warm, fuzzy noise floor audible from the very first track immediately immersing the listener into this sublime yet imperfect reality – as though the whole existed beneath a layer of dust. It posits comfort over obsessive cleanliness. Living comfortably with traces of wear and decay, the recording makes audible intimate acoustic details and imperfections – creaking and hissing; tiny distortions; the pressure exerted by fingers and feet against the piano’s pedals and keys.”
Steeply hypnotic and immensely powerful mix of possessed drone, doom metal and pounding motorik rhythms from Manchester’s Primitive Knot, who, being local and all, we’re ashamed to say we’ve never seen before, but will do on the strength of this evidence presented by Aurora Borealis (home to The Haxan Cloak, KTL, Burial Hex)
“Hailing from Manchester, UK, Primitive Knot have created a cult underground following with their prolific output and aura of arcane mystery. Primitive Knot cover a lot of musical ground, from motorik Krautrock to primitive thrashing doom metal, garage rock to the kind of industrial pop bombast associated with latter era Sisters of Mercy. Yet at all times, the sound is pure Primitive Knot. ‘Thee Opener Of The Way’ sees Primitive Knot exploring the spiritual outer realms with drone, doom and dark ambient methodology, delivering over an hour of shamanic cosmic drift.
‘Thee Opener Of The Ways’ collects the sold out tape releases of ‘DOOM I’ and ‘DOOM II’, combining them with the tracks ‘Thee Opener Of The Way’ and ‘Devotion And Decay In Interstitial Space’ to bring this material to a wider audience in a cohesive album format.”
‘Kontrapoetik’ is a tumultuous and cinematically absorbing suite reeling from dark ambient to burning organ and Buchla 200 synth fanfare, all laced with samples of field recordings and archival Swedish radio recordings. More specifically it is a lament for peripheral communities and also a hymn to satanism. It’s a lot, aye, but highly considered and powerfully sculpted in a way that will appeal to fans of Kali Malone, as much as Emptyset or Stephan Mathieu.
“Kontrapoetik is a very personal and simultaneously historical investigation, tackling the deceivingly serene, yet turmoiled past of composer Maria W Horn’s home region Ångermanland in the North of Sweden, and her own counter-exorcism project thereof. Drawing from archival material in the region she taps directly into the conflict of this bastion for the worker’s movement with the Swedish military in the 1930’s that left 5 dead and nearly triggered a revolution. Even before that it was the site of Sweden's largest documented execution of women accused of witchcraft in 1674 in the form of burnings and decapitations. Constituting two thirds of Sweden's total area, Norrland is sometimes referred to as "the colonies" because of the uneven distribution of the wealth generated by the natural resources of northern Sweden, a small portion of which is reinvested in the area. Since the 1970's it has seen increasing depopulation and disintegration of the welfare state. The piece Ångermanländska bilder is based on material from a collection of Super-8 films that depicts the environment of Ångermanland from 1930-1940; the manor houses of the rural community, the steamboats transporting timber along the river that runs through the landscape, the power plants and sawmills.
The musical territories explored by Horn on Kontrapoetik are vast, but at the heart of each piece is a strong fundament of reductionist technique no matter how maximal the results may sound. Deceptively simple harmonic progressions are refractured through the means of inversion and repetition, presented either in a pure state or being crushed and deformed by layers of distortion. Coupled with this is an almost tactile relationship to texture as well as an immaculate sense of the physicality of sound. This work, while saturated by an almost overbearing sense of longing and loss, never gives in, but stands steadfastly defiant.”
Hypnotic, offbeat, earthy dance music from Stefan Schwander’s Harmonious Thelonious
Leading on from turns with Kontra-Musik, Disk, The Trilogy Tapes and Versatile in the last year alone, ‘Petrolia’ keeps up the quality levels with a six choice new cuts roving between the almost New Beat styled chug and fiery pipes of ‘Disko Marak’ to the spiralling stereo helix of ‘Just Play’, and the effortlessly mesmerising swag roof ‘Petrolia’, along with the Dembow-like bump of ‘Nous n’Avons Jamais’ and the fractal synth noise mosaic, ‘Tig Tig Tig’.
