New album from Mali’s Nahawa Doumbia, via Awesome Tapes From Africa.
"The meaning of “Kanawa” is so simple. We see our children trying to cross the ocean all the time. I said that many of our children die in the ocean and some of them while crossing the Sahara. Some climb over the wires across the borders and they have gotten shot. We have asked them not to leave and instead stay home. But I ask them why do they leave their country? Why do they decide to go? They said that they leave because of the family situation or problems, poverty, and unemployment. We told them if ever they are to leave, they should privilege legal ways.
They should abide by laws vigorously when they are to emigrate. That’s better than hiding in boats or adopting other illegal means. I ask them to stay and work in their country. So that we can help each other find a solution to this problem. I call on the UN and African leaders so that we can coordinate our efforts to find a solution, to create jobs for them so that young people stop leaving. This song is about that message and I chose it as the title of my album because I like it. My choice is because it is very meaningful and it is something we see on a daily basis. I chose it in order to alert and sensitize everybody about this question of illegal immigration. To sensitize our brothers and sisters. It is a message. That’s why I chose it as the title of my album so that everybody can learn from it and also so that there is a reduction in the number of people emigrating. To sensitize them so that some can stay home and grow the land. Leaving is not the only solution. That’s my message."
Fifth studio album from Still Corners.
"Building on 2018’s SLOW AIR, Still Corners return with an album about the myth and folklore of the open road. In a world where everyone thinks all the corners of the map are filled in, Still Corners believe there's something beyond what we see and feel, something eternal in the landscape of those never-ending drives.
With the shimmering desert noir sound the band has become known for, THE LAST EXIT takes you on a hypnotic journey, one filled with dilapidated towns, mysterious shapes on the horizon, and long trips that blur the line between what’s there and not there. Greg says, “We found something out there in the desert – something in the vast landscapes that went on forever."
THE LAST EXIT consists of eleven beautifully crafted songs with organic instrumentation, clean-toned guitar, spacious drums and the smoky croon of Tessa Murray. Album highlights include “The Last Exit”, “White Sands” and “Shifting Dunes” all of which evoke the vast space of the desert and rolling unconcerned skies."
Utterly fab off-world lo-fi pop construxions assembled using DX7, TR-909 and early samplers from Italian minimalist Tiziano Popoli. Imagine Visible Cloaks rescoring "Liquid Sky" and ur there.
Freedom To Spend's latest rifles through the catalog of Italian minimalist composer Tiziano Popoli, unearthing a series of unreleased recordings for soundtracks, radio and installations made between 1983 and 1989 with a modest studio setup. Influenced by glittery radio pop music, Popoli used the Yamaha DX7 synthesizer along with the Roland TR-909 drum machine and some early sampling technology to belt out a series of surreal cues and themes that sound almost frozen in time.
The distinctive FM sound of the DX7 was relegated to bargain bins for too long after practically defining the mid 1980s and early 1990s, but it's received a well overdue resurgence in recent years. Now the familiar sound (smooth, shimmering pads, plasticky stabs and bumping distorted basses) is easily available inside or outside the box, and it's become ubiquitous once again - hearing it here though, struck through with possibility, is an all-too-rare treat. Popoli uses these sounds without cynicism or reference, crafting angular pop forms from a backdrop of funk, prog rock and disco.
'Minimal Dance N.1' sounds like a long-lost Goblin cue, with fractured synths following eerie piano loops. Elsewhere, album centerpiece 'Mimetico Erettile' develops over fifteen minutes, blending paper-thin pads with marimba sounds that buzz lovingly like Steve Reich in an isolation booth. Each track sounds as if it could rattle off the hinges at any moment and that's exactly what we love about it.
Fantastic music that sings loud from a place of innovation and discovery.
Leone is the first meeting of electric guitarists Loren Connors and Oren Ambarchi.
"It’s somewhat surprising it’s taken this long as these two are connected by ongoing collaborators, like Jim O’Rourke and Keiji Haino. Connors, for more than 40 years, has continued to develop an iconic sound tethered to radical permutations of the blues. Ambarchi’s own multi-decade transfiguration of the guitar inhabits a rarefied realm of abstracted tones and dissonance pitched between improvisation and composition.
This album, like its title, is a sum of parts: solo performances by Connors and Ambarchi bookend a duo. On “Lorn,” Connors unravels an aggressive ternary form, with an opening section wrapped in distortion and extreme phasing that contrasts against ghostly, distant single notes. This side-long piece is a dramatic six-string reimagination of Connors’ beloved vocal arias. Ambarchi’s “Nor,” supplants a guitar performance with melodic, shifting organ-like tones that are swallowed into a fluttering, glitchy squall. The harmonics and pace is similar in complexity to Ambarchi’s most recent album, Simian Angel (Editions Mego).
On “Ronnel,” the duo, each audio landscape created by the two slowly rotates and overlaps the other. Connors’ lightly traced blue and black notes are boldly punctuated by Ambarchi’s bright bass-like pulses and ebullient synthy colors. It’s as if each is drawing the others’ portrait on opposite sides of a translucent sheet."
Autechre, aye, casually flip SOPHIE’s ‘BIPP' heater into a sort of freestyle pop diamond to get 2021 off on the right foot. We’re massively feeling this...
Way back in 2013, the addictive electro-pop additives of ‘BIPP’ helped position SOPHIE among the decade’s thrilling new talents after introductions made on the ‘Nothing More To Say’ 12”. SOPHIE has since admitted to a formative love of Autechre in interviews, so a certain circle is closed with Æ’s mix of ‘Bipp’, 5 years in the works and emphasising the original’s latin freestyle pop essence with sizzling hi-hat trills and that ultra vocal hook, but here deployed slower and with a rugged assymetry - more goretex than latex? Quite honestly it’s the best thing we’ve heard from Autechre in ages - properly forward, blunted business with a squashed Gescom vibe that pushes a lot of our buttons all at once. Oh and, over on the flip (vinyl-only), a SOPHIE rarity that for the moment shall remain unnamed.
"In 2015 when potential remixes of BIPP were first floated the unequivocal response from SOPHIE was “No remixes..” a long pause followed “..unless it’s Autechre”. We asked, and five years later an email from Autechre arrived “sorry this is so late, hope it's still of some use”. An Autechre live show recording from a Numbers show in 2005 had first inspired SOPHIE to source the equipment used to craft new music including BIPP, LEMONADE & more. The BIPP Autechre mx is 3 minutes 33 seconds long, stripped back and loose. Sounding like Autechre paying tribute to some serious late 80’s influences. The duo's interpretation channels an imagined transition point between NY electro and UK street soul, that pitched down SOPHIE vocal reconfigured into a wanna-be Latin Freestyle Natasha King, jiving over a deep slice of TR-606 funk technology.”
First original Kode 9 trax since 2015! The Hyperdub boss makes up for lost time with two sharp shots of mutant juke chicanery at the front of 2021
To be fair he’s not been quiet over the intervening years, issuing everything from remixes of classic computer game music to rare dubs off his Katasonix label (run with Mark Fisher), but ‘The Jackpot EP’ firmly makes up for a lack of new solo gear with two upfront and elusive workouts that read the pulse of the times.
His title cut is a full frontal raver, channelling 30 years of futurist dancefloor energy into a bucking form of ghetto-tech that rolls off-the-bone between slamming 4/4 and drill-style swag, twysted with shearing chromatic synths. However, ‘Rona City Blues’ is the one for us, applying vapourized synth thizz to skeletal percussion and heart-racing subs in a wickedly tense, but barely there, mutation of early footwork-juke and the up-to-the-second styles also explored by Rian Treanor or 33EMYBW.
In his essay ‘The Meaning of My Avant-Garde Hillbilly and Blues Music’, Henry Flynt talks about how his music should be analysed as an intellectual tribute to the music of the autochtone, setting aside plain folk references, but adopting academic insights to mold the music one makes as a folk creature.
