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.
D. Tiffany & Special Guest DJ’s XPQ? label follow releases from Huerco S, Uon & Exael, Perila & co with the brittle machine funk twysts of the hitherto unknown PVAS on their small but expanding label roster.
Hailing from the middle nowhere in Canada, via the centre of everywhere in Berlin, PVAS pursues a mix of hardware and bespoke software, generating organismic permutations of broken beats (‘Drakön’), insectoid electro (‘Passing Through’) and sound designer techno (‘Day Six’), along with the class aerial rolige of ‘3rd Concession’ landing surely between his label bosses styles, and swanging mid-tempo parries in ‘~~~~ (Laid-Back Rave.)’
Vital primer on Merzbow’s transition from cut-up experiments to polychromatic noise beast, scanning revised and newly unearthed work dating 1992-1995, with post-production in 2019
Ever in flux, Merzbow’s music has come to define the art of noise at its most unpredictable and ravishing. On ‘Scandal’ we hear the legendary avatar for Japan’s Masami Akita at its most intriguing, drawing lines between local construction site noise and astral synth swelter recalling Sun Ra at their loosest, and right thru to patches of briered distortion and pulsating rhythmic noise, plus a piece modelled on a contemporaneous pop song, but with said pop song extinguished to leave the guts and klang behind.
“One critical aspect these recordings capture, in a very essential way, is the role that field recordings and tape manipulation play in his music. Throughout the 1980s, cassettes, tape editing and found sound played a significant role in the development of Merzbow’s sound.
On Tokyo Blue Sky, Merzbow collates a series of field recordings made around his home during a period of construction in his neighbourhood and merges these with sampled recordings from various ritual records. In these recordings are striking, hammered blasts that feel innately tied to the aggressive metal percussion work that was featured heavily on numerous live recordings during this time. They also maintain a sense of dynamic eruption that characterises the shifts between states of intense noise that are the core of Merzbow recording strategies.
The editions final piece Evening Scandal was originally released in 1992 on RRR as part of their recycled music project; a project that sought to reuse thrown away cassettes, re-recording over them with various recordings including some of those heard here. Scandal bares the marks of its medium, tape wow and flutter flicker across various sections of this piece, revealing a tactile relationship with the medium. The version collected here is different to that which was released in 1992, this version being uninterrupted by the pop song from which it borrows its name. This piece, in moments, maintains a decidedly minimalist compositional form, using repeated single strikes as a means of creating a deep sense of unease and recurrent tension. It’s a technique later deployed with devastating ferocity later in the 1990s.”
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.
Dredging lost marbles from the trampled grass and mud of the festival scene circa 1986-1996, Spaced Out’ is a superb exploration of the UK scene that laid the groundwork for and paralleled the ‘90s rave movement
Scanning trax by titans of the scene such as Ozric Tentacles, Eat Static, and Magic Mushroom Band, Belgium’s DJ Athome yields a necessary primer on the sound of psychedelic dub, space rock, and early electronica that soundtracked a now near-mythical UK pastime. Much maligned over the intervening years, and commonly side-eyed by more mainstream types, this sound was the bridge between ’60s hippies, ‘70s psych-rockers, and their Crusty offspring who extended their principles into the free party scene of the ‘90s, which, to be fair, is still extant on the mainland continent, and even still in UK, although you’re less likely to hear this kind of gear nowadays. The sound effectively balances a sense of eldritch atavism with a new age consciousness, hybridising styles at will and always with a purpose - to induce altered states of mind and ween people off the teet of populism.
Depending your tolerance for acid, or people who have done a lot of acid, ‘DJ Athome presents Spaced Out’ will either be manna or muck. Many moons ago we might have fallen in the latter category, but the picks here are really piquing our interests and got us hankering for a mushy brew, especially the roiling swerve of ‘Secret Names’ by the Tentacles, and the mesmerising space rock chug of The Ullulators’ ‘Zulu Proons,’ with Magic Mushroom Band’s erogenous exploration ‘Squatter In The House’ neatly primed to slot into DJ sets beside PWOG cuts, and ‘Music is Magic’ delivering a classy dose of 303-like action ripe to entice disciples of the mage, Vladimir Ivkovic, while Extremadura’s ‘Epsilon’ may do the same for John T. Gast fans.
The untouchable Nyege Nyege Tapes turn up drivingly psychedelic visions of AfroLatin techno-meets-traditional-drumming by Portuguese/Uganda band HHY & The Kampala Unit, rendered in immersive widescreen dub and featuring special appearance of the Kampala Prison Brass Band for one of the wildest, heart-in-mouth rhythm trips of 2020
Helmed by Jonathan Saldanha of HHY & The Macumbas, and revolving ghetto activist Florence Lugemwa (trumpet) and percussionist Omutaba, ‘Lithium Blast’ is the latest, unprecedented collision of energies from the cultural fusion-accelerator of Nyege Nyege Tapes Kampala-based HQ. It follows the edits of HHY & The Macumbas’ ‘Camouflage Vector’ set, and the inventive examples of recent works by Metal Preyers, Villaelvin and Rian Treanor, with a cinematically scoped and body-conscious suite of 11 militant yet lush songs that surely prove Uganda’s capital city Kampala is a true epicentre of innovative new music in the modern day.
Committing a sort of futuristic, off-grid trance music for the ages, HHY & The Kampala Unit set out a penetrating vision of street-level cosmogony, intuitively mapping out zones between native drumming styles, techno, and astral electronics in a stunning suite of dubwise 4D starcharts. Guided by ancient, encrypted rhythms and a gripping sensuality, the album flows from its bolshy introduction to the Kampala Prison Brass Band in the fanfare of ‘Bursting Thru The Gates’, to thunder try the rocky rapids of ’Mesh Intensifier’ and chase sequence of ‘Fissure Core Fluid’ with a powerful sense of drama and magnetic dancefloor traction.
Shards of shatterproof ‘80s FM synth lace with swingeing polymetric percussion in the twin tub rinse-out ‘Catastrophism’, and Gazelle-legged rhythms synch with sweeping subs and soaring pads in the title track, but it’s possibly the ravishing electronic lushness of ‘Science of Dust’ and the familiar yet otherworldly hybrid of Florence Lugemwa’s trumpet with supple ambient dancehall backdrops in ‘Shining Star’ that will leave listeners most wide-eyed and mesmerised by HHY & The Kampala Unit’s strikingly natural but hyperreal sound.
A total doozy.
Proto-balearic bleep weirdness originally dropped back in 1990 by record store mates Adam Embleton (DJ Mad A) and Stevie Hewitt (Dr. Stevie The Ambient Guru). Lurches from Sueño Latino modes to LFO or Sweet Exorcist-style jackin' minimalism.
Skeletal but unashamedly funky, "The Mad Vibe" appeared as acid house was surging thru the UK and Ibiza was about to break into the mainstream consciousness. Embleton and Hewitt's take on techno is unashamedly nerdy and well-informed, clearly inspired by US techno innovation but unafraid to mash those elements into more psychedelic spaces.
Opening track 'Northern Echo' centers a loose guitar lick that isn't a million miles from Manuel Göttsching's noodly improvisation on the seminal "E2-E4". But next to crystalline FM plucks and chunky house rhythms it evolves into something uniquely eccentric and British.
'Communication' and 'System Shock' are even better, mirroring the stark and innovative run of 12"s appearing from Sheffield's emerging Warp stable at the time. Think (very) early AE or Sweet Exorcist, but touched with fuzzed out psychedelic guitar? Closing track 'Levitating Pharaohs' dribbles into more ambient-dub chill out zone territory, if that's yer thing.
Night Slugs boss Alex Sushon returns as One Bok with a drill-tipped style following in the vein of Nammy Wams’ album on NS sublabel, AP Life
A decade since Night Slugs came to dominate the club game, ‘Zodiac Beats Volumes 1 & 2’ sees the label’s head honcho and key producer pivot to drill with ease, adapting the sound’s flinty percussion, minor key motifs, and glyding bass with signature flair. Like the most of Night Slugs’ aesthetic, he keeps it all instrumental and ready for the rave in each part, but it likewise works just as well as a listen-thru mixtape format with a furtive shadowplay of vibes.
