Second Circle returns with the follow up to Giuseppe Leonardi’s 2018 debut record ‘TBC’, recorded this year in Vienna, during lockdown.
"Reflecting an evolution in his musical output, the six tracks on ‘MenteMente’ incorporate a diverse mix of sounds and influences. The EP also includes collaborations with vocalist Fresh Princess, a young experimental dancer and vocalist from Ghana now based in Vienna. As well as spoken word from Georgian Art Theorist Lana Girkelidze who reads her favourite passages from Georgian poet Galaktion Tabidze’s poem ‘Qari qris’ - ????????? ??????-???? ????."
Dro Carey packs late summer heat on his debut album soaked in garage, house, Afrobeats, and frothy good times for the gang at Melbourne’s Soothsayer
Landing nearly 10 years after his crooked debut with TTT, Dro Carey appears to have matured gracefully, as evidenced in the soulfully puckered vocals and generally slick vibes laid on thick across ‘Nothing Is a Solo Project’.
Working with Rara Zulu, Beni Moun & Julietta, Alex A-Game, Rue, and Francesca Gonzales to emphasise the more classic nature of his productions and vice-versa, the album plays along the finest line between schmaltzy and soulful, and comes riddled with the characteristic ambient/electronica quirks that have long highlighted Carey’s music at the edges of mutant bass and weirdo club music. RIYL Space Dimension Controller, Falty DL, Synkro.
Alchemic sound messer Graham Lambkin blesses this amazing recorded to NYC’s exceptional Blank Forms Editions, following standout turn with Joe-Mc-Phee and accompanying the label’s reissue of his earliest works
Sounding every bit like wizard who lives in a bin and performs ritual experiments to magick up microcosms of life between the bin-juice and fag butts, Lambkin has our attention for this latest hypnagogic masterpiece of his. A riddle wrapped in an enigma, then crunched up, torn apart and threaded back together, it’s all typically his own confection of weasly folk strings, contact mic haptics, keys and geese and bears and whatever the fuck that just was.
If you know his stuff, one would know to expect the unexpected in a very low key, liminal way that pisses on logic and yet holds it together in quietly spectacular, peculiar form, as exemplified in this one. Approaching from the water, ’Softly Softly’ veers between plughole dynamics and folk strings that describe motorway-side cafes in slow motion, following overgrown and marshy routes of exploration that just get really odd and fragged out in a way you just can’t take your ears off, while your eyes may well be zonked.
Sling the maps or apps, and let Lambkin summon the between-world, seep into your subconscious, and be your guide to absolutely chuff knows where.
Scuzzy beatdown industrial pop zingers shot from the hip of TVII Son from Kyiv’s emerging mutant industrial/techno rabble - big one for stans of Inga Copeland, Jay Glass Dubs and Teresa Winter!
Firing 9 backyard-forged bullets on the MIC (Music Inspires Change) label behind aces from LAPS and Lord Tusk, the Ukrainian outfit TVII Son land a crudely sophisticated sound square between their label mates, meting equal measures of basement party hustle and dank bedroom vibes in their eponymous debut.
Squashed and creased at the point where dancehall bump intersects industrial music and ambient-pop, ’TVII Son’ is a rudely easy going listen, flowing at hazy pace above trip hop and just shy of “party” proper, so we could just as easily imagine it’s tracks heating-up a session as cooling it down. As such there’s a hypnotic, play-it-again-quality looping from the blunted dembow lope of ‘Yalta’ to the decayed dancehall chrome of ‘Heart Ending’, with a hazy, rough city energy rippling from the rusty disco iridescence and droll vocal of ‘Out of Vogue’ to proper industrial disco jags in ‘Am I’, sick Low Jack-like ragga noise one ‘Iryna’, and absolute modern blues party gems like ’Simple Ends’ and the Equiknoxx-esque banger ‘Kilang’.
No messing, dead strong gear right here.
Suave as your life, Ambiance’s super rare spiritual jazz swerve is rescued from obscurity thanks to renowned digger Zaf at BBE - an impossible-to-find 1982 doozy weaving Afro, Latin, Brazilian vibes with really classy highlights on ‘Something Better’ with Monife Balewa’s soprano vox, plus killer berimbau and Brazilian percussion on the title tune, and an absolute gem in the omni-cool fusion of ’Eastwind’ tacking the finest breeze of lounge schmaltz and sexiness.
“Ambiance was the ‘nom de guerre’ of an ever-shifting jazz collective headed up by Nigeria-born, LA-tutored multi- instrumentalist, arranger, producer and photographer Daoud Abubakar Balewa.
Balewa studied composition and jazz improvisation at the feet of innovators such as Frank Mitchell (Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers), Jackie McLean (Blue Note) and other masters from the golden Blue Note era. Although he favoured alto, soprano and tenor, he was equally happy on flute, keyboards, and Latin and Brazilian percussion. What’s more, he had the knack of using musicians who were bold enough to welcome being part of such multi- faceted sessions: guitarist Jim Lum’s flexibility suits the theme of this album perfectly, as does prolific Japanese soul-jazz drummer Danny Yamamoto; the stunning Hawaiian pianist Kino Cornwell (Yamamoto’s colleague from funk-fusion supergroup Hiroshima); and the wonderful Jean Carn-like tones of Daoud’s wife, jazz vocalist Monife Balewa.
From the band’s reading of Joe Henderson’s modal masterpiece Black Narcissus, through the deep multicultural percussive jazz-dance workout that is the title track, and on to the three-octave vocal embellishments of Monife, on her own composition Something Better as well as on the Chick Correa fusion classic 500 Miles High, nothing here is generic, nothing taken for granted, nothing comfortable or predictable.
