As far as we can tell this is the first full length collaboration between Mark Fell and his son Rian Treanor, a sprawling, incredibly detailed 90 minute opus that sits somewhere between pastoral/environmental music and plasmic Musique Concrète, recorded in and around their garden in Rotherham, South Yorkshire over the summer last year. We’ve listened to it countless times and still can’t fully get our head round it, we think its one of the most ambitious and intricate renditions of Quiet music you’ll likely ever hear - a huge recommendation if you're into Jakob Ullmann, Arthur Lipsett, Lambkin, Parmegiani, Rashad Becker, Marginal Consort and of course Fell & Treanor’s own work - one to immerse yrself in with zero distractions.
Fractal not fractional, these recordings weave Fell & Treanor’s signature palettes in previously unheard, unpredictable ways; incorporating their interests in the expressive intricacies of Indian Raga music with an inherent sense of Japanese wabi-sabi and a patina of location recordings, to realise a blossoming, allegorical sort of sound bath or sonic garden. The presence of Mark’s parents meant they steered clear of “dance” music or anything that attacked, tempering the sound to an ultra subtle flux of feathered, polymetric percussion, trickling keys, and glowing electronic tones sensitive to their shared family space. Its effect would gently lull Rian’s gran to sleep, and likewise exerts the same influence on us; convecting a zen-like balminess that aligns the chakras and is a genuine wonder to experience.
Time and place melt into an inception-like routine alien to normality, ultimately resembling the patterns of non-linear, cyclic time consciousness Mark had been reading about, and his music with Rian follows this logic; folding in and out of itself with a surreal quality. What start out as sections of location recorded snapshots - people milling in the background, a wind chime, gentle breeze, birds chirping - get slowly augmented by washes of electrostatic, filigree electronics, pulsing subs and sudden percussive bursts, enveloping your ears to transport you to unknown dimensions; somewhere between that Rotherham garden and the furthest reaches of your imagination. For a 90 minute piece of expressionism, what stands out about ‘Last exit to Chickenley’ is how remarkably architectural it is; detailed in every nook, resolved from every angle.
We’ll leave the backstory for you to read in the included liner notes, but in the meantime we urge you to give up a couple of hours of your time to fully immerse yourself in this singular, remarkable album.
New mixtape from Demdike Stare featuring their own - all previously unheard and unreleased - productions, edits and mixes based around an obsession with drum machines and classic Muzic Box/Ron Hardy/Poindexter/Lil Louis vibes, assembled in typically scuzzed & fucked style.
‘Drum Machines’ sequences an hour of studio fragments in a killer stop/start stream of Roland shrapnel and gnarled samples, done with a freehanded style that surely betrays their influences running from Mage-like Detroit artist Anthony Shakir to garage house pioneer Todd Terry and the ruinous patterns of Aaron Dilloway. It’s Demdike at their loosest, freakiest, and inventive best, all blessed by a jump-cut sleight-of-hand familiar to earlier Mark Leckey soundtracks; yano it’s just deadly!
From the stereo-phasing intro of a German Intercity train engine, re-engineered to play a musical scale as it speeds up and departs, to pockets of obliterated scuzz and sizzling Millsian rug-cutting, it sounds like they had a load of craic making ‘Drum Machines.’ Their aforementioned, modded Roland TR-606 is the constant, if fractured, backbone for a proper rass-out session, twisting into recursive wormholes and spat out on the other side into scenes of gurning joyriders in a car park, or dropping a hip into swingeing machine funk hustle that craftier DJs would be wise to chop out and use in their own sets. It even contains samples of Sean’s notorious arrest for possession (lolz)
What a madness?
Debut album from Baby Boys - the trio of producers and multi-instrumentalists Caleb Hinz, Jake Luppen (Lupin, Hippo Campus) and Nathan Stocker (brotherkenzie, Hippo Campus)
"It's a record of genre-bending mischief-pop; an amalgamation of busted-up iPhone memos and nonlinear lyrics colliding with erratic sonic landscapes. Recorded at BJ Burton (Charli XCX, Bon Iver)’s Minneapolis studio after Burton left for Los Angeles, the entirety of ‘Threesome’ came together in one week of 2pm to 6am studio sessions. The chemistry between the three in the studio has been well-documented outside of the band, too – Hinz, Luppen, and Stocker were the production team behind some of 2020’s most iconic breakout albums, including Samia’s ‘The Baby’ and Miloe’s ‘Greenhouse’ EP."
