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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Crucial selection of raw, darkside early gqom from pioneering Durban trio Phelimuncasi, setting the gripping vocals of twins Makan Nana and Khera, and Malathon, to cranky technoid club engines by DJ Menzi, DJ Mp3, and DJ Scoturn, all showcased for first time outside South Africa on the ever vital Nyege Nyege Tapes. Unmissable for fans of dark, heavy dance music of all stripes!
For Phelimancusi’s overdue first international showcase NNT follow a number of excursions into this sound from DJ Menzi and Sleeping Buddha for sibling label Hakuna Kulala with a mix of vintage early works and banging new exclusives, including some produced as recently as 2019 in the downtime after the trio’s incendiary performance at the label’s annual festival. Alongside the gqom archaeology of Italian-based GqomOh! label, this lot forms a vital piece of the genre’s history, charting how the vocalists’ conversational, toasting style, itself rooted in local storytelling traditions and the intimidating rhythmic singing of the apartheid-era came to influence their sound, and ultimately set the course for Gqom to come.
Colloquially known as “taxi techno” in the Durban townships, Gqom is a staple sound at NNT’s annual festival in Jinja, Uganda and always brings the best moves out of the SA dancers (and everyone else for that matter). As recently revealed on his shocking ‘Impazamo’ tape for Hakuna Kulala, DJ Menzi is one of the scene’s wildcards, and his productions for Phelminancusi are a big highlight here, counting the heavy call and response lyrics, signature Zulu trills and hard clang of their ‘Private Party’ anthem, the Terminator-stare drones of ‘GQOM Venus Cemetary’ and the desiccated bones of ‘Umgido’ among the comp’s heaviest drops.
Racked up beside an infectious introduction to gone-but-not-forgotten producers, DJ Scoturn with the menacing bell hook and bouncing bars of ‘Umahlalela’, and the starkly martial snares of DJ Mp3’s ‘Sesi Gora’, which sounds like mutant dancehall dispatched via late ‘80s Chicago, this lot is surely more than your RDA of crucial dancefloor energy, and absolutely primed with dense cyberpunk atmospheres for skulking deserted inner cities and counting down to the apocalypse.
Industrial changeling Oliver Ho returns to his Slow White Fall alias for a howling and paganistic suite of industrial music in an English medieval Gothic mode channelling Dead Can Dance via Killing Joke, Scott Walker, Silent Servant and Godflesh.
Slow White Fall is the latest of Ho’s revolving monikers (Broken English Club, Raudive, Zov Zov), and here used to signify a shift into more muscular Industrial music that treads heavily to the right side of fantasy dramatic, wrought with a finely crafted atmospheric finesse that speaks to decades of crookedly functional electronic production expertise and an enduring fascination with the darkside. Think ritual music for a bacchanal at John Dee’s gaff, or the soundtrack to a plague rave held in 1347.
‘Pushing Through A Wall’ marks up as Ho’s most ambitious and convictive collapsing of industrial tropes into bleached out acid noise and dungeon gloom. Over the cursed course of seven tracks he works at the tipping point where noise metastasises into a form of industrial blues for the end of days ranging from Adrian Sherwood-era Ministry styles, to Datura-induced panic attack heartbeats and chalkboard sax in ‘Earthquake Seducer’, and Coil-ed noise in ‘The Golden Lunatic Ascending’, with raging highlights in the fanged arps of ‘A Crimson Body’, and a closing couplet of duets meshing doom guitars to sparing etheric female vox with strong echoes of Sunn 0))) & Scott Walker’s ‘Soused’ as much as an instrumental take on Godflesh’s brum doom.
Silvia Kastel & Lizzie Davis (Wilted Woman) debut as Shakey with a wickedly off-kilter batch of screwball rhythms and ambient abstraction for NYC’s Palto Flats
Merging minds in syncretic fusions for early/late dancefloors and wonky all-dayers, the pair’s natural, mutual feel for fourth world vibes, musique concrète, and digi-dub seeps out in fascinating ways that variously recall the glistening enigmas of Visible Cloaks (and their cult Japanese influences) as much as Georgia’s wide-eyed weltanschaaung and the more experimental early strains of Laurel Halo and Karen Gwyer.