Working in the gaps between grime, drill, and rap, proper, the results are kin to Nammy Wams as much as Deamonds and the road level pressure of UK drill originator Carns Hill, with standout examples found between slippery cyber chassis of ‘Pisces,’ the wicked infusion of stuttering goth guitar licks on ’Nine Saturn,’ his rudely tuff bass torque on ‘Fifty,’ and the xanny numbed meditation of ‘When I Start.’
Turkish sonic alchemist Cevdet Erek continues the unique rhythmic experimentation of 2017's "Davul" with this latest release, a seismic rattle that echoes Emptyset's "Skin" or Jon Mueller's percussive meditations.
Like its predecessor, "Zincirli" is focused on the hyper specific sonic qualities of Erek's drum. Over almost half an hour, the composer uses his experience in sound design to sculpt an aural picture of the instrument, mapping its shape and the unusual tonal qualities. He plays a rhythm that seems to dip in and out of the sound field, it underpins the entire composition, but the booming sub tones seem to bob and weave between faster taps and scrapes.
It's a record that demands patience, and rewards close listeners with a trance-like meditative state. "Zincrirli" isn't easy going by any means, but it's a remarkable achievement that's struck through with historical weight and an ancient call to arms.
Don Zilla's debut long player is a DSP-heavy descent into transdimensional subspace electronix, ruptured rhythmic analysis and humid, muscle-tensing textures. One of East Africa's most curious musical minds, Zilla offers a fresh take on clanking, hi-NRG bass music: it's like Slikback, Emptyset and Dreamcrusher beamed into yer brain simultaneously.
Following 2019's ace "From the Cave to the World", "Ekizikiza Mubwengula" gives us a clearer picture of Don Zilla's musical vision. Only a few years ago, the producer was teaching himself how to make beats in FL Studio at an internet cafe. Now he runs Nyege Nyege Tapes' Boutiq Studios in Kampala, and has pioneered a dissident sound assembled from a global patchwork of dance and experimental flavors.
The album opens with 'Full Moon', a dense web of timestretched East African percussion and resonant drones. This brief intro establishes the setting, before 'Tension' stomps into view with Timbaland-esque string chops, machine-gun kicks and the kind of rasping analog synth noize that wouldn't be out of place on a Pan Sonic 12". 'Buziba' digs further into outer realms, linking gqom's sparse, ominous wobble with trap and halfstep rhythmic pulses and sheets of ear-splitting white noise.
Zilla is most successful when he lets loose completely, like on jackhammer rave belter 'Entambula' and amphetamine-addled gravity-twister 'Moving Space'. These tracks demonstrate Zilla's commitment to the dance, punctuating his challenging sonic landscape with loud, inescapable commands to move. Pure future sh*t, seriously.
Zelienople's Matt Christensen tills a fertile mid-point between dream pop and alt country on "Constant Green". Gauzy, nostalgic bliss that's like Neil Young or Johnny Cash produced by Tim Friese-Greene and Brian Eno.
Growing up in Chicago in the 1970s, Christensen fondly remembers the constant hum of country rock blaring from car radios. Nameless, long-forgotten songs would melt into each other as he drove - no seatbelt - thru the American Midwest. "Constant Green" is his attempt to bring this mood into 2021, filtering it through the catalog of influences he's been exploring both in Zelienople and as a solo artist for decades. Adding dream pop, ambient and post rock elements, his resulting concoction is dark, lingering and romantic, and it's more far more alluring than simple, empty nostalgia.
Opener 'I Listen To Country Songs' lays out Christensen's message with stark clarity. Slide guitar from Zelienople's Brian Harding and keyboard from Eric Eleazer sits beneath faintly strummed guitar and Christensen's familiar vocals. But the sonic environment studio whizz Christensen creates is more like Talk Talk's "Spirit of Eden", Arthur Russell's "World of Echo" or Slowdive's "Souvlaki". This is country music, of a sort, but sprinkled with the subtle electronic processes that Tim Friese-Greene made his calling card.
Lush, layered ambience builds slowly on 'I Had A Vision That I Could Move Anywhere' like a distant police siren; 'Tenement Square' uses negative space like another instrument, allowing words to echo like a passing car; 'Constant Green' is beautiful and restrained, with distortion suggesting rock but turning the amp to -1. It's ineffably charming music, that builds an unsentimental narrative rooted in the American midwest, warts 'n all.
Psychedelic post-punk goth grot from Southern Death Cult members Barry Jepson, David 'Buzz' Burrows, and Aki Haq Nawaz Qureshi, with Temple Ov Psychic Youth associate Paul ‘Bee’ Hampshire on vocals. These demos and unreleased tracks catch the band at their most barbed - think Psychic TV x Killing Joke.
While getting the fear initially sailed on a wave of interest in British post-punk and inked a deal with RCA, they were dropped swiftly after recording their debut single 'Last Salute' after a reshuffle at the label. This album collects the rest of the band's material, most of which has laid unreleased since it was recorded. There are demos ('Last Salute' is featured here in its original form) and unheard cuts that finally help fans piece together an accurate picture of a band obsessed with dreams, sex and Charles Manson.
The music still sounds relevant, if deeply a product of its era. Getting the Fear were more surreal than many of their contemporaries, sharing creative territory with their friends Psychic TV and bordering on the gothy low-light grit of Killing Joke.
More properly far-out transmissions from Oren Ambarchi's Black Truffle. This time it's a 1982 tape release that shows off Dutch free improviser Remko Scha's madcap mechanical ensemble - five guitars were hung from a wall, with devices attached to hit and bow the strings. It sounds completely beamed from the outerzone, sometimes like Christian Marclay's seminal 'Guitar Drag' or an opium den Velvet Underground sesh, and others like Eli Keszler jamming with Bill Orcutt. OK!
A founding member of Dutch radical improv group The Maciunas Ensemble, computational linguistics professor Remko Scha was a crucial part of the Netherlands' art world in the late '70s and early '80s. Scha was particularly interested in generative music, and developed a mechanized system for playing electric guitars that was part sculpture and part robot. When set up, the ensemble played itself - all Scha could do was change the speed of the system.
"Guitar Mural 1" is four long recordings of the ensemble, highlighting the hypnotic power of the setup and Scha's dedication to the form. There's little interaction from Scha himself and no post processing, we just get to hear the instruments as they play themselves, and all the tiny changes and accidental harmonies and rhythms that creates. There are echoes of Eli Keszler's similarly automated arduino-controlled sound sculptures, as well as Glenn Branca's no-wave classic 'Lesson No. 1 for Electric Guitar', Sonic Youth's atonal shred clouds and Charlemagne Palestine’s dueling pianos.
But Scha's constructions feel scientific and rigorous. He's not making music to shock, as such, but to explore the possibilities of a formula. It's almost early algorithmic art in a way, bent around the limitations of its day and set against the scuzzy backdrop of rock 'n roll. Recommended listening.
Heavy tonker Blawan runs amok in his modular systems with six ruffshod techno screwballs for his Ternesc label
Not your usual hard techno, the ’Soft Waahls’ EP sees him working off and around the kicks in freakier permutations of his hardcore style. The bass drum diehards will get theirs in the offset, spongiform pressure of ‘Fizz City,’ while those open to wilder styles will get it everywhere from the syncopated rattler ‘Justsa’ to the supremely warped tackle of ‘The Sithe,’ the buckled, ratty funk of ’Silver,’ and the killer swivel of ‘Fourth Dimensional’ that makes the pads ’n bass style of Ilian tape seem as tame as they are. To be fair ‘Micro’s’ over eggs it into undanceable complexity, but the rest stands for some of Blawan’s most ingenious work.
