Gazelle Twin's soundtrack to Welcome To The Blumhouse: Nocturne.
"Nocturne is written and directed by Zu Quirke in her breakout feature debut. Inside the halls of an elite arts academy, a timid music student begins to outshine her more accomplished and outgoing twin sister when she discovers a mysterious notebook belonging to a recently deceased classmate.
“The director wanted there to be a strong appearance of feminine rage featuring heavily in the score, building around the classical pieces,” says Gazelle Twin. “She wanted to use some of my existing tracks, ‘unflesh’ and ‘belly of the beast’, in a couple of scenes, so I took leave from the vocal style of ‘unflesh’, which has a lot of strong chest singing inspired by Bulgarian Folksong. “It became a motif that the music editor, Shie Rozow, weaved throughout the film for those especially fierce moments. Then there’s the ‘dread drones’ that haunt the whole score, getting more and more intense.”."
Fascinating, microtonal “acid folk” from N.M.O.’s Morten J. Olsen and his former MoHa! bandmate Anders Hana, offering an inventive play of tradition entwined with modernism for Lillehammer’s Motvind Records - think echoes of Rashad Becker, Christos Chondropoulos, Michael O’Shea, Ka Baird, Laura Cannell
The duo’s eponymous debut is a remarkable fusion of past and present concerns future-proofed in a way that’s surely legible by listeners now and to come. Together with guest instrumentation by Olav Christer Rossebø (fiddle) and Kenneth Lien (voice), Anders’ microfret-modified electric guitar and lilting, zither-like tones from a langelik are driven by Morten’s steady but subtly offbeat percussion and pitch bent analog synths and computer processing, resulting what sounds like a parallel, or uchronic adjunct to Norway’s rich folk traditions that uncannily resonates with many other far flung styles; from the tang and buzz of Australian Aborigine music to the sway of Ethiopiques, thru mesmerising middle eastern tones, and north African desert blues.
In their own words: "We have tried to look at the music from different angles by using other registers, playing the melody in a much slower tempo or using a subdivision grouping other than that of the main beat. This, we have in turn, mixed with elements of electronic (dance) music, an idea that is derived from the fact that the traditional music first and foremost was used as dance music in the old days. The tracks on this record are our interpretations reflecting our musical preferences and there are probably as many ways to approach this music as there are pitches and scales. We hope this could serve as an inspiration for others who have had simillar thoughts.”
Rather than any stunts or tricks, they use electronics to enhance, enliven, and refract tradition, stimulating new sensations from familiar sources. Looking back and forward simultaneously, they travel astrally perpendicular from the buzzing tonalities of ‘Gorralaus’ to the aching, archaic cadence of Kenneth Lien’s shanty-like vox contrasting with bittersweet synth dissonance in ‘En venn jeg havde meg en tid’, leading off at lush angles resembling Ethiopiques’ swaying chromatic melodies in ‘Langeleikslaatt’, while ‘Galne Listen’ reminds to Dariush Dolat Shahi’s amazing sehtar-and-modular works, and the jaws-harp like buzz and bounce of ‘Uppstaden’ is loaded with crafty club potential.
UK street soul label V4 Visions is under the spotlight of expert diggers at Numero Group and Rush Hour for this killer 5-track EP, highlighting that incredible meeting point of so many elements that were crucial to the develolment of club music in the capital during that era - you can trace echoes of everything from Joyce Sims to Rhythim is Rhythim, Kurtis Mantronik, Strictly Rhythm, Soul II Soul, Mr. Fingers. - in an era that was right at the cusp between stereet soul and jungle hardcore - what a vibe.
Operating between 1990-1994, V4 Visions was home to a cross section of UK artists operating at an inner city confluence of lovers rock, deep house, swingbeat, and jungle, of the sort that one might hear in a late night blues or smaller parties away from the big raves. The vibe is dripping with soul, adapting Afro-inspired US and Caribbean vibes to a Black British experience, with results zipped up and tucked tight in the pocket between Ashaye’s jazz taught slow jam ‘Dreaming (Original Mix)’, and their guest vox on Insight’s deep house pearl ‘Fantasy - Insight Mix’, thru to Rohan Delano’s purring gem ‘Inflight’, the propulsive subs and gilded vox of Julie Stapleton’s ‘Where’s Your Love Gone’ (later covered by Kylie innit), and the deep, bouncing piano house of ‘Now Where To Run - Instrumental South Side Mix’ looping back to Ashaye.
Multi award-winning composer Kyle Shepherd’s seventh album and first on vinyl, featuring new articulations of well-liked familiar melodies like ‘For Keith’, ‘Desert Monk’, ‘Sweet Zim Suite’ and ‘Cry of the Lonely’, along with improvised pieces ‘Zikr’, and ‘Desert Monk’.
“Shepherd embodies much of South Africa’s piano tradition with visionary clarity. More than his own ingenuity, he holds up an appreciation of the richness of a shared musical inheritance. This must be underscored by an understanding that all pianists, in fact all artists of real commitment, have a wish to be distinctive, along with a real rootedness. The selection of tunes treated here, shores this up about Shepherd. It also points to a deeper, loftier revelation: jazz, and creativity as the ultimate articulations of human hope.”
Percy Mabandu, from sleeve notes
Fluttering, shine-eyed chug by Belfast’s Group Zero, venturing a sort of early morning wonk constructed from trace elements of motorik kosmiche, psychedelic beatdown and deep disco - think Pye Corner Audio, Ssiege, 1991
Member of C86 pop group Girls Names, Cathal Cully aka Group Zero here tempers their pop sensibilities into a more stripped down sound, following their nose for breezy melodies and loping elegant repetition that never tests one’s patience. There’s an unmistakeable shimmer of similarity with Pye Corner Audio’s prized vibe in the delicious synth wow and flutter of ‘Memorial Hall’, and ‘Memorial Deice’ dials up warmest sort of vapourware nostalgia with a fine soupçon of Gaelic romance. The padded throb and lissom arps of ‘You Can See The Dust Crawl’ are surely destined for end of night and the soon afters, while ‘The Club Singer’ trades in nearly 10 minutes of golden gouch out gear.
New on Room 40's Tape series.
"It may sound implausible now, but in the early 2000s Australia felt a long way away from the rest of the world. Brisbane, where I still live today, felt even further removed. This remoteness had its challenges, but also its charms.
In 2001, Zane Trow then director of the Brisbane Powerhouse invited me to perform at an Open Day for the centre with my trio I/O3 and DJ Olive. I didn’t realise it at the time, but this engagement would spark a number of connections that tie directly into this edition. Following that live performance (released as Powerhouse Sessions in 2002), I was invited to curate a performance series, Fabrique, focused on new and emergent musics for Brisbane Powerhouse. At the same time, DJ Olive mentioned that he had started a new imprint, Phonomena, with Toshio Kajiwara and one of the first releases they were planning was from Aki Onda, whom Olive described as using a set of Walkmans that make a whole universe. I was intrigued.
The following year, Aki Onda not only produced Cassette Memories Volume I ‘Ancient And Modern' for Phonomena, but a few months later released a second volume ‘Bon Voyage!’ with the always inspiring Improvised Music From Japan label. Both of these editions marked out overlapping territories relating to tape music, field recordings and most of all perceptions of memory (how it is lost and then found again, how it can constructed and deconstructed - sometimes simultaneously). In early 2004, I wrote to Aki and invited him to Australia for a series of performances including two in Brisbane; one at Fabrique and another as part of NineHoursNorth, a dedicated program of Japanese music I was curating at the Judith Wright Centre Of Contemporary Art.
Each of Aki’s performances typified the expansive nature of his practice. Although the medium and tools may have been identical (cassettes, Walkmans, delay pedals and fender twin amps), the focus of each performance was markedly different. For NinehoursNorth, Aki deployed the approach he presented on 'Bon Voyage!’, long-form field recordings were re-amped and in the process of their unfolding a perception of time being bent in and out of shape emerged. There was a sense of the strange familiar, as bird songs, city scapes, voices, instruments and various environments were melted together and reconfigured through the intense volume produced by the amplifiers.
