Semtek’s Lost Futures label chase their ace Culture Clash debut with a necessary introduction to Egypt’s PanSTARRS; Cairean peers of Zuli, in possession of a wickedly brooding and concentrated post-punk/shoegaze style recalling The Birthday Party, Suicide, Lydia Lunch, Yves Tumor
Quite the switch up from Culture Clash’s early ‘90s techno hybrids, PanSTARRS plot a path thru dense guitar textures and stygian machine rhythms guided by the flickering light of Youssef Abouzeid on a slow, bristling handful of songs from the recent past. The songs hark to a time when, as Youssef writes “I was actively occupied by arguments on the fusion of culture in creative context, specifically between western and arabic elements”, and the music follows with a scorched blend of brittle machine pulses and keening guitars picking out piquant, distorted melodies that contrast with the haunted, strung-out vox.
Landing on the sweet ’n sore spot between Arabic and Western traditions, ‘Ghaby Ghaby Ghaby’ presents a decidedly unique proposition from his neck of the woods, hustling an experimental, mid-decade sound that joins the dots between stylized ‘80s rock experiments and a wave of recent song-writers and producers from Cairo testing new fusions of electronics and traditional themes. Pardon our prejudices but It’s really not what we’d expect from Cairo, although it’s not hard to draw lines in the sand between PanSTARRS and The Birthday Party’s desert goth in ‘Men Gheir Wa7da’ in that heat-struck sort of way.
Flanked by Hazm El Shamy on drums and Ismail Arafa on bass, Youssef cuts a timeless classic swagger on the Suicide-like charge of ‘Tomtit Nami’, and even recalls Zelionople with an Arabic accent on ‘Sahla Ya Khaifa’, while ‘7omar 3ala 7osan’ could be compared with a burned out Yves Tumor, striking a strong balance of grit and expressive contemporary soul that gets under the skin.
Prolific Los Angeles beat scene / jazz scene staple Carlos Niño calls up friends Sam Gendel, DNTEL, Laraaji and others for a many-headed celebration of spiritual jazz. Absolute zoners for fans of Alice Coltrane, Matthewdavid, Dilla or Kamasi Washington.
'More Energy Fields' is yet another full-length from Niño and friends, following last year's "Actual Presence". Yet again, Niño calls on regular contributors Jamael Dean, Randy Gloss, Devin Daniels, Sam Gendel and Nate Mercereau, making room for DNTEL on modular synthesizer and new age legend Laraaji on zither and voice.
If you've heard Niño's previous recordings you should know broadly what to expect. He's an expert bandleader, and his particular brand of heady beat scene-doused spiritual jazz is a well-worn, proven concept at this point. "More Energy Fields, Current" is Niño's most confident material to date, and its high points - the giddy 'Nightswimming', Laraaji-touched zoner 'Ripples Reflection Loop, or lifted beatbox jammer 'Now the background is the foreground' - are worth the asking price alone.
Classy jazz fusion from the lads behind Max D, Motion Graphix, and Co La, getting back in the Lifted zone after a pair of ace albums for PAN, and now back to Future Times. We've no label notes on this one so not 100% who else is featured...
‘3:2’ is their subtlest and perhaps most classically authentic take on this style, foregrounding lithe, live-sounding instrumentation over the slippery electronic dynamism of earlier outings. The electronics are still there in the zapping, Moogy synth lines and Fender Rhodes vamps, and more craftily subsumed or rendered in the studio-as-instrument mixing trickery, but the emphasis is clearly on showing off their vibesome instrumental skills.
In that sense they nod to Miles Davis as much as his seminal producer Teo Macero in the 10 mins of shapeshifting groove on ’Cushion Push’, before getting skronkier, odder in ‘Purplelight Beat’ with something like a fractal Afrobeat jazz turn, and bringing it with lip-smacking, heads-down swang in ‘Cushion Beat.’
Exquisite neo-folk from Kiev Ukraine, 1995, dropping on the mind’s eye like freezer-fresh LSD to conjure bucolic imagery fraught with a frazzled, hyaline tension that could snap either way. So good this one.
"Svitlana Nianio and Oleksandr Yurchenko are musicians with a long history in the still-mysterious Kiev Underground. Nianio’s first group Cukor Bela Smert [Sugar, The White Death] were active from the late 80’s through to the early 90’s, and following an intense period of touring, collaboration, experimentation and a string of mixtapes and self-published recordings, Nianio’s first official solo album ‘Kytytsi’ was released in 1999 by Poland’s Koka Records. Oleksandr Yurchenko, a longtime collaborator and a pivotal figure in the Kiev music scene, was instrumental in creating the Novaya Scena, a loose conglomerate of artists who encouraged each other to excavate both the sounds of the West and Ukrainian tradition. ‘Znayesh Yak? Rozkazhy’ (‘Know How? Tell Me’) is the duo’s most fully realised collaboration, an enchanting, complete world in which Yurchenko’s instrumentation and playfulness with form frames Nianio’s otherworldly soprano, recalling Liz Fraser steeped in contrapuntal melody and hymnal improvisation. Originally made available on a self-released cassette in 1996 (re-issued in 2017 by Ukraine’s Delta Shock label) where the album was twinned with ‘Lisova Kolekciya’ (re-issued on LP in 2017 by Skire) this is the debut release of ‘Znayesh Yak? Rozkazhy’ outside of Ukraine.
Recorded in an abandoned park in Kiev during a fertile period for artists and musicians following the collapse of the Soviet Union, ‘Znayesh Yak? Rozkazhy’ sees Nianio and Yurchenko combine Casio keyboard, hammered dulcimer, percussion, and Nianio’s unmistakeable soprano vocalisations to create music sympathetic to the specific locations in which they chose to record. Yurchenko’s contribution is perhaps more present on this recording than anything else we have heard from the duo. His percussive dulcimer playing provides the basis on which Nianio can weave delicate keyboard lines while playfully contorting her voice, shifting from a low register reminiscent of Nico to what could be perceived as the call of a bird or an animal in distress. Whatever the intent, the effect is haunting and beautiful in equal measure. There’s a prevailing earthiness on the recordings, found in the warm hiss of the lo-fi means of recording or the grinding, unspecified sounds that occasionally accompany the melody, like drones created on the fly by hands trying to keep warm in the ice. A prevailing mood of fragility and beauty seeps from these melodies, delicate moments of clarity spun by the two musicians. ‘Znayesh Yak? Rozkazhy’ is a dream spun in twilight, a crystalline, private world where the listener feels both alien and welcome.”
Berlin mainstay Ziúr shatters her musical glass ceiling with this completely essential, exalted, airlock dub pop masterpiece. Jagged, genre-bleached instrumentals that sound like John Carpenter, Talk Talk and AFX mucking with the dials at Black Ark Studios.
Sometimes it takes a period of dramatic change to truly channel the creative mind. For Ziúr, lockdown meant winding down the momentum she'd been building for years running game-changing events in Berlin and regularly touring as a DJ. Facing the anxiety of endless time and missing the affirming validation of social space, she retreated inwards, configuring a sound-world that's part biography and part escapist fantasy. "Antifate" is a concept album of sorts, but built around a place rather than a specific narrative. Ziúr uses sounds - clattering off-world percussion, booming subs, whimsical instrumental snatches - to texture-map a 4k, widescreen image of the world of Cockaigne, the medieval land of plenty.
In 14th-century European folklore, Cockaigne was a peasant's dreamland, where gluttony and laziness was encouraged, sex was readily available and food was free and luxurious. Ziúr fleshes out this oddly contemporary anarchist concept by spiking her music with aural opulence, engineering it for sensual pleasure and bathing it in reverberating excess. The tracks map out a personal journey that's seen Ziúr shape-shift through various scenes and sounds over the years, from death metal and aggy hardcore punq to deconstructed club and shimmering abstract electronics. This openhearted storytelling has always been present in her DJ sets, but on "Antifate" resides far outside the club.
