‘Broken Music’ is a holy grail avant-garde music publication, a compendium of recordings, record-objects, artwork for records, and record installations created by thousands of visual artists between WWII and 1989. Unavailable since the original, sought-after 1989 edition, it features essays by its compilers Ursula Block and Michael Glasmeier, as well as Theodor W. Adorno, Milan Knížák and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Did we mention the bonus flexidsic? Aye, this one’s very special.
Published in 1989 by Ursula Block, wife of curator René Block and proprietor of the legendary Gelbe Musik record store in Berlin (sadly not there any more, to save you a wild goose chase), ‘Broken Music’ is inarguably an essential guide and discography for recordings and audio works by visual artists of the 20th C. Through essays, texts, and photos, it breaks down the history of visual artists working with sound into four fascinating criteria of study: record covers created as original work by visual artists; record or sound producing objects (sculptures); books and publications that contain a record or recorded media object; and records or recorded media that have sound by visual artists.
As far as we’re aware, this is the only book of its kind, and at the very least, the only one to cover it’s topic in such depth, drawing on a wealth of received information and personal knowledge to comprehensively highlight a peculiar and enduring niche of sound art. Books and lists like these are understandably invaluable to both art historians and record diggers, and this is among the most lucubrate we’ve come across, making connections between the formative, innocent experience of experimenting with records’ physicalities, with Adorno’s riffs on ‘The Form of the Records’, and ‘Media Composition According to Cage’, and looping back to Milan Knížák’s recollection of ‘Broken Music’ in his titular text and bonus 7” flexidisc of his 1989 recordings.
If you’re interested in the following list of artists covered inside, you owe it yourself to check this book: Vito Acconci, albrecht d., Joseph Beuys, Laurie Anderson, Guillaume Apollinaire, Karel Appel, Antonin Artaud, John Baldessari, Hugo Ball, Harry Bertoia, William S. Burroughs, John Cage, Henri Chopin, Henning Christiansen, William Copley, Philip Corner, Merce Cunningham, Hanne Darboven, Jim Dine, Jean Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Fischli/Weiss, R. Buckminster Fuller, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Glass, Jack Goldstein, Hans Haacke, Richard Hamilton, Bernard Heidsieck, Isidore Isou, Marcel Janco, Allan Kaprow, Martin Kippenberger, Milan Knízák, Christina Kubisch, Laibach, John Lennon, Hermann Nitsch, Claes Oldenburg, Yoko Ono, Dennis Oppenheim, Nam June Paik, Tom Philips, Robert Rauschenberg, The Red Crayola, Jim Rosenquist, Dieter Roth, Gerhard Rühm, Conrad Schnitzler, Kurt Schwitters, selten gehörte Musik, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, Michael Snow, Jean Tinguely, Yoshi Wada, William Wegman and Lawrence Weiner, and others.
‘Der Osten Ist Rot’ is a wigged-out 1984 treat helmed by Can’s Holger Czukay, with drums by his legendary bandmate Jaki Liebzeit and vital synth input from Conny Plank.
Now making its first official digital release, the 1984 album was Czukay’s 3rd solo side, proper, following from ‘Movies’ , and ‘On The Way To The Peak Of Normal’  in pursuit of an elusive, avant and pop-wise spirit that would also be explored on its follow-up ‘Rome Remains Rome’, before Czukay set off on two seminal ambient trips with David Sylvian in 1988-’89 (recently reissued and very much worth a look-see!).
‘Der Osten Ist Rot’ is perhaps most notorious for both its balmy, mis-leading opener, the strolling new wave pop bop of ‘The Photo Song’, and its title track, an exotica-tinged cover of the 1960’s Chinese national anthem, ‘The East Is Red’, which is likely a nod to his former tutor Karlheinz Stockhausen’s ‘Hymnal’ suite of mutated anthems.
However, the fun doesn’t stop with those two - the rest of the album is a madcap ride, coolly swerving from grooving, brassy avant-disco in ‘Bänkel Rap’, to a haunting organ and vocal piece by Michy (who also turns up on Czukay’s ‘Flux & Mutability’ LP with David Sylvian), and taking in the wild studio cut-up of ‘Collage’, along with the supremely crafty, weightless gait of ‘Das Massenmedium’ which, like album closer ‘Traum Mal Wieder’ strongly recalls his work on the cult ‘Las Vampyrettes’ outing with Conny Plank, while the uncannily prescient rhythmic concrète of ‘Schaue Vertrauensvoll In Die Zukunft’ also deserves a mention.
Seekersinternational do heavyweight dub abstractions and lysergic G-funk for the brilliant Boomarm Nation.
Far less frenetic or cut-up than their recent jaunts, ‘Lost & Found Vol.2’ arrives 10 years after the 1st volume to offers some of the stickiest, most humid and synthed-out gear in their arsenal.
On the A-side’s ‘Friendly Weight’ they daub splashy, psychy synth funk on a wobbling boogie dub flex shook with wooden shakers and smoked-out for the slow dancers. The B-side’s ‘Dub Squeeze Yuh!’ follows in suit with ruddier dubbing, sending the OG synth lixx scudding into the ether around a dazed dub axis.
Jan Jelinek offers a classic, remastered and extended selection of material by Ursula Bogner, presenting a possibly apocryphal, definitely charming batch of early electronics purportedly made at home by Ursula between 1969-1988. It's either Jelinek himself offering up an enticing slice of sonic fiction, or a genuine archival oddity - either way, great to have it back again.
Back in 2008, Ursula’s ‘Recordings 1969-1988’ formed the maiden release on Jelinek’s Faitiche label. Chins were stroked, heads-scratched at where it all came from - the promo notes suggested a chance encounter with Ursula’s son led to the discovery of her home-made recordings on reel-to-reel and HiFi cassettes - however, more sceptical listeners, us included, weren’t entirely convinced. Short of taking a time machine back to the classes Ursula supposedly attended at the Studio for elektronische Musik in Kiln at the WDR with Herbert Eimert, we’ll never really know, but the music loses none of its appeal either way. Quite simply if you’ve ever found yourself wrapped up in works by Daphne Oram, Delia Derbyshire, F.C. Judd or Malcolm Pointon, you’re almost sure to love this playful collection.