All of the half-dozen or so albums recorded and released by Daoud and Ambiance during just six years of frantic creativity between 1979 and 1986 are well worth seeking out, but in BBE Music’s opinion Into A New Journey is the pinnacle: spiritual jazz worthy of the very best practitioners of the genre, by an obscure group of ludicrously talented artists on a tiny, self- financed indie label with an equally tiny promo budget: that’s what great jazz is all about.”
After a 7-year hiatus, funk legend Steve Arrington returns with his uplifting and soulful new album Down To The Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions, with artists including Mndsgn, Knxwledge and Jerry Paper on production. The album portrays his diversity of influences, which sees Arrington drawing on funk, soul, jazz, electronic and R&B.
"Steve Arrington is known for his innovative vocals on classics including "Watching You" and "Just A Touch of Love," with Slave, as well as his solo work with tracks including "Dancin’ in the Key of Life”, "Weak at the Knees" and "Nobody Can Be You”. His music has greatly influenced the hip-hop generation, having been sampled by Jay-Z, A Tribe Called Quest, Pharrell, 50 Cent, 2Pac, De La Soul, Snoop Dogg, and many more. "
Highest grade computer dance music from Kindohm, diffracting aspects of footwork, noise and hyper drill with a proper, warped futurist bent for Prague’s Gin&Platonic - a total must-check for fans of Æ, Mark Fell, Beatrice Dillon, Gábor Lázár, Gooooose.
Chasing up Mike Hodnick aka Kindohm’s superb ‘Meme Booth’ for Conditional - one of 2019’s best - the four tracks of ‘Deserted Reclaimed’ ‘fess up further results of his experiments with live-coding tekkers and the TidalCycles environment (Haskell). To varying degrees, all four cuts are thrillingly gut-wrenching in rhythm and tone, finding the keenest balance of screwface funk and edge-of-sanity psychomimesis, with a tangible, heart-punching soul that often evades the more obtuse IDMers, but Kindohm makes an absolute virtue of here.
The two ‘Deserted’ cuts are the nastiest, bearing his teeth with an acrid alacrity in the gurning atonal lunges and quiescent footwork of the first, and really shredding it up in a snake pit of metallic rhythms and piercing tones in the 2nd. By contrast the others are sweet, with the reticulated pirouettes and plonging tronics of ‘Reclaimed’ coming off like DJ Python coiled up with Autechre, and then the weightless, gyring torque and breathless pads of ‘2’ to leave us reeling in hyperspace.
Effing and blinding essential!
Rezzett own that fuzzy mid-fi electronic sound on a cracking eponymous début album, landing nearly 5 years on from their self-titled EP, also issued on Will Bankhead’s TTT label.
In possession of a sound that feels like exotic birds nesting a vintage studio inside your ear, Rezzett, along with the likes of Jamal Moss, Actress, Terekke and Huerco S., have been responsible for redressing the fidelity of dance music with fairly radical yet subtle incision and insight over the best part of this decade.
Thru various process of attrition, they've made a virtue of purposefully muddy and unclear resolution, embracing and fetishising the infidelities of analog hardware noise for a sort of shabby chic appeal that lends itself to closer attention in headphones as well as a sort of psychedelic friction on the ‘floor.
It’s perhaps fair to say that Rezzett have really come to define that sound at its murkiest, most romantic, and diverse, pulling from house, jungle, garage and ambient noise paradigms to forge something viscerally affective and memorably their own, as experienced between the mottled VHS memory-bank shakes of Hala, in the squirming, sore but lush Sexzzy Creep, and the salty angels tears of Yunus in Ekstasi, with the rusty grime and jungle shanks of Gremlinz and Worst Ever Contender lending a cranky, rinsed out finale.
Jamie xx practises safe raving with his debut solo album proper, following a 2011 collaboration with Gil Scott-Heron and production as part of The xx. 'In Colour' posits Jamie as the pre-eminent posh soul boy, lifting and massaging inspiration from the rich heritage of late '80s + early '90s London dance culture and channelling it into a pop-ready format palatable to Radio 1 daytime tastes and festival soundtracks. The putative "soul" of rare groove, boogie, hardcore and early jungle is sucked out and spliced with vocals in feathered arrangements ripened up for students and yummy mummys alike - all under one roof. From the deflated hardcore of 'Gosh' to the trudging 'Girl', it's as seductive as a Waitrose fridge on a warm day, infused with exotic tropical reference points in the steel drums of 'Obvs', mixing the suburban Breaks of latter-day Chicane and Marine Parade with woolly chords right out of a Lamb classic in 'Hold Tight', or nodding to seminal Joss Stone in 'Loud Places'. Oh, it's going to be a great summer, we can just feel it.
2014's most anticipated release is finally in our grubby mitts, marking a new pinnacle of R&B/pop composition. Helmed by the visionary singer, producer, writer, multi-instrumentalist and dancer Tahliah Barnett, 'LP1' sets a high benchmark for new pop and R&B, pulling together some of the most interesting studio alchemists around right now - Arca, Clams Casino, Paul Epworth and Devonte Hynes - for a project that far outweighs the sum of its parts. Augmenting the sublime templates of her two mind-blowing EPs, 'LP1’ slots everything together with a hyper-lucid logic and unreal geometry, from its polymetric timings to the way her voice effortlessly glydes between soul, folk and near-classical forms with crystal diction. It's all impossibly gorgeous, from that blooming double bassline chord that sends shivers down the spine a minute into 'Lights On', thru the aching anticipation of 'Two Weeks''s snares and that steepled falsetto - which also contains the sexiest use of "muthafxxker" you'll hear all year - to the queered beauty of 'Numbers' or the uncanny Julee Cruise vibes of 'Closer', and the yearning, whirring soul torque of closer 'Kicks’. So yeah, at this point all we’re doing is adding to the chorus of adulation - but make no mistake - ‘LP1’ is one of the most rapturous and best long players you’ll hear this year, bar none.