'Orange Cream Drip' sounds like a no-wave "Assault On Precinct 13" beefed up with tin can percussion and rolling kicks; the title track is a dreamy psychedelic shuffle that reminds of '90s back-room head-fuzz and Seefeel's electrically enhanced shoegaze; and 'Fringe Casual' is Talk Talk's "Spirit Of Eden" fragmented and rebuilt from damaged circuit boards. But Ziúr saves the best for last, closer 'The Carry' might be her most unashamedly elegant track to date, with lilting fairytale flute loops splayed over gut-wrenching bass and malfunctioning electronix. It's a fittingly theatrical finale to one of the deepest records we've heard this year.
Two eternal shoegazers render their first collaboration after many years in orbit of each other, resulting in a swoon-worthy suite of vaporous vignettes and loner strums textured with immersive field recordings
Presented as a kind of collection of short stories, ‘You Can See Your Own Way Out’ sees the longtime pals finally combine their talents - Ahmed’s explorative guitar/synth work, and Cantu-Ledesma’s enigmatic electronics and field recordings - in strokes of strung-out heartache and pastoral bliss that holly transcend the sum of their parts. It’s a rich romantic album, evocative as a decaying photograph and full of tristesse that, considering it’s their first recording together, ironically feels like the soundtrack to a break-up.
The curt title of ‘You Can See Your Own Way Out’ signifies a sense of malady that diffuses throughout the recording, with their mostly instrumental songs variously connoting fleeting feels of grief, regret, and introspection, yet tenderly balancing their sombreness with a sort of redemptive promise. The rustling midnight restlessness of ‘Never Sleep At Night’ sets the mood, and their elision of bruised synth pads with murmuring guitar in ‘Dark From Daybreak’ evokes a sort of Lynchian blueness, while at its core the likes of ‘Mr. Sophistication’ allows for gorgeous glimmer of hope that they build upon to the peripheries of ‘City Walls’ and shores up in ’Shining Sea.’
Pure Serge Modular magick from Thomas Ankersmit, emulating the peerless sonic phenomenology of Maryanne Amacher recordings on a remarkable release with Bartolomé Sanson and Félicia Atkinson’s Shelter Press.
Maryanne Amacher (1938-2009) is an icon of 20th century experimental music who studied with Stockhausen and collaborated with Cage, and is regarded among electronic music’s most distinguished pioneers. ‘Perceptual Geography’ is a concept developed by Maryanne and here articulated by Thomas Ankersmit on the Serge Modular synth system that she introduced to him around 2003, when the nascent artist was getting to grips with an EMS Synthi.
The Serge Modular system, invented by Serge Tcherepnin - a close friend of Maryanne’s - has since become Ankersmit’s machine of choice, with his take on ‘Perceptual Geography’ - referring to a 3D diffusion of otoacoustic (sounds that appear to emanate from inside the ear) and other sonic phenomena - manifest as a compelling tribute to Maryanne’s research into non-musical, psychoacoustic phenomena and proprioception - which is also known as the way human gauge and engage sound within space.
Like Maryanne’s peer, Eliane Radigue, her work was known to a rarified few during the 20th century, but Ankersmit’s interest in her work is indicative of a new generation who have encountered and become enthralled by Maryanne’s probing studies and practice since the early ‘00s, often via presentations of her work in Berlin during that period that lead to Ars Electronica awarding her their highest honour, the Golden Nica, in 2005.
On ‘Perceptual Geography’ Ankersmit emulates the late, great polymath’s combination of scientific rigour and avant pursuit with 40’ of physically powerful subbass textures and pealing sirens-in-your-head that may make listeners check that the oven is switched off. There’s a steeply abstract dramaturgy to proceedings that richly connects with Maryanne’s own iterations, connoting a sense of the unknown and unknowable that’s surely life-affirming to listener’s of a certain, searching, but hard to please disposition.
Intoxicating ambient R&B vapours from Jio, the tenderest alias of J. Albert, landing in gauzy ground between that recent John F.M. ace and The Wkend
Reviving an aegis first birthed for Quiet Time Tapes in 2019, Jiovanni Nadal presents his most vulnerable, sensual work as Jio, quite literally personalised with the inclusion of his sparingly used vocals. Like we said, it really calls to mind the soulache of that recent John F.M. joint, but dialled down to pillow talk degrees and practically smudging out the drums, leaving only watermark traces of percussive inference.
The three songs really do not outstay their welcome, and in fact could easily be twice as long and still have our attention. ‘Ride or Die’ has nowt to do with DMX (RIP) and everything to do with gently rubbing your temples and sweetly singing from the ether, while ‘4D4U4MEP’ sees him quietly express his woes on chiffon keys and new age pads, before the barely there touch and tip-of-tongue vocals in ‘HME~out’ takes this sound to a naturally faded conclusion.
Don’t sleep until you’ve got this cued up ready to drift off with.
Swiss artist Magda Drozd follows 2019's acclaimed "Songs For Plants" with a dedication to the apartment building she called home for several years. Blending skeletal pop elements with field recordings and subtle ambience, she makes an avant garde statement about the home and its sacred space.
Built from field recordings Drozd made in her building, she expands them into spine-tingling ambient drones, or layered vocals, pads or drum machine rhythms. 'Over Exposure' sounds like a nauseous alternative "Drive" soundtrack with synths echoing around deep, reverberating clangs and ghostly pads. 'Pink Chimney' meanwhile is a subtle pop charmer, with hints of Jenny Hval's surrealist lyricism.
As the album dips into its second half, the environmental recordings - gurgling pipes, scraping machines, buzzing light fixtures - are pushed to center stage, enhancing the general feeling of anxiety. At times, it feels like an unusually fitting soundtrack to the harrowing, realist work of Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieślowski. If that doesn't pique your interest, go watch "Dekalog" immediately.
Manchester psych/sludge rockers Gnod traverse alternate universes on this trippy latest slab. One for the Les Rallizes Dénudés obsessives or the Can fan club.
'Easy to Build, Hard to Destroy' is the latest blessing from long-running Manc outfit Gnod, finding the band yet again diving into the sludgy psych rawk dungeon, fusing lysurgic feedback passages with the kind of motorik rhythmic push you'd more readily expect to find on a Neu! album. Rock 'n roll is the backdrop, and not the kind of rock that's been steadily sterilized each year, but the recorded-in-a-basement rock that birthed the punk revolution in the early 1970s. Everything on the album sizzles with an energy that seems to welcome failure - you get the feeling that at any point the power could be cut and everything would be lost, and in a digital world, that's refreshing.
From the magickal opening clank of 'Elka', through the wall-of-sound Grateful Dead-gone-Stooges frazzled of 'They Live' to the haunted spoken word and drone horror grime of 'Deadbeatdisco', there's a dazzling scope to the album. Gnod refuse to stay moored in one particular genre or other, they're dedicated to grit, and seem completely nonplussed about where that grit might take them. One moment the band is in Dusseldorf, the next NYC circa 1982, but the texture is the same - Gnod make sludgy jammers, and that's something to celebrate.
A excellent primer on claire rousay’s filigree detailed and perceptive compositions, demonstrating their transition from drummer to composer of musique concrète and new music across 2 hours of recordings made prior to the new album ‘A Softer Focus’
Quietly questioning the nature of music and arranged sound,, ‘A Collection’ scans back over some five years of recordings made by rousay between San Antonio, TX and Saint Louis, MO, to present an engrossing introduction to their wonderfully elusive and allusive work. The first half is given to their earlier recordings as a drummer, with 67’ of sprawling improvisation spanning concrète-like scrapes and jazzier, free meter thru to barely-there inference and in depth explorations of gamelan-like minimalism, each defined by a sparse crispness and attention to detail.
