In 1991 Coil released the third of their early classic full-length albums "Love's Secret Domain", casting aside the gloom and funereal beauty of its predecessors in favour of a multi-layered sound, a vibrating psychedelic masterpiece unrivalled in their discography and still a landmark album.
"To mark its 30 year anniversary Infinite Fog are beyond proud to present an expanded, fully remastered re-release of this fan favourite available for the first time ever in its entirety on vinyl with 10 rare and mostly unreleased tracks and alternative versions from the period added as a bonus to a luxurious 3LP/2CD set.
Love's Secret Domain contains among its many highlights the Lynchian William Blake tribute of its title track and the intoxicating single "Windowpane", original versions of the later Coil live staple "Teenage Lightning" and the majestically warped classicisms of "Chaostrophy". Marc Almond guests on the typhonian "Titan Arch" and This Heat's Charles Hayward provides some amazing drum stylings. This album is Coil pushing their sound ideas and probably their sanity to their very limits. Beyond the iconic Steven Stapleton cover art here reproduced in unseen definition the doors of perception still open wide for both long-term Coil aficionados and new-comers to this supremely innovative release to explore unknown depths. The long-overdue re-release illustrates how far ahead of the curve Coil were with the sounds on this album, which still sounds as fresh and mind-blowing as it did back in the early 90s."
The fleet fingers of harpist Rhodri Davies pick out connections between Gaelic, West African and Far Eastern traditions - to our untrained ears at least - on the 3rd album via his Amgen label
Making up 1 part of 4 to his ‘Pedlar’ boxset, ‘An Air Swept Clean of All Distance’ was recorded in 2014 at Blank Studios, Newcastle, and exec produced by folk chief Richard Dawson, and adorned by a continuing series of artwork by Anna Peaker. It skips back along the timeline to what sounds like happy times, where Davies’ playing fizzes with typically inventive, optimistic, and timeless beauty, which, if you shut your eyes and try a little, could almost hail from any point in the past half millennia - although we do wonder if they really shredded like this back in thee day.
He’s really going for it on this one, so understandably the tracks are mostly succinct, as who the chuff could keep up this sort of energy for any longer?! They come on In flurried waves with ‘soaked ruins of a raft’ and culminate in him expending his energies on the longest, final piece with the hyper jabs of ‘on the outer reach of the unending’, with numbers such as ‘In Distortion-Free Mirrors’ attacking like Rian Treanor doing Korean classical music at hi-speed, and the breathless, mellifluous flex of ‘continues, placement’ recalling Kadodi styles we’ve heard on Nyege Nyege Tapes. But of course he makes room for slower, serene moments, diffracting the pace thru more spacious and lilting parts like ‘Each clear and sudden drop itself’ and the anticipatory pauses of ‘fingers pluck played on by’ that temper the album’s gushing sequence.
Leading Australian contemporary music composer A. Pateras yields a stunning, phantasmic spectralist work for tape and live players, recorded in 2019 at the 17th Sacrum Profanum Festival in Krakow, Poland
‘Pseudacusis’ is the follow-up to Pateras’ work on Sunn 0)))’s ‘Life Metal’ and Judith Hamann’s ‘Music For Cello and Humming’, and features the latter artist among his Tape Septet recordings, which provide the bed for its live performance iteration, here recorded in Krakow’s impressive new arts space, Ma?opolska Garden of Arts for the festival closely associated with estimable Polish label, Bocian Records.
Reliably helmed by Pateras at his trusted piano, the live septet (Lucio Capece: bass clarinet / soprano saxophone; Krzysztof Guńka: saxophones; Riccardo La Foresta: percussion; Mike Majkowski: double bass; Anthony Pateras: piano; Deborah Walker: cello; Lizzy Welsh: violin) render his strikingly dynamic composition with vigour and precision, found here edited into seven movements.
The results are surreal, febrile, and compelling, sweeping over it’s 50 minute course from frightful string tintinnabulation down concrète wormholes to tracts of glacial stasis and belly-churning dread, with outstanding parts of technically challenging, sustained dissonance and massed, keening orchestration that introduces fractious percussive themes and outlandish electronics. We’ve no doubt it will light up the harder to reach pleasure centres of fans of everyone from Iancu Dumitrescu to Xenakis.
Whew! Radical Welsh harpist runs rings around tradition on a thrilling set of nerve-riding, biting-point performances with processed lap harp for his Amgen label
Another piece of the puzzle to his 4-part ‘Pedlar’ boxset, this one was thrown down in 2011 at Newcastle’s legendary Morden Tower, a C.13th, grade-listed turret on the West Walls of the city’s ancient defences against curious Mackems and Durham scunners, that was also previously and notably site of seminal recordings by The New Blockaders, a.o. In that vein, Davies gets raw to the bone in ‘Wound Response’, using Lap harp fed thru transducer, read by contact microphone, and pushed to seething limits with volume pedal and two amps to make everything bleed in the red with fierce effect.
Accompanied by the quotation - ““And may the freed bear bathe his body amid the flows of the frozen north and not languish in the aquarium of distilled water in the academic garden.” Kazimir Malevich, Suprematist Manifesto (1916) - the album dances on the line between atonal freeness and melody with a wickedly demented alacrity and damaged/destructive results, running ruffshod and wild haired from the excoriating discord of ‘everything at each moment’ thru electrifying high line antics on ‘questions_____of middle distance’ to the caustic shredding of ‘a parallel or mirroring space’ and ‘here the sun does not enter’, with a janky bluesy brilliance in ‘only compromises were arrived at in the end’, spurting tongues of fire on the album’s longest burnout ‘the convergence of how we got here.’
Electric Jalaba comprises six accomplished musicians with an empathy that feels telepathic and a groove that immerses. In Arabic, the mother tongue of Moroccan-born singer and guimbri player Simo Lagnawi, a leading practitioner of Gnawa music in Britain, they call this indefinable quality, “El Hal” – “The feeling”.
“It’s the feeling that comes when we’re playing and totally forgetting where we are,” says producer and bassist Olly Keen. “The feeling of being grabbed by the music and lost in the groove.” ‘El Hal / The Feeling’ is the new third album from Electric Jalaba and their first release in five years. It’s a multi-faceted work that finds the band tighter than ever, deploying a vast cache of influences across nine tracks improvised and developed in their south London studio then deftly produced by Keen. Some tracks pay homage to the origins of Gnawa music, whose repertoire of Arabic-language praise songs contains remnants of West African dialects – Bambara from Mali, Fulani and Hausa from the Sahel region – that point to a centuries-old migration.
“The trance-inducing effect of Gnawa was what hit us first. It was visceral, heart stopping,” continues Olly, whose siblings – producer / keys player Henry Keen, guitarist / multi-instrumentalist Nathaniel Keen and singer / multi-instrumentalist Barnaby Keen – make up Electric Jalaba alongside revered Anglo-Italian kit drummer Dave De Rose and Simo on vocals, krakeb and guimbri. “Simo selected the chant from the traditional song suites and, as a band, we extended these short pieces of ceremonial music and experimented with sound and structure,” explains Olly. Tracks include the Juno-led dancefloor single ‘Cubaili Ba’, ‘Agia Hausa’, a multi-layered wig-out that partly takes its inspiration from Senegal’s fiercely percussive mbalax rhythms and ‘Daimla’, a gloriously dubby ode to Allah and iconic maalems including the late Mahmoud Guinea. “There’s a very strong rhythmic element within the band but because of our different perspectives but the melodic components are really unique as well,” says Henry. That feeling of being outside of yourself but totally within yourself at the same time… That’s what all of us, collectively, are striving for.”
Paul Woolford’s Special Request takes the reins of DJ-Kicks’ latest for a cosmic soulboy trip harmonising myriad stripes of astral jazz, disco, deep house, electro and classic ‘90s jungle
Over the course of 25 tracks in 75 minutes, Woolford illustrates the influences and styles of his Special Request project at its most widescreen and emotive, encompassing the far out coordinates of Sun Ra, the classic AI of Speedy J, and the ravishing jungle of Steve Gurley’s Four Horsemen, alongside a ruck of secret names such as LS1 Housing Project and Intergalactic Quartet that a quid’s bet would stake to Woolford himself.