For Fabrique, the recording collected on this edition, Aki undertook a more performative method that reflected the sense of pacing and movement collected on ‘Ancient And Modern’. What surprised me most about his performance was how closely it resembled the compositional sensibilities captured on the record. In my mind’s ear I had heard ‘Ancient And Modern’ as a highly orchestrated work, a process of layering and transformation. Upon hearing Aki’s performance, it became clear what was captured in that recording was a transcription of an experimental and utterly personal performative language that had unfastened the walkman from its conceptual bounds as a device for linear acoustic playback.
In performance (and his recordings as I now realised) Aki Onda sought to bend, and break, expectations of time and linearity. In doing so he opened up new ways of appreciating themes of texture, pulse, rhythm and repetition. William S. Burroughs often wrote of the cut-up as a device for causing a rupture in time and that certain new ways of knowing and understanding might ooze out from these cuts, to my ears Aki Onda’s sounds were doing just this. He was taking elements from the world we collectively knew and he was refocusing them, cutting into them and removing their sense of ‘natural’ time, in doing so he allowed us all to forgo our desire for the familiar in favour of something unknown and perhaps even unknowable.
To revisit this performance nearly two decades on, I am struck by this same sense of reaching out into something that is not altogether clear, but maintains a deep invitational attraction, an acoustic allure that remains as compelling today as it did then…perhaps even more so."
One of those releases that makes you feel like no other music exists for a hot minute, Dean Blunt returns with a second Black Metal album for Rough Trade, delving deeper into his unfathomable yet completely approachable and direct take on visceral x melancholic folk-pop. Spoiler: It’s really fucking good.
Aided on most of the songs here by Joanne Robertson’s vocal counterpoint and Giles Kwakeulati King-Ashong’s skittering drums, these songs once again connect to AR Kane’s distinct approach to the avant grade thru imperfection. In effect, it feels like Blunt manages to squeeze all the sterile sheen out of overly tasteful music, leaving a throbbing mass of flesh, blood vessels, nerve endings - exposed and beautiful. It’s what AR Kane called ‘Kaning’ (see Dhanveer Singh Brar’s excellent 'Beefy's Tune’ book for more on this) - and effectively provides a vital riposte to a world in which so much “art" is presented and consumed as a form of numbing.
And that riposte requires no explanation - a personal narative woven with little concession to anything - there’s not even a tracklisting or credits on the physical formats, instead Blunt’s ideas are wrapped up in a succession of first grade earworms, string sections here and there, billowing subs - all melancholy and ambiguous bliss.
"Flaws are discontinuities that act as tiny fissures, allowing the dim and distant, diffused gem light of pre-creation to slip thru - it is this that music existed for - a signpost, a reminder, a note.” Rudy Tambala / A.R. Kane
Black Metal 2 is as real as it gets.
Iconic Japanese experimentalist Phew returns to Mute for first time in 30 years with a haunted and strung out set of barely-there vox and submerged synths
“Rising to prominence with the art-punk group Aunt Sally before her first solo release in 1981, recorded at Conny Plank’s studio in Cologne with Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit, Phew isn’t about to go soft on us.
“I wanted to exclude sentimentality,” she says of New Decade. “With the situation at the moment, I’ve got it lucky. Last year, in particular, just being alive was kind of a lucky state of affairs. Being able to openly express how you’re feeling, in spite of all that, is a sort of privilege you have as a musician or artist, and I felt like I shouldn’t abuse it.”
This has been a guiding principle for Phew in recent years, as she has amassed a body of solo work that melds her signature vocals with febrile, droning synthesisers and drum machines. Already well accustomed to working in isolation at home, keeping her voice down in order not to annoy the neighbours, New Decade is a stark and haunted album, populated by voices that intone empty pleasantries in English and Japanese or manifest as wordless shrieks and groans, against a backdrop of fractured, dubbed-out electronics.
Phew explains that there’s a loose concept running through the album, relating to the perception of time. “During the ’80s, and up until the ’90s, things progressed along a line from past to present to future, but I think that’s changed, especially since the start of the 21st century. Personally speaking, I’ve stopped being able to see a future that extends from the present.”
This is reflected in the unplaceable character of her current work. It’s not deliberately retro in the manner of many analogue synth revivalists, nor does Phew waste time trying to catch up with the latest trends. It’s music out of time, resonating to its own peculiar frequency.
The dub dentist's deep blue 1974 reggae masterpiece bubbles up on a crucial remastered reissue, available for first time since the 2004 pressings on Mark Ernestus’ Basic Replay. Hudson's mood is tormented and dazed - making for a magnificently and deadly serious album that’s hauntingly unique, unmissable, unforgettable.
Renowned among the greatest roots reggae albums of all time, Hudson’s seminal side now sees a necessary, timely reissue. Still brimming with a dusky blues soul and intoxicating atmosphere, it followed a series of solid-gold productions for Ken Boothe, Delroy Wilson, John Holt, U-Roy and many others, and documents Hudson's removal from JA to London, New York studios and transatlantic audiences, inaugurating a sequence of albums - classics like Pick A Dub, Brand, Playing It Cool - which demonstrated his troubled experimentalism was so much better suited to the LP than the cardinal 7" reggae format.
Hailing from a musical family, Hudson trained as a dentist but found his calling in the studio, establishing his own label Imbidimts with a recording of Ken Boothe’s ‘Old Fashioned way’ before going on to work with legendary singers John Holt, Delroy Wilson and Alton Ellis, and toaster deejays U-Roy and Dennis Alcapone, who he produced in a trademark lean and mean, bad to the bone bass and drums style. ‘Flesh Of My Blood’ would come out on Brent Clarke’s Tottenham based Atra label, and marked an early highpoint of his work, melding strong soul influences with reggae proper in a supremely moody vibe that’s lost none of its late night pull.
We advise running straight to the flickering guitar licks and heads down bass of its definitive centrepiece ‘Darkest Night’, with its ohrwurming chorus for the strongest flavour, also found reduced to essentials on the dub with masterful touches of glaring synth, but anywhere you look, it’s pure gold. From the spectral electro-acoustics of ‘Hunting’ evoking midnight jungle atmospheres, to the lissom reggae soul of ‘Testing My Faith’ and the shimmering depths of his dubwise ’Nocturne (Talk Some Sense Version)’ it’s all cut of peerless cloth and holds treasures awaiting to be found.
Bulbous Creation's album "You Won't Remember Dying" reissued on Numero Group.
"In 1971, Bulbous Creation poured what little personal surplus they had into a full day of recording at Cavern Studios, tracking enough material for a full length album. The band wouldn't stay together long enough to save up for a custom pressing on Rock. Singer/guitarist Paul Parkinson was deeply individualistic, and left to perform his songs as he thought they should be, as a solo act. He preferred coffee shops to concert halls, and would stick to his craft another 20 years before hanging it up. Drummer Horstmann followed suit. Jim "Bugs" Wine and guitarist Alan Lewis soldiered on, shortening their name to the more sensible Creation and adding vocalist Wayne Austin, dynamic drummer Tommy Ward, and guitarist Roger Sewell.
The Bulbous Creation LP was nearly doomed to oblivion, but for the efforts of Rich Haupt, who issued an unauthorized eight song LP in 1995 on his Rockadelic imprint. Lewis died in 1998 of esophageal cancer. When Paul Parkinson died of leukemia in 2001, a lone copy turned up amongst his possessions, with piece of mind that someone, somewhere, was listening."
The classic Brummie techno dispatch rears up for a 21st anniversary reissue with a reshuffled track-list but still packing all the meat and gristle
Forged by the Downwards (and Sandwell District) co-founders for their Berlin allies, ‘Againstnature’ is distinguished in their catalogues for its mix of signature, slinky pounders and a quota of beat-less, tonal, atmospheric works that hailed the duo’s other tastes and prefaced future directions for Regis, at least.
Those beat-less pieces patently resonate with the duo’s interests beyond the pale of techno proper, with the clangourous industrial workshop atmospheres of ‘Washing My Hands’, the fetid hush and post-battlefield string pads of ‘Paralysing,’ and the martial sashay of ‘Under Skin’ nodding to everyone from TG to Death In June, and lending a curious sidespin to the track sequencing, which is more dominated by their swingeingly sexy techno muscle.
If the techno’s what you’re after though, some get it at best between the nagging greyscale minimalism of ‘Let Them Bleed,’ the full throttle tribalism of ‘Nothing And No One,’ the prototype BMB-sounding ‘Meat’; the locked in, humid pelt of ‘Hanoi Hanoi’ with its drilling vocal sample; and the unyielding gallop of ‘Guiltless.’
