Acoustic improviser Shaul Kohn traverses ASMR zones with atonal, whisper-quiet string scrapes.
Jerusalem's Shaul Kohn has managed to spend his time developing a way of playing acoustic guitar that almost completely removes it from the context you'd expect when you see an acoustic guitar. Bowing the strings with a careful pressure, he creates tones that are so delicate that they sit beneath the sound of the scrapes themselves, creating an almost ASMR listening experience, where it feels almost like it's your eardrums that are being bowed.
Over time, Kohn's pieces develop into resonant tones - not unlike a singing bowl - and the brushy bow strokes create near-rhythms. The result is hypnotic as metallic clangs and microtonal hums convince you of rhythms and harmonies that exist completely on the astral plane. Deep, difficult listening, and worth every ounce of effort.
Digitally overcast "Caretakered" ambient edit of Eartheater's phenomenal recent full-length. Proper late-night business.
We never imagined we'd want a suite of fully blurred-out, granulated-to-fuck reworks of every track on Eartheater's "Phoenix", but now they're here we're not sure how we survived without 'em. There's nothing particularly complicated on show - the same process is applied to each song: a granulated timestretching effect that should be familiar to anyone who's spent a considerable amount of time in the ambient zone over the last decade or two. But "Pheonix: La Petite Mort Edition" isn't about technical grandstanding. Like The Caretaker's reverberating vignettes, Eartheater's edits conduct an alluringly haunting mood that adds an eerie, erotic post-script to the original album.
If "Phoenix" was a deft exercise in spare songwriting and elegiac dream-pop soundscaping, "La Petite Mort Edition" morphs the experience into a mystifying, druggy delayed orgasm, dragging every crescendo into an edged squeal. Bonus points for providing a long-form mixed version for the tantra demons. Who said ambient music couldn't be sexy?
Prolific D&B dynamo ASC swandives back into deep mid-‘90s jungle zones on a lush drop with the Veil subsidiary of his Auxiliary label
There’s no mistaking the cues from that point when jungle emerged as a genuine neologism from the rush of hardcore rave, but rather than imitation, ASC emulates the style at its finest while injecting warm doses of his own heart-on-sleeve emotion.
‘After Dark’ is built plush and smooth for the LTJ Bukem fiends, and ‘Artificial Life cuts a more brooding silhouette remind of classic Peshay, with ‘Voyager’ coming harder, suspenseful in an artful Foul Play style, while ‘Forever’ conjures pure weightless motion in a way reminding of Alpha Omega bits for Reinforced or Omni Trio on Moving Shadow, but with an extra layer of synthetic space that’s all his own.
Enchanting griot tales from West Africa; recorded in traditional settings and spanning nearly half a century, and each accompanied by lilting guitar and koni lutes in a way that you’d never guess when they were recorded
“About a hundred kilometers south-west of Bamako, on the left bank of the Niger River, the Malian village of Kela is known to be home to a large community of griot musicians (jeliw) mostly belonging to the Diabaté family. Their art is recognized throughout West Africa and many griots come from all over the world to stay there, sometimes for several years, in the hope of becoming immersed in it. The six pieces for voice accompanied by guitar or traditional koni lutes were recorded in 1978 (tracks 3 to 6) and in 2019 (tracks 1 to 3), in the same traditional dwelling, which still serves as a "studio". The accompanying booklet contains the testimonies of several important musicians who took part in the recording, and evoke key elements of their universe. Recordings by Bernard Mondet (1978) and Vincent Zanetti (2019).”
Of all the Sakamoto/YMO reissues, this is the one we’ve waited for the most. Hidari Ude No Yume (Left Handed Dream) was released in 1981 and is here reissued for the first time in decades in its rare Japanese edition - beautifully remastered from the original tapes by Bernie Grundman and sounding better than we’ve ever heard it before, including a 2LP version with a bonus album of instrumental versions pressed on vinyl for the first time ever.
Recorded during a pivotal period for Sakamoto - around the same time as his stunning ‘Bamboo Houses’ with David Sylvian, and in between two classic YMO albums, 'Hidari Ude No Yume basically sounds quite unlike anything he made before or since its release, a sort of anthology of pop interiors made with hi-gloss synths and unexpected edits, from farm animals to simmering, percolated drum machines.
‘Hidari Ude No Yume’ was Sakamoto’s follow-up to the seminal ‘B-2 Unit’, and sees him smudge that album’s angularities into weirder shapes that are somehow both more experimental and oddly accessible. The newly available instrumental versions offer previously unheard perspectives on the remarkably detailed production; including an amazing tweaked-out and extended mix of ‘Relâché’, plus a beautifully slippery mix of the album’s best known highlight, ‘Kacha Kucha Nee’.
It’s a sound that has had countless imitators and acolytes; using the newest Japanese synths, traditional percussion, and his own vocals to create a sort of infectiously rhythmic future-primitivism recalling his work with David Sylvian in the Eastern electro orientation and new wave vocal affectations of ‘Living In The Dark’ and 'Saru To Yuki Gomi No Kodomo’, which also sound incredible in their brighter instrumentals, along with more avant jags into collaged 4th world electro-steppers on ‘Sarunoie,’ and a psychedelic masterwork in the strutting ace ‘The Garden Of Poppies.’
What a record.
Completely future ice-cold pinprick dub from severely underrated glitch pioneer Frank Bretschneider. If yr into Alva Noto, Vladislav Delay, Pole or SND, you absolutely need this one.
When "Curve" appeared in 2001, it felt completely new. A wave of laptop music focused on the glitch had begun to wash over the world in the wake of Oval's visionary "Systemische" and "94diskont." and had been highlighted on Mille Plateaux's "Clicks & Cuts" compilation a year earlier. "Curve" built on this foundation, showing the utility of the sound and its proving its long-form potential. Bretschneider constructed the record from a tiny set of tinier sounds, often allowing tracks to develop over ten minutes with only minor shifts. But by infusing his productions with dub processes and rhythmic funk, transcended the scene's aesthetic fireworks reaching a sound that put soul back into the machine.
Two decades later, "Curve" still sounds unique and still stands in a league of its own alongside Carsten Nicolai's early Alva Noto records, Pole's debut trilogy and SND's brilliant early run. Few other artists managed to create such inviting minimalist sound worlds and "Curve" sounds like an empty space mall, an off-world spa, a Polar weather station and a subterranean crystal cave all at once. There's little more than scratchy percussion, deeper-than-deep sub bass and the occasional wavering pad warble, but that's all Bretschneider needs to tell his sonic narrative. Deep as fuck - take us back.
Norwegian duo Smerz release ‘Believer’, the debut album that pushes Smerz far beyond their previous EP releases, 2017’s ‘Okey’ and 2018’s ‘Have Fun’.