It’s as much a showcase for SR’s influences as Woolford’s DJ tekkers, coolly scaling from unquantised jazz to grid-twysting breakbeat hardcore with an immaculate, harmonious flow taking in his aforementioned turns as Intergalactic Quartet alongside deep-end digs by Morgan Geist and Virgo Four, thru to his sparkling house nuggets as LS1 Housing Project and compatibles from AceMo and µ-Ziq, to a killer run of new/old jungle spanning Sonar’s Ghost aka Domu’s aggy take on ‘Drowning in Her’, a lush Tim reaper remix of SR’s ‘Pull Up’, and a scalp-tingling beatless collaboration with prodigal loiner 96 Back, named ’Petrichor.’
Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen – guitar/Ellen Brekken – bass/Ivar Loe Bjørnstad – drums.
"Only nine months after her momentous debut solo album Ekhidna, the guitarist is back fronting her trio. With their previous album, Smells Funny, this explosive and expansive trio experienced a breakthrough of sorts, having gone from strength to strength through five albums since their 2011 debut Shoot!, gathering respect from both rock and jazz camps, sharing big stages with the likes of John McLaughlin and Black Sabbath, and being equally comfortable on jazz and rock stages. Hedvig enforced this breakthrough with Ekhidna, appearing on both jazz and rock best of 2020 lists, like coming in third in Prog´s “Album of the Year” poll.
She was included in Downbeat´s “25 for the future” and received heaps of international attention and great reviews.With the hypnotic title track, the spacious ballad Four Candles and generally a more varied mood, Ding Dong. You´re Dead. is the trio´s most dynamic album to date. That said there´s still enough solid and creative riffing here to satisfy the headbangers, as well as the jazzheads, as they further explore the free and open landscapes most notably started with their Black Stabat Mater album and continued with Smells Funny. As Nate Chinen wrote about "Black Stabat Mater" in JazzTimes: Her trio, which has Ellen Brekken on bass and Ivar Loe Bjørnstad on drums, caught my ear then with its audacious style references: the loose swagger of early Black Sabbath; the density and prowl of peak Led Zeppelin; the expeditionary urge of Jimi Hendrix; the incantatory fervor of John McLaughlin.
As recent performances have shown, online and in the flesh, this trio radiates confidence and have become a surefire hit on the Norwegian live scene. And while we rightly praise Hedvig´s exceptional abilities, let´s not forget how important the rhythm section is to make it all work so well. Ellen Brekken is an accomplished bassist, driving the band just as hard on the electric bass as on the acoustic. Then there´s Ivar Loe Bjørnstad, not your regular rock drummer, not your regular jazz drummer, but in possession of the loose swagger mentioned above.Hedvig first picked up her mother´s acoustic guitar at ten, before discovering a whole new world through her father´s jazz and rock record collection as a teenager. She was given her first electric guitar and amplifier as a confirmation present."
RIYL: Alvvays, School of Seven Bells, Tamaryn, Chairlift, Cocteau Twins.
"Keith Kenniff’s solo projects Goldmund and Helios have solid fanbases, and strong support from DSPs including over a million monthly listeners on Spotify. Created slowly over a years-long span that encompassed the recording of 2019’s Stray Fantasies, wife and husband duo Hollie and Keith Kenniff deliver In a Deep and Dreamless Sleep, a distinctly hazier chapter of their technicolor pop venture Mint Julep.
Where the former album bore a crystalline latticework of defined pop structure, the latter blunts the sharpness and softens the glare, striking a balance between songcraft, and Hollie’s solo material, as well as Keith’s output as Goldmund. In a Deep and Dreamless Sleep assumes a more aerated form, exuding a heavy fog of shoegaze sensibility, though the infectious pop know-how of its precursor remains firmly intact. “Our previous material tended to be structured largely in a verse/chorus setting,” Keith explains, “but these songs are more free flowing and through-composed with a focus on mood and texture. He continues “A lot of the songs are more stream-of-consciousness than premeditated; we went with first ideas and let them guide the composition rather than planning a definitive road map-- which hopefully lends itself to creating a specific and unique emotional connection.”
Somewhat counter to its title, In a Deep and Dreamless Sleep is rife with dreamworld inclinations in which waking and sleeping, loving and leaving, living and dying, are all interchangeable. The album is imbued with the soft opiation of oncoming love-- or perhaps that’s the mournfulness of a love in its twilight. Or, further still, that feeling is the spousal duo nurturing their love against the backdrop of their busy lives. “Time is a valued commodity, but we make it a point to do this together.” Says Keith. “Mint Julep is a good bonding experience, it's akin to a date night. Our routine is not structured, but we chip away at it, sometimes in long bursts, sometimes in short windows of opportunity.” In a Deep and Dreamless Sleep is a window into an intoxicatingly romantic parallel world the Kenniffs have constructed out of analog synths, masterful sound design, nectar-drenched hooks, and airy vocals that wade way out into a sea of texture. They have managed to hone years worth of date-nights into a 46 minute collection of phosphoric ambient pop which bears a sense of skillful consistency that belies the album’s casual creation."
The well trodden path of the Silk Road unveils new secrets to David Shea, who turns years of research into a masterfully absorbing trip for his latest opus with Lawrence English’s Room40
Landing square between the third eyes of Michael Ranta’s focussed east/west experiments and the more impressionistic scenes outlined by KWC 92, ‘The Thousand Buddhas’ feels out an epic journey across continents in a searching side intent on creating practical and esoteric connections between the myriad cultures, regions, and belief systems that follow the Silk Road between China and Rome, linking the ancient realities of Africa, Asia, India, Europe, and the Pacific region.
It’s no new obsession for David Shea, whose dozens of releases sine the early ‘90s have returned to these themes, specifically on ‘Hsi-Yu Chi’, ‘The Tower of Mirrors’, ‘Satyricon’, and ‘Rituals’, which were all based on adaptations of myths connected to the world’s ancient trading routes. Decades later, in a time when China is keenly pressing ahead with Silk Road 2.0, Shea’s latest retun to the area is a multi-dimensional thing, plotting a steeply immersive course from fathomless layers of gamelan percussion, field recordings, and keys, that reach some astonishing heights redolent of Alice Coltrane’s spiritual jazz as much as Michael Ranta’s forays deep into Eastern tradition.
A bearhug of chill-out room gouching gear from MFM spanning the golden era of ‘90s ambient dance music with gems from David Moufang, LFO, Global Communication, Kirsty Hawkshaw, Sun Electric and many more notables of that era.
Since the world turned into a big chill out room in early 2020, albeit with a heavy sense of anxiety, this set could hardly be better placed for downtime in the comfort of your own home, rolling out mystic highlights such as LFO’s MDMA-tingle arps and pads in ‘Helen’ and the sublime suspension systems of Global Communication’s remix of ‘Arcadian’, along with Move D’s early nugget ‘Sergio Leone’s Wet Dream’, and the lush pads of his close spar Jonah Sharp’s Spacetime Continuum, plus a strip of killer slow acid in Sideral’s ‘Mare Nostrum’, and the blissed romance of ‘Love 2 Love’ by Sun Electric.
One for the lovers and the ravers.
The music on Cycles comprises thirteen organ pieces by Nico Muhly. Performing the pieces in addition to McVinnie are Nadia Sirota, Chris Thompson and Simon Wall.
"What makes McVinnie such an ideal interpreter of Muhly’s music is that he and Muhly share not just an understanding of the capabilities of the pipe organ as a musical instrument, but also an equally deep understanding of, and even affection for, its limitations. McVinnie speaks eloquently on behalf of his instrument's potential. "The organ is like a grand symphony orchestra controlled by oneperson manning a series of keyboards and pedals, stops and buttons. On the one hand, an organ can imitate orchestral instruments—the ardent string section of an orchestra, a lyrical clarinet, a French horn, timpani—and on the other, it has its own indigenous magisterial voice. Organs are built to speak into specific acoustic spaces.