’Shakey’ slots very neatly among Palto Flat’s reissues of Japanese ‘80s ambient touchstones by Mariah, Yasuaki Shimizu and Midori Takada with a sound that could arguably almost come from ‘80s Tokyo as much as modern day London, where the duo reside and hold down esteemed NTS shows and play live and DJ. Futureproofed by their synthetic hardware texturing, the results are timelessly odd in a rhythmelodic way that weaves across continents, eras and dimensions with a breezy effortlessness and zonked effect.
The fractal fourth world jungle decimations of ‘Crayscandens’ trigger a killer set that scales between the waviest byzantine mazes of ‘Slappy’, to hyaline esoteric simulacra in ‘Dischidia’, and two true highlights in their melted ambient techno stepper ‘Moth’, and the underwater phantasy ‘E ocean.’
Bill Nace and Graham Lambkin rustle up a lowkey liminal gem on Nace’s Open Mouth label traversing room and field recordings of zonked folk strums and waking life weirdness.
Unbuckled from any fixed style, ‘The Dishwashers’ occurs with a deceptively casual approach that belies the fact this is only the second time they’ve recorded together, following a first meeting in Kentucky during 2018. Recorded in London a year later, this set lives in between worlds, slipping across thresholds from drizzly open-window street noise to what sounds like a pet shop full of exotic birds and glass cages of reptiles, to more inexplicable aleatoric situations, with a quiet but sometime rapturous logic that gets under the skin, up the nose. It’s part collage, part everyday magick realism, part fly-on-wall documentation.
The A-side establishes a style defined by subtly jagged jump cuts and interruptions, where the magic emerges thru their transitions from each chunk of the recording. They take listeners from urban spaces awash with cars driving down wet roads and cackling birds in pollutant-caked trees, to grinding mechanical drones and dry strings that recall rusted playground swings creaking in the wind, and onto pieces of baroque folk sweetness.
The B-side follows into a really unsettling passage of naif, childlike ululation - remember just making strange noises with your mouth for the sheer sake of it, and seeing how long you could sustain it? - before shortwave radio crackles build into rabbly swells and, and barely-there sections pass out into a haze of shimmering cymbals and percussion that recalls Anne Tardos’ recordings of a defrosting fridge for New Wilderness Audiographics, whose label name coincidentally resonates with the strangely organic nature of Nace and Lambkin’s work here.
1st in a series of gang shots from Bristol’s LavaLava, from badhead bashment to a hard drum UKF bullet and frenchtek-y screwball by Lurka, Zoë McPherson and NKC x Roska
All four cuts characterise the label’s soundclash of styles, with hardcore techno, industrial and bashment churned up in rusty dub echo chamber still ringing with traces of Bristol’s breakcore/yardcore sound.
Zoë McPherson turns up a big highlight in her build up from doom-dub to full velocity frenchtek ‘Alva’, and the body-scanning bashment skip of Lurka’s ‘Patterning’ is bound to sound unreal on a big rig, as is the punchy, sparring UKF futurism of ‘Teardown’ from hard drum don NKC and Roska in Bakongo mode.
Swaggering, crushing industrial remixes of My Disco’s debut album for Downwards by label gang and pals, including a killer 16 minute slow motion crawler from Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement plus pearls from Giant Swan, Cub (Simon Shreeve), Slow White Fall and Kerridge, big RIYL 23 Skidoo, early ‘90s Coil, Conrad Schnitzler.
Downwards’ rum gang of industrial misfits mutate My Disco’s ‘Environment’ album in slow, brutal and hypnotic styles ranging from SImon Shreeve's smudged gamelan rework as Cub, to a 16 minute stunner by Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement (Prurient & Low Jack)
‘Environment Remixes’ serves to tie up a 10 year loop since Karl O’Connor (Regis) first became rapt with My Disco’s 2010 single ‘Young/You’, which lead to him remixing the Aussie band’s song ‘My Decade’ in 2016, and eventually issue the reverberating clang of their ‘Environment’ LP on his Downwards label in 2019. For the remix suite, they’ve picked a gang of manacled producers to reanimate the album’s cranky mania and classic industrial spirit with suitably bruising results.