“Jelinek on the music's initial discovery: "It seems incredible that Bogner's musical talents should have remained undiscovered, but in view of her biography, this might have been inevitable. I met Sebastian Bogner, Ursula's son, on a flight, and the usual small talk led to the topic of his mother, who 'liked to play around with synthesizers', albeit purely on an amateur level. Among her acquaintances, it was considered an eccentric hobby and not paid a great deal of interest. Bogner's life seemed simple and bourgeois to the core: she was a pharmacist, wife and mother. This situation made her obsession with electronic music all the more bizarre - an obsession that saw her build her own home studio. Throughout her early twenties, she followed the activities of Studio für elektronische Musik, attended seminars by Studio founder Herbert Eimert, exhibited enthusiasm for Musique Concrète and later shared her children's enthusiasm for new wave. Nevertheless, Bogner never involved herself in any scene, never made her music public. Her compositions, betray few signs of esotericism; they are closer to studies and sketches, humorous and almost silly, rather than tied to any particular school. Nevertheless, it is remarkably hard to grasp or classify her work as a whole.
Over the course of 20 years, she dabbled in many different styles, leading to a bewildering variety of titles. In the late 1960s, Bogner started to record her own music on reel-to-reel tapes. Covering a fairly short period of her creative career, this music conveys a peculiar coherence in both form and content, a coherence that reflects her accessible, rhythmic and sometimes even poppy side. My own preference played a part in the selection process, but a further compilation is already in the works. I hope that listeners will enjoy the same exhilaration I experienced on discovery of Ursula Bogner's music"
'Returnal' is the fourth LP from the Boston/New York based synth dreamer, Oneohtrix Point Never.
Last year's 'Drifts' set was a compendium of his previous - and very hard-to-come-by - albums for labels including No Fun, Arbor and Gneiss Things and was a clear favourite for many in 2009, held in high regard by the Wire magazine, and cherished dearly by anyone in its possession. OPN's hypnagogically-charged body of work is a dense fog of references, from beat driven edits on the 'Memory Vague' mini-album recollecting DJ Screw's slowcore psychedelia, to privately intimate sci-fi vistas of 'Russian Mind' harking back to synth-whizz J.D Emmanuel.
Mego's Peter Rehberg obviously sensed the appeal of this mixture, putting together OPN's most developed and mindblowing work for this brand new album, aligning an exceptional potential within the contemporary sonic landscape. For us, with the exception of few others, we've not really come across an artist whose music has so profoundly affected us in a very long time. Dare we say it...? Since Burial. Yeah, so you're asking yourself "what the f*ck have they got in common?". The very simple fact is that they both somehow trigger that un-nameable particle phizz that nobody has ever been able to explain, and hopefully never will. With 100% conviction and in the truest sense of the word, this is an essential purchase for lovers of Fever Ray, Popol Vuh, Klaus Schulze, Autechre, Aphex Twin or Jan Hammer.
Grupo Controle Digital give another charming taste of Brazilian ‘80s new wave with ‘A Festa É Nossa’ arriving in the wake of Soundway’s superb compilation; ‘Onda De Amor: Synthesised Brazilian Hits That Never Were (1984-94)’
While almost every other geographic area of this era has been nearly mined to exhaustion, Brazil’s evident wealth of music from that era has remained relatively untapped until Soundway kindly stepped in to convect their warm breezes beyond the South American market.
Grupo Controle Digital’s ‘A Festa É Nossa’ was a highlight of the aforementioned compilation, and now it’s available as part of the original album - available for the first time on digital formats. The fruity title track will leave juice on your chin, and depending your tolerance for pure, unadulterated late ‘80s cultures, this rest of the album will leave you dead sticky, or totally dry.
Personally, we fall on the sticky side, and its not hard to hear connections between this sound and the vibes on Soundway’s ‘Gumba Fire: Bubblegum Soul & Synth-Boogie in 1980s South Africa’, Jamaican digidancehall, Belgian new beat and lots of natty ‘80s UK dance-pop.
Upon examining the eventful life of Can bassist Holger Czukay, one might conclude that this intrepid musician was a loner. His turbulent career exuded an enduring eccentricity governed by a boundless free spirit.
Holger Czukay’s debut solo LP ‘Movies’  is, quite frankly as mad as a bag of squirrels, but super playful and cool as fuck with it. It’s his first record after striking out from Can, and he clearly had a lot of ideas brewing and ready to get out
From the Afro-inflected lilt of the guitars on his sardonic disco workout ‘Cool in the Pool’, thru the expansive future jazz and krautrock hybrid ‘Oh Lord Give Us More Money’, to the curiously fragrant balm of ‘Persian Love’, and the lysergic, grooving WTF?ness of ‘Hollywood Symphony’, this one is bona fide seminal, unique and utterly worth your time.
Amsterdam’s Knekelhuis pull out some class, knackered dark wave/EBM pop nuggets from New Jersey's Smersh c. 1984/1989, backed with a gripping remix by the widely tipped Parrish Smith.
As key protagonists of the ‘80s EBM underground, Smersh pushed a rawly expressive sound which, with the benefit of hindsight, clearly paved the way for a lot of weirdos working int he gaps between industrial, odd ball house and screwy electronics nowadays.
The two tracks on the M Appeal EP are two of the most pop-wise we’ve heard from Smersh’s sprawling catalogue, with the slow, claggy electro waltz of M Appeal  making its first appearance on wax, following woozy lines of melodic thought over grubby, pendulous machine groove leading to a real peach in the corroded EBM galvanics and near-Latin Freestyle’d vocal of Kiss Me Stupid, which is guaranteed to get a lot of spins around our way. Funnily enough they both respectively recall aspects of Dirk Desaever productions from the same era, too.
If you need any more persuasion, Parrish Smith sorts that on the B-side with a remix of M Appeal, rendering the skinny, skizzy original with big-boned and dank industrial dubbing and lashings of salty noise to taste. Already a big one with Jon K, this.
Fred Welton Walmsley III (Lee Bannon) completes his esoteric ambient metamorphosis with Dedekind Cut’s melancholic Tahoe album for arch American electronic drifters, Kranky Records - home to some of the some of the finest atmospheric ambient works of recent decades by Stars of The Lid, Loscil, Tim Hecker.
In key with Kranky’s heritage, Dedekind Cut very neatly plays to the label aesthetic on Tahoe with a widescreen suite of slow, windswept synths layered into expansive harmonics evoking cinematic and psychedelic sensations. They range from pop-ambient pockets of bittersweetness to more brooding tracts of durational immersion, with each connected by an overarching feeling of sadness or unresolved strife.
It’s all very much what you’d expect from a Kranky release, until you start paying closer attention. Where Kranky’s chorus of ambient angels have often spent decades on their craft, developing personalised timbral sensitivities and sound identities, the shapeshifting Dedekind Cut’s newness to this particular field is betrayed by the more elusive reach of his soundsphere, but the artist makes up for a lack of tonal richness by conveying his intent more directly thru the arrangement and overall feeling, or soul connoted by his compositions.