"Much of Flynt’s discourse applies to the music of Glen Steenkiste’s Hellvete. Over the past twenty years he has been thoroughly investigating both the ethnic musical language of various regions as well as the contemporary pioneers that preceded him as a drone musician, internalizing concepts such as e.g. deep listening or just intonation. Casting off any redundant ideas or sounds, and stripping down the focus to develop singular concepts, his working method lead to pieces such as ‘Droomharmonium’, in which he shapes the endless variations on a theme, emphasizing detail and nuance rather than multitude. The Indian harmonium here serves as the main device to worship ancient ghosts and masters, and to preserve a continuum in a tradition that touches both folk and avant-garde culture. The materialisations are sustained tone compositions which become a means of appreciation of the people and cultures that paved the way for forms of mutual escapism. This might well be the core of what Hellvete’s music is about. As much as it is a form of self-entertainment – like folk music in the old days – it also invites the listener to a shared experience of sonic reverie, it is a casual gift to the community.
This is certainly true for the pieces presented on this album. They were first presented in a smoke filled and darkened art space in Ghent, Steenkiste surrounded by only a couple of candles and just enough stage light to see him erratically moving to the rhythm of the piece, occasionally twiddling the knobs of a Doepfer synth that processed the prerecorded harmonium tracks. Unlike most of his other performances this piece embraced the audience in a trance that was similar to that of an old-school rave club. Flynt writes: ‘The music should be intellectually fascinating because the listener can perceive and participate in its rhythmic and melodic intricacies, audacity of organization, etc. At the same time, the music should be kinesthetic, that is, it should encourage dancing.’ ‘Voor Harmonium’ does exactly that; it builds on the artistic ideas that have long been established in Hellvete’s oeuvre, but the ecstatic nature of these pieces merges the usual spiritual transcendence with one of determined physical bliss. It encourages both mind and body to step into the sound, to be enraptured, to celebrate."
Lovely Music’s cult chamber classic by the late, great “Blue” Gene Tyranny, cosmically coinciding with his recent exit from this mortal coil (*January 1, 1945 - † December 2020).
Robert Nathan Sheff, aka “Blue” Gene Tyranny, was a pivotal figure of the late 20th century US avant-garde whose catalogue joined the dots between the likes of John Cage, David Behrman, and Robert Ashley on one hand, and the likes of Peter Gordon, Iggy Pop and Laurie Anderson on the other; a spectrum of diverse composers and musical dynamos whose stylistic breadth speaks to the versatility and singularity of Tyranny’s instrumental talent and conceptual vision.
Tyranny’s 1978 solo debut ‘Out Of The Blue’ remains a perennial cult favourite, existing on the sweetest, inventive edges of rock, pop and avant-garde composition in a manner that was entirely characteristic of the amazing Lovely Music, Ltd. label, with whom he’s most closely associated. Quite simply, there’s little out there that matches ‘Out of the Blue’ for sheer charm, placing a deep knowledge of experimental and pop music’s internal workings at the service of a ripely melodic and dreamlike suite with results awaiting discovery by new ears.
Classy debut album of horizon-scanning but intimate chamber compositions by Elori Saxl, seamlessly weaving a range of classical orchestration with field recordings and electronics
‘The Blue of Distance’ sees Elori draw listeners between the Adirondack Mountains in summer, and the middle of Lake Superior at the depths of winter, for a cinematic album that expresses a palpable sense of nostalgia and hope. Its title is inspired by Rebecca Solnit’s observation that faraway mountains appear blue due to light particles getting lost over distance, as outlined in ‘A Field Guide to Getting Lost’, and Elori uses that phenomena as metaphor for the music’s curious sense of physical detachment/immersion and elusive familiarity, meshing recordings of a 6 piece ensemble (Violin, Viola, Cello, Clarinet, Flue, Oboe, Bassoon) made in summer, with their re-sampled images, re-recorded thru the foot of ice beneath her on Lake Superior, to create an absorbing blur between place and space, and between physical gesture and artificial resonance. A quiet-minded one for fans of Ian William Craig, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, or the evocative, descriptive powers of Goldmund.
Mind-expanding cello experiments for brave listeners: Judith Hamann approaches her instrument in completely unique ways, shifting expectations completely.
'Shaking Studies' is Judith Hamann's latest as a solo performer, and she uses this opportunity to examine the sonic possibilities of shaking. Channeling her body's rhythm in innovative ways, she expresses her own vibrations through the cello, allowing it to influence the shape of the sound completely. This is head melting stuff, music for anyone sick of the seemingly-endless drip drip of contemporary cello music that's about as gripping as a Hallmark card. There's no manipulative melancholy or awkward storytime cinema here, it's an exercise in sound and the body's impact on that sound.
Hamann's exploration of the cello is shockingly rigorous. She takes readings of the pulse of the cello, using them to shake against the strings, creating alien tones that create a backdrop for the entire listening experience. This isn't a record that can be classified easily - Hamann rejects the order of Western musical logic, instead searching for a sound than can only be described as fully human.
Numero’s reissue timeline reaches ‘90s jazz house with reissue of Endangered Species’ infectious turns for UMM/Strictly Rhythm
Endangered Species effectively rewired ‘60s jazz for the halcyon daze of ‘90s house, flipping Gene Ammons’ ‘Jungle Strut’ into the bumpty syncopation of the title tune, beside the bustling good times swing of ‘Just A Memory’, and swanging looser again with the samples of Art Blakey Band’s Wayne Shorter paddled into ‘Ping Pong.’
Outstanding, enigmatic “technopagan” sorcery and vocals from Egyptian-French artist Susu Laroche, with guest production by Oxhy, for the ace Primordial Void label who co-released that amazing Oï les Ox debut
Despite only emerging in 2020 with a trio of releases, Laroche possesses a clear and distinct aesthetic vision that already sets her apart from the milieu. Coming from a background in film and photography, she draws on dabke rhythms and, for the first time, singing in Arabic to explore ideas of ritual mysticism relating to her heritage, as well as references to 19th century occultist Madame Blavatsky, in a dramatic but not overly so) set of driving dune-dance grooves and synth textures ranging from needling and microtonal, to gloaming, Muslimgauze-esque pads.
The results remind us to a spectrum of music from Aisha Devi’s esoteric pop to Omar Souleyman or the atmospheric industrial tekkers of Bryn Jones and Bourbonese Qualk, charting a head-down and spiritually satisfying trek between the bellicose trample and pealing horns of ‘Yonder Brother’ with Oxhy, to the churning drama of ‘Incivility’, a Zola Jesus-like ‘Traba’an’, and thru to the aching cadence of ‘Nar’with its textured nose and crafty temporal mechanics, while channelling Cocteau Twins-like onomatopoeia in ‘Holy, Sad & Sly.’
100% Laroche is one to keep a beady ear on.
Sheffield’s self-proclaimed Kings of Stadium Ambient™ posit themselves as the apocryphal sons of The KLF in a superb, out-of-the-blue album purportedly recorded at their mid ‘90s zenith and recovered from “lost” DATs
“Everyone is interested in a story or an angle when it comes to music and nothing is more intriguing than a mysterious band thought to be lost in where are they now files of musical history. Who were the The NRG? Did they even exist? The forgotten men of the 90s rave scene?
After they ended their career in late 1994, at the absolute peak of the power, and deleted all of their catalogue everything was thought to be lost forever... but then... In the unassuming town of Kansas, Independence, USA a bunch of DAT tapes were recently discovered when safety deposit boxes were cleared out of an old vault. Amongst gold, cash and classified government documents, the missing piece of The NRG’s history was uncovered. These "live" recordings have been lovingly restored and compiled to create the Live ‘94 LP.
Live ‘94 is the apex of The NRG’s history—simply because there is nothing else. With ticking clocks and alarms littered throughout the album, it becomes clear that the passing of days, hours, and minutes was the actual crux of the band. It was only a matter of time until The NRG would dissipate as quickly as they appeared, like a comet across the night sky—a moment which, if not looking directly at it, is gone. Just like that.