Ceramic ocarinas meet Mick Karn-style fretless bass, synths and keys in this splendid turn from composer Oliver Leith on Matthew Herbert’s Accidental
Following a great EP by Abby Lee Tee on the label, Oliver Leith introduces himself to these pages with a warmly inviting collection crafted as the musical component of a collaboration with artist Michelle Ussher. Using the ceramic ocarinas (small ancient wind instruments) and shakers which accompanied paintings and tapestry from Michelle’s exhibition at Station Gallery, Australia, Leith conjures the balmiest atmospheres primed for slipping in with your trunks/bikini on and letting yourself bathe there all afternoon.
Trickly rhythmelodic patterns unfold in radiant webs and eddies across the EP’s six parts, invoking an air of dusk in the South Pacific or a Mediterranean island with ‘Manicure’, and letting the feeling sink in with the spongiform bass, slithering percussion and darting electronics of ‘Tiny Snake Eyes’, while ‘Hump’ recalls a sort of martian pygmy musick for moonlight dances, and ‘Dress Tail’ feels beamed in from other, imaginary dimensions where the whistling ’Stone Men’ exist and the exotica sirens of ‘Tongue In Ear’ attempt to seduce new age adventurers to their eerie Delia Derbyshire-like wavelength.
Vibrant, low key meditations on myriad synths, given as Joseph Steinbeck’s 2nd batch of solo recordings outside his work with everyone from Devendra Banhart to Charlotte Gainsbourg and Cate Le Bon
Naturally channelling a world of enchanted influences into his synth music, Steinbeck’s solo work combines lilting, rhythmelodic lines and pads in a lissom, light-hearted (but not lightweight) suite that links back to our ears, thru to Visible Cloaks and Jon Hassell to the Finnish psych-folk scene.
The album was first issued on his Full Bloom label and now via RVNG Intl., serving a quietly rustling and absorbing batch that induces the nicest psilocybin sensations with its mystic ripples of iridescent FM synthesis and gently insistent rhythms that wash over and thru the album. Among this week’s picks there’s hardly a more apt candidate for soundtracking mushy harvesting rambles, pickling yourself, as well as more wholesome activities in the natural world, or simply sporing your surroundings with a bit of ambient magick.
New York's Sharp Veins returns to UNO with this latest collection of bit-crushed bedroom pop "Armor Your Actions Up In Quest".
An uneven mix, it shifts from emo-esque videogame balladry to clubby noise-bient, vaporwave-adjacent powergrind and speedcore with echoing vocals tying everything together with a neon bow. Its a mix that speaks to the current generation of genre-freed producers who were brought up online with access to a rainbow of diverse sounds and now make records for Orange Milk or Hausu Mountain, and that's no bad thing.
Emosh electronic pop from Vancouver’s Baby Blue and Dviance channelling a techno sprite Grimes via t.A.T.u. and Eric Prydz
‘0Flash’ was first spotted to keener ears as an untitled cut towards the finale of Baby Blue’s Fact Mix 736 and now previews a flourishing relationship with Halcyon Veil. Like that mix, the song itself is an upfront banger built with gnarly distorted Reese and lip-sniffing trance top lines ideal for Friday night stomping and crying into your pot noodle as you struggle to remember the last time you were in a club.
Put Your Head Above The Parakeets is a brand new EP from HAAi, her second for Mute.
"The EP features 4 brand new tracks including the pseudo title track ‘Head Above The Parakeets’ which exudes a woozy summery heat while ‘Rotating in Unison’ embraces positivity, written in response to this year’s enforced slowdown. The final 2 tracks take us back to the club, where HAAi is known for spinning genre bending and spellbinding DJ sets."
Glittering 1st new album in 6 years from pioneering alt-dance-pop sorceress Maria Minerva; a beautifully strong reminder of her timeless, breezy way with ohrwurm hooks and lissom ambient house hybrids for her pals at 100% Silk.
Recorded in Hollywood, ‘Soft Power’ arrives nearly 10 years since Maria’s pivotal debut (‘Tallinn At Dawn’) with a blend of gauzy and seductively elegant songwriting that’s faithful to the pop urge that's behind all her work. Thankfully, a decade later she hasn’t felt a need to upend her production style, but there’s definitely a newfound, new agey textural depth and nuance to these new songs that feed into a naturally jaded iridescence alongside club-grooved arrangements that wrap themselves into your consciousness with preternatural ease.
In the time since her head-turning debut, its fair to say we can hear Maria’s MDMA-kissed disco-house style in music by everyone from Teresa Winter to Dua Lipa, and her latest sees her sashay deeper into an imaginary disco club-turned insightfully reflective hall of mirrors. From her nEuroMantic rave ballad ‘Every Single Thing That You Love’ to the smudged chords and sleekness of ’Summer Romance’, thru the BoC-do-pop anthem ‘I Could Be Your Best Friend’, to the proper 313 drive of ‘Down Low' and the lysergic lullaby ‘Ask Myself For A Reason’, she’s still pretty much on her own plane of dream club existentialism.
It’s all just dripping with nostalgia for a better future in the most heart-aching and hauntological way.