Ben UFO drops picks out two unexpected club belters for Melodies Record Club's DJ-friendly reissue series and it's a doozy: Laurie Spiegel's modular percussive headmelter 'Drums' on one side, and the Knife's Olof Dreijer's 'Echoes From Mamori' on the flip - a track made out of arpeggios generated from bird and frog recordings.
Trust Ben UFO to stick his name on a dance 12" that's just about as far removed from the expected dancefloor throb as you can get. Laurie Spiegel's 'Drums' was originally featured on her paradigm-shifting 1980 classic "The Expanding Universe", but cleaved of context feels strangely contemporary in this dance setting. It's hardly a surprise that Ben featured it on his first BBC Essential Mix in 2013. The track has all his hallmarks: shifting rhythm, no obvious kick drum, an almost non-Euro feel but also rooted in kosmische music.
Olaf Dreijer's side is more tricky; the composition was recorded for a 2009 Adnan Yildiz exhibition entitled “THERE IS NO AUDIENCE”, and played on loop during the show. Dreijer clearly had fun with this one, and took recordings he'd made in the Amazon of frogs and birdsong from his home in Berlin, piping them into a sampler and letting it rip. The result is a strangely playable low-key house slow-burner that seems to evolve from the natural world like a dance party in remote forest. Over a decade after it was made, and considering the ubiquitousness of birdsong in contemporary electronic music, it's kinda hilarious and great.
Brooklyn-based producer and visual artist Josh Abramovici's debut album is a blunted, slo-mo throb of distant Artificial Intelligence-era pads, DJ Python-esque bass and crunchy, dubwise FX. Basically a hybrid of early Mo'Wax, DJ Olive, Higher Intelligence Agency and Amazondotcom >> another winner for Incensio.
Trip-hop is fully back eh? downstairs J's first full-length is a loveletter to the genre, filled with echoing vocals, resinous beats and kind of blunted synths you'd expect to find on a Push Button Objects record. It's a solid successor to DJ Python's deliriously tripped-out and funked Mas Amable, and pushes further into the fertile beats 'n synths territory that had us all salivating when Mo'Wax released the first "Headz" comp in '94.
Opener 'Three Times' sounds almost oppressively slow, building a gasping rhythm from kicks and clangs and slowly introducing the faintest IDM chords, pads and basses. It's a modern, half-speed take on Autechre's enduring early classic 'Lowride', all scraped electro and minimized funq. 'Lab Rat Boogie' meanwhile sounds like East Flatbush Project's spare 'Tried By 12' beat spiked with k-hole vocals and vocoded Streetsounds synths.
"basement, etc" is packed with familiar sounds, but assembles them with a contemporary NYC groove that breathes new life into old modalities. The spectre of trip-hop, vintage bleep techno and NYC's own illbient subgenres looms large, but Abramovici spins these ideas into a fresh patchwork that's laced with hemp.
Morning Trip & Yoga Records reveal a lost work of new age music: Alice Damon’s "Windsong".
"Gently propelled by Damon's haunting breath-of-life vocal winds reminiscent of Joan La Barbara underscored by field recordings and Damon's fretless bass sound calling to mind mid-70 Joni Mitchell, Windsong is traveling music, for the roads or for the skies. Instantly moving, it conjures vistas both romantically familiar and cosmically mysterious — waterfalls and wind, the voice of the earth, as heard through heavenly prisms.
Damon attended college in Massachusetts, where she formed and fronted the all-female garage band called The Moppets in the late 60s. The band began to garner national attention, but Damon moved instead to the wilds of northern Vermont to homestead and raise a family. In 1981 or thereabouts she was able to gain use of an early Sony digital home recorder, and created her masterwork, Windsong.
But Damon waited until 1990 to release a packaged version of this album, now titled "Windsong II", and sent samples to regional distributors like Vermont’s fabled Silo-Alcazar, where a copy of the album was first discovered, but little evidence exists of a proper commercial release. Alice Damon passed on in 2011 and remained essentially unknown until the landmark I Am The Center: Private Issue New Age In America 1950-1990 first revealed her genius to a wider audience two years later. Now, just in time for the recording's 40th anniversary, Alice Damon's Windsong may at last be heard as one of the most singular, moving and profound examples of new age music's psychedelic essence."
Swans’ guitarist Kristof Hahn yields a full course of reverberating drone scapes to Room 40, relinquishing recordings made in the wake of the band’s final shows after reforming. Billowing feedback and amp worship gleaned from an artillery of lapsteel and electric guitars manipulated with loop pedals, at best in the absorbign sonorities of ‘Vogelfluhlinie’ and ghoulish silhouette of ‘My Bed is Spinning’
“Six Pieces, a record that is essentially born from the ashes of the final SWANS reformation line-up tour, uses various found elements, stored loops, thematic notes and other acoustic debris as a means for launching off a series of interrogation into solo guitar composition.
The pieces bare the marks of touring life, sometimes intensely claustrophobic, other moments languid and at times euphoric, each pieces creates a vista of sound that describes a kind of fluid landscape without relying on the perceptual land-marks we might fall back on.
Hahn’s music is one of repetition and unfolding variation, it is unsettled, but never rushed or careless. He knows that music is an art form of time and is not afraid to allow his compositions to build, evolve and finally arrive with a casual sense of hushed determination.”
Wickedly crude but skilful no-input mixing board business from a boss of that discipline, Toshimaru Nakamura
‘Culvert - No Input Mixing Board 10’ is the umpteenth exposition of Nakamura’s improvised and eternally inventive practice since he switched to this style from guitar noise with 2000’s self-explanatory ‘No-Input Mixing Board’ CD. Its 8 parts see him reflect on the hidden waterways that underline his home region around west Tokyo, generating discrete burbling streams of mulched feedback that metaphorically resemble the culverted streams that nobody sees underfoot, yet necessarily course with energy, as in many built environments. In his home region these hidden streams are often topped with artificial brooks that overlay their route like a “double decker river.”
While sitting on a bench beside one of the artificial brooks, Nakamura was prompted to make music that reflects these secret veins. Each of the eight parts gushes with an allegorical brownian motion apt for the concept, and also recalling K2’s torrential forms of junk metal cut-up, but also perhaps implicitly speaking to the threat of rising sea levels which would surely seep up from the Pacific thru these coastal waterways with a destructive attrition akin to this music.
Indonesian mentallists Raja Kirik arrive in hot pursuit of Gabber Modus Operandi’s iconoclastic mash of roots and futurism on a pure madness for Nyege Nyege Tapes.
Yet another jaw-dropper dispatched via NNT’s Kampala nexus; ‘Rampokan’ fires off a full frontal invocation of possessive, trance-inducing spirits inspired by the Javanese heritage of Yennu Ariendra & J. Mo’ong Santoso Pribadi, aka Raja Kirik. Rooted in Java’s struggles with colonial oppression, their music takes bedevilling form as a wide-eyed sort of shamanic trance music galvanised by Dutch hardstyle kicks and noisily free electronica, careening from cut to cut with an exhilarating energy focussed into high BPM body rattlers that no doubt shake the senses and fiercely illustrate their impetus in a directly physical but allegorical way that only music can convey quite like this.
Under a titular reference to “a colonial era arena battle between spearmen, criminals and wild animals… ceremonial fights [that] illustrate the strength of the Javanese Royal Kingdoms in the face of the Dutch East Indies government” the empire strikes back in the most brutally artful style across ‘Rampokan’. Synching mind/body in a vital barrage of 11 tracks, they draw implicit parallels with oppression of African slaves in Brazil who conceived Capoeira as a stealth mode of dancing-meets-martial arts, specifically drawing on the Jaranan, or Jathilan, a Hindu-Buddhist era dance from the c.11th that likewise symbolised ways that the proto-proletariat of Java could overcome their rulers by means of agility and evasion.
This is dance music with a meaning that makes much other Western dance music pale in comparison. Between its totemic durational works such as the blistering ‘Bujang Ganong’ and the roiling bruiser ‘Tana Prahara’ - which both tilt around and over the 12 minute mark - to its ghoulish clashes of phantasmic doom and sour trance riffs in ‘Rampokan I’, they charge up a powerful sound with potential to send ravers reeling, variously dispatching panic-stations free jazz horns on ‘Kubro’ and metaphorically machine-gunning the ruling classes before trampling on their cadavers and gleefully ringing gamelan in ‘DOR.’