On the 2nd set that sharp focus is found in transition to a more layered, composed style of concrète, proper in ‘things i doubt you’d care about’ and get increasingly more interesting. Liminal vocal intimations elide in filigree forms with location recordings and hints of percussion, finding a sort of languorous poetry in domesticity on ‘for theo, erik, meghan, alex’, and their previously issued work ‘a moment in st. louis.’ And if you’re still here, 100% make sure to check for the candid text-to-speech revelations of ‘I’m Not a Bad Person’ that close the album with a series of therapeutic confessions alternating between uncomfortable and laugh out loud funny and set to keys and drones in an uncanny way recalling Terre Thaemlitz’s best.
Screaming hardcore from Donny rave dynamo India Jordan, with five hi NRG and deep hits following accolades for their 2020 EP (Resident Advisor’s #1 Best Track of 2020, Crack Magazine’s #2 and Pitchfork’s #21)
Maintaining the momentum of their hugely praised ‘For You’ EP, India slaps the peak-o-meter between nutty breakbeat rave levels and slamming Bassline garage with flavours for all ravers. The first couple were created at the behest of India’s close DJ spar, Finn, who tasked them with making some proper hardcore belters, à la the 1991-style breakbeat ‘ardcore tussle and red-faced diva screams on ‘Only Said Enough’, and the rolling jungle tekno pressure of ’Watch Out!’
We can’t imagine anyone will not be on their feet for those two, but India’s restless groove also takes in percolated techno mutations on ‘You Can’t Expect The Cars To Stop If You Haven’t Pressed The Button’, beside their signature line of SoYo-styled Bassline garage in ‘Feirabend’ inspired by their daily cycle commutes and so titled after the German word for feeling relief at the end of day’s work, before rolling off the hair-kissing garage goodness of ‘And Groove.’
Musical Willy Wonka JG Thirlwell returns to Editions Mego for his second Xordox album, using an array of synths to conjure up '80s OST jammers that remind of John Carpenter, Giorgio Moroder and Vangelis.
Widely known for his influential work as Foetus, industrial pioneer Thirlwell has barely stopped creating music since the early 1980s. In recent years, he's been most notable for his musical contributions to Adult Swim animated series' "The Venture Bros" and "Archer", aside from that he's channeled his remaining energy into the Xordox project.
'Omniverse' follows 2017's 'Neospection' and again hinges around Thirlwell's love of sci-fi synth soundtracks. Like John Carpenter's recent albums, these records blend the old and the new in a way that's not as nostalgic as it is fun. In fact, this run of tracks reminds us more of video nasty soundtracks than it does the more credible fare - at times it sounds like the accompaniment to some gruesome melt movie that hasn't aged nearly as well as you'd have liked.
Thirlwell recorded some of the material on EMS Stockholm's Buchla and Serge modular synthesizers and blends these recordings with software and hardware in his NYC studio. His expertise working on TV soundtracks sings loud; the press release describes "Omniverse" as "Kraftwerk scoring a video game" and, yeah, that's pretty spot-on.
High grade rhythmic inventions from club don Max D on Dawit Eklund’s unique label, 1432 R
If Max D’s Dolo Percussion alias is an experimental - yet properly functional - testing ground for his craftiest drum programming, then the ‘Many Any’ LP is where those ideas gain musical muscle mass and really come out to play. Metrically scaled between 90bpm boogie swangers and 160bpm razz-outs, the album spurts its dancefloor juice in nine natty shots including detours into evocative field recordings alongside his inimitable, rug-cutting rhythms, all sequenced for a totally immersive vibe.
Coming at 2020 with a fresh but timeless sound, Max works up a singular spin on Juke and current East/central African styles in the hot-stepping psychedelia of ‘I Think Our Souls Are Other People’ and the frenetic, scissoring syncopation of ‘Many Any Dolo Brush’, before sweetly cooling out with the pendulous, breezy blend of Nu Jack swing and deftly jazzy chords in ‘Fly Around the Room’. Further in, he gives a sweet nod to the offset drum suss of Mark Clifford in ’Shoutout Seefeel’ on a tight, latinate pivot, before bringing the vibe closer in with the final run between his feathered stepper ‘Lullabiological’ starring Dawit Eklund on keys, and the Major Force West-like breaks of ‘Cuz It’s The Way’.
Quirky melodic (early?) electronics for fans of Mort Garson, Plone, Raymond Scott and Pauline Anna Strom.
Well this is a bit lovely. Los Angeles-based artist Olive Ardizoni first appeared last year with their debut "Six Songs for Invisible Gardens", a record designed as a communication between both plant life and the people who care from them. "Music For Living Spaces" is yet more sound with purpose, crafted to elevate our homes at a time when we're seeing almost too much of them. Ardizoni's music is unashamedly retro, crossing delightful vintage electronic bleeps and wobbles with proggy electronic folk sounds and elements of '80s new age tape music that should be familiar to any regular Leaving Records listeners.
On tracks like 'Sunflower Dance' and 'Royal Fern', they flesh out delicate riffs with Mellotron flutes and brassy synth sounds that sound like they could have been snatched from Vangelis's studio. Elsewhere on 'Soft Coral' and 'Birds of Paradise' the mood is more in line with an eerie wildlife documentary or psychedelic children's TV theme. Basically it's "Plantasia" 2.0, but this hardly matters - it's lovely stuff, and should raise the quality of life in any drab, airless living space.
Masterful melange of choral cut-ups, wizened strings and pulsing, keening electro-acoustic sculptures from Italian native Pilia (3/4HadBeenEliminated) and resident Duncan, reprising a relationship ongoing over decades
Latest in a streak of genius releases starring Duncan’s inimitable vocals finds the duo plumbing the depths of an avant soul space between man and machine. Both based in and around the industrial nether region of Bologna, Italy, and its meridian wilderness, Pilia brings a stark avant rock energy to Duncan’s brittle vocals, which have gripped and uniquely entertained us most acutely on a stack of releases for iDEAL in recent years - not to mention his catalogue since the late ‘70s.
’Try Again’ is prefaced by the command “Try Again / Lie Again/ Deny Again”, which does sound a little like something Roger Stone would say, and speaks to the dark forces at work inside. Of course we’re sure they’re not trumpy, more understandably grumpy with the state of things, and working in line with Duncan’s abstract grasp of transgressive matters. He’s really more like a sort of psychopomp for Pilia’s music; a visionary medium whose work crosses so many boundaries of time, politics and space, which Pilia renders remarkably malleable between his sweeping transition from night-flight to sepulchral depth in the album’s towering opener ‘Try Again’, and the guttural lament ‘Fare Forward’ at its peripheries, while nesting more knotted ideas in the album’s hexed core of ‘The Reprisal’, and unsettling keen and croon of ’The Sellout.’
Bleakly life affirming stuff.
Anti Pop Consortium’s Beans on the beat for patten, fronting their first single in four years, back on home-brewed label 555-5555
The instantly recognisable Beans (now ex-APC) lights up ‘eat Smoke’ with angular, intricate wordplay working anti-clockwork to the skittish slowfast drama of patten’s tightest production. ‘Crystal Pacific' scrambles through killer diced syllables, before the burned out drill mutation ‘Mood Ring’ shots a sort of eviscerated take on road rap instrumentals.
Dusty, Dilla-esque beat nuggets from London’s Eahwee, starring Scouse MC Lee Scott and local spitters Melanin 9 and the more mellifluous Ninjah Aragniz
“Astral Black welcome Eahwee (pronounced errr-wee) to the fold for his 'Solitude' EP. Through his production work with MC's such as Mutant Academy's Koncept Jack$on & High Focus' Coop, a handful of releases on Dallas-based label Sunday Dinner and a flurry of bandcamp beat tapes - the London-based producer has quietly made a name for himself on the international beat scene.