The swingeing, stygian flow of Simon Shreeve's Cub remix of ‘Equatorial Rainforest’ returns a big highlight, possibly the project’s very slowest and loaded square between the eyes of early ‘90s Coil and 23 Skidoo, while Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement’s 16 minute take on LP centrepiece ‘Act’ follows that humid line to a frighteningly strong scene of cicadas and crackling neon sleaze sloshed with martial kettle-drum rolls recalling Con Schnitzler’s ‘Conditions of The Gas Giant’, before slipping into the lushest ambient techno mode.
Following the rush of his recent records, Sam Kerridge renders the doomy beckon of ‘Rival Colour’ more tentatively, stalked with spare drums and lugubrious bass, and Bristol’s Giant Swan follow a hunch for lurching halfstep on their reduction of ‘An Intimate Conflict’, for Oliver Ho to amp the phosphorus guitar burn of ‘1987’ as Slow White Fall with the sort of noisy conviction that also makes his new album such a zinger.
On the cover: The Arkestra: Sonny Blount may have passed into the ether but his spirit lives on as The Arkestra prepare to release a brand new album. Plus: Sun Ra on celluloid and a guide to recent archive releases. By John Morrison, Ken Hollings and Chris Trent
The Primer: Fugazi: A user’s guide to the recordings, precursors and offshoots of the DC posthardcore institution and its consituent members. By Joe Thompson
C-drík: Musician, curator and networker Cedrik Fermont forges connections between experimental music scenes in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. By Ziad Nawfal
Invisible Jukebox: Áine O’Dwyer × Graham Lambkin: Will the Anglo-Irish underground duo run (shadow) rings around one another with their mystery record selections?
GLOR1A: The multimedia performer reroutes surveillance capital. By Emily Pothast
thingNY: The cross-disciplinary performance collective float free of historical context. By George Grella
AMMAR 808: The Tunisian producer forges collaborative sonic fictions. By Francis Gooding
Alligator Gozaimasu: Reactivated virtual project makes a virtue of its connections and mistakes. By Abi Bliss
Global Ear: Our regular column continues to report on music in the time of pandemic. This month: clubbing (or not) in Berlin, and recording (or not) in Southend-on-Sea
The Inner Sleeve: Lucy Railton on Pauline Oliveros’s Ghostdance
Epiphanies: Danny Wolfers aka Legowelt finds excitement in obsolete computer systems
Unlimited Editions: KRAAK
The first new Powell LP since 2016’s Sport on XL Recordings, and the first music available physically since his 2018 collaboration with Turner-Prize winning artist Wolfgang Tillmans.
"Oscar [Powell] wanted it known that this is not intended as a definitive album, the realisation/release of some bold new statement, a singular mark of identity or triumphant elucidation of years of valiant work. Rather, it is simply 35 minutes of music segmented from an overall flow of stuff, a variable torrent of hyper-synthetic composition brought about by entirely other things — circumstances that relate in no way to a previous life led within an occasionally toxic bubble of taste, music, entertainment and ‘community’. As René Char once wrote, ‘No bird has the heart to sing in a thicket of questions’, and so it is that we can become bereft of courage, stripped of any enduring connection to our work, dissociated from many of the fragile and reactionary structures that previously held us up. When the illusion of reality dissolves around you, how can you not think as Leibniz once did: ‘We thought we had arrived at port, but found ourselves thrown back out on the open sea.’ It is easy to be moulded by a contemporary space that leaves you with no possibility of creating anything at all; in a kind of zero state of expression that inevitably forces you to look elsewhere ? to pursue a Deleuzian line of escape out towards a horizon line that never draws closer. Here, at least, out on the waves, new cartographies can be traced and new connections formed.