Squirming, wavy hybrids of dream-pop, photo-trance and late ‘80s house sleaze from Katie Rose & Shawn O’Sullivan’s lowkey duo, back to match your mood on Knekelhuis
Their follow-up to 2017’s ‘Disparate Elements’ feels to consolidate the varying strands of their sound with subtly mesmerising, fluid effect, drawing the most enchanted lines between turn-of-‘90s Goa, faded Balaeric fantasies and lo-fi dreamhouse with sort of tempered ecstasy that feels of the moment.
The intoxicating fumes of Katie’s vocal balance with owing, congealed bass in their masterful arabesque of an opener ‘Dense as Smoke’ - think Muslimgauze meets The Connection Machine - and ‘Array’ trades’ in a gorgeous style of gauzy lo-fi house that sounds like Maria Minerva on a spiritual trip to Goa. ‘Only In My Mind’ hits a sultry groove of knackeerd sleephouse, with Katie’s vocal switching between cold, gynoid and pop yearning, and ‘More Than Just a Dream’ perfectly wraps up their mix of etheric gauze and mutant acid house like some stray Chris & Cosey or Psychic TV joint.
Jonny L’s seminal, debut D&B LP, Sawtooth boomerangs back from ’97 on a 1st ever 2LP pressing, loaded with the all-time anthem Piper amid some of the sickest, teched-out steppers from the UK scene.
Perhaps symptomatic of ’17 rather than ’97 economics, this pressing is reduced from the original 5-plate set - which were very typical of ‘90s D&B albums and compilations - to a more efficient 2LP with negligible sacrifice to fidelity.
For anyone who grew up in the ‘90s with access to cable TV, Jonny L’s Piper, with its definitively late ‘90s promo video, was an unavoidable mainstay of MTV2’s advert-less hours of programming, beaming images of cyborgian ravers into the living room of impressionable minds around the UK and elsewhere. Fair to say those images and sounds left an indelible impression on listeners including us, and the likes of Powell, who cites Jonny L’s work on this record as a big influence.
While the deliciously slippy sound design of Piper makes for a clear standout, it’s not the only one, with the warehouse-ready weightless tech-step of Treading coming close behind, along with the nerve-riding, Reese-fuelled 2-step rolige of 2 of Us and the sidewinding swerver Obedience, and even a class spin on acid-electro with Detroit.
Ultimately, Sawtooth was one of those mad, hi-tech and deep forward ‘90s records that penetrated the mainstream conscience, irrevocably lodged in malleable young minds as a pivotal cultural artefact in a much cooler way than, say, Jonny L’s later work producing Victoria Beckham and Dane Bowers’ UKGuilty pleasure, Out Of Your Mind. A flashback to times when the link between underground and mainstream dance music was more fluid, right before NME and reams of other tosh stymied the momentum of rave music and apocryphally deemed white guys playing guitars and drums to be more relevant to the yoof. Fuck those guys for ever. Long live D&B, garage, UK dance music.
Long overdue first-ever vinyl edition of Jan Jelinek’s minimalist ambient gem for Pole’s ~scape, newly remastered and cut for this issue with Jelinek’s Faitiche 14 years after original CD release.
Proceeding from reissues of the master minimal illusionist’s ‘Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records’ and his classic Gramm side ‘(Personal) Rock’, this one sidles now the timeline to 2006 and finds Jelinek combing strands explored on those records into more frayed and drifting ambient designs less concerned with club-related rhythms and more defocussed into a sort of cottony ambient bliss humming with folksier and early electronic/radiophonic themes.
The charmingly ‘“retro” album artwork gives away the album’s slightly wood-cut, ambient chalet (as opposed to house) aesthetic, conjuring a pastoral vibe for ending healthy days of outdoor pastimes in the German countryside or Swiss Alps that will surely also suit and probably enhance the vibe of your lockdown bedsit in Levenshulme or shared studio closet in Peckham.
Whether lolling about in frothed loops on ‘A Concert For Television’, or imagining Gas strolling off into the undergrowth with ‘Palmen Aus Leder’, recalling a “laptop-steel” echo of Mike Cooper’s exotica in ‘The Ballad Of Soap Und: Die Gema Nimmt Kontakt Auf’, simply ‘Up To My Same Old Trick Again’, or dialling into Oramesque electronics in the album’s title track, Jelinek’s mesmerising ambient textures will charm anyone with a penchant for hypnagogic ambient music.
Master of enchanted, lower case composition Andrew Pekler entrances with his exceedingly lovely ‘Sound From Phantom Islands’ for Jan Jelinek’s Faitiche label.
Going deeper on the imaginative themes of 2016’s ‘Tristes Tropiques’ LP, the USSR-born, Cali-raised, and Berlin-based artist beautifully expands on the ideas of his 2018 installation ‘Phantom Islands - A Sonic Atlas’, and it’s corresponding website - including an online interactive map developed with cultural anthropologist Stefanie Kiwi Menrath - to yield a properly absorbing, quasi-ethnographic suite inspired by the speculative notion of “islands that appeared on historical maps but never existed.”
Using his revered sensitivity for small sound organisation and a carefully attuned imagination, Pekler brings his ideas to life in a way that doesn’t matter if the islands were fictive or not, as the music provides plenty enough warm stimulation to ignite your wanderlust. As previewed in the gorgeous, woolly design of advance cut ‘Description of Rain (Over Frisland)’, the places he supposes are wonderfully user-friendly and dreamy in the broadest sense.