Nostro Hood System boss Galtier's debut album is a meticulously constructed byzantine club space opera. With 'Blade Runner' synths and jerky, neck-snapping rhythms, he's managed to squeeze contemporary club music's dystopian world-building into a taught, album-length offering without sacrificing any of the weight. Seriously elevated airlock club bizz.
Damn. The Mexico City imprint's first vinyl offering in three years, "Pulchra Es Elementis" (Elements Are Beautiful) is about as epic as club full-lengths get, painting sonic vistas that bring to mind Frank Herbert's "Dune" or Kathryn Bigelow's underrated "Strange Days". Bristol-based producer Jiah Wells is a talented engineer - he's been releasing hard-hitting club music for a decade - but the album is far more than a loose collection of tracks assembled to show off his Berlin-ready kicks and eardrum-scraping snares.
Tracks like the percussive 'Bruised, but Not Broken' and the album's weightless title track are so richly visual and so obviously sci-fi inspired that it's tough not to get lost daydreaming about a cinematic accompaniment. Wells has fashioned the record like a prog concept album, and plots a rigid narrative; it fails to follow the established club pattern of pneumatic banger, ambient interlude - rinse and repeat. Rather, tracks seem to appear from the walls and ceilings like xenomorphs in James Cameron's otherwise underwhelming "Aliens".
Wells tracks through club rhythms with ease, there's no defined mode to slip into - he retains a tuff-edged dembow influence throughout, but glides fluidly between sounds without repeating basic templates. The focus is the atmosphere, and that's never better photographed than on 'Cavernam', a track that oozes thru hard drum minimalism, buffing in Eski's skeletal brilliance and stopping for gas with neon-lit swung 4/4 intensity before it squeals to a halt. Wells keeps up the momentum until the very final moments of the album, ratcheting thru grim doomscapes on pacey closer 'Shine Forth' with clattering drums and squealing synths that sound like "Mad Max" scored by John Carpenter.
Fantastic album - RIYL SVBKVLT, Rabit, Akira OST, Slikback.
15 years since Burial’s sorely overlooked remix of ‘Crackle Blues’ by Blackdown, the pair wind up on the same plate again on a surprise new EP.
As the scene's keenest scribe-cum-producer, Blackdown's blog and Keysound label were at the core of the genre’s early sound, placing him in proximity to key players including Burial. Like we mentioned, Burial’s remix of ‘Crackle Blues’ in 2006 was, just like his debut 12”, sorely overlooked at the time, and remains one of his tightest and most effective garagey/woodblock productions.
On the ’Shock Power Of Love’ EP they check in 15 years later for new cuts of Detroit-inspired garage and deep-fried, crispy London soul music. Blackdown gives clear nods to his 313 inspiration on both sides, framing his restless subs and garage swing with sampled, house declarations and soaring pads in ‘The Journey VIP’ while nodding to Juan Atkins and Red Planet via Geeneus in a remix of Heatmap’s ‘Arklight.’ Burial is at his signature best on the other two, frothing choral vocals into a scissored 2-step shuffle on ‘Dark Gethsemane’ before rolling out fathoms deep into the iridescent trance leads and scalp-stroking Reese bass licks of ’Space Cadet.’
Monumental 1968 debut album by pianist Ibrahim Khalil Shihab, formerly Chris Schilder - an almost lost recording back on vinyl after more than 50 years.
“South Africa’s lost jazz history contains many an overlooked classic. But even within that hidden tradition, there are few albums that suffered such an unlucky fate as Spring, the monumental 1968 debut album by pianist Ibrahim Khalil Shihab, formerly Chris Schilder.
Though Shihab was only twenty-two when Spring was recorded, he was already a lynchpin of the Cape Town scene, and the album was to be his first major statement as leader and composer. It is a magnum opus gilded by the presence of the upcoming saxophonist Winston ‘Mankunku’ Ngozi, who was soon to find huge acclaim with the hit album Yakhal’ Inkomo.
Three months of touring southern Africa in 1968 honed the band to the point that this entire album was recorded within the just two hours of allocated studio time. This album was repressed just once before the master tapes were destroyed by an ignorant record company executive. While it has remained out of print since then, the album was ‘kept alive’ as an ‘add-on’ to a 1996 CD of Mankunku’s Yakhal’ Inkomo. As a result, many modern jazz lovers still incorrectly believe these five compositions come from Yakhal’ Inkomo.
With this edition of Spring, Matsuli Music corrects an historic wrong. This edition of Shihab’s stunning debut, produced with the blessing of the man himself, is the first time it has been properly available in over forty years, and the first time it has ever been available outside South Africa. Restored and presented with new liner notes by Valmont Layne, Spring can now be seen for what it is: a peerless masterwork of Cape Jazz, blessed by the presence of the great Mankunku, but truly animated by the subtle vision and original musical spirit of its creator, Ibrahim Khalil Shihab.”
The Mankunku Quartet's 1968 album 'Yakhal' Inkomo' clocks in at just over 30 minutes of jazz perfection. This compact, and to-the-point, album would sit comfortably in amongst some of the best works in the catalogues of any of the quintessential jazz labels such as Blue Note, Prestige and Impulse.
"'Yakhal' Inkomo', however, was originally released on the South African record label World Record Co., which resulted in it becoming an elusive and sought-after piece for jazz collectors. First press copies sometimes fetch as much as £1,000 on the collectors' market. It has been long regarded as one of the finest South African jazz albums and DJ / broadcaster Gilles Peterson cemented this when he included it in his "best of genre" focussed radio show, 'The 20 - South African Jazz'.
On the sleeve notes, Ray Nkwe the producer and the President of the Jazz Appreciation Society of South Africa writes "This is the LP that every jazz fan has been waiting for" and Ray was not wrong, it's a stone-cold timeless jazz classic."
Perky but gauzy ‘80s new wave nostalgia by Chris Stewart’s Black Marble. Glistening with vantage-styled hooks and pulsing synths.
“On Fast Idol, LA-based Black Marble reaches back through time to connect with the forgotten bedroom kids of the analogue era, the halcyon days of icy hooks and warbly synths always on the edge of going out of tune. Harmonies are piped in across the expanse of space, and lyrics capture conversations that seem to come from another room, repeat an accusation overheard, or speak as if in sleep of interpersonal struggles distilled down to one subconscious phrase. At the same time, percussive elements feel forward and cut through the mix with toms counting off the measures like a lost tribe broadcasting through the bass and tops of a basement club soundsystem.
Fast Idol is Stewart's fourth full-length album and his second for Sacred Bones. His previous album Bigger than Life was written in the face of cultural shifts in the US, in experiencing these he realised he was not keyed into certain negative sentiments that were bubbling below the surface, which were breaking out into the open. “I chose to try and take the approach of a soothsayer writing from a macro level, trying to find strands of connection between us because it didn’t feel appropriate to create something self referential and gloomy at the time,” he says.
Now, Fast Idol sees him return to a sentiment and process that defined the earlier days of Black Marble, in a return to his intuitive song writing process where songs land as impressionistic snippets of daily conflicts, and people struggle with the challenge of trying to move through the world. “People don’t expect me to be responsible for altering their outlook or mood, they come to hear something that meets them where they are. I trusted on this record that if I stayed in that space and created things from that more mysterious place, it would connect with others.”
So, wow. This is the first ever compendium of Martin Hannett's work with Steve Hopkins as The Invisible Girls. Comprising rare and largely unheard gems from 1976 - 1987.
As the story goes, Hannett & Hopkins met at a Soft Machine show at UMIST in 1976, where the former had graduated with a chemistry degree, and was advised to tap up the latter for some weed. The smoke must have been decent ‘cos a week later they were jamming in Hannett’s Chorlton flat with Dave Tomlinson of Magazine and Visage, who would lend them his ARP 2600 synth. One month later they were creating the soundtrack for a bizarre stop motion animation, ‘All Sorts of Heroes’, which makes up much of the second half of the compilation with its fuzzy psych-funk and more atmospheric strokes of piano and synth.