In fact, The NRG never existed, the band, the tour, the album - just a figment of imagination. All created in the modern dis-information and alternative facts world.Born out of a product of fun, ambition and a love for the 90’s, the conception of Live ‘94 - a make believe live album with added crowd sounds transports us back to a time that once was. Now in the pandemic this release has a whole new meaning; no longer is it a nod to the 90’s, but a nostalgic nod to a time when we were once able to experience live music. This album draws from all of the above elements, giving us the ultimate fake dream stadium experience.”
North Californian landscapes supply a rich influence to the solo debut by Marcel Sletten, writing in a self-termed style of “Zen Americana” for his label, Primordial Void
Arriving in the wake of PV’s stellar Oï les Ox album (joint released with The Death of Rave), Sletten’s solo debut proper takes its cues from the spiritual energy of the Bay Area, California Delta, and Sierra Nevada for a charming EP oscillating plaintive, floating drones and more expansive, ecstatic synth flights steeped in the new age suss of the West Coast’s promised land.
Treating his synths like the acoustic guitars of folk, Sletten evokes the wonder of an old new world with strong winks toward 0PN via, perhaps, the likes of J.D. Emmanuel, with a shifting play of light and spatial scale unfolding in his transition from ‘Morphine’, to the arpeggiated vistas of ‘Amador City Blues’, the gushing light streams of ‘Mount Diablo Sunset’, and ‘Transmat Memories’-era Oneohtrix Point never-style bittersweetness of ‘Grace.’ Definitely one to keep an ear on.
Oh my jeffing days, it finally happened! The Japanese edition of RZA’s seminal OST for ‘Ghost Dog’ finally lands to answer our prayers.
One of our most sought-after albums never to appear on vinyl (aside from a sneaky edition you could find at Hardwax if u were sharp-eared), RZA’s first soundtrack, for Jim Jarmusch’s mystic assassin thriller starring Forest Whittaker, has been top of our list since the day we walked out of the cinema after watching it in 1999 as a wide-eyed scrawny 16 y.o. That cinema has since been demolished, but our love for RZA’s score has never diminished, and we’ll happily sit with the looped-up 1 hour version of its ‘Ghost Dog Theme’ that was uploaded by some absolute G to YouTube on given day of the week.
With the benefit of hindsight, it’s not hard to hear the album as punctuating a whole epoch of music and culture, practically executing the final word on sample-driven, old skool beatcraft at a time when rap and hip hop were phase-shifting into the whole jiggy era of Timbaland and The Neptunes, and the old analog world of comic books and Kung Fu flicks on VHS were on the cusp of being consumed into the nostalgia industry - an idea perhaps neatly reflected in the film’s story about an assassin who prefers to follow ancient samurai codes of honour in an era of modern gangsters.
As many have discovered to their annoyance, it’s only this, the Japanese version, that carries the full soundtrack, where other versions were full of crap filler from Wu Tang affiliates. We’re talking some of RZA’s crispiest drum chops, soul stabs, and the most atmospheric work in his catalogue; 35 minutes of lethal neck snappers from the top shelf of ’90s hip hop, and we couldn’t be any more gassed to finally clutch a copy that will be coming to the grave with us.
(RZA voice) Raise your swwwords! Ultimate tip!
Norwegian ambient maestro Geir Jenssen blurs Beethoven into a spectral haze on this disarming suite of eerie vignettes. Fans of Akira Rabelais' unmatched "Eisoptrophobia" need this one.
On Gier Jenssen's 2016 album "Departed Glories", the Norwegian veteran used barely-audible samples of Eatern European and Russian folk music to illustrate a narrative that explored the Medieval history of Poland. These ghostly audio snippets were processed through Akira Rabelais' surrealist DSP software Argeïphontes Lyre and then smudged into echoes of a distant world. On "Angel's Flight", Jenssen takes a similar stylistic route, but uses Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 as the source material, allowing familiar traces of the German composer's favorite late work to peek through frozen drones and haunted pads.
This music, whether you realize it or not, has been repeated thru our collective consciousness again and again since its completion in 1826, so hearing it stretched, filtered and crushed by Jenssen is a fitting way to reabsorb it. "Angel's Flight" sounds like time itself wrestling with musical hierarchies, as themes and tropes dance and heave through aural molasses, inspiring the memory to land on images of movies, ballrooms, music lessons or adverts. It's also strikingly sad and beautiful, and while it relies on elements we've been assured are sad - minor keys, spooky drones, distant strings - Jenssen handles the elements with a restraint that's way too rare.
Somehow, "Angel's Flight" never descends into the realm of forced melancholy - rather it seeps into your pores slowly and affects you gradually, urging you to play it once more. Sadbient? Maybe, but this sounds strangely timeless.
Act!’s soundtrack to a series of Snapchat filters by artist Karen Vanderborght; scrolling sequences of GIF-like melodic vignettes and thizzy timbral warble, very much in a prism of neo-ambient, handheld and desktop music from Eno and Hosono to James Ferraro or Visible Cloaks
“GREY MATTER AR is a series of Snapchat filters created by artist Karen Vanderborght that explores the poetic and existential potential of AR (Augmented Reality) and social media - suggesting selfies as self-reflective mirrors informed by the wisdom of our elders.
Beginning in 2018 – Karen filmed and interviewed 10 seniors who brought diverse and universal wisdom to some of life’s biggest questions. Andrew; an Ojibwe leader who lived through the residential school program, Alf; a church organist who publicly came out as gay at 80, Anne; the first black Senator in Canada – all the seniors provide unique and profound perspectives on life and aging. See their words, thoughts, and appearances transpose and intersect with your selfhood in an edifying engagement on themes of age, memory, oppression, regret, and resilience. These filters, soundtracked by ACT!, were released exclusively to Snapchat in 2019 and are available now.”
Berlin EBM techno boss, Hector Oaks works out under his Cadency alias on a strapping debut LP for Tresor
‘Año V-I’ just reeks of sweat and poppers and bing and strong booze and 12 hour shifts by the speaker stacks. It’s the most significant payload of Hector Oaks work following 2018’s ‘As We Were Saying’ for another techno bastion, Georgia’s Bassiani, and serves as an upfront showcase of what he does best; total geiler hammer tunes, jaaa bitte.
From the cantering stud ‘I Learned That on the Street’ to his nagging 6am pounder ‘Uno A’, there’s wall-to-wall brawn inside, with particular highlights in the bucking trance-techno of ‘Cybertunnel’ and the mission sequence ignition of ‘Bringing Down The System’, while he trots out some kinky heat in ‘All This Was Fire’ and a Suburban Knight-like attack called ‘I’m Talking To You (Cadency Remix.)
American underground experimentalist Blake Edwards’ Vertonen rears up on restlessly searching label, Helen Scarsdale Agency with a real one for lovers of grey abstract gunk, from the most radical ends of Graham Lambkin to Joe Colley’s sonic mulch or the latter stages of The Caretaker
In two seamless tracts the 30 year-wide project continues unabated with its dissociative, dislocated style of textural attrition and near EVP-like divination of spectres in the ether. His elemental sounds - sferic buzzes, raw electricity, strangled gurgles, intercepted comms - approximate a fine range of not-pleasant but, certainly transfixing, sensations that one might fleetingly register in the real world, but when condensed and arranged into a “musical” release, take on a much stranger nature.
He sustains the liminal and etheric aspects of the everyday until they become physically tangible, imposing a hypnagogic state where listeners become susceptible to heavy lids and heads keen toward the pillow (aye, you might want to be somewhere comfortable for ingestion), where its surely best to receive the piece’s turns inward to a form of memory compost and bilious doom drone. It’s really not for casual use, but budding hypnotists and those with a mind for exploring or immersion in viscous drone will find themselves falling right under its spell.
Shockingly good collab from two extreme music titans: abrasive synth noise from Prurient welded onto Justin Broadrick's torched halftempo beat experiments. A loud and fucking dangerous meeting of minds.
Errr this one though. We've never been quiet about our enduring love for Justin Broadrick and the Brummie noizze/electronic set. His work over the decades as Jesu and Final or in Godflesh, Napalm Death or Techno Animal has been as influential as it has been exceptional, so the idea of him teaming up with Prurient for the final release on the Hydra Head label is just too perfect. The fact that it sounds like a long-lost Wasteland record (look 'em up if you're confused) kicked into the ashes of the US DIY basement noise tape scene just makes us even more giddy.