Gossamer dream-pop and wistful balearic strokes from Arturs Liepiņš and Anete Stuce’s Domenique Dumont for Antinote, reprising the midas touch of their acclaimed début, ‘Comme Ça’  with big highlights in the gently percolated pop of ‘Sans Cesse, Mon Cheri’ and ‘Le Debut De La Fin’
“August 2018: It’s already been three years since Domenique Dumont made its entrance in the music world with a debut EP named Comme Ca. Despite a seemingly very quiet musical activity (the opening song to Antinote’s compilation Five Years Of Loving Notes was the only song released by the band in 3 years) a few things have changed in-between these two summers: Domenique Dumont is no more the mysterious lone French producer we introduced last time but a Latvian duo, Arturs Liepins and Anete Stuce, which has been collaborating with “an enigmatic French artist whose existence cannot be confirmed nor denied” (sorry, but it sounds like there’s still some mystery in the air, and, again, we’re just as clueless as you might be), the duo have been touring live and, most importantly, they kept on broadening their musical palette experimenting in a definitely pop field. Eight of these experiments are now tied together in Miniatures de Auto Rhythm.
The record probably begins where Comme Ca ended: frantic but light drum programing backbones a solar and slightly melancholic melody on Le Début De La Fin (“the beginning of the end”). However, the scope gets enlarged as soon as one reaches the second tune, Quasi Quasi, or Quand, on the flip side, perhaps the most overtly pop-rock oriented song on the record with its Mediterranean guitar and emotional bridge.
The road towards the apex of the record, Le Soleil Dans Le Monde, is a narrow and windy one, punctuated by toy instrumentals like Ono Mambo Haiku or the Donkey Kong Country-friendly Message Of The Diving Bird; however it never departs from its original tongue-in-cheek attitude. It’s quite pleasant to imagine these eight “miniatures” as field recordings from an enchanted world of pop music designed by some Pierre & Gilles’ disciples – or are there
musical interpretations of half-mechanical, half-organic creations from a certain Otto Rhiesem (who might have inhabited the Locus Solus villa)? There might be no definitive answers to this second set of riddles by Domenique Dumont.”
Jesus this album in incredible. Heather Leigh channels Kate Bush and Coil via lapsteel guitar and staggering vocals on a her new album for Editions Mego. Following her previous solo LP ‘I Abused Animal’ for Stephen O’Malley’s Ideologic Organ with a record that few beyond her inner circle could have predicted. Epic in scope, devastating on impact. Do not miss this one!
“Heather Leigh takes her Throne as queen of pedal steel with a suite of heartbleed ballads cauterised with burning riffs. After the rawness of its precursor I Abused Animal, Throne is a record of late night Americana and heavy femininity; intimate love songs smoked in sensuality. The songs on Throne are woozy, gorgeous and uncomfortable, smothered in thick layers of bass but lifted by multitracked vocals. These are rich song forms that stand in contrast to the stripped down steel in her duo with Peter Brotzmann.
Prelude To Goddess sashays in wearing leopard print jeans under the twinkling fluorescent illuminations of the British seaside, like Brighton Rock with extra bass. It is followed in by Lena – arguably Leigh's Jolene – a perverse love song soaked in a subversive sexuality, weighed down with a heavy pulse. Soft Seasons is anchored with sunken beats shrouded in wailing, growling steel and an earwormy melody. Gold Teeth, the longest track on the record, crests and breaks in waves; ecstatic peaks balanced and echoed by melancholic troughs. It soars on an updraft, and from cosmic heights dives seaward into a gnarly and riotous pedal steel breakdown, before catching the breeze again.
Days Without You and Scorpio & Androzani are shorter, intimate songs, in the latter the synths seethe and the steel bows and bends as Leigh's voice falters above a Greek chorus of shadows and reflections. But this isn't autobiography, and Throne departs on Days Without You, a confrontationally unfinished romantic song, anxious with half-thoughts and missed connections. It glides into the night on stilettos leaving unanswered questions, in a fug of psychic disturbance and lovesick sensuality.
Leigh's artwork (which she photographed and designed) is a visual mirror of the songs on Throne. It is an album of cosmic echoes, abstractions and introspection, of characters and stories that make up Leigh's first best pop record, its melodies and hooks set alight with the fiery core of her unique and distinctive pedal steel. - Jennifer Lucy Allen, 2018”
Highly touted producer Hiro Kone follows her Drew McDowell link-up with a crackshot 2nd solo LP of jagged, physical rhythms and kinetic synth structures rent in acres of noumenal space on ‘Pure Expenditure’
Working intently at the point where EBM and avant-garde electronics collide, Nicky Mao a.k.a. Hiro Kone has opened up a vivid new space for phantasmic expressions of aerobic mysticism and techgnosis. Whether bending into Wetware with Roxy Farman, or taking cues from Equiknoxxx’s mutant dancehall instrumentals on ‘The Ghost of George Bataille’, Kone has consistently warped the fringes of modern, obscurantist electronica with a singular, gauntleted tactility.
On ‘Pure Expenditure’ she pursues that mix of EBM, fwd dancehall-dub and biting point electronics down ever darker lines of enquiry, uniquely probing a formerly, mutually exclusive juncture of emotively gothic themes, rudely rooted rhythms, and sheer, original sound design.
There’s almost too many highlights to mention, but if you need a jump off point, the percolated blend of Little Annie and angular modular shards in ‘Outside The Axiom’ is right up there along with the Byetone-meets-Coil pressure of her title track, and the exceptional play of sliding, bulbous shapes within sheer, hyaline dimensions in ‘Scotch Yoke, Pt. I & II’ and the pranging, sloshing designs of ‘Poortgebouw’.
The first authoritative compilation of American dream pop artist Happy Rhodes, whose singular songwriting and four-octave vocal range emanated from the pastoral confines of upstate New York in the 1980s.
"Her melding of classical music influences with synthesizer and acoustic guitar, and her enchanting and idiosyncratic singing, are favorably compared to heralded English chanteuse Kate Bush. Fans of such artistic pop music would be remiss to overlook Rhodes’s similarly remarkable and otherworldly sonic transmissions, traversing tales of dreamers, outsiders, lovers and other lovely and terrifying creatures born of a wellspring of wild creativity and bold imagination.
Affectionately remastered from the original tapes, Ectotrophia gathers essential songs from Rhodes’s mid-’80s salad days, many written when she was just a teenager—wildly ahead of her time and unafraid to bare her soul to regional audiences, the ectophiles who’d eventually coin an entire subgenre of pop music in her honor. Dive deep into ecto, with the woman who started it all."