This ‘album’ thus functions as a message in a bottle: cast from unknown coordinates, it maps some of these connections, not least in its close relationship with the visual work of Michael Amstad and Marte Eknæs [see afolder.studio]. Their imagery inflates this sleeve; the music inflates their films [see links]. What emerges from the fog is a luminous three-headed constellation of melodic lines in non-sensical interplay with one another. Here on record, spinning at a speed of your choosing and with eyes closed and no imagery to hand, the feeling persists of a deep decentring, music discontinuously carbonated by a different geography of relations, the depths of which this music begins to explore."
In the latest chapter of Spiritual Jazz, Jazzman return to the source – the Impulse! label, and the monumental influence of its most prominent artist, John Coltrane.
"Since the first release in the series back in 2008, we have mapped out the growth of the spiritual sound in jazz. Spiritually energised and politically conscious, the spiritual sound in jazz music is one of the most important currents in the music. Our series has charted the growth of the style from early experiments at Blue Note and Prestige to European excursions, exiled experimentalists, and sounds from across the globe. But whenever you think of spiritual jazz, it's a fair bet that the double exclamation mark and orange and black spine of Impulse quickly comes to mind. Home to John and Alice Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders, Yusef Lateef, McCoy Tyner and countless other musical pioneers, Impulse! was the most important and forward-thinking jazz label of the 1960s. With the music-first attitude of an independent but the clout of a major, producers Creed Taylor and Bob Thiele made Impulse the defining imprint of a crucial decade. They hand picked the top players of the moment and gave them freedom to record the music they wanted, setting out their stall with a bold slogan – 'The New Wave Of Jazz Is On Impulse!'
Here we dive deep into the Impulse! catalogue, bringing celebrated masterpieces from Alice Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders into the arena, together with lesser known cuts from Phil Woods and John Klemmer as well as straight-up classics such from Yusef Lateef and Elvin Jones. Fifty years on and the new wave of jazz still sounds fresh, vibrant and as relevant as ever."
Slunky, floating house minimalism from Neinzer, testing a mix of subtly off kilter rhythmic mechanics and jazzy micro-dub touches recalling Villalobos and Sasu Ripatti
Curved neatly into the Where To Now? sound, Neinzer’s follow-up to turns on Whities/AD 93 and Yumé is neatly tailored with a London crispness and swagger, shifting elegantly from the icy keys and rolling syncopation of ‘Traum’a’ thru the ruder, sub-heavy gait of ’Nabi’, to a more strung-out and sun dazed sound in ‘Hebdamu’ with sweet licks of keys and guitar, and ‘Cause Pan Tact Insoluble’ shimmering like a vintage SND or Jan Jelinek number.
Contemporary Ambient music by two promising Japanese sound designers: Okada Takuro and duenn
"After works by Jim O'Rourke, Ana Da Silva & Phew, Tokyo based Newhere Music releases this concept album by Okada Takuro + duenn: "Urban Planning".Duenn has been working with labels from all over the world including Entr'acte (Belgium) and Past Inside The Present (US). His experimental unit 3RENSA with Merzbow and Nyantora has performed with legendary sound designer Matsuo Ohno (Astro Boy) and artist Shohei Tsuda. In recent years, duenn's work can be heard at galleries and exhibitions, including a recent collaboration with Shiho Yoshida.
After Moriwaikiteiru disbanded, Okada Takuro started his solo projects with his debut album "Nostalgia". Apart from songwriting, Okada is also active as a producer and in film score. The Urban Planning album project started from a sparkle in a discussion between Okada and duenn, with "sound of the city" as a keyword. What should be ambient music in our life, in the present time?
Respect of Ambient musicians and contemporary artists since the 80s, such as Yukio Fujimoto and Hiroshi Yoshimura to name a few, can be recognized in this album. However, the two artists are not trying to recreate the past masterpieces and instead, they are taking the cities of the 2020s as their raw material of inspiration. The tracks are concise and comprehensive, and the album has a precise concept with primitive melodies by duenn. duenn and Okada have clearly divided roles during the making, with duenn for the first time on melodies, and Okada on editing and producing. It is also interesting that duenn chose to use GarageBand, a tool accessible to all, for his first melody-making. For the listeners, the touch of simplicity may well remind them of the lullabies in their childhood.