When you play, it’s as if you’re playing the whole building you’re in, which often can be electrifying. And the organ as an instrument is tied to centuries of liturgical practice, capable of supporting or imitating a church choir with a solemnity few others could hope to summon. McVinnie is quick to point out, however, that the organ is also "the ultimate and original synthesizer"—and it is nothing if not a mechanical, wind-powered synthesizer, with all of the uncanny falseness that that word implies. The symphonic, the acoustic, the sacred, the synthetic: there's a little of each in every one of the pieces on Cycles, and sometimes more than a little."
De-formation: Piano Variations, a work for solo piano. Composed and performed by Gal·s in September 2019, the 21:19 minute piece is based on the expressionist poem Das Fieberspital (The Fever Hospital).
"Written by German poet Georg Heym in 1912, Das Fieberspital's depiction of warehoused patients of yellow fever presaged the treatment and hiding of infected and damaged soldiers later in WWI. De-formation depicts a march and delivery of maimed and infected soldiers to hospitals and industrial warehouses throughout Germany during and after the First World War. In the hospitals the maimed would receive experimental operations and the infected would be confined to protect the mental vitality, enthusiasm, and health of citizens of the State. The Piano Variations were inspired by Gal·s' work on the score for Das Fieberspital. In organizing the work, she realized that the piano skeleton had become its own work, and she decided to record that in advance of the vocal work."
Avant garde sound poet AGF works with eleven Greek residents to investigate “women’s struggle for language” in the context of Greek myth and “patriarchal social relations” with remarkably complex and thought provoking results - we're still gettin our heads round it.
“In her famous quote from Three Guineas (1938), ‘As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world’, Virginia Woolf captured the spirit of alienation that women have felt, or indeed should feel, vis-à-vis the request of belonging. Such alienation could morph into refusal, but this, as feminist historians of culture know, has happened in very few cases. For the most part, women have buried their alienation, forced by multiple mechanisms of persuasion and induced consent, to succumb to belonging. But is this the whole story? Or has the territory of language been a central battleground for women? And how is a contemporary female musician and sound artist invested in feminist politics to approach this unstable condition of the gendered experience of language? This is the case of AGF, or Antye Greie, whose creative endeavour is overall an audacious synthesis of electronic compositions, voice, field recordings, as well as of political explorations and re-enunciations of women-centred aurality.
In this new work, Arachnesound, AGF, together with her collaborators (composers, singers, poets), sought to work with an enduring language, Greek, and treat it as a tentative record of women’s speech but also silence. Effectively, AGF relied on the ambiguity of non-belonging to stitch together a counter-archive of words written, spoken, or - when she herself makes them up - associated with women’s struggle for language. Greek has been a language steeped in patriarchal social relations, nation-building, and wildly generalised, civilisational ‘origins’. The task that AGF set for herself was to compose a music narrative that takes women’s efforts to speak beyond the canonical myths surrounding Greek language as a record. It was a difficult task, requiring much research, much listening, much translation, much acoustic imagining. The outcome, however, is movingly rewarding - and it is so as an encounter of myth and history with the contemporary feminist avant-garde in electronic-music experimentation.”
First ever international reissue of one of the most sought-after albums from the Black Fire catalogue, Lon Moshe & Southern Freedom Arkestra’s life-affirming ‘Love Is Where The Spirit Lies’ from 1977.
“Lon was creating his own path in his music life at this time,” remembers Black Fire’s Plunky Branch. “We had met in San Francisco and he had become an original member of JuJu during the early ‘70s. He then wanted to pursue his own music, primarily in jazz; he was an avant-gardist and loved Tribe, Strata-East and Sun Ra.” For his Love Is Where The Spirit Lies album, Moshe drew from musicians within the Black Fire stable. Oneness Of Juju’s Jackie Eka-Ete sang and helped to write songs and members of Southern Energy Ensemble contributed, including their bandleader Marvin Daniels. “The band name, Southern Freedom Arkestra, was a proud declaration that this music was from the U.S. South,” continues Branch.
“The civil rights movement had been led from there and the most serious racial animosities resided there. Lon had grown up in Southern Illinois, South of Chicago, and said that the racial oppression was as bad there as in the South. He wanted to fight back through his music and through his own actions. He found a way to bring energy and aggressive to the sweet sound of the vibes. He played with a lot of dynamism and speed. The most celebrated piece on this album, ‘Doin’ The Carvin For Thabo’, is a tribute to his mentor, the drummer Michael Carvin (also known by same as ‘Thabo’) who had played for Motown, with Freddie Hubbard and many more.
This first international reissue of the album features new sleeve notes including interviews and commentary by Lon Moshe, Plunky Branch and band members with original illustrated artwork by Mary E. Greer. Audio was remastered from original tapes by The Carvery.”
New Age Steppers were a loose studio collective centred around the musical partnership of Adrian Sherwood and Ari Up from The Slits, operating on and off from 1980 to 2012. This is a 5CD + 32 page book boxset anthology of all their work for the On-U Sound label, compiled for the first time.
"Notable for bringing together musicians from the post-punk and reggae scenes together, their records feature contributions from members of The Pop Group, The Raincoats, Flying Lizards, Roots Radics, Aswad and Creation Rebel.
The set also includes a new LP of outtakes and rarities, Avant Gardening (in the On-U tradition of albums such as Return Of The Crocodile, Displaced Masters and Churchical Chant Of The Iyabinghi).
New Age Steppers launched the On-U label as the first artist to release both a single and album on the label, and it's fitting to have these brilliant records back out in the world as the label celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2021."
Relaxation aids from Picnic, the duo of Ju Ca and mdo, trailing the glistening wake of a lovely 2020 debut on Kansas City’s c- with a milky ambient bath featuring added suds by Huerco S, The Humble Bee, DJ Paradise (uon), and Dntel
On their eponymous sophomore outing picnic reveal a fuller picture of their sound. The eight original pieces are given to sensitively mulched textures and softly glowing pads mottled with new age spirited strings and wafting voices. It’s nothing particularly new or inventive but arguably works it’s way under the skin with pharmaceutic efficacy, at its lushest in the descriptive title and feel of ‘drops in the water (with tics)’, and the gently keening, hypnagogic appeal of ‘basket.’
The remixers however capture a sense of subtlety that draws us in closer, from Craig Tattersall’s typically hushed, drowsily suspenseful take on ‘folds and rips’, which contrasts with the air-stepping, weightless version by Huerco S., to the dusky tone of uon’s DJ Paradise remix of ‘drops in the water’, and the veteran Dntel’s aqueous smudge of ‘dewey.’
‘Rocksteady Got Soul’ is a collection of uplifting rocksteady and soulful reggae from the late 1960s and early 1970s.
"Studio One is the number one label in the history of reggae and the album features - as ever with Studio One - an impeccable and unbeatable line-up of reggae superstars, all soaring at the height of their creative powers. Alton Ellis, John Holt, The Heptones, Jackie Mittoo, The Ethiopians, Lee Perry and more. The album is a mix of classic tunes and rhythms alongside rarities that were released in a dazzlingly complex web of Studio One labels and issues, deftly navigated with new sleeve notes from author and Studio One authority Rob Chapman, plus exclusive photography."
Jimmy Tamborello returns with the first of two albums this year, a dusty suite of sketches inspired by library music, early electronics and discarded acid folk.
Shaping electronic music for two decades, Tamborello has exerted an outsized influence on both pop and the landscape beyond. "The Seas Tree Sees" follows his recent run of more experimental excursions on Leaving Records, whispering from the shadows instead of shouting from the rafters. A humble, pleasingly low-key set of productions, it's intended to sit in contrast to Tamborello's more pop-poised work (like The Postal Service's 2003 smash "Give Up"), phasing through foggy moods and atmospheres rather than bright, bubbly riffs and hooks.