The set frames a remarkable and ambitious relationship between the pair, ranging from Hannett's amazing solo gear ranging from shuddering rhythmic noise to windswept ambience and the jaw-dropping proto techno-disco sophistication of 'Space Music', plugging a fair old gap in Manchester music history, especially for fans of Factory, post punk and electronic music.
Debut volley of noisily complex and twisting IDM electronica from Aho Ssan, a new artist on James Ginzburg of Emptyset’s Subtext label. RIYl Shapednoise, Heith, Pyur.
"Inspired in part by French sociologist Jean Baudrillard’s influential text “Simulacres et Simulation,” the record plays with synthesis and simulation, picking apart notions of modulatable, subjective veneers of reality. Informed by his experiences growing up while black in the French suburbs, Niamké, turns a critical gaze towards facades of inclusivity and equality, and how they diverge from lived experiences of discrimination and racism in France.
Sonically, “Simulacrum” departs from ventures through Sun Ra and Afrofuturist music, as Aho Ssan dreams up new journeys and visions. Wanting to collaborate with a jazz musician but unable to find one, he turned to building patches in Max/MSP to create simulations of them. The Mensah Imaginary Band features on tracks “Blind Power” and “We Don’t Have to Worry Anymore.” Taking shape across Max objects and patch cables, the ensemble takes its name from Niamké’s trumpet player grandfather Mensah Antony, who led a Ghanaian band in Ivory Coast in the 1950s and acted as a conductor at the country’s famed Abissa Festival.
Aho Ssan debuted “Simulacrum” at Berlin Atonal 2019. After studying graphic design and cinema, he started composing electronic music and creating his own digital instruments. Shortly thereafter Niamké went on to win the Foundation France television prize for his soundtrack to the 2015 film “D’Ingha Mago,” and has since worked on several projects affiliated with IRCAM.”
Moor Mother ‘fesses her deadliest fusion of jazz, rap, footwork and “anti-trip hop” on her most satisfying album to date, flanked by comrades including Black Quantum Futurism, Brother May, Pink Siifu, among many others.
Building on a resounding reputation established via her jazz-punk ensemble Irreversible Entanglements and guest spots with Justin K Broadrick & Kevin Martin (The Bug), not to mention scintillating solo sides, Moor Mother now mounts something of a defining opus (for now) with ‘Black Encyclopedia Of The Air.’ Issued by gargantuan US label Epitaph, the record necessarily places Camae Ayewa aka Moor Mother’s patented style of “blk girl blues, project housing bop, and black ghost songs” in a global spotlight, where she holds the world’s gaze over co-production by Olaf Melander, with whom she collaborated on 2020’s ‘Anthology 01.’ Although it’s perhaps shorn of the punkish burr to her previous sides, the album finds a concentrated coherence in its soulful intensity, all exquisitely calibrated for the late night experience and rewarding repeat, close listening.
Perhaps best considered in a vein with the avant, blue atmosphere of classics by Tricky or Keith Hudson, but ultimately, wholly unique in its cosmic longview; the album unfurls a rich tapestry of textured, spacious production, where Moor Mother’s protagonist is joined by a variegated roll call who echo her worries. The cuts are as neat as they are deep, tightly binding her multi-disciplinary styles in neck snap trip hop on ‘Mangrove’ with Euclid and Abntonia Gabrila, and linking Curl’s Brother May for sharp barbs on the outstanding, footwork-feathered highlight ‘Race Function’. At it’s core, the cracked drums and alien reverie of ‘Obsidian’ hits hard and weird, while ‘Made A Circle’ drips with blooz like some hybrid of King Britt and Burial vibes, lit by harmonious vocals from Nappy Nina, Maassai, Antonia Gabriela and Orion Sun, and sublime velvet chords, while ‘Tarot’ is the album’s late, mystic masterstroke of melt-on-mind spectral jazz spirits.
"Dubplate Specials" from King Tubby's Hometown Hi-Fi out on Jamaican Recordings.
"King Tubby's Hometown Hi-Fi was one the great Sound Systems in Jamaica. It also proved a fantastic outlet for the Dub Plate Specials cut at Tubby's studio, providing exclusive cuts to be played out and to intice the dance's audience. The tracks at the time were mainly cut over producer Bunny 'Striker' Lee rhythms, that Bunny stored at Tubby's studio which was in fact his home, 18 Drumilly Avenue,Kingston, Jamaica.
The versions were given exclusive plays at Tubby's sound before some finding their way on to vinyl, as the b-side version cut to it's a-side vocal, proving so popular that the records were often brought for its version side over its vocal counterpart. Jamaican Recordings have compiled a selection of cuts that were all tried and tested on Tubby's Home Town Hi Fi Sound System and worked a great set of Bunny Lee's rhythms in fine style."
Elemental Antarctic field recordings layered and processed to model and evoke the regions’s weather dynamics with hyperreal attention to detail
“From Eugene Ughetti: As Philip was preparing to leave for his second Australian Antarctic Division residency, he invited me to lunch to discuss the possibility of collaborating on a new work. He recounted his first experience on the ice, where the surrounding landscapes seemed to articulate avant-garde percussion works of an epic scale. On this visit, he wanted his field work to explicitly shape the formation of a new performance work with a particular focus on katabatic winds in and around Casey Base station.
Intrigued, I accepted the challenge provided I could create a live performance utilising the same recorded materials of ice, air and water. We undertook an ambitious collaboration with sound, instrument, lighting and industrial designers, a dramaturg and percussionist.
For Polar Force we built an environment, a white inflatable structure reminiscent of a remote research station on the ice. Emanating from outside the space come the complex and foreboding sounds of the natural environment, inside, a live event akin to scientific research in sound occurs. This hour-long performance installation work gives rise to a hyper-realistic sensing of Antarctica, bursting with natural beauty, power and the audible evidence of human impact.”
Call Super pipes up on his and Parris’ label with two bumpty, sidewinding house rollers in his patented, warm and woozy style
Stemming from a previous project entitled ‘Tell Me I Didn’t Choose This’, the tracks came about as a reflection on “a period in their life of upheaval, trauma and self-discovery”, and find relief in a blend of influences from jazzy Chicago and UK house, Detroit techno, and rooted West African rhythms.
‘Tree Song’ evolves over 10 minutes of wooden drums and bumbling square bass synched into a infectious lather of overlapping patterns hypnotically smeared with dub FX and floating pads. ‘bodiesinheaven II’ follows with a nimbly weft mix of West African and Detroit inspirations, knitting intricate drums to kaotic harmonies in a trusted manner bound to get eyes dreamily rolling in backa heads.
Intensely quiet, artful improv duelling by Korean and Argentinian players, allowing for lots of pent lacunæ and often hovering on the liminal. RIYL Okkyung Lee, Keiji Haino, Senyawa
“The debut album by international power duo DASOMxVIOLETA, a virtuosic meeting of minds between Seoul's Dasom Baek (traditional Korean flutes) and Violeta García (cello) of Buenos Aires. <Absence> is the sound of two leading composers and improvisers pushing their instruments to the technical and creative limit, then beyond into places unnavigated, futuristic and often haunting.
Dasom and Violeta tussle with playful and brutal mastery between passages of sparse melody, acrobatic percussion and harmonic drift, while interjecting voices fracture and reassemble into intimate, improbable forms. It is hard to imagine an album more abundant in ideas and motifs, all atomised as soon as they are brought to life. The effect is a tapestry of rugged spirits - moving, and at times just plain beautiful.
Recommended for fans of Okkyung Lee, John Butcher, Messiaen, and Ernst Reijseger.”
Absorbing, metaphysical, ambient-techno insights from the mysterious, Tea-loving Sa Pa on Mana; the hard-to-categorise label run by Blowing Up The Workshop’s Matthew Kent and Andrea Zarza of the British Library Sound Archive.
Flowing on from Mana’s Luc Ferrari and O Yama O audities, the label’s first release of 2019 keeps their aesthetics wide open and in flux between illusive sound design and subaquatic rhythm structures in a vein shared by classic Porter Ricks and Vladislav Delay.
Like Sa Pa’s previous albums for Giegling’s Forum and his work in the Rausch trio with Marcel Dettmann and Felix K, the sound of ‘In A Landscape’ continues to roll with a systolic vitality, seemingly getting under the skin of ambient and techno zones proper in order to dwell in the liminal, hypnagogic space where it’s hard to tell whether it’s night or day, or we’re experiencing waking life or deep dream time.