Immersive, organic mixture of intricate, small sound dub ecology and stoned dream-pop soul from Sunun - backed with a dead cranky Kinlaw remix - marking her debut on the excellent Bokeh Versions after compilation appearance for Limbo Tapes. RIYL Marina Rosenfeld, Jabu, Ossia
“Sunun has a luring command of dials and limbs and drum skins that’s as grounded as it’s mystical - these machines have ghosts in them. Between Ooid’s modulated insect noises and crushed cymbals there are stories of when & why things were recorded that adds an aching humanity to the 5 machine dub pulses on her first official release. People who’ve seen her live have witnessed Sunun’s forest of wires and microphones and harps all feeding her 20 channel desk. She dubs it old-world style, but the results are always forward - making a 22nd century chorus from thousands of years of human feedback. The Sunun ecosystem is perfectly synthesised in Max Kelan’s unsettling VHS body-shot for ‘Dark Just’, filmed on location in Western Super Mare (mostly Pier 2).
Sunun’s a familiar shape in the shadows of Bristol’s sound circuit - from Kuumba Centre to Cosies to Trinity. Her monthly residency on Noods Radio is titled by the mantra ‘Everything is Drum’ - and plays out to a teething Stokes Croft through the studio windows. She first took to the mic at Bokeh Sound w/ Jay Glass Dubs and Avon Terror Corps member Kinlaw (No Corner / Ceramics); who closes Ooid in classic discomix style with a remix of ‘Dark Just’. Ooid predates both their work in Avon Terror Corps by up to 1 year.”
*Distorted air horn* Praxis deliver a proper breakcore blast-from-the-past with two Scud & Nomex ruinations originally despatched on 7” in 1997 and 1998, now compiled and reissued for first time in 20 years on a wider, louder pressing.
DJ Scud is not short on love around these parts - his run of releases between the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, including the cult Wasteland project with I-Sound, are some of the most distinctive, ruffneck releases of that era, splicing hardcore jungle and soundclash noise with unprecedented style and pattern. His ‘Ambush’ album, a collection of hard-to-find early releases compiled for Aphex Twin’s Rephlex Records in 2003, is, for us at least, a definitive record of its era.
This timely compilation/reissue 12” offers a visceral, psychogeographic snapshot of an overlooked phase of late ‘90s dance music, when jungle was properly straining at the leash and fusing with punkish gabber and extreme noise in South London squats and at free parties (illegal raves) across the UK and EU.
Most notably, the two tracks from ‘Eurostar’  use samples of the eponymous train, recorded in Herne Hill, South London on its way to the recently opened "chunnel” between UK and EU. 20 years later, as Britain heads blindly for Brexit, Scud & Nomex’s jungle noise juggernaut arguably takes on a new historic relevance, while the accompanying ‘Piling Machine’ turns field recordings of the Hungerford footbridge construction site into one of the meanest, overlooked concrète tracks from late ‘90s London.
Equally indomitable are the two versions of ‘Total Destruction’  on the other side. Built using vintage tape echo, electrical interference, and a white label prized from under a car wheel, all processed on an Amiga 1200, the original is a solid gold yardcore punk anthem, while the Dub Version pushes the levels recklessly into the red.
In 2018, when fringe communities are too often represented musically by anodyne, mainstream, common denominators, this 12” is an even stronger reminder of the untapped potential of lost, underground futures such as the one envisaged by Scud, Nomex and their convention-challenging counter-culture. R.I.P. Paul Kidd a.k.a Nomex.
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’.
With the gauzy bliss-out, No More Dreams, Sweden’s Axel Backman a.k.a. 1991 reminds us that his run of sublime releases for Opal Tapes and Astro:Dynamics in 2012 weren’t simply a figment of our lushest reveries.
Issued on the new and tributarily-named, No More Dreams label, 1991's first release in four years courses with similar levels of intangibly gorgeous harmonies and ferric noise, although his rhythmic structures now feel smudged farther into the background, or even barely there at all, leaving behind a salty-teared water stain of synthetic shimmer.
We’re guessing it must just be incredibly beautiful where he lives, or he’s just one of those helplessly melancholy souls, but either way, there’s something unquantifiable lurking behind his sound that we can return to over and again, and look forward to doing so with No More Dreams.
Bonkers, plugged-in Estonian folk and electronics from the 1980s, courtesy of Olev Muska, a recent star of Left Ear Records’ ‘Antipodean Anomalies’ compilation.
Working a stylistic niche perhaps comparable to recently surfaced reissues of NSRD’s art-pop and the synth fantasias of László Hortobágyi, the sound of Olev Muska - the son of Estonian refugees from WWII - was inspired by a need to articulate traditional Estonian music with a new, modern accent whilst preserving the culture his parents and the network of Estonian expatriates had brought to Australia.
Drawing on his studies at Sydney’s National Art School, as well as a love of psychedelia and the possibilities afforded by cheaper, newly availed synths and vocoders that complemented the stripped down, ‘runic’ nature of Estonian music, Muska reframed traditional Estonian folk songs in an unprecedented way, with results that range from novelty to freakish experimentation, often in the same track.
To our ears it sometimes sounds like cyber ceilidh music, and at others like teenage witterings after smoking banana peel, but for all the daftness Muska’s music can be commended on the strength of its innovation and wide-eyed innocence, and particularly for its dancefloor-ready aces such as ‘Eidekene Ketrab’ from his Elektrio band, and the nippy wedding music update of ‘Tantsi! Tantsi!’.
Forged Prescriptions is a double album by Spacemen 3, containing alternative takes and demo versions of songs from their album The Perfect Prescription, plus some previously unreleased tracks.
"In his liner notes, Spacemen 3’s Sonic Boom says this release presents the album's songs in their "full guitar laden versions with all the layers of beautifully streamlined guitar — considered by us to be too hard to replicate live and therefore reduced for the original release." “For me, this is where Spacemen 3 song writing came to a head - many of these songs pre-dated "Sound Of Confusion", some were even recorded at both sessions, but I am still impressed mightily by Jason’s lyrical genius on originals like "Walking With Jesus" and re-writes like "Come Down Easy" and his fluid guitar playing across the whole sessions. To be sure "Playing With Fire" was soon to be our long and sultry Indian Summer but "Perfect Prescription" was the progeny of that hot, lazy (and occasionally rainy) summer.” - Sonic Boom.
Lucy & Rrose merge as The Lotus Eaters for a dense and murky trip to the nether fields of abstract techno.