Between the lilting jazz tone of ‘Bermeja’ (out in the Caribbean, don’t ya know), the richly elaborated snapshots of ‘Saxenburgh / Pepys / Aurora’ (in the south Atlantic, out near St. Helena-ish), and the stranded sound of ‘Tuanahe’ (in the South Pacific) Pekler has birthed an album of carefully plotted scenes and sonic coordinates which, while maybe apocryphal, at the very least draw us into their world in a stronger way than the mountains of cliché, rote 4th world “ambient” records currently in circulation.
Mark Lanegan and his wife, Shelley Brien (Singrid Lund) pursue a gothic wave and washed-out techno muse in a deliciously cranky follow-up to Lanegan’s acclaimed ‘Downwelling’ LP with Not Waving last year. Featuring members of the Mark Lanegan Band including Martyn LeNoble (Porno For Pyros) on bass, the band play up to their passions for the gloomy rumination of PIL, Siouxsie and The Banshees, Sandwell District, Bauhaus and Joy Division across a perfectly unpredicted suite of Lynchian techno dirges and strung-out songwriting.
Named after the bird Lanegan and Brien kept seeing in their yard in Los Angeles while writing the songs, the EP's starkly affected craft is bound to surprise and enthral Lanegan’s legion followers (accumulated thru work with everyone from Screaming Trees to QOTSA) and likely to lend your listening space a ripe sort of LA vibe recalling everything from a fantasy of John Duncan jamming with Vatican Shadow, to the likeminded glumness of fellow husband/wife duo Tara & Mike Connelly’s Clay Rendering.
Scowling opener ’Come To The Shadow King’ epitomises the project’s brooding allure with nearly 9 minutes of driving dance and LeNoble’s skulking bass buried beneath gaunt organ pads, forming a dank bed for the vocals which are placed high in the mix but sink down, down into dread feeling and “bloodstained streets” described in the lyrics.
LeNoble’s snaking bass is also a crucial anchor to Lanegan’s more bruised vox in ‘Saturn Rising’, and perfectly underlines Shelley’s immaculate and evocative delivery in the darkroom rave feel of ’Shiva Danced Me Down’, before ‘Rising High Water’ carves back to Lanegan’s more typical aesthetic with an addictive dusky croon matched by a hazy, bluesy organ refrain that beautifully brings the album to rest.
Of all Jan Jelinek’s formidable output, this album has always been t-h-e o-n-e for us. More resolved and driven than 'Loop-Finding Jazz Records' (which appeared two years later), less reliant on glitch than Farben, it was essentially Jelinek's most satisfying and complete prototype for a new kind of sample-based music deeply immersed in the spirit of Jazz, without making any direct reference to it. Finally, 20 years later, here’s another chance for the unfamiliar to join the dots.
Originally released via Move D’s Source imprint back in 1999, 'Personal Rock' is one of those albums that no one seems to ever talk about but which has resonated over the years with anyone lucky enough to have encountered it. Situated somewhere between 'Loop-Finding Jazz Records', his Farben output, Move D's Conjoint and Atom Heart's most immersive work for Rather Interesting, it's an album full of subtle production flourishes within deep House structures that belong to the pre-millenial IDM heyday, but which transcend its overly-fussy, masculine templates.
The music is brooding and deep, designed for late night immersion without resorting to cliché, bolstered by what we reckon is the most forward thinking and timeless production of Jelinek’s output over the last two decades. Impossible to pull highlights, it’s an album best experienced from end-to-end through multiple listens, drawing you into a quietly euphoric, deep blue mood.
Self-generating composition ‘abtasten_halten’ finds Frank Bretschneider’s austere yet playful rhythmic minimalism at its most inventive, turning the sound of two VU meter needles into endlessly fascinating permutations via software and synth modules; an ideal candidate if we’ve ever heard one for Jan Jelinek’s Faitiche label.
“Frank Bretschneider on abtasten_halten: "abtasten_halten (sample_hold) is a largely self-generating composition for a modular synthesizer system. Self-generating here means that as soon as a current flows, the various modules interact, but within limits set by the composer via the connections between the modules (patches): timing, tempo, timbres, dynamics. These conditions are kept variable to a certain extent or left to chance, so that the composition created is always similar but never the same. On the one hand, the use of random generators opens up possibilities that would not otherwise have been considered. On the other, it offers the fascination of the unfinished and the unique: totally unexpected musical events that you might hear only once. abtasten_halten combines my preferences for percussive music in general and electronic music in particular. Largely avoiding repetitive structures, the piece is more like a free improvisation, quiet and diffuse, but also extremely dense, in ever-changing contrasts and transformations.
The tone generators are two modified VU meters whose needles, driven by trigger impulses, create a simple one-bar pattern by hitting against a metal spring that is connected to a piezo element. The tempo is continuously varied over a period of about ten minutes by several mutually modulating LFOs, ranging from about 0.06 Hz up to the lower audio range of about 18Hz. The percussive sounds thus obtained are then passed through low-pass filters with moderate resonance and random frequency modulation to additionally color the sound. Further processing is then executed by an echo module whose tempo and repetitions are again determined by random parameters. Finally, the audio signal is occasionally enriched with reverb to add more spaciousness to the sound."
Fade To Mind’s LA lynchpin trades in bolshy and bumping club reinforcements on his sophomore solo album starring vox by UNiiQU3 & Tre Oh Fie, Ghost, Semma ++
Toned between upfront bangers and sultry R&B downstrokes, ’Neurofire’ sees Kingdom’s knack for plucking out vocalists in strong effect, pairing a clutch of of up-and-coming singers with his deeply thugged out style of club and jeep ready production. It’s typically heavy on the bass, but also luxuriously spaced out and sleeker than ever, with stacks of finely layered FM-style synth pads and well oiled rhythmic touches underlining the vocalists.