Across the 12-tracks here on 'Solitude', Eahwee contorts a gold-mine of 70's soul samples into a psychedelic reflection on the experience of isolation in the human experience, presented in the form a life affirming 17-minute long mixtape. From the exultantly ethereal sounds of 'Duuduu' & 'Windough' to the heart string pulling 'Naybahuud' & 'Rarecandy', Solitude is a testament to how Eahwee has developed his craft into an effortless touch. Though largely instrumental, peppered along the way are a handful of vocal performances in the form of guest appearances from Blah Records commander-in-chief, Lee Scott, the mafioso memoirs of extra terrestrial MC Melanin 9 and neo-soul sage, Ninjah Aragniz – who closes off proceedings with the infinitely loop-able summer anthem 'yah yah’.”
Epic, rare disco/new wave wonk from NYC Downtown mainstay Mark Freedman, with Arthur Russell on cello! Historical, effortlessly weird and delightfully funky.
Freedman was a key component of the Downtown scene, heading up the Battery Sound studios where Arthur Russell worked on some of his most classic material, including "World Of Echo". Working under the Powerman alias, Freedman used a synth pop and disco framework to map out a slippery vision of early 1980s NYC, with off-kilter drum machine loops, deadpan vocals and of course, Russell's unmistakable cello.
Thirteen-minute epic 'Lost Tribe' is the go-to here, but noisy new wave jammer 'Love Whisperings' is a jaw-dropper, with its scraping oddball synth blurts and singalong vocals. Extended closer 'Loving Was Easy' is worth a peep too, all naked machine funk and robot romance. Well good.
Emptyset's james ginzburg grapples with dense Celtic drone on this gargantuan deep listening tome. Think Catherine Christer-Hennix, Ellen Arkbro or Laraaji, but lost somewhere chilly in the Scottish highlands.
On 2018's 'six correlations', the Subtext boss and bass music veteran set his sights on Gaelic folk music, using electronic and acoustic instruments to reflect his heritage and build those sounds into something completely new. ginzburg revisits the concept on 'crystallise, a frozen eye', fleshing out his meditations using instruments such as the Appalachian dulcimer, the psaltry, the shruti box and a special drum custom made for Emptyset's "Borders" album.
These luscious acoustic sounds are arranged into rich orchestrations, elevated by ginzburg's engineering prowess, and widened with thick bass tones from his trusty Octave Cat synthesizer. That instrument might be best known around these parts for forming the memorable riff on Joker and Ginz's 'Purple City', but here it's used to create a low-end rumble that's more comparable to Sunn O))) or ELEH.
On opener 'light evaporates', gut-churning bass anchors a flutter of airy strings that combs across the pineal gland with pleasing ASMR softness. 'the eyes, behind' sounds like Laraaji's most off-world dulcimer experiments being stretched like a drum skin over a creaking wooden frame. ginzburg's music creates a magical universe that's out of time, part historical and part completely contemporary; 'a gate left open disappeared' is a prime example of this, with twinkling strings that sound like faery dust being blown into a collapsing wormhole.
Deconstructed medieval folk? We're not sure what this is but it's singular, Swedish and sort of great.
The solo project of prolific Swedish underground mainstay Gustaf Dicksson, Blod is a place for Dicksson to tear apart his cultural heritage and rebuild it with charm and a fair helping of humor. There's comparisons that could be drawn between "Missvaxt" and the oddball CDR/cassette-dwelling world of the New Weird America set - Dicksson's warbling, DIY styles resonate with a similar outsider twang. But the world of Blod is unabashedly European, and hinged around a very Swedish comic misery.
Each track feels like its own self-contained universe, one might dip a toe into acid rock ('Missvaxt') while the next could be a medieval flute jam ('Forradaren'). The best is saved for last, where Astrid Øster Mortensen joins on vocals for a sweet, sad folksy conclusion to a proudly weird slice of Swedish oddness.
Anthony Naples’ Incienso grip Aussie raver Big Ever for a tightly coiled and restless quartet of electro, garage, breaks and deep house sidewinders
Previously known as half of Cop Envy, and more recently for their work with Logic1000, Big Ever strikes solo with his own brand of daring dance music, testing out harddrum-adjacent twysters and slippery offbeats that will work a treat in-the-mix with other mutant grooves.
The hiccuping electro roil of ‘Rolled Into’ sets out his style with needlepoint arps weft into a pendulous swang somewhere between Simo Cell and Ciel, whereas ‘Burst Dial’ switches tack to nervy, tracky minimalism with lurking but driving bass. ‘Apt’ is the set’s craftiest oddball, working trim tresillo rhythms into a other recalling Call Super’s album on Incienso before him, and ‘Otto’ evens out the groove on an earthy, trippy deep house tip shades away from DJ Qu.
Coiled hard drum pressure from NYC’s Significant Other, riding reticulated rhythms for Hank Jackson’s anno label.
Putting some grungy NYC muscle in it, Significant Other follows shots on Spe:c and Oscilla Sound with some of his darkest gear here. ‘Every Night A Dtream Visits Us’ works a lather of sidewinding, sinuous arps and drums under Ghost In The Shell atmosfear, and the scaly ‘Gomek’ drags us down an alley to chew our bones and spit ‘em out in a sort of slompy cumbia dance. ‘Oblivion’ allows for some more brooding, beat-less introspection continuing his narrative style, and ’Second Skin’ crawls out on swingeing, snag-toothed tresillo rhythms lodged somewhere between DJ Python and Nick Klein.
Strange, enchanted confections of folksong and computers from first generation Estonian-Australians - file somewhere between Maja S.K. Ratkje, Fonal Records, and Paul De Marinis
“There is an overarching hypothesis that music and place are inextricably linked. Where the ancient folksong may be regionally grounded, migration and modernity have confused this notion. Who owns what is by definition the music of the people and not of the composer? Passed down by generations and subject to revision, reappraisal and re-telling, music develops over time in the public domain; new routes providing new understandings.
In the words of Charles Seeger this is the concept of the folk process. ‘Creak Whoosh’ is a collection of choral ballads originating in the Finno-Ugric regions of Estonia and Ingria, electronically adapted predominantly by Olev Muska and Mihkel Tartu, based around the contemporary arrangements of Veljo Tormis. Originally established as ‘Kiri-uu’, the project was undertaken by the children of Estonian refugees, most of whom grew up over 8,000 miles away in the metropolis of Sydney, Australia. With the majority having never visited the land of their ancestors prior to the tour of 1989, the first generations reshaping of these ancient folk tales conveys Seeger’s process amidst displacement and its subsequent fringe-culture. Fusing modern recording technologies and synthesised instrumentation with themes of nature and eternity, for a short time the Kiri-uu choir dictated their own unique reading of Estonian music for the Australian market. Love and family, swamps and forests, seasons and desire.
‘Is it the moon or the sun or a rainbow, or are they the stars in the sky?’
It is my strange inclination for Nordic music(s) perhaps explained by my Scottish family history and geographic proximity to the Northern countries that made the appeal of Olev Muska’s vision so immediate. From Gaelic psalms to Finnish kantele recordings and Swedish children’s songs (Hårgalåten!), there is often a degree of comfort to be found in their coldness. Much like Kiri-uu’s initial subversion of music and place, it is ironically the height of Australian summer when I meet Olev to share a pint of beer or two, unaware that the album is to become the definitive soundtrack of my time there. Heat stroke and sunburn, perspiration and transit, fantasy beaches and suburban homes.
In collaboration with STROOM, the fundamental messages of the old Estonian bards are carried forth this time into the 21st century, a revised selection of the original 1988 recordings accompanied by ‘Tšimmairuudiralla’ allowing for new perspectives and, perhaps crucially, a truly global audience. After all, in Finno-Ugric folk song it is perhaps only the strictly functional that remain unchanged, such as herding calls or Sami joik. - Fergus Clark, Glasgow 2021”
Basic House's Sähkö Recordings debut is a bleak, noisy voyage into greyscale industrial ambience. A fitting accompaniment to our troubled times, then. One for fans of Prurient/Hospital, Dilloway, Justin Broadrick et al.
