Dead creepy collages of skeletal keys, shivering strings and wheezing wind from soundtrack works by Dutch filmmaking auteur - and sometime musician - Franz Zwartjes. Sequenced by Stanley Schtinter and Jon Brooks (The Advisory Circle), who also did the mastering
“Incredible follow up to the sold out Zwartjes Tapes 1, this vinyl continuation takes us deeper into the sublime world of the cult Dutch director Frans Zwartjes’ soundtrack tape archive; dream-like, disjointed, disturbing, peculiar, sexy, unexpected and totally unique.
Frans Zwartjes is famous for his art-house films (look him up on YouTube). A Dutch underground auteur, his prolific output dates from 1968. A unique talent, Zwartjes produced, directed and edited his own films (his last work was in 1991), but more importantly he created and improvised the soundtracks too. Zwartjes and his large body of work is only now being recognised by a wider, more international crowd, with screenings at the NFT and other important art-house cinemas across the world. The recordings on Tapes 2 were mixed directly from the Zwartjes soundtrack tape archive. They were assembled directly and in real time by Zwartjes archivist Stanley Schtinter and have never been issued before.
The music and sound have been put together as two long, seamless sequences; they are dreamlike, unsettling, peculiar, plugged-in, prescient and unlike any other soundtrack we have heard.”
Murky bedroom techno, jungle and ambient melancholy from Kassir, marking his solo debut on Gost Zvuk along with guest appearances from Perila, Shumopeleng, and DJ Anibari
Hazily hypnagogic but burning with a desire to dance, ‘Brown White’ plays out a fleeting mix of moods and grooves, strafing from collaged cinematic ephemera to sleepwalking deep techno recalling Morphosis and Actress in his solo works, while the collaborators help reveal further aspects of his style, from the burned-out ambient techno noise of ‘Naiv’ with Perila, thru a trio of highlights ranging from cloudrap to washed out jungle and dream-whizz techno with Shumopeleng.
Of all the Sakamoto/YMO reissues, this is the one we’ve waited for the most. Hidari Ude No Yume (Left Handed Dream) was released in 1981 and is here reissued for the first time in decades in its rare Japanese edition - beautifully remastered from the original tapes by Bernie Grundman and sounding better than we’ve ever heard it before, including a 2LP version with a bonus album of instrumental versions pressed on vinyl for the first time ever.
Recorded during a pivotal period for Sakamoto - around the same time as his stunning ‘Bamboo Houses’ with David Sylvian, and in between two classic YMO albums, 'Hidari Ude No Yume basically sounds quite unlike anything he made before or since its release, a sort of anthology of pop interiors made with hi-gloss synths and unexpected edits, from farm animals to simmering, percolated drum machines.
‘Hidari Ude No Yume’ was Sakamoto’s follow-up to the seminal ‘B-2 Unit’, and sees him smudge that album’s angularities into weirder shapes that are somehow both more experimental and oddly accessible. The newly available instrumental versions offer previously unheard perspectives on the remarkably detailed production; including an amazing tweaked-out and extended mix of ‘Relâché’, plus a beautifully slippery mix of the album’s best known highlight, ‘Kacha Kucha Nee’.
It’s a sound that has had countless imitators and acolytes; using the newest Japanese synths, traditional percussion, and his own vocals to create a sort of infectiously rhythmic future-primitivism recalling his work with David Sylvian in the Eastern electro orientation and new wave vocal affectations of ‘Living In The Dark’ and 'Saru To Yuki Gomi No Kodomo’, which also sound incredible in their brighter instrumentals, along with more avant jags into collaged 4th world electro-steppers on ‘Sarunoie,’ and a psychedelic masterwork in the strutting ace ‘The Garden Of Poppies.’
What a record.
No fewer than three unreleased Mika Vainio works resurface alongside quieter highlights of his catalogue in a 23 years-overdue compilation originally made for an exhibition in Milan.
First commissioned for the Snow Crash exhibition in 1997, ‘Kiteet’ now sees a posthumous release, reminding of Vainio's subtlest solo standouts in the likes of ’Syväys’ and ‘Radio’, sequenced beside three diverse, unreleased gems of the late, great composer at his piercingly focussed and minimalist best - utterly crucial listening for fans of his seminal mid-’90s output circa ‘Metri’ and ‘Olento’ for any Ø head or lovers of C.20th minimalist music.
For the uninitiated, the album serves as a handy primer on Mika’s most pivotal period, aside to his Chicago-inspired techno, when he forged a style of improvised live electronic music that hold up as some of the purest and most hauntingly life-affirming in a generation. The icy 12’ expanse of sliding sine waves describing endless tundra in ’Syväys’ is a total classic, while the 9’s of hypnagogtic drone and ether voices in ‘Radio’ is another, and ‘Halli’ is the closest we’ll come to shivering in an ice cave in the Arctic. We can now add the whistling bleeps and frozen synths of ‘Kiteet, Pt. 1’, and the characteristically cranky grip of its pulsating ‘Pt.2’, from the album’s unreleased highlights, to that list.
Cutting edge innovators Rashad Becker and Mark Fell re-work material from Sote’s extraordinary ‘Parallel Persia’ album alongside a killer non-album track by Ata Ebtekar aka Sote himself. Highly recommended if yr into the complex tunings and arrhythmic geometry of Dariush Dolat-Shahi, Autechre, Xenakis...
Last year’s ‘Paralell Persia’ album took the trajectory of his preceding ‘Hardcore Sounds From Tehran’ (2016) and ‘Sacred Horror In Design’ (2017) to thrilling new heights for Diagonal. Turning traditional instrumental music inside-out with computers and modular synths, he arrived at a thrilling mix of sound that stood out as one of the year’s most original and striking releases.
Wrapped around the incendiary core of ‘Artificial Neutrality’ which features Pouya Damadi’s Tar and Arash Bolouri’s Santour sculpted into fiery folk futurism by Sote, the remixes by celebrated mastering engineer and improvising composer Rashad Becker and minimalist rhythmatist Mark Fell exert incredible new spins on Sote’s originals that remain faithful to the material in their inimitable styles.
Rashad Becker’s Dramatic Reenactment of ‘Pseudo Scholastic’ combs and curdles the original into 7 segmented minutes of squirming tones and melted rhythms that, through twists and turns, come to recall Korean classical court music and Florian Hecker as much as they recall the original.
Mark Fell, meanwhile, impresses with his quadruply extended 20 minute Parallel Yorkshire mutation of ‘Modality Transporter’, where he unravels its syncopated flex in endless permutations of laser-guided pulse drops, puckered strings and choral stabs that come to sound like Autechre letting off fireworks at a Dariush Dolat-Shahi show.
Washed & screwed ambient lushness by someone going under the name Romance, distilling reference points ranging from Tarkovsky soundtracks to the emotional grandiosity of Whitney Houston & Celine Dion smudged into something like Burial and The Caretaker’s hauntological ephemera for a session of pillow-kissing nostalgia. If yr into 0PN’s Eccojams, The Caretaker, Pinkcourtesyphone or The Disintegration Loops, don’t miss this.
We can tell you absolutely nada about the artist - whoever he or she may be - but what we can tell you is that ‘You Must remember This’ offers a slow-burning session smearing traces of new age pop ballads and amorous Hollywood nuggets into half an hour of faded glamour. The style is patently redolent of Pinkcourtesyphone’s L.A. noir sensuality or the elusive good times elegance of The Caretaker, evoking atmospheres and altered states of consciousness with a soothing, emotive tactility carefully minded of our wyrd new world.