Anaesthetising dream-pop from Kobe, Japan’s Haco, gracing Room 40’s rarely seen sublabel Someone Good with a sound somewhere between Grouper and Julia Holter
Depending how your tweedar is calibrated, ‘Nova Naturo’ offers either a blessing or a saccharine wince. It’s too much for these ears, but we can see how many others will fall for its charms, especially those who love it wipe clean and no grit between the record and you; leading from whispered late night lounge styles on ‘Frozen In Time’ to feathered airborne strums on ’Spinning Lantern,’ and the anime dream sequence styles of ‘Teardrops of Aurora,’ and with more success in what sounds like a vaporised Junior Boys on ‘A Mind Resort (Shiokaze Version)’ and the supine drift of ‘Myths and Facts.’
Black To Comm's spannered psychedelic inversions of Senyawa's percussive experimental trax might be our fave to emerge from the remix project so far. Overdriven, foamy noise built out of dissociated wind tunnel vox, granulated drums and tectonic plate shifting power ambient drones. Fucking massive.
The latest artist to take on Indonesian duo Senyawa's "Alkisah" album is Hamburg-based Marc Richter, aka Black To Comm. There have been a few different takes on the source material so far, but by working in long-form Richter manages to establish a fully-formed world, taking apart the original album completely and reconstructing it in his inimitable style.
Distortion is the key element here, and Richter pushes Senyawa's components full into the red, blurring drums and Indonesian instrumentation until it buckles and breaks into fragments of feedback and white noise. His treatments are harmonic somehow; while the original tracks were more stark, Richter's arhythmic, psychedelic approach is completely in line with the duo's process, and nothing about this version feels surplus to requirement.
Rather, it adds a completely new dimension to the original album - Richter feels like the third member of the band as he levitates disparate ingredients with the glee and serendipitous charm of an evil sorcerer. If you've already tracked down the wash of Senyawa remixes and are experiencing ear fatigue - rinse 'em out with soap and water.
More expertly-produced slippery, low-slung deep house goodness from the shockingly-reliable Galcher Lustwerk - there's even a slappin' synth-heavy remix from Midwestern techno legend Dan Curtin.
We don't deserve Galcher Lustwerk. With each release, he reminds just how good house music can be when you avoid the trappings of gear fetishism or fads and head straight for the groove. He follows up the 'Information Redacted' release with this new EP, playing to his strengths. Sultry vocals, simple and effective rolling bass and fluid, driving beatbox rhythms that just about remind us what dancing thru a cloud of blunt smoke at 3AM felt like. It sounds like underrated Chicago deep house legend Gemini given a fresh lick of paint and 4k remaster.
Galcher draws further parallels with the Midwestern scene by roping in Ohio OG Dan Curtin for remix duties. Curtin beefs up the kick, dragging the track into a parallel Detroit synthspace, with detuned chords and luscious, dreamy sequences. V good.
Chicago's Dance Mania legend DJ Deeon decamps to Teklife for a breakneck set of resolutely American bass music, all cycling TR-808 snaps, trunk-rattling sub drops and searing acid funq. Respect the master - this one's fer the dancers.
Are there many more house producers as agelessly reliable as Deeon Boyd? Since the early '90s, the DJ and prolific beatmaker has been churning out tracks that haven't just set clubs on fire, they've modified the musical DNA of Chicago itself. In particular, the footwork genre can trace its lineage to the sample-heavy oddball slide of Deeon and his acolytes, so it's fitting that "Destiny" is comes via genre nexus Teklife.
There's four new tracks here, all of them sounding fresh without losing the erotique heat that's made Deeon such an enduring force. 'Tek 57' is a rapid slap of percussive wobbles, autotuned moans and overdriven kicks; 'Living that TEKLIFE' meanwhile impacts rhythmic flips over dramatic horns, while 'Respect the fact' winds a tuff basement kick over a wobbly acidic bassline.
Closing track 'Herbal Grinder' might be the weirdest and most brain bursting of all: an echoing sand-blasted trance lead welded onto a classic Deeon sex dungeon kick pattern that sounds like the party anthem you never realized you needed. Pure dirt.
Smiling C scan the annals of Mexican experimental jazz artist Germán Bringas between 1991-2000, covering bountiful strains of sax and new age electronics
There comes a point in every earnest listener’s habits and tastes when new age possibly curdles into nuisance and, for this set of ears, that point has been achieved with ‘Tunel Hacia Ti.’ It’s flush with expressive multi-instrumentalist strokes, vamps, and vibes, but unfortunately they mostly aren’t landing well on the receptors today; it all sounds a bit cloying and nudges us to move on to something else. But anyone with a higher tolerance for sax and synths right now (tbf i just had my jab and aversion may be a side effect?) may well got lost in Bringas’ wistful world building and mazy narratives. Maybe we just need a sangria and some sun?
“Sixteen unheard works from Mexican jazz synesthete, Germán Bringas. Bringas plays with a delicate balance between experiment & pastoral spaciousness, sounding like Coltrane scoring a Tarkovsky film. To Accompany this release, we’ve made a documentary about Germán’s life. Tunel Hacia Tí (Tunnel Toward You) is a collection of early compositions by Germán Bringas of Portales, Mexico City. This album features songs from his lost cassette ambient jazz opus, "Caminatas" (Hikes), it’s spiritual successor, "Exposción Al Vacio" (Vacuum Exposure), and unreleased works created between '91-'00. Every instrument heard on this release was played by Bringas, and recorded in a studio in the back of his home.”
Nurse With Wound do us all a favour and sort the wheat from the chaff of their legendary “List” in a bountiful new trawl for their spiritual descendants at Finders Keepers, this time with a focus on German artists. Wigs will be flipped, we tell thee.
For the uninitiated; on the back cover of their 1979 debut album, ‘Chance Meeting On A Dissecting Table Of A Sewing Machine And An Umbrella,’ Nurse With Wound alphabetically itemised a stack of records that had influenced them, often for the inclusion of only one track on the record. The records were so rare and obscure that people who picked up the album thought NWW were having a laugh, but eventually realised they were real, obtainable things, leading them to become proper collectors’ items. After more than 40 years, and to the delight of many, NWW’s Steven Stapleton now dissects the pertinent bits of heart, liver and vital organs from those records, highlighting a shared consciousness of the ‘60s / ‘70s experimental, psych, and avant garde scenes in the years before record collecting of that voracity became a competitive pursuit and the fancy of hirsute record fair hunters.
This second volume examines Germany's inclusions on the list and is another precious haul of spannered, synapse popping prog 'n psych rawnesz thru to druggy, burned out eccentricity and ragged Prussian post-funk fuzz. It's a wild, narcotic voyage down the styx, all loose jazz rawk rhythms, ripped woofer bass and screaming detuned axe leads, everything assembled with a pre-punk middle finger to established ideas of order and genre. More importantly, it avoids the gilted critic-proof Kraut canon of Neu!, Can, Amon Düül, Popol Vuh and the like, mostly 'cuz if you've missed that you've probably not been listening very closely.
Instead, we get to experience the jagged, off-key improv splatter of Wolfgang Dauner's 'Output', that pulls us into the Deutsche smokescape kicking, screaming and frothing at the mouth. It sounds like musicians playin against each other rather than together: drums are an assemblage of occasional fills, guitar riffs are mangled, smacked and panned, oscillators squeal drunkenly like sick insects and piano rattles and rolls to underpin everything with nautical anxiety.
