Experimental, avant-garde percussionist Jon Mueller presents some of his most impressive work in ‘Canto’, a steeply possessed invocation of reverberant doom and mesmerising vocal processes comparable with music by everyone from John Duncan and La Monte Young to Harry Bertoia and Lussuria
Last heard in these quarters on the ‘Tongues’ album, which we compared with a “life-affirming ayahuasca trip,” Jon Mueller returns with another deeply haunting suite in ‘Canto’, alchemising gongs, voice and percussion into diaphanous but filigree-detailed drone expanses that bookend a remarkable piece of sustained, extended vocal technique influenced by his studies with La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela, where, in Mueller’s own words: “The driving energy of drums is replaced by deep contemplation and wonder, question, confusion, darkness and ultimately, calm.”
Each titled after a Sufi text, the three tracks are intended to represent parts that create a whole, “just as a canto is a part of a longer poem.” In ‘Oil’ a lonely bell and sallow vocal mantra light the entrance to an exponentially cavernous space awash with shivering chimes and rumbling waves of metallic gong clangour - think John Duncan meditating in the middle of a ‘Sonambient’ performance by Harry Bertoia - while the layered vocal intonations of ‘Wick’ succinctly bend the mind’s eye with ancient magick, and in the final tract of ‘Flame’ he returns to an almost static space echoing with distant pulses in a way that reminds of Lussuria at his most occult and unsettling.
Splashy junglist breaks and subaquatic bass flex from Melbourne’s Pugilist, making his debut mark on Whities Blue series after turns for Artikal Music Uk and ZamZam Sounds
‘Descendent’ is the big one, churning up loose jungliest breaks and bong-bubbling FX in a way recalling recent cuts by his Aussie counterpart Air Max ’97, whereas ‘Undulate’ sounds like an Applepips release from 10 years ago, and the drier half stepper ‘Encrypted’ works out in a spooky minimal grey area akin to Felix K.
Creepy as f**k dark ambient and slithering rhythms from London’s Roberto Crippa on cult Italian industrial label; Second Sleep. Continuing the pursuit of a charred, abstract electronic muse found on his LPs for Portals Editions and We Can Elude Control, Crippa’s 3rd release masterfully manipulates listeners into a hypnagogic, primordial state of mind thru a process of patiently purposeful dematerialisation.
Sounding like a mulched Mika Vainio work or Shapednoise on quaaludes, Crippa’s ‘Ascent’ either appears to enact a sisyphean struggle or even simply give up at the start, and proceed to circle whatever it was intending to ascend. The results remain low lying and even face down in the murk, melting out into rivulets of gravelly rhythm and muddy texture. But there’s a dark romance in this collapse of the senses, relishing a sensuousness that perhaps only comes after synapses are bombed out from excessive drink and drugz, or whatever takes you there, where thoughts, like Crippa’s music, flow effluent and iridescent, bubbling up strangely pleasant feelings from the dank to intensify your end times wallow.
Rarely has an album owed so much to production... Low return with their most daring, experimental release in years, co-produced by James Blake's man at the controls B.J. Burton, at times verging on a layered, pulsing electronic sound you'd associate with the likes of Andy Stott. Doused in distortion, throbbing electronics, submerged vocals, side-chain effects - this could easily have been a nauseating exercise in modernisation; but instead the strength of the songwriting shines through for one of Low's best = a standout full-length for 2018.
"In 2018, Low will turn twenty-five. Since 1993, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker—the married couple whose heaven-and-earth harmonies have always held the band’s center—have pioneered a subgenre, shrugged off its strictures, recorded a Christmas classic, become a magnetic onstage force, and emerged as one of music’s most steadfast and vital vehicles for pulling light from our darkest emotional recesses. But Low will not commemorate its first quarter-century with mawkish nostalgia or safe runs through songbook favorites. Instead, in faithfully defiant fashion, Low will release its most brazen, abrasive (and, paradoxically, most empowering) album ever: Double Negative, an unflinching eleven-song quest through snarling static and shattering beats that somehow culminates in the brightest pop song of Low’s career.
To make Double Negative, Low reenlisted B.J. Burton, the quietly energetic and adventurous producer who has made records with James Blake, Sylvan Esso, and The Tallest Man on Earth in recent years while working as one of the go-to figures at Bon Iver’s home studio, April Base. Burton recorded Low’s last album, 2015’s Ones and Sixes, at April Base, adding might to many of its beats and squelch and frisson beneath many of its melodies.
This time, though, Sparhawk, Parker, and bassist Steve Garrington knew they wanted to go further with Burton and his palette of sounds, to see what someone who is, as Sparhawk puts it, “a hip-hop guy” could truly do to their music. Rather than obsessively write and rehearse at home in Duluth, Minnesota, they would often head southeast to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, arriving with sketches and ideas that they would work on for days with Burton. Band and producer became collaborative cowriters, building the pieces up and breaking them down and building them again until their purpose and force felt clear. As the world outside seemed to slide deeper into instability, Low repeated this process for the better part of two years, pondering the results during tours and breaks at home. They considered not only how the fragments fit together but also how, in the United States of 2018, they functioned as statements and salves.
Double Negative is, indeed, a record perfectly and painfully suited for our time. Loud and contentious and commanding, Low fightsfor the world by fighting against it. It begins in pure bedlam, with a beat built from a loop of ruptured noise waging war against the paired voices of Sparhawk and Parker the moment they begin to sing during the massive “Quorum.” For forty minutes, they indulge the battle, trying to be heard amid the noisy grain, sometimes winning and sometimes being tossed toward oblivion. In spite of the mounting noise, Sparhawk and Parker still sing. Or maybe they sing because of the noise. For Low, has there ever really been a difference?"
Gogeous, while-away ambient improv thought bubbles expressed in the northern wilds of Canada. A must check for fans of Jonny Nash, Suzanne Kraft and Gigi Masin works...