With remarkable sound sensitivity, the artist manipulates field recordings (including some salvaged from a field recorder thought lost during the raids on Bassiani last year) to generate thick, hazy layers of half-heard ambience and thrumming bass pulses that slosh with a fine appreciation of brownian motion and impressionistic electronic enigma.
If you love electronic music for its ability to emulate altered mental or physical states, then the way Sa Pa vacillates tone, texture, and mercurial emotions between the atomic crumble of ‘Ripsketch’, and the wide-open tract of dub techno that encompasses side D, will surely light up the imagination like a night sky seen from another planet.
I-f’s Murder Capital cough up a motherload of Gesloten Cirkel’s legendary work for the label (and Viewlexx), dating back to his debut EP, including the ’Submit X’ album, and covering later 12”s, compilation rarities and digi-only gems. Judging by the title ("Closed Book") - guess it's the end of an era?
Perhaps jogging the mind for some, and introducing the enigmatic producer to others, ‘Gesloten Boekwerk’ is a comprehensive survey of his chops for Murder Capital — which is basically his best work. His fierce electro calling card ’Submit X’ hits from the front, and reminders of his finesse are duly served between that album’s highlights ‘Zombiemachien Acid’, the rocking electro of ‘Arrested Development’ and the badheaded banger ‘Feat Liette’, plus the album’s digital exclusives, ‘Where’s Your Cash’ and ‘Thomas Mensch’ that may have escaped owners of the vinyl.
From his earliest 12” in 2009, the freakish ’Twisted Balloon’ and ’Swedish Lady’ still absolutely slap, while later 12”s are spotlighted with the slamming jakbeat pressure of ‘Chasing The Night Away’ and ‘Perron’, and the 14 minute acid head rinse ‘Never’, with a rarer deep acid electro nugget ‘Asleep’ lifted from Viewlexx’s multi-artist set of 2015. Still one of the best to do it this past decade. No nonsense business.
Gorgeous Balearic floatation tank vibes from another choice debutant to Good Morning Tapes, introducing Nueen with a romantically introspective suite of fluttering electronic productions gilded with glyding subbass, highly recommended if yr into the sferic label, Bola/0161-era Skam, Eno & Budd, Roméo Poirier or Perila.
Blessed with a play of warmth and dappled light recognisable to anyone who has visited or lives in the Mediterranean, ‘Nova Llum’ presents Nueen’s diaristic account of days lolling and contemplating life in the Balearic isles. Drawing inspiration from its sunbleached rocky mountains and brilliant blue waters unusually devoid of lobster-tanned holidayers during lockdown, Nueen lets his mind and arps drift unimpeded across the landscape in nine sublime parts with a sound bound to appeal to lovers of classic Eno & Budd or Roméo Poirier as much as strains of vapourwave, Perila’s ASMR textures and cult Grabaciones Accidentales.
With a light touch Nueen takes us there, beautifully evoking a slippage of time from afternoon to noche between the glitching butterfly net sweeps capturing the isle’s sleepy ambience in ‘Once You Have It,’ to the shimmering shorelights of ‘Viejo Roble del Camino’ that draw the album’s velvet curtains to a close. Where the backdrops feel still, ancient, natural, Nueen channels a gently vibrant human energy via his melodic and harmonic signature, with daubs of field recordings lending an intangible effervescence to the the tip-of-tongue strings in ‘Centro Gris,’ and with sparing use of percussion and subs giving it a sort of subliminal drive and saline buoyancy, especially in the skin-stroking bliss of ‘Hum.’
It’s an effortlessly gratifying and transportive album, thankfully not on the government’s red or amber lists so you can come and go as you please.
Almost a decade since his classic album ‘Noi No’, NYC’s Madteo runs amok on Honest Jon’s with nine tracks of groove graffiti, scrawling on disco, hip hop, house and garage styles with inimitably thrifty, freehand tekkers
With the dance gee’d up by Madteo’s ’Str8 Crooked’ batch - his first 12” in years - 'teo continues to express a mix of deadly cool and charmingly frazzled dance trax in his patented rug-slipping/rug-cutting fashion on 5th studio album, ‘Head Gone Wrong by Noise.’ Club music by nature, but with an abundance of detail and chicanery that will come to light with headphones and home listening, it’s another masterclass in how to do it your own way with nary a fuck given for norms, but still loadsa love for the original forms.
Whether turning deep disco boogie into a psychoactive lather, as on ‘Since Man Crawled Out of The Slime’, or voicing the buzz in his head on ’Not This, Not That’, he simply can’t help but do it with properly slanted style. Upending the contents of local record shop bargain bins into a bucket-headed smoke out, the results spell out a sort of slippery, noirish soundtrack to nocturnal jags between greasy dive bars and backstreet pick-ups, getting progressively lost to its own lowlit world in the most absorbing way.
His avant B-boy/soundboy chops are at full flex on the slompy bomb ‘Big Stack Attack’, and framed at his longest and loosest in the album’s core trio of mazy jazz-house joints between ‘Deserts of Social Isolation’, the rangy swang of ‘Freeze The Cheese’ and the deep fried drums of ‘They Rolled Over For Him And He Rolled Over Them’, with a real future classic in the air-step strut of ‘People Impersonating Persons.’ Fans of everyone from Shake to Actress, Demdike Stare and Theo Parrish who don’t know this G owe themselves a check. Everyone else; you know the score!
Treat thy ear to the lushly abundant possibilities of just intonation tunings with Duane Pitre’s 2nd volume of ‘The Harmonic Series’, starring spellbinding turns by Kali Malone, Caterina Barbieri, Catherine Lamb, Tashi Wada, Byron Westbrook, and himself
Returning to one of the most fascinating, ancient aspects of musical composition, Duane Pitre curates an unmissable follow-up to the 2009 compilation ‘The Harmonic Series’, inviting a new wave of microtonal explorers to fill the boots of Ellen Fullman & Theresa Wong, Pauline Oliveros, Charles Curtis and others who starred on the first set. For the uninitiated, and open-eared, listeners; just intonation is a method of creating tuning systems that existed millennia before Western music contracted to the 12 notes of equal temperament.
It is a system that has lain at the roots of myriad Indian, Persian, and East Asian musical traditions for over 2500 years, and offers the user practically limitless possibilities to work in the spaces between the notes that Western music has become often painfully locked into since the c.17th, and would only begin to emerge from with thanks to the likes of Harry Partch, Terry Riley and La Monte Young who made concerted efforts to reintroduce its sense of wonder to experimental music during the mid c.20th.
As a non musician, this set of ears might never fully grasp the maths at its root, but over the years we’ve come to realise many of the most affective pieces of music we’ve encountered are written in and explore just intonation. The six artists on ‘The Harmonic Series Volume 2’ are patently aware of the system’s potential to express and induce the uncanniest sensations and do so with life-affirming beauty in their diverse results here, ranging from the incredible subtlety of a rare synthesiser work by violinist Catherine Lamb, to the head-melting tang of Bryon Westbrook and the air-rippling bliss of Kali Malone.
Once experienced, it’s hard to shake the feeling of one’s head being naturally reprogrammed by the ostensibly unusual harmonic relationships of these tunings, and by extension it’s maybe easier to understand why the church wouldn’t allow it in their music, and why even contemporary religious fundamentalists from regions it originated in are also scared of its potential to make one aware of some presence or feeling beyond explanation. All credit to Duane Pitre, the artists involved, and the ever reliable Important Records for a timely, humbling reminder of music’s mystifying power at its sublime and transcendent best.
This lot have released 5 x 12”s anonymously over the last 3 years via Hardwax and there’s no info about them anywhere, pretty sneaky.
They now land on Mana, a label so esoteric it has a flowchart on its website showing you how to get from Luc Ferrari to Nico Jaar in one short leap.
There are 4 long tracks, one per side, each clocking in at 15 mins and each taking time to expand into being. There is persistent water drumming, the a side is all exotic melodica, nature sounds and bells with Flanger-esque bass humps plus some water drumming, side 2 has a very burial mix sounding bassline sat low in the mix to give the water drumming more presence, side C is more reflective and serene tropical vibes, with side D giving it some classic dub pressure and location recordings which we think we once heard Bill Kouligas play on the radio a few years back and which is dope as fuck.