The artists have spent two years on this creation. Imagine the commuter trains, the cars, your room, your local park for a walk. This is the sound of the city, blent into every moment in urban life."
Birmingham’s legendary master of darkness Justin K Broadrick unleashes a tranche of demonic techno doom from his JK Flesh archive
Hospital Productions are being coy with the dates, simply calling them “older tracks”, but the material is grained with a detectably old skool vintage in that cold, brittle, but shatterproof style of Brum’s best, from Regis, Surgeon and Female to Mick Harris and that.
Conjuring the illest tension between dissociated drone atmospheres, skin-crawling textures, and primitivist urgency, they’re all strapped up and ready to boot off in a dark room with your mates, or by yourself for that matter, delivering some right brain rotting bludgeonry in ‘Two Dimensional’ and ‘Dissociation’, plus proper rictus coffin-door-jackers gear with ‘Is This Me’, and the doomcore skullduggery of ‘The Body Is Not Real’.
Dark and heavy nutters; you know what to do.
Field inquisitor Kate Carr gets right under the skin with a self-released, sonic diary of 18 months in London, documenting all its infrasonic rumbles, meridian timbres and scuttling rhythms in the impressionistic style that resonates heavily with everyone from Lucrecia Dalt to David Toop and Chris Watson.
Kate’s reserved some of her most spellbinding work for this, her first vinyl release since 2016, conceived between 2018 and this year in response to an invitation from TACO! In Thamesmead, South East London, as a request to document the space and her relationship to it. Fragmented in 9 pieces, the final, edited and layered recordings render the experience of travelling to and from her home and studio, and her actions there and thereabouts, collaged in filigree ways that variously feel like she’s playing origami with your inner ear, or inverting the density of London and its daily life into dematerialised plasma.
In her own words, Kate intends the listener to “drift with the current through misty scenes, on a journey down a river towards some marshland on the edge of an urban sprawl”, and do so with a mix of haptic harshness and barely-there tenderness; coaxing us into her between-worlds sound with ‘Detritus Clouds’, and quietly shocking out with the electricity crackle of ‘It’s a steep climb to the freeway underpass’, invoking the eeriest nooks between waking life and simulacra in ‘Abraded’, and the empty-belly tones of ‘Pebble Dash Static’, to an uncanny atmospheric inception with ‘Vegan hotdogs and Windemere park’.
Proper, truckin’ psych techno bangers from Joachim Nordwall (The iDEAList) and Henrik Rylander’s cosmic incarnation, sent via Moscow’s Stellage portal
After seeing us off with last year’s ‘Your Skulls Are To Us What The Sun Is To You’ for Industrial Coast, the duo’s instinct for ace titles is in effect again on ‘The New Age Is Shit’, which pretty much sums up the record’s antithetical stance and the band’s scything iconoclastic approach to rhythm and noise-induced madness within.
‘Determination’ sets out with 11mins of meat motoring bass pound and thick layers of distortion that build up to a full 18-wheeler traction and keep it there. ‘Seen It All Been It All’ trudges thru thickest of razor wire noise and worksite klangs, and they really hit between the like eyes like a Nate Young Regression doozy with ’Stuck In A Dead End Man’, before yoking some kind of Pan Sonic-esque dub noise sludge in their lurching, drunken title cut. Some of their best gear, is it not?!
Bony rave rattlers from an on-fire Pessimist going in with Holsten, backed up with a concentrated halftime remix by Clarity
Like his killer recent outing for Ilian Tape, Pessimist is properly injecting some UK rudeness and darkside discipline into this new one with Holsten, who brings the sort of dank late ‘90s/early ‘00s warehouse tekkers found on his pair of plates for UVB-76 Music’s Droogs series.