The two get off to a blazing start with 'Fear of Fear', evoking Godflesh with a fuzzy tidal wave of white noise vocals, chopped breakbeats and dense Renegade Hardware-esque hoover bass, before exploding into chunky d&b. None of this should surprise followers of either artist, but the power of their collaboration - a joining of dots between two generations of extreme electronic music - has to be heard to be believed. We've been wondering then the 2020 trip-hop revival might result in a rediscovery of illbient or surge of interest in the more bizarre hybrid blowntempo worlds of Scorn or DJ Scud, so trust a Brummie OG and US noise deity to jump in first, before anyone else fucks it up.
"Worship is the Cleansing of the Imagination" rattles through ideas quickly and efficiently, allowing room for each artist's personality to shine through at different times. 'Obedient Automaton' sounds more like Dominick Fernow's Vatican Shadow material channeled thru Broadrick's rack of overdrive FX, while 'Chosen Books' is pure Prurient, all hidden harmonies and pools of screaming industrial waste. Broadrick's impact meanwhile is omnipresent, not only does he serve as a primary influence for Fernow in the first place, but his fingerprints are on every aspect of the album, from the pace and mood to the color and texture of the sounds. Play LOUD.
One of Hospital Productions' most vital protagonists yields an engrossing new chapter of possessive dark ambient in a cultishly prized style - RIYL Demdike Stare, Thomas Köner, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross scores.
The succinctly unsettling suite of ‘Migrate Exquisite Corpse’ follows in the cold draught of last year’s larger, shadowy album ‘Poison Butterfly Came Day After Autumn Day’ with a sound that’s practically as close as you’ll get to a festive album on Hospital Productions. Of course, it's Lussuria so it’s more likely a celebration of pagan festivity, wreathed in wilting mistletoe and with a frozen tone and biting air that connotes listening in the depths of winter.
Left to his devices in what we imagine is a world of candlelight and damp walls, Lussuria riffs on the classic parlour game, Exquisite Corpse in a sort of addendum to its predecessor, drawing us in with beautifully wheezy, melodious organ motifs and gnawing voices in ‘Two Will Bleed The Sun’, thru the grey dawning pads and spirit vox of ’Still Bathers’, before laying out his most soporific, cinematic ideas in ‘Architects of Fall Sek You (Poisonous Buttefly)’, and committing to thee doomiest dark ambient inertia on ‘Slowly’ with an occult conviction that sets all Lussuria’s work apart from the crowd.
Featuring collaborations with Sufjan Stevens, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Yo La Tengo, Shara Nova, Mouse on Mars, Francis and the Lights and others...
"The music of CARM features horns in roles typically reserved for drums, guitars and voices, while also escaping the genre categorizations reserved for music featuring an instrumentalist as bandleader. It is not jazz or classical music, nor is it a soundtrack. This is contemporary popular music that features a sound normally used as a background colour and texture as the unabashed lead voice. According to CARM, aka CJ Camerieri, “It started with the question: ‘What kind of record would my trumpet-playing heroes from the past make today?’ I believe they would want to work with the best producers, beat makers, song-writers, and singers to create new, truly culturally relevant music, and that’s what I sought to do with this project.”
Produced in Minneapolis by Ryan Olson (Polica , Lizzo) and featuring collaborations with Sufjan Stevens, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Yo La Tengo, Shara Nova, Mouse on Mars, Francis and the Lights and many others. This is a completely unique sound that additionally serves as a survey of the collaborations that have come to define the artist’s career thus far. Says Justin Vernon, “I truly believe there isn’t a more accomplished brass player in the entire world of music. And this is way more than a ‘horn’ record. It’s a discovery of new heights with what is possible in creating music.” The album begins with an orchestral brass choir of French horns, which quickly gives way to a piano sample from Francis, as Stevens and Lupin combine voices over a lush bed of horns to sing ‘Song of Trouble’. The album bookends with the same piano sample used as a springboard to an iconic lyric by Vernon in the album closer ‘Land’. Between these two generation-defining artists we have upward sweeping melodies and fanfares reminiscent of Ennio Morricone.
The acutely original sound of Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo in ‘Already Gone’ give way to the virtuoso sound of Nova’s voice. A more experimental path emerges before the strings from Music bring us back to the piano sample that started the record. Instead of recycling well-trodden sounds, CARM offers a respite for those seeking an original voice."
Ambient sound baths from Carmen Villain, moonlighting on Geographic North with a gorgeous follow-up to her track on the nocturnal 2020 suite ‘A Little Late Night Music’
Carmen Villain is best placed to spell out her take on a seasonal music for the Sketch For Winter series, offering a sublime half hour of sound-sensitive scenes that appear to reflect a transition from cold space to deliquescent thaw over the course of six gently paced, instrumental parts. Any followers of her works for Smalltown Supersound and the sentiments of last year’s ‘Affection in a Time of Crisis’ with Longform Editions will surely recognise the near-therapeutic levels of ambient bliss and understated melancholy that makes Carmen’s music such a delicate treat.
It sounds as though her Norwegian/Chilean spar, flautist Johanna Scheie Orellana reprises her role from the Longform Editions release on opener ‘Everything Without Shadow’, blowing wistful lines thru Villain’s richly evocative synth pads, before her narrator/sound designer skills leads the way from the padded snow crunch and sleety slosh of ‘Two Halves Touching’ like PInkcourtesyphone’s protagonist gone wandering around winter gardens. ‘Things That Are Solid’ follows to sustain the vibe with warmer baubles of synth melody as the textures feel to melt at the edges with ‘Agua Azul’, gently warmed by the arrival of supple percussion and the return of Orellana’s languorous flute.
Hardcore extractions from Tim Reaper and Blog To The Oldskool/8205 Recordings bossman Devnull. Bridges the gap between messy vintage heat and contempo subwise precision.
Prolific East London jungle mainstay Tim Reaper is back on Lobster Theremin with long-time mate Devnull in tow. For those that remember, Devnull has been a key figure in the breakcore scene and has been holding the torch for jungle in the USA for years. Here he adds his veteran's flair to Reaper's giddy, virtuoso euphoria on opener 'Anytime', a track that harks back to the "Logical Progression" days but avoids cheese, retaining a good level of grit.
Reaper goes it alone for rave heater 'Who Run It' and title track 'Teletext', memorializing the long-forgotten pre-web BBS-alike TV service with a spooky jammer that sounds like a vintage sci-fi theme retooled for a forest party. Devnull pops up again on closer 'Give It 2 Me' opening with fathoms-deep synth pads before slowly erupting into a propulsive hard dance beater. There's a lot of breaks-adjacent shite peppering the datastream right now, bt this is solid.
Properly waved dark ambient lullabies (including a dungeon synth version of 'Auld Lang Syne', seriously) to usher in another cursed year.
"New Year's Eve Dark Ambient" is noise veteran Mike Connelly's ode to the uncurling ouroboros as one of the most damaged years in recent history closes out. Dark ambient is surely the ideal soundtrack, and Connelly channels the dungeon synth energy of a black metal interlude as he bashes through medieval moods with graceful FM synth warbles. Best known for his work with Hair Police, Clay Rendering and Wolf Eyes, Connelly evokes a more peaceful mood here, following up the foggy atmospherics of last year's "Spirit Obscured" and stripping things down to the bare essentials.
This set of moody, glassy drones is almost as peaceful as a collection of lullabies, but never loses the underlying scent of fear. The sound set is picked for pure horror effectiveness, but Connelly avoids the "Stranger Things" effect and swerves the warmth of analog tones, opting for the isolationist chill of DX7-esque pads and strings. This makes each track sound like the darkest recesses of some weird '80s TV show (maybe "The New Adventures of Robin Hood" with the Clannad soundtrack), as princesses have their minds devoured by malevolent spirits.