“Like many Canadians, Joseph Shabason and Ben Gunning like to untangle themselves from urbanity and disappear up north a few times a year. Unlike other cottage-goers, Ben and Joseph don’t while away the ur-time on jet-skis and lounge on docks reading pulpy mysteries. Instead, they bring a car full of synths, drum machines, saxophones, guitars, samplers, effects, and recording equipment to jam the days away in a cabin-fever inducing haze of wood smoke, cedar musk, hot wires and jazz sweat.
Muldrew, recorded on the northern Ontario lake by that name, is the culmination of several years of this collaborative tradition. Resisting their penchant for composition and arrangement, the duo embarked on this project with only an open framework that encouraged restraint. The result is a sparse and improvisational album, hung on enough structure for each song to evoke a distinct, albeit ambiguous mood. Space is paramount and even the most digital elements breathe with the resonance of the room and mingle with creaking floors. The resulting album is steeped in the placid stillness and northern ambience of a lake at dawn, and the emotive expanse of a forest at dusk. Imagine an ECM cottage-series, or Jon Hassell, Hiroshi Yoshimura, and John Martyn scoring a Bela Tarr film set in rural Canada. This is the future-proof music of metropolitan polyglot minds invigorated by nature’s mute refusal to follow a click-track.”
Thom Yorke yields his most enjoyable solo record yet with ‘Anima’, shapeshifting back into avant-pop mode after last year’s OST for the remake of cult horror ‘Suspiria’.
Bridging experimental pop songwriting and electronic dance music dimensions, Yorke and his trusty studio partner Nigel Godrich yet again sneak classy contemporary rhythms and ideas into the diet of traditional songwriting. The nine songs of ‘Anima’ also find Yorke porous to a modern Afro-Latinate phase shift, embracing slinky permutations of dembow tresillo patterns and needle-point electroid 2-step in an ever finer balance of melodic conventions and the inexorable thrills of electronic music. Most crucially, acknowledging those rhythmic accents that come from beyond mostly white, western rhythmic hegemony.
That slinky drive and flow gives the album an effortless appeal, carrying it from the pendulous, schizoid vocals of ‘Traffic’, thru the writhing ‘Twist’, before catching Yorke at his most endearingly scuffed, bluesy and soulful with ‘I Am A Very Rude Person.’ The halfway point is marked by a real future classic in his catalogue with ‘Not The News’ laying a fine seam of Autechrian reggaeton and phasing riffs for some of his patented, dramatic flourishes, while the in-the-pocket shuffle of ‘Impossible Knots’ highlights a canny link with Scritti Politti’s early ‘80s balance of post-punk and new pop, before ‘Runwayaway’ feels pulled between psychy Tuareg desert blues, krautrock, lilting eldritch folk and AFXian acid in a way that perhaps only Yorke could nail quite like this.
'Dawn Chorus', perhaps the album's centrepoint, places the vocal high and up front in the mix for an open encounter with the sublime. There's nothing really to it - like all the best songs.
Valerio Tricoli and Anthony Pateras’ Astral Colonels debut on vinyl with a masterful study in tension between tape and solo piano for cult Italian “industrial” label; Second Sleep.Both adept improvisors and collaborators, Revox tape maestro Tricoli brings his subtly unpredictable, ferric rifts and sleights to Pateras’ longheld focus on hallucinatory electro-acoustic phenomena, creating a seat-edge anticipation for the listener from only their fractured nudges and harmonic shifts.
The two sides contrast in their approach and appeal. On side A’s ‘The Difference of Similarity’ the music feels haunted and fractal, as though caught in a k-hole or like sleepwalking a creaky stately home, with keys wilting in the manner of The Caretaker’s music, and blown around long, wide, moonlit corridors before this playfulness contracts into colder, frozen stasis and pinched microtonal frequencies. By contrast the B-side’s ‘The Similarity of Difference’ is much brighter, allowing the keys to ring out in stumbling flights and flurries diffracted in mid-air by Tricoli’s spindly fingers on the Revox, putting his Jérôme Noetinger-styled chops to nearly imperceptible yet psychedelic use.
We look forward to slipping into other dimensions with this LP playing the background.
Séance Centre source an astounding bounty from Guadaloupe’s Gwakasonné, spanning balmy slow songs and gripping, uptempo drums nodding to Afro-Cuban, Pre-Colonnial and indigenous traditions under its colourful Caribbean wingspan
““Stop here!” exclaimed Robert Oumaou as we passed a mango tree on the side of the road just outside of Point-a-Pitre, the balmy capital of Guadeloupe. He filled a plastic bag with ripe fruit, and we set off on our journey across the small Caribbean island in search of musicians he hadn’t seen in years. On the way, we shared stories in broken French and English, stopping at truck stops to eat delicious fried fish. Robert took me to his hometown, and placed a mango and a flower on the grave of his teacher and mentor, a local poet. The seeds of Vwayajé (Traveller) were sewn on this trip, but shortly after returning home, I heard that Robert was ill, and he sadly passed away in 2018. This compilation was originally intended as a way to share Robert’s brazen work with a wider global audience, but it now also serves to immortalize his indomitable spirit.