Telas is Nicolás Jaar's 6th full length album, and follows Cenizas from earlier this year.
"Telas (Veils) is multiple things at once. It's a visual terrain created by artist Somnath Bhatt. It's a record by Nicolás Jaar, with key contributions from Milena Punzi (cello), Susanna Gonzo (voice), Anna Ippolito & Marzio Zorio (instrument makers), and Heba Kadry (mastering). It's a digital terrain created by Abeera Kamran where the sounds and illustrations of Telas live in their primordial states. The site was imagined by Abeera, Somnath and Nicolás as a panspermic terrain where no matter -whether existing in thought, physical form or other- has a solid or unmovable origin.
Multiple parts of the music were first played during two shows at The Kitchen in NYC in the fall of 2017, alongside performances by Africanus Okokon and Patrick Higgins."
Ooooosh! Pirate radio recordings made in Bristol between the late ‘80s to early ‘00s - the latest tape from Death Is Not The End, issued as part of the cherry-picked Blowing Up The Workshop series. It's a fucking goodun..
Celebrated for their archival dives into historic musical blindspots of the past 100 years, Death Is Not The End this time focus closer to home (and within our lifetimes) with what they describe as "A trip across the frequencies of Bristol's pirate radio stations via cut-ups of broadcasts, taken from the late 1980s to the early 2000s ~ also a love-letter to my childhood, an audio document of the years I spent growing up in the city.”
Traversing the dial from raucous soundclash recordings to Blues Dance soul, and taking in mighty blasts of jungle, wafts of warbling Indian music, and, of course, a f*ckload of dub and dancehall, its all spliced with a mix of heartrendingly sweet and hilarious radio phone ins and jingles = supremely heavy vibes.
Optimo don, JD Twitch embarks on a series of mixtape mooches with ‘Ultragoth’, a C90 sequence inspired by the very occasional clubnight of the same name.
Inspired by his regular walking missions around Glasgow during lockdown, accompanied by a recently rediscovered personal cassette player, Twitch extends an unmissable invitation to join him on his journey with a collection of songs that have soundtracked the sights of his singular home city. These soundtracks, he says, “saved my sanity, helped me get my inspiration back, kept me fit and made me see Glasgow through new eyes”.
Trust his conception of ‘Ultragoth’ is darkly immaculate; 90 minutes of music primed for stalking local Necropolises and cemeteries in Spring, studded with a broad range of gems under the goth parasol that range from the bleeding obvious to brilliantly obscure, but all helming to a very fine line of maudlin, Northerly angst, beauty and emotive drive that nails the vibe to a cross.
From death croak rattles by radical experimentalists to **thee** cover of ‘The Snowman’, thru furrowed cold wave from the North Ridings, encompassing brooding pop, industrial electronics, and dark ambient ethers; the selection is made to suck you right in and then keeps you trotting for the duration, dialling up memories of mixtape mooches from bygone, pre-iPod eras.
All going to plan, JD Twitch will issue one mixtape a month for the next 10 months, so have yr trigger fingers ready.
Originators of “dirty ambient”, OYC mark nearly 40 years of skin in the game with chiral volumes of beautifully brooding atmospheres by the long serving group’s Andrew Hulme and Roger Horberry
‘A Tension of Opposites’ marks a contemporary high water mark of O Yuki Conjugate’s scattered, ongoing explorations since 1982, over which time they’ve graced some of post-punk and industrial music’s finest labels and seminal compilations such as Final Image’s ‘Nightlands’ suite and the ‘Insane Music’ series in 1987 - with tracks more recently appearing on sly sets from Light Sounds Dark. Currently in their 4th incarnation, which is coincidentally their original line-up, and following a burst of releases in each preceding decade, they stick to the quietly nerve-riding, improvised style at the core of what they do, taking cues from the experience of 2020 lockdown to conjure deliciously smeared synth textures and tones that arc from crepuscular, phosphorescing to scenes streaked with noctilucent thizz over the album’s 84’ arc.
The first half is all Roger Horberry’s work, created in isolation from his musical partner, and limning a palpable sense of sorrow and frustration with his machines. However, trust it’s not depressive, rather it’s more expressive of the zeitgeist, but informed by a timeless sense of chamber like melancholy balanced by hopeful melodies. In a stark contrast, Andrew Hulme mans the second half, condensing his thoughts into four durational darkside explorations pregnant with doom, yet allowing for moments of redemptive bliss between the shearing synth strings of ‘Unfolding’ and passages recalling The Sprawl’s techgnostic pads in ‘Entracement’, and the exquisite illbience of ‘I Don’t Know I’m Not a Dream’ calling to mind the oneiric sensuality of Cosey Fanni Tutti’s ‘Time To Tell’, perhaps an apt comparison as Hulme is currently helming the film adaptation of her incredible biography.