Who knew that the most appropriate way to lead out of the year of COVID and Brexit was with cod-fantasy synthesizer musick made by one of the Midwest's finest noise artists? We're here for it. Fans of Prurient's nauseatingly-good "Pleasure Ground" or Coil's warbly dark atmospheres won't want to miss this one.
Arca drops the dekunstructed club electronyx in favor of captivating church-core theatrics - think Michael Nyman x Björk, ish
Quickly following up last year's solid "KiCk i", Arca takes an unexpected left turn here on "Madre", eschewing daaclub in favor of Catholic theatrics and classical minimalism. Teaming up with virtuoso cellist Oliver Coates, Alejandra Ghersi allows her voice to fully flourish in center stage, rising and falling with a ballerina's poise against Coates' haunted slides. Title track 'Madre' clocks in at almost ten melancholy minutes, heaving with arthouse charm and sounding like the soundtrack to a queer period drama centered around the Spanish Inquisition. It's delicate, erotic and morose, glistening like sweaty, naked flesh in candlelight or a tear-sodden rag at the bedside.
'Madre' is joined by 'Madreviolo', a companion piece that loses Coates' ethereal strings and replaces them with eerie staccato plucks. We're then treated to an acapella and instrumental version, which oddly each work well on their own, complimenting the original's stark minimalism. Ghersi has been teasing this level of sensual, operatic bombast for ages now, not least in her ongoing creative relationship with Björk, but on "Madre" she makes a bold, assertive move that transcends her influences. Really good this.
Embryonic Free-Psych-Funk recordings from Parisian teenage improv-prog-combo (including members of French No-No Mod-Rockers Unity
"One of the most underrated and misunderstood directors to emerge from the rising smoke of the 1968 Parisian social explosion, Jean Rollin - a director with early links with the Paris underground, The Letterists, The Surrealists, improv theatre and the free-press - is best known for his films in the fantastique genre, producing the first French vampire film (Le Viol Du Vampire, 1968).
To celebrate the launch of (the) new Rollinade series, documenting some of the finest musical moments of the director's career as an avant-gardener, counter-culture vulture and Gallic vamp-tramp, Finders Keepers presents the entire unreleased soundtrack from the ultimate French vampire hippy flick 'Le Frisson Des Vampires' for the first time." "Imagine an early Gong/Ame Son/ Soft Machine session fuelled by a 1000 year old acid infused blood transfusion".
Witchy unplugged highlights from Abyss X's trip-hop slow burner "INNUENDO" recorded in the German woods? Sign us up.
Abyss X's "INNUENDO" was one of 2020's low-key surprises, recapturing a Bristolian vibe, infusing the slo-mo groove of Tricky and (early) Massive Attack with sweat and sensuality. On "INNUENDO (Unplugged)" Abyss X goes one step further, re-interpreting five of the album's highlights with guitarist TCV and performing them in a German forest for full ritualistic dark magickal transportation.
Hearing her voice sing out so clearly is a joy, and pulled down to their bare bones, each of these tracks takes on completely new life. It's music for Blair Witches in candlelight, smudged with sage and pricked with a ceremonial dagger. A vibe, basically.
Anxious, scorching improv-noizz workouts on double bass, percussion and synth sounding something like Vibracathedral Orchestra jamming with Supersilent...
'Widdershins' is a collection of sessions from Greek trio Spyros Polychronopoulos, Thanos Polymeneas-Liontiris & Iakovos Pavlopoulos, who perform on electronics, double bass and percussion respectively. The three met outside of Greece, but all relocated to Athens recently inspiring a wave of activity, initially jams but eventually composition and recording. A mixture of writing, improvisation and post-production, "Widdershins" marks the beginning of a journey for the trio as they experiment with the possibilities of their unified expression, bashing through ideas that touch on free jazz, improv, noise and experimental forms.
Sound-wise, think back to the searing intensity of the DIY cdr/tape scene when Vibracathedral Orchestra and Chris Corsano were at their most prolific, crossed with Rune Grammofon's more electrified moments like Humcrush or Supersilent's peerless "6". Drums move like water across each segment, electronic elements cough and splutter with Ann Arbor-adjacent fizz and plucked bass roots everything with the pulse it needs for grounding.
Knives follow this Summer’s Kuedo OST release with a club tool EP from DJ / producer duo, Know V.A.
"'Hibernation' traces ecstatic elements from the hard dance music familiar to their formative experience growing up in Holland, and fuses them with more UK leaning frameworks of late 90s techstep and late 00s vaporous grime, forming an ode to the romantic nostalgia of a shared club experience. Across the 5 tracks on 'Hibernation', Know V.A. set baroque string and choral arrangements into orbit around a hypnotic meandering of fierce gabber stabs and chattering percussion - at once reminiscent of both devine, classical ceremony and flailing club experience, drenched in sweat.
Know V.A. have performed internationally for a range of promoters and venues, such as Boiler Room and Stedelijk Museum. They curate the event and club night ‘Strange Days’, which seeks to showcase contemporary hardcore experimentalism and explore how the genre, sonically and visually has remained active in the underground. Their soundtrack work includes music for Calvin Klein and the acclaimed hardcore documentary 'Thunderdome Never Dies'."
Lowkey dreamy cloudhall club pressure from Franco-Belgian duo u o & tumy, chasing up Felix Hall’s reggaeton mixtape on hot Parisian label, Promesses
Full of effervescent, night-light melodies and trim array of trap, R&B and coupé decalé rhythms, ‘2Sparks’ extends a memorable introduction to French producer tumy and his Belgian vocal foil, u o that lands to our ears somewhere to the side of Palmistry, Bladee, and Simo Cell.
They emerge from the corner of ‘dent de lait’ with whispered vox and hushed chords that grow lush trance wings by the end, before the iridescent arps and tight upswing of the EP’s big highlight ‘fumée noire’ takes hold, with extra, autotuned vox by France based artist Prise de Risque, and they keep matters perfectly soft-touch with the feminine pressure of ‘Poubelles & Ordures’, and the sublime pads and floating cloudhall-into-paso doble vector of ’Seul’ featuring Belgian singer Johannes.
The “unreleased” project all Chi heads have been holding out for; Mr. Fingers opens up his archives in the first of a very promising new series on his legendary label, Alleviated Records.
The godfather and architect of deep house proper is in inimitable effect on all four cuts, taking in an outtake from his Fingers Inc. album ‘Another Side’ with the EP’s sultry jacker ‘Chains’, whereas ‘Electronic Debris’ cuts a ruder acid figure with rubbery 303 bass and hot organ vamps, while ‘Saspence’ heads off on a more mystic mission in an acid arab style, and the juicy tweaks of ’Nyte Light’ comes off like a strangely blunted acid version of ‘Sweet Dreams’ with a few notes missing.
Ivkovic & Smagghe are bang on the nose with a personal love note to ’90s-‘00s electronica rounding up cheap bin gems from I-F, Cylob, The Back Dog, Funckarma, Seefeel and many more from a hazy, inspirational era
Depending your age and location in the late ‘90s, the terms electronica and IDM probably have shifting meaning to every listener. Vladimir Ivkovic and Ivan Smagghe both worked in record shops during this phase and their proximity to the good stuff is evident across ‘A Future Of Nostalgia’, with 12 tracks that exemplify the cross-section of shoegaze/ambient/acid/electro/breaks which emerged from the more unconventional artists of that pivotal era. Trust it’s not intended as any sort of comprehensive survey, but more a personal mixtape style selection, highlighting classic and rarities they look back upon most fondly, surely turning up more than a few obscurities that will have bypassed even the most ardent connoisseurs and owners of moth eaten Warp t-shirts.
It’s been amusing to see a wave of insatiable all-night (and day) house types digging this sound in recent years, so the timing of ‘A Future of Nostalgia’ could hardly be more apt for anyone diversifying their bonds beyond the usual grooves, just as the original tunes would have appealed to a motley cross-section of, as they put it “pop kids getting through to the dancefloor via Aphex Twin and nerdy house heads dissolving their four to the floor into the futuristic world of Warp compilations” back in the day.