The set is split into two languorous dream sequences that slip time from its moorings; windswept strings signal a cineaste’s ear at work from the outset, luring listeners into a balmy twilight world aglow with ‘80s fantasy FM synth pads and given to bouts of syrupy screwed soul like one of 0PN’s Eccojams.
At its gauziest point in the 2nd half, the music’s silvery iridescence can’t help but remind us of Basinski’s decayed tape ambience, but the vibe is more palpably pulpy, like one of Keith Fullerton Whitman’s 500% slower edits of pop classics crafted as personal sleep aids; a purpose for which this tape is surely destined.
Max D’s Dolo Percussion supplies wigged-out, cut-up production to match the freestyle dynamics of Model Home’s Nappynappa and Pat Cain on their first shot for Future Times - think Yeah You meets Sensational and your RDA of psilocybin
As recently heard on their titles for Disciples, Model Home come thru with wicked and barely hinged bars on ’SE’, all heavily blunted in-the-mix and just about shackled by DP’s flinty, offset drums and whoozy electronic gunk. Mad as that may sound, it comes together as a sort of naturally punkish new route of rap that goes against the grain of current trends; embracing chaos and noise in a way that’s harder to explain if that’s all you know, but makes sense when considered in a vein of avant rap that reaches from Rammellzee thru Lil B and Sensational to Death Grips.
The agitation, frustration, and psychedelia of Model Home’s lives is palpable in their delivery, ranging from throttled convulsions to swaggering non-sequiturs and industrial voices, ruggedly reflected in Dolo Percussion’s reactive electronics and frayed rhythms - at best on the rattling gush of subconsciousness ’Topic’, and set to jagged electro-punk in ‘Broken Tees’; while ‘Omnipresent Love’ kills it on a cranky southern strut, and ‘Bag’ sees them drizzle in a chopped & screwed way.
Unstoppable deep funk burners from across the Numerosphere.
"A smorgasbord of sounds from R&B’s dapper younger cousin. Loose guitars and chunky drums lie in wait for discerning break-makers to finely chop and flip. The only funk record you’ll ever need to own..."
If you purchased a snake plant, asparagus fern, peace lily, or what have you from Mother Earth on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles (or bought a Simmons mattress from Sears) in 1976, you also took home Plantasia, an album recorded especially for plants. Subtitled “warm earth music for plants...and the people that love them,” it was full of bucolic, charming, stoner-friendly, decidedly unscientific tunes enacted on the new-fangled device called the Moog.
"Before Brian Eno did it, MortGarson was making discreet music. Julliard-educated and active as a session player in the post-war era, Garson wrote lounge hits, scored the 1969 moon-landing and plush arrangements for Doris Day, and garlanded weeping countrypolitan strings around Glen Campbell’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” But as his daughter Day Darmet recalls: “When my dad found the synthesizer, he realized he didn’t want to do pop music anymore.” Garson encountered Robert Moog and his new device at the Audio Engineering Society’s West Coast conven-tion in 1967 and immediately began tinkering with the device.
“My mom had a lot of plants,” Darmet says. “She didn’t believe in organized religion, she believed the earth was the best thing in the whole world. Whatever created us was incredible.” And she also knew when her husband had a good song. Novel as it might seem, Plantasia is simply full of good tunes.
This release marks the first official re-issue of the long sought-after cult classic.Hearing Plantasia in the 21st century, it seems less an ode to our photosynthesiz-ing friends by Garson and more an homage to his wife, the one with the green thumb that made everything flower around him. “My dad would be totally pleased to know that people are really interested in this music that had no popularity at the time,” Darmet says of Plantasia’s new renaissance. “He would be fascinated by the fact that people are finally understanding and appreciating this part of his musical career that he got no admiration for back then.” Garson seems to be everywhere again, even if he’s not really noticed, just like a houseplant."
One of the most influential, insular and multi-layered albums of the last three decades, created through endless hours of improvisation - involving almost fifty musicians and recorded in complete darkness, 'Laughing Stock' is an album that has attained almost mythical status since its release in 1991.
Following the commercial success of their singles "It's My Life", "Life's What You Make It” and album "The Colour of Spring”, Talk Talk retreated back into the shadows and produced two albums that defied categorisation. After the release of the first of these (Spirit of Eden) and a proolonged court case, the band parted ways with EMI and signed to iconic jazz imprint Verve who financed the long and complicated recording of Laughing Stock. Assembling almost 50 guest musicians, Mark Hollis is said to have demanded they record in almost complete darkness, improvising for hours to produce individual parts without hearing any backing tracks or surrounding material. Most of these recordings were discarded, but from what remained Hollis and producer Tim Friese-Greene pieced together a record that is essentially one long sequence of overdubs separated out into six long tracks.
Laughing Stock was to be their last album - on its release the NME described it as “horrible” and many listeners were left perplexed by its insular, unfathomable dynamics. But in the time since, Laughing Stock's legacy seems to have grown in stature with every year that has gone by. You can easily see the stylistic and conceptual markers left by Talk Talk in the way that bands like Radiohead went on to explore more open-ended, diverse sound sources and stylistic shifts - feeling able to experiment without fear of alienating a large fanbase as if it were the most normal thing in the world for a band with considerable chart success to do.
"Laughing Stock" is not only one of the most absorbing albums of the modern era, it’s also a masterclass of production and construction, a relic, perhaps, of an era when artists could completely disconnect from the pressures of their surroundings and dive deep into the wormhole...
Future Times boss Max D's Lifted ensemble explore the outer limits of cosmic, new-age jazz with another mind-expanding selection of blissed-out improvisations. A proper smoker's delight.
With a third album due next fall, the Lifted ensemble count down with the first in a series of EPs, a hazy, narcotic journey into the fourth world. Max D, Joe Williams (Motion Graphix), Matt Papich (Co La) and Jeremy Hyman (Ponytail) make up the core outfit, and here are joined by Dawit Eklund, Dustin Wong and Hirama, who trade sounds so levitational you'll end up on cloud nine whether or not you have access to herbal remedies.
If you managed to peep the group's last two albums on PAN ("1" and, um, "2"), you should know the vibe here. "3.3" continues the story, fleshing out their sound - that owes plenty to new age legend Jon Hassell and Move D's transcendent dub project Conjoint - in widescreen, exploring rounded grooves and coolly filtered bliss experiments. There's no heady concept here, no wall of text to wade through before taking a step inside - "3.3" is simply a mood. Sink into it.
Al Wooton (fka Deadboy) follows a slew of 12"s and an LP (July's "Witness") on his own TRULE imprint with this absolute belter for Livity Sound, showing there's still gas in the post-dubstep tank yet.
At times "Snake Dance" sounds like it could have slipped out on Apple Pips back in the day, and that's high praise indeed. Wooton has re-tooled 2-step to fit his particular vision, taking the skeletal perfection of El-B and adding snappy, atmospheric sound design and squelches u might expect to hear on a T++ record.
Title track 'Snake Dance' is the pick of the pack, with Burial-esque crackle and distant strings giving extra weight to a minimal bass-n-drums workout that has moody Chain Reaction fog escaping from every wobble.
Transfixing field recordings of folk ballads and buzzing, polyrhythmic dances from central and southern Madagascar, a unique place in the Indian ocean (the 4th largest island in the world) where myriad cultures from Arabic to East African and Indian have historically combined into an inimitable musical language and spirit...