Steven Bishop is usually busy heading up the Opal Tapes label, but found enough time in his day to bolt together a seething slice of industrial ambience for the legendary Finnish imprint. The result is his grimmest plate to date - "Crown Ever Remain" reminds of peak '80s DIY industrial tape culture, with half-heard vocal snips, crashing over-saturated bass and properly psychedelic synth whines.
'Mechanical Nudes' is our fave here, bringing to mind Sähkö's own dearly departed folk hero Mika Vainio with its heaving glitchy rhythm made from a bare, distorted bass womp. The record closes on 'Alphabet (Swallowing Gold)', inching windswept drones and cracking ambience over degraded answerphone messages that sound just mundane enough to be completely terrifying. Good stuff.
Red Axes’ Nic Arizona turns out a sizzling breakbeat bustler backed with playful remix muscle from Lena Willikens
The rug-cutting drums and jagged synth arps of ‘Floating the Flood’ are just the ticket for sand-trampling festival scenarios and sweaty basements alike, but it’s the Lena Willikens remix for us, phasing the original’s wobbly-jawed vocals into a Dego-like broken beat hustle and adding her own snippets of what sounds like some rosy cheeked ‘90s Manc raver intoning “top atmosphere” and “having a good time” that are giving us the chuckles right now.
The score for Only Lovers Left Alive - a collaboration between SQÜRL (Jim Jarmusch, Carter Logan and Shane Stoneback) and Dutch lutenist Jozef Van Wissem - serves as a reflection of the distinct textures of Detroit and Tangier, bridging ancient and modern sounds, entangled and timeless.
"Avant-Baroque lute weaves through twenty-first century guitar grit, heavy back beats, Moroccan percussion, synth bass, field recordings, and numerous sonic effects to create a cinematic tapestry.
Guest vocalist Madeline Follin (Cults) appears on SQÜRL’s syrup soaked re- interpretation of the Wanda Jackson hit “Funnel of Love”.
Zola Jesus’ commanding vocal soars through Van Wissem’s “In Templum Dei”. And Yasmine Hamdan’s intimate and evocative “Hal”, recorded on the set of the film and mixed by SQÜRL."
Following that crucial archival excavation of John Zieman’s New York City 1980-1984 recordings, NYC/Rio de Janeiro’s Confuso Editions return with a mad tape from Rio popstar-in-waiting Pedro Singery - tapping into the stuff dreampop is made of with a superb album for fans of Paddy McAloon et al
Easily one of the most puckered, pop tart debuts we’ve heard in a minute, ‘Death For Never introduces Rio de Janeiro’s Pedro Singery with a full formed, natty sound quite clearly inspired by the inventive, hauntological pop tekkers of Ariel Pink (ye ye, let’s not go there) and John Maus (again, smh) that emerged some decades ago, and equally their own influences ranging from pop-punk and new wave to video game soundtracks. It’s an instantly recognisable style, effortlessly executed and wrapped up with hooky ribbons.
Totally chiming with that John Zieman pearl, the Rio/NYC label cannily frame ‘Death For Never’ as “An anti-bossanova oddity”, which only captures half the story, as Singery’s styles speak a sort of shared childhood naivety for anyone who grew up between the ’80s and ’00s. His songs are flush with FM synth pads and drily sparky drum machine patterns that feel daft and nostalgic, but also stung with zaps of mumbly lyrical pathos in lines “I’m so fucking depressed with you” on the standout ‘Daylight Clubbers.’
One to watch this label.
Fathoms deep dub techno from Radius, aka the darkest alias of Stephen Hitchell (Echosace, Variant). Dwelling at ocean floor depths, the series’ ‘0/3’ volume sees Radius return to zero in three durational works tilting well over 1 hour total. Let’s say there are no surprises, but it does frame some of Hitchell’s starkest, driven gear between the range-finding dub chords and organically sloshing FX envelopes of the 21’ first part, and a superb mid-section recalling Rhythm & Sound at their most supine, waterlogged, and ultimately a starkly funereal 32’ tract of barely there bass inference and floating tones from the artist’s top shelf.
"This marks the final installment of Radius's "Interpolation Tapes" series, re-mastered in Echospace. All previously unreleased material culled from the Echospace vaults, these masters were one of the first Demo Tapes of the Radius project and where many of the sound sources for the series were conceived.
We've spent months doing our best to restore the old tapes from our Tascam 688, an 8 track cassette recorder purchased and abused since 1992 and to our ears still sounds quite impressive even by modern standards. We've had nearly every component replaced and re-calibrated to bring this obsolete machine back to life, it's been a truly nostalgic experience re-visiting and redesigning these masters. The first mix is an unreleased version rewired and reshaped by the cv313 project, taking cues from the original source material and developing it into an ocean of analogue bliss."
A long awaited new start for prodigal producer Koreless and the Young (FKA Young Turks) label, summoning new horizons with a heady upper and lush ambient scaping that’s highly recommended if yr into Kara-Lis Coverdale, Lorenzo Senni, Benjamin Britten, Caterina Barbieri.
AWOL for over 5 years, save for production credits for FKA Twigs and Rita Ora, Koreless comes into their own in the spiralling ‘Black Rainbow / Moonlight.’ Leading on from 2015’s ‘TT / Love’ 12” the two new pieces mark a decade since Lewis Roberts aka Koreless first crossed paths with his future label at their event series in Dalston, with both new pieces smartly highlighting an advancement of his production style and blossoming of musical ideas while never losing sight of the emosh impetus at the heart of his sound.
They’ve really gone to town on this one enlisting superstar engineer Paul Corley for mixing, Mandy Parnell for the master, and Matt Colton to cut the vinyl, with each stage vividly bringing the music to light. That benefit is really felt in ‘Black Rainbow’, whose puckered and piquant arps, staccato vocal motif and keening pads spiral with a belly rush effect as palpable yet digitally intangible as a Rudnick rose, and where even the quietest parts are effervescent with detail.
‘Moonlight’ on the flip gives his electro-acoustic soundsphere room to breathe, terraforming a tableaux replete with an uncanny sort of pastoral hiraeth to spine-tracing effect, evoking Vangelis soundtracking a 1st person fantasy RPG, or Lorenzo Senni gone to the hills.
Post-punk/new wave hero Ann Margaret Hogan's second album of solo piano and field recordings for Downwards is a box of subtle wonders, mastered by Veronica Vasicka and highly recommended if yr into Satie, Virginia Astley, Sarah Davachi.
A weight of history flows through Hogan’s keys with a stark intimacy, beautifully illuminated by naturally effortless, quietly grand songwriting. It’s a direct continuation of the landscaped themes and atavism of 2020’s ‘Honeysuckle Burials’ and the ‘Reversing Into Tomorrow’ collaboration with Karl O’Connor, vividly capturing the slow passage of time in a way that has quite literally compelled us to stop the relentless mind-grind for its 40 minute duration on more than one occasion.
After previous fixations on the iron age forts and burial mounds of the Clywdian Range in North Wales, Hogan transmutes the scenery of her more immediate locale, Oxton on The Wirral - from the cadence of its red sandstone landmark Thor’s Rock, to memories of its boating lake, for example - into a quiet yet ravishing suite inflected with traces of wildlife and industry recorded on long walks, all subsumed within a deep blue estuarial atmosphere silted by the strange reality of life in the current era, echoing the surreal, sunny period when the album was conceived.
A generation on from her pivotal work with spar Marc Almond and likes of Deux Filles and Nick Cave, and forty generations since The Wirral hosted, as she says “a Norse parliament at Thingwall”, Hogan weaves time and place into a reflective, funereal sort of parlour music, turning daily ambulations amid the gorse and under luminous skies into gorgeous, life affirming and intimate self expressions.