To play faves, listen out for the perfectly balanced bubble and puckered R&B vox of ‘High Enough’ with Tiara Thomas, and the rude Jersey kicks of ‘Arch Slide’ with club commanding bars split between UNiiQU3 & Tre Oh Fie, or for slower lower vibes peep the grinding ‘DS8’ and ‘Yikes’ with Ghost, both recalling the spooked slink of Paul Marmota to these ears. Trust it’s all good stuff from the label that brought you Kelela and Leonce.
Brianna Price turned plenty of heads when, earlier in 2020, she swapped out her well-worn B.Traits moniker for the new title of Baby T.
"A change of name also signalled a departure from the booming techno-centred sound Price had been pedalling as B.Traits - she promised, all guns blazing, that Baby T was about 'hardcore junglist shit only'. The project's debut drop, an EP for Samurai Music entitled Portra, put that manifesto into action, running the gauntlet of darkside drum 'n' bass, ardcore soundsystem techno and dark ambient.
From the whip-crack electronic drums which usher in Baby T's second record I Against I it is apparent that we're in for another wild ride. Emerging here via Central Processing Unit, Price meets the CPU sound halfway on I Against I's A-side, delivering two super-snappy broken-beat electro joints which both have a malevolent, dystopian edge to them. The levels are high from the off, with opener 'I Wish' fronting nasty, high-wire machine-funk that draws its strength from the Bunker, Djax-Up-Beats and BPitch Control sounds. 'Acid Science', another helter-skelter melange of needling synths and vocal licks, follows. Though this track's title may promise acid, the snaking bassline refuses to lock fully into the perpetual-motion madness of a TB-303. Instead, Baby T chops the lick up to move in and out of the drums, an effect that has one thinking of Cardopusher.
'Estrogen Attitude', the tune which kicks off I Against I's second-half, is an even headier brew. The intro skulks and broods, a pulsing kick-drum and intermittent 303 whirring in a cavernous atmosphere. You get the sense that something is brewing, especially given that the tempo has increased to junglist speed. However, when the breakbeats do enter Baby T opts to lurk rather than strike, locking into the sort of murky drum 'n' bass roll that wouldn't sound out of place on the UVB-76 imprint. This is jungle to shadowbox to.
The vibe of 'Estrogen Attitude' is inverted on EP closer 'We Could Disappear'. Beginning with a grainy, mournful ambience that recalls Biosphere and Kevin Martin, the track gently unfurls with the introduction of synthetic strings and muted breakbeats. If 'Estrogen Attitude' was indebted to Metalheadz, there is plenty of Goldie's more grandiose soundscaping running through 'We Could Disappear'. At the end of the track, the atmospheres dissolve to leave only the hum of sub - both a reminder of the bassweight principles that drive the Baby T project, and also representative of how I Against I has progressively etherised itself across its four tracks.
Baby T's Central Processing Unit debut I Against I tackles dystopian electro, impressionistic drum 'n' bass and dark ambient, all while adhering to junglist principles. This is a brave new world for both the artist and the label.
RIYL: Metalheadz, Pessimist, Mutant Joe, Cardopusher, dgoHn"
Avalon Emerson's DJ-Kicks
"I wanted it to be representative of how I sound in the club while incorporating new original music," Emerson says. “I thought of it as a good opportunity to summarize the last few years of DJing for me and share my original productions, covers and remixes.” Avalon's DJ-Kicks is a confident and competent summation of what makes her one of the underground's most in-demand DJs. The diverse selections are tied together by her own edits, remixes and productions. New material bookends the mix: she opens the mix with her own voice featured more prominently than ever before on a bold, fresh and playful cover of The Magnetic Fields' "Long Forgotten Fairytale." At the end, she shuts it down with her "14th Life" remix of Austra's "Anywayz," which reimagines the song not as a dancefloor tool, but rather in a distinctly Avalon flavor of pop."
THE game-changing mixtape of the 2010s is finally re-pressed on vinyl and - for the first time - available as individual digital tracks via PAN, who’ve just made a lot of heads very happy.
Originally issued by the pivotal Hippos In Tanks in 2013, and self-released on vinyl in 2014 via her own website, Arca’s &&&&& has cast a strong, if cultish, influence over contemporary dance, pop, and electronic experiments during its life to date. Tiled from what are now disclosed as 14 individual components, its mazy mosaic of fractured ideas and curdled hooks blew our minds at a time when so much dance music was either going retro-vintage or, ahem, “future” garage, and would provide anyone listening with oodles of inspiration for new directions influenced by the Latinx and club cultural shifts pioneered by likes of Elysia Crampton (then E+E), Total Freedom, and TCF.
7 years after its debut release, &&&&& is still one of our all time percies. That sticky, diffractive flow between her convulsive ‘Knot’, the sighing gobs of ‘Harness’ and the spine tracing chorals of ‘Fossil’, and thru the melodic late ‘90s Ae/AFXisms of ‘Obelisk’ still burn. With hindsight it’s easy to hear this mixtape as a crucial bridge between her earliest rudeez on the two ‘Stretch’ volumes (which shockingly slipped most people’s attention at the time) and the way she would bloom in the following years, from production for FKA Twigs, Kayne and Björk, to her none more beguiling solo albums and holistic embrace of a mutant futurist a e s t h e t i c.