So yeah, it sounds a bit like a k-hole version of Burnt Friedman & Atom Heart’s early Flanger gear crossed with Burial Mix and that incredible water drumming vid dust to digital posted a while back on there tweeter.
Apparently it's been over a decade since avant jazz deity Pharoah Sanders recorded any new music, it took Sam Shephard aka Floating Points to coax the 80 year old out of near-retirement.
Anyone familiar with Sanders' work will know how life-affirming his music can be, from his early work with John Coltrane, through 1967's mind-altering "Tauhid" to his spiritual pairing with Alice Coltrane on "Journey in Satchidananda". Here, he takes a more restrained role, offering bursts of tenor to compliment Shephard's pretty snippets of piano and synth. As "Promises" builds, the London Symphony Orchestra's presence becomes more stark, evolving the slow-moving work into cinematic levels of grandeur.
It's pretty senseless comparing "Promises" to Sanders' early catalogue as he's most definitely in a completely different place mentally. But his cloud-reaching brilliance is still a joy to behold; when his familiar overblown phrases appear from Shephard's gossamer synth clouds, it's hard not to smile. We can't help but wonder how different it might have been if Sanders had been paired with Dean Blunt, mind you. Just saying.
Laurine Frost wriggles his way through dub infected, smoke-laden horizons under the Haramia Tapes veil.
"Bending and stretching time mischievously while peering through his mask. The saga continues no differently than any of Frost's other elusive outings, genre defiant as ever, we get a glimpse of what allegedly is an unreadable and luminous future.
Following his complex concept driven offerings, on ‘Daydreaming’ we are treated to a set of groovy and hypnotic vignettes flowing ever so fluidly between beat, rhythm, and harmony. Surgically layered, yet expertly stripped back, these bedtime ragers are crafted for those waking moments where the body becomes the mind.”
Our album of the year 2019 is Kali Malone’s 'The Sacrificial Code’ - a major work featuring almost two hours of concentrated, creeping organ pieces. 'The Sacrificial Code' provided us with precious mental refuge just as the world started to spin out of control around us. It's an album that somehow slowed everything down, allowing us to take notice of every slight movement, as if every minute shift in sound became magnified through stillness. It's a stunning realisation of ideas borne out of academic and conceptual rigour, with a perception-altering quality that encouraged exploration without a preordained endpoint - the antithesis to the language of colourless musical platitudes we've become so accustomed to.
‘The Sacrificial Code’ takes a more surgical approach to the methods first explored on last year’s ‘Organ Dirges 2016 - 2017’. Over the course of three parts performed on three different organs, Malone’s minimalist process captures a jarring precision of closeness, both on the level of the materiality of the sounds and on the level of composition.The recordings here involved careful close miking of the pipe organ in such a way as to eliminate environmental identifiers as far as possible - essentially removing the large hall reverb so inextricably linked to the instrument. The pieces were then further compositionally stripped of gestural adornments and spontaneous expressive impulse - an approach that flows against the grain of the prevailing musical hegemony, where sound is so often manipulated, and composition often steeped in self indulgence. It echoes Steve Reich’s sentiment “..by voluntarily giving up the freedom to do whatever momentarily comes to mind, we are, as a result, free of all that momentarily comes to mind.”
With its slow, purified and seemingly austere qualities ‘The Sacrificial Code’ guides us through an almost trance-inducing process where we become vulnerable receptors for every slight movement, where every miniature shift in sound becomes magnified through stillness. As such, it’s a uniquely satisfying exercise in transcendence through self restraint - a stunning realisation of ideas borne out of academic and conceptual rigour which gradually reveals startling personal dimensions. It has a perception-altering quality that encourages self exploration free of signposts and without a preordained endpoint - the antithesis to the language of colourless musical platitudes we've become so accustomed to.
Francesco Cavaliere & Tomoko Sauvage explore the semiotics of the colour green in a probing, quietly absorbing suite of records from their ongoing and highly promising collaboration.
Both responsible for some of the most beguiling releases in recent memory, Tomoko Sauvage brings her porcelain bowls, water sounds and array of hydrophones to Francesco Cavaliere’s dreamlike staging in ‘Viridescens’ for an utterly spellbinding suite that transcends the sum of its parts.
Both artists draw each other out of themselves and on to a shared plane of surreality, with Cavaliere opting to omit his usual vocals but still infuse his playfully oneiric spirit, while Sauvage’s elemental sounds feel unusually magnified and part of a far plusher ecology of environmental recording. The duo point to influences ranging from Henning Christiansen’s Green Music on a conceptual level, and a lineage of environmental music from Walter Tilgner to Knud Viktor and the likes of Kankyo-Ongaku and Hiroshi Yoshimura, and we can also hear analogs everywhere from Dolphins Into The Future’s field recording sojourns to Ora Clementi’s ambient inceptions or the liminal zones of Elodie.
Anyone previously snagged by either of their solo works will surely recognise the emergence of structures new to either of their oeuvres developing from the stroked bells of ‘a man with a green hat’ to the spikier, overgrown variegation of ‘Rainforest Synthesis’, with ‘≒ AO (blue light is green)’ finding tantalising new interstices of quietude that make the the album’s 9 minute standout ‘Twin Emerald Dolphins’ appear intoxicatingly lush in relief.
Discombobulated acid, piquant minimalism, and freeform computer x synth noise graffiti from Finlay Shakespeare, a guess-again composer best known for his mutant pop on Editions Mego
Commissioned as the 100th release on the superlative Superpang label, ‘Zero Purism Process Control’ plays to the Bristol-based artist’s freakier side, taking the opportunity to coax properly irregular, asymmetric and unstable functions from a set-up of “outdated synthesiser equipment coupled with modern DSP all being controlled by computer based patches I made myself.” More specifically, we’re talking Buchla, CGS/Serge, Arp and stock Yamaha kit shaped via Intellijel, Harvestman and DigiTech digital processing, with hands on tweaks made and captured whilst recording. If you’re after his mix of straight and gurney pop, best think again, ‘cos this one’s much better filed next to the likes of Russell Haswell or Marcin Pietruszenwski.
Aye, fans of crafty earfloss will be in their element here, with the atom-spiting audness of ‘Acid Easel’ setting the tone for a supremely bendy set that, despite its abstract nature, does bear some more melodic sentiment on the likes of its Aleksi Perälä-like cascade of bleeps in ‘CrapDAC Overflow’ and the sore tang of ‘Spring Buffer’, and with some semblance of funk in the Autchrian angularity of ‘Window Flyer’. But it’s more dominated by urges to the inexplicable, as with the batshit plongs of ’2010 Could have Been’ and skull scrape textures of ‘Anti-Vax Sick My Knoedel.’
Nairobi ambient wizard KMRU combs his archives to assemble this v enjoyable collection of odds 'n sods. The drones are pushed to one side for a hot minute as he explores Emeralds-esque cosmic psychedelia, clankin house, contemplative piano-bient and ping-ponging early electronic moods.
Following a banner 2020 with acclaimed albums on Editions Mego, Dagoretti and Rope Records, Joseph Kamaru - now based in Berlin - has selected some of his favorite Bandcamp-released tracks for "Logue". All of this music was produced at a time when Kamaru was evolving quickly as a young artist, learning his craft and placing himself within his shifting surroundings. Written between 2017 and 2019, the tracks show an inquisitive mind grabbing different ideas and sounds, personalizing them with field recordings and adding glacial synthesized elements that would characterize later recordings like "Peel" and "Jar".
For anyone who's only heard his more sensual and abstract long-form work, "Logue" might be surprising. The music here is more compact and more Kompakt, leaning towards the Cologne label's ongoing "Pop Ambient" compilations. It's good-natured, upbeat music that shifts between lowercase IDM-flecked house ('Jinja Encounters', '11'), Japanese-style architectural ambient ('Bai Fields', 'Logue', 'Points') and fractal cosmic deep space exploration ('Argon', 'A Meditation of Listening'). Recommended.
Several years in the making, and marking 20 years of the cult minimalist project, the richly intoxicating ‘Living Space’ sees Eleh pull back from physical pressures to coax out a more natural cadence and way of arranging that reflects the slowness of plant life and discreet, painterly forms of ambient composition, underpinned by those pristine, deadly subs. And yeah, that second track basically sounds like one long extended Reese Bass - we ain't complaining.