“Lucy and Rrose, now coming together as The Lotus Eaters, have established themselves separately as techno artists who are just as comfortable operating in the uncharted area of experimental music. Running their own labels (Stroboscopic Artefacts and Eaux, respectively), they have gained a cult following, both influencing and challenging the direction of techno.
Their first collaboration took the form of mutual remixes. Lucy remixed Rrose, taking on his modern classic “Waterfall” while Rrose remixed Dadub for Stroboscopic Artefacts, and shortly thereafter contributed an extended EP as part of SA’s Monad series.
Eventually, the idea of working together became inevitable. Several intense sessions in Lucy’s Berlin studio followed, using mainly analog hardware. These sessions gave birth to a new project, starting with two EPs signed Lucy and Rrose, called “The Lotus Eaters” (SA) and “The Lotus Eaters II” (Eaux). With the “Desatura” album, the first release signed under the project name The Lotus Eaters, their common work is refined further, also becoming a live act which will debut at ADE (Amsterdam) 2018.
With “Desatura,” Lucy and Rrose explore themes of physical density, emptiness, and space, creating sonic objects which can be rotated and viewed from multiple perspectives. Eschewing the typical instrumentation of techno, the duo use synthesized sound and feedback as fundamental sources to generate both textural and percussive elements. A sense of tension and weight emerge from sources that cannot be easily pinpointed. The resulting album forms a complex narrative from a paradoxically simple and restrained set of sound sources. A mysterious and profound accomplishment.”
The 5th solo album by Holger Czukay, ‘Rome Remains Rome’ bubbles up for its 30th anniversary reissue on Gronland - bastion of all things good and Krautrock
Arriving after a string of total classics such as ‘Movies’ and ‘Full Circle’’, and before his ambient outings with David Sylvian, 1987’s ‘Rome Remains Rome’ is a typically, lysegically playful and odd collection of songs tripping lines between pop, jazz and the avant-garde.
Make sure to check it for Holger’s possessed vocals on the psychedelic whirligig of ‘Sudetenland’, an appearance of then pope Karol Wojtyła on ‘Blessed Easter’, and the intoxicating drift of ‘Music in the Air’.
Second ever vinyl reissue of ACR’s first record
A collection of early demos and live recordings from 1979 gig also starring Joy Division and The Distractions. Produced by Martin Hannett, mixed by Tony Wilson.
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.”
Another warm funk gust from early ‘80s Holland, courtesy of the butter smooth Richenel. Check for the swanging ‘Rap Apocalypse’, the stark soul burn of ‘It Takes Time’, and the arcade game funk of the title cut!
“Music From Memory return with a further six tracks from Dutch musician Richenel. Continuing with recordings taken from his debut album 'La Diferencia’, originally released in 1982 on the cult Amsterdam cassette only label Fetisj, the tracks on Music From Memory’s second EP ‘Perfect Stranger’ includes alternate takes drawn from Richenel’s personal copy of the album alongside a further composition which didn’t make it onto the original Fetisj cassette.”
Perfectly moody new wave regressions from Pascal Pinkert’s De Ambassade, boomeranging back around on blue vinyl for 2018 with its 2nd vinyl pressing
The A-side’s title cut is a groggily measured shot of Dutch language vocals penned by Miriam Bruijning with Pinkert, and sung by Pinkert to his own arrangement of jangling new wave pop guitars and nippy drum machine crack.
The B-side is even better. On ‘Geen Genade’ Pinkert’s vocals mostly take a back seat to the synths and drums, which drive like a sleek European machine down long, straight, clean roads with solid drum pulse and expressive synth strokes making it come off like a Dutch-speaking John Foxx piece.
‘Music Of Northern Laos’ is the 2nd of two fascinating new LP’s recorded by the intrepid Laurent Jeanneau (Kink Gong) in the landlocked, mountainous, South East Asian country
Specifically illuminating music from the Luang Namtha & Phongsaly provinces, ‘Music Of Northern Laos’ provides a rare collection from a region which has been generally overlooked by the recently burgeoning ethnographic musical industry.
Replete with Jeanneau’s lucubrate liner notes and detailed track descriptions, it’s a totally transportive survey for both beginners and studious ears; covering a remarkable range of styles from the almost sea shanty-esque cadence of the qeej - bamboo pipes fitted with a reed - to quietly intimate acapella folk song; a beguiling demonstration of extended breathing/singing techniques on the tot, a fresh green bamboo played with reed; and thru to ululating songs about solitude; a rolling percussive piece played by a shaman; and a mad, buzzing piece somehow played with the palm of the hand on a bamboo tube.
One of NAAFI’s strongest new players, Debit follows her killer debut LP ‘Animus’ with a keener focus on tonal composition in the steeply absorbing ‘Love Discipline’ for Quiet Time Tapes - blown away by this one.
After setting out her style on the edges on Latinx electronix and dark club music, ‘Love Discipline’ marks Debit’s shocking but welcome turn into sheer sound designer territory. Shaping up as five tracks of billowing, beat-less structures enriched with sci-fi cinematic appeal, the result are comparable to Leyland Kirby or BJNilsen as much as Rabit or The Sprawl, but with an iridescent spice of her own creation.
V Highly Recommended!
‘Disappearer’ is Ron Morelli’s 4th album of grot for Hospital Productions.
The L.I.E.S. boss (and fellow Parisian resident Krikor Kouchian as co-pilot on a handful of cuts) produces his tightest, most hard-hitting material to date, from the gothic slime of ‘Narco Frq’ to the slurried ’Squeeze’, vacillating between heavy techno, kerb-crawling electro and passages of tonal terror with a persistent stare-down mentality, giving up highlights in primitivist knocks and coenobite chatter of ‘Laugh Taker’, the Prurient-esque squall of ‘Golden Oldies’, a recursive missile named ‘Hole In The Head’, and the gloomy creeper, ’Snow On The Headstone’.
White vinyl edition of Vektroid’s Vaporwave classic, Macintosh Plus’ Floral Shoppe (フローラルの専門店) now in stock, in our mitts, scorching our retinas.
Originally issued towards the start of the Vaporwave craze, in the wake of seminal early efforts by 0PN as KGB Man & Chuck Person, this album by Ramona Andra Xavier turned a playful idea into a formulaic and frankly pretty annoying style which has been riffed on by any kid with YouTube and a copy of audacity.
In some ways, that’s a great thing, but in others, it became a shit meme far too quickly, but has persisted this way ever since with little or no change to the formula. For our money, you’d be better off schooling yourself in DJ Screw, V/Vm and those early 0PN offshoots, but collectors and vape scene types surely won’t be able to resist this pink vinyl pressing - with poster - even if it means cutting down on avocados for a week or two (give the Chileans a break, eh?).