"Since releasing the ‘Believer’ trailer back in October 2020, followed by a video for the tracks ‘I don’t talk about that much/Hva hvis’, the duo of Catharina Stoltenberg and Henriette Motzfeldt have slowly revealed a new auditory world. The duo meld sonic touchstones from their youth, like musicals and classical music, with swirling, tranceindebted synth lines and hip-hop plus R&B vocals that is distinctly Smerz. The duo performed recently at Oslo’s Ultima festival; in early 2020 they scored a performance by Carte Blanche, the Norwegian national company of contemporary dance, as well as performed at Mira festival in collaboration with legendary visual maverick Weirdcore."
Almost four hours of wispy, submerged jazz x crate digger modes from LA horn player Sam Gendel. Seriously sublime - float away on this one.
This might be the most Leaving Records album we've come across. Sax scientist Sam Gendel has found a fertile mid-point between the outerzone fourth world experimentation of nu-nu age pioneer Jon Hassell and LA's beat scene, infusing his woozy instrumental compositions with the sparkling essence of the Leaving canon. Gendel initially dropped "Fresh Bread" on Bandcamp during the pandemic, but quickly deleted it pending a wider release; now the 52-track epic of home recordings and performances spanning an eight year (!) period is available once again, with selected cuts making it to a 2LP vinyl edition. Our recommendation is the full set though, which includes charming collabs with Carlos Niño, Jamire Williams, Daniel Aged, Gabe Noel, and Philippe Melanson and holds a consistent groove without falling into repetition.
These are funky, widescreen, sensual and often narcotic mood makers, scraping liberal amounts of influence from Ennio Morricone, Chick Corea, Carlos Santana, Madlib and David Axelrod. Even Stereolab's fizzed Kraut-cum-lounge permeates Gendel's personable wyrd jazz bubble. It's refreshing to hear an artist working in this mode, using crate digger techniques to assemble spiritual, life-affirming compositions that remind you fondly of the impossibly wide-reaching tendrils of jazz. You might not expect to have the patience for a four-hour set but trust us, once you start this one it's hard to stop. You'll find yourself reaching for the play button again just to spend another few moments in Gendel's absorbing, colorful musical landscape. It's basically like listening to someone perform a cross-genre megamix in real time. Really.
Floating Points collaborator Destiny71z collects up last year's EPs with a handful of new material: housey modular electronica for the afters.
Last year, a trio of EPs emerged on Eglo credited to unknown artist Destiny71z. These tracks, created using the Buchla Music Easel and a beatboxes and other bits of modular kit, sounded like Floating Points doing "Analord" covers - slick and groovy, but undeniably spannered. "Six" combines the material on these records, adds a few more tracks and reveals the identity of Destiny71z as Matthew Kirkis from the Floating Points live band. So the Floating Points comparison makes perfect sense then.
It's the modular focus that gives "Six" its own character though, blessing each track with a hands-on immediacy and brittle squelch that feels a few paces from most contemporary DAWtronica. Just like AFX's "Analord" series celebrated the breathy, funk-fwd feeling of playing wyrd dance music on a room full of machines, "Six" follows suit, basking in analog goodness and the freewheeling sound you get when attempting to force your boxes to do as they're told. Cosmic.
The sound of digital ice cracking endlessly. That's a good thing, btw.
'Frankille' is a twysted record in all the best ways. It's basically a showcase of Helsinki-based Atte Elias Kantonen's sound design skills, as he successfully highlights how capable he is at making synthetic, resonating scratches and blips that remind of stretching metal strings, splintering glass, fracturing ice or insects burrowing into your skull. Bonus points for calling a track 'Marmite Love Pool' - no idea what that might look like, but we're willing to try it.
Tehran graffiti writers, Kahkli Cru helm a surreal waking dream of a session on Parsa’s highly watchable young label from Iran, Active Listeners Club - Æ/Gescom/Skam nuts should be all over this one!
Even the thought of Iranian graff writers channelling Persian geometry into their work makes us salivate a wee bit, and with ‘Hollows’ it’s not hard to follow that line into sound, with deliriously contoured results. As with Autechre and their pals, who started out as graffiti writers and pursued those aesthetics into their peerless sound designs, here Kahkli Cru appear to short circuit the links between visual and auditory senses with four hallucinatory, polychromatic sound images full of melting angles, aerosolised textures and dripping dissonance, complemented by a remix from label heads Parsa and Ramtin Niazi in their Ben & Jerry guise.
Yet for all our references to Æ, Kahkli Cru’s work doesn’t hinge around old skool hip hop, but does feel more like instrumentals for some alien MC, effectively ripping the snare hackled spine out of Æ styles and sparking the ligaments and musculature with electrodes to make it dance impossibly like some AI generated avatar. In case you’re wondering, that’s a bit of fantasy of ours, so it’s a good thing, and at best in their polymetric head wobbler ’Shaded 3rd Duct’, and the pitching, curiously emotive traction of ‘Onomatope’, with Ben & Jerry sealing the deal on a fractalised remix of ‘Scala’s Typany.’
Purported Jaws Harp virtuoso, pantea, renders a microcosm of beguiling madness from her computer for the transfixing 2nd release on Tehran’s Active Listeners Club, the young label run by Parsa and Ramtin Niazi
OK, to be fair we’re not sure if the Jaws Harp thing is a red herring or not as we get deeper into the release, but for at least the first two tracks it certainly could be a source for the plucked twangs of ‘Combs’ and the wildly pitching, goopy tones of ‘Keys’, albeit processed lost out of all semblance. For that matter we’re really not sure what’s happening in ‘Cicadas’ either, which sounds like the titular insects have strangely relocated somewhere far wintrier than usual, and the same level of persistent, amorphous dynamic informs the gyring proprioception of ‘Patu (blanket)’, and comes to pool in simply jaw-dropping abstraction of ‘Jar & nuPg.’ Computer music connoisseurs are set to be beside themselves on this one.
“What's happened here is an adaptation of speculative worry, observed but not felt. Empty vessels filled to the brim, and emptied again. Content™ triggers refactorization of Eternity into eternity[n-1] and everything which was real is now ceramic. Magic happens in the space between Listening and the listener, where there is only verbs. And just outside that there is eternity manifest upside down, combing its hair.”
FWD-thinking melting pot club inversions from the always-on-point Mexican producer here welding Latin American club forms with UK funky, post dubstep and even SND's dusty glitch experiments.
Marco Gutierrez has carved out a niche completely for himself over the last few years, surfing fluidly between jagged club styles and refusing to stop in one place too long. This latest four tracker is no different, jumping between dance formula from beat to beat, not just track to track. Opener 'Todo' is like T++'s rolling post-dubstep explorations crossed with Crazy Cousinz's xylophone-led snare-heavy UK funky then thrown through the sonic mangle; Gutierrez spikes this with noisy amens and a reggaeton-esque shuffle, flipping thru rhythmic modes like he's searching for a station on a car radio.
'Derretido' sets its sights on techno, with gloomy rolling kicks that eventually build into flutes 'n thumb piano clang, sounding like Konono No.1 on a messy night out at the rave. Our pick though is closer 'Tu', where Guttierez strips things down to a whisper, with hollow, glitchy beats that sound almost like SND's seminal "sndio", before adding distorted breaks and tinpot percussion that ratchets the humidity to eleven. Fans of Amazondotcom, DEBIT or DJ Plead don't you dare sleep.