Stunning dream-pop/post-punk side from New Orleans’ MJ Guider, galvanising her shoegaze sound with industrial rhythms sounding out between Cocteau Twins, Tropic of Cancer and Seefeel in an amazing sophomore album for eternal dreamers at Kranky
Arriving four years after her ‘Precious Systems’, which benefitted beautifully from studio mixing rendered by Turk Dietrich and Josh Eustis ov NIN/Second Woman esteem, ’Sour Cherry Bell’ channels a more pronounced sense of southern Gothic mystique and late ‘80s industrial noir for Guider’s follow-up. We’re not certain who’s behind the mixing/mastering this time, but it certainly sounds like Second Woman’s spacious sensitivities come into play, perfectly suspending the vocals in endlessly diaphanous reverbs and giving special attention to the percussion and synths in an electronic/ambient-techno sense that’s seamlessly incorporated and feels like a subtle, but necessary update and mutation of its influences, rather than straightforward homage.
From the cavernous introduction of ‘Lowlight’ through to its supine closer ‘Petrechoria’, the album really comes alive with amplivication, tactfully enveloping the senses with sheets of processed guitar, or set against starkly booming drums in ‘The Steelyard’ and ‘FM Secure’ that conjure the steepest sense of dread, surely recalling Elizabeth Fraser and her amazing meeting with Seefeel’s Mark Clifford, while ‘Body Optics’ and ’Simulus’ feels like a gutted HTRK, and ‘Quiet Time’ could almost be mistaken for Tropic of Cancer, but that keening production is just something else.
Iconic and much sough after self titled LP by Piry Reis now re-issued as a deluxe 180 gram edition containing an extra bonus track.
"After playing for several years with Egberto Gismonti group and other prominent Brazilian acts, Piry decided to record this album which was originally released in 1980 featuring a special guest appearance by Egberto Gismonti."
Enchanted Mediterranean house suss from Jupiter Jax on his first album in five years, channelling dusky, cinematic noir and live instrumentation into discoid deep house influences - a lush nod to classic NYC Nu Grooves via Italian Dream-house and the kind of balmy new age synth lustre found in Echovolt’s reissues of ‘80s Greek gems
“The music of Maltese producer Rudi Agius aka Jupiter Jax has always felt as much defined by mood as movement, guided by the “specific melancholy” of specific melodies. His latest long-player skews even more cinematic, conjuring twilit gardens and crooked city streets, windswept and warped by memory: No Such Thing. Inspired by notions of escape and the unknown, and threaded with dexterous live instrumentation, the album treads vibrant hybrids of moonrise electronica, downtempo dream house, and Balearic breakbeat, brooding but breezy, a Mediterranean midnight of the mind.
Agius speaks of his songs in terms of intuition and inevitability, how and where they transport the listener. These twelve tracks slip between senses and spheres, interplanetary but placeless, noir glimpses of ghostly coastlines and reflective reveries. Flutes, trumpets, voices, and percussion contour his club designs with a tactile fluidity, jazz accents reflecting off rain-slicked marble harbors, the wakening dawn still worlds away.”
Pioneering synth sorcerer Suzanne Ciani celebrates over four decades of innovation with "a sonic voyage to the very heart of her beloved machine" in this utterly cosmic eight-part Buchla improvisation.
Ciani hardly needs any introduction; the influential synth pioneer has been contributing albums, soundtracks and sound effects for over forty years at this point and has shifted the global perception of electronic music multiple times. Her primary instrument has been the Buchla 200e synthesizer, and on "A Sonic Womb" she highlights her skill with a long-form improvisation split into eight parts.
Recorded in December 2019 in Barcelona, the piece was described by Ciani as ”an improvisation that I began using in the ’70s and continue to use now as raw material. Each performance based on this material has its own expression and one could liken it to jazz." We can't think of a more apt description, as Ciani contorts now-familiar sounds, exploring the farthest reaches of the instrument. There's little room for saccharine hauntology here, rather Ciani toys with pulsing rhythmic sequences, segments of tidal white noise and electric birdsong and and chiming gong-like pulses.
Required listening for anyone who's fiddled with patch cables in the last few years.
The 5th Reigns album. For fans of Cluster and John Carpenter. For fans of Quatermass and Lovecraft, and everything in-between.
"Since 2002 Operatives A and B have been digging beneath the surface of the South West; lowering microphones down mile-deep holes, into flooded villages, along haunted causeways.
The Walled Garden details the findings of a tiny area within the 13,000-acre Dosetshire estate surrounding Kendall Hall: an expanse of poisonous shrubs, bushes and fungi, lost under two fathoms of bramble. The hall itself was razed to the ground 85 years ago. The garden, designed by the last owner of the hall, still remains, and so too does its secrets: the cursed sundial, the vapourous pond, the pit of greasy ash and bone."
Steeply absorbing solo debut of smoky free improvisation, reverberating between ECM-like jazz/classical and electro-acoustic dimensions for the ideal home of such enigmatic stuff; Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle.
‘Ashioto’ extends an immersive introduction to the solo work of Japanese drummer/percussionist/composer Tatsuhiro Yamamoto following a decade of collaborations with notables including Jim O’Rourke, Eiko Ishibashi, Phew, and Arve Henriksen. Fitting the rarified criteria of Black Truffle’s snuffling service, Yamamoto’s first dolo mission is riddled with the sort of oneiric magick we’ve come to expect from this label, dilating the mind’s eye from the pineal peal of gamelan to sweeping Jazz-fusion breaks and dead strung-out, end-of-rope jazz blues and ‘marish organ swells with a masterful narrative sleight of hand.