Plangent , minimalist isolationist ambience from the high planes drifter, William Fowler Collins.
“A fluid dream logic runs deep in William Fowler Collins’ Field Music. The New Mexican composer of dark minimalism has long centered his practices upon the slow burn of the drone through guitar, electronics, etc. That remains the case for Field Music, with Collins extending his strategies through compositional exercises into rhythm and a diverse array of conceptual signposts that push his work along unfixed, sometime oppositional directions. The idea of ‘field music’ can relate to the archaic use of military drum corps in battle, whose patter Collins has intermingled with the polyrhythms associated
with Voodoo ritual.
Collins also proposes that the ‘field’ be defined as the physical self as gleaned from his secular readings of the Bhagavad Gita. The ‘field’ as the fabric of time and space also becomes a possibility when Collins literally wraps this album in the history of the atomic bomb, as the cover photo portrays the humble ranch where the first nuclear weapon was assembled.
Field Music grounds itself upon sustained tones that churn through controlled oscillations as the fundamentals to activate a trance-state in the listener. Out of this, Collins introduces hypnotic machine-looped convulsions and almost EVP-like disembodied voices on “Contact Is A Mother” as well as those those aforementioned polyrhythms that ripple across the title track. He pushes a motorik thump to the foreground of “They Wept Together” to the glowing dilation of foreboding ambience, running parallel to the restrictive strategies of Wolfgang Voigt.
The subtle complexities of Field Music address the primal nature of rhythm in connection with the body and the building blocks of energy, matter, and consciousness. Fans of Eliane Radigue, Christophe Heemann, and Demdike Stare would be well served to investigate Field Music.”
Lone stepper Orson persists with the halfstep sound on his Version label
Gwan like it’s still 2006, the German producer simmers the vibe in ‘Life Gamble’ with a fine balance of dankness and light coming from the levitating pads and keys, whereas ’12:09’ fully commits to bassbin dread with seismic bass wobbles.
Scudding acidic swingers and wild-eyed techno from San Francisco’s Taraval, razzing out on Four Tet’s Text label
Check ‘Aardvark’ for a galloping, swanging slice of peak rave pressure, or ‘Pumpkin’ for a more buckwild, percolated Chicago mutation, and ‘Basketball Cookie’ for a hyperkinetic techno trip.
Improv noise and sludge rock; a split tape featuring the return of the dungeon masters Angela Valid with broken rock splices by Sparrows Herne (from Hey Colossus).
"Angela Valid return from spawning —whoopy shit. Bob from Hey Colossus added the string plucking on this number and single-handedly churns up a two piece pong on the flip under the newly hatched Sparrows Herne moniker.”
Joachim Nordwall and Henrik Rylander pound out a powerful new Saturn And The Sun album on the former’s iDEAL Recordings, following up an album for The Tapeworm and the death of their band, The Skull Defekts, with a monotonous, harsh missive from the cold North.
Recorded at the legendary Gothenburg Sound Experiment in 2017, ‘In Love With The Extreme’ finds the duo explorating core influences, consolidating everything from ‘60s minimalism to early techno and tribal musics into a densely textured, future-primitive sort of rhythmic noise possessed with mesmerising traction and troubling distortion.
With brute force and admirably unrefined, intuitive intent, the pair palm out four hot streaks of molten electronics, fulminating tarry basses and noxious clouds of buzzing metallic overtones with pineal-pinching effect. This approach manifests stealthily in the subliminal transition from viscous atonal roil to undulating noise techno on opener ‘In Love With The Extreme’, while the bitter thizz and grungy bass distortion of ’Saturn War Chant’ feels like a slowed-down, ancient Viking battle cry to alien foe.
On ‘Cross The Line’ they invoke the elemental might of Mika Vainio in a hauntingly gutted and head-engulfing tract of high-register stress and sickly subharmonics, and again the charred electronics of ‘Pleasure Is Relief’ clearly nods to their departed peer’s Pan Sonic output.