Reliably unpredictable innovators Mouse on Mars are back with an album of bizarre AI-led club/Kraut deconstructions.
Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma's haphazard electronic experiments have been a refreshing constant over the last 25 years. Always different and often essential, the duo's productions inevitably reflect the era's shifting contemporary forms but inject them with a mischievous DIY spirit and innovative, exploratory sense of wonder. "AAI" is no different, and finds MoM exploring concepts of artificial intelligence without resorting to clapped posturing or empty-headed theorizing.
The title stands for "Anarchic Artificial Intelligence" and to assemble the record, Toma and Werner got together an intriguing team of collaborators: writer and scholar Louis Chude-Sokei, DJ and producer Yağmur Uçkunkaya, percussionist and longtime MoM collaborator Dodo NKishi, AI tech collective Birds on Mars and former Soundcloud programmers Ranny Keddo and Derrek Kindle. The team worked together to create a piece of software that could model speech, feeding it text and voice from Chude-Sokei and Uçkunkaya and allowing the software to learn from that. The resulting voice sounds that guide "AAI" are completely computer generated, despite sounding like narration or samples. Mouse on Mars were able to use the voices like an instrument and play the software like a synthesizer, using the artificial intelligence elements less like an app to write its own music, but like a tool they could manipulate to inspire their musical methodology.
"Machines can open up new concepts of life, and expand our definitions of being human," says Werner. Certainly the line between human and computer is seriously blurred here, with voices melting into percussion and drums rattling and fluffing between words and syllables like bees in honeycomb. "AAI" is a deeply unusual album, utilizing familiar elements - rhythmic flutters from footwork or emerging club forms are brought together in harmony with pulsing motorik sounds - and corrupting or disrupting them with sci-fi-tinged philosophical elements. It's not a record that you can acceptably play in the background, by any means, it takes attention and concentration, and it deserves it.
Operatic ambient-pop meets contemporary classical in strikingly distinguished form - imagine Julianna Barwick duetting with Antony Hegarty at Holly Herndon’s lab and you’re not far off this singular bouquet.
“Lyra Pramuk’s debut Fountain explores a post-human, non-binary understanding of life. Lyra Pramuk fuses classical training, pop sensibilities, performance practices and contemporary club culture in what may best be described as futurist folk music. While the American operatically-trained vocalist and electronic musician is perhaps previously best known for her work with musical collaborators such as Holly Herndon and Colin Self, she is set to release her debut album, Fountain, via Iceland’s Bedroom Community label in March 2020.
Created entirely from her own voice, although often shaped and structured by electronics, Fountain is an emotional, sensual, and devotional journey. The title is derived from her family name, Pramuk, which translates from Czech as ‘well spring’ or ‘fountain.’ Often wordless, these songs evoke a new wholeness sustained by the ritual force of drowning, immersion, cleansing, and bathing – also referred to in the album artwork by acclaimed visual artist Donna Huanca. Fountain plays with the perception of music, rhythms, speech, body, and the relation between technology and humanity, exploring a post-human, non-binary understanding of life and the fragile ecosystems it depends on. The work documents a healing that is still in process, and a full circle-moment that reunited Lyra with her sound engineer twin brother, Ben, for the final mix, which they completed in tandem.”
Completely mindbending, fluxed, glitch-heavy DSP dubscapes from Tehran - like a Raster Noton comp stuck in a broken CD player and piped through an empty storage factory. Love.
This one's brilliantly bonkers. We don't know a lot about 1000PA except that they're described as "two insectologists based out of Tehran", but "Vaccum Dub" is a bonafide head-melter. It's basically a sequence of brain-alteringly squelchy FM synth sounds bashed through reverb and manipulated in a way that enhances the lead synth's scratchy ASMR qualities, combing thru the grey matter like copper wire. The "dub" referenced in the title is accurate, but only just: the duo certainly utilize dub elements, but the music is barely recognizable as anything so formulaic.
"Vacuum Dub" is next-level sci fi sound design, but with added echo and the occasional pause for low-end; there's dub there, but it's a cough, hiss or wobble. To put it bluntly, it makes Basic Channel sound like Ocean Colour Scene. If you like TCF, Mark Fell at his most challenging or the deeper end of the Autechre catalog (think the later "elseq" sides), you're gonna find plenty to whet yer appetite here. Proper far-out mirror universe business, and all the better for it.
The Stereolab collection we've all been waiting for: a follow-up to 1998's fab "Aluminium Tunes", compiling a bunch of rare material from 1999-2008 including outtakes from beloved albums "Dots and Loops" and "Mars Audiac Quintet".
Stereolab's blend of early electronic noodling, French pop sexiness, suave lounge posturing and Krautrock's rhythmic thump has had us obsessed for decades. Back in 1997 when they released "Dots and Loops", they had reached a creative high-point, working with Tortoise's John McEntire in Chicago to come up with a sultry collection of space pop / post rock goodness that was a much-needed antidote to the laddish guitar music plaguing Europe at the time. Since the early '90s, the band would routinely collect up their rarer releases - EPs, remixes, B-sides - in "Switched On" compilations, the last being '98's excellent "Aluminium Tunes". Now, following the remastered reissues of the first three volumes in the series, they have put together a fourth, collecting rare material from '99-'08 and bundling it with outtakes from the "Dots and Loops" and "Mars Audiac Quintet" recording sessions. Phew.
This is hardly a set of second rate offcuts either, 'Lab fans know that much of their best material is hidden away on their weirder short-run releases, so having access to the long-deleted mini-album "The First Of The Microbe Hunters" again is just a joy. That seven-track release kicks off the album, dragging you immediately into band's turn-of-the-millennium tight sweater shakes. From there, we get tracks from tour 7"s, a few compilation cuts, a track written for a documentary about synth pioneer Robert Moog and even a dancefloor track that Tim Gane describes as "upbeat and party-ish". If you haven't heard these tracks before, we're jealous, and if you have it's still nice to have them all remastered and assembled together neatly in one place.
Cutting edge computer music from Iranian “boy band” Ben & Jerry; a gloriously messed up first shot on Parsa and Ramtin Niazi’s Tehran-based Active Listeners Club
After spanking us around the lugs with a gush of tapes for New York Haunted, FLUF and Co-Dependent in recent years, Parsa Jamshidi and his partner in crime Ramtin Niazi posit themselves as pinups for a generation of screen-tanned listeners in ‘Formant Fry’, where they manipulate the unique units or properties of speech known as “Formants” with brilliantly abstract narrative chicanery that’s not frantic but deeply psychedelic, and complemented by a mind-bindingly tip-of-tongue remix by DJ Water.