It almost reminds us of early To Rococo Rot, assembled from gently-coaxed samples of Rhodes piano, xylophone, vocoder and synth, and spiced with subtle field recordings and sympathetic static. Tamborello notes that he wanted the album to sound like something you'd find in a thrift store, so when a vocoder-heavy cover version of Kate Wolf's '70s folk song 'The Lilac and the Apple' appears, everything falls into place. A musical comfort blanket.
Unmissable stuff here, collecting Japanese avant pop and ferric beats from the scene's darkest, most thrilling corners.
Compiled by Yosuke Kitazawa and Dublab's Mark “Frosty” McNeill, this latest collection of Japanese obscurities from Light in the Attic sweeps up bizarre loose threads that fall through the cracks between the label's already released collections of city pop and ambient and new age music. Those two compilations spoke to the YouTube-driven resurgence of interest in albums like Hiroshi Yoshimura's "Green" and artists like Happy End's Haruomi Hosono and Shigeru Suzuki, and "Somewhere Between" investigates the fringes, dark crevices and unpicked crates.
Here, the sounds are exceptionally varied, falling from Mammy's twinkling odd-world electronix on 'Mizu No Naka No Himitsu' and D-Day's shimmering, dry ice-laced 'Sweet Sultan', to the gloomy avant synth pop of Neo Museum's unforgettable 'Area' and R.N.A-ORGANISM's gurgling, hiss-soaked 'WEIMAR 22'. The theme that unifies all of the selections is an unshakable sense of exploration and joy from the artists. The era's optimism is palpable, and it's a rare pleasure to hear musicians driven so wholeheartedly by exploration, experimentation, innovative song forms and bold artistic strokes.
Diggers will clearly get a kick from these rarities, but Kitazawa and McNeill have done such a great job with the selection that it's far more than just a curiosity. "Somewhere Between" is an invigorating listen, like a particularly wild and wonderful mixtape handed over by a trusted friend. It's a musical time capsule to get lost in.
Norwegian ambient maestro Geir Jenssen blurs Beethoven into a spectral haze on this disarming suite of eerie vignettes. Fans of Akira Rabelais' unmatched "Eisoptrophobia" need this one.
On Gier Jenssen's 2016 album "Departed Glories", the Norwegian veteran used barely-audible samples of Eatern European and Russian folk music to illustrate a narrative that explored the Medieval history of Poland. These ghostly audio snippets were processed through Akira Rabelais' surrealist DSP software Argeïphontes Lyre and then smudged into echoes of a distant world. On "Angel's Flight", Jenssen takes a similar stylistic route, but uses Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 as the source material, allowing familiar traces of the German composer's favorite late work to peek through frozen drones and haunted pads.
This music, whether you realize it or not, has been repeated thru our collective consciousness again and again since its completion in 1826, so hearing it stretched, filtered and crushed by Jenssen is a fitting way to reabsorb it. "Angel's Flight" sounds like time itself wrestling with musical hierarchies, as themes and tropes dance and heave through aural molasses, inspiring the memory to land on images of movies, ballrooms, music lessons or adverts. It's also strikingly sad and beautiful, and while it relies on elements we've been assured are sad - minor keys, spooky drones, distant strings - Jenssen handles the elements with a restraint that's way too rare.
Somehow, "Angel's Flight" never descends into the realm of forced melancholy - rather it seeps into your pores slowly and affects you gradually, urging you to play it once more. Sadbient? Maybe, but this sounds strangely timeless.
Though it's hard to pick a winner among the estimable Black Jazz catalog, this 1972 release from bassist Henry "The Skipper" Franklin would have to be near the top of the list.
"Franklin got his start woodshedding with Latin maverick Willie Bobo in the mid-'60s and went on to play with The Three Sounds, but probably his most notable gig prior to this debut album was his stint in Hugh Masekela's band (that's Franklin playing bass with Masekela at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival). For The Skipper, Franklin assembled a crack outfit that included a horn section of trumpeter/flugelhornist Oscar Brashear (Bobby Hutcherson, Ry Cooder, Donny Hathaway) and tenor & soprano sax man Charles Owens (Buddy Rich, Horace Tapscott, John Mayall) along with a Masekela bandmate in electric pianist Bill Henderson and ace drummer Michael Carvin (Pharoah Sanders, Lonnie Liston Smith, Freddie Hubbard).
This is such a unique, organic recording that it's hard to make comparisons; definitely a little fusion, a little '60s Blue Note feel, and the usual Black Jazz journey to the more lyrical, pop-inspired ("Little Miss Laurie") and funk-infused ("Plastic Creek Stomp") sides of jazz, but perhaps the best comparison is late-'60s Miles before he went electric. In any case, The Skipper is just a joy to listen to from start to finish, beautifully recorded by Black Jazz producer Gene Russell and blessed with some really fine writing, most of it by Franklin himself. First-time LP reissue and a must-have!"
Outstanding introduction to Amapiano, the hypnotic house sound of Guateng, SA with feet in Kwaito and deep house styles. Proper dancers’ gear, dead compatible the deeper ends of Gqom, and new London sounds on Housupa. Tipped by Tom Booigzm, Black Mecha, and us, at the least.
“The past five years have seen amapiano, South Africa’s electronic music movement born in the townships of the country’s Gauteng province, evolve from an underground sound to a nationwide mainstream staple. Even with its commercial success though, amapiano’s DIY ethos has continued to disrupt music creation and distribution in the country. Most amapiano commercial successes today began their careers on cracked versions of production software like FL Studio, distributed their work through file sharing platforms like datafilehost and marketed it using social media pages they controlled and influenced.
Amapiano is partly a tasting menu of South Africa’s musical history, a lineage that has been as much a backdrop to the times as it has been a catalyst for change in the country. South African jazz has thrived pre and post-democracy, contributing international stalwarts of the genre, notably Miriam Makeba, Abdullah Ibrahim and Hugh Masekela. Kwaito music—which itself borrowed from other genres like marabi, kwela, mbaqanga, maskandi, bubblegum and others—was created and proliferated in the 90s partly because of the newly accessible House music imported into the country. In the early 2000s, Deep and Afro House dominated, to be followed by the rise of diBacardi, a percussion—heavy electronic music genre most popular in the city of Pretoria and its surrounding townships.
Amapiano Selections, the debut album by DJ and producer Teno Afrika, gives listeners outside the movement’s online release economy an insight into the high-burn nature of amapiano that has spawned a distinct typology under its larger umbrella. Nineteen-year-old Lutendo Raduvha has spent the bulk of his life moving between different townships on the outskirts of Johannesburg and Pretoria in the Gauteng province. The palette of amapiano styles on the album reflect these influences.
But at first, South Africa’s youngest electronic music movement lived underground with a small, loyal following. “Amapiano is a genre that I chose because I have a passion for it,” says Teno “I started following amapiano in 2016 because I wanted to explore how it’s produced. It was not taken seriously in our country. By: Setumo-Thebe Mohlomi”
Virtuoso, smoky jazz from young Norwegian firebrand Kjetil Mulelid. We know you're probably bored with solo piano albums at this point, but this is a cut above: more Keith Jarrett than you know who.
Rune Grammofon has been begging Mulelid to record a solo piano album for years now. He was hesitant at first, not just because there's a glut of mediocre to terrible piano records clogging digital dustbins everywhere, but because in jazz, the solo piano record has a lot of competition. It's notoriously challenging, but last year in lockdown, Mulelid found himself with time on his hands and isolation to maintain. In many ways, masterminding a truly next-level solo piano record is the perfect COVID pastime.