Avant legend Limpe Fuchs and her husband's Anima-Sound duo appear with 'It Loves Want To Have Done It', a haunted, sparse improvisation that pits screams and whispers against tidal free-wonk percussion and pinging left-bonk effex. Underrated Detroit x Stuttgart Kraut-funk oddbods Exmagma fight thru blotter breath with 'It's So Nice', drawing a clear line in Sharpie between Black US innercity innovation and German commune-adjacent anti-establishment experimentation. It all follows a line far beyond the usual krautrock and kosmiche culprits to perfectly demonstrate the Germans’ rhythm-driven and psychedelic urges in abundance, highlighting the way a generational wave of musicians sought to create a new music unshackled from folk music tainted by their fathers’ generation, or imitating British and American styles; broadening their horizons while cognisant of the need to make a music that was, after all, expressive of a new society. Trust Steven Stapleton has picked out the most virulent, enduring examples for a new generation to absorb while watching their hairlines recede and waists and beards bloom…
Raw deep house pressure, Berlin-Style, from the Acido MVP, rounding up more lost cuts from SVN’s archive
Shifting the dial from the first volume’s 2006-2014 timeframe to 2011-2014, circa is first workouts on SUED, the artists Sven Reiger (aka Ixus, and member of Dreesvn, PG Sounds, AU, Tase, XI ++) gives a loose red definition of deep house taking in the deliciously spongiform, rounded bass of ‘2013,’ the effervescent house stepper ‘2012,’ plus more pendulous moves with the swinging wooden drums of ‘2014.1,’ and a neat change of pace on the cosmic synth nose of ‘2011.1.’
Low-light, jazzy meditations and bleak, ominous textures that melt Feldermelder's ambient-experimental electronic techniques into Sara Oswald's inspired cello playing. Fennesz x David Darling = gut ja.
'Drawn' is serious nighttime music that's pitched as a meditation on time, or an attempt to emulate the memories that occur during a near death experience. Thankfully it's not too bleak - the duo use this starting point to create eerie soundscapes that stretch familiar elements into a haze of Swiss continental grandiosity that's interrupted by crunching noise and occasional rhythmic blasts.
It's almost like late-period Fennesz with cello instead of guitar and rooted in jazz instead of rock - all swirling cigarette smoke and digital bleakness. It ain't ambient, that's for sure; Miasmah, ECM, Touch and Rune Grammafon fans, take note!
Rare ‘80s pep and joy from German-in-London artist Roland Ray, seeing his sole album of new wave pop reissued by Henry Jones’ beaming label, Smiling C
Riddled with memorable hooks that never snagged upon original release in 1985, ‘Hot, Cold & Blue’ sees Roland ray pursue the glitter and grease of a life as full time musician in London. Hailing from Hannover originally, he apparently left the city after pimps attempted to kidnap his missus, and would end up living an itinerant lifestyle busking between Belgium and France until he was able to get legit access to the UK, where his girlfriend was from.
Then based in West Hampstead amid a fecund creative scene surrounded by likes of Thin Lizzy and Robert Palmer, his first group Loony Q disbanded after success thwarted them, leading Ray to pick up an auld 8-track from Brussels and embark as a solo artist. ‘Hot, Cold & Blue’ was the result, a highly melodic confection of ‘60s pop inspirations mixed with bedroom rock verve and bubbling disco that probably sounded bit out of place then as it does now, reminding the way Ariel Pink picked up the thread of ‘60s jangle and ran with it in his own way, resulting lost “hits” such as the charming ‘UK Chart Singles’ and the Blue Gene Tyranny-esque country rock pop of ‘Girl On My Mind’ scattered in the definition of an also ran album that still sounds strangely fresh decades later.
A sentimental trip into the world of Don and Moki Cherry's Organic Music Theatre, a collaboration proposed as an alternative space for creative music and art. "Festival de jazz de Chateauvallon 1972" is a recording of the group's historic debut performance marks a joyful period in the Cherrys' lives.
Accompanied by musicians Naná Vasconcelos, Christer Bothén and Doudou Gouirand and Danish puppeteers Det Lilla Cirkus, Don and Moki laid out their life philosophy to French festivalgoers on this extended set. The performed outdoors and were joined onstage by a handful of friends, both adults and children, who danced and sang as the band played. The duo's message was clear: they wanted to bring people together.
This was the period that Don Cherry had rejected his former status as a jazz titan, jettisoning his career in favor of a more mysterious existence in rural Sweden with his wife and family. But as "Organic Music Theatre" illustrates, it wasn't a rejection of music, but of the art world's oppressive hierarchy, that was central to his decision. The music here, a frolicking fusion of Indian, African, South American and Native American forms that feel charged with an almost spiritual energy, is intimate but universal.
There's little of the avant/free jazz that Cherry cut his teeth pioneering here, rather it's a performance that celebrates the very act of playing in public. The band play challenging pieces - including tracks that would eventually make their way to Cherry's "Organic Music Society" and "Home Boy" albums - but inject them with so much positive energy that their context is shifted completely. It's a privilege to hear this performance from beginning to end and bask in its hopeful energy.
Newly unearthed bonanza of Don Cherry action, capturing an extraordinary free jazz tempest thrown down live in ’68 at a summerhouse south of Stockholm amidst a fecund epoch. Proper, third-eye dilating stuff rife with spontaneous possibility by players from Sweden, Turkey, USA
Part of a tranche of Don Cherry recordings that resurfaced recently from the Swedish Jazz Archive, ‘The Summer House Sessions’ now takes pride of place on its first vinyl pressing, accompanied on the CD by other recordings made the same day. For the first time they reveal a day of incredible energies improvised by Cherry with members of his Swedish ensemble, plus a Turkish drummer, at saxophonist and recording engineer Göran Freese’s summer house in late July, 1968. As many jazz heads will know, this is circa some of Cherry’s most legendary works, spanning a period after he’d cut his teeth playing with Coltrane and setting the template for free jazz with Ornette Coleman’s classic quartet, at a time when his creativity was unbounded and truly definitive of a searching, modal democracy of jazz music that drew from myriad sources.
The two vinyl sides and bonus material bear witness to a remarkable murmuration of sorts, with a swingeing rhythmic drive from the dual drummers underpinning a deeply psychedelic play of colours and pan-ethnic expression derived from Cherry’s pocket sax and flutes, and free-handed air shredding by likes of Bernt Rosengren (tenor saxophone, flutes, clarinet) and Tommy Koverhult (tenor saxophone, flutes). In effect, the recordings prove that Cherry’s preceding lessons for the players in extended forms of improvisations including breathing, drones, Turkish rhythms, overtones, silence, natural voices, and Indian scales had really hit home, triggering the massed ensemble to play with a ruptured, shearing unpredictability, but equally with a rapturous coherence that’s simply everything at once and then some.
Analogue synth wizard Martin Jenkins returns to Ghost Box with a glorious vision of retro-futurist electronics in ‘Hollow Earth’, the sequel to ‘Stasis’ 
At just under 1 hour long, ‘Hollow Earth’ weighs in as one of PCA’s most significant, broadest artist albums (as opposed to compilations). It finds the widely beloved project reeling inwards after the extrospective exploits of his ‘Stasis’ LP to reflect on themes of “subterranean exploration and submerged psychologies.”
Gassed on the spirits of Berlin skool synth improvisation and the new age chuff-on that informed early ‘90s house music, the album unfurls as a nightflight over undulating internal topography, roaming from signature slow techno wonders to weightless, vocodered waltz in ‘Descent’ and furtive, ghostly shapes in ‘Claustrophobe’, before raising the energy level with strident dance tracks such as ‘Mindshaft’ and ‘Core sample’. But it’s int he later quarters that we find some of the most precious material, such as the deliciously moody atmosphere and sylvan slink of ‘Dancing Shadows’, the mind-bending noise sculpture of ‘Quad Tape Substrate’, and his Carpenter-on-quaaludes emulation, ‘Buried Memories’.
Carnage is a new album by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, recorded over a period of weeks during lockdown.
"Although the pair have composed & recorded many soundtracks together, and Ellis is a long-term member of The Bad Seeds, this is the first time they have released an entire album of songs as a duo. Cave describes the album as "a brutal but very beautiful record nested in a communal catastrophe."
"Making Carnage was an accelerated process of intense creativity," says Ellis, "the eight songs were there in one form or another within the first two and a half days."