Gwakasonné is the ecstatic articulation of Robert Oumaou’s artistic and political vision, a unified expression of his interests in American jazz, pre-colonial rhythms, Guadeloupian independence, and Créole poetics. Over the course of three albums, all released in the 80s, Robert piloted a revolving cast of musicians, a venerable who’s-who of Point-a-Pitre avant-jazz pioneers, to deftly intone his creative communal concepts. The songs on Vwayajé are compiled from these three releases, Gwakasonné, Temwen, and Moun, along with an electronic mantra taken from his 2007 solo album Sang Comment Taire. Viewed from our current artistic and cultural landscape, Robert’s work is exceptionally enduring, grounded in its declarations of freedom and foundational use of the Ka (drum) and voice, and prescient in its borderless explorations of protest folk, electronics, ambient atmosphere, music from the African diaspora, and spiritual jazz. The long-form hive-mind expression of the group has parallels with similar explorations by The Grateful Dead, electric Miles, Pharaoh Sanders, and even the Boredoms, but these are only oblique references for a truly peerless sound. Like other conceptual children of Gérard Lockel, the group was part of a progressive movement of like-minded musicians, such as Serge Fabriano, Dao, Erick Cosaque, and Gaoulé Mizik, who embraced Lockel’s modernist ideals, fusing Gwo Ka drumming and tuning systems with contemporary jazz and vanguard recording technologies. Robert’s ecstatic phrasings, embrace of electronic instruments, and daring lyrics set the group apart as the beatific expression of a sagacious soul.”
Mysterious Sydney singer songwriter Justine recorded one album in ’79, which was never officially released. Left Ear have chosen two tracks for a 45 RPM 12” single, which they feel best highlights Justine’s unique vocal talents and songwriting ability. Here the crafty songstress wields melancholic soul and a funky Jazz inspired number with personal and reflective lyrics, both with an intimate and honest approach.
"Elusive Sydney songstress Justine (Bradley) almost entirely wrote, produced and arranged her sole LP in ’79, an album that was funded by a radio station as the beneficiary for emerging talent. The music was created specifically for radio play without any intention of being manufactured. Luckily however, a friend with ties to a pressing plant known aptly as ‘Midnite Flite’, managed to sneak into said plant one evening and press up a small number for the enjoyment of family, friends & those involved.
Left Ear have decided to release what they consider to be the two most significant tracks from this release onto a 12” single, now for the enjoyment of all. The A-Side will feature the haunting ‘Wordless Songs’, a melancholic soulful number which according to Justine explores the “capacity to comprehend a partner’s internal quest for authenticity and connection”. The B-side ‘Mama Didn’t Tell Ya’ is more uplifting in both tempo and arrangements comprising an extended outro, while the lyrics remain just as personal and reflective.”
The endless wellspring of electronic Afro-funk and boogie spurts Nkono Teles’ cutting edge ‘80s Nigerian ‘Party Beats’ from the legendary Tabansi label. OG copies are known to trade for $700 on the 2nd hand market and it ain’t hard to hear why - this is street funk gold!
“Few creative geniuses epitomize the Tabansi label’s broad-stroke approach to music than the late Nkono Teles. Cameroun-born and Nigeria-bred, this innovative multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer and engineer was one of a select handful of backroom boffins that West African artists and producers would habitually call upon when they wanted a ‘modernist’ Afro-pop sound that would appeal across borders.
A pioneer of electronics in African music, Nkono Teles was equally at home with synthesisers, drum machines, guitar effects and computer programming as traditional instruments. One of West Africa’s most prolific producers during the 1980s, Teles is credited with more than 150 productions, spanning the work of more than 100 artists and groups.
Of Nkono Teles’ three solo-artist LPs, ‘Party Beats’ is, by far, the most innovative and characteristic. He plays all instruments, and was apparently always the first to admit that singing wasn’t his forte; hence the utilization of an eleven-piece choral section! The raw electronic effects used here have always been sought-after by breaks and hip hop producers as well as DJs, with original copies of Party Beats regularly changing hands for anything up to $700.”
After a string of seductively deep and rugged D&B, deep techno and experimental outings, Forest Drive West contributes two soporific rollers to Whities’ Blue series
The furtive ’Other’ feels out 8 minutes of agitated drums and pensive atmospheres hingeing around a full sunken subbass ballast in a calm before storm style, and ’time’ holds that tension tight but woozy with an hypnotic sense of minimalist restraint comparable to Peverelist or Batu.
Tight R&G and hard skanking goodness from Terror Danjah accomplice D.O.K. for the excellent Oil Gang crew.
The vacuum-sealed ‘6’ hits a classic seam of Timbaland or The Neptune-styled freaky R&G with squirrelly motifs and sexy voice tessellated in-the-pocket and so-stiff-its-funky-af. ‘Look Uno’ follows with a hard slamming skank recalling Oil Gang’s earlier Spooky killer ‘Coolie Joyride.’
Reissue of mid ‘90s trance and ambient downstrokes by Vancouver’s Pilgrims of The Mind
Tessellating neatly with Echovolt’s dreamy dancefloor aesthetic, ‘Subtropiques: The Early Excursions (1993-1994)’ wraps up a trio of gems originally issued on a 12” and compilation CD.
’Subtropics’, the title track of their 1994 debut, is a full wingspan flight from Canada via Dutch techno to the promised lands of Goa beaches, while ‘Digital 4A Groove’ from the same 12” comes down gently into padded, puttering 100bpm ambient zones, and comp cut ‘Chase’ leans in deep with slow 808 bass and bubbling, pastoral melodies led with a fragrant coal intoning “it’s a way of life.”
‘Count Zero’ is a fine album of Burial worship from Greek producer Spyridon Katagas aka SKRU
Not just another piece of apocryphal “future garage”, the 13 tracks of ‘Count Zero’ are clearly tattooed with the Burial’s influence, but classily so, finding the right balance of unquantised 2-step swing and parry with dramatic arrangements drawing from cinematic atmospheres as much as vintage ‘90s UK dance tropes.
Bella Vista was a one off project from Michel Esteban, founder of seminal New York Disco/Electro/New Wave imprint ZE Records. Originally released in 1982 ‘Mister Wong’ is a Pop oddity that sits between French Synth Pop and Leftfield Disco.
"The 12” includes the sought after Disco Dub version that lets the bassline work its magic alongside some heavy dub delays, on the flip Jura Soundsystem provide an extended version with added live percussion."