'Piano' is deceptively simple in its presentation, but even a cursory listen will reveal a startling talent. Mulelid performed the album at Athletic Sound studio on their unique 1919 Bösendorfer grand, and this lends the album a haunting texture. In Mulelid's hands, it sings with sadness, joy and cultural resonance, not speaking directly to our period of isolation and collapse, but speaking around it. Fans of Gonzalez's enduring classic "Solo Piano" will no doubt get a kick out of these sultry, swinging selections.
Strut continue their in-depth archive reissues from the Black Fire label with a definitive edition of JuJu’s ‘Live At 131 Prince Street’, recorded in 1973 at Ornette Coleman’s gallery in New York and featuring a previously unheard recording of the Pharoah Sanders composition "Thembi".
"After forming in San Francisco while working on the Marvin X theatre piece ‘The Resurrection of the Dead’, JuJu began to hone their uncompromising fusion of Afro-Latin rhythms with free and spiritual jazz before signing to Strata-East for the ‘A Message From Mozambique’ album in 1972. “We moved to New York and became part of the avant-garde community on the Lower East Side and Greenwich Village,” remembers bandleader Plunky Branch. Following a high profile live show at the Lincoln Center, Ornette Coleman invited JuJu to his gallery and loft at 131 Prince Street to perform there and to stay on while he left on tour. “That was life-changing for us,” continues Plunky.“It was fabulous.
The recordings you hear on this album are in close proximity to each other, maybe across one day or a weekend at the gallery. “Alongside tracks written by the JuJu band members, like the 5/4 tempo ‘At Least We Have A Horizon Now’, they play choice covers from their peers. Plunky explains, “‘Thembi’ is a Pharoah Sanders piece which he wrote for his wife in 1971 and it’s one of my favourite pieces by him. ‘Azucar Pa Ti’ was written by Eddie Palmieri; we loved him too and enjoyed Latin music in general. Here we play ‘Mozambique’, based on an Afro-Cuban rhythm and we regularly played that for 10 minutes before morphing into ‘Azucar’. ‘Out Of This World’, written by Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen, was inspired by John Coltrane who recorded a version of it on his ‘Coltrane’ album in ’62.”
Yes, Sports fans; YOUTH rally the troops for a sprawling 2nd compilation of roving downbeat styles, featuring Peder Mannerfelt, Iueke, and RVDS, alongside label fam like FUMU, Herron and Sockethead, plus enigmatic new names inc. Warlock, Jessicunt, Joe Cotch and many more.
In the three years since the first Youth compilation, Andrew Lyster’s label has grown in stature and scale to encompass myriad integers between the club, the bedroom, and headphones. Their releases from Sockethead, Dijit, Seltene Erden, Blazer Soundsystem, and the mysterious Remer Cier, among others - many of whom appear here - have set the label’s coordinates in bold, new terrain which they explore further with this sterling sophomore suite illuminating shared, rhizomic links that span continents, styles, and intentions.
The vibe is modulated between the artists’ respective flavours, and with 20 tracks the label’s curatorial skills come into play, ably demonstrating a discerning flow between their poles and shadows that surpass the sum of the compilation's parts. Between the threshold of Lluke's hyperprism and the noise slurry of 1012’s closer, ‘Reprise’ the artists practically terraform a mutant microcosm unto itself, offering enchanted and murky slants on dembow modernism, ambient zeitgeists, and bedroom-bound songwriting in the age of Covid.
FUMU provides highlights thru heady location recordings on ‘Aphex Hall’ and what sounds like mechanically performed water drumming in ‘Loco Motive’, while his Return To Zero crewmate Sockethead serves likeminded ambient blatz and the crooked soul of ‘I’m Here’, with Herron teasing out the music box malady of ‘Pearl’, and RVDS duets with David Attenborough and a Lyre bird. However, for new kicks, check for Joe Cotch’s killer dembow cyberpunk mission, and a murky proto-grime ace by Warlock (not that one!), the paranoid thoughts of Jessicunt, and a class cut of Farsi drill by Leo & Tardast.
Field recordings, delicate drones, noise and sublime ambience for fans of vintage Brian Eno, K. Leimer or Loscil.
Interest in US ambient pioneer Marc Barreca's productions spiked again a few years ago when the Freedom To Spend imprint reissued his loopy and playful 1983 epic "Music Works For Industry". But Barreca isn't just an ambient fetishists dream, he's still releasing new music and "The Empty Bridge" proves he's still exploring haunted, atmospheric soundscapes with just as much vigor as he ever was.
Assembled during lockdown in a remote mountain cottage, the album vaporizes subtle field recordings into languid pools of synth, spine-chilling drones and sampled instrumentation. Sometimes it sounds almost orchestral, reminiscent of Steve Reich or Terry Riley, and sometimes is more in line with the subterranean gems that pock Erik Skodvin's Miasmah label or Manchester's sferic imprint. These ambient-industrial landscapes are a fine reflection of a new isolated reality, and act as a tight commentary on ambient music's four decades of evolution.
Rebellious, charged spiritual jazz that holds a mirror up to Berlin, reflecting the city's unreasonable treatment of Black people. Cathartic, uplifting and simmering with rage.
In November 2019, Angel Bat Dawid and her band Tha Brothahood traveled from Chicago to Berlin for JazzFest. Tragically, vocalist and instrumentalist Viktor Le Givens had passed out on the street and been robbed, ending up in hospital. When Angel reached Berlin with the rest of the band, she was passed the message that unless they could find a replacement, their fee would be reduced. This set the tone for the rest of the trip, where the group of Black musicians were greeted with constant stares, repeated microaggressions and suspicion from the German city's majority white inhabitants.
But they persevered, and the band's performance was considered by Angel to be among their best ever, charged with attitude and struck through with rage-in-process. This recording documents the entire thing, opening with a racist incident at Berlin's Duke Ellington Hotel (seriously) before tracking through a lifted selection of spiritual jazz experimentation from a troupe of Chicago's finest players. Human and electric, the set reflects the power of Angel's composition and conducting and stands as a crucial document of a historic moment for the band.
Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) gets the best out of his longtime pal, Madlib in an ideal showcase of the master beat breaker’s untouchable, sampledelic style
Tailored for proper end-to-end immersion by Hebden, who’s responsible for the edits, arrangement, and mastering, ‘Sound Ancestors’ weighs in as one of ‘lib’s most distinctive albums, proper, flexing his inimitable style with extra focussed production that really brings his instrumentals to life in an LP context. That’s not to say his previous albums aren’t eminently listenable, but avowed Madlib stan Hebden has really done the hip hop icon proud, drawing from 100s of cuts sent him over the past few years, to render a lushly soulful collection contoured between bumping downstrokes and killlller cuts of syncopated, Afro-Latin suss.
Shy of any voices beyond the samples, the 16 tracks adds up to one of Madlib’s best sets since ‘The Beat Konducta’ series ended a decade ago, reprising that series’ colourful sampledelic tekkers at its best, while flowing with a livewire, jazz-wise quality that’s hard not to get snagged in. Fair to say Hebden’s touch can be felt in the swirling sound design of the album opener, but its a subtler presence as the album unfolds with Madlib’s patented swagger between instant anthem ‘The Call’, and a haul of crooked, club-ready gear such as the almost West London broken beat styles in ‘Loose Goose’, the flighty Afro-fusion of tht title tune and the rare groove move ‘One For Quartabê / Right Now’.
Okay! Grotty sleaze-dub, cavernous post punk, wyrdo industrial ambient and anxious keta-tekno on this gem of a soundtrack from 2001's underground porn classic "Bonking Berlin Bastards".
This is an absolute find, a scruffy collection of DIY electronix that soundtracked Ebo Hill's "Bonking Berlin Bastards", the hypersexual Berlin porn classic that captured the city's hedonistic, queer turn of the Millennium atmosphere. The music comes from improv techno three-piece AeoX and noise/industrial producer Rouage, who also shows up as CNM, and skates through the back rooms, free parties and squats of Berlin with a vivid cut-n-paste post punk aesthetic.