The devil lies in the detail of ‘Ashioto’, and in the way that Yamamoto transitions between distinct section via various strategies. In the first section his hypnotic and softly reverberant golden ripples of gamelan precipitate deeply sweeping but in-the-pocket breakbeat roil with subconscious stealth, almost comparable to a canny DJ transition. But the mood persistently shifts like a localised weather system, ultimately drawing in and overcast with a starkly autumnal appeal that he doubles down on the B-side, where the drums total recede to present a play of tonal ghosts slipping like laminal plasma with Daisuke Fujiwara’s oozing sax and coming to suggest a late night avant-garde sexiness that culminates into a beastly Lynchian nightmare with cataclysmic, feral noise recalling Gruppo via Jim O’Rourke. Magic.
Brock Van Wey's 38th bvdub album.
"It takes its time, like most of Van Wey's works, to get where it's going, and his musi- cal style to the already initiated is that of intently watching the ocean waves, with each wave bringing its own unique shape, texture, and in this case, aural reward.
Wrath and Apathy is loosely based on the events of Haruki Murakami's novel Kafka on the Shore. Like most of Van Wey's recent n5MD works, comes in the form of four spaciously captivating and deeply immersive long-form journeys."
The new Sarah Davachi record is an 80 minute, 17 track double album meditation on impermanence and endings, framed by minimalistic organ études and careful harmonic layering. On two tracks the artist’s own vocals are also heard for the first time. This is the first release on the artist’s own label, Late Music.
Just as we thought Sarah Davachi couldn't tug our heartstrings any harder, she inaugurates her new label Late Music with "Cantus, Descant", a two LP set containing some of the wooziest, most affecting organ music we've heard to date. The entire album is an exploration of the unique, individual character of her instruments as she harnesses the power of various pipe organs in Canada, Europe and the USA as well as the electric organ, Mellotron and a handful of other elements. This gives the tracks an impossibly human feel as subtle tones wind and fall with elegance, and unpredictable grace. It's not even that Davachi is exactly attempting to center her work as anathema to a world fogged by emotionally empty scambient and bone-dry modular drone, but these tracks are so animated that it's hard not to feel awed by what's so often missing.
'The Pelican' is an early highlight, using the Mellotron's unmistakable tape loops to add a layer of Morricone-esque melancholy to the mix. Elsewhere, album centerpiece 'Play The Ghost' drowns echoing vocals in reverb, sounding like distant prog-gaze beamed in from another parallel timeline. "Cantus, Descant" is a special album, whisper soft but pointed and intentional. Sarah Davachi is among the most gifted composers operating right now and this album is a celebration of the old and the new that speaks assuredly to the complex simplicity of tone itself. We're floored.
Originally released on LP in an edition of 200 copies. (Kye 01) 2001.
"I made the basic recordings of Tim Goss's voice during a recent return trip to England. Despite some initial reservations Tim ended up giving an animated and robust reading, drawn exclusively from work of his own creation. These tapes were then transported back to Poughkeepsie, NY, where the project was teased to completion." (Original LP sleeve notes) Tim Goss: voice / text Graham Lambkin: synth / water / radio / collage.
Limited to 500, these tracks are exclusive to vinyl and won't be repressed. Housed in a beautiful sleeve designed by The Designers Republic, who also created the sleeve for Matthew's previous LP Oneness.
Originally released in 2014 and available for one night only, this rare banger was pieced together using one second from each DAT in BJNilsen's tape archive. Industrial fuzz for EBM jerks.
On the Tapeworm label's fifth birthday at London's Cafe OTO on September 16, 2014, 25 copies of BJNilsen's "Release the DATs" were issued. Each inlay was hand-drawn with a special unique cover from SavX and for those that heard it, the release became a prized rarity. Now the rest of us can finally hear it too, as the 10-minute oddity has finally been made available digitally. BJNilsen crafted the chunky EBM banger using one second slices of every DAT tape from his extensive archive, and while that's hard to hear exactly (it is one second samples, after all, u don't get much outside of percussion) it makes for a good concept that's been executed excellently. Remastered by the man himself for the occasion, it's a curiosity that can sit alongside Gescom's "Minidisc" in the shrine to discarded technology.
Vatican Shadow commands his bleakest night-vision pads and craftiest Muslimgauze-style rhythms in this seriously prime volley for Pittsburgh’s 20 Buck Spin - unmissable for the fiends!
‘Persian Pillars Of The Gasoline Era’ sees Dominick Fernow back to strong form with six tracks inspired by recent Middle Eastern geopolitics and very much built in the image of latter period Bryn Jones aka Muslimgauze productions, but more than sufficiently distinguished by his transfixing arrangements.
The brooding VS synth glare is in deep and hypnotic effect and the drums programming is some of his deadliest, adapting the mood of the times and media rhetoric in a way that’s never glib or ironic and always with an emotional levity. ‘Rehearsing for the Attack’ is an instant VS classic, trading in rudely syncopated steppers drums and his finest sort of synth subterfuge, and likewise ‘uncontrollable oasis (Real life spy mystery ends with scientist hanged in Iran)’ leaves a heavy impression, while the plot only becomes more expansive, urgent with the closing section’s 10mins of intricate arps in ‘moving secret money’, and his trampling 12 min mission sequence ‘ayatollah ferocity’.
Nic Tasker’s AD 93 pick up the Blue series with slinky tekkers by Mucho Sueño, Sapphire Slows’ dream-pop, and atmospheric roller by Bas Dobberlaer and Martinou
Check for the chiffon vocals and glistening Japanese dream house mechanics of ‘Swirl’ from Tokyo’s Sapphire Slows, and the free-floating and effortless Latinate syncopation of ‘Heart of Glass’ by Mucho Sueño - one for the lip-smacking, gyr-eyeing points of the night.