Itchy pants funk from Kaidi Tatham ov Bugz in Da Grudz fame
One for the debonaires and soul boys, ‘Serious Times’ lays it down thick between the plush jazz-fusion lift-off ‘Cost Of Living’, a blue Brazilian hustle in ‘Don’t Cry Now’, and the head-nod downstroke of ‘Zallom.’
Bristol Cando duo’s debut on Livity Sound’s Dnuos Ytivil series with a trio of tribal sidewinders
Slotting snugly into the label’s bassbin-testing remit, the duo work out a sort of hazy Andean techno psychedelia with a thizzing meld of panpipes and clip-clopping cumbia-like rhythms in ‘Bleak’, which really isn’t, whereas the desiccated ‘Bleak Dub’ is, while the swingeing syncopations of ’Sundown’ shows off a distinguished percussive suss comparable to Beatrice Dillon or the one like Peverelist.
Hypnotic remixes of Hebrew-sung dream-disco, Mediterranean house and trance from Tolouse Low Trax, Benedikt Frey, Die Orangen, and Borusiade
A ‘floor-ready addition to Tel Aviv’s Malka Tuti, the EP revolves two remixes of Xen & Yovav, with Tolouse Low Trax turning ’Shavit’ into a signature, slow sprung and spacious burner making great use of the languorous vox, and Die Orangen’s muggy slow house spin on ‘Hayom Etmol’, whilst Plazmot’s ‘Orot Levanim’ is taken in contrasting directions, first on a swanging, grungy electro flex by Frey, and a strapping EBM uptilt by Borusiade.
Epically narrative-driven IDM/electronica from Canada’s Antwood on his 3rd LP for Planet Mu
“Tristan has always used conceptual frameworks to facilitate the writing process and ‘Delphi’ is no exception. This time Tristan worked with his girlfriend Olivia Dreisinger to develop a fictional character: the young lovelorn Delphi. She is represented throughout by a recurring melody, with the album developing the story around her. Deeper than this however, ‘Delphi’ represents the hurdles faced by modern lovers, and those felt personally by Tristan, as the album encompasses a wide range of his emotions. The character ’Delphi’ finds solace in escaping to a place, her namesake, the ancient Greek city. She gets lost in her fantasy, realising it is not as she had idealised.
“Olivia and I started making the album cover as soon as I knew what direction ‘Delphi’ was headed in. I took objects that had significance to me at the time of production and physically recreated them as “Delphi world” objects, so that the album’s narrative and each track are represented in the cover photo. If you flip the album over, there is a computer rendering by Paulin Rogues of the two landmarks in the ancient city of Delphi - not quite ancient or modern Delphi, somehow real life but also fantastical.”
Delphi is an album where the real and the fantastic combine, where functional club music meets evocative piano miniatures. “I ended up working on ‘Delphi’ for over a year, where it developed and grew in parallel to my own life. It became story-like, and I embraced the story-like quality of it.” Perhaps the story of ‘Delphi’ is the story of our own lives.”
Honey Dijon, Dâm-Funk and DJ Fett Burger tweak out Jayda G’s house frolics
‘Stanley’s Get Down’ is treated to a bumptious ‘No Parking On The DF’ remix in vocal and instrumental mixes by NYC’s Honey Dijon; West Coast super-G Dâm-Funk swivels ‘Move To The Front’ on a sizzling disco tip; and you can trust DJ Fett Burger to bring it weird with a lysergic acid house rework of ‘Missy Knows What’s Up.’
Ultra-classique disco sophistication, heavily mined for samples and compiled for the good of the dance in 2019
“Strut present the first definitive retrospective of an icon of 1970s and ‘80s soul, jazz and disco, Patrice Rushen, covering her peerless 6-year career with Elektra / Asylum from 1978 to 1984.
Patrice Rushen joined the Elektra / Asylum roster in 1978 as they launched a pop / jazz division alongside visionaries like Donald Byrd and Grover Washington, Jr. “The idea was to create music that was good for commercial radio / R&B,” Patrice explains. “We were all making sophisticated dance music, essentially.”
Early classics like ‘Music Of The Earth’ and ‘Let’s Sing A Song Of Love’ were among Patrice’s first as a lead vocalist before her ‘Pizzazz’ album landed in 1979, featuring the unique disco of ‘Haven’t You Heard’ and one of her greatest ballads, ‘Settle For My Love’. Slick dancefloor anthem ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ and the ‘Posh’ album in 1980 led to her landmark album ‘Straight From The Heart’ two years later.
Receiving little support from her label, Patrice and her production team personally funded a promo campaign for the first single from it, ‘Forget Me Nots’. It went on to peak at no. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the album was later Grammy-nominated, while the track became a timeless anthem and popular sample.
Patrice’s final album for Elektra, ‘Now’ kept the bar high with sparse, synth-led songs including ‘Feel So Real’ and ‘To Each His Own’. It concluded a golden era creatively for Patrice which remains revered by soul and disco aficionados the world over.
‘Remind Me’ features all of Patrice Rushen’s chart singles, 12” versions and popular sample sources on one album for the first time.”
Full spectrum, grimy and super sweet reggaeton brilliance from Florentino, flanked by massive and rising star vocalists MC Bin Laden, MC Buzzz, Kaydy Cain, Albany, Isabella Lovestory
Setting another milestone for the Manchester/Colombia-based producer, ‘Limitado’ is Florentino’s first vocal EP proper and arguably his strongest yet. Aside from the tensile, upstepping fusion of UKG bass and tresillo rhythms in ‘Latigo’, there are big vocal on each cut, covering a range of flavours between the aggy Eski-Dembow revs of ‘Na Fuga’ featuring Baile Funk gob MC Bin Laden and MC Buzzz, thru to the rugged sweetboy swagger of ‘Tu Miranda’ featuring icy delivery by Kaydy Cain, while ‘Dime Que Tu Quieres’ lightens up with an autotuned Albany vocal and weightless Reese bass (allow the Diplo style bits, though), and ‘Catastrofe’ nails that feminine pressure with signature, ever more confident flair and a great use of FB’s inflating thumb ident.