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."
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.”
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.
New York’s Blank Forms follow their amazing Catherine Christer Hennix 2LP with a recently salvaged portrait of Loren Connors as we’ve rarely heard him before, cutting loose on a barely-hinged homage to delta blues and country replete with vocals imitating the dogs that howled outside his home in New Haven, Connecticut.
Hearkening back to a time before the spectral, romantic electric guitar vignettes for which he is celebrated, ‘Unaccompanied Acoustic Guitar Improvisations Vol. 10’ was intended as the 10th volume in a series of solo acoustic guitar improvisations released on his label, Dagget Records. But the distributor went bankrupt, leaving the car-less Connors to dispose of the unsold stock rather than drag the records home. However, thanks to a recording found by Unseen Worlds’ Tommy McCutcheon in Columbia University Libraries archival collections, this remarkable side is finally set to find its audience nearly 40 years later.
For anyone not au fait with this period of Connors work, ‘Unaccompanied Acoustic Guitar Improvisations Vol. 10’ offers a shocking contrast with his possibly better known and exquisitely tender later work. The deftness is still patently there, but the results are jaggedly raw and perhaps best compared with his transatlantic blues brother Derek Bailey, strung out in an array of wildly pitch-bent yanks and wails that could be described as expressions of heartbroken despair, laments for lost souls, or possessed by spirits, depending your own take.
In Connors’ hands, here the history of the blues and country collapses into the brink of abstraction, but, most crucially, his music remains integrally tied to those styles, with Connors acting as a conductive vessel for a swarm of hard-bitten ghosts to say their piece.
What were the clouds like when Huerco S was young? The Kansas-raised, New York-based producer’s absorbing ambient album For Those of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have) goes some way to answering The Orb’s fluffy little proposition…
Brian Leeds a.k.a. Huerco S’s 2nd album, following Colonial Patterns (2013) finds him working between the cracks and fissures of what we’ve previously heard from him, drawing out nine pieces of mineral ambient textures and non-percussive rhythms marking his best work since the 20 minute Untitled track off his debut for Opal Tapes in 2012.
Defined throughout by a low lit, low-lying sense of intimacy, rather than oceanic or celestial tropes, Leeds’ appreciation of lower case nuance is in warm, crackling effect with a hazy hummus like grain and bonfire glow that recalls Wanda Group’s earlier outing as The Hers, or the sweeter touches of Bellows.
Like a well timed gary, once it really begins to sink in, the warbly electronic pitches and subtly chaotic ferric details really get to work in hypnotising and making you forget where you started, suspending disbelief for a 50 minute window of time just long enough to let your mind wander over the horizon.
Time will tell, but this is surely a future ambient classic.
Music From Memory's deep-shelf trawlers pluck out Victor’s swaggering Afro-boogie-dub oddity ‘Amerikan Dread’ to please even the hardest to satisfy DJs and dancers...
Dug up by Satoshi Yamamura and dubbed out by Lipelis and Androo, Victor’s impossible-to-find original 7” is now expanded to a maxi-single 12” packed with life-giving dancefloor sustenance.
Uptown you’ll find the excellent OG mix of ‘American Dread’ with its ohrwurm chorus and wide, rubbery bass along with a seriously strong ’N.Y.C. Dub Mix’ with emphasis on pendulous syncopation accentuated in its cracking snares.
On the flip Lipless goes deeper into the echo chamber with a simmering extended dub saving a superb funky synth vamp for the 2nd half, and Geneva’s Androo rests the groove in balmier climes on a slickly overhauled dub remix.
Having already more or less written the guidebook, manifesto and manual for understated rock music, Low's hushed acoustic minimalism and fairytale arrangements have already won them a following that's as devoted as it is large.
"The Great Destroyer", to a collective gasp of surprise, finds low turning up the controls on their amps, dusting off their effects pedals and delivering their most robust and loud release to date. It's a mark of their undisputed genius that despite this marked shift, nothing sounds out of place or forced, an effortless transition into a space that will no doubt open up a whole new raft of supporters for their unique sound.
The opening "Monkey" attaches a lyrical vitriol to a beautifully distorted, gnarly bassline, while a similarly jarring narrative follows on the sublime restrained hush of "Pissing". "The Great Destroyer" finds Low at the peak of their powers, you can almost imagine all those years of whispered sessions and candle-lit performances building up this store of noise and adrenaline, finally emerging in this beautifully angry shape.
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.
Steve Hauschildt’s grasp of synthesis reaches alchemical, intuitive levels of lushness in ‘Dissolvi’, keening towards a broadly appealing ambient-techno-pop sound without losing the enigmatic, abstract, deep space quality of previous efforts. It’s his finest achievement since striking solo from the influential Emeralds and, quite honestly, isn't a million miles away from late 90's IDM keeprs like Arovane's Atol Scrap. And on we go in circular motion...
“In search of the sublime, contemporary electronic musician Steve Hauschildt has designed grids and panoramas of sound across multiple releases through the rise and dissolution of his former band, Emeralds, an American touchstone of 2000s home-recorded psychedelic noise music. Consistent with his solo work is Hauschildt’s ability to coil his craft in precise, varied, and distinctly physical forms. Gently spinning arpeggios converse with post-industrial decay. Sonic fibers sway like pendulums from static melancholy to motorik bliss. Dissolvi, the artist’s first full-length with Ghostly International, engages sublimation from an ontological perspective: by dissociating the self. Hauschildt steps out from the singular path, for the first time in a traditional studio, to compose and arrange contributions from friends. As a result, his most collaborative work to date extends a vast, vibrating framework in which to consider the state of being.
The album's title — a reference to cupio dissolvi, the Latin phrase meaning "I wish to be dissolved" — needn't be taken one-dimensionally or as purely solipsistic. It does, however, serve an apt reference. Physiological phenomena are of interest to Hauschildt. These back-of-mind ruminations find their way out. Songs are cerebral in orientation, but beyond explanation, the music is truly visceral. Involuntary eye movement inspires the serene, sanguine-nearing-suspicious "Saccade." Hauschildt feathers soft percussion beneath the echoed refrains of Los Angeles musician Julianna Barwick, together shaping a svelte suggestion of the anxieties brought about by modern-day surveillance; if everyone is being watched constantly, there is no individual, no self, only a broadly monitored and clumsily cataloged populous. The work of Chicago poet Carl Sandburg comes to mind: “I am the people—the mob—the crowd—the mass.” The individual dissolves into the taxonomic crowd.