Killer, mutant jungle and Bristol bass functions from Rhythmic Theory, including a seriously strong remix of Pessimist
Originally issued in 2017, the EP somehow escaped our full attention until recently, when we encountered the full might of RT’s ‘Choppage’ mix of ‘Empty House’ by Pessimist. Hewing close to Pessimist’s ruggedly stripped down sound, RT injects his own flavour with patented bass drum clout and tail-chasing, smoke-curl breakbeat edits that really set it apart.
The rest of the EP is smart, too, from the Batu-esque rolige of ‘Outlawed From Reality’, to the dank lean of ‘Cyclic Motion’ and the cavernous stepper ’Rachael’s Theme’, but to be fair the first track is the one!
Tymon and Ansome rework neo-gabber/hardcore techno trax in brutal fashion
Sydney, Australia’s Tymon brings his industrial strength class to a bushwhacking doof mix of Perc’s ‘Hyperlink’, and Ansome executes rugged skullduggery on Manni Dee and Ewa Justka’s ‘London Isn’t England’.
Hospital Productions invoke ancient arcane sensations with Old Tower’s Dutch dungeon synth trip
“Hospital Productions presents: emerging from the nether regions of times not spoken and lands raised with blood Old Tower pays homage and servitude to the drachen. moving away from the streams of modern decay and following the ancient path laid bare by cold meat industry, metgumbnerbone and tangerine dream ‘drachenblut’ shows the synthesized pact of organized ancient electronics. hail the spirit of feudal darkness and clotted blood coagulating in the shadows!
arriving on the nearly extinct 7” format for the first time but make no mistake dear mortals, 'drachenblut' presents 3 of the most intricate and hypnotic tracks from the specter. short in length like the life span inside the drachen’s breath this archaic ep will leave the forsaken listener into a trance of self destruction honoring the horrific mythology returning to revenge our time.”
El Deux is the Swiss electro-pop trio of Gutze Gautschi (guitar, vocals), Steno Onetz (bass), Martin Kraft (vocals, drum machine). Formed circa 1981 in Aarau by Gutze and Steno who played together in punk/New Wave band Fresh Color aka Frische Farbe featuring a pre-Yello Dieter Meier.
"Gutze’s minimal electronic compositions did not fit the concept of Fresh Color, so they formed a new project with their live mixer, Martin Kraft, on vocals. The group was quite successful with many concerts, mainly in southern Germany and various TV appearances in Germany and abroad. Between April/September 1982 they recorded and mixed their debut album ‘Nur Für Mädchen’ in 15 days at Powerplay Studios, Zurich. The LP was released later that year on Gold Records.
Influences at that time were of course the NDW “Neue Deutsche Welle'' movement and also from Gutze’s time as a musician & guitarist since 1965. Their step up for recording was a Moog Prodigy, Korg Rhythm 55 (KR-55), Simmons Drums, Casiotone 202, Guitar and Bass. We’ve added a bonus track “Video King” that was originally released as a follow up single in 1984 before the group disbanded. All songs have been remastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios."
The third in Low Jack’s much sought-after Les disques de la Bretagne 12” series features the first new material from Antinote co-founder Iueke in years, following a series of archival releases and pair of brilliantly unhinged mixtapes for the DDS label. For this one he opts for a complex and hard-hitting crackpot dancefloor style, something like a squahed take on T++, Dynamo,, Autechre, Gescom...
The last original productions we heard from the Antinote co-founder was on a series of archival 12”s for his label issued between 2012 and 2015, but Champion features his first new recordings in perhaps over a decade and, true to form, they’re not at all what we were expecting.
Champion (Version) deploys a a super rugged swing and recursive digital noise coming off like T++ and Gescom programming daggering robots, while Zonck brilliantly recalls Autechre's remix of Lexis’ Hypnotise - all achromatic, dense, percussive madness that also recalls T++, or more specifically, his Dynamo gear.
Dem A Burning is more glacial and spacious, swilling the dance with caustic acid noise and sloshing subbass in deadly, futurist style recalling Timeblind's much overlooked but completely ageless Rastabomba session, before Polxat expends his restless energy in a properly Autechrian madness.