It's fantastically innovative music that captures the sound of Berghain's forerunner OstGut, that was apparently a primary meeting point for the movie's crew, so it makes perfect sense that Ostgut Ton is the label handling the release. It's hard to accurately describe the music except to say that it's somewhere between Vinyl On Demand's collections of scruffy proto-techno and industrial experimentation and the tape-scuffed noizz of Hospital Productions or Wolf Eyes' American Tapes imprint.
There's a raw, queer sexuality here that's missing from so much angry noise music; it's less angry boys than horny, disaffected ones. It feels celebratory somehow, with each squeal, thumping kick or harsh sheet of fuzz expressing the joy of public sex and messy chemical nights long before the tech companies and Australian coffee shops had moved into Kreuzberg. "Bonking Berlin Bastards" is a historical document of an influential era that's unlikely to be repeated, but stands as the backbone of contemporary Berlin's most endearing facets.
Mesmerising solo debut of works for mallet percussion from Brooklyn’s Patricia Brennan, crossing our paths for first time and recalling very classy works from CC Hennix to Miles Davis, Terry Plumeri and Michael Ranta
You can colour us enchanted with ‘Maquishti’, which introduces the Mexican born, NYC-based vibraphonist, marimbist, improvisor and composer Brennan with a deliciously low-key, furtive hush that’s totally snagged our attentions. Stepping forth from her previous experience, performing with everyone from Meredith Monk to Mary Halvorsen and Marcus Gilmore, here she employs a fine range of melodious thunks in lissom, playfully inquisitive style that’s both trance-inducing and edged with a fluidly sublime, but unresolved tension in her unfurling lines of extended melodic thought.
Brennan is patently adept at articulating her own sonic language, which makes it kinda surprising that this is only her first solo record, but we can only hope it’s the first of many, as she appears keen to experiment with the limits of her technique with a golden sense of patience and discipline that really shows on ‘Maquishti’, from her extra subtle use of pitch-bending and bowing, to her ability to lure us into the most curious harmonic spaces, without ever feeling hurried or demanding.
A real pleasure, this.
‘Flock’ is the record that Jane Weaver always wanted to make, the most genuine version of herself, complete with unpretentious Day-Glo pop sensibilities, wit, kindness, humour and glamour. RIYL: Bradcast
"A consciously positive vision for negative times, a brooding and ethereal creation. The album features an untested new fusion of seemingly unrelated compounds fused into an eco-friendly hum; pop music for post-new-normal times. Created from elements that should never date, its pop music reinvented. Still prevalent are the cosmic sounds, but ‘Flock’ is a natural rebellion to the recent releases which sees her decidedly move away from conceptual roots in favour of writing pop music. Produced on a complicated diet of bygone Lebanese torch songs, 1980's Russian Aerobics records and Australian Punk. Amongst this broadcast of glistening sounds is ‘The Revolution Of Super Visions’, an untelevised Mothership connection, with Prince floating by as he plays scratchy guitar; it also features a funky whack-a-mole bass line and synth worms.
It underlines the discordant pop vibe that permeates ‘Flock’ and concludes on ‘Solarised’, a super-catchy, totally infectious apocalypse, a radio-friendly groove for last dance lovers clinging together in an effort to save themselves before the end of the night. The musician’s exposure to an abundance of lost records served as a reminder that you still feel like an outsider in this world and that by overcoming fears you can achieve artistic freedom. Jane Weaver continues to metamorphise… “A mind-expanding delight, devoid of retro posturing.”
“It’s about hopelessness and darkness,” says Aidan Moffat. “But in a fun way.” The Arab Strap frontman is speaking about the band’s seventh studio album and their first since 2005’s ‘The Last Romance’.
"The new album will appeal to longtime fans and pick up new ones who weren’t ready for Arab Strap first time ‘round.:
Cedars combines cosmic Americana with Western ambient and Middle Eastern influences.
"Delicate layers of pedal steel, banjo, oud, and hurdy-gurdy ?oat atop looping guitar drones to create a soothing, atmospheric chamber where folk and electronic music coalesce. Set to Arabic and English poetry, the song cycle examines some of Earth’s most iconic and ancient forests, revealing our complicated relationship with the natural world. For this special dual-language release, Field Works producer Stuart Hyatt has assembled a supergroup of musicians, poets, and artists.
The album is narrated by Youmna Saba and H.C. McEntire. Instrumentalists include Marisa Anderson, Fadi Tabbal, Dena El Saffar, Danny Paul Grody, Bob Hoffnar, Tomás Lozano, Nathan Bowles, Alex Roldan, Youmna Saba, and Stuart Hyatt. Renowned illustrator María Medem brings poems by Todd Fleming Davis and Youmna Saba to life in the accompanying full-color Risograph comic book; and longtime Field Works collaborators PRINTtEXT design the packaging."
Visionist dives into a chasm of deep introspection with this suite of smudged ambient textures and ghostly vocals.
Louis Carnell's third album as Visionist, "A Call To Arms" swerves the synthetic deconstructions of his debut "Safe" and the noisy, post-industrial grind of 2017's follow-up "Value". Here, Carnell channels light and dark elements, pairing slithering rumbles with operatic highs and enlisting a cadre of collaborators. He even explores the possibilities of his own voice for the first time, singing vulnerable phrases over torched doomscapes.
Opener 'By Design' has Childhood's Ben Romans Hopcraft on vocal duties, crooning in circling waves around wobbly sub bass and spooky waves of static. It's something like Arca's decadent 'Madre', Scott Walker's "Drift" and Antony and the Johnsons, but more introverted. As the album progresses, Carnell carefully reveals his own shy tones, draping his words uncomfortably around shivering foley percussion and grimbient drones.
Most successful is the album's extended eight-minute centerpiece 'Nearly God', which doesn't feature Tricky but does focus around a wonderfully brittle overdriven beat that eventually gives way to tape-munged church bells and looped vocal washes. Elsewhere, Carnell gets assists from Black Midi's Morgan Simpson, Circuit Des Yeux’s Haley Fohr and Ben Vince. It's a bold statement that fades his early Visionist material into the fog of history.
This is a gift: over four hours of revolutionary solo recordings from one of the US industrial/noise scene's earliest and most under-sung underground operators. Essential, completely proto shit, ranging from glacial, thrumming cosmic ambience thru fuzzy kraut-esque meditation and grungy tape noise to dusty rhythm-fuck'd experimentz and ghostly electro-punk, to harry partch/moondog-esque clattering percussion to tape worn solo piano drift oddities and smudged dub-pop vignettes. The square root of so much foundational DIY music, right here.
Don't worry if you haven't come across Robert Turman's music before, this epic set, originally released as an eight-cassette box in 1988 and now re-packaged on CD by Aaron DIlloway’s Hanson Records, gives you all the introduction to the US noise innovator you need. Turman was initially spotted as one half of legendary noise act NON alongside Boyd Rice, but quickly redirected his efforts into more personal, singular solo werk. "Chapter Eleven" rakes together some of the Ohio-based artist's earliest material, compiling 45 tracks made between 1976 and 1987. And jeez it's a revelation: out-zone sounds that are truly jawdropping not just for their stylistic scope, but for their originality. Really, who else was doing tape-degraded xylophone and kalimba loops AND crumbling rhythmic tape noise while Jimmy Carter was in the Whitehouse?
Listening to the album from beginning to end gives you a real sense of Turman's musical curiosity and dedication to his craft. It's the gnostic missing page that contextualizes the US noise/experimental scene's flirtation with industrial grot, dreamy guitar jams, futzed psychedelia, extreme noise, deep listening and hypnogogic tape loops. Turman has it all, and "Chapter Eleven" is an ideal primer to his sound, working like a diary or self portrait, revealing a personal journey marinated in emotion, texture and wonder, sitting a few paces outside the musical establishment's buttoned-up critical perception.