Mechatok and Toxe give up good times party flavours for Why Be and Janus’ Yegorka label
Trading under the Emiranda alias, the ‘My Face’ EP is possibly the most straightforward gear from either artist, running a sort of mutant house style with choice picks to be scored between the breezy hip hop swag of ‘Real Life’; the tuff ’n sweet electro-house push of ‘Time To Go’; Finn-style filter funk in ‘Music (Time Out)’; deep dembow house compatible with DJ Python; and the deliciously fresh flow of tribal drums and pendulous dub chord slashed into ‘Ice Tea.’
On Why Be and Janus' label, Yegorka, Elysia Crampton supplies quasi-mystic poetry on a cranky Oxhy production. Sounds like a reggaeton alchemist experimenting in an aircon-fitted jungle workshop, summoning spirit beasts that manifest in the piece’s final quarters...
Digital reissue of ’Moskau’, one of three 7” bullets by short-lived Swiss wave heroes, Grauzone ov ‘Eisbær’ fame
Issued the same year as their ‘Eisbær’ classic and eponymous album, ‘Moskau’ packs a familiar combo of NDW drive and punkish vocals, whereas ‘Ein Tanz Mit Dem Tod’ is more on a death rock tip with ripping guitars and snarled vocals.
Manchester original Chunky speaks to two sides of his distinct style, slunky house and rap, on return to Loefah’s 81 ring
After a fallow solo year in 2018 when he was busy with Levelz and contributing to Kutmah’s ‘Sketchbook Radio Archives’ 2LP, Chunky doesn’t miss a beat on the bumptious red-eyed hunch of ‘Vibesman’, and then on a devilishly low-key and minimal rap tip with ‘Lyric Mi’, riding like some ‘90s don over a pencil-on-table beat and ghostly chords.
Yaws chases up the hot stunts of his ‘NEW’ EP with a fresh batch of demented jackers and steppers for Alien Jams
Frolicking in space shared by Physical Therapy and SFV Acid, the UK-based Aussie artist simultaneously tightens up his sound but also lets it all hang out wickedly across ‘The Hollow Hum’, with strong moves felt in his warped 2-step ghetto-tech/D&B mutation ‘Experiments in the Room’, the G-force flashcore pelt of ‘Leftovers Cube’, and freakish patterning of ‘Definitely Not Clipping.’
After ace turns on Martyn’s 3024, Yak does it for Orson’s Version with a rudely percussive swang
Evidently a man of many tricks, Yak turns his hand to slower tempo with the same flair he applies to his uptempo, brukken beats; riding pendulous, live-sounding drums and cascading cosmic dub FX in ‘Umbra’, then clocking up the swingeing tribalist syncopation of ‘Kaepora’ on a frayed Tresillo pattern galvanised with technoid chord stabs.
The sublime results of Gigi Masin and Jonny Nash’s time in a recording studio/installation at the Venice Biennale now reach the wider world via Melody As Truth
Recorded in Xavier Veilhan’s “Studio Venezia” in the french pavilion, the six tracks are assembled from longer improvised takes on piano and guitar and feature Masin and Nash making great use of the pavilion’s unique acoustic environment. In a sense the recording feel to bridge a gap between “proper” studio recording and live performance. The rustling sounds of visiting audiences and creaking chairs are audible in-the-mix, lending a sort of surface noise like vinyl crackle that seeps into the immaculate strokes and strums of the players, at best in the plangent dialogue of ‘Interstellar’ and the genteel whims of ‘Girl With No Name.’
Penelope Trappes and Stephen Hindman’s duo commit the dark, lusting synth-pop of ’Autonomy’ as the debut LP on their 4GN3S label
Written and recorded by the Aussie/American pair in London, ‘Autonomy’ leads on from their string of sides for The Vinyl Factory and Optimo Music with a late night special for contemporary wave riders, elegantly building their energies thru a mix of stark torch songs nodding to HTRK and Suicide, as well as dry-iced ‘80s disco swagger, cranky drum machines treks comparable to Hypnobeat, with crafty dashes of futurism in the serpentine roll of ‘We Are The Prey’ sharing space with the sanguine classicism of ‘New Politik.’
‘Fireburn the Bloodlot’ commits crenellated walls of guitar noise by CM Von Hausswolff and Joachim Nordwall under their Sins For Beginners alias for avant-garde powerhouse, iDEAL
Mantled after a phrase Richard Kern graffitied on the bathroom wall of Hausswolff’s Lower East Side apartment in the late ‘80s, ‘Fireburn the Bloodlot’ dispatches a pair of unrelenting and incendiary exercises in amp worship and FX-mutilated electric guitars - which is perhaps not what one might expect from these masters of the oscillator.
Unflinchingly recorded by Linus Andersson (Goat, The Skull Defekts, The Leather Nun), the music surely warrants comparisons with Glenn Branca’s massed armies of strings, or Sunn 0))) at their crankiest, but it’s simply a swaggering swell of pure, white hot evil destined to get under the skin of fans of all kinds of extreme metal, drone and noise.
Hyperdub continue to blaze a trail around global ‘floors with a deadly Gqom EP from South Africa’s DJ Lag and OKZharp
Working with the more experienced studio hands of OKZharp, Gqom king DJ Lag’s signature style is buffed-up to optimal pressure while losing none of its raw, direct dancefloor traction.
In ‘Now What’ there’s a detectable extra space in-the-mix, and ’Steam One’ makes great use of sweet marimbas and sharp, pointillist drums, but it’s really all about the other two, namely the fiercely held stare-down pressure of ‘Nyusa’ with its viciously buzzing, distorted lead and speaker-worrying subs, and the pensile, unyielding dread of ‘Sambe’ which sounds like a super clenched, early Roska riddim.