The eight pieces are mostly improvised and flow with a free, fleeting concision from the palpable warmth of ‘Forgotten Prelude’ and bluesy ache of ‘Fragile Elements’ to more funereal modes in ’Mesto’ and ‘Funeral Cargo’ suggestive of a Viking burial soundtrack. At its core, ‘Wolfswalzer’, a dedication to her one time collaborator and erstwhile Kraftwerk member Wolfgang Flür - is described by Hogan as “a simple waltz of coffee, food, friends and music”, and ‘Impromptu’ is the album’s slowest, soaked in the feeling of atmospheric immanence that defines the album’s timeless appeal. It’s an unspeakably moving album, words really do it no justice.
Kara-Lis Coverdale’s sublime sophomore album of post-sacred music is issued on vinyl for the first time following an impossible-to-find 100-copy run pressed on tape in 2015. It's the first release on her new label Gate, a vital reminder of the composer’s early and enduring genius, and a must-listen if yr into Coverdale's classic ‘Grafts’ or Arvo Part, Arca, Caterina Barbieri...
Iridescent with optimistic melody and holographic harmony, ‘Aftertouches’ was Coverdale’s first release to gain widespread recognition, placing her elusive music firmly in the upper echelons of contemporary composition. It was duly hailed as a masterwork of postmodern musical craft, building on the low-key but leading examples of her tentative ‘A 480’ (2014) tape with a flourishing development of an intrepid, dream-weaving and world building style.
Using readily available samples and filigree production techniques, Coverdale gives voice to her machines’ memory banks in nine perceptively absorbing explorations of the “uncanny valley” located between known and simulated worlds. She beautifully transfigures virtual choirs into coded realism, drawing upon a fine-honed balance of discipline and intuition, learned from years of playing church organ, to create a bridge between medieval, classical and 20th century formalism, and 21st century soundspheres.
The album’s heady array of shatterproof choral vocals and dematerialised strings remains among the lushest, most intangible and thizzing explorations of the space between classical and experimental realms released during the 2010s. And, most remarkably, done in a way that had simply not been realised so fully in this sphere prior to Coverdale’s emergence as a notable, often subversive, figure within her field; lighti♡ng the path ahead in a manner comparable to the likes of James Ferraro or Arca, but gifted with a truly singular spirit.
A Colourful Storm’s Fleetway Tapes sublabel follow up that crushing ’Time Is Away’ tape with this super satisfying curveball from Andy Mac, offering over an hour of spirited vibrations that come highly recommended if yr into Beatrice Dillon, Awkward Corners/Chris Menist, Peverelist.
A decade since Andy Mac committed his crispy debut productions to Peverelist’s Punch Drunk he's cultivated a rocksteady rep for working rugged, minimalist grooves with bags of rude soul. On ‘First & Last, Sennen’ he weaves roots and branches of classic Bristol styles into his first physical mixtape, tracing a jagged line from prevailing interests in vintage Jamaican dub and Caribbean rhythms, and their distant echoes in post-punk, cosmic drug chug, and AOR oddities, across a tight selection certain to have nerds itching for track IDs.
it’s properly slanted and enchanted gear, planting its feet in dusty, lilting calypso and nonchalant South American grooves, toggling the groove with effortless suss, shuffling weight across continents and epochs with proper percies drawn from a venn diagram of NDW, post-industrial, and downtown NYC records whose names may elude and tease even the most ardent heads. In the best sense, each cut sets up the next, creating stepping stones through offbeat and lesser trodden regions of dub and dance music from the past 60 years.
Exael shares their experience of “early quarantine mania” ranging from anxious metaplasmic flux to brain-licking plongs and aching ambient shoegaze for our Documenting Sound series of lockdown missives.
Through a microcosm of solo work and collaborations, Naemi aka Exael has become locus to a new wave of prism-pushing electronic music producers over the past half decade. As member of Critical Amnesia, Ghostride The Drift, and Micro Incubus beside the likes of shy (uon), Huerco S., Perila, and Ben Bondy, among others, they’ve been pivotal in shaping a fractious new take on ambient and dance music paradigms, restlessly morphing styles and patterns with lysergic lucidity and a lush sense of modern psychedelia.
Their contribution to the Documenting Sound series is typically effusive and elusive, with smoked out and deep-moving tracks that convey the thrill of working with new gear, while also making room for their special sort of of ambient tactility. The first half unfurls gyring rhythms and shearing synth dynamics that feel like a padded adjunct to Rian Treanor’s disruptive impulses and the viscous twysts of Goooose, while the latter half is given over to cloud formations that echo their core sound with gorgeous pads and virtually windswept choral voices intent on soothing your nerves.
Exael and their cohort are making some of this era’s definitive electronic music, metaphorically reading the room’s needs for new ideas, more porous stylistic borders and a finer tuned emotional intelligence, safely edging us ever closer to the end of this now year-long series of audio documents.
Caterina Barbieri somehow recalls both Laurie Spiegel and Lorenzo Senni on her staggering debut album for Editions Mego, with ‘Ecstatic Computation’ yielding her most striking and accessible experiments in pointedly explorative synthesis
Working at the point where deep, learned R&D meets sophisticated expression of soul, ‘Ecstatic Computation’ is one of those rare LP's that comes close to divining the ghost in the machine. In further pursuit of the themes underlining Caterina’s ‘Patterns of Consciousness’  and ‘Born Again In The Voltage’  records, here she uses more complex sequencing techniques and pattern-based operations to generate the kind of vivid, hallucinatory trance states that many electronic music followers arguably spend their lives seeking.
With ‘Ecstatic Computation’ Caterina’s basically mastered the art of extracting a contemplative wonder from her machines, creatively using formal process to manipulate the listener’s temporal and proprioceptive senses, subtly distorting our perception of time and space with spellbinding and psychedelic effect. Most crucially, just like her fellow Italian composer, Lorenzo Senni, Barbieri achieves this effect through minimalist means, with a certain magick lying in the way she allows her machines’ full voice to speak as fluidly as the languages of classical music, but with the immediacy of Trance.
From the vertiginous scale and epic breadth of ‘Fantas’, thru the intensely expressive miniature ‘Spine of Desire’, to the balletic agility of ‘Closest Approach to Your Orbit’, Barbieri veritably dances on our nerve endings, before swiftly inverting that headlong futurism with the chamber-like design of ‘Arrows of Time’, featuring vocals by Annie Gårlid (UCC Harlo) and Evelyn Sailor, and wrapping up with the visceral ecstasy of ‘Pinnacles of You’ and a spine-freezing finale ‘Bow of Perception’.
It’s glorious, life-affirming stuff, sure to send her audience stratospheric.
Factory Benelux presents a remastered edition of Circuses and Bread, the seventh studio album by Manchester ensemble The Durutti Column. Originally released by Factory Benelux and Factory in 1986, the original 9 tracks have now been expanded with 6 bonus pieces. It's A flower in the bonnet of Vini Reilly’s The Durutti Column.
Comprising the elegant swoon of the original, plus 3 tracks off the Italian EP ‘Greetings 3’, this is a definitive new edition of ‘Circuses and Bread’ from a prime period in their catalogue. Ever an outlier on Factory Records, Reilly’s music was pushed against the grain by his patron Tony Wilson, to find its audience in high ceilinged bedsits in Manchester and far beyond, but most particularly Belgium, where his almost theatric, soundtrack-like, and lyrical playing resonated with the city’s more rarified tastes and whims.
There’s an abundance of loveliness to check for here, but we’re perhaps most drawn to his heartbreaking collage ‘Street Fight’, which contrarily enough, doesn’t even feature his guitar, but rather chamber like keys strewn with birdsong and gunshots. It gets us every time, especially as it leads into the tearjerker ‘Royal Infirmary’ and the sashay of ‘Black Horses’, which now strikes us as deeply foreshadowing elements of Mica Levi’s music to come.