“This is Sublime Frequencies’ second volume of transcendent musical field recordings from central and southern Madagascar, produced by Charles Brooks. Like the grand beauty and wonder of its flora and fauna, Madagascar’s music is completely unique. Whether the tempos are fast with polyrhythmic precision or slow in the form of a Kabosy ballad, once one gets familiar with its sound, it can never be mistaken again. Charles Brooks has been traveling to Madagascar and living with these spectacular artists for many years and has managed to document countless examples of their work, and regardless of how formal or informal a recording is made, the results always turn out magical. The following is an excerpt from Brooks’ liner notes:
The musicians on this album are storytellers and much of their craft is improvised and has a strong foundation of expertise in their respective cultural traditions. These field recordings have been collaborative from beginning to end and here, I’ve attempted to represent the finest of these talented artists. Their music journeys across endless landscapes with some movements having the qualities of a start and finish and yet no apparent end… Seeking, recording, and sharing the intangible experience, the best of all of this, is to catch a ghost.
Charles G Brooks (2018)”
A stroke of self-evident conceptual genius, Jack Callahan’s Die Reihe isolates and re-arranges stacks of K. Chandler’s deep house chords into a gorgeous, modern chamber-like suite for Nick Klein’s Psychic Liberation
Steering away from his work with psych dons Sunburned Hand of The Man, Callahan’s crafty study of Kerri Chandler follows in the deconstructed model of his ‘Trap Studies’, ‘Vocoder’, and ‘Housed’ releases with a mesmerising suite of free-floating chords sequenced into eleven minutes of swaying, elegant string cadence.
It’s a very neat and simple idea executed beautifully. Rather than the all-too-often cheesy intersections of classic house and orchestras that have cropped up to sate middle-aged ravers in country manors, Die Reihe’s chamber-like avant-classical take on Chandler is so much more effective for letting the elegance of the original motifs plaintively speak on their own, and, in the process, highlights the soulful immanence of deep house proper from an alternative perspective.
Call Super and Parris craftily consolidate and explore each other’s style in a strong pair of collaborations
Striding at 133bpm in the dub-techno-stepper ‘Chiseler’s Rush’, Call Super is clearly in charge of the tempo, but the rhythm is typically offset with Parris’ deep rooted nous, resulting in a supple, Sheffield-style mid-ground between crystalline AI techno and rolling UK steppers vibes.
Dipping down to circa 120bpm on ‘Magenta’, Parris pulls Call Super into his temporality for a more spacious play on unresolved rhythms, dabbing deft bass patterns and flyaway chords with rippling marimba and organ motifs to sound out somewhere between recent Raime, Beatrice Dillon, and Peverelist.
Actress returns with singers in tow for an ambitious but very real 7th album of greyscale and chromatic electronics - his first since the Ai project with Young Paint and 2017’s ‘AZD’.
On his definitive new opus Actress ushers in vocalists for the first time, allowing Sampha, Zsela, Aura T-09, and Rebekah Cristel to voice his music alongside additional keys from Italian pianist/composer Vanessa Benelli Mosell. The result is layered and spaced out to accommodate other souls in a hazy matrix of tenderised melodies and amorphous rhythms. If you’ve followed Actress' work thus far - since his cult beginnings in the mid ‘00s, or since the acclaim for his subtly game-changing run of LPs from ’Hazyville’ to ‘Ghettoville’ circa 2008-2014 - the crystalline intricacies of ‘Karma & Desire’ feel like a natural progression of his music into a form of dematerialised dancefloor/bedroom metaphysics that many others have tried to imitate, yet never quite executed with this sort of deeply enigmatic, dreamlike appeal.
Recent years have seen Actress incorporate classical and Ai inspirations thru his work on ‘Lageos’ with the LCO, and his Ai Jade Soulform on ‘AZD’ and the ‘Young Paint’ album. Now ‘Karma & Desire’ feels like the consolidation of all his work in this direction, achieving a unique sense of timeless, soul-burning immanence and detached, OOBE-like qualities that can safely be called Actress music. Sampha proves an ideal foil for his ideas on three of the albums’s quietest highlights; inhabiting ‘Many Seas, Many Rivers’ with the tenderest warbles, and almost channelling a tremulous Linda Sharrock in ‘VVY’, while found at his most vulnerable in the drizzly swing of ‘Walking Flames’, featuring Kara-Lis Coverdale on fliute. And likewise he finds the perfect sort of club music muses from Zsela in the deep blue house of ‘Angels Pharmacy’, Aura T-09 on the slackened garage of ’Loveless’, and Rebekah Christel on the LP’s jitty highlight ‘Loose’.
The instrumental arrangements here still ooze amorphous expression in every hiss, lop-sided drum and smudged chord, from the the scuzzy electro-soul swerve of ‘Diamond X’ to the air-stepping keys and bass wamp of ‘Leaves Against The Sky’, to what sounds like Coil’s studio ELpH’s emerging in the great matter probe ‘Reverend’, and a jaw-dropping masterstroke in the panoramic strings and funereal thuds of ‘Save’.
More than 15 years after we first heard his music, Actress still works our hearts, feet and minds like no other, we can’t wait to spend time entangled in this one.
Becoming a bit of a must-own label, Experiences Ltd. follow that insta-cop from LOG (aka Ulla & Perila) with this small-run 7” edition of gorgeous downtempo vibes from Dan Rincon aka NAP on the label’s first 7” release. The cream of the new ambient scene this lot...
NAP aka Dan Rincon usually plies a fine line in textured electro-techno as half of Ambien Baby with pivotal producer D. Tiffany on his Isla label, however ‘Íntima’ reveals a more sensual side to his style, adapting early ‘90s chill out room vibes with seductive rhythms in a way that beautifully whispers the sound of 2020.
The ‘Íntima’ original features Rincon reciting text written by Julia De Burgos, a Puerto Rican poet, in drowsy delivery over dreamlike pads and a dembow groove that surely recalls the sexy suss of DJ Python’s ‘Mas Amable’ album as much as Photek’s seminal ‘Into The 90’s’ classic for Metalheadz. The B-side extends the pleasure for beanbag dwellers to finish their spliff, switching out the vox for deep blue sax lines by Davie Biddle and landing in lowlit DJ Krush trip hop zones.
Swaggering, crushing industrial remixes of My Disco’s debut album for Downwards by label gang and pals, including a killer 16 minute slow motion crawler from Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement plus pearls from Giant Swan, Cub (Simon Shreeve), Slow White Fall and Kerridge, big RIYL 23 Skidoo, early ‘90s Coil, Conrad Schnitzler.
Downwards’ rum gang of industrial misfits mutate My Disco’s ‘Environment’ album in slow, brutal and hypnotic styles ranging from SImon Shreeve's smudged gamelan rework as Cub, to a 16 minute stunner by Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement (Prurient & Low Jack)
‘Environment Remixes’ serves to tie up a 10 year loop since Karl O’Connor (Regis) first became rapt with My Disco’s 2010 single ‘Young/You’, which lead to him remixing the Aussie band’s song ‘Our Decade’ in 2016, and eventually issue the reverberating clang of their ‘Environment’ LP on his Downwards label in 2019. For the remix suite, they’ve picked a gang of manacled producers to reanimate the album’s cranky mania and classic industrial spirit with suitably bruising results.