Tight tribal techno minimalism and freaky acid from stalwart UK producer James Ruskin on his Blueprint label
Attention is required pronto for the jibber-jawed funk of ‘Disaffection’, with manic, acidic lead and deadly 909 programming recalling Rob Hood’s killer ‘Analog Track (Ghost)’. The other two are proper wormholers, packing virulent arps up to an alarm sequence peak in ‘Reality Broadcast Off’ and doing the same with more swing in ‘We Are Everywhere.’
Room40 reissue the British guitarist's experimental album, dedicated (apparently) to the dubious charms of the Hawaiian shirt.
Mike Cooper has been a figurehead of Britain's blues, jazz and R&B scenes since the 1960s, leaning towards the avant-garde with later collaborations alongside Lol Coxhill, Keith Rowe, Eddie Prevost, David Toop and Steve Beresford. More recently, Cooper recorded an album for Room40 with Necks pianist Chris Abrahams, but this recording takes us back half a decade or so to a collection of solo, exotica-influenced electroacoustic experiments.
Cooper's fixation on all things Hawaiian extends back to the 1980s, but this solo outing is one of his most exploratory works in the field, melding lapsteel and slack-key guitar styles with electronic loops, processing and field recordings collected in the Pacific. The music skirts between Philip Jeck-like crackle and loop manipulations (such as 'Caught Inside (For Daniel Duane)' and the skittering beat-scapes of 'Kokoke Nalu', but all the while Cooper's musicianship as an accomplished guitarist shines through.
Quietly spellbinding, poetic minimalism from Masaya Kato on Line, navigating the finest path between super sparse, ricocheting knocks, ephemeral jazz chords and asymmetric prangs. Sounds like Mark Fell and Reinhold Friedl playing a slow game of sonic battleships or creating an exquisite corpse on a reverberating sound stage at the depths of night
“'Wavefront Aberrations' is a new work in 2019 by Masaya Kato. This work is an album approaching material minimalism thorough embodiment represented by the act of playing instruments and also mainly composed of improvisation based on extended techniques of the piano and drone by playing of the Fender Rhodes in tonality and improvisation.
These two abstract but independent waves are expected to be weaved in each composition to continue to undergo changes into other ripples in attenuation all tones have.
Masaya Kato is a Japanese composer and sound artist. Influenced much by poetry, video or performing arts and based on perception and cutaneous senses in daily life, he sets it as a opportunity for his creation that how much he can be released from the premise through the interrelation between space and individual that "body = body" and "individual = individual". Besides, he has released works from labels such as Somehow Recordings (UK), Time Released Sound (US) and Whitelabrecs (UK).”
Rene Nuñez aka Horoscope plays in and out of the lines of noise, free-jazz, dream-pop and Latinx cultures on ‘Carne.’, his follow-up to the equally mutant push-and-pull of styles in 2017’s ‘Misogyny Stone’ side, also for Brooklyn’s Wharf Cat Records
Bristol’s secret weapons Rhythmic Theory drop the beats and go full-on imaginary sci-fi soundtrack in their 2nd album for Crème Organization
Can’t say we’re not a little bit disappointed that their killer drum programming isn’t on show, but the results still stand up in their immersive quality, absorbing traces of everything from Derrick May and Carl Craig’s classic ‘Relics’ interludes to classic Tangerine Dreams and the sound design of The Matrix in a style that clearly evokes their influences. RIYL Ballard, Synth Sense, Raime, The Sprawl.
“The mysterious Rhythmic Theory drops engorged electronics for imaginary landscapes, drawing influences from and providing a soundtrack to a vast range of S-F classics. From bubbling Richard Corbenesque polyps gone haywire to post-Delugian mainframe cities inhabited by floating creatures of light.”
Hard ’n fast techno hammers from VTSS, Cadency (Hector Oaks), Bjarki, Kuldaboli, and Tekknotaefan
Polish envoy for the hard stuff VTSS boom booms for the big rooms with the attacking kicks and knarzy synths of ‘Sober Raving’; Cadency comms with a fine blend of Euro EBM and haughty Chicagoan pressure a la DJ Rush in ‘Eating Steel’; and Bjarki teams with fellow Icelander Kuldaboli on the gloomy hard trance styles of ‘Hrai Hotturinn’, before Kuldaboli goes in over the 150bpm barrier with Tekknotaefan on the pacy pelt of ‘Hefurdu einhvern timann hugsad um thad.’
Trippy electro-acid buggers from T.B. Arthur and Magda’s Blotter Trax duo
’Programmed Memories’ shuffles nice ’n tight on a revving Detroit electro-funk bassline layered with gynoid-like vox chatting about early tape machines (or did she just say sex machine?), and natty chicken scratch guitar chops. ‘Rhythm Device’ mostly jettisons the vocal and dials up the funk in oily bass lixx and curdled daubs of vocoder. Freaky deaky.
Dancehall refreshment from Swing Ting, vocalled by Devin Di Dakta & Gemma Dunleavy
Devin was previously spotted on the ‘Raw’ version of ‘Bubble’ by Equiknoxx, and plays the rough to the smooth of Murlo’s regular spar, Gemma Dunleavy, on a bright and charming riddim primed for the festive season.
Intensely dark and claustrophobia-inducing D&B pressures from Overlook on return session for Simon Shreeve aka Mønic’s Osiris Music UK label
'Séance’ starts up with the Karim Maas-like noir noise of ‘Belief System’ and follows thru with two loads of gut rumbling nastiness in ‘Loyal To The Unsung’ and the bitter, turgid push of ‘Séance’, before breaks finally make an appearance, but in a lurching ‘90s industry-hip hop style like MBM or Techno Animal.