The more ardent fans may know the bonus songs, but for everyone else the likes of his shimmering beauty ‘All That Love and Maths Can Do’, the appearance of Lindsay Wilson (aye, ex wife of Tony), now Lindsay Reade on ‘I Get Along Without You Very Well’, and the heart-jangling ‘Verbier (For Patti)’ are very much worth your time.
Electronic narratives from Hungary’s Laurine Frost, poetically setting the life of his fictional daughter Lena to gently sculpted fusions of jazz, dub and cottony ambient pads.
"The thematic focus of this album draws from multiple sources. A utopistic self-revelation that has the purpose to paint imaginary landscapes and surreal scenes, to talk about past and future that never occurred and never will, to describe the pure human nature in its most honest and instinctive form – much like in our dreams.” – Says the original guide that is meant to help the listener understand the structure and the basic idea behind this series, which is a portrait that meant to illustrate a naive artistic narrative of a whole life of a woman, since childhood to her old age.
NIMFA steps few years forward, where LENA grew up to a young woman. Defining her divine phenomenon, the overall tone of the album is way more closer to nature than in any of my previous works. I intentionally force the listener to see and observe her innocence and solitude from a certain distance. A beautiful and untouchable creature of creation whose glowing mirage is fragile and wayward, just as nature itself. These 8 evolving and still-standing landscapes tend to characterize the chastity, sensitivity and bashfulness of a virgin soul that is bound to its surrounding nature - meanwhile to hint that a phenomenon like this often holds witchcraft within itself."
Lakker's Ian McDonnell stays dank and dimly-lit on his third Eomac full-length, augmenting grumbly jungle and hard techno grit with DSP complexity and neo-baroque moods.
Unlike its predecessors that were assembled in Berlin, Eomac pieced together "Cracks" in a "beautiful rural part of Ireland". So the subtle clubwise guidance that comes from being stationed in the Euro techno hotspot is all but gone here, allowing McDonnell to shift the focus towards pensive dread. The next-level engineering trickery that elevated his last couple of records is still present, as is the nod towards the spectrum of club forms, but musing on systemic racism and global division (the titular cracks), this album is a few paces from club utility.
So with the bleak-n-glossy engineering sheen you'd expect to hear on a Kangding Ray album and the relentless drive of Surgeon or Regis, McDonnell traps an emotion that sings accurately to our frustrations right now. With clubs an anxious memory and the world seemingly collapsing around us, "Cracks" feels like a cathartic expression of rage, wonder and collective unease.
German crate digger Çaykh commands a trippy mood, layering dusty samples of traditional music in an attempt to draw parallels with dancefloor house and techno. Clever stuff and really quite good.
Nicolas Sheikholeslami is best known for his curatorial skill. The Hamburg-born, Berlin-based DJ and producer even notched up a Grammy nomination for his work on the "Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa" compilation, and now he uses his advanced knowledge of global traditional song forms to engage in his first solo production project. "Où" is a short but very sweet exploration of dance grooves, and uses fuzzy loops you might expect to hear on a Sublime Frequencies comp or a Madlib beat tape to explore the links between folk music and contemporary house and techno forms.
This isn't a completely unfamiliar concept, but Sheikholeslami approaches the project with subtlety, almost creating an ambient mood rather than accenting the sounds too heavily. He lets samples speak for themselves, looping and phasing in an almost Riley/Reich-ian mode, creating what the press release calls "4th-world disco pulsations". Trippy, fuzzed to perfection and properly good for the lockdown mind-spiral.
Magnum opus-weight album from organist and electro-acoustic composer Anna von Hausswolff, the entire record consists of just one instrument - the pipe organ, and represents absolute liberation of the imagination. It's a masterwork of gothic classical beauty - a must check for fans of Kali Malone, Kara-Lis Coverdale.
‘All Thoughts Fly’ was recorded at Gothenburg’s Örgryte New Church and is heavily infused with the space’s atmospheric nuance, which renders the theatric richness of Anna’s compositions at their most billowing and melodramatic. As her 6th album, it’s also her most confident and strikingly original, following the slow steady procession of her sides for Kning Disk, Touch and City Slang with her most sepulchral and steepled refinement of black metal atmospheres and sacred dirges pronounced with an apocalyptic classical grandeur and iconoclastic experimental daring.
“Notes on the recording process: The organ on All Thoughts Fly is situated in Gothenburg and is a Swedish replica of the Arp Schnitger organ in Germany. It is the largest organ tuned in Quarter-comma meantone temperament in the world. With it’s four manuals, one pedal and 54 stops, it was built as part of a ten-year research project reconstructing 17th Century North German organ building craft. The tuning temperament is an important detail to note here, as it deeply affects the sound and tuning, and thus radically changed the process of creating this album. Anna speaks of a pleasant surprise during recording, the organ's ability to create beautiful "pitching" notes through its stops and air supply system. She remarks “We took advantage of this so most of the pitching sounds and notes that you hear on the album comes from the mechanics of this organ, effects made entirely acoustically." The organ was recorded with two room mics for atmosphere and two pairs of close mics placed inside the organ to capture nuances and detail for further organ sound processing by Filip Leyman in his studio.”
An utterly timeless collection of vocal improv takes its first bow on vinyl, as Laura Cannell & Polly Wright’s debut tribute to the landscape, history and people inspired by a 19th-century book of Norfolk customs and ballads graces our Editions imprint. It’s a wondrous, humbling, and haunting album bridging folk and medieval styles with a plaintive magick that only appears intensified on record - a huge RIYL Hildegaard von Bingen, Arc Light Edition’ Psalm singer recordings, Julianna Barwick.
Remarkably conceived, recorded and released in 2019 - the same year they first met - ‘Sing as the Crow Flies’ is a super-natural meeting of mutual souls seeking to limn a sort of deep topographical reading of their home turf in a series of haunting, near-wordless hymns. Shockingly effortless in execution and spine-freezing in effect, the nine songs are Laura & Polly’s beautifully concerted effort to rectify the lack of historical female voices in text or music hailing from the Norfolk/Suffolk borders where they live and create. With little to go on, they decided to add their joint female voices and experiences to the rural sound ecology and culture of East Anglia, and created something un-arguably unique in the process.
Drawing on a shared formative background in classical music (and specialities in medieval composition), Cannell & Wright nod to the sort of heterophonic improvisation found in Psalms from the Isles of Lewis (as heard on those amazing Arc Light Editions volumes), as well as Hildegaard Von Bingen inspired call-and-response styles, while taking select words from the 18th C. text ‘Norfolk Garland, A Collection of the Superstitious Beliefs and Practices, Proverbs, Curious Customs, Ballads and Songs, of the People of Norfolk’ to provide structural underpinnings. But what happens in between is just a spellbinding sort of magick, using Raveningham Church as a sounding chamber for their finely controlled but naturally keening and graceful, unhurried expressions of tradition and folklore.
A forlorn, late decade masterwork in a field of its own, ‘Sing As The Crow Flies’ is an unusually life-affirming record that channels centuries, near a millennia, of uncanny expression into its wordless hymns to the land. Perhaps it’s fair to say that folk were emoting very similar feelings during the OG pandemics of yore.
Shinichi Atobe exists out of time, producing material that’s both inimitable and genuine. "From The Heart, It's A Start, A Work Of Art” was released back in 2017 and is perhaps the most unique and enduring of all of his output over the years. Curiously, it has origins going all the way back to early 2000, when three of the tracks here were originally produced and cut to acetate at D&M in Berlin (in an edition of 5!), presumably lined up as a follow-up of sorts to Atobe’s legendary "Ship Scope" 12” for Chain reaction from the same era. Alas, it wasn’t to be, and almost two decades later these tracks, re-mastered from that original acetate, make up the centrepiece of this amazing record alongside mesmerising newer productions.