Cave & Ellis' sonic and lyrical adventurism continues apace on Carnage, an album that emerged almost by accident out of the downtime created by the long, anxious, global emergency. Carnage is a record for these uncertain times - one shot through with moments of distilled beauty and that resonates with an almost defiant sense of hope."
We've no idea how Masami Akita continues to enthrall after literally hundreds of albums, but he's cracked it again with "Triwave Pagoda". This time he rakes thru early electronic stylings with his typically full-throttle amplitude level, shrouding oscillator shrieks and dissonant wails in 12-foot walls of burn'd out noise and chugging metal dirt. U already know, right?
'Triwave Pagoda' is a spiral of anti-synth music that celebrates the untamed oscillator by ripping it to shreds and flogging it publicly. Split into two bite-sized 20-minute chunks, the album expands on Akita's ongoing interest in early electronics, layering harsh feedback over brain-rupturing drones and jagged blasts of tempered white noize.
There's nothing easy about this record, but neither is it simply harsh noise wall endurance. For each blast of ear-splitting feedback, there's just as much bleating "Forbidden Planet" bleepage and pineal-prodding computer malfunction bizz. Well good, honestly.
Driving deep techno from Washington DC’s Jackson Ryland on 1432r, keeping it close to home following local don Max D’s ‘Many Any’ LP
Built deep and robust in a classic Detroit vein, the ’Stealth Mode’ EP wets pumping uptempo rhythms with underwater pads in four parts, going deep and dark with the Suburban Knight-esue pressure of ’Stealth Mode’ and the gruff heft of ‘Air & Space’, whereas ‘Aloe Vera’ is more expansive, lushed up, but still smacking, and ‘Blaze Freak’ swings out off-centre with warm jazz chords and ruff cut drums recalling DJ Spider or something Max D might play.
2020/2021 remasters of late ‘90s D&B rollers and steppers by Total Science
First plated up in 1999 by Goldie’s label, ’Silent Reign’ i buffed up in a 2021 master bringing its drums to the biting point and with nuff space for tense sci-fi pads. The Photek-fetishizing, tight roller ‘Colony’ appears in its 2020 master, and ’Shift’ brings that pre-millennial tension with grunting bass and icy pads skating over a brittle 2-step roll cage.
Why Eye pets Laurie Tompkins and Otto Willberg mint their canny new label with a radgy packet of avant follies - think a manic Ghédalia Tazartès jamming with Derek Bailey in Stewart Lee’s dreams.
Certifiably crazed, psychotomimetic; ‘Exorcise’ is the result of cabin fever experienced by these adventuourous composer/improvisors during lockdown. Once a native of geordieland, now based in London’s ‘burbs, Laurie Tompkins is well appreciated for his boundary oblivious approach to composition, as strewn across the ace Slip label he runs with Tom Rose and Suze Whaites, while Otto Willberg is a fearless bass guitar and string improvisor. Together they’ve provided some of the oddest releases in the past decade - check Laurie’s ‘45th Generation Roman & European Bob’ or ‘Heat, War, Sweat, Law,’ and tell us we’re wrong?! - and the two 10 minute works here push the levels to edges of insanity, but just short of being institutionalised.
They previously launched Yes Indeed via Willberg's Heavy Petting label in 2016, with a clump of shows to follow, with ‘Exorcise’ marking their first recording since 2018. The title piece is a demented dovish of freewheeling spinnet, stir-crazed vox and keys just about fused by roving jazz-funky bass, while their ‘Brainwatched’ side reels to see-sawing folk strings and guttural lyrical expression, erupting an spat out in theatrical manners reminding of the Slip label’s piece de resistance by Object Collection, as well as the unhinged turns of Yeah You, yet with a delirious logic of their own.
Proper, mad scones.
Featuring Flora Yin-Wong, Space Afrika, Jabu & Daniela Dyson, Tygapaw, Meemo Comma, Malibu, Ikonika, Ceystallmess, Bass Clef, Grand River, Sara Berts and more.
"Frequent readers of zweikommasieben will know that the creative processes we highlight in our magazine are an eclectic gathering of influences that result in varied creative practices. This plurality informs a question we have repeatedly asked ourselves: what might be the common denominator connecting all the dots? For this issue, we would like to make the case for the discursive potential of personal experiences.
Once the personal is taken seriously, anecdotes provide major insights into an artist’s practice. A portrait on producer Malibu taps into memories of popular culture and traces musical experiences from her childhood to highlight the dedication she brings towards composing melodies and using samples. In their essay, the duo Space Afrika assembles recollections of their daily lives in north-west England to frame their artistic output over the years.
Highlighting subjective perspectives allows for the differentiation of what might appear similar at first. Both the collaboration of Andreas Bülhoff and Marc Matter featured in “Soundtexte” and the interview with Tygapaw refer to the use of poetry. The former condense language to its most basic units and present them as rhythmic building blocks for DJs. Taking a different approach, Tygapaw asked a poet to be the narrator of their album, expanding the tracks by embedding an additional layer of meaning.
zweikommasieben #23 also wishes to make visible the full range of its contributors. Annotations in the margins gesture towards the intuitive processes characteristic of this magazine: from an initial interest in an artist and their work, to the experience of exploring it in the context of a conversation, and to collaboratively reflect on text and photography with various people."
On the cover: Radio Activity: The growth of internet radio through the 2010s and the pandemic conditions of the last year have created an explosion of music on air. From the US to China, Palestine to Central Europe, South America to Africa, our global survey tracks online, FM and other radio developments. Plus a 100-strong directory of essential stations, sites and broadcasters.
Pamela Z: Born in Buffalo, New York, the radio DJ, vocalist and composer has carved out a rich and compelling career, characterised by its innovative use of technology and engaging humour. By Emily Pothast.
Invisible Jukebox: J Mascis: Will the Dinosaur Jr guitarist and vocalist find himself “Kracked” by The Wire’s mystery record selection? Tested by Sunburned Hand Of The Man’s John Moloney and Rob Thomas.
Sam Dunscombe: The Australian field recordist remixes the Californian desert via discarded ephemera. By Abi Bliss
We All Break: Percussionists Daniel Brevil and Ches Smith run the Vodou down. By Stewart Smith
Olev Muska: Into the archives of the Estonian-Australian folk synthesist. By Joshua Minsoo Kim
Mick Harris & Scorn: Heavy manners from the blastbeater turned bass explorer. By Phil Freeman
Unlimited Editions: Zoomin’ Night
Unofficial Channels: Wouter Van Veldhoven
Global Ear: The American Composers Forum meets the challenges of the present with an eye to the future. By Vanessa Rose, Dameun Strange & Amanda Cook
The Inner Sleeve: John Oswald on a Command Records inner sleeve
Epiphanies: Matthew Shipp recalls the good example set by a straight edged William Parker
Print Run: New music books: Radio 1, Nadia Boulanger’s world, Chinese sound art, journeys with The Orb, and more
On Screen: New films and DVDs: Paul Bishow & James June Schneider’s Punk The Capital; Eléonore Huisse & François J Bonnet’s Échos
On Site: Recent art shows: Ray Lee’s Points Of Departure; Jo Thomas’s Massive Angels
On Location: Recent live events and streams: Blacktronika, Tusk TV, Rewire, Counterflows At Home, Laurie Anderson & Jason Moran, and more
More neon-flicker'd glam rawk dirt from genre averse Warp-signed pop pinup Yves Tumor. Somewhere between Primal Scream, Babylon Zoo, Bowie and Prince, but like... good?
Sean Bowie's first new music since last year's acclaimed "Heaven to a Tortured Mind", 'Jackie' continues his mission to bring back sleazy glam pop and might be his most successful punt yet. With a clipped overdriven chorus and the kind of dusty beat tape drums Andy Weatherall was smart to gift to Primal Scream back in 1991, it's all fuzzy and anthemic, doused in more purple light than Nic Cage in "Mandy". It's the sort of track that actually makes us miss MTV. Really.