The swingeing, stygian flow of Simon Shreeve's Cub remix of ‘Equatorial Rainforest’ returns a big highlight, possibly the project’s very slowest and loaded square between the eyes of early ‘90s Coil and 23 Skidoo, while Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement’s 16 minute take on LP centrepiece ‘Act’ follows that humid line to a frighteningly strong scene of cicadas and crackling neon sleaze sloshed with martial kettle-drum rolls recalling Con Schnitzler’s ‘Conditions of The Gas Giant’, before slipping into the lushest ambient techno mode.
Following the rush of his recent records, Sam Kerridge renders the doomy beckon of ‘Rival Colour’ more tentatively, stalked with spare drums and lugubrious bass, and Bristol’s Giant Swan follow a hunch for lurching halfstep on their reduction of ‘An Intimate Conflict’, for Oliver Ho to amp the phosphorus guitar burn of ‘Hong Kong 1987’ as Slow White Fall with the sort of noisy conviction that also makes his new album such a zinger.
Wolfgang Voigt's Pop Ambient series of compilations turns 21 with another selection of wistful/drift tunes from Joachim Spieth & Pepo Galán, Max Würden, Leandro Fresco & Thore Pfeiffer, Yui Onodera and more.
"As with many other Pop Ambient compilations, Pop Ambient 2021 offers a welcome platform to contributions from both old friends and new faces. It opens with the gorgeous, slo-mo drift of “Of A Vessel”, from new Kompakt signings Blank Gloss. Sending their music out into the world from their home in Sacramento, this duo makes music that’s featherlight and luscious, the muted chime of a guitar over here, the steady hum of a halatial drone over there; everything in its right place, and nothing overdone. The poise is all. Neozaïre and Seventh World are our other two new voices, the latter closing Pop Ambient 2021 with a long, lambent dreamsong, Neozaïre offering us two gaseous, morphing driftworks, “In Verschwenderischer Fülle” etched across with bell-like arpeggios.
Pop Ambient has always felt like a field for play for the KOMPAKT cognoscenti, and 2021 is no different, with Joachim Spieth collaborating with Pepo Galán on the sidereal visions of “Libration”, while Leandro Fresco teams up with Thore Pfeiffer on the lovely “Abejorro”. Pfeiffer also contributes two lovely solo miniatures of abstract longing. Yui Onodera calls in again, long distance, for their fourth Pop Ambient running, with the refracted, glinting lightscapes of “Cromo 5” and “Monochrome”, while there are also star turns from Max Würden, both solo and in Reich & Würden, and Morgen Wurde, who drops by with the ‘ethereal drama’ of “Mittsommer”.
Pop Ambient gets the balance right: visions and soundscapes, long-distance communications and intimate asides, sweetness and light, drama and dreaming, all wrapped up in floral abstractions – a most beautiful distraction."
Regis revisits his Blackest Ever Black-era recordings in entirely reworked and remastered versions of perhaps our favourite of all of his recordings, embracing space and subbass with influence from techstep D&B as much as dark ambient and gothic sound design styles. Properly massive, essential gear, highly recommended if yr looking for something to file alongside your T++ and British Murder Boys.
Regis revisits his releases for the dearly departed Blackest Ever Black with a ‘Tongue Box’ of remastered and restructured versions bearing the toned muscle and darkroom workshop atmospheres found in his 2020 debut album ‘Hidden In This Is The Light That Makes You’. The set sees Regis return to a point when his sound had fully shifted from brittle, loopy bangers to a more sensuous, serpentine style embracing space and subbass, in a vital new mutation of UK industrial body musicks.
Restructured versions of modern classics, the T++-like broken roller ‘Blood Witness’ from the ‘In A Syrian Tongue’ 12”, and the snarling post-punk techno swagger of ‘Blinding Horses’ lead to the NIN-like beat-less scape of ‘Blinding Horses (Stable By Mix)’ - exclusive to the set - while he performs back-alley dentistry on the gnashing 16th note arp fangs of ‘Manbait’ with lacerating effect, beside the haunted romantic chamber string sentiments of ‘The Solution’ which could almost come from some Derek Jarman soundtrack, and 2014’s ‘Masterside’ appears remastered to best show off both sides of its swooning and sinuous goth techno silhouette.
40th anniversary reissue of Young Marble Giants’ jangling, wiry, killer post-punk pop groundbreakers from the early days of Rough Trade and the hayday of british DIY music
Originally issued in 1980, this edition of ‘Colossal Youth’ is now available on vinyl for first time, spanning the pioneering band’s debut album plus selections from the unreleased ‘Salad Days’ and various singles, adding up to a definitive survey of a band at the crest of their classic, puckered style.
Depending your tolerance for sweet-toothed hooks and chops, YBG’s sound is either mana or aspartame, but nobody can deny they’ve got a way with nagging riffs and nifty grooves, as you’ll find strewn between the likes of their droll stroller ‘Searching For Mr. Right,’ the reggae-lite dab of ‘Eating Noddemix,’ a Wire-y minimalist jag ‘Constantly Changing,’ and the tight punk-funk wiggle of ‘Wurlitzer Jukebox.’ At the time, this sound ran against the grain of noise punk posturing, effectively helping to birth a style or definition of post-punk which endures to this day, but it’s worth checking their singles and album demos for ‘Salad Days’ to catch their more experimental urges in action.
One of Coil’s most “accessible” and definitive classics finally resurfaces on Dais for a first *official* reissue 21 years after the fact
‘Musick To Play In The Dark’ is one those records that, like your first f*ck or trip, remains intractably lodged in the memory. At long last rearriving officially on physical formats with blessing of Coil’s Drew McDowell, the album could hardly be better timed to soundtrack the dread and enforced isolationism of our times.
Alongside Coil’s ‘The Ape Of Naples’, it plays to the full breadth of their enigmatic strengths, from sky-lashing doom licks and jazz noir to gibber-jawed druggy nightmares, via soaring kosmiche and breathtaking, unforgettable songcraft that rarely fails to plunge listeners into their wholly realised soundworld; hence it’s widely regarded as a vital entry point to their catalogue for anyone lingering on the fringes and wondering where to start with Coil’s catalogue.
This listener was relatively late to the album, but can still vividly recall being bowled over during the nithering winter of 2007 in Berlin, frozen to the chair and utterly transfixed by its magick appeal, which perhaps owes something to their shift in production methods from “Solar” phase to the “Moon” phase at their new studio, as well as the indelible trace of Drew McDowell’s deep granular synthesis and Thighpaulsandra’s brand of esoteric audness.
From the classic intro of ‘Are You Shivering?’ to their subbass hymn to our favourite brassica ‘Broccoli’, and the sleepwalker slant of ‘The Dreamer Is Still Asleep’; many years later the album has lost none of its capacity to reduce us to a goose-pimpled mess, and we’re just a bit jealous of anyone who’s about to pop their Coil cherry with this new pressing.
The debut release on DJ Python's new Worldwide Unlimited label comes from mcr lynchpin Henzo, here delivering a killer mix of dembow, hard drum, and grimy 2-step variations that speak directly to the city’s transnational dancehall links. All Label profits on this one will be donated to Manchester’s The Rec Centre - 360° no brainer innit.
As the story goes, Henzo heard DJ Python play his beats at the club he was managing in MCR’s hipster warzone - the NQ - and the pair soon hit it off, leading to Henzo now giving Python’s brand new label, Worldwide Unlimited, a killer starting point with ‘Not Like That, Not Like You’; four variations on a hyper-tropic sound that Henzo has been pushing for the last half decade and more with his Strange Riddims raves, whose upfront policy of dancehall modernism - from grime to reggaeton, hard drum and anything-goes Manc pressure - supremely informs his debut EP, proper.