Lyric Hood, daughter of Detroit techno god Robert Hood, makes her fully fledged solo debut on M-Plant
The apple clearly didn’t fall far from the Hood family tree as Lyric turns out the teasing, head high jack and parried chords of ‘Nineteen’ and the intensified pound of ’11:11’ with the same kinda in-the-pocket flair and soulful pedigree as her pops.
Reissue of killer Clock DVA-related gear from Adi Newton’s industrial dance project TAGC, including two exclusive Richard H. Kirk remixes, freshly dubbed by Newton
Perhaps best known for the extended 12” mix of saucy classic ‘Big Sex’ - included in its original form here - TAGC were extant between mid ‘80s and mid ‘90s, when this Side Effects compilation marked their departure with a collection of highlights from 1985’s ‘Ha - Zulu’ EP, 1986’s ’ShT’ mini album, 1987’s ‘Big Sex’ 12”, and 1989’s ‘Broadcast Test’.
It’s worth checking for the Cabs or 23 Skidoo-esque industrial-funk fusion of ‘Zulu’, then the grim cut-up collage of ‘Further & Evident Meanings’ and the cold dubbing of ‘New Upheavil’ off ’ShT’, and the prickly electro oddity of ‘Broadcast Transmission 1.’ We’d probably advise tracking down the ‘Big Sex’ 12” for a better, longer version of that cut, and Adi Newton round things up nicely with a slippery, extended dub of RHK’s ‘Zulu’ remix.
Special Request exerts hardcore Yorkshire G-Force while wearing his Y-fronts for the raving joyride of ‘Vortex’ with Houndstooth
Paul Woodford’s 4th album under the Special Request guise is also his loosest and nuttiest, monkeying around all aspects of his cumulative rave knowledge to draw zigzagging lines between electro, Detroit techno, breakbeat rave, jungle-tekno, and rushing hardcore trance in his own style.
On a handful of highlights he appears to crack out the same software FX employed on his Bobby Peru classic ‘Erotic Discourse’, namely in the mazy, AFXian electro chicanery of ’Sp4nn3r3d’, the Tango-flavoured hardcore nosedrip of ‘Vortex 150’, and his ruthless fast couplet of ‘Fett’ and ‘A Gargantuan Melting Face Floating Effortlessly Through The Stratosphere’, while the best of the rest draws on a very ‘90s sort of electronic dance music soul in the likes of his Luke Slater-esque techno buzz ‘Memory Lake’, and the rude rave rolige of ‘Fahrenheit 451’.
The label that gave us Space Afrika’s excellent 'Somewhere Decent To Live’ album last year returns with this quietly shocking solo debut by Berlin-based Russian, Alexandra Zakharenko aka Perila, who creates a sensual and highly unusual sonic tapestry where ASMR bleeds into sonic erotica in nuanced and intoxicating ambient dimensions. Highly recommended if yr into Félicia Atkinson, Huerco S, Leslie Winer...
Born in St. Petersburg and based in Berlin, Alexandra Zakharenko aka Perila cut her teeth as in-house designer and programmer at the recently defunct Berlin Community Radio (BCR) before co-founding the Russian online station radio.syg.ma, as well as WET (Weird Erotic Tension), an online community exploring ideas of sonic sexuality in podcasts mixing spoken word, poetry, ASMR and field recordings. ‘Irer Dent’ stems directly from two WET podcasts, revolving around readings of an erotic novel and a collection of poems by Nat Marcus and Inger Wold Lund, each set to absorbingly hypnagogic backdrops, and both accompanied by quietly seductive, original instrumental works.
In five parts the album traces a filigree line between reality and fantasy in a more literal way than the label’s previously all-instrumental releases. On ‘Nat’s Poems’ the voice of Nat Marcus regales a poetic account of Berlin nightlife woven with classic house lyrics from Rosie Gaines and Mr. White over 12 minutes of tumescent subbass and phosphorescing pads. Where sensuality is implied on that piece, it’s quietly explicit in the LP’s other vocal piece ‘Sweat’, which revolves around Inger Wold Lund recounting a dream about suppressed sexual desire in a hushed and unaffected manner amid a shimmering forcefield of spectral energy and meridian birdsong. Both pieces are complemented by extra subtle originals, including the barely-there, pink/purple hues of ‘Mouth Full of Tahini’ and the warm endorphin flush of ‘Message From Another Table.’
Slipping very sweetly into sferic’s liminal ambient space alongside Space Afrika, Echium and Jake Muir, ‘Irer Dent’ lends a distinct new shade of modern, adult, atmospheric emotion to the exploratory, Manchester-based label, answering a need for sincerity and intimacy in overwhelming times.
Much needed reissue of Zé Eduardo Nazario’s killer 1982 Brazilian jazz fusion gem, crammed with amazing rhythms and properly taking flight into psychedelia on the stunning B-side. Perfect for warm weather and altered states of mind...
“Zé Eduardo is a virtuoso drummer and percussionist with a prolific career as a musician and teacher. He was introduced to music in his youth and started playing professionally at the age of thirteen. In the late 60’s he was a regular at the famous Totem night club in São Paulo, where he performed alongside the pianist Tenório Jr. and other exceptional instrumentalists.
Poema da Gota Serena was Zé Eduardo’s first solo project and it was financed by the legendary Lira Instrumental, a collaboration between the ground-breaking venue, label and publisher for the São Paulo avant-garde, Lira Paulistana, along with the always interesting Continental Records, home to such luminaries as Tom Zé. The album was offered as a package deal simultaneously with the production of “ Flor de Plástico Incinerada ”, ensuring 2 studio sessions at JV studios in October 1982.