Minimalist techno impulses provide a stylistic through-line for Dissolvi. Understated synth phrases and drum grooves take hold in selective moments, like synchronistic structures onto which nebulous mists, like the rapturous voice of Gabrielle Herbst aka GABI on "Syncope," cling to and cloud, producing a dazzling rift in consciousness. The 7-minute centerpiece "Alienself" reiterates this creative logic, burbling like an amorphous body of water on a low-gravity planet, on the verge of dissolving, but never fully dematerializing. The album was constructed in Chicago (where Hauschildt now resides) and partially in New York. "Much of it was recorded in a windowless studio which removed elemental or seasonal references to time in the music," says Hauschildt. "The focus this time was on mixing the album and incorporating a broader set of instrumentation. I describe my compositional approach as being quasi-generative." Embracing new methods and philosophical curiosities, and in turn, expanding the range of his repertoire, Hauschildt proposes a fascinating and profoundly rich experience in listening, being, and deliquescing.”
Sludgy. stoned, avant-rock madness from NYC performance art troupe Hairbone on the exploratory Blank Forms Editions
“Despite Hairbone’s prolific, obsessively-documented life as a performance art group, Earth To Momma is the band’s first studio LP, distilling their sprawling live shows into 12 distinct pieces of lyrical, art-damaged rock and pop music. Their institutional success begs for comparisons to artists’ bands like Destroy All Monsters or Die Tödliche Doris, but Hairbone’s confusion of high and low culture fits them equally into peerdom with the classic American underground of the Butthole Surfers and Sun City Girls. A native of Mexico, de Nieves delivers bilingual incantations that are bolstered by Stead’s synthetic drum sampling and guitarist Whipple’s acid-fried neoclassical shredder excess. The record is a shapeshifting suite that fits veiled commodity critique, volcanic convulsions, blasé songcraft, and a breezy instrumental into a hallucinatory vision haunted by abject clowns and the grain of twisted emergency police calls. With tongue set firmly in cheek—through Stead’s ode to Chateau Diana bodega “wine product,” and de Nieves’s simulated Kim Gordon sighting—Hairbone maintain an irreverent authenticity in an era when the mere notion has become a barren field.
Hairbone is a New York-based power trio of artists Raúl de Nieves, Jessie Stead, and Nathan Whipple, formerly known as Haribo. Functioning mainly in the art world, Hairbone has inflicted their carnivalesque live shows upon audiences from museums to decrepit basements for nearly a decade. Each unique, narrative multimedia performance features frontman de Nieves inhabiting new personae in a sculptural actionist mode, brandishing oversized, text-emblazoned props as if they were picket signs, then proceeding to destroy them as Hairbone’s near-opera burlesque freak shows unfurl. Obliquely political, theirs is a protest music without didacticism.”
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’.
Continuing their ongoing mission to seek out old records and boldly go where no crate digger has gone before, Finders Keepers have excavated another essential piece of cinematic history.
"It has been exactly ten years since Finders Keepers Records rst liberated Luboš Fišer’s immaculate soundtrack music for Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders (Valerie A Týden Divu) from the vaults of the Barrandov Studio in Prague. As the inaugural release of an ongoing discography of previously unreleased scores from the hugely creative “Film Miracle” that occurred during and after the Czech New Wave (CNW), this score will always retain a special place in the heart of the label as well as our listeners who consistently request an updated repress of this signi cant vinyl milestone. Having grown in status from an obscure and misunderstood socialist-era art house oddity, via the hands of risqué foreign uff merchants, to nally and its rightful audience as a bona de surrealist cinematic masterpiece of world class standards, this 1970 lm adaptation of Vítezslav Nezval’s 1935 avant-garde novella (a lm that literally cross-pollinated Max Ernst’s A Week Of Kindness and Lewis Carols Alice In Wonderland) has garnered widespread critical acclaim.
Inspiring ongoing generations of visual artists, musicians, writers and lmmakers - all of whom regard this truly individualistic and inimitable surrealist lm poem to be an indelible in uence - Valerie continues to impregnate their daily artistic referential fabric."
‘Mandy’ is the exceptional final soundtrack realised by dearly departed composer Jóhann Jóhannsson for the film directed by Panos Cosmatos. A supporting cast of Stephen O’Malley, Kreng and Yair Elazar Glotman, plus production from Randall Dunn ensure a majestic final missive and one of the most rich and varied releases in Jóhannsson's canon, taking in elements of metal, drone and doom ambient, even retro-futuristic synth work...
With a crack squad including O’Malley on guitar and additional production from gifted sound designers Randall Dunn, Pepijn Caudron (Kreng) and Berlin’s Yair Elazar Glotman (Ketev), the results lurk like blinking red eyes in a dense nocturnal forest, swarming in formation from widescreen romance to petrifying, plangent cues and pockets of heart-sinking gloom, saving the gnashing guitars for when their bite is felt strongest, but equally knowing how to send shivers shooting down the spine in moments of sublime, contrasting relief on the ‘Memories’ theme.
Jóhannsson's deft approach to sonic extremities is the real eye opener here; far removed from the emotionally driven demands of his more mainstream work for hollywood, here we're taken through grinding, industrial metal scrapes one minute and insanely rich ambient textures the next - with no concession to soaring emotional cues. Not that Jóhannsson ever really succumbed to much of that; but nonetheless - it’s a total pleasure to hear him reach into those darker recesses on Mandy - a soundtrack that’s likely to be remembered as one of his best.
R.I.P to a true master.
An astounding, epic journey into the most obscure areas of early electronic music, Phillip Werren’s Electronic Music is wellspring of contemporary composition across four LPs.
"Electronic Music was recorded at Simon Fraser University (Vancouver), McGill University (Montreal) and Radio Warzawa (Poland) between 1967 and 1971. Influenced as much by serialism as by psychedelia and the occult, the album features elements of tape collage, voice, and experimental composition. Most of the recordings were performed on a Buchla System 100, one of the first modular synthesizers. An absorbing piece of the Canadian avant-garde, Electronic Music is a journey through space, sound, texture, and unbridled experimentation.
Recommended for fans of artist ranging from Stockhausen, Xenakis, and Ferrari to Basil Kirchin, Conrad Schnitzler, Throbbing Gristle, and Coil – Manufactured Recordings’ reissue of Electronic Music aims to shed light on this crucially overlooked composer."
'Phase 3 : Thones and Dominions' has been one of the more elusive Earth titles so it's great to see this oft-misunderstood gem back in circulation again.
'Phase 3' was a difficult album for Earth, and marked a transition period in between the drone-heavy 'Earth 2' and the classic rock styled 'Pentastar : In the Style of Demons'.