Fuck knows nobody is ever going to make literal sense of what they’re up to, but taken on an instinctive, face-value level, the music is delivering us feels unfelt beyond the craftiest forms of computer music and experimental composition, recalling sensations we’ve had when listening to everything from Jim O’Rourke’s most wigged out ‘Old News’ slabs, to the mercurial forms of Justin Meyers’ ‘Struggle Artist’, or like some auditory analogue to digital visual techniques of data moshing.
In other words: the best sort of headf*ck.
Minimal, throbbing Kraut-inspired dubscapes from To Rococo Rot's Stefan Schneider and his long MIA Mapstation project.
Stefan Schneider is nothing if not reliable. His latest Mapstation full-length finds him ditching the studio drip in favor of a stripped-down setup: a TR-808 drum machine, Novation Peak synth, a guitar and a tape loop device. The result is his most immediate collection of tracks for years, a set that gets to the bare bones of his sound with uncomplicated ease. "My Frequencies, Where We" is hinged on a Cluster-influenced sense of rhythm, but one that's obscured by glitches, crackle and alien synthetic atmospheres. At this stage in his career, Schneider's primary point of reference is his own long career, so there are elements of To Rococo Rot or Kreidler that spring to mind as he cooks out eerie dub flavors from stark, disparate ingredients.
Schneider's real skill is his seemingly-effortless ability to evoke a sonic world that's immediately identifiable as his own: the magical, anxious buzz of 'To a Single Listener', the tape-distorted electo-psych ambience of 'My Mother Sailor' or the refined-yet-childlike early electronic squelch of 'Actual Possible'. It's a utopian, fairytale world we rather relish getting lost in.
Forty-two (!) one minute minimal musical photographs that sift through dubby, glitch-heavy rhythms and colorful drones.
Originally released back in 2002, "Aerial Riverseries" is an attempt by glitch-dub deity Frank Bretschneider to develop a musical equivalent to Olafur Eliasson's series of photographs that depicted river banks seen from the air. Bretschneider uses his usual palette of sounds - clipped beats, crisp, glitchy sound design and eery FM drones - to evoke Eliasson's use of color, all brown, green, yellow and gold. Rather than feel like a disjointed selection of loops, the tracks phase into each other as if it's one long composition made up of imperceptibly shifting elements, utilizing the fractured dub and uneasy synthetics of records like "Curve" and morphing it into a painterly gallery piece that avoids tropes or stylistic traps. Intense.
Following a rare fallow year, Paradox locks off the step for Sneaker Social Club with two signature breakbeat twysters
Joining the label’s pasture of D&B and soundsystem veterans, Paradox plays it deep and blue in both parts, warming up with the dubbed-out rolige of ‘Octa4’, and a smart hybrid of bouncing dub techno chords and limber, live breaks on ‘Proceed.’
The precision tooled but playfully haphazard minimalism of Frank Bretschneider’s debut album resurfaces on the pivotal Mille Plateaux label over 20 years since it was conceived
Far from Bretschneider’s first work, which dates way back to the mid-‘80s, ‘Rand’ is technically the first under his own name, and pays witness to the birth of a compositional style and aesthetic that he would come to define with his releases and role in co-founding the Raster-Noton label beside Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto.)
Hailing from former communist East Germany, Bretschneider’s music is patently inspired by the austerity of life behind the iron curtain, working with a greyscale tonal palette and the most sparing bleeps in a way that sometimes sounds like he can’t find a pfennig for the meter, or is at least being very frugal with the supply. But despite their bleakness, his creations are always full of character, allowing his modular systems and machines to express their quietest, internal thought, which range from barely-there morse code to more playfully rhythmic spasms.
“The 20 tracks of the album are the result of a computer based, modulated synthesizer system. There is no difference between sound and composition anymore. One sound may represent the whole track. Tracks are not created by classic sequencer technology, but all movements, series of sounds, and orders of tones are the result of unorthodox connected Synthesizer modules (LFO’s, oscillators, filters, amplification). Developed sound-events, which are mostly chaotic and accidental, are brought into ‘form’ by special controllers. The result is minimal, often sketchy tracks, which are more constructed than improvised and are most often finished after the idea of the track is crystallized. Fragments of minimal structure are added slowly and carefully, sometimes taken out and then put back in after further thought. Other beat fragments seem lost and out-of-place, until low frequency clicks are locked in. Even if the albumis contemporary electronic music, it is still inspired by the idea of new and experimental pop music.”
FSOL render the classic opener to their seminal ambient techno LP ‘Lifeforms’ in myriad lush and previously unheard versions.
Like recalling a dream thru a kaleidoscope, the 13 versions of ‘Cascade’ each appear familiar but elusive, like morphing wormhole portals to the ambient techno mothership of ‘Lifeforms’. Arriving in 1993 as a prelude to the classic opus, the haunting original charted at No. 27 in the UK charts (not even “just” the dance charts!) and has since put wind in the sails of too many trips to count over the intervening 26 years, with ‘Lifeforms’ becoming something of a staple during the ‘90s.
The original’s haunted pads and breaks have now been respun and rebuilt in Dougans & Cobain’s FSOL lab with help form their studio engineer/spirit Yage, resulting in a variegated sprawl of gloopy acid downbeats, spine-tracing trance arps, intergalactic steppers techno ballistics and a ravishing jungle mix, reconnecting strands of arcane prog rock into dub and computer music = proper old skool ambient.
Vibes from village recording sessions in Senegal between Swedish musician Karl-Jonas Winqvist and residents of Toubab Dialaw, centre of Senegal’s bohemian art scene
Warped, soft-focus cosmique jazz from Senagal's Wau Wau Collectif - a sick fusion of sounds; West African dub one moment and devotional jams the next.
Hailing from the small fishing village of Toubab Dialaw in Senegal, Wau Wau Collectif make music that sounds unashamedly positive. "Yaral Sa Doom" is a collection of recordings that jumps through ideas fluidly, but coherently - dub reggae and jazz sounds are omnipresent, but sprinkled into a vibrant, instrumental concoction that dips into kosmische music, beatbox rap and more avant garde forms.
The backbone is West African folk music and hearing these instruments and forms - like Sufi prayers and fishing songs - repurposed is just a joy. As a lot of the world sinks into introspection and soul-searching, it's refreshing to hear music that seems to celebrate the very act of creating.
Gloomy deconstructed club x dark ambient rushes for fans of early Aisha Devi, Abyss X, NON etc.
Baroque and grandiose, with more than a hint of religious self-flagellation in its melange of awkward choral elements and saturated basement bumps, "Black Leaf" is one for the Northern Electronics / Posh Isolation axis. It reminds of the early days of deconstructed club, before everyone had decided to push the tempo up to 200bpm and make hardstyle; instead we've got terse, spacious rhythms made up of hideously overdriven beats and breaks that sound like they've been recorded on the other side of a courtyard. It's gloomy stuff, especially the gurgling vocals on 'But My Heart Was Slipping' - one for the goths out there. Love y'all.