The duo’s first offspring, ‘The Riot Tune’ comes in two gnashing, heavyweight types; the first locking off thistly breaks and droning sirens with pressurised bursts of amens in lip-smacking style, while the 2nd emphasises a dread bashment flex hingeing around hollow, wall-beating bass drum slap in a classic sort of UK turbo dancehall style that is effectively D&B. On remix detail, Clarity fine tunes ‘The Riot Tune’ with clinical finesse, tightening up with some slicker Neuro torque and whipsmart glyding bass to finely calibrate your rolige and make you dance at least 23% better. No lie.
The sound of the violin is a product of tension and release; the hair of the bow pulls back the violin’s string over and over again and, when the tension gets too great, it releases. The resulting vibration disturbs the air around it which travels in waves, exciting our ear drums and becoming sound. This confrontation of energy with air—the alternation of potential and kinetic energy—occurs over and over again in microcosm: catching, holding, tensing, and releasing. As listeners, however, we only perceive glorious sound.
"If there’s an efficient way of summing up Samara Lubelski, it’s these two words: glorious and sound. But, in a deeper sense, her music also amplifies the micro-process of the sounding process of the violin: the specific joys of tension, release, and every possible gradation between the two.
The tension contained in each sound on Partial Infinite Sequence is not disturbing or stressed. That kind of sound is satisfying but too easy. Instead, it feels like that split second after you trip on the sidewalk. Your body could go in any direction, and every outcome is possible. Your pulse quickens. If you were able to freeze that moment in time and live in it the elation of the unknown would be overwhelming. Samara makes that split-second feeling exist for two sides of an LP.
And yet, this music also brings comfort. The tense feeling of elation lives distinctly side-by-side with a knowledge that this music is correct and fits that gap in your world that has been carved out exactly for it. It’s satisfying. It’s the feeling after you trip, the moment that you realize you’re safe, and that you found some grace in stumbling.
There are few recordings that have struck me as having this particular quality of having this level of profound tension, stasis, and release mixed, but not diluted by linear cause and effect. Ellen Fullman’s The Long String Instrument is one, as is Charles Curtis playing Naldjorlak I. These are special recordings—examples of a sensitive human being coming to a deep understanding of what they want to say with an instrument while exposing that instrument’s essence in sound. It’s a life event to find a record like that, and I’m happy that I’ve found another."
--Nate Wooley NYC 2020
Quietly coy and beautiful Belgian blooz from legendary coldwave units Smalts and Alain Neffe’s Human Flesh paired on vinyl for first time by Stroom.
Plucked from the shadows of 2006 and 1994, respectively, both songs share a vibe that may well resonate with modern woes. Whether you understand the Dutch lyrics or not, both songs surely deliver their emotive freight thru the slow, genteel music and lowkey captivating vocal styles that call to mind Bill Callahan strumming away with The Durutti Column.
The ponderous vibe of ‘Periodiciteit’ was recorded by Smalts (the later form of Minny Pops) in 2006, and sets Pieter Mulder’s backdrop of soft keys, synths and angelic string strums (sitar/harp?) to a 1966 text by Louis Lehmann in hauntingly melancholy form ideal for soundtracking scenes to the movie of your own life. ‘En De Stad’ by Alain Neffe’s Human Flesh may have been recorded 14 years earlier in 1994, but patently borrows from the same dark oak cabinet of feelings as Smalts’ side, with Trespassers W’s Cor Gout adapting original French text from 1971 into Dutch in a hazy chamber-like arabesque weft from Neffe’s chiming DX7 & SQ1 sampler textures, and spindly-feely guitar by Insane Music fellow Daniel Malempré.
Bunkered UK rap pathos from Bristol-via-London’s Manonmars, drawled syrupy over chopped & screwed clanky-plumbing production by Young Echo’s O$VMV$M
Manonmars’ second album after 2018’s eponymous debut, ‘In Colour’ pulls us more directly into his basement mindset than his uncompromisingly more obtuse introduction. Its 16 tracks land at a more clearly, soulfully raw juncture of modern blues recalling Mica Levi at her most blunted, as much as the quietly penetrative poetry of Wayne Phoenix, or red-eyed observations of Tricky or Carl Crack, but with an unpredictable metric looseness and tension between urgency/loucheness that’s all Manonmars’ own.