Version-for-version Henzo confidently fires himself into the forward tier of Manchester producers, striking a heavy vein of dembow-meets-Mahraganat pressure in the acidic bashment of the title tune, before stepping up the ghosted dub dynamic on a driving ‘Less Of That Mix’. The other slow banger ‘For Your Consideration’ revolves around a vocal snippet saying “speak to me” - one of Python’s often-used phrases - so was naturally elected to the EP, rolling out a bubbling, sticky groove in the ‘Sauna Mix’, and a ruder UK-styled 2-stepper pivoting off woodblock snares in a screwfaced ‘Gym Mix’
A bit about the label:
Worldwide Unlimited is envisioned not only as a label, but a small gesture towards community uplift. 100% of label-side proceeds will be split between the artist and a local charity. Proceeds from WWUNLTD022 will go towards The Rec. Centre in Manchester, (https://www.thereccentre.org) a casual space in which artists, DJs, interviewers and teachers can create, record & hang out. Members of the BAME & LGBTQIA+ communities, as well as people on universal credit and/or benefits, are offered free usage of the space.
Kode 9 collaborator Lawrence Lek ventures into a fantasy soundtrack sequel to ‘Geomancer’, exploring ideas about love and pop soul in post-human, algorithm-driven AI musics
The full A/V project ‘Aidol’ was previously installed at one of Hyperdub’s acclaimed Ø “club”-nights, and naturally the label deliver its sleekly synthetic soundtrack components as a standalone release that clearly taps into their fascinations with computer game and Far Eastern musics, and emergent forms of sonic fiction. For aesthetic reference points, think neo James Ferraro and Local Action’s Lena Raine releases, Chinese karaoke, and everything from Kenji Yamamoto’s playful melodramas and Nozomu Matsumoto’s uncanny ambient sound design.
““Beware your fans, Diva. First they need you and then they’ll delete you.” AIDOL is the sequel to 2017’s Geomancer. This feature-length CGI fantasy follows a fading superstar, Diva, who enlists the AI Geomancer as a ghostwriter for her comeback performance at the 2065 eSports Olympics. Featuring a soundtrack by the artist, AIDOL revolves around the struggle between humanity and AI for dominance of the entertainment industry. Diva’s quest for fame is set against the contradictions of a fully-automated world, one where originality is no more than an algorithmic trick and machines have the capacity for love and suffering.”
Banshee guts out the rave feels and replaces with bittersweet introspection on a cranky debut album for his Sychic Rore label, landing somewhere between John T Gast, Burial, and a lo-fi LOTR score
In ’Storm Country’ Banshee’s nagging melodic hooks are still clear and present, but now feel more enervated and smudged into the bigger picture, using subtler sound design and allowing more noise into the mix to bring the album’s broodingly evocative abstract narration to life. From a sore ‘Intro/Storm Country’, thru the mystic wooze of ‘Joyride’, to highlights in the Young Druid-alike medieval motifs of ‘Mr Wymi’ and the pitching orchestral drums of ‘Hel’, or the LOTR set in London suburbs flex of ‘Firestarter’ and his epic ‘Haven’ featuring Sangam; it’s one for former ravers who’ve taken up D&D and watching corny fantasy films during lockdown.
This latest from Livity Sound's Surgeons Girl is a genre-fluxing collision of analog synth transcendence and Bristolian bass weight - think Caterina Barbieri or Suzanne Ciani jamming with Peverelist and you'll get the idea.
Surgeons Girl cites Ciani, Laurel Halo and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith as influences and has a studio full of analog hardware at her disposal, so we're off to a good start here. But it's how she manages to combine her influences that most impresses about "A Violet Sleep". Rather than simply chug along the established kosmische route, Surgeon's girl infuses analog explorations with a rolling west country percussive shuffle that brings it out into fresh territory.
Opener 'Clouded Temper | Small Steps' ushers us into her world slowly, with chopped vocals spiraling around deep, brassy analog stabs, then we really get going on 'Intimate Advance' that's as euphoric as it is propulsive. There's a progressive, harmonic push that reminds of Nathan Fake and the Border Community stable almost, engineered for prime tears on the floor modes - whenever that floor might exist again.
After releasing one of the year’s most remarkable records with ‘iki', Japanese pipe-organ builder and sound artist Yosuke Fujita returns with this remarkable 40 minute contribution to our Documenting Sound series, recorded in a cave at the foot of Mt. Fuji and featuring his custom-built pipe organ in duet with a colony of bats indigenous to the area. It’s a beautiful, quietly extraordinary trip.
Traditional Japanese gagaku, the slow and elegant form of classical court music extant since the 7th century, is once again at the heart of this material, but this time in a modulated, interwoven tapestry with what Fujita calls the "inaudible sounds” of nature around him. ‘KŌMORI.’ Named after the Japanese word for bats, revolves around three long pieces, including one for organ and bats, an organ solo, and one created solely from bat calls, all neatly captured using a Sunken CO-100K microphone capable of recording up to 100kHz, and therefore able to net the bats’ ultrasonic echolocation tekkers.
Furthering Fujiiiiiiiiiiita’s fascinations with sounds on the threshold of perception, in the first piece he presents a duet for organ and bats, tones turn to near silence, and then a strobing attack on the senses, while the 2nd part features organ solo around plaintively enchanting motifs, and the third, perhaps most moving part, commits 15 mins of totally otherworldly bat sounds ready to be deciphered by the keenest ears.
For anyone who copped ‘Iki,’ this will no doubt be a buy-on-sight item, and for everyone else, welcome to a world of utterly enthralling, surprising new sounds.
"I'm always looking for new sounds. That desire is at the heart of my life, so it remained the same in the turbulence of the coronavirus. And, I’m also looking for inaudible sounds, so it's natural for me to focus on the bat's echolocation.
Bats were the source of the viruses causing Ebola, rabies, Nipah and Hendra virus infections, Marburg virus disease, and strains of Influenza A virus. Interestingly, coronaviruses and bats are locked in an evolutionary arms race in which the viruses are constantly evolving to evade the bat immune system and bats are evolving to withstand infections from coronaviruses. My music also has to evolve."
The master of the tape loop returns with "Lamentations", yet another collection of eroded drone for low-light dreamers, captured and constructed from tape loops and studies from Basinski’s archives – dating back to 1979 – Lamentations is over forty years of mournful sighs meticulously crafted into songs. They are shaped by the inevitable passage of time and the indisputable collapsing of space – and their collective resonance is infinite and eternal.
Those familiar with Basinski's catalog won't find a lot new here - not a complaint - like the molasses-slow shots that made David Lynch's "Twin Peaks: The Return" so eerily affecting, Basinski's spine-chilling repetition drags u into a state of near-hypnosis, focusing on the tiny details as they crumble in and out of view.
"Lamentations" is the perfect title; we've been spinning this on repeat as the constant chatter of apocalyptic news bubbles thru social media and every newsreel across the planet. It's hard to tell exactly what Basinski is lamenting but it doesn't really matter - each track sounds like a fragment of our past slowly fading from view. As "The Disintegration Loops" mourned a New York City that had been lost, "Lamentations" feels like a memorial for something else huge and all-encompassing. Nostalgia's a hell of a drug.