Dilloway has done the world a solid here, teaming with Helicopter Records to offer up a remastered edition of the entire long out-of-print set. And while Turman's music has experienced a resurgence of interest in the last few years following reissues on Spectrum Spools and Dais and collaborations with Dilloway, "Chapter Eleven" is the real key to understanding his role in the US experimental music landscape. Highest possible recommendation.
Multidimensional duo Divide and Dissolve release their new album, produced by Ruban Neilson of Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
"Divide and Dissolve members Takiaya Reed (saxophone, guitar, live effects) and Sylvie Nehill (drums, live effects) create instrumental music that is both heavy and beautiful, classically influenced yet thrillingly contemporary and powerfully mexpressive and communicative. Their music has the ability to speak without words and utilises frequencies to interact with the naturally occurring resonance.
‘We Are Really Worried About You’ presents a formidable saxophone sound giving way to a surge of crushing percussion and heavy guitar riffs. ‘Denial’ is a potent blend of Takiaya’s ominous and unsettling sax that blows wide open into riff city for almost eight glorious minutes. Both tracks encapsulate the message behind the music: to undermine and destroy the indigenous sovereignty, black and indigenous liberation, water, earth and indigenous land given back."
'Operation: Doomsday' has floated in and out of print since its original 1999 pressing on famed New York label Fondle 'Em, attaining mythical status amongst underground fans as one of the landmark releases of the decade, showcasing MF Doom's abstract wordplay, pointed wit, subtly subversive lyrics and alcohol drenched stream-of-consciousness flows over adventurous sample-based production.
The album's impact steadily grew to alter the landscape of hip hop as it was then known, and its periodic cycles of unavailabilty seem only to have enhanced its mythical status. This Deluxe Edition version is the same remastered and expanded double-disc set that was in the limited edition tin box reissue, but in a superior quality digipack sleeve with brand new cover art.
The audio content is identical; the same 42 tracks including 23 alternate versions, b-sides, instrumentals and acapellas. Still as bold, creative and villainous as it was 15 years ago, only now it's louder and longer.
Minimal, throbbing Kraut-inspired dubscapes from To Rococo Rot's Stefan Schneider and his long MIA Mapstation project.
Stefan Schneider is nothing if not reliable. His latest Mapstation full-length finds him ditching the studio drip in favor of a stripped-down setup: a TR-808 drum machine, Novation Peak synth, a guitar and a tape loop device. The result is his most immediate collection of tracks for years, a set that gets to the bare bones of his sound with uncomplicated ease. "My Frequencies, Where We" is hinged on a Cluster-influenced sense of rhythm, but one that's obscured by glitches, crackle and alien synthetic atmospheres. At this stage in his career, Schneider's primary point of reference is his own long career, so there are elements of To Rococo Rot or Kreidler that spring to mind as he cooks out eerie dub flavors from stark, disparate ingredients.
Schneider's real skill is his seemingly-effortless ability to evoke a sonic world that's immediately identifiable as his own: the magical, anxious buzz of 'To a Single Listener', the tape-distorted electo-psych ambience of 'My Mother Sailor' or the refined-yet-childlike early electronic squelch of 'Actual Possible'. It's a utopian, fairytale world we rather relish getting lost in.
Weightless ambient projections from the prolific don of this style Will Long aka Celer
“‘Being Below’ is a collaborative release between Past Inside the Present (US) and Two Acorns (JP). This is a mini-album of short songs created with digital and analogue instruments. Written with a structure that reflects shifting states, overlooking the past and future as a split pathway with the present endlessly fluctuating between. The pangs of rumination. An exercise in loop-less writing.
"Staring out, tense. Looking down isn’t so different than looking up, but it passes by faster. Contentment at the accomplishment that I'm here, and the fear that what I’ve always been looking for has passed by. Staring up and looking at the sky, wishing you were up here with me, here where you can see everything. Above, the surface drifts by, and the colors on the horizon in pale blues makes me calm. Then blue. Deep in pale blue.
Again, in the morning. Close your eyes. Repeating this, repeating that, then it changes. Try to stay focused, but you've already moved out of sight. You're a million miles away, and farther. Waiting for night. Stars, always beyond. Now, it's already tomorrow." -Celer”
Transports' is the incredible 2nd album by audodidact and outsider musician/composer Tazartès. Originally released on vinyl in 1980, it has now been reissued with extra material on CD in 1998 and 2009, and "Probably represents the most original example of the artist's poetical and personal approach to sound organisation."
The tracks for 'Transports' were recorded in 1977 at Ghedalia's own studio in Paris, strafing stream-of-conscious between rippling electro rhythms to outernational singing styles, collaged field recordings and musique concrete, to chants, tape loops and exotic atmospheres with a perpetual sense of drift and magical imagination. We're spellbound from the first to last, through the deeply evocative peal of church bells and swirling synthetic textures in track 2, via humid sci-fi scenes and alien avian chatter on track 5 and the lost zones of the closing stages. Also included are the two parts of 'Transports' which were composed and recorded for a theatre piece later in 1997 and produced by Emanuele Carcano.
These are denser, more spacious and dramatic, but not necessarily that great. The disc concludes with 'Elie', a charming piano piece performed in duo with the composer's young daughter. For the original 'Transports' at least, this is nigh on essential for fans of adventurous electronic music and composition.
Following their ongoing exposé of Chicago Footwork, Planet Mu turn their keen ears to the 'floor and the sound of Bubbling; the hyper-futuristic Dutch dance craze perpetuated by the 2nd and 3rd generation descendants of Caribbean immigrants.
We'll let the ever-knowledgeable Dave Quam explain the origins "At a party in the late 80s in The Hague, a local DJ by the name of DJ Moortje accidentally dropped a dancehall twelve-inch at 45RPMs, causing chaos in the audience. Not the kind of negative heckling you get when a record skipped, but the kind of excitement that happens when a movement has been started. This beautiful mistake resulted in Bubbling, a cultural expression of immigrants from The Dutch Antilles and Suriname, a genre that would take these communities by storm in Holland in the 1990s. Jamaican exports such as the Fever Pitch and Bam Bam riddims were double and half-timed, with Cutty Ranks on one hand sounding like a pre-pubescent chipmunk, the other hand sounding like an evil duppy. Its sound borrowed slave rhythms from Curacao (DJ Moortje's origin), creating a new Caribbean style of music in Europe that ran parallel to London's Jungle scene."
Fast forward a generation, and now armed with pirate copies of Fruity Loops and basic PCs, kids like 18 year old Anti-G, Shaun-D, Master-D, Daycard, and Deschuurman are fusing the traditional Dembow rhythms of reggaeton with traces of HipHop, Funky House, Grime, and whatever else they feel like, resulting in some of the most exhilarating dance trax we've heard since 'Jukes & Bangs Vol.1'. 'Kentje'sz Beatsz' covers a spectrum of Anti-G's productions between 2009 and 2010.
Over these sixteen tracks his synths sound like Sooty & Sweep on battery acid, while the beats are arranged with an effortless Rubiks cube complexity. Most importantly of all, it makes you want to dance like a f**king Transformer rendered by Alex Rutterford and Hecker. That might not sound so appealling to some, but check the kids popping and locking to this stuff on youtube and you'll soon catch the bug. No doubt, this is already one of our records of the year, and manages to make 90% of stuff out there seem stiff and 5 years behind the times. Highly Highly recommended!!!
Carsten Nicolai concludes Alva Noto’s UNI-prefixed release cycle with UNIEQAV, the 3rd and most dancefloor-focussed instalment of the series. The follow-up to Unitxt  and Univrs  pairs pendulous minimal techno and electro rhythms with wide, sheer electronic drones in a way that strongly recalls recent Monolake output as well as Ilpo Väisänen in full swang. Comparisons aside, though, it’s unmistakably Alva Noto.
Pursuing the project’s roots in the dancefloor of Tokyo’s UNIT club to a satisfyingly logical endpoint, Nicolai rolls out 12 typically mercurial yet gripping sound designs defined by their fluid dynamics and seemingly fathomless dimensions intended to render the club or your head underwater, thanks to a still remarkable grasp of purified tonal minimalism/maximalism and studied sensitivity to proprioception.