Two hour-long workouts from percussionist Hamid Drake and his long-time collaborator bassist William Parker, alongside London's Black Top (Orphy Robinson and Pat Thomas) and Elaine Mitchener. Blistering!
Damn this is deep; "Some Good News" is a trans-Atlantic collaboration that finds a sweet spot between Hamid Drake and William Parker's legendary rhythms, Black Top's experimental electronics and Elaine Mitchener's avant garde vocal runs. The group clearly enjoys performing with each other as they broach calypso forms and Sarahan rhythms with a sense of humor and hypnotic, spiritual sense of timing. 'Put the Brakes On' winds from psychedelic organ and xylophone into off-planet synth fx and guttural vocal tricks from Mitchener. 'Some Good News' is even wilder, as Black Top duet with Mitchener, mimicking her screams with chirping synth sounds as Drake and Parker thump alongside.
Gut-punching politics inseparable from the music, steeped in revolutionary ‘60s/‘70s jazz, soul, funk and symphonic Blaxploitation soundtrack styles.
“The American Negro is an unapologetic critique, detailing the systemic and malevolent psychology that afflicts people of color. This project dissects the chemistry behind blind racism, using music as the medium to restore dignity and self-worth to my people. It should be evident that any examination of black music is an examination of the relationship between black and white America. This relationship has shaped the cultural evolution of the world and its negative roots run deep into our psyche. Featuring various special guests performing over a deeply soulful, elaborate orchestration, The American Negro reinvents the black native tongue through this album and it’s attendant short film (TAN) and 4-part podcast (invisible Blackness). The American Negro - both as a collective experience and as individual expressions - is insightful, provocative and inspiring and should land at the center of our ongoing reckoning with race, racism and the writing of the next chapter of American history.”
Vital figures in folk, classical, improv, and experimental fields, violinist Laura Cannell converses with cellist Kate Ellis on the 2nd instalment of their series charting 2021 in sound
Meeting for the 4th time on record after ‘The Feral Lands’ salvo and preceding editions of this series (if we include their ‘Winter Ritual’ as prologue), the English and Irish collaborators channel a palpable sense of sorrow and an inherent rustic air in the four pieces found on ‘February Sounds.’ Recording took place remotely in their respective homes in Suffolk (Laura) and Essex (Ellis), documenting their innermost feelings, elided and unedited, in spontaneous performances composed by their emotions.
In opener ‘The Bellowing’ they appear to summon the sounds of wounded animals heard across wide and wild landscapes, with Ellis’ cello describing guttural feels, whereas ‘The Riverbank’ is as its title evokes, sublime and pastoral, with overlapping streams of burbling thought. ’Sun Drops Closer To Earth’ brings nightfall with phosphorescing string resonance juxtaposed against gorgeous wordless vox, and ‘Follow Me To The Lantern Marsh’ holds a line into more frightful scenes of bittersweet, overbowed discord that delivers the brain-freeze we’ve come slightly addicted to in Cannell’s music. Honestly, this stuff just makes most other string music seem contrived and aloof by comparison.
After shots for Ascetic House, Granite Mask does grimacing industrial techno slugs and cantering EBM kinks for Newcastle’s Opal Tapes
Carrying its industrial club weight from L.A. via the Toon, ‘Time Elapsed’ plays hard but fair in 8 murky variations on a theme. The DJs looking for EBM finesse will find it between the fllthy mid-tempo sleaze of ‘Peel it Back’, the noise gnash of ‘Open Wound’, and the sore 16th note arp burn of ‘Gauze Patch’, and ruder dancers will find a class sparring partner in his snaking syncopation of thuggish kicks and blunt force percussive trauma in ‘Basement Light.’
Deep, philosophical and emotionally rich piano, clarinet, percussion and vibraphone musings that sketch out a magically realist portrait of our troubling modern era.
Portuguese pianist Tiago Sousa follows 2015's solo piano album "Um Piano nas Barricadas" with this heady set, based on themes of nostalgic escapism, repetition, temporality and other existential concepts. Don't worry if that sounds like too much to get stuck into now, the tracks here are pensive, but can be enjoyed without having a working knowledge of Heidegger, Camus or Kierkegaard. Souza's skill is in his attention to the texture of the sounds he works with - the anxious squeal of the clarinet, the distant rush of cymbals, the familiar twinkly of piano - and his arrangements are minimal, but always engaging. "ANGST" is a pensive and expressive exploration of the modern condition and it's enchanting.
Timeless jazz flames from poet and noise musician Moor Mother; her first theatrical work, reflecting on public/private ownership and the housing crisis in an Afrofuturist song cycle for the ages
Tackling issues of the impending present in a way that resonates clearly with ‘60s jazz, Moor Mother situates ‘Circuit City’ in a “part musical, part choreopoem, part play” context, exploring themes of home ownership in the corporate-technological world where needs are indexed and valued by algorithms and portals.
Located in the living room of an apartment complex, Moor Mother’s pointed poetry in ‘Circuit City’ speaks of trauma, inherited and imposed, over ravishing and swingeing dynamic backing performed live by Steve Montenegro, Luke Stewart, Keir Neuringer, Tchese Holmes, Aquiles, Madam Data and Elon Battle. The latter also shares vocal duties with Moor Mother, lending a softer contrast to the sublime but needling highlight ‘Time of No Time,’ as the ensemble’s swarming, Sun Ra-like cosmic discipline gives levity to the album’s crushing earthly concerns. It’s one for anyone suffering from lack of proper, affordable housing, particular African Americans, but also anyone trapped in the cracks and dealing with the stark inequities of corporate-driven housing markets worldwide.
A big look for fans of the DRMTRK series; Hyperdub MVP Scratchclart links with Razzler Man, Scottie Dee & DJ Polo, LR Groove and KG for grimy/butters hybrids of UKF with SA gqom, Amapiano and Afrohouse styles.
Teaming up with Razzler Man, he gets down on a wicked blend of warped UK garage bass with Amapiano-style horns and percolated drums in ‘Razzclart’, while UKF OGs Scottie Dee and DJ Polo lift a leg with him on the darker pressure of ‘Banx Skanx.’ A classic sort of weirdo grime dub informs the wilder tangle of dancehall samples and sirens in ‘Murderer’s Reprise’, and KG lends some slicker calibre with the mellow chords on the drum-shy doozy ‘Baga DMs.’
Brooding UK garage-techno rollers and steppers from Jossy Mitsu, graduating to their solo debut after a mean shot on the ‘Frass FM 5’ comp
‘Odyssey’ creeps into action with icy, trimmed 2-step and proto-grime energy that they galvanise into a steely steppers techno style on ‘1997’, and tease out into bolshy breakstep with ’Turismo’, and tuck away into dark, whirring garage mechanics on ‘Ø.’
Comedy, topical grime flips by scene stalwart Lolingo in a crisp and daft style for the playful DJs
On ’Looney Tunes’ he chops the classic cartoon ident into club TNT with a few extra gunshots and sirens for measure, while ‘Bill Gates’ turns chunks of 50 Cent’s ‘I Get Money’ and cash register bings into a hard 8-bar jabber.