These recordings capture a meeting between Patrick and Zachary, a few days before Zachary left Los Angeles and embarked across the country. The sounds of Garfield Park echoed while the San Gabriel mountains burned, and Patrick and Zachary intoned a prayer for our shared futures.
"Patrick Shiroishi is a Japanese-American multi-instrumentalist and composer based in Los Angeles who is perhaps best known for his extensive and incredibly intense work with the saxophone. Over the last decade, he has established himself as one of the premier improvising musicians in Los Angeles, playing solo and in numerous collaborative projects including Upsilon Acrox, Corima, Oort Smog as well as improvising ensembles Danketsu 10 and Borasisi. Shiroishi may well be considered a foundational player in the city's vast musical expanse.
Zachary Paul is a violinist and composer currently located in New York. His work explores the boundaries of perception, the invocation of trance states, and the juxtaposition of stasis and movement. Zachary has released solo work on Touch and Preserved Sound, and has performed with the Sonic Open Orchestra and the String Orchestra of Brooklyn. He is also a regular member of the band Nadoyel and a frequent improviser in a variety of musical idioms."
The dusty streets of apartheid-era Soweto, 27 July 1987. The politically charged funeral of a young activist who fled South Africa to became a commander in the military wing of Nelson Mandela's African National Congress. Police await in armoured cars. The funeral is restricted by specific government decree.
"The man being buried is Peter Motau, assassinated in neighbouring Swaziland on the orders of South Africa's most notorious government-sanctioned killer, Eugene de Kock, orders carried out by his secret police unit in a bloody ambush.
For De Kock and the apartheid government, Peter Motau was a terrorist. For the singing, chanting mourners at his funeral, he was a freedom fighter, a hero from the streets of Soweto itself.
ZA87 is a raw audio document of one extraordinary day under apartheid. A father mourns, himself breaking the regulations declaring any political statements at the funeral illegal. Young activists, the "Comrades", sing in praise of the banned ANC's military wing, sirens blare, helicopters hover overhead, a police officer orders all television and photojournalists to leave. Nigel Wrench's microphone remains. Also there is Winnie Mandela, on behalf of the ANC's exiled leadership. Banned from speaking at the funeral, she speaks instead into Wrench's microphone and stages a remarkable intervention as the police seek to detain activists.
The authorities sought to keep the events of that day away from the eyes and ears of anyone who wasn't there. ZA87 breaks that silence.
Nigel Wrench is an award-winning journalist whose career began in South Africa under apartheid. He is the winner of a Sony Award for "Out This Week", BBC Radio's first national lesbian and gay news programme, and a New York Radio Award for BBC Radio 4's "Aids and Me", chronicling his experience of living with HIV. "Few journalists have quite so intimately captured the essence of their era's great moral panics as Nigel Wrench" (The Quietus).
ZA87 is the follow-up to Wrench's acclaimed first cassette on The Tapeworm, ZA86, "a remarkable documentation of South Africa under apartheid in 1986" (Boomkat), "chilling and at times stunningly beautiful" (The Quietus), "stylistically not dissimilar to Adam Curtis's 2015 documentary 'Bitter Lake', its hypnagogic float through the rushes feels curiously vivid, free of the dating or distancing effect further media packaging might bring" (The Wire).
Leif Elggren and Kent Tankred, 3 September 1999, Fylkingen, Stockholm – a small chamber play where The Sons put the small animals on pasture and let them live their own lives, but under strict supervision and with a fixed eye so that no accidents may happen, so that no one is injured, so that no one is ill-informed, or how it might be if not everything is organized and supervised in a well-structured society.
"You can't just let things be without direction, then there would be nothing at all (or death !!!). No, The Sons give a taste of a well-balanced diet in this presentation, which is expected to take four hours, which will be beautiful and moist and will be able to give a much-needed sense of well-being in these difficult times. Maybe we need another clarification: The animals, here at the service of The Sons, give away their little sounds, The Sons, however, direct them with firm hands (and sometimes a little with force) to follow their wishes. The Sons simply get the cute little fellows to produce sound and together form a musical structure that is not of this world. We'll see how it goes."