The results are filigree yet robust, firmed up for deployment on the sickest sound system you can lay your hands on, but also highly pleasurable in a headphone or sofa-inclined context, keeping us rapt and twitching from the dubwise plong and looming pads of Uni Sub and the Robert Henke-esque pressure systems of Uni Mia.
The nervous skeleton of Uni Version flows into singular Alva Noto sounds in the jabbing pointillism of Uni Clip and the staggering scale of Uni Normal, with major highlights in the widescreen drama of Uni Blue, and footwork-like rapid movement join Uni Edit, while Anne-James Chaton’s vocal lend a sharp contrast in Uni Dna.
Limited 5-track EP of new music from Jesu, to accompany new album "Terminus".
"In contrast to Justin K.Broadrick's music under the Godflesh moniker, Jesu blurs the lines between electronic music and shoegaze. "...it's very loosely speaking pop/rock/metal/electronica ... I'm intentionally writing what I consider to be coherent 'pop' songs"."
A new collection of current DIY post-punk shaped by the mutant sounds of no wave, punk funk and New York Noise bands from the late 70s and early 80s that collided with the world of underground dance music found at the Paradise Garage, Mudd Club in New York City (ESG, Arthur Russell, Bush Tetras, Talking Heads, Suicide, Liquid Liquid).
"Other influences cited here include Manchester and Sheffield’s industrial post-punk sounds of the 1980s (Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire, Gang of Four) as well as the 1970s German electronic experimentalism of Cluster, Neu!, Harmonia and Can. Featured artists from around the globe include Los Angeles DIY band Automatic, New Fries from Toronto, artist/music collaborators Toresch from Germany, Susumu Makai from Japan/UK, Vex Ruffin from the Philippines/California and Madmadmad, Gramme, Tom of England and other UK groups. That all the bands featured here manage to make distinctive contemporary music out of these 80s roots is testament to the wide range of other musics that are seamlessly absorbed into a modern melting pot of sound - hip hop, the electronic European avant-garde, rave culture and more."
Norwegian duo Smerz release ‘Believer’, the debut album that pushes Smerz far beyond their previous EP releases, 2017’s ‘Okey’ and 2018’s ‘Have Fun’.
"Since releasing the ‘Believer’ trailer back in October 2020, followed by a video for the tracks ‘I don’t talk about that much/Hva hvis’, the duo of Catharina Stoltenberg and Henriette Motzfeldt have slowly revealed a new auditory world. The duo meld sonic touchstones from their youth, like musicals and classical music, with swirling, tranceindebted synth lines and hip-hop plus R&B vocals that is distinctly Smerz. The duo performed recently at Oslo’s Ultima festival; in early 2020 they scored a performance by Carte Blanche, the Norwegian national company of contemporary dance, as well as performed at Mira festival in collaboration with legendary visual maverick Weirdcore."
Three Queens in Mourning first gathered in summit to sing celebration of the publication of Will Oldham’s book of collected lyrics, Songs of Love and Horror.
"Alasdair Roberts (Appendix Out), Jill O' Sullivan (Jill Lorean), and Alex Neilson (Trembling Bells, Alex Rex) each arrived provisioned with a small armful of selections nearest and dearest from Bonnie Prince Oldham’s far-reaching catalogue. Three Queens in Mourning’s takes on these tunes follow naturally from the fit between Will’s words and their threedistinctive voices. Alasdair Roberts’ sweet, guileless delivery of “Christmas Time in the Mountains” amplifiesthe lacerating quality of the lyric “we need an enemy / I’m saving all my rage for you”; even if at the outset of the song we’re told that “time is the enemy,” the abiding sentiment—the red-hot word that organizes my memory of the song—is rage.
Ali’s and Jill’s trading of verses on “New Partner” puts a different spin on what had previously registered as an especially mercurial first-person narrative voice, one that swoops between tenderness (“lay back, rest your head on my thighs”) and ecstatic self-absorption (breaking it to the ex to whom the song is addressed that “I’ve got a new partner riding with me”). Add Alex’s voice, not only for his madcap “Lost Blues,” but as part of the choir on “Ohio River Boat Song” (a song with origins in the traditional “Loch Tay Boat Song”), and these three Scottish accents singing about the muddy Ohio, Smoketown, Oldham County, and Floyds Knobs, I mean, there’s not much else this Kentuckian—these are all deeply familiar landmarks—can say.
Type through tears. On this back to back records, The Bonnie 'Prince' Billy LP is a collection of three cover versions from Ali, Jill and Alex directory and one original track. Three Queens in Mourning / Bonnie 'Prince' Billy is a collaboration between Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy), Alasdair Roberts (Appendix out / Drag City), Jill O Sullivan (Jill Lorean) and Alex Neilson (Trembling Bells, Alex Rex) Sleeve notes by David Grubbs."
Cool, off-kilter, improvised jazz-fusion from Norway’s foremost proponents; Mats Gustafsson, Andreas Werlin, and Johan Berthing a.k.a Fire!
“Not the most optimistic title for pressing times, but the music sees Fire! tracking new paths and reaching new levels of excellence, still honoring their 12 year old vow of presenting a fresh approach to improvised music. Their debut album, You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago, was released in 2009 to wide international acclaim. “The basic strategy of pairing the expressive energy of free jazz with a sturdy sense of groove has yielded something potent and self-contained” (New York Times). Between this and Defeat there´s been five albums, including collaborations with Jim O´Rourke (Unreleased?, 2011) and Oren Ambarchi (In The Mouth A Hand, 2012).
No two Fire! records sound the same, but with Defeat they have taken their biggest leap so far, with Gustafsson giving the flute a prominent place in the sound image, a surprising and most successful move, his both expressive and ornamental approach given ample room to breathe, especially on the two long tracks bookending the album. In places more subdued than on previous efforts, but with the distinctive bass figures and hypnotic mood fully intact. There are some lively stretches with guests Goran Kajfes and Mats Aleklint, bringing to mind their big band offshoot Fire! Orchestra, albeit on a much smaller scale.”
Reliably unpredictable innovators Mouse on Mars are back with an album of bizarre AI-led club/Kraut deconstructions.
Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma's haphazard electronic experiments have been a refreshing constant over the last 25 years. Always different and often essential, the duo's productions inevitably reflect the era's shifting contemporary forms but inject them with a mischievous DIY spirit and innovative, exploratory sense of wonder. "AAI" is no different, and finds MoM exploring concepts of artificial intelligence without resorting to clapped posturing or empty-headed theorizing.
The title stands for "Anarchic Artificial Intelligence" and to assemble the record, Toma and Werner got together an intriguing team of collaborators: writer and scholar Louis Chude-Sokei, DJ and producer Ya?mur Uçkunkaya, percussionist and longtime MoM collaborator Dodo NKishi, AI tech collective Birds on Mars and former Soundcloud programmers Ranny Keddo and Derrek Kindle. The team worked together to create a piece of software that could model speech, feeding it text and voice from Chude-Sokei and Uçkunkaya and allowing the software to learn from that. The resulting voice sounds that guide "AAI" are completely computer generated, despite sounding like narration or samples. Mouse on Mars were able to use the voices like an instrument and play the software like a synthesizer, using the artificial intelligence elements less like an app to write its own music, but like a tool they could manipulate to inspire their musical methodology.
"Machines can open up new concepts of life, and expand our definitions of being human," says Werner. Certainly the line between human and computer is seriously blurred here, with voices melting into percussion and drums rattling and fluffing between words and syllables like bees in honeycomb. "AAI" is a deeply unusual album, utilizing familiar elements - rhythmic flutters from footwork or emerging club forms are brought together in harmony with pulsing motorik sounds - and corrupting or disrupting them with sci-fi-tinged philosophical elements. It's not a record that you can acceptably play in the background, by any means, it takes attention and concentration, and it deserves it.