“Following ‘Slow Fade for Hard Sync’ (2009) and Location Momentum (2010), Living Space is Eleh’s third physical release for Touch. Seven years in the making, this new release consolidates the artist’s parallel narrative between a series of vinyl and CD releases for Important Records – where the emphasis is on a minimalist aesthetic – to a visual counterpoint that hints at the cinematic and painterly qualities of the music.
Sound, as a healing force, is an idea as old as the medium itself. Inspired by the legacy and above all the spirit of John Coltrane, Living Space features 5 new compositions that seek to express the beauty of slow change, not only through the microtonal shifts in sound that Eleh navigates but moving with the atmospheric and shape–shifting conditions that the music creates as it interacts with the listening space, whether bedroom or concert hall, each one of them unique.
If the ambition of Living Space is to reflect both personal and collective growth cycles, the experience of its audition has the effect of stopping time. Melodic and harmonic progressions are implied and not stated obviously, to enable listeners to apply their own emotions and feelings to the music.
Using modular and analogue synthesisers, piano, organ, bass and symphonic chimes, Living Space stresses the promise of the CD’s final track – ‘Lighter Touch’ – forsaking the forceful hand for an approach that mirrors the slower and softer exposures of plant life and leaf formations, slow moving waters, not flash floods nor forest fires.”
Tirzah's second album is a fuzz'd-aut, narcotic dreamscape, all screwed trip-pop soulfulness and buzzing, chaotic layers of harmonic noize and hazy ambience. An even slower burn than her cult debut, "Colourgrade" is subtly surprising and calmly mindblowing - co-produced again with Mica Levi and Coby Sey plus an additional stealth production job from Kwake Bass & Dean Blunt. Yeah, Next level.
There's something about the way "Colourgrade" was recorded that makes each song sound like a memory, or a blast of familiar warmth from another room. But Tirzah hasn't doused her "Devotion" follow-up in cheap nostalgia or genre signalling. She uses memory as a creative tool, to sketch the outlines of songs and emotions in charcoal before she inks her evolving narrative. This time the songs are broadly structured around motherhood, being written after the birth of her first child and right before the arrival of her second. In her own words, they detail the process of "recovery, gratitude and new beginnings."
Since "Devotion" was released in 2018, we've witnessed a resurgence of interest in lo-glo trip-hop flutter, and since lockdown the home listening mood has been amplified. But Tirzah smartly swerves this obvious route, retaining the soulful downtempo loveliness of her debut but pepping it up with dissociated abstraction, pensive glaciality and smoove, slippery romanticism. In contemplating motherhood and the bond between parent and child, she creates musical swaddling that feels soothing but doesn't resort to cheap thrills.
The title track cracks open the record with timestretched words and rubbery synths melted over brassy bass sounds in arhythmic cacophony. Whistles take over completely and the expected beat never arrives; it's like a soulful acapella injected into a mercifully short psychedelic voyage. Advance single 'Tectonic' offers us the decelerated groove we may have been expecting, with icey cold vocals over downsampled funk that's half '96 Tricky and half '21 Taz & Meeks.
At its best, "Colourgrade" is unsettlingly simple. On its surface the Dean Blunt co-produced 'Recipe' is a stark vocal over a squashed half-speed beat, but repeat listens tear the seal off the tub, letting the prismatic warmth of complex emotionality haze into the atmosphere - it's just so good. The album's longest piece, 'Crepuscular Rays' is also its most uncompromisingly strange, with Tirzah's disembodied, mutated voice dripping like strawberry syrup over creamy phased waves of strummed electric guitar.
One of the most satisfying and consistently surprising records we've heard in 2021 so far, "Colourgrade" feels as sentient and unpredictable as the new lives that inspired it. It's gonna keep on growing.
Horacio Vaggione (born 21 January 1943) is an Argentinian composer of electro-acoustic and instrumental music whose music is regularly played worldwide in major centers and festivals of contemporary music.
"La Maquina de Cantar" (1978) is his first solo recorded work; originally released on the Italian Cramps Records label as the 18th volume of the Nova Musicha series dedicated to contemporary avant-garde composers, "La Maquina de Cantar" is now made available again on Dialogo in a faithful reproduction of the original gatefold cover artwork, including also an inner sleeve with the English translation of the liner notes".
Steve Lacy (July 23, 1934 – June 4, 2004) was an American jazz saxophonist and composer recognized as one of the important players of soprano saxophone.
"Lacy worked extensively in experimental jazz and to a lesser extent in free improvisation, but his music was typically melodic and tightly-structured. Lacy also became a highly distinctive composer, with compositions often built out of little more than a single questioning phrase, repeated several times. In 1977 he released a one-off record titled "Straws" for the Italian Cramps Records label, as the 6th volume of the DIVerso series (which included, among others, Demetrio Stratos' solo albums) dedicated to contemporary avant-garde composers.
"Straws" is now made available again on Dialogo in a faithful reproduction of the original gatefold cover artwork and inner sleeve."
Maxwell Sterling and DJ Plead lend crafty hands to Phillip Jondo’s classy debut melange of soundtrack, dembow, jungle and techno influences, dispensed by Dekmantel
With the intention to blur boundaries between headphone and home listening situations, Cologne’s Jondo ventures an immersive style of sound design benefiting from his heightened rhythmic instincts. In duo with Sterling, who leads on from his albums with Ecstatic and AD 93 in recent years, their ‘Dunkelziffer I’ sets the scene with RPG-like intrigue and sense of world building, flush with classical turns of phrase and rent with crisp electronics, where its part ‘II’ follows with scything dembow rhythms, cute bassline house motifs and streaking trance lines recoiling like Paul Marmota meets TCF.
On ‘Whowhuwho’ he tags in hard drum wunderkind DJ Plead for a round of killer jungle drums that barely touch the floor, kept up with Plead’s signature trills and deftest subbass hits and its airy, owl-like lead - you know all Plead productions are essential already. Russia’s Moa Pillar chases up a string of zingers for for Moscow’s ПИР (Peer) with a tuffer remix full of choppy percussive parries and a tightened up lead line.
Jealous God call for EBM reinforcements with three new tracks from Pye Corner Audio, and a collab between Marcel Dettmann & Silent Servant.
Pye Corner Audio does it slow, grubby and inquisitive on Delay Gratification, teasing in a sort of industrial zombie cumbia, while Meet Me In The Void follows a muggier hunch into Carpenter-esque synth alleys, and The Future is a bleak as f^ck black knot of acid rolling with stygian function.
Dettmann subtly indulges his longheld passion and fascination for EBM in collaboration with Juan Mendez aka Silent Servant on The Bond, where they marry a strapping lead arp with floating, over-the-shoulder voices and booming kicks, all pinned into place by a reverberating snare that’s sure to ricochet around Berghain’s main hall like stay shrapnel.
Æthenor's Daniel O'Sullivan impresses again with a second set of off-kilter library music. There's no breakbeats here - O'Sullivan tracks across vast musical territory skirting Indian raga, dense electronic ambient, early synth music, psychedelic folk, choral music and plenty more.
Following last year's silky smooth "Electric Māyā", O'Sullivan's latest library excursion is a deep dive into his meditative realm. It's hard to imagine a lot of this music being used for TV, but that's what makes it better than you'd hope.
O'Sullivan is at his best when he sounds most angelic, like on opening track 'Perpetual Ascension', the choral 'Palo Sagrado' and the striking, church-bell led 'Head in the Bellfry'. Paper Dollhouse's Astrud Steeholder assists on the latter, and on the poppy 'Orgone Attenuation' that sounds almost like The Knife.
Good Morning Tapes snag this ace chopped & screwed mixtape from "Californian artist & nomadic free spirit” Swampy, best known as a photographer and artist who's appeared in National Geographic, Time magazine & Juxtapoz.
Swampy's online diary/journal of his train hopping adventures set the backdrop for the mixtape, built around his own edits of everything from countrified railtrack blues to fuzzed out desert rock, bubbling 'soothing sounds for baby’ to slowed down gospel and squashed funk - all with evocative transitions and the littlest hobo vibes you just cant argue with. As the label put it:
“Swampy has an intuitive knack for not only capturing magical moments & incredible scenery on his travels, but also a gifted musical ear, crafting his own chopped & screwed edits to accompany these online visual diaries - which will melt any nostalgic heart that yearns to roam free.”
Aye, it’s a goodun.