If you’re looking for highlights, tip-of-tongue obscurities such as Zugzwang’s lilting beauty ‘Euphonic’ and Marcia Blaine School For Girls’ folksy whirligig are right up there for the lip-smacking daytime dancers, while Move D and co’s I.F. turn for Fax is tipped for couch-inclined gouch-outs along with Replicant’s kosmiche arp trip ‘Analiz’, Abfahrt Hinwil’s ‘Tech 7’ is prime MDMA trigger material, and Marco Passarani’s ‘Ixora’ flings us right back to far more innocent, wide-eyed times.
Heat-seeking first international issue of a sought-after session from South Africa, 1986 by the legendary Condry Ziqubu ov Harari fame
One of the biggest names in South African disco, Condry’s career had already seen him play with seminal acts since the ‘60s including The Flaming Souls, The Anchors and The Flaming Ghettoes, plus a stint with the biggest band in the country in the mid ’80s, Harari - leading him to be listed on the apartheid government’s national security watch list - by the time he penned ‘Gorilla Man.’
The title track sets the scene with brilliant intro of the type you might find on a modern-day YouTube video, before rolling out the stickiest sort of SA disco boogie groove, and ‘Confusion Ma Africa’ follows with a more harrowing scenario of wails, choppers, and gunfire that gives way to a more brooding sort of SA groove, sealed with Condry’s killer vocal. ‘Kati’ is more in bubblegum flavour of SA dance music, and the slick, proto-deep house/boogie of ’She’s Impossible’ is the one for us (“She say my mother is the ugliest thing in town”, looool).
Made in just over a day, Ziúr's "Now Now" is overdriven, airlock pop that seemingly excavates the remains of a Walkman blasted into outer space. Mindboggling.
While the rest of us have been struggling to butter a piece of toast, Berlin's Ziúr has been churning out music at an alarming pace. "Now Now" is a brand new EP released on her own fledgling label and was put together in just over a day. It's far from throwaway too; while other Berlin producers might struggle for a week to find the perfect kick drum (fyi it's always the TR-909), Ziúr has managed to sculpt five jubilant pop vignettes that build on and surpass 2019's outstanding "ATØ".
Anyone who was lucky enough to catch last summer's ambitious full-length live collaboration with Juliana Huxtable will have an idea where Ziúr's head has been at recently. "Now Now" feels like a continuation of that mode as she layers her soaring vocals over rugged sci-fi backdrops that hint at forgotten pop forms without resorting to obvious references. It's like screwed 'n chopped dance pop or squashed, flickering emo rock, piped through a holographic bluetooth soundsystem on Deep Space 9.
Tearful ballad 'Crumble Bittersweet' anchors the record with womping subbasss that sits comfortably beneath Ziúr's voice and hopeful, glassy synths. It's the delicate remains of a culture that now only exists in memory, vocal earworms swirling into the distance and fragments of structure struggling to become whole. 'Reignproof' meanwhile should slake thirsty fans of Ziúr's earlier material, with its club-collapsing "Inception" formula and scorched trap rhythms. But our fave is 'Bleak', an unashamedly uplifting ballad that captures the feeling of sunlight cracking in through the dark.
This is it, the anticipated collaboration between legends MF Doom and Madlib.
The vibe is spread across 22 separate skits/tracks each produced by one or both heavyweights. Opening the Villainy is 'The Illest Villains' a very Doom styled sample skit, lots of TV voiceovers and a storyline about Madvillain which is cut and spliced to perfection, recalling King Geedorah's 'Monster Zero'.
'Accordion' starts the fray proper, an accordion loop drops an almost laxadazical vibe over the beat, while MF styles over the top, namedropping Dastardly and Mutley and Joe Tex, before 'America's Most Blunted' deploys a psyche break with some genius samples lifted from what must be a goldmine Marijuana awareness record.
A collab between 2 of the finest people in hip hop, with some fly guests, a classic for the ages? 100%
Hypnotic proto-Raï from Algeria circa 1979-1989 by Drissi El-Abbassi, a pioneer of the style who bridged its early roots with the era of multi-track digital recording during the sound’s rapid evolution, making for an insane set of microtonal synths, psych guitars and drum machines for fans of Cheb Khaled, Omar Khorshid or Omar Souleyman.
‘Rai Sidi Bel Abbes’ plays deeply into one of the core influences of borderless Algerian/Egyptian label Nashazphone, highlighting a figure relatively unsung beyond the North African Arabic diaspora, introducing his unusually balmy, soft-voiced take on a genre that came to be known for its harder edges. Set to a mix of microtonal Roland synthesiser leads and swaying drum machines, El-Abbassi’s vocals emote with particular clarity and sensuality, carrying the jazz and psych rock-inspired early sound into a prototype of its current form across eight songs that chart his transition from working with principal group Les Freres Zergui, to selections from recordings by his own band’s influential releases during the mid-late ‘80s.
Drissi El-Abbassi was 17 in 1978, when he joined one of the main groups in Oran region, Les Aigles Noir, working as “stage animator” - a sort of hypeman, also responsible for relaying lyrics to the lead singer, at weddings and parties - and by 1979 he was a member of Les Freres Zergui, who pioneered the use of wah wah pedals and drums in the style of Rai; a new sound established by Messaoud Bellemou and his troupe, that incorporated trumpets and sax into a distinctive new Algerian genre. He cut his teeth playing two shows a night at the weekends with Les Freres Zergui, and his first solo tape came out that year with Zergui on guitar. Following Zergui’s passing in 1983, and the dissolution of the band, El-Abbassi set up his own group, embracing new technology and helping progress the style alongside legendary producer Meghni Mohamed for labels such as Editions Anwar, Editions Maghreb, and Editions Saint Crepain.
The eight songs on ‘Rai Sidi Bel Abbes’ cover a spectrum of El-Abassi’s work during 1979-1989, from the mouth watering microtonal psych licks and nagging machine grooves of ‘Zedti laadab aliya’ to the lissom guitars and accordions of ‘Khalouni neck’, showcasing his smoothly contoured vocal cadence in finest style on cuts that resemble melodic Lovers Rock vibes in ’Trig maaskar’ and intoxicatingly sensual highlights ‘Jat jat’, plus the passionate, psychedelic ache of ‘Manetzouedj manebni dar’, or ‘Djibek liyam’, which should appeal to fans of Omar Khorshid as much as Omar Souleyman.
Brutally anxious and sensitive noise techno tribute to underground comic artist Mark Beyer, shredding noise harmonics and ragged-out techno pulses for fans of Merzbow, Russell Haswell, Eva Justka, Astral Social Club...
Savage noise tekno psychosis from Valerie Smith, a hairy man from Paris who also makes music as Z.B. Aids, here paying dues to the bleak underground ‘80s comics of Mark Beyer for a fierce debut with vital Algerian/Egyptian label, Nashazphone
‘We're Depressed’ acknowledges a severely modern sense of anxiety in torrents of bilgy rhythmic noise that pumps in a vein of esoteric activity linking Pat Murano’s Decimus to Ewa Justka, to Masami Akita and Sun Ra. Burned out dance pulses rev into murky warehouse space, delivered with a hands-on style that feels as uncannily descriptive as Mark Beyer’s often wordless comic strips’ approach to a world of emotional bleakness and naive beauty.
The artist recorded all the material on 4-track in winter 2017/2018, following his nose and Beyer’s inspiration into mesmerisingly uncomfortable head spaces. The pulsating, obliterated mass of ‘Encastré ter’ sets the tone for a crushing session rounding from the harsh stress test sonics and surprising moments of lucidity in ‘Baroud d’honneur’, and the tonal degradation of ‘Vice de cercle’, saving up his druggiest sort of psychedelic rhythmic noise for the 12 minutes of ‘Fou de rage il mange sa mère’, and what sounds like Sun Ra doing flashcore in ‘Habitable.’
Abul Mogard makes an ever welcome return with a suite of starkly brooding shoegaze drone pieces mostly generated from an old Bechstein upright piano built in 1891. If yr into Cocteau Twins & Harold Budd's 'The Moon and the Melodies', Deathprod, Ryuichi Sakamoto or Jim O’Rourke, this one’s for you.