Clenched EBM from northern English artist Black Merlin on Berlin/Naples co-op, She’s Lost Kontrol
Serving the best yet on the label, Black Merlin exerts exemplary groove control in all four ‘Noi’ parts, firstly yoking a gnashing arp to dry, sizzling drum machine at 110bpm in ‘Noi 1’, and then toning down to the bruising percussive battery of ‘Noi 2’ in collaboration with Gordon Pohl (Toresch, 3rd Wave), before flipping over to a zig-zagging sidewinder in ‘Noi 3’, and finally razing the room with his militant ‘Noi 4’.
Motohiko Hamase’s ‘Reminiscence’  is reissued for the first time in over 30 years by Tokyo’s Studio Mule. Wonderful, enchanted, ‘80s Japanese ambience/jazz fusing silky fretless bass, crystal clear electronics and effervescent mallet rhythms.
"In the 1970's Hamase was no stranger to Tokyo's vibrant jazz scene. together with jazz pianist tsuyoshi yamamoto and jazz-rock guitar-ist kazumi watanabe he played in the Isao Suzuki sextet and was part of their classic landmark jazz-funk album "ako's dream" from 1976.
In the following years he also participated on records like mikio masuda's latin-funk-jazz gem "moon stone" or japanese female jazz singer, actress, and essayist minami yasuda's last album "moritato". in the early 1980's his work shifted from pure jazz to electronic and ambient spheres and he started to compose his own music around his deeply emotional bass play. From 1985 to 1993, Hamase released five solo albums. just recently studio mule dropped his first one, "intaglio", in a new recording that sounds as stunning as the original release from 1986.
"Reminiscence" was his second work for the celebrated defunct japanese new age record label shi zen, featuring a rhizome of soundscapes that capture, settle and sound elusive."
Purest Tokyo disco luxury from Dip In The Pool’s Miyako Koda, covering Yumi Murata’s Ambient J-Pop classic ‘Face To Face’ is two delectable mixes
On the front is a respectful extended edit feathered with sonorous bass and electric guitar and kissed with Miyako’s gently whisked vox, all seemingly arranged for those moments when you feel like Bill Murray sipping expensive whiskey in a 30 storey bar.
On the other side they tease out a delicate, mouth-watering ‘Ambient’ mix for those times when you dive out of said window in a Gaspar Noe-style DMT trip over the rooftops below, searching for your new corporeal host.
L.I.E.S. look closer to their Paris home with Krikor Kouchian’s ersatz OST, Pacific Alley, making a fine change of pace and mood from the producer known for a string of filter house and electro releases for Kill The DJ Records, Tigersushi and Crowdspacer under myriad monikers since over the past 20 years.
Following the sought-after Linn funk of Promo 45, this is Krikor’s 2nd release for L.I.E.S., and features both tracks from the 7” as part of an 11-track suite full of vintage drum machines and gauzy synth gazes suggesting the soundtrack to long drives at dusk along coast roads or cruising California’s less salubrious neighbourhoods.
That’s partly down to the fact that the artist spent time a s a youth in SoCal, soaking up the radio, the beach and American culture in a way which has informed his music ever since (check for his France Copland takes NWA and Bladerunner!), resulting now in something like a lo-fi parallel to Dam-Funk or a more playful Palmbomen II.
Matthew Herbert’s sought-after ‘Part 5’ (1996) swangs hard back into 2018
Up top he commands your swing with the pendulous syncopation of gruff subs and hard drums in ‘Move It’, beside the slinky garage house jaunt ‘Our Love (Has Got Me Movin’)’. B-side he turns out the deep tech house of ‘UK Spring’ and the trippy, stepping tool ‘Love The DJ’, primed for the late hours and endless afters.
Californian electronic pop duo Peaking Lights make a splash on Dekmantel with 'Sea of Sand', the band’s first release this year. It’s a kaleidoscopic melting-pot of dainty dub, experimental and leftfield beats, with wondrous sunny soundscapes that blend together the unconventional home-fashioned electronics, and windswept vocals that have defined Peaking Lights to date.