Excavated madness capturing the dawn of Hardcore on this previously unknown DJ Hype mixtape dated to 1990/91 and landing at the bleeding cross-section of acid, techno, breaks and bleeps. This tape has been assembled and released in aid of Manchester’s homeless - all profits donated to Lifeshare (https://www.lifeshare.org.uk).
If you grew up in the UK during the 1990’s, DJ Hype’s name was practically inescapable as one of the leading DJ’s of UK hardcore, jungle and D&B - even if you weren’t old to enough to rave, his name was literally plastered in chunky bold text on neon posters affixed to traffic lights, railings, and kebab shop windows everywhere, probably listed above or below Fabio & Grooverider and Andy C, or so we seem to remember. Basically his reputation preceded him as a proper chuffing badboy DJ, and this mixtape rips it right back to the emergence of his influential style, when he applied US hip hop DJing tekkers to rave with inexorable effect, scratching up Belgian mentasms with aggy funk breaks, fast rap and body-slamming techno.
All credit where it counts; this style was a properly London affair, and no doubt it was DJs such as Hype and Fabio & Grooverider who willed it into existence in a reinforced feedback loop between the DJs and dancers. This mixtape epitomises the style in nearly 90 minutes of reckless chops and pure, driving energy taking in classic nutty business such as Underkut’s new beat-sampling ‘Both Ends’ and The Vision’s lethal Detroit banger ‘Liberation Radio’ among them, plus some contemporaneous cheeseballs, in a pyroclastic flow of ruffneck madness that brilliantly does not know where to let up. By the end of the ‘90s the term “eclecticism” was played-out and worthless, but at the dawn of rave Hype defined it at its rudest, precisely as you’ll hear here.
French soundboys Judaah X DJ Tarba run ruffshod dancehall, hard D&B, breakcore and Kongo tekno styles by a serious number of names including Christoph De Babalon, Slikback, Croww, DJ Scud, and Current Value for the BFDM sublabel
Trading under the tuffest mixtape title of 2021 so far, ‘Songs Harder Than My Mother's Belt’ cues up 33 welters for the hardcore crew, toggling the pressure between bashment and ballistic in a rude french style. It teks us back to a dirty golden era of warehouse and basement sessions circa th early ‘00s when this kinda thing was the scuzzy raver’s flavour, but the selections here wickedly twyst up the timeline between late ‘90s and now to sound out the style’s relevance twenty years later with up-to-the-minute smarts from Paris and beyond.
Both tracks produced by Robin The Fog at The Sticky Shed, Penge during lockdown 2020. Side A features a recording of a wine glass. Side B is created entirely from closed input sounds of the tape machines themselves. One take, no edits, no overdubs, no artificial FX. Mastered by Steven McInerney. A.H.M.F. and long live the Wyrm.
"Robin The Fog is a sound designer, radio producer, audio archivist, educator and occasional DJ based in London. His work falls under the broad term "radiophonics" and includes composition, sound installation, field recording and documentary. Best known as founder and chief strategist of "tape loop quintet" Howlround, he also produces work alongside DJ Food and Chris Weaver as The New Obsolescents and with Ken Hollings as The Howling. Originally described as a "second wave hauntologist", his current obsession is attempting to use closed-input feedback loops to create primitive techno, which is quite a long way from where he started. His biggest fear is being swallowed by a python, but living in South London he appreciates the contingency is a remote one."
The enigma that is Michael J. Blood doubles down on that ridiculous mixtape/2LP with a brand new, killer 90 min set of slompy late night dancefloor cuts featuring vocals from Sockethead and primed for all you Moodymann, Newworldaquarium, Actress/Thriller obsessives. This ishhhhhh is the real deal.
Mixed in real time once again by Tom Boogizm, ‘II’ arrives on the project’s own label, BLOOD, with 90 minutes of beatdown hustle and rug-cutter’s sleaze very much in the vein of the first, but freshly gassed with Sockethead’s rudely mumbly stream-of-consciousness vocals that crop up at opportune moments. It’s another example of the way that proper Afro-American styles have indelibly influenced Manchester music, surely living up to comparisons with everyone from Andrés and Madlib to Urban Tribe, KDJ and Theo Parrish with a louche and hypnotic late night soul that oozes from every pore.