Inspired as much by the instrument’s rich harmonic textures as the Italo Calvino short story that lends the album’s track titles, ‘In Immobile Air’ collects five works written by Mogard during the ill-fated Spring of 2020. Thematically, the album dwells on Mogard’s typical concerns with memory and states of mind, and comes to feel like the musical rendering of a soul preoccupied by their mortality. As such, it can be read as a suite of instrumental hymns for a world coming to terms with its current condition and state of static unrest, evoking a stillness of air in its glacial movements while reflecting a gnawing sense of something impending. Yet, it’s simultaneously and quite profoundly soothing in its widescreen harmonic shifts along the knife-edge between bliss and dread.
The album arrives after a pause in Mogard’s prized oeuvre since 2019’s ‘And We Are Passing Through Silently’ with a humbly arresting presence that perfuses all of his best work and keeps his listeners rapt for more. The handful of pieces speak to both Mogard’s rich inner life, and the inner voice of his instrument. Using analog and digital equipment, he transforms the melancholic simplicity of his melodies into a quietly dreamlike space. The title track lays out this bare aesthetic with wilting, elegiac notes that vaporise into a timbral thizz, before its brooding course takes in the oblique beauty of ‘Clouds’ and tarry drones recalling recent Deathprod moves in ‘Black Dust.’ He finally emerges from the murk most poignantly with the clearer keys of ‘Sand’, only to shore up somewhere more contemplative and abstract, in the low key magisterial expanse of ‘On a Shattered Shell Beach.’
Tom Halstead and Joe Andrews finally inaugurate their long-in-the-making RR label with this deadly new Raime 12”, a precision-tooled exploration of negative space, sinogrime, found Youtube dialogue and colossal subs. The ghosts of grime, jungle, dub, and industrial musicks run deep with this one, here rendered with perhaps the most shockingly pristine, eye-catching production of their career to date.
Following on from ‘Am I Using Content Or Is Content Using Me?’, their 2nd EP of 2018 locates Raime in pursuit of challenging, non linear, and often beat-less structures ruptured by the shrapnel of online culture. The hardcore continuum still haunts their sound, but the concrète soundscapes they create make use of a spectra of techniques to camouflage its presence in any overt way. What remains is a skeletal render that implies delirious momentum. With every chime, sample, snare and sub honed to staggering effect, it becomes an exercise in hyperclarity and propulsion.
There’s no one really honing this sound in quite the same way, while there are parallels with weightless grime and the crystalline electronics of early Arca, Sophie, Rabit etc, Raime trigger a different kind of dynamic, one that fills acres of space with a more nervous, angsty energy directly connected to a lineage of UK club styles. It’s basically anything but background music and feels like a culmination, or perhaps a diversion from a path Raime have been following for almost a decade. If this new label allows them the space to untangle that carefully considered aesthetic, we’re f*cking there for it.
A colossal, trance-inducing, yet largely overlooked pillar of 20th century American minimalism.
Regarded as a "holy grail" by the likes of Keith Fullerton Whitman, it spans 100 minutes of atonal, amorphous string composition scored in four parts for a quintet, here performed by Linda Cummiskey (Violin), Malcolm Goldstein (Violin), Kathy Seplow (Violin), Stephen Reynolds (Viola), David Gibson (Violoncello).
By all accounts Harley Gaber was a colourful fella, a complex American artist, composer and filmmaker who dropped it all not long after release of this 1976 work to become a full time Tennis player and coach. He would return to the arts, and later music, writing soundtracks for his own films before sadly committing suicide in 2011.
'The Winds Rise in the North' is a frighteningly heavy and rewarding master-stroke, giving rise to dense, gripping harmonic overtones which prickle, seduce and get under the skin in a way that few others achieve. Lock the doors, turn off your phone and give yourself two hours with this. You won't regret it.
On this newly released work Jakob Ullmann combines his appreciation of Cageian principles with sacred composition in utterly riveting ways, resulting in two of the most extreme and uncompromising examples of his “quiet music” - that is, a music which is composed and realised to be played just above the volume of each listener’s ambient background.
And in case you’re not aware of what we mean by “extreme”, we’re talking seriously quiet - bordering on silent - instrumental gestures; the kind of creaks and klangs that, on the most glib level, recall a “ghost” in your house at midnight, while on a more serious, theological level, are intended to heighten the listener’s sense of the unknown, the metaphysical, the spiritual: the sacred.
In both works the ‘hallmarks’ of Jakob Ullmann’s intently defined yet unfathomably open style of composition come to light. On Müntzers stern, a pre-recorded performance of a hymnal text written by the German theologian is played back at barely perceptible volume into the same space where Dafne Vicente-Sandoval translates the graphic score for bassoon. The result is a totally sparse yet breathtakingly pensive piece where it’s beautifully uncertain what we’re hearing - is that the chance sound of a distant plane or Dafne’s bassoon? Are those voices in your head, outside the window, or on the recording? Either way, the barely-there but complex results are genuinely ambiguous, forming a total breakdown of conventions that leave the listener with far more questions than they answer.
On solo II, part of a group of works relating to the notion of disappearing musics completed in 1992 following Ullmann’s conversations with John Cage, the effect of Dafne’s bassoon, recorded in Kartäuserkirche (Bürgerliches Waisenhaus) is even more extreme. Holistically taking into account everything from the thermal fluctuation of the space and the way it affects Dafne’s reed, to its unique acoustic imprint, and by turns what lies outside its walls, the piece directly builds on Ullmann’s dialogue with Cage, and induces us into a sort of lucid dream state where time dissolves, outside becomes inside, and we feel physically sublimated into the piece and its projected timbral architecture.
As Ullmann’s music has come to light beyond the most rarified classical corridors over the last decade (with thanks to its champions such as Stephen O’Malley and Bill Kouligas, among others), the composer’s radical approach and uncompromising beliefs have given us some of the most memorable and perception-altering musical experiences imaginable. We can surely add these two new Ullmann works to that set of life-affirming and quietly challenging experiences.
Black Ark In Dub is another piece of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s limitless musical puzzle.
"Featuring a bedrock of deep and heavy rhythms recorded at the Black Ark just before its demise, Black Ark In Dub features bass heavy spooky dub deconstructions of ‘Jah Love Is Sweeter’, ‘Ethiopia’, ‘Lion A De Winner’, ‘Open The Gate’, ‘Guideline,’ and ‘Mr Money Man’, along with an embellished dub version of Ras Keatus I ‘Dreadlocks I’ and the much sought after ‘Guidance’ a longime Jah Shaka killer exclusive to this set.
Originally released in 1981 the hard to find Black Ark In Dub remains a frozen sonic timepiece, captured at the beginning of the end of one era and poised at the start of another. This re-mastered release adds Lackley Castell ‘Jah Love Is Sweeter’ (vocal cut to the opening track ‘Jah’) plus Black Ark Vol. 2 the follow up album to the acclaimed Black Ark In Dub that unsurprisingly for an Upsetter release took a different path. More vocal oriented the album features extended dubwise cuts of Caol Cole’s ‘Ethiopia’, The Originals ‘Got To Be Irie’, Junior Byles ‘Mumbling & Grumbling and The Inamans ‘How Deep Is your Love’, along with an alternate take of the Silvertones roots classic ‘Give Thanks’ with flute overdub and a couple of solid do-overs from Third World man Bunny Rugs."
Italian ambient maestro Gigi Masin wins our hearts again with this sublime, impressionistic soundtrack to Il Silenzio Dei Tuoi Passi (The Silence of your Steps), Stefano Gentile’s photo book focussed on Venice at night.
Venezia is certain to strike a chord with anyone lucky enough to have visited the city, and even if you haven’t, it’s a beautifully evocative package, marrying Masin’s balmy drift of solo keys and chiffon synth pads with absorbing imagery of the city’s narrow ginnels and, all softly lit by lone street lamps that mirror the music’s plays of light and shadow.
Unfortunately our Italian is beyond mediocre, so we can’t really tell you much about the liner notes, but the symbiotic images and music convey far more than we could ever spell out here.