Originally released in July, DeForrest Brown Jr.'s explosive fusion of jagged rhythm experiments and revolutionary jazz, now comes bundled with an additional 30-minute track that fleshes out his sprawling narrative in a fourth dimension.
Emerging from the heat of summer as anti-racist protests burned across the USA, "Black Nationalist Sonic Weaponry" is an unambiguous demand for change, joining the dots between the past, present and future of African American creative innovation since the birth of a nation that has systematically silenced Black voices. DeForrest Brown Jr.'s second album for Planet Mu under the Speaker Music alias, it rises from the Alabama-raised, New York-based theorist's rallying cry of "Make Techno Black Again" and in doing so recaptures the sprawling genre's initial driving force, melting anger, activism and art with neck-snapping rhythms that demand physical interaction.
In techno's almost 40-year history, the genre has mutated from an exasperated, funk-inflected celebration and exploration fabricated between the factories of Detroit into functional wallpaper for comfortable pan-global revelers' chemically-aided avoidance strategies. Brown takes decisive action, folding spoken word, snippets of jazz and terrifying samples (some cut from protest footage) into his ceaseless, chattering rhythmic patterns. There are echoes of Drexciya's waterlogged sci-fi mystery, Milford Graves' impulsive rhythm exploration and A Guy Called Gerald's innovative, annoyingly-underrated Black Secret Technology, but Brown's sound, while referential, exists in its own alien parallel universe.
A theorist, critic and writer as well as a musician, Brown assembled a magazine to sit alongside the album that comprises histories, listening lists, lyrics and articles all hinged around the album's central message. It's a celebration of Black art and an attempt to address questions of context and inclusion that doesn't hinge on neoliberal notions of identity commodification. Instead, it pushes into unexplored territory, challenging the status quo and daring to be revolutionary. Together, this package is one of the most essential releases of the year - unrelenting, powerful, innovative, historical and mind-alteringly futuristic. We're floored.
Thunder-toed tekno from the one and only Nkisi, kicking off her Initiation label with a battery of militant stompers primed for scuzzy warehouse parties and hilltop raves
Pursuing a ruck of killers in recent years, including an AOTY in 2019 and the Cold War collab with John T Gast, INT001 gets us going like few others can with three cuts that update ancient rhythms with gabber kicks and doomcore pads for the darkside warehouse rave of our dreams.
‘The Truth Is Elsewhere’ serves punishing inverted gabber bass and lush Polygon Window-esque synth contours that turn ravenously kaotic, recalling George Sabellicus and Heist madnesses, before ‘What Comes Next’ ramps the legwork with galloping snares offset by Fifth Era-esque doomcore raver chorales, and ‘Phantasmagoria’ turns left into scratchier slow funk like Somatic Responses wrestling in straightjackets on a bed of nettles in the jungle and under moonlight.
One of 2020’s few saving graces, CS + Kreme hypnotically expand upon the styles of their AOTY ’Snoopy’ in two durational beauties for TTT
Conrad Standish’s serpentine bass work and Sam Karmel’s slanted electronics lay the foundations for two sumptuous works involving vital input from Judith Hamann (Cello) and Dan Luscombe (Lap Steel Guitar), book-ending a year in which their debut album ’Snoopy’ became a sort of downbeat life-raft for many listeners.
‘April Fools’ Day’ is a steeply hypnotic 16 minute piece where CS’ coiled bass guitar and Kreme’s reticulated 808 synch with swirling cello and lap steel strings into a psychedelic Raga, surely invoking comparisons with Coil via Terry Riley to our minds, and most beautifully primed to extend the rare pleasures of their album. ‘Bugged’ follows with a dustier trip into deep psyche-soul country, saddling up 11mins of strolling bass stoked with alien fireside vocals and lolling early ‘90s chill-out room vibes in abundance.
Gorgeous debut EP here from Nexciya that sounds like an old Fennesz record being sent across an empty universe over a dial-up connection. Lo-fi in the best possible way.
Recorded over the last couple of years in London, Paris and his family home in Normandy, "Crawl" is Nexciya's attempt to map out "modern anxiety" in sound. So for something so hinged on the human condition, it's unusually alien-sounding - comprised of cut-and-paste digital synth stabs, fuzzy harmonic monoliths and distant granular clouds of drone. It's almost like a science fiction take on MBV-era shoegaze at times, and at others sounds more like "Marble Surf"-era James Ferraro, basking in its self-consciously lo-fi filth to enhance its unexpected beauty.
It's a short set, but seriously we're appreciating that it leaves us thirsting for more rather than take the usual contemporary route of spinning everything out into a seven album opus. As a debut, it establishes a clear voice for Nexciya, and we can't wait to hear where he might go next. Fans of The Caretaker, Fennesz or William Basinski should take a closer look.
Good times hard drum rudeness from CPH’s DJ JM on UK powerhouse Goon Club Allstars, bringing loopy percussive ‘90s styles back to the centre of the ‘floor
This boy knows how to swang. From the rumpy handbag pump and bouncy hook of ‘XD’, to its haughtier remix primed for saturday night at the Music Factory, thru to the show-off swivel and kink of ’Skrabalai’, and the UKF-compatible battery of ‘Dead End,’ the originals are no brainers for the dancing crew and DJs chomping at the bit, while Angel D’lite whips ’Skrabalai’ into a lip-smacking 150bpm fusion of Goa trance and hardcore jungle tekno primed for legit scalp tingles.
The final volume of Jamaican 1950s/60s doo-wop and R&B excavated by London's Death is not the End imprint to shine a light an an often overlooked period of the island's rich musical history.
Back in the 1950s and 60s, before the rise of ska, rocksteady and reggae, Jamaican soundsystems were desperate for home-grown records to challenge the rising popularity of US R&B and soul that was taking the island by storm. London's Death is not the End label has assembled an impressive selection of records from this era, as local performers (some, like Alton Ellis, Derrick Morgan and Derrick Harriott who would go on to have long careers) cut doo-wop and R&B tracks to rival those coming from across the water.
This third selection of tracks is another porthole into an era that's often skipped. It provides historical context for what would come next, but it's also a charming, dusty selection of lilting romance that's almost impossible not to love. It highlights a time when Jamaica's independent industry - one whose global influence is still impressively outsized - was in its infancy, and while the sounds are familiar near-pastiches of American songs of the era, there's plenty to enjoy here.
A tripped-out edited improv sesh from 1977 that finds This Heat teaming up with Ghanaian artist Mario Diekuuroh, who adds unforgettable marimba, flute and percussion flourishes to This Heat's hazed suite of artful drone rawk.
Originally recorded in the band's Cold Storage studio in 1977, edited and released on cassette in 1982. The trio of Charles Bullen, Charles Hayward and Gareth Williams collaborate here with Ghanaian musician Mario Diekuuroh, who they performed with a number of times. Diekuuroh toured the world as part of the Ghana National Dance Company in the 1970s, before moving to London where he collided with This Heat. Their improvisation is so fluid it's hard to hear where Diekuuroh's marimba, flute and percussion stops and the trio's usual frothy assemblage of guitar squeals, hypnotic rhythms and woozy drones begins.
It's hard to believe it was recorded over four decades ago, the sounds are pretty much timeless - human and impulsive as the four musicians allow each others' ideas to melt into a fuzzy slop of noise, rhythm and tonality. V good.