The album includes destructive drone tracks such as genre high point 'Tibetan Quaaludes' juxtaposed against rock riff-fests like 'Song 4'. I definitely don't have a problem with this, but I seem to remember at the time when 'Phase 3' hit the shelves in 1995 it garnered a hell of a lot of negative press from people expecting a rehash of 'Earth 2'.
'Phase 3' was never going to rework the style they had so carefully initiated, and hearing it agin now- it's a strong, powerful record and one which shows a band experimenting with sound and form.
The aforementioned 'Tibetan Quaaludes' was one of the finest pieces the band ever committed to wax, and the free-improv influenced 'Site Specific Carnivorous Occurrence' is another high point in their career. Some of these tracks were recently rediscovered and reworked on the fantastic remix compilation 'Legacy of Dissolution', which has led many to look at them under a different light, and quite rightly too.
Any Earth fans who don't own this need to add this underappreciated classic to their collection, and while this might not be the easiest intrduction to the band's catalogue; it's without a doubt worth a look.
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.
Doris Norton was Apple's first music "endorsement" and Roland affiliate, and is one of the most important female pioneers in the use of synths and in the early electro / computer music field. ‘Personal Computer’ showcases some computer game-style workouts along with some really canny cuts in the tricksy metrics of ‘Caution Radiation Norton and the psychedelic wig-out ‘A.D.A. Converter’...
“In 1980, Norton began her solo career by recording at Fontana Studio 7, the Milan studio of the composer and musician Tito Fontana, resulting in the electronic opera "Under Ground". Norton became more prolific, continuing her adventures in experimental electronics and computer music with Parapsycho (1981), Raptus (1981), Nortoncomputerforpeace (1983), PC (1984) – whose album cover prominently features Apple’s colored logo – and Artificial Intelligence (1985).
While the beat-oriented style of Norton’s music aligns her with such global fellow-travelers as Yellow Magic Orchestra and Kraftwerk, her championing of the personal computer as a tool for self-sufficient musical creativity also connects her to more artsy musicians such as Pietro Grossi, Laurie Spiegel, and the League of Automatic Music Composers. Norton’s predilection for the bright, glossy timbres of early digital instruments also recalls Hubert Bognermayr and Harald Zuschrader’s bizarre 1982 one-off Erdenklang.
Later, her talent and expertise attracted the attention of IBM, who in 1986 named her as an official consultant. Already the reigning queen of the Italian electronic scene, she recorded two CDs for IBM: Automatic Feeling and The Double Side Of The Science. Influenced by her son, the musician and producer Rexanthony, Norton brought her fascination with the early days of techno into the 1990s, when she released three volumes of Techno Shock on Italian trance/hardcore label Sound Of The Bomb.
While her music remains largely out of print and inaccessible, Norton’s early records have recently begun to receive the inevitable rediscovery treatment.
"In the late sixties I had already conceived computers as “personal.” I have always trusted in the benefits of solitude; [being] alone means freedom… What’s better than a “personal” computer for materializing ideas, by oneself" (Doris Norton)”
A momentous celebration of one of the last century’s most important composers, offering insight, recognition, and critical investigation, long overdue and lovingly produced. Including an extensive, lavish 120 page book, with numerous unseen images and 10 historic, sought-after and impossible to find albums pressed on 180 gram vinyl - unquestionably one of the most beautiful and important archival releases of the year.
The perfect jump-off for anyone intrigued or beguiled by Lucier’s oeuvre and looking for a way in, ‘Illuminated by the Moon’ was recorded in October 2016 at the Alvin Lucier 85th Birthday Festival at the Zurich University of the Arts and spans pioneering classics such as ‘I Am Sitting In A Room’  thru to his recent piece for Stephen O’Malley and Oren Ambarchi, ‘Hanover’. Along with a fistful of rare works, it adds up to an unprecedented, overdue survey of Lucier’s cross-disciplinary efforts in locating the metaphysics of sound in minimalism, and is arguably the most crucial boxset of 2018 alongside Roland Kayn’s immense ’Simultan’ session.
In deliberate depth and detail, ‘Illuminated by the Moon’ highlights Lucier’s intersections with pivotal contemporaries including Joan La Barbera and Charles Curtis, right up to his work with disciples such as Sunn 0)))’s Stephen O’Malley and virtuoso minimalist Oren Ambarchi, each proving, where needed, evidence of a deeply focussed yet open-minded approach to the phenomenology of acoustic sound.
From ostensibly simple units of sound Lucier extrapolates incredible, otherworldly dimensions, using various extended techniques and recording methods to probe ideas of auditory and musical reception and perception. In historical context, he wasn’t the only artist doing so back then, as the likes of Steve Reich with ‘Come Out’, or his group mates Gordon Mumma, Robert Ashley and David Behrman in Sonic Arts Union also explored hybrids of text/speech/composition, but Lucier’s work stands out for its enduring patience and subtle playfulness in its transformative transitions of texture and tone, highlighted here in his liminal, tip-of-tongue take on ‘Nothing Is Real (Strawberry Fields Forever)’ , and the absorbing roil of his percussive piece, ‘Music For Solo Performer’ .
As with the most recent work on show, including ‘Hanover’ and a number of modern compositions from 2002-2016 with Joan La Barbera and young American cellist Charles Curtis, Lucier’s work has only grown more intently focussed and transcendent over the years and has quietly shifted the understanding of what music can be; laying a mark on history and the expectations of nearly everything to come, while radically expanding the field.
Hype Williams instigator and now solo raconteur, Dean Blunt, sidesteps preconceptions with a quietly psychedelic, sparse and sensual third album.
In 'The Redeemer' he tends to a wipe-clean soundworld of lite jazz fusion motifs, bluesy guitar wisps and new age synth gelled together with dreamy sound FX and distressed ansafone messages whilst nonchalant, confessional vocals dictate a drowsy internal narrative. It's a sort of surreal soul scape simulacra, an adult contemporary fantasy as seen and heard from a detached perspective, a fact accentuated by the intangible, voice-in-your-head mixing and Blunt's lounging-about-the-flat delivery, together with occasional female partners and synthetic chorales.
With 19 tracks in just under 45 minutes he's constructed an intricacy of ideas that's going to take more time and insight than we've got to fully unravel its cypher, to unweave what we may perceive to be ambiguity, or equally, a sort of provocative sincerity, but either way we're left totally beguiled and enchanted after a few listens. As glib as it may seem, the closest aesthetic comparisons we could make lie with 'R.I.P'-zoned Actress, Laurel Halo at her sparsest, or the slight sickliness of TV On The Radio's indie-soul-pop, yet ultimately it sounds quite like nowt out there.