The pacing is immaculately smoked out in a grounded sense that’s likely to see him switch from hoods-up reportage, to sit up from the metaphoric sofa in the corner with some profound flow, before slunking back into the shadows of O$VMV$M’s grubbily absorbing backdrops. The voices of Bristol’s Jabu, and new names Birthmark and Axel Holey, also pipe up form the murk on the dusted highlight ‘Hollow’ and cold killer road rap drawl of ‘Armour’, and there’s a beautifully haunting turn by Paulina Korobkiewicz, reciting writings by Polish painter/colour artist Wojciech Fangor on the funereal procession ‘Walk’. Yet, the wavey-jaded and shapeshifting presence of Manonmars is patently the focus and perfectly supported by set design/sound staging that keep us properly locked in his head.
Dead strong stuff.
‘Travelog’ was the third EP released by Mat Steel and Mark Fell as SND, arriving in 1999 just before the release of their influential debut album ‘Makesnd Cassette’ on the Mille Plateaux label.
Of the three EP reissues in the series, ‘Travelog’ contains the most developed and satisfying work from the pair, edging their reduced production palette into more fully-realised dimensions, colouring-in those instantly recognisable bass notes and isolated percussive elements with a slow, sublime trickle of melody. The 6 extra tracks included are indispensable - extending the original EP into an hour of mesmerising, slowly immersive rhythmic pulses that still sound pretty much unlike anything you’ll have heard before - a perfect bridge between House, Techno and UKG re-imagined within a stripped structure that should act as a masterclass for a new school of producers trying to balance-out rhythmic complexity with space.
The opening ‘A1’ encapsulates this asymmetry brilliantly, bare swing and shuffle riding chiming chords that add warmth and space to an already intoxicating blueprint, while A3 takes those same elements and sharpens them into a slow, undulating alignment bolstered by that immaculate mastering treatment from Rashad Becker. ‘B3’ takes things deeper - a slow percussive edit slowly drowned-out by a growling analogue drone, while the closing side joins the dots between this EP series and that trio of albums for Mille Plateaux that would soon establish SND as the most forward-thinking and still resolutely original producers from an otherwise largely-forgotten musical era.
On a first new solo side in five years Chicago post-rock supremo and experimentalist Sam Prekop (The Sea And Cake) yields his sleekest, most entrancing modular kosmiche music in a melodic model shared with everyone from BV Dub to Ulrich Schnauss and Nathan Fake
Best known in the ‘90s for his jazz-leaning post-rock with Sea And Cake, a key part of the Chicago scene with likes of Tortoise and Jim O’Rourke, for the past decade Sam Prekop has been preoccupied with the quirks and quarks of modular synths and kosmiche music, inevitably leading to ‘Comma’, the most lustrous Lufthansa business class refinement of the sound he’s been developing since 2010’s ‘Pavilion’.
Etching arcing lines from original mountain-dwelling communal German rock, to its pastoral shades, and thru Chicago’s spirited junctures of jazz and experimental indie-pop (found nowadays on the amazing International Anthem Recording Company), and thru to bubbling Acidic house and heart-cupping choral ambient gems, Prekop’s timelessly natural feel for melody brings the soul out of his modular machines in a manner that allows for all the odd, buzzing artefacts and electrical hum that comes with it (is it?), generating thee cutest ambient-pop in ‘September Remember’, while his indie-pop clinamen really comes to the disco on ‘Wax Wing’ and ‘Park Line’, and you’ll find melancholy IDM levels worth of Ulrich Schnauss on ‘The New Last’.
A lovely bunch; timeless in simplicity, execution and effect.