Each side of the album explores different duets which, with its suite formated tracks, give the album the feel of a cohesive whole. The first half of the A side, “ Energia dos Três Mundos” , is shared with the improvised saxophone of Cacau. Nazário delves into free jazz rhythms and plays his drums with a rolling and tumbling swing, using the kit in full, demonstrating the power of Brazilian jazz fusion. The second half of the suite takes us into a more tranquil mode. “ Só Prá Ouvir”, demonstrates Zé’s mastery on the glockenspiel, and Indian percussion instruments, such as the tabla and mridangam. Cacau, on his side, switches his saxophone for more delicate dancing flute driven passages, equal parts northeastern rhythms and deep Amazonian indigenous influences. The B side with “ Prá Pensar / Prá Sentir e Prá Contar” , contrasts heavily with the A side’s more organic and natural feel. In Prá Pensar Lelo Nazários’s synth clusters and electronic blasts strangely interact with the exploring, wandering percussion. This track leads into the sublime “ Prá Sentir e Prá Contar” where South Indian inspired vocals, performed by Zé Eduardo, accompany the graceful synth chords and fluttering percussion. The result is a hypnotic, otherworldly feel to the music that is infectious and takes the listener on an extraordinary journey.”
Dreamy, layered ambient interzones from Huerco S' West Mineral Ltd on the debut album by Pontiac Streator & Ulla Straus; a blissed out and hopeful double album that comes highly recommended if yr into anything from Jon Hassel to Burnt Friedman, Hype WIlliams, Newworldaquarium/154 and Madteo.
’11 Items’ is the textured first album by Pontiac Streator and Ulla Straus for Huerco S and his pals at West Mineral Ltd. The album sees the duo expand upon the hazy mindset of last year’s debut EP across a flux of ambient interzones where they transmute fleeting, everyday feels into a bouquet of ephemeral and organically unresolved scenes.
In an ambiguous style that has become key to West Mineral Ltd.’s aesthetic, the music is neither gloomy nor ecstatic but full of transitory sensations somewhere in between those poles. Each part feels pulled in multiple directions at once, resulting in a sublime schism between jazzy hustle and heavy-lidded electronics in ‘Item 1’, and a subtle underlying tension between layered dimensions of humid, dusky acoustics and congealed electronics on ‘Item 3’, while ‘Item 5’ dices with urges to dance/lean back, and ‘Item 10’ crystallises this idea of alchemic multivalency with an unmissable mix of fine grained mentasms firing like synaptic surges in iridescent grey matter.
The expanded double album format also allows a greater variegation of their overgrown, verdant electronics and free rhythms in a gently perplexing style of ambient inception. Each of the ’11 Items’ feels like an exploration of dreams within dreams in a way that beautifully parses the poetic from the prosaic and cannily reflects a certain hyperaware yet hypnagogic state of modern ambient music. It evokes that feeling of friends in a room communicating non-verbally, or that babbling, forgot-what-I-was-talking-about flow between relaxed but frayed and buzzing minds.
Amsterdam stalwart Darling and his wee daughter Lexi will charm your socks off with their debut for Juju & Jordash’s Off Minor
Apparently Lexi, who looks no older than 6 y.o. (maybe 6 and half), played all the synthesisers on the record, which means she steals the hat from NON’s remarkable ’SAFA: New York City’ set as one of the youngest artists ever to cross these pages, if not the youngest. Anyway, she gets all the sticky gold stars for her input, colouring her synths inside and out of her dad’s stripped down drum tracks and acid lines with a confidence beyond her years.
From ambient songs about her maw in ‘Mama is Een Poes’, thru the fluffy spirals and bubble-blowing synth spumes of ‘Television Plant’, to the cutesy cartoonish dream sequence twinkles of ‘Crocodiles Are Birds’ and ‘Land on Island Land’, we can assure you that it doesn’t sound like the work of a primary skool kid. But then again we haven’t heard many recordings by primary skoolers, and maybe there’s a wave of Fisher Price and Yamaha-wielding pre-teens about to usurp all the old, white blokes? Let’s just hope so.
Crushingly dark and ominous avant-classical nocturnal scapes from Tehran-based Siavash Amini, marking his debut with Lawrence English’s Room 40. Amini’s work in ‘Serus’ is often scowlingly serious, but not without its moments of spacious, harmonic relief that bring the album’s underlying themes about sleep and dreams to life in suitably heavy-lidded, edge of nightmare fashion. One to be filed in your New Iranian Electronics folder, and another strong release in what's proving to be a vintage year for Room 40.
““Every night is two nights, according to Maurice Blanchot. The night the body spends in sleep is not the same as the night the dreamer spends in dreams. The sleeping body may lie under the stars, and the dreamer may dream of the stars—even of a journey to the stars—but the night of the dream is a night without stars.”
From Siavash: The Idea of this album, when I first started drafting it, was to continue what struck me as very interesting yet simple idea; night. I became interested in different definitions of what night is, our perception of it and what night means physically to us as well as symbolically. I came across the idea of ‘other night’ described by Maurice Blanchot, during my research. It started me recognising night as something we experience as ‘the night of sleep’; it is night that we resist in sleep, by way of dreaming. Things became more interesting for me during many nights of not sleeping and intoxication, and an eventual nervous breakdown. This experience, culminating in me spending three days in ICU, gave me pause to think about Blanchot’s words.
Slipping in and out of consciousness my mind, which had already experienced a blurring of what one might call the ‘other night’ and the night itself, by being in half sleep most of the time. I felt myself far way from all my surroundings and at the same time being very attentive to some details in the objects around me. It was as if my body and mind where in an in-between state. I can only describe this as being distant or more precisely being in the dark. Objects and people showed themselves out of proportion and mostly dim. A feeling to describe this sensation, the word for which I only came across later, is ‘Serus’. There was a sense of repetition and familiarity in some feelings and emotions that I had towards some objects like sensing I knew them but not exactly from where or when. It was as if my body was resisting sleep and my sleepy mind was resisting being awake, only to dream of another type of the world that I could be awake in.”