Dippy UKG and deeper, bumping business from Facta on his spiritual home, Wisdom Teeth
‘Doves’ comes up a treat on a tight but frothy UK flex, all bubbling bleeps and pendulous garage motor, like Bobby Peru and Artwork after a big line and a balloon, while ‘MPH’ works off to the wonky side of Finn with choppy vocal motifs and melancholy licks gelling into a soul-kissing style that winks at UK and Jersey house styles.
Detroit visionary Terrence Dixon scans stellar new horizons on the awe-inspiring 3rd chapter of his most cherished, foundational and inspiring album series.
Roughly once a decade since 2000 the pioneering Afrofuturist has offered a new landmark of deep, electronic music, and ‘From the Far Future, Pt. 3’ stakes one of 2020’s - and probably the next decade’s - leading examples of Detroit techno at its furthest, most experimental limits. This series of albums has consistently been the place to go for Dixon, and by extension the 313’s, most unruly but truest works, dashing between broken drums, dissonant alien synth tones, and the deepest recesses of the warehouse mind in a rudely distinguished calibration of Motor City mechanics. For us he’s right up there with the city’s deepest heads like Jeff Mills, Drexciya, Mad Mike, or Howard Thomas for producing some of that sound’s most vital, uniquely expressive machine music.
Dixon’s latest landmark sees him double down on the proprioceptive depth with acres of abstract, spatialised synth work while fine-tuning and ruggedly fucking with rhythmic conventions. From the black hole sensations of the album opener to abandoned space station ambience of ‘Found In Space’ and ‘Remarkable Wanderer,’ and the uncharted planet atmospheres of ‘By Land’ or ‘Rotation (Delay Mix),’ he has that side absolutely on lock, and in a way that lends proper cinematic cadence to the album’s flow of raggo muscle car drive between ‘Don’t Panic,’ the warehouse donuts of ’Spectrum of Light,’ a strobing deep technohouse centrepiece ‘Unconditional Love,’ and the widescreen warehouse-in-space scope of ‘Out of Darkness.’
Legendary techno/electro producer The Advent does it for Perc’s label in classic style
‘Planting Seeds’ jacks up a lockjaw techno groove with nagging vox and chromatic synth attacks; ‘Night Shade’ is built for the warehouse with classic early ‘90s Detroit/Belgian techno drive; and ‘Scorched’ works around the groove with hydraulic electro-techno finesse and deft chords on a DJ Bone or Stingray-compatible tip.
Bittersweet synth-pops with a kosmiche edge from Amsterdam’s Nina de Jong and Rosa Ronsdorf aka Spill Gold
Delivered with a loose feel, ‘Highway Hypnosis’ demonstrates the duo’s motorik traction and haunted pop songwriting at its sharpest since they emerged in 2017. ‘Beast Machine Alien’ barrel along with a driving confidence that manifests across the record, thru the effortlessly glyding vocal cadence and rolling, acidic groove of the title tune to the gnarled tension and dreamy release of ‘Ecotone Part 1,’ while making room for spoken word in the lay-by of ‘Oyster’, and incorporating gamelan-like tonalities into the clang of ‘Burning’ and ‘Bird Soul’ in a way that recalls everyone from Neu! to Khruangbin and Group Rhoda.
One of G.o.D.’s early weirdos waddles back to Turin’s maddest label for a volley of wonky techno and electronic cybergunk
Had Haf turns protagonist for a set of agitated techno oddities riddled with a mazy narrative, throwing down pebble-dashed industrial rhythms and enigmatic vocals on ‘A Tower of Tanathos’, and coming off like a red-eyed Lord Tusk in the cranky, cartoonish ‘A Van Down The River’. They dispense rudely textured slow techno tekkers in ‘Bonola’ and the wickedly soured dissonant tweaks of ‘Laser Ottis’, with the off centre electro of ‘U Are Not Cool’ reminding of Prostitutes ace debut LP, and leading into really blasted gunk reminding of NPLGNN in ‘Venom’, and its acrid but soothing counterpart ‘Vitraya Ramunong’ that brings this strange dream sequence to a close.
Peder rides a tonking techno and electro style for Auckland, NZ’s Haven Records with results gagging for a good 8 hours in the club
‘Enter Reoccurring Disparity’ locks off a gnashing sort of Brum techno groove with clenched drums and wiry synth shocks; ‘And That Happened’ bites down a colder Drexciyan electro-techno rhythm that gets grouchier and gnarled to fuck; ’Stockholm Shuffle’ gives it some puckered wiggle with extra noise stabs; while Tommy Holohan steps in for a pounding remix of the top track with bouncy grime melody. Aye.
Dozzy does D&B: the cultishly praised Italian producer exerts clinically sharp minimalist spins on rolling 160bpm+ rhythms in a style also explored by his peer Neel
Shaping up in a similar style to his remix of Homemade Weapons, also for Samurai, Dozzy articulates a classic Italian feel for crisp and supple electronic tone in four slingshot parts, teasing out killer slow/fast pulses in the beating wing moires of ‘Mai’, before charging up boisterous toms and halfstep subs in ‘Dusty Bones,’ and hingeing on the halfstep in a DJ Python-esque way with the pealing high end of ‘Sanza High,’ and cold killing it with the title tune’s DJ Krust-like, inch-tight steppers dynamics.
Batu’s Timedance rolls out on gang manoeuvres with 12 tracks by label family and affiliates including Happa, Ploy, Bruce, Via Maris, Peter Van Hoesen and more
’Sharpen, Moving’ spans the breadth of Timedance’s remit for new UK rave torque, mixing up the likes of Batu’s post-dubstep twysters with more experimental urges into kosmic steppers tekkers. Kit Seymour initiates launch sequence with the Dozzy-meets-Schnitzler-esque arp velocity of ‘Lost Caller,’ and Mang & Gran lock off epic trance pads in the halfstep roll cage of ‘Live4evr, marking up alongside the needlepoint UK jungle futurism of ’Shafted’ by Clerya, and Via Maris’ air-stepping ‘Lapse’ among the set’s most impressive cuts. Batu sorts out some fluid but clenched rhythmic suss in the cyberdub of ’SYX,’ and Happa follows on a nimbly tucked and crunchy flow of ’15Three,’ while Peter Van Hoesen flexes some proper brukbeat muscle in ‘l9T,’ and Akiko Haruna also gets it right with the deviant drums and squarely vox of ‘Die and Retry.’
A curious, genre-baiting sci-fi oddity from writer and artist Holly Childs and Gediminas Žygus, best known for their releases on Knives and Danse Noire as J.G. Biberkopf. If you've ever wondered what an experimental rave opera directed by Peter Greenaway might sound like, "Hydrangea" is an unmissable treat.
It's too easy to dunk on experimental music for being too high-minded, conceptual or poetic, but why exactly should we dismiss something for seeking to challenge socially-gestated anti-art cynicism? "Hydrangea" is a difficult record that injects familiar contemporary tech-adjacent themes with poetry, science fiction and Dutch hardcore in a way that's sure to polarize listeners. A collaboration between artist and writer Holly Childs and producer Gediminas Žygus (who used to fashion fwd-thinking electronix under the J.G. Biberkopf moniker), the album unravels slowly and refuses to pander to polite notions of tastefulness or aesthetic hierarchy.