Extended 70 minute reissue of the very first SND release dating back to 1998 - the original 5 tracks have been doubled in number with original, previously unreleased recordings from the same sessions, all fully remastered from DAT tapes by Rashad Becker at D&M. The original pressing has been unavailable since its original release over 20 years ago - containing super influential and forward minimalism bridging between the reductionism of Ikeda and the swing of early UKG
Mark Fell and Mat Steel formed SND in Sheffield in 1998. Tplay was their first self-released EP, produced in a limited run and housed in a sleeve adorned with nothing but a stamped phone number on the back. Their palette and minimalist aesthetic more or less fell inline with the emergent school of producers that would eventually find themselves as labelmates on the Mille Plateaux label and the monolithic Raster Noton (Ikeda, Pan Sonic, Alva Noto, Bretschneider) - but as opposed to the intricacies and overly-academic strictures that would occupy so many of their contemporaries over the following decade, in hindsight it’s easy to identify how SND uniquely managed to re-code the swing & shuffle of UK Garage and Two-Step within a new minimalist paradigm.
Although producers such as G-Man, Sterac, Jeff Mills and Rob Hood had been stripping bare Techno templates since the early 90’s, it wasn’t until later in the decade that dots where joined between movements in Techno and experimental electronic music. This was mostly a serious and contemplative movement - typified by the fetishisation of abstract forms on the one hand, and rigid, Teutonic movement on the other. But with the release of Tplay SND had created a sound that was unlike anything else made at the time. Although they were guided by minimalist principles, their productions were also driven by the momentum of a much more colourful type of urban music.
Simply put - there was no one else bridging gaps between the austere functions of European electronic music and London’s emergent two-step sound. Truth is - if you bought Ryoji Ikeda albums you were unlikely to have thought much of Artful Dodger - and yet SND made music that drew influence and parallels from both. Listening over 15 years later, it’s startling just how fresh and forward these productions sound, now bolstered by over 30 minutes of previously unheard recordings taken from the same sessions. At a time when some corners of club music are arguably more accepting than ever before of strange and challenging production styles, its incredible just how unique and inimitable SND’s sound still is, taking us full circle to current producers like Visionist, Mumdance and Rabit who look to challenge dancefloor conventions by using the same principle of reduction and innovation without neglecting the dance.
A gorgeous, properly influential ambient drift classic resurfaces for a 20 year reissue complete with a new extended piece evoking gauzy nostalgia for late ‘90s/early ‘00s styles.
The glimmering iridescent dub electronics of’Summer’ bobs up from 2000 in the wake of a reissue for the reclusive Scottish artist’s lush debut album ‘Do You Ever Regret Pantomime?’ (2001). There’s a legion of people out there for whom this was really one of the most definitive and influential records of the era, originally surfacing via Vertical Form and creating a sort of bridge between the foundational Chain Reaction template and the wave of atmospheric, Detroit-indebted UK Techno typified by the Likemind label, Stasis, Irdial etc.
Newly remastered to taste, the original stretches out to the horizon with a groove and lilt that feels something like a re-wired take on ‘E2-E4’ overseen by Mark Fell and Terre Thaemlitz. It’s just inarguably lush, uplifting gear.
‘Fragile Root’ is exclusive to this release, and, although we’re not sure if it’s new-new, or old-new; either way it’s a perfect example of Ambient sculpting at its slinky and melancholic best, strongly recalling Plaid’s ‘Anything’ (the best ever Plaid track, right?) as well as the new wave of UK based producers at the time orbiting around labels like DeFocus, Headspace etc. A throwback - but weirdly a strongly comforting one.
Traxx delivers an epic excursion into the world of "proto rhythm" for L.I.E.S.
"Here we have a blueprint 80s style mastermix which touches on tracks that may be considered "proto-house" material from a forgotten time when studio experimentation and creativity with the machines were the norm.
When producers made music for the djs and the two were all intertwined in the process working hand in hand (we can think about Larry Levan's "Night Dubbling" album with Imagination as reference"). This 17 minute trip is Traxx's take on the early sound of New York, some of the records played then and some of the techniques used to "spice up" the records shall we say."