DMX Krew rejoins Hypercolour’s stable for veteran electronica racehorses with a bleeping electro-house toned set in his signature melodic style
Broadly weighted between strolling house pace and bouncing electro energy, all the hallmarks of DMX Krew’s tried and trusted style are in place, checking off squeaky Braindance tunings on the A Guy Called Gerald-esque charms of ‘Unconnected’, and early AFXisms in the squidgy strut of ‘Dejected Ambient Twerp’, with tangier electro tackle in ‘Torpedo Tube’ and discoid flair of ‘Sounds Good.’
Kung Fu-style dubstep chops from bassbin lamb, Kwizma and trusted hand, Nomine
With strong nods to classic Horsepower Productions and dank late ‘90s/early ‘00s stoner vibes, they set the scene with dubbed martial arts film dialogue and step off into proper, deep and nasty halfstep with chiselled percussion and ‘floor-scooping subs.
Grimbient soundscrapes and industrial foggers from the Malmö duo. Seriously moody.
Död's third album for Opal Tapes, "Just Död It" is a darker-than-the-new-Batman-movies selection of blustery drone, half-audible acid and industrial scraping that feels right in line with how everyone's feeling at the moment. The duo of Jurko Haltuu & Benjamin Syra can't contain their misery on dirge rollercoasters like the chirpily-titled opener 'Favorite Moments From 2020' and funereal doomer 'Empty Streets'. On 'Life Eternal' they start to bring in a more obvious acid techno throb, but even that's struck through with a sense of impending nausea that's hard to shake. Happy hardcore it ain't.
Elena Colombi’s Osàre! Editions host the murky solo debut, proper, by Inkasso, following the German duo’s smattering of compilation cuts for Osàre! and Kashual Plastik in recent years
After studding highlights on the ‘Il Lupo Della Steppa’ and ‘A Weird State of Experimental Experience’, and a roughcut gem on Kashual Plastik’s ‘Respect The Unexpected - In The Age of Sci-Fi’ compilation, Inkasso come into their own on ‘Zeichen Im Schact Der Verschleierten Tatsachen’, which literally translates to ‘Sign in the well of the Veiled Facts’, and metaphorically signifies the murky enigma of their work, which grubs around in swampy sorts of post-techno pulses, smudged jungle breaks and gunky illbience.
The results feel a little like one of Black Zone Myth Chant’s hypnotic, screwed regressions, but with the crooked rhythmic buoyancy of of those Free Range 12”s that preceded Inkasso on Osàre! Editions.
An all-time pivotal album returns after 65 years out of print; Brion Gysin & Paul Bowles’ stunning, legendary recordings of Moroccan Sufi trance rituals resurface on vinyl for first time
A major influence upon the likes of Led Zeppelin and Can when it was released back in 1966, these recordings have been coveted by generations of psych-o-nauts and out-rockers ever since, but original copies vinyl are severely rare. Finally, Rogue Frequency Recordings step in to plug the gap with selections of Gysin & Bowles’ 3 hour recording session yielding the might of Jilala’s massed percussionists and chanting to those in need of spiritual nourishment and replenishment.
“The Jilala, like the other religious brotherhoods of Morocco, is probably rooted in pre-Islamic ritual and celebration, but it is at the same time definitely a part of the great Sufi tradition of the Middle East. An off-shoot of the Kadiree order which was begun in Baghdad in the twelfth century by Moulay Abdelkader Ghailani or Jilali as he is often called in the Maghreb-the Jilala is an order of dervish musicians known for their practice of trance dancing and spiritual healing. They are called upon to exorcise evil spirits and to purify the heart. The Jilala are particularly useful in curing cases of epilepsy and hysteria, controlling the spirits or demons in possession of the subject through their music and the ritualized gestures of the dance. But mainly the dances are dances of exaltation.
Paul Bowles writes in a short story, The Wind at Beni Midar, "A Jilali can do only what the music tells him to do. When the musicians play the music that has the power, his eyes shut and he falls on the floor. And until the man has shown proof and drunk his own blood the musicians do not begin the music that will bring him back to the world."
The dancers come as they are called by the music; and their number varies with the size of the gathering and the place, including both men and women, the very old and the very young. Incense is burned throughout the evening; and the smell of black jowee or benzoin heightens the trance state and is often used to revive a dancer who has passed out. The women characteristically weave and bob back and forth to the music, spreading their arms and then crossing them over their breasts. As the tempo increases they throw their heads back, their faces showing mingled ecstasy and pain, harder and faster, their long blueblack hair unloosened and flying across their faces. The men more typically bounce from one foot to the other slashing at the air with their hands, or with arms outstretched gliding in circles moving from one leg to the other until fingertips nearly touch the floor. The highest moments proceed from the reciting of the zikr or repetition of the name of Allah and his epithets. At the very peak of intensity special acts are done as part of the dance. Slashing arms and legs with sharp knives, or laying down hard with a heavy belt on an extended forearm or across the back are an accepted part of the ritual. Sometimes a dancer will take off his turban and wind the cloth around his waist, giving each end to a fellow Jilali who then pulls as hard as he can until the dancer is lifted off his feet and begins to turn in the air. Live animals are known to be devoured in the trance state, and red hot coals are often handled without injury as a proof of faith and power. One member of the group once pressed his bare foot down into a heap of flaming coals for several minutes before dancing a special number devoted to their lame patron saint, Moulay Abdelkader Ghailani. During the first selection on the second side of this recording Farato, the fire-eater, drank a kettle of boiling water, eliciting from the women a wild burst of yu-yus.”
Extremely beautiful neo-classical experiments from Kay Logan, a shapeshifting Scottish artist whose previous releases as Helena Celle and Otherworld were also blessed with a rare sorta magick like this one. Really, properly essential listening if yr into Leyland Kirby, BoC interludes, ferric bliss.
Crossing our paths as Time Binding Ensemble for the first time, Logan plays to her most compassionate, empathetic side with a humbly masterful suite of 24 parts that make for the most sublime 90 minutes of unanchored mind drift, comparable to a series of extended BoC interludes or a stained glass window imagined by Stars Of The Lid and weathered to bits.
Taking inspiration from St. Peter’s Roman Catholic seminary, a grade-listed, crumbling “modernist masterpiece” tucked away in Argyll and Bute, north of the artist’s native Glasgow, the music unfolds with a plaintive, enchanted quality, rendering an array of traditional instruments (french horn, bassoon, clarinet, oboe, violin, viola, and cello) at a gauzy mid-distance with fathomless webs of processing that makes everything prone to ample wow and flutter and coloured with a phosphorescent, twilight quality of light that we can really only ascribe to Scotland.
This stuff is highly likely to appeal to myriad chamber ambient and drone-pop romantics. Give a whirl and trust the feeling.