The tracks here are effectively some of the Japanese producer’s earliest work, showcasing the sort of tender, feminine pressure that would bubble up on the Ship-Scope EP and later be revealed in his new productions, Butterfly Effect and World yet, for many reasons, would lay sunk in his archive for the next 17 years.
The tracks taken from that acetate are labelled First Plate 1-3 and are quite remarkable, having taken on so much added weight over the years that the incidental crackle of surface noise imbues proceedings with an added dimension that’s hard to fathom. it basically sounds like a lost transmission making its way from Paul-Lincke-Ufer at the turn of the millennium to a new, completely changed world all these years later.
The patina of crackle lends a mist-on-bare skin feeling akin to summer garden parties at Berghain in the stepping First Plate 1, and gives a foggier sort of depth perception to the hydraulic, Maurizian heft of First Plate 2, but it’s the submerged euphoria of First Plate 3 that hits the hardest; a heady, bittersweet reminder of days gone by.
The other four tracks are crisply transferred from master tapes, relinquishing a sublime, impossible to categorise House variant that recalls everything from DJ Sprinkles to Ron Trent, yet with that weird, timeless production style that by now has become something of a signature for this most distinctive and hard to categorise producer. For our money, it ranks among the finest and most distinctive in the Chain Reaction / Shinichi canon.
Bony drums for the Shackleton fiends from Milan’s Big Hands, with four tracks of reticulated rhythms inspired by the famed ossuary of San Bernardino alle Ossa, a church in his home city.
Marking 10 years of skin in the game for Blank Mind, the four tracks of ‘Ossario’ resonate their first release’s celebration of the macabre with whirring syncopations of “tribal” drums and padded subs that split the difference between Shackleton and CZN, balancing a fine pressure between the buoyant bubble and pitching rolls of ‘Girde Maye/Astere’ and the loosely precise modular plongs of ‘Modulo’, while ‘Oscillation’ lends a hint of brooding drama in its furtive string pads, and ‘Cariatide’ pushes further down that line into sepulchral techno minimalism.
Notorious Swiss artist Anton Bruhin uses Fruity Loops presets to create absurdist videogame music and bizarre, robot poetry that exploits the limitations of the DAW's rudimentary speech synthesis. One of the weirdest records we've heard this year, like James Ferraro or Oneohtrix Point Never minus the cynicism.
Bruhin has been working as a visual artist, musician and poet since the 1960s, and is best known for his mastery of the jew's harp, his tape music collages and his witty pixel art drawings of European landscapes and architecture. His art is varied, but unified by a few simple themes - humor, surrealism and a distinctly DIY aesthetic. "Speech Poems / Fruity Music" is no different, and the 26 vignettes presented here were made between 2006 and 2008, making use of Fruity Loops' quirky, user-friendly sequencing capabilities and its barely-used text-to-speech synthesizer.
Bruhin quickly realized that the synthetic voice was programmed to understand English, so to make it speak German he had to train it using English phonetics. On 'aughntone brooheene', we hear the artist challenging the program to say his name correctly, and the rest of his speech poems continue to explore the limitations and quirks of the robotic voice. Many of the poems are gibberish - collections of sounds and syllables that force the voice synthesizer to make almost human-like sounds and errors. It's an inventive way to emphasize the link between the human programmer and the workhorse binary tool, and doesn't need to invent an overblown AI PR campaign in the process.
The musical portion of the album is even better, as Bruhin pushes Fruity Loops away from its intended function, making use of extreme pitch bends and tempos to accentuate the artificiality. By his point in his career, Bruhin had already explored human music, so this feels like an attempt to fully grasp (and subvert) the synthetic. The songs are cute, using synthesized accordion and harpsichord sounds that end up mimicking early-1990s RPG soundtracks. It's light hearted, but makes solid points and deductions about computer music, synthesis and the cultural shifts of the last few decades. It's also genuinely funny, which is way too rare.
Like time-travelling beatniks, Berrocal, Fenech and Epplay’s anachronistic trio return with a richly psychedelic, smoky special for ace Parisian label Akuphone
Combining the storied trumpet player Jac Berrocal - who has famously performed on recordings by NWW and Lizzy Mercier-Descloux, among other notables - with a new generation of fly improvisors, David Fenech and Vincent Epplay, the trio follow choice slabs for BEB in recent years with an immersively atmospheric and quietly inventive new turn. Anything goes, so long as it’s deep and modal, conjuring slow burning, hallucinatory scenes from smeared brass tones, sparse rolling percussion and enigmatic electro-acoustic dub processing.
It’s fairly rare to hear a group who can bridge epochs quite like this. Berrocal brings a incredible breadth of experience spanning music to acting since the ‘70s to his spars’ sparing grooves and synthesis, neatly cycling from puckish post-punk adjacent styles in ‘Going Nowhere’ thru to somethgin like Mika Vainio’s skeletal drum machines underlining Earth in ‘Fuis Le Feu’, always reserving the right to prang off perpendicular into sultry industrial jazz tones, à la their title track, or follow impulses for Ambarchi & Villalobos-like grooving oddity in ‘Walkabout’ and ‘Chiroptera’, and become possessed by spirits akin to Don Cherry and Ka Baird in ‘No Guitar Today.’
5CD box set covers the 4 albums John Foxx released between 1980 - 1985.
Including Metamatic, The Garden, The Golden Section & In Mysterious Ways - plus B-sides and out-takes from the sessions which have been added as bonus tracks after each original album, and on a fifth CD, Fusion/Fission. The Virgin Years includes a new analogue master of Metamatic , along with re-masters of the B-sides - 'This City', 'Film One' etc. The black box also houses five postcards with the artwork for the singles 'Underpass', 'No-One Driving', 'Europe After The Rain', 'Endlessly' and 'Stars On Fire'.
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.’
Ingenious Greek composer Chondropoulos coins his 2nd suite of imaginative folk arcana and electronic atavism on Glasgow’s 12th Isle after 2020’s standout ‘On Nature’ - RIYL Novo Line, Black Mecha,
Once again Chondropoulos warps timelines of ancient Greek culture, itself a syncretic amalgam of myriad cultures that were once part of its sprawling empire, to create an amazing, maze-like album of possessive melodies and finely disciplined grooves guided by uchronic logic and his background n avant-garde percussion performance.
The results could be called new age, in a sense that applies to much of 12th Isle’s roster, but there’s also something devilishly uncanny, unheimlich about his music that buzzes our tiny minds like few others around right now, drawing impressionistic lines between early computer techno monks, aching Rebetika, and much, much older middle eastern and Eurasian scales.
Central to the music’s appeal is its execution of folksy purpose, as in it’s made for dancing and merriment and likely to induce altered states of mind like some modern Gurdjieff or time-travelling bard, regaling semi-apocryphal tales revolving themes of maternal love and “robotic societies in post-human harmony.” New to this release and his sound is the inclusion of Sofia Sarri, whose Greek language vocals reward listeners in six uniquely penetrating acapella phrases woven into the album’s utterly absorbant fabric.
The master of greyscale drone reminds us to his inimitable, aching brilliance with a 20’ piece for the Superpang series that could easily go on for thrice the length and still keep us rapt.
At the start of lockdown this set of ears perhaps over-indulged in Drumm’s work to the extent that we needed a breather, or at least some more colour in our listening diet, but ‘Frogs Croaking Out Of Season’ is a stark reminder to the immersive traction of the noise auteur’s atonal attrition and transportive effect.
Coming on in turgid swells of granular distortion that, perhaps at one point was a load of frogs the piece inhabits a grindingly static, liminal headspace that borders on paralytic torpor, begging eyes to half mast and jaw’s slackened in a manner that means it genuinely should not be consumed while operating heavy machinery.
It does make us wonder where will be the place for the sort of music in the “new world” post-pandemic - will there still be performances of this stuff, when everyone appears gasping for a party? We’re interested to see where extreme forms of sound will exist in IRL performance, and how certain sorts of negative ecstasy of this brand will find their place.