At times it feels like Michael Nyman's classic soundtrack work (think "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover") bolted onto James Ferraro or Oneohtrix Point Never's time-fluxing retro-futurist shovelwarez while the familiar thump of Dutch gabber echoes in the distance. Hoover sounds wobble ominously from a blurry parallel universe like anonymous machinery preparing the next line of luxury smartphones, while canned harp and flute sounds blossom and bloom in overcomplicated digital gallery spaces and hollowed-out words are muttered back and forth like half-heard conversations or fragments of daily consumption, barely-remembered.
This isn't so much an album of defined tracks intended to be sliced out of context and shared for a quick-and-dirty dopamine hit, it's a series of questions to inspire reflection and contemplation that unravels mischievously over repeat listens. In musing on the idea of truth, security, online life, the reliability of the narrator and postmodernism, it's one of the more ambitious sets we've heard in a minute. Give it time, and the stories, toxically melted into plastique sonic backdrops, begin to make chilling sense."
Serial collaborator Drew McDowall's latest collection of astral-traveling synth syrup is a series of mind-melds with some of the scene's most continuously exciting artists: Robery Aiki Aubrey Lowe, Caterina Barbieri, Kali Malone, MSYLMA and more.
The Scottish, NYC-based experimental musician has been subverting the formula for many years now, having clocked up storied work with Coil and Psychic TV back in the day. From the solo opening track 'Agalma I (Folding)', we're dragged into a sound world that's lighter and more elegiac than you'd expect .
From here, we're launched into a heavenly collaboration with Caterina Barbieri, who sings angelically over harp sounds and wobbly synthesizer drones. Elsewhere, McDowall taps fellow synth guru Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe to assist with a pair of tracks that plumb darker depths. 'Agalma IV' is most impressive, pitting seismic rhythms against Lowe's haunting vocals. Another clear standout is 'Agalma VII', which features Bashar Suleiman, Elvin Brandhi & MSYLMA and conjures up a truly otherworldy mood with disembodied vocals and santur sounds peering through temporal mists.
McDowall's original title for the album was "Ritual Music" and that makes perfect sense; these tracks all feel devotional, meditations on a lifetime in music. McDowall has spent his career devoting himself to musical progression and supporting the scene and this collection of tracks feels like a celebration of that career; an otherworldly trip into an alchemical zone that should appeal to soundtrack obsessives as much as industrial music completists.
Neuzeit, which German electro-acoustic composer J. Peter Schwalm views through his new duo outing with the Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen, is generally taken to refer to the modern era that began in the 16th century and witnessed the rise of Western Civilization.
"Schwalm chooses to take the term on its face, however; the fusion of “new” and “time” he defines as a period marked by sudden and drastic change. To borrow another word from the German, it ably yet dauntingly captures the zeitgeist of our tumultuous moment, one in which political upheaval, global pandemic and catastrophic climate change seem poised to usher in an uncertain new existence."
Very necessary reissue of NWW’s industrial hypno-mambo trip, riddled with proper studio alchemy by Colin Potter, and newly expanded with alternate remix of ‘Subterranean Zappa Blues’. A massive RIYL Pan Sonic/Liima, Muslimgauze, Danny Hyde/Coil, Toresch.
Recognised as Nurse With Wound’s most rhythm-driven outing, ‘Rock ’n Roll Station’ is a swaggering head full of avant rock that renders a warped studio dialogue between Steven Stapleton and his studio spar Colin Potter, who regards the album as his favourite work with the legendary group.
The album came about as Stapleton and Potter returned to the work on ‘Colder Still’ from their first meeting, 1992’s ‘Thunder Perfect Mind’. With extra percussion, instruments, loops and studio animated magick, they mutated its selection of dry but sexy, swivelling grooves and pranging psychedelic touches into a bizarre and steeply hypnotic hour of music that distilled the spirits of the King of Mambo, Pérez Prado, ‘60s British R&B organist Graham Bond, and Gallic avant rock star Jac Berrocal in a grinding, rhythmic style that ran perpendicular to all that as much as the electronic dance music at the time with which it was erroneously, contemporaneously compared.
As Stapleton explained in 1995: "This album arrived somewhere after a dream meeting of several individuals, Graham Bond, Joe Meek, Jacques Berrocal and myself. After a few beers and a heated discussion of puncture repair we all lay down in a circle and point our penises at Venus, telepathic messages are sent out to Colin saying he can use the two golden microphones. He did, and here we are."
And here we are 26 years later, and ‘Rock ’N Roll Station’ is still beaming some of the most influential gear in its strange, nether field, running the kind of drily motorik, dubwise mechaniks that would later turn up in Pan Sonic and their killer solo works as Ø and Liima, and is surely paralleled in Danny Hyde’s work for Coil - with Hyde perhaps being the best analog for Potter’s role in NWW; an integral, if unquantifiable entity whose engineering really helps these classic works endure long beyond their conception, as he explained it to David Keenan in England’s Hidden Reverse: “What I sometimes did in the studio was to ‘over-use’ effects and processors to totally mutate a piece into something completely different”. Trust the results are staggering and not to be missed!
‘Love’ is the quietly stunning debut album by John Bence, following his thrilling vocal works for Yves Tumor’s label with a penetratingly expressive solo piano suite for his new home, Thrill Jockey. RIYL Terre Thaemlitz, Morton Feldman, Sun Ra
After making a shocking entrance with the ‘Kill’ 12” in 2018, all bets were on Bristol-based composer John Bence turning in a singular debut album, and expectations have been met, flipped, smashed with this low key extraordinary album of instrumental works. Clearly steeped in the classical world, but unstuck by convention, Bence proves an uncanny knack for nailing fleeting, ephemeral emotions in ‘Love’ with 10 succinct works that speak at the speed of thought; diffracting the pace and mood from rushing flurries of arpeggios to ponderous, Feldman-esque downturns with a striking profundity and timelessness that makes it difficult to even accurately place where or when it was made, if we weren’t told as much.
Drawing upon personal struggles with alcoholism and addiction, Bence deftly transmutes his life’s experience into an achingly sombre but ultimately life-affirming set of arrangements, each performed with such natural effortlessness and directness that it’s almost unsettling to be placed so deep in someone else’s thoughts, and especially so when held against the cold hard light of clarity that comes with sobriety. Trust one needs only a passing interest in piano music to become snagged by Bence’s train of thought, so make sure to act on instincts if the samples appeal, and you’ll be rewarded with a richly quizzical, ephemerally existential articulation for these self-reflective times and far beyond. Unmissable stuff.
Featuring Ryuichi Sakamoto, Mariah, Chika Asamoto, Jun Fukamachi, Yumi Murata, Hitomi Penny Tohyama, Yumi Seino, Kyoko Furuya, Kazumi Watanabe, Haruo Chikada, Colored Music, Akira Sakata, Yasuaki Shimizu, Shigeo Sekito and more.
"A major 2-LP exploration of Tokyo’s cutting edge 80s sound through the music of cult Japanese label Nippon Columbia and its Better Days imprint, selected by British radio presenter and DJ Nick Luscombe.For the occasion, WEWANTSOUNDS have teamed up with journalist and Japanese music expert Nick Luscombe who was granted rare access to the muchguarded Nippon Columbia’s vaults for a masterful selection encapsulating the fascinating sound of Tokyo in the late 70s and 80s.
The selection mixes electro, synth-pop, funk and ambient and features such artists as Ryuichi Sakamoto, Mariah, Shigeo Sekito, Juicy Fruits, Hitomi “Penny” Tohyama and Yumi Murata. The tracklist includes many sought-after rarities and hidden gems which have never been released outside of Japan and the set has been newly remastered by Nippon Columbia."