Tech/Junglist sound design with an introspective vision, new from XCPT
"Journey at The End of The Brain opens the A side with an uplifting dose of breaks; the tech junglish assault of Ghosting gets scanned by cutting drumz and large hall reverberated reese bass, perfectly fitting the soundtrack of the dirtiest dream of the perfect night out in the club. Chaotic Neutral, a wild tune reminiscent of early Source Direct, acts as the amen track of the LP which burns bright before slowing down into the mental trip-hop excursion of Purple Leaf. The A side ends with Skyline, a virtual soundscape designed with broken stabs and hypnotic atmospheres.
Hexacomb, a 160 bpm half beat driving force opening the B side represents a unique blend of syntethic textures with a dirty beat giving only a minute of breath with the entrance of those celestial strings and classic piano phrases. Urania and Cannonball cover the 140-150 BPM zone of the LP, showing the mutant dubstep infused side of Pushlock characterized by 3/4 progressions, leftfield inspired atmospheres and distorted basslines. Common Ground acts as the perfect outro, leading the listener through a cathartic path to the end of the brain."
Gilded new mixes of Theo Parrish’s soul-stirring album, including his zinger with Maurissa Rose, plus a tight edit of his 2015 cut with The Unit covering a disco classic by Skye
Tweaking out gems from 2020’s ‘Wuddaji’ album, Theo is at his lissom but rugged best, nimbly shaking up ‘This Is For You’ with extra samba whistles and smudged chords for over 12 minutes of rug-cutting smarts, and jamming out a longer take on the album’s gauzy opener ‘Hambone Cappuccino’ with the woozy swerve of ‘What You Wanna C (Hambone).’ Cherry on the cake is a re-chopped edit of his 2015 workout with The Unit supergroup of Amp Fiddler, Mr. Mensah, Duminie Deporres and more, juicing ‘Ain’t No Need’ for all it’s worth in a proper, 10 minute jazz-funk special.
Released on Throbbing Gristle's Industrial Records in 1979, "The Bridge" was the only album from Glaswegian innovators Thomas Wishart and Robert Donnachie (aka Thomas Leer & Robert Rental), but influenced everyone from John Foxx and Art of Noise to Mute founder Daniel Miller and ABC. Seriously next level day zero DIY electro pop made in a bedsit with hacked together synths and reel-to-reel recorders >> end-to-end killer.
When "The Bridge" was released, there was almost nothing else like it out there. Leer and Rental were true pioneers, experimenting with sounds that just hadn't been touched before and changing the course of British pop music in the process. They had spent most of the '70s surfing thru squats and communes, but headed to London in the mid-'70s to write music, inspired by the growing punk movement.
Their take on punk was a little different - they only had access to the cheapest equipment, so a guitar was twinned with a kids' Stylophone keyboard and mangled with a home-made effects unit. Interestingly, their eerie, fwd-thinking sound did get traction at the time, and after a few acclaimed singles they recorded "The Bridge" for Industrial Records in two weeks using hired gear.
Unlike the surge of electronic pop records that would follow, "The Bridge" still sounds haunted and original. The duo's lack of experience with their instruments and clear interest in texture and noise leads them in constantly odd directions, following spiky punk splatter with shimmering ambience or crunchy noise. 'Fade Away' is like John Foxx thru a distortion pedal, while the seven-minute 'Interferon' sounds more like early BoC or Emeralds.
It's a stunning record that's far more than a mere curiosity of the era; you can clearly hear how its sounds reverberated across British pop music and beyond. Time to discover another forgotten classic then...
Next level 30 minute session of ritualistic percussion jams from blessed percussionists João Pais Filipe and Valentina Magaletti, alongside producer Leon Marks. Two trance-invoking, long-form time melters that wouldn't be out of place in one of Offen Music boss Vladimir Ivkovic's notoriously heady mid-morning DJ sets. Fans of Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force, Nihiloxica, This Heat, Donato Dozzy, Beatrice Dillon or Muslimgauze don't wanna miss this one.
Swiftly following the "Luxury Variations" EP on Trilogy Tapes comes "Communicator", a weighty celebration of the kick drum's energetic, repetitive motion. The album expands the dubwise short-form sonics of its predecessor, allowing its two tracks to build slowly, zeroing in on almost imperceptible rhythmic shifts. Both tracks hover around a danceable central rhythm, with each percussionist skillfully tripping and stepping around each beat with the grace of ballet dancers performing a lavish, complicated routine.
Aside from drums, there's only gaseous traces of any other instrumentation; occasionally a synthesizer burbles from an adjacent floatation tank before swirling into the next dimension. It's like This Heat's paradigm-shifting avant post-punk, Miles Davis's "On The Corner"-era repetitive funk hypnosis or Donato Dozzy's sparse, groove-heavy progressive techno world-building, but stripped to its bare essentials. There's nothing out of place here, no needless frills and no pointless posturing: "Communicator" is drum music for heads. Absolute respect.
Documented during peak isolation times in Los Angeles, between December 2020 and January 2021.
"These pieces were performed as Live AV pieces from 2017-2019, at Coaxial Arts, Zebulon and Desert Daze 2019, but not documented in a release until later. Signal processing and sequencing frameworks built in Max 8 with signals generated from Prophet '08, a broken AW16G, 0-coast, Max, and a MC-909. With the context of the electromagnetic medium, the absence of live performance and moving visuals and the new "spirit" of the pestilent times, "Cutting Them All Off" should barely be represented as reworks of the originally performed pieces. What was once pulsing and blasting out of PA speakers live is now referenced as a distant past document. These pieces (for better or for worse) have been removed and cut-off from their contextual source and can only be presented in their displaced/liberated state. Like a fish out of water gasping for air, or the only drunk survivor of a car crash that was his fault.
Christopher Reid Martin started Rotary ECT in 2016. The project focuses on highly active signal processes on synchronized Audio -> Visual signals, with many signals being constructed to self-generate. Much like a rotary machine's rotation, the process is consistent and signalled when turned on. Much like electroconvulsive therapy, a human need to be there to actively monitor and attend to the process and generation of the signals being emitted.
Christopher currently works for Cycling '74, is a curatorial/programmer at Coaxial Arts Foundation and ⅓ of curators (alongside J.Prey and J. Rivera) behind the ephemeral stream Cathode TV/Cathode Cinema. Christopher continues to show gallery works, both virtual and physical, digital and video works and performs in other numerous events and projects such as Bailouts, CGRSM (with Gabie Strong), Shelter Death, Gate (with Michael Morley) and Via Injection. He has performed and collaborated with artists Joseph Hammer, Bryce Loy (RIP), Tetuzi Akiyama, Christopher Thompson, James Roemer, Andrew Scott, Gabie Strong, Michael Morley, Lev Abramov and many others."
A big influence on the tropicália of Caetano Veloso, Tom Zé and Gilberto Gil; Swiss-Brazilian artist Walter Smetak is subject to reissue of his fascinating 2nd album, recorded and released in 1980 when the artist was in his late ‘60s
Accompanied by a band of microtonal guitars, aka Conjunto De Microtons, Smetak used ‘Interregno’ to move his musical ideas deeper into the strange tuning systems found on his seminal self-titled debut in 1974. Picking up where ’Smetak’ left off, he effectively positions himself like Brazil’s answer to Derek Bailey, getting right inside and messing with his chosen forms in an holistic, nose-to-tail style that he’d pursued since the ‘60s/‘70s, and which would play a pivotal role influencing the expressive freedoms and glorious wonders of the tropicália movement.
Guided by a personal mythology and religious-esoetric weltanschauung, the results speak clearly to a singular mind and conception of style, sounding uncannily like tropicália’s tropes are in the process of melting into air, unravelling and vaporising its mix of tradition and futurism into post-body, metaphysical forms with a visionary approach most obvious in the album’s longest work, the 12 minutes of twangs and whistles ‘Plágio,’ the pineal pinch of ‘Trifles,’ and coterie of instruments resembling avant-naturalistic, animal-like forms on ‘Ofício’ or the breezy ephemera of ‘Convite.’