’Trippin’ Musik’ is Nurse With Wound’s most significant new dose in a while, collecting 3 epic discs of steeply psychedelic sonics that may well alter your breathing and heart rates and mental state. No tracklisting provided, play however tf you like.
Following from the reissue of NWW’s ’Soliloquy For Lilith’ boxset, ‘Trippin’ Musik’ relays the most recent findings from Steven Stapleton and co’s ongoing psychedelic research / surrealist reconnaissance / occult practice in electro-acoustic and avant-garde spheres. As the title suggests, it’s one for the journey, taking up whole sides of vinyl with intensely and intently focussed recordings that often take over 20 minutes to say their psychedelic piece in a cryptic language of abstraction.
Whether you take drugs to listen to this music or not, the effect is likely to live up to the title, but we’re pretty certain it will be stronger with than without. One disc features a whole side of what sounds like a folk song fractalised and slowed down by Carl Stone, while another also sees them strung out in desert guitar scenes sort of like a digitized interpolation of Earth jamming with Soisong, and the side of rapidly panned gasps is practically guaranteed to send your head into a tailspin given the right conditions, before it all shores up in a deeply lysergic scene of strolling, head-squashing, liminal/laminal electronic timbres that feel like classic kosmische slowed down and exhaled by an AI.
Trust the efficacy of ’Trippin’ Musik’ for psychoactive potential is right up there with the most potent sonic substance. Approach with spare time and a well stocked freezer for best results.
Black Ark Vol. 2 is another piece of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s limitless musical puzzle.
"It’s a bedrock of deep and heavy rhythms recorded around Jamaica =just before the demise of Perry’s famed Black Ark Studio. Black Ark Vol. 2 is the follow up album to the acclaimed Black Ark In Dub that unsurprisingly for an Upsetter release, took a different path.
More vocal oriented, the album features extended dubwise cuts of (former wife and co-producer) Carol Cole’s ‘Ethiopia’, The Originals ‘Got To Be Irie’, Junior Byles ‘Mumbling & Grumbling and The Inamans remake of the Bee Gees hit ‘How Deep Is your Love’, along with an alternate take of the Silvertones roots classic ‘Give Thanks’ with flute overdub and a couple of solid covers from Third World lead vocalist Bunny Rugs.
Originally released in 1981 the hard to find Black Ark Vol. 2 remains a frozen sonic timepiece, captured at the beginning of the end of one era and poised at the start of another."
Richard Youngs and co’s experimental disco band meet Norwegian improvisors Lemur in a lissom quartet of ecstatic, hopeful jams following their album for Night School.
‘Amor/Lemur’ began life in Glasgow at the start of 2020 when the two sets of musicians played together for the first time and jumped straight in the studio the following day. Guided by groove, and sparingly layered with Youngs’ distinctive vocal, plus Luke Fowler’s synthlines, the results are broadly split between a decidedly live-sounding first side, and a second side subject to studio-as-instrument treatments rendered by mixing/engineer Paul Savage, and tape manipulations by Jason Lescalleet.
The lolling expanse of ‘Unravel’ sees the massed until open out with a folksy disco earthiness comparable to Arthur Russell circa ‘Springfield’, and leading into the pastoral glade-like opening strains of ‘Stars Burst’, which soon looks into a quick and pounding disco-not-disco motion. However we’re more partial to the other songs, with the devilish detail of the dubwise mixing coming into play on the mesmerising lilt and splashy drive of ‘Fear’, and to slippery effect in the slower, serpentine hustle of ‘For You’ with its nagging, lagging drums.
After helping shaping (hyper)pop music for the past decade, A.G. Cook presents their 2nd solo album in the slipstream of ‘7G’, their 2020 debut LP, proper
In case you’ve been snoozing under a rock for the past half decade (we wouldn’t blame you tbh), we’ll remind you that A.G. Cook has gained renown as the game-accelerating producer for Charli XCX. He’s also produced for Jónsi (Sigur Ros) and Kim Petras, as well as some of PC Music’s hottest property including GFTOY over the interim, leading him to be hailed as a pioneer of an emergent “hyper pop” style in the process. However, if you’re “of an age”, it’s maybe best to place his work in context stretching from Scritti Politti’s shiny pop to Max Martin (Britney, N’Sync, Backstreet Boys et al), but with additional strong influence from boy racer style Makina and Eurodance, to boot.
His 2nd album ‘Apple’ is an ideally marmite and aspartame flavoured example of Cook’s style, firing 10 shots of hyper-pert contemporary composition, taking in whiny autotuned country pish on ‘Oh Yeag’ and avant-terrace-ready anthems such as ‘Xxoplex’, next to craftier highlights of gurning chamber-pop experiments in ‘Animals’ and the flighty ‘Stargon’, plus the needling niceness in ‘Airhead’, breezy airport reggae pop in ‘The Darkness’, and stadium-sized bedroom pop in ‘Lifeline’ starring Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek.
Let’s be honest, it’s kind of disposable shite and we’ll probably never listen to it ever again, but ‘Apple’ remains an intriguing symptom of recent decades’ hypermodern culture.
Finally, Music From Memory carry us back over the Atlantic to survey Brazilian flirtations with electronic and contemporary music c. 1984-1996, covering a spectrum of new wave pop, ambient balm, and experimental grooves. Killer set!!!
It’s maybe fair to say that, during the golden era for ambient and electronic dance music - roughly the period covered in this comp - Brazil’s contributions have been largely overlooked in the Western world. ‘Outro Tempo II: Electronic and Contemporary Music From Brazil, 1984-1996’ seeks to remedy this with a cherry-picked overview of this epoch that highlights spellbinding works by Mitar Subotić (aka Serbian producer Sub/Rex Ilusivii, tipped off by Vladimir Ivkovic) alongside stacks of uniquely humid, sensuous, feverishly psychedelic visions from artists you’ve likely never heard before.
Mitar Subotić is credited on three highlights, including a gem in ‘Velvet’ from his psychedelic samba-rock project Angel’s Breath, and Faust Fawcett serves standouts with his Lena Platonos-like ‘Império Dos Sentidos’ and the slunky bump of ‘Shopping De Voodoos’, but if it’s straight-up dancefloor heat and percussion that you’re (understandably) looking for, then it’s best to check out peaches such as May East’s woozy batacuda ‘Maraka’, the spaced-out, psychy slosh of Akira S, the lithe but smudged jazz-fusion shimmy of ‘Ilha Grande’ by Jorge Degas & Marcelo Salazar, and what sounds like one of James Ferraro’s ‘Far Side Virtual’ workouts, but with fruity, squawking vocals in ‘Guero-Guero’ by Tetê Espíndola.
One of Prurient’s most captivating raids on the borderlands of power noise and symphonic doom rears its furious head for this epic gatefold edition on Hospital Productions, 10 years on from its original release on double tape and then as a single, shortened vinyl pressing for the legendary Load Records in 2007. This is the first time these tracks have been on vinyl in their full, original form.
Pleasure ground stands as a key part of Prurient’s most brutal quadrant alongside The History Of Aids (2002), Black Vase (2005) and Cocaine Death (2008), its immolating rage renders Fernow at an early crest of his energies, consolidating the hi-pitch intensity and bile of Whitehouse, with the majestic, meditative inspirations of Nordic Black Metal and a more personalised lust for synth tones and pulsating electronic undercurrents.
Its four long tracks are riven with the paradoxes that make Prurient’s music so compelling and practically a genre unto itself, meting out a sound in Earthworks / Buried in Secret that’s simultaneously nerve-gnawing yet bleakly tender, or weighing up caustic harshness with a melodic vulnerability in Apple Tree Victim that appeals far beyond the bombed-out no mans land of pure noise to intersect with the entrails of EBM in the raging but poised thunder of Military Road - one of his finest moments, bar none - and coldwave pop and fetishistic synth themes in Outdoorsman/Indestructible.
If you’re willing to bite down you will find a depth of bittersweet flavour submerged beneath the tidal waves of white noise, filled with nuance and vulnerability, slowly dragging you into the abyss.