"'Sea of Sand' is the band’s first record in three years not released on their own imprint. With six tracks, exceeding 30 minutes in total, the extended EP is a prelude to a forthcoming LP. With a DIY aesthetic and approach to analogue instrumentalism, Peaking Lights retro-digital sound is one that sits perfectly with Dekmantel.
Already with a string of highly acclaimed albums across their ten year production history, the husband and wife duo that is Aaron Coyes and Indra Dunis have carved out a niche of quirky electronic, and psychedelic pop sounds. 'Sea of Sand' once against sees the act once again teaming up with an international label, having released on some of the most integral and pioneering imprints in the scene. The band, who founded themselves on innovative technology, and a pragmatic approach to sound and composition recorded the EP together in their home studio, Dreamfuzz. The result, 'Sea of Sand' feels more like a mini-LP, with a diverse mix of experimental beats, and extended electronic, pop-dubs. As ever, Dunis focuses primarily on vocals, along with synths, piano, and live electronic drums, with Coyes on synths, drum programming, and dubbing on a mixing console. Recording the vocals live in the studio, the band worked a lot with tape, using tape scratching effects to the give the record an even more dubbier feel. The record kicks off with the quirky, upbeat pop track 'Blind Corner', followed by slower Italo-like 'Hypnotized'. There’s a wavey-krautrock sound on 'Shift Your Mind'; a glowing romanticism on 'Read your mind'; and a celestial ambience embedded through 'Noise of Life. The record concludes with the sonically divine harmonic piano track 'Sea of Sand', perfectly setting the template for the EP.”
Akio Suzuki : kikkukikiriki, stone flute, small stones, pan pipe, ireba, silent toy David Toop : flutes, bone whistle, dog whistles, stones, whistling pot, organic materials, feedback device Recorded at Sound 323, London on March 15, 2003 by Akinori Yamasaki.
"Breath-Taking is the result of one of Akio Suzuki's rare visits to England. Suzuki's music proceeds from meditation and transforms quotidian objects (a stone flute, small stones, a "silent toy") into fragile means of communication. David Toop makes a very compatible sound-mate. Here he uses an assortment of flutes and whistles, along with a whistling pot and "organic materials" (a vague enough description to allow the listener to imagine at will).
Upon first listen, one may think of two serious men making childlike music, but the level of contemplation found in this single, 37-minute piece dispels this first impression. The performance is not particularly striking, even from the point of view of such a quiet form of improvisation, but it is obvious that the music doesn't intend to strike or compel. It is born out of such simplicity that it simply exists -- it is there, discreetly inhabiting your listening space, and its sole presence is a marvel. One finds an interesting level of interaction between the artists and inventive, creative sound-making at play.” (François Couture, All Music Guide)
The caretakers of contemporary psych lay down acidic improvs recorded in Houston in 2017 in two sessions with no overdubs - dosing it direct to tape and your ears for optimal, slow-building, lysergic potency.
“Charalambides founders Tom & Christina Carter follow a vision of iconoclastic music as transformative force. Touching on the outer limits of acid folk, psych rock, and improvisation, their sound remains uniquely personal & consistent. Since 1991, Charalambides has released many recordings on labels like Siltbreeze, Kranky & Wholly Other.
Despite Tom and Christina Carter’s prolific solo careers and numerous other projects, Charalambides has existed in an unbroken trajectory for over two-and-a-half decades, outlasting the genres that critics and other yardstick-makers have tried to cram them into. Their recent performances and recordings retain the directness and delicate menace that mark their early releases, even as they explore an interlocking musical telepathy honed by years of artistic collaboration.
Aptly tilted "Charalambides: Tom and Christina Carter", the newest album from Charalambides furthers the duo’s deep psychic understanding of music. Laid down in two sessions with no overdubs, the album entwines their best known approaches into a raw, fragile, wordless and hypnotic whole. It’s definitely the duo at their most exquisite.”