A must check for fans of everyone from Annea Lockwood to Derek Bailey and Tom Zé!
Mica Levi returns to Slip with six piano pieces played by Eliza McCarthy in ‘Slow Dark Green Murky Waterfall’ - a crepuscular suite riddled with Mica’s inquisitive, conversational phrasing and smartly expanding upon their 7” track, ‘Riding Through Drinking Harpo Dine’ [Foom, 2017], a new recording of which also appears in this set. Gorgeous music, especially recommended if yr into Terre Thaemlitz, Gonzales, Dominique Lawalrée...
The culmination of three years work between Mica and Eliza - winner of the 2013 British Contemporary Piano Competition - ‘Slow Dark Green Murky Waterfall’ follows up their collaboration on the Oscar-nominated score for Pablo Larrain’s ‘Jackie’ score with a finer-shaded, patient space for low-lit, smoky expression that’s so intimate and personal it almost feels like eavesdropping a private recording.
Ineffably bound by a sense of unreal poise, Eliza’s interpretations are subtly, dynamically rendered in-the-mix by Mica to present the pieces as though in flux, like poignant, unresolved statements that occur in the flow of quiet, intent dialogue and linger in the air. It’s testament to the pair’s well-honed intuition that the results connote this feeling so naturally.
And it’s maybe our familiarity with Mica’s work, from her earliest chopped ’n screwed orchestrations, to her ‘Under The Skin’ score and her mutant pop pieces, that we keep expecting hers or Tirzah’s voice to match her melodies with wordless vocals or harmonious limns throughout the six pieces. That’s probably simply down to the fact that Mica writes with such a pop-wise appeal and soulful sensitivity that it prompts subvocalisation in every listener, or maybe it’s just us, but either way the hook of these instrumentals will be floating your head for days, weeks, or a lifetime after they’re imbibed...
Hassan Wargui is a self taught musician, composer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and an expert in the songcraft and poetry of the Tachelhit speaking Amazigh tribes of the Anti-Atlas mountains in the south of Morocco.
"He was born in 1985 in the rural community of Issafen, which lies between Taroudant and Tafraoute in the Anti-Atlas mountains of Southern Morocco. His music draws from the deep well of Amazigh, or Berber, cultures that have long been suppressed across North Africa after the region underwent a process of Arabization following the Arab invasions of the 7th Century.
Hassan grew up in an isolated mountain community in which art and music is embedded into daily life. This allowed him to develop an excellent musical sense, a deep understanding of the complex poly-rhythms that underpin Amazigh music, and time to become proficient on the banjo which, since the ascendency of the popular modern folk movement involving groups such as Nass El Ghiwane and Jil Jilala in the late '60s and early '70s, has been the preferred instrument of the region. Like many musicians from the region, Hassan built his first instruments himself, and it wasn't until he moved to Casablanca in his teens to find work which was scarce in his local community, that he was able to save for his first real banjo.
Since then Hassan has been active in the Amazigh musical community and has worked with a number of groups, notably Groupe Lbouchart, Imanaren and Etran Tiznit, as well as recording prolifically as a solo artist using Fruity Loops as a home studio. In 2009, Jace Clayton (DJ/Rupture) stumbled across a CD by Imanaren on a stall in Casablanca medina and this led to a fruitful series of collaborations in 2009 and 2011 (you can learn more about their work together here.)
Tiddukla (which translates to Friendship) is one of Hassan's numerous group projects and he recorded the album with friends in 2015 and self released it through YouTube due to the lack of music infrastructure in Morocco. The Tiddukla album is raw and hypnotic and sees Hassan and his group channeling the deep and contemplative sounds of classic Amazigh groups such as Izenzaren, Archach, Izmaz, all of whom risked their freedom by daring to sing in Tachelhit at a time when the language was still forbidden, and when Amazigh people were fighting for their rights to be recognised.
Hive Mind are thrilled to be able to release Hassan's beautiful music, and to introduce the fascinating rhythms of the Anti-Atlas Mountains into the wider world. We're incredibly proud to be able to support this fiercely independent and hugely resourceful and tenacious artist who has been able to continue creating music for over a decade without any real support from Morocco's music industry and while holding down a variety of day jobs. We really hope you enjoy his music as much as we do."
After great editions by Tape Loop Orchestra and John Powell-Jones, Open Tapes host the tantalising first breaths of Ovïd - an as-yet-anonymous operator hailing from Stockport and reminding of Pub, Xela, Automatisme, Signer
Primed to trigger intrigue with the ambient techno sleuths, Ovid’s debut arrives in a fine vein of contemporary atmospheric pursuits where the dancefloor is a distant but glowing memory and the bed is a raft for all night flight. For just shy of half an hour they furl a totally classic sound, yet one defined with a dewy, plasmic texture that feels like the edges of seminal ‘90s ambient and techno have been smudged and eroded to leave behind the essence of a style, all harmonic hues and submerged, grooving inference that feels like a nostalgic echo of the original thing that feels more appropriate to modern states of flux.
‘Ovdub’ tenderly outlines his style with pillowy pads and a sloshing groove that feels like a more ephemeral adjunct to Automatisme’s ambient systems, before ‘Ovdub2’ follows that line to slip below the surface into submerged dimensions recalling the systolic throb of Thule Records classics. ‘Ovdub3’ naturally extends into purist ambient pads, no beats, letting his melodies float in gauzy air like a beatless Signer bewt, while ‘Ovdub4’ returns to a sort of greyscale iridescence and brownian slosh that sends your bed/raft bobbing off on late night currents.
LP edition of the sold out CD/Pamphlet from 2016. The score by Schmid, reading by Landry, and edited/produced by McCann. Includes a big poster of The St. Francis List.
Emily Martin and Derek Baron on St. Francis (Feb. 2021):
"What does it mean to pray? To address someone, to plead for something, to welcome humiliation and failure: Please, let me forget about the China Chalet parties, please let there be no countries and no war, please let me love you. Is prayer iteration, or just repetition: My god, my god, my god, my god… To know spleen you just have to be down to be humiliated. But do we know for sure that we are miserable? How do we know?
This is how it has to go. We listened to this for the first time together in May 2017, while driving from Chicago to New York along the I-80 in Pennsylvania, stopping at the rest area that I later mistook for the famous picture of American “culture.” We stayed at a hotel and may have ordered a pizza. Content first, then, content again. Went inside and drank wine in relative silence, burping. Recognizing the sacredness in the plot of Friends. A choral melisma representative of holy Joy.
The dreams of moving through a convoluted space of passages, staircases, open courtyards, rooms just glimpsed past a door. It doesn’t seem possible that you can get from one place to the next but according to the logic of the dream you do. I think this has to do with how each little unit of ‘content’ happens at a different distance from your ear. The holiness of the periphery. That you can catch a shard of history if you only find the right distance to stand from the painting.
But prayer is also like the magic language we were talking about — faith that words do something more than just mean — they have the capacity to effect change in the world, and not just in the like, “words change ppl’s minds” kind of way, but in that the words themselves actually have agency. Form: sing-along."
Swedish drone/noise titans Henrik Rylander and Joachim Nordwall mete out a grizzled after course to the main course of 2020’s ‘The New Age Is Shit’ for Moscow’s Stellage
In both parts they appear to parallel Nate Young or Aaron Dilloway’s kind of straight-jacketed grooves, writhing in turgid bass and stressed, whining electronics with a real fervour for the sourest, brutalist sounds. ‘In The Name Of Psychic Expansion’ approaches more cautiously, coaxing out a gurgling cadence of wiry analogue tones and sloped bass that lodges itself grubbily itself your skull like a rusted, decayed Mika Vainio work. ’Deep Learning Situation’ follows to push the levels into the red with pealing plongs and a staggered traction for the trip metal fiends.