Immersively expanded dubs of gear from Muslimgauze’s 1997 album ‘Narcotic’, now reframed as ‘Saddam’s Children’ in Staalplaat’s eternal stream of archival Bryn Jones salvos
As any ardent Muslimgauze nut will know, they guy had a a really frustrating way with titling his tunes, and Staalplaat know this better than most, leading them to constantly discover new material mislaid from classic sessions. The tracks on ‘Saddam’s Children’ stem from 1997 session that became ‘Narcotic’, but offer much more in-depth versions where it’s easy to lose yourself in Muslimgauze’s patient but ever shifting patterns and evolving filter envelopes.
The star of this show is the rescue of ‘Gulf Between Us’, a 10’ expansion of the 3’ original, rolling out on his slipperiest drums and furrowed atmospheres. But that’s also the shortest cut, as the others really take all the time needed to wrap us up in reversed loops, ghostly calls and snatches of overheard conversation on ’Believers of the Blind Sheikh’ while ’Tikrit Brotherhood Quartet’ commits to a rawly mindbending sort of raga noise - like new age with teeth - and ‘Effendi’ unfurls a nocturnal tableau flecked with percussive shrapnel and radio interceptions that eventually gel into a bone crunching electro-steppers groove almost indistinguishable from the styles of his acolyte and torch carrier Vatican Shadow.
Norwegian ambient maestro Geir Jenssen blurs Beethoven into a spectral haze on this disarming suite of eerie vignettes. Fans of Akira Rabelais' unmatched "Eisoptrophobia" need this one.
On Gier Jenssen's 2016 album "Departed Glories", the Norwegian veteran used barely-audible samples of Eatern European and Russian folk music to illustrate a narrative that explored the Medieval history of Poland. These ghostly audio snippets were processed through Akira Rabelais' surrealist DSP software Argeïphontes Lyre and then smudged into echoes of a distant world. On "Angel's Flight", Jenssen takes a similar stylistic route, but uses Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 as the source material, allowing familiar traces of the German composer's favorite late work to peek through frozen drones and haunted pads.
This music, whether you realize it or not, has been repeated thru our collective consciousness again and again since its completion in 1826, so hearing it stretched, filtered and crushed by Jenssen is a fitting way to reabsorb it. "Angel's Flight" sounds like time itself wrestling with musical hierarchies, as themes and tropes dance and heave through aural molasses, inspiring the memory to land on images of movies, ballrooms, music lessons or adverts. It's also strikingly sad and beautiful, and while it relies on elements we've been assured are sad - minor keys, spooky drones, distant strings - Jenssen handles the elements with a restraint that's way too rare.
Somehow, "Angel's Flight" never descends into the realm of forced melancholy - rather it seeps into your pores slowly and affects you gradually, urging you to play it once more. Sadbient? Maybe, but this sounds strangely timeless.
Bruk out the worry beads for this utterly spellbinding delivery from Mississippi Records and Olvido: the first ever vinyl collection of A. Kostis' haunting early 20th century rebetika. We're by no means experts in this field (far from it) but we instantly recognised Kostis' funereal ode, 'A School Was Burned' - our favourite moment from 'The Secret Museum of Mankind Vol.2' - and are very happy to report that the rest of this collection is equally unforgettable and totally worth your attention!
The experts say: "Truly unique guitar duets and black-humor prose chronicling the hash dens, prison culture and pickpockets of old Athens. Virtuosic fingerpicking of Near-Eastern modes at the dawn of rebetika, when the bouzouki was yet to become supreme. Recorded under a pseudonym for export to the Greeks living in America, it stands as an enduring mystery and the high standard for a once subversive art form."
Recorded at INA GRM and Steamroom, covering a period of thirty years, the gap between the two visits Jim O'Rourke made to the GRM, featuring Eiko Ishibashi on piano, Atsuko Hatano on violin and viola and Eivind Lonning on trumpet .
"Shutting Down Here" is an exceptional recording, commencing GRM's brand new series of releases "Portraits GRM" and covering 30 years of activity from Jim O'Rourke. O'Rourke first visited the studio as a dedicated fan in the 1980s, returning three decades later with his own legend now set in stone. But the pre-supposed dialog between apprentice and master is difficult to excavate; the sounds presented on "Shutting Down Here" melt into each other: piano from Eiko Ishibashi, viola and violin from Atsuko Hatano, Eivind Lonning's trumpet and electronics and other elements from O'Rourke himself.
It's a graceful, poignant fusion of past, present and future, with fragmented pre-digital cyber-drones mutating into acoustic textures, swelling into jubilance or deep-diving into whirlpools of dissonant doom. There's a story here, somewhere, self-referential and non-linear, sipping the auteur's mysterious legacy and contributing criticality. O'Rourke has dedicated four albums to visionary director Nicolas Roeg (Drag City quadrilogy "Bad Timing", "Eureka", "Insignificance" and "The Visitor"), but "Shutting Down Here" might be closest stylistically to Roeg's idiosyncratic, deconstructed vision.
"Due to the wide dynamic levels, please adjust your volume accordingly."
Sticky sweet soul and beatdown from Washington, D.C.’s Dreamcastmoe - strong vibes for fans of Dâm Funk, Amp Fiddler, Maxwell
If this sound is your bag, all four cuts are kinda hard to resist. ‘Make Your Move’ lays down the G-funk with finessed production by Shungu under Moe’s purring vocals, and ‘Deserving’ ups the soul burn with extra bouncy bass and pleading croons. ‘Bend Backwards’ follows with a canny slice of mid-tempo swang placing Shungu’s beats near to Dolo Percussion/Max D vibes, before Moe tags in Baxter for the deep fried crispiness of ‘(301) 341-7207’ on a proper R&B downstroke.
Evocations of experimental and improvised jazz, chansonesque songs, bluesy folk, and outsider music from Klimperei and David Fenech using everything from music boxes and walkie-talkies down to plastic straws, various stringed instruments such as the charrango and banjo, kazoos and snake-charmer ocarina and flutes, all the way through the sweet accordion and melodica, found and traditional tuned percussion
"What germinates as an imaginative and emotional chord progression played by Klimperei, evolves with Fenech layering additional recordings, which would then find their way back home to Klimperei yet again, and so on, and so forth. This recursive compositional and improvisational loop, combined with Fenech’s musique-concrete-like mixing and editing techniques, transforms the acoustic recordings by way of compression, saturation, and reverberation or simple pitch changes - resulting in the duo’s recordings seemingly sound like they may very well be an octet in real time. While the majority of the recordings have been ping-ponged remotely, David and Christophe unite under one roof to record the closing track of the album.
The pieces presented on ‘Rainbow de Nuit’ treat the ears to a carousel ride waltzing through a multiverse made up of surrealist puppet theaters, dramatic film noir act changes, and a mosaic of polyphonic instruments and toys alike. In other words, a score to a fable brought to life with haunting yet charming melodies and occasional hallucinatory voices reminiscent of laughter and infantile epiphanies which we hear on Tarzan en Tasmanie and Madrigal for Lola. This is taken a step further by Fenech, to a brief libretto of incomprehensible tongues on Pocarina. Amid the mysterious and dark (Septième Ciel and Rugit Le Coeur) also lies tender and simple compositions (Rainbow de Nuit and Chevalier Gambette), murky suspenseful melancholy (Levy Attend and Eno Ennio), and casually slipping into pensive psychedelic backdrops (Un Cercueil à Deux Places) - forming a colorful blend of sounds. A world of echoes. A tale of tales. One persistent earworm that you’ll likely be whistling and humming along to on a first listen.”