LA’s arch ambient producer Yann Novak supplies a solemn and immersively diaphanous elegy for environmental collapse upon return to Room 40 - RIYL Lawrence English, Dean Hurley, Biosphere
The usually prolific artist appears to have slowed the release schedule and gotten deeper into his sound in recent years, with ‘Lifeblood of Light and Rapture’ marking a new high water mark of his catalogue. Inspired by the formative teaching that 2020 would be a point of no return for the environment, Novak models his thoughts in noctilucent clouds of textured harmonies and glistening filaments, keeping everything just outta reach but with a deeply brooding presence.
“From Yann Novak: "When I began working on Lifeblood of Light and Rapture I was thinking a lot about both my personal and society's tendencies towards nihilism. When I was in grade school, I was taught that 2020 would be the turning point in our collective fight against climate change -- that if we did not change by then, there would be no turning back. After learning this at a young age, I watched helplessly as little was done to save the planet. It made me certain that I would not live to see past 2020 . . . Now that 2020 has come and gone, I have the luxury of hindsight. I can look back and see that so many of my decisions were made not to destroy myself, but in order to self-medicate. In my teens and twenties, the world was a difficult place to inhabit, but I could use chemicals and other distractions to cope. Similarly, as it turns out, this is also the story of the industrial, technological, and digital revolutions. Even though the intention of these eras was to make the world an easier place to live in, most of the progress attributed to them over the last two centuries has directly contributed to the climate crisis. On Lifeblood of Light and Rapture, I wanted to explore this parallel -- that so many of the things we do to try and make this world livable also contribute to its destruction. Formally, this album follows the path I set out on with Slowly Dismantling (RM 4112LP, 2019). I sought to express myself in a more immediate and honest way through the use of digital and analog synthesis. With Lifeblood of Light and Rapture, I built upon this same path; but I also tried to imagine the listening experience over the process of making it, focusing solely on the pure pleasure of listening..."
Flora Yin-Wong’s long-in-the-making book finally arrives via Primary Information x PAN, a highly engaging and original collection of magic/realist fantasy that lands somewhere between fiction, travelogue and journal of curiosities. If Yin-Wong's ‘Holy Palm’ album last year documented real travels, ‘Liturgy’ ventures into the uncanny.
Originally intended as a companion of sorts to her Modern Love album ‘Holy Palm’ (concepts and track titles are referenced throughout), ‘Liturgy’ was developed into a book following on from several short stories published over the years. Although essentially framed as a work of fiction, it’s a book that blurs lines between fantasy, diary and cosmographic journal, yielding as much insight into the inner life of its unnamed protagonist as it does into the blurred world of curses, hexagrams, Cantonese traditions, parallel universes and superstitions.
Take, for instance, the ‘Places/Doors to Hell’ chapter, where a small section on the Darvaza gas crater in Turkmenistan (considered by some to be an actual gateway to hell) led this reader to spend hours looking at images and trawling thru articles online - the sort of thing you’ll find keeps on happening as you get deeper into the book.
Liturgy's other chapters—Rituals & Fire; Omens; Hexagrams / Oracles; Curses; Gods & Creatures; Ghost Cities; Paradoxes; Sound Phenomena; Reality - are equally compelling, functioning like "a secret dossier” into the realms of geographic and personal anomalies that often reach into the unreal.
A precious, endlessly fascinating read.
Primed for summer, Suzanne Kraft’s masterful new album accesses the LA-artist’s most charming yacht pop and shoegaze chops for his most significant solo work since 2016 or that ace SK U Kno EP
Now based in Amsterdam but still under the spell of his Californian roots, Diego Herrera aka Suzanne Kraft finds a gauzy mid ground in ‘About You.’ Hazy pop songs patently worthy of comparison to Paddy McAloon mingle with jangly instrumentals and intimations of ‘90s indie-grunge-shoegaze, sat very best in the Prefabs-like groover ‘Blush’ and again with the dual vocal harmonies of ‘Waiting’ and ‘Peace’, where he’s joined by Monica Tormell channelling Bilinda Butcher and Wendy Smith. OK maybe he’s lost some of the more wistful spacious allure of his earlier, minimalist works by filling in the spaces with lots of melody and harmony, but it’s all still pleasingly crinkled and slightly detuned for a gently lysergic, heatsick effect that will keep folk coming back.
Japanese pipe-organ builder and sound artist Yosuke Fujita provided us with one of the prettiest, weirdest records that passed over our desk last year, essentially a custom-built organ duet with a bat colony, recorded in a cave beneath Mt. Fuji. It’s now been remastsred by Rashad Becker (with whom Fujita will be collaborating on a performance for Issue Project Room next month) and captures a sound somewhere between Sarah Davachi, Eleh, Pauline Oliveros and Kali Malone's long-form organ dirges, with the bat calls sounding almost like a synthesizer piped thru an echo chamber.
Since 2009, Fujita has been recording almost exclusively with his custom-built pipe organ: a unique instrument made from 11 pipes and a blacksmith's air pump. All of his recordings are worth hearing, but "KŌMORI" is among the most unusual and rewarding - 40 minutes of alien, pensive organ drone that echoes around the repeating, reverberating squeaks of a colony of bats.
Inspired by the fact that bats were the source of many recent viruses - like Ebola, Nipah and Hendra - Fujita grabbed a Sunken CO-100K microphone that was capable of picking up their ultrasonic echolocation. These sounds, captured in a cave beneath Mt. Fuji, are totally alien, like chattering sine waves or wobbling modular business. It's the perfect foil for Fujita's well-worn courtly organ variations that mirror traditional Japanese 7th century gagaku forms.
The rhythmic click of the air pump guides Fujita's bellowing drones, drowning out the cave's uneven spaces. Sometimes the bat sounds are reduced to a whisper, at others - such as on the crushing third part - they're almost deafening. Fujita processes these sounds expertly, occasionally mirroring their fluttering tonalities, at others simply allowing the unusual frequencies to cascade through the empty caverns.
This is properly vital new music - sonically adjacent to Medieval church music, but also austere early electronics, spiked with a brilliantly asymmetric streak all of its own.
Shanique Marie drops her debut long-player featuring collaborations and production from Gavsborg, Alanna Stuart, Michael Vincent Waller, Raging Fyah, Swing Ting & Exile Di Brave.
"The first woman of Jamaica’s favourite forward-thinking Equiknoxx crew, Queen of the Eternal Children, Shanique previously combined her Reggae, Jazz, R&B & Hip Hop roots on her critically acclaimed Uno EP which included the breakout hit Coconut Jelly Man. A talented and versatile collaborator she’s worked with a host of impressive acts both locally and globally including Krayzie Bone, Redlight, Flava D, Lex Luger, Finn, Aisha Devi, Masicka, Kabaka Pyramid, Sharda, Yaadcore, Addis Pablo, RTKal, Fox & Swing Ting. Marie’s recent singles Ring The Alarm, Freak, as well as collaborations Lifey/Movers with DJ Finn & Survey Says with classical composer Michael Vincent Waller signal a fresh direction.
Building on from this no-holds-barred space is what sets the tone for Gigi’s House, a masterclass in songwriting, storytelling and performance from Marie.
The set boasts a range of styles and sounds from eerie soul (Druggin', P3), sweet yet reflective R&B (Grow, Give Thanks), refreshingly candid one-drop (Government Name, Married Man), bubbling Jamaican dance music (Quality Time Sound System Freestyle) and a heart-stirring Ballad (Ballad). The production complemented by Shanique’s irresistible vocals shimmers throughout, largely handled by fellow Equiknoxx sparring partner Gavsborg, although Michael Vincent Waller brings his evocative piano to Druggin’ and Ballad with Manchester’s Swing Ting producing the affirming Lockdown hit Give Thanks. Alanna Stuart of Bonjay adds her haunting vocals to P3 and Druggin’ and Exile Di Brave brings his nasal tones to Government Name.
Shanique feels comfortably at ease and sure-footed throughout the project so it’s no surprise when asked to describe Gigi’s House she simply states: “I call this one home”.