Hanne Lippard draws us into her unique soundworld, narrating life in Paris through an un-sentimental but ultimately deeply moving audio diary, making use of seemingly humdrum observations for a layered, phonetically mesmerising work of art apt for this anomalous time.
If you’re new to Lippard’s work; she’s a conceptual artist of some significant acclaim, usually concerned with the mechanics of language and meaning. Her ‘Work’ album last year was our first introduction, an unusual collection of spoken texts playing on what she calls ‘degenerate, or “b-language” - things like autoresponders, FAQ’s, social media posts, bot-generated spam mail etc. Part social commentary, part visual poetry, it lingered in the mind thru some linguistic voodoo we couldn’t quite fathom, and has been on regular rotation since.
In contrast, ‘PigeonPostParis’ plays like a ramblin’, diaristic travelogue; Hanne observes and navigates Paris through a summer of lockdown, following a train of thought starting from a newfound appreciation of pigeons, to the restlessness of daily life in a small apartment, and the difficulties of understanding, and being understood, when speaking french - a language that doesn’t care for the first letter of her first name - with a mask on.
Where ‘Work’ drew from the digital realm, PigeonPostParis ponders the world just outside her window - pigeon’s shagging - to gain a new perspective on the city’s detested/beloved air rats. But that’s just the conceptual touch paper for a stream of consciousness, fringed with the sounds of everyday life under lockdown, from the violence of a passing skateboard to an ironic lick of the Amélie theme, intertwined with a precise, alliterative investigation of her own physical, spiritual displacement.
Once you peer through the syntax, you discover existential blisters. Hanne distills our - mood - in a way that never feels sentimental, mirroring the way our thoughts have tended to meander late at night, after weeks of barely interacting with anyone - honing in on mundane details, then big important ones. Let’s quickly move past those.
Galdre Visions is a Leaving Records supergroup comprised of Olive Ardizoni (Green-House); South Asian-American sitarist, vocalist, and composer/producer Ami Dang; Diva Dompé (Yialmelic Frequencies, Diva & The Pearly Gates); and harpist/composer Nailah Hunter.
"These four artists were drawn together during 2020’s pandemic to remotely create collaborative music reflecting this unique and uncertain moment in history. Hunter describes the group’s dynamic: “Each member of the group provides a unique sonic lens with which to view the realms beyond this world. Each member’s music recalls the sound of organic life in a different way.” Collectively inspired by Celtic mysticism, outer space, and New Age both classical and modern, Galdre Visions have crafted a powerful and timely document of the exploratory, healing power of music.
Ardizoni states, “Well, we are going through some extremely difficult times so there is no way that this project has not been influenced by that. I find that with writing music during difficult times you don’t really become aware, sonically, of the impact of that time until you listen to it way down the road. Writing this kind of music has always been a means of transmuting my pain into joy so that the listener can experience that by proxy.” Album-opener “Living Space Station (Bad Dream)” conjures an ominous atmosphere of strife, its lyrics alluding to unusual, unsettling, and nightmare-like events unfolding seemingly every day. Dang reflects, “Even though we’re all stuck at home, the world is ripping itself apart right now, and all of this chaotic activity makes me feel like I’m slowly making my way through a thorny thicket, but I’m only moving in circles. The trees and animals look more menacing at every turn. But the music keeps me going, and it reminds me that there will be a clearing, that the darkness will turn to light, that a crystalline waterfall lies somewhere beyond this cycle of madness. We will only reach this place through continuous movement, change, and protection.”
Stunning album-closer “The Sun Will Rise Again” ends on a positively ebullient note of optimism, a transcendent vision of hope and things to come. According to Ardizoni, “It acknowledges and validates this feeling of melancholy that comes from experiencing this seemingly never ending suffering while being able to maintain the awareness that it will be better again some day. We will be together again, building the communities that we need to build with a new sense of purpose.”
Compiling the last 3 albums in the 'Everywhere At The End Of Time' series - 6 x LP’s / 5 hours of material cataloguing the ultimate descent into oblivion, using a patented prism of sound to connote a final, irreversible transition into the haunted ballroom of the mind that The Caretaker first stepped into with 1999’s ‘Selected Memories From the Haunted Ballroom’.
By using fusty samples from an obsolete analog format, and by doing so in the 2nd decade of the 2nd millennium, The Caretaker perfectly and perversely bent ideas of anticipation/expectation with his arrangements, playing with notions of convention and repetition with effect that would lead some listeners to wonder if the same record was being released over and again. When combined with Ivan Seal’s bespoke painting for each release from 2011’s ‘An Empty Bliss Beyond This World’ onwards, the project crystallised as a real gesamtkunstwerk for these times, and one arguably defined by a stubborn and intractably chronic drive against the grain of modern popular culture, or even a refusal of it.
And so to the project’s final goodbye. Drifting from the silty departure of ‘Confusion so thick you forget forgetting’, thru the smudged anaesthetisation of ‘A brutal bliss beyond this empty defeat’, and the abyssal, distant echoes of ‘Long decline is over’, to the increased pauses that punctuate the final side’s piece, ‘Place in the World fades away’, it eventually leads to a final coda that breaks the fourth wall. Here, with the outside world muted and only the timbral residue remaining like smoke, everything moves as slow as a Lynchian dream sequence - until a conclusion so ineffably sublime occurs that we can’t mention it for fear of waking up.
Four delirious uptempo bangers intended to complicate the dancefloor from Rotherham's finest. An algorithmic acid bath of SND, Jay Mitta, Errorsmith - for the dancers.
2020's "File Under UK Metaplasm" was a stand-out records of the year, and Rian Treanor follows it up quickly with this short, sharp collection of "complications for adventurous ravers". If Treanor's full-length was a more conceptually-angled slop of high-BPM experiments, these four obstacles are aimed squarely at the dancefloor. Treanor put these tracks together for his own DJ sets, so the physicality is instant. 'Obstacle 1' takes a liberal helping of influence from SND, jacking up the tempo and pushing into singeli territory with lush chords dancing between ticking percussion. Even wilder is 'Obstacle 2', that rolls belching glitches into machine-gun kicks for peak 6AM-in-the-back-room perfection.
This isn't dance music for a 48-hour Berghain sesh, it's a psychically disorientating sonic neurotoxin, designed to make you feel something - anything. Rian even throws us a bone for good behavior with 'Obstacle 3', his attempt at bouncy 4x4. Tangled through circular synth sequences and shifting claps, that kick drum is almost regular - almost.
Just mindblowing, again.