Trust the chords are butter and the bass firm but juicy in all the right places, holding smoked-out slunky downstrokes to soirée-starting backroom shuffle, making room for passages of blue Motor City melancholy as well as gently frazzled psychedelia, shifting thru gears and lots of gear to pick up the pace with brisk broken beats, sawn-off garage swangers, and natty jack trax, before sloping off bed-ways in the final strokes.
Who tf is MJB?
oh my dayz this is unreal, keeling levels of radio and rave nostalgia with a cherry-picked volley of adverts from London pirate radio 1984-1993 somewhere between Mark Leckey’s Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, Lee Gamble's 'Diversions' and Sublime Frequencies’ best radio surveys, except focussed much closer to home to capture an era that now seems like an entirely alternate reality.
Scanning the airwaves of a golden era in London history between 1984-1993 when dancehall soundsystem culture fostered the early stirrings and full rush of hardcore, Death Is Not The End turn their beady ear to one of the epicentres of UK rave music with stacks of raggo vignettes advertising everything from Greek salons to school reunions, video shops, datelines, drug helplines, and dances, each set to backdrops of contemporaneous club, rare groove, jungle and house.
As much as anything, the set speaks to London’s inimitable, cultural variegation, charting the myriad voices and flavours that make up the city’s stylistic mosaic, and would go on to deeply inform British pop and dance culture for decades to come. It’s as thrilling as Sublime Frequencies’ best radio surveys, but with an extra layer of familiarity for UK listeners, not just those who lived thru that era, but anyone who had the radio crackling as ambient wallpaper during that era. Unfortunately I can only recall RTE or jingles for South Cleveland Garages on radio from this era in our gaff, but if you allow for some vicarious nostalgia, this tape documents a rich slice of the collective cultural memory that we’ve all come to share.
Not Waving & Romance turn heads into candyfloss with this sublime full-length opus, a keenly awaited follow-up to that Romance tape of mottled modern classical loops that sold out in an hour at the end of last year. If you’re looking for a smudge of blissed ambient in the vein of The Caretaker’s ‘Persistent Repetition Of Phrases', classic Stars Of The Lid, or even Arve Henriksen’s sublime ‘Chiaroscuro’, this is it.
Identified as a consummate collaborator in recent years on records with Jim O’Rourke, Mark Lanegan and Jay Glass Dubs; Alessio Natalizia aka Not Waving is now found at his most amorphous alongside Romance - an enigmatic figure who appeared from outta nowhere with that stunning ‘You Must Remember This’ tape in late 2020, and now lends their midas touch to the nine immaculate pieces on ‘Eyes Of Fate.’ It’s ambient music of a genuinely rarified, elevated calibre, or what the duo tongue-in-cheek term “mythological, Old Testament ambient”, a phrase which signifies a pointedly classicist approach comparable with seminal records by The Caretaker/Leyland Kirby, Brian Eno and SOTL, but with results that also coolly resonate with the modernist realm of castles in the sky ambient inhabited by the likes of Malibu, Kareem Lotfy or AYYA.
The duo’s first recordings explore the fertile territory between secular and religious music that has long fascinated them, and perhaps most poignantly in an age when allegories of the divine and existential bliss and terror are felt most acutely. Using a palette of choral voices looped and diffused into the ether, they recall The Caretaker’s dank parlour ambience in ’Tropic of Desire’, but equally make room for more grandiose statements in ‘While My Heart Is Still Beating’ and ‘Visions of Light’ reminding of GAS at his stateliest, while vignettes such as ‘Sleepers, Awake!’ are redolent of the intervals to Carl Craig and Derrick May’s ‘Relics.
Gloomy bubbling electronic power ambient and icy piano variations that hover between Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto's sparse minimalism and Tim Hecker's popular harmonic density.
Using rare instrument the Yamaha CP-70, an electroacoustic piano with built-in pickups, EQ and a tremolo effect, Stockholm-based composer Hara Alonso blends ambient textures with prickly minimalism and subtle dancefloor elements. On opener 'Desnuda', she juxtaposes her painstakingly slow piano work with rolling rhythmic glitches and white noise, but as the album develops the sounds build into glitchy rhythmic experiments ('Reversed Rain'), subtle dubby 4/4 ('40 Days of Silence') and thrumming granular ambience ('The Work of Poetry'). It's not particularly fresh, but it's expertly done all the same.
A keeling second dose of pirate radio advert rave excavations from Death Is Not The End, culling 40 more relics from the London airwaves c. 1984-1993.
Unless you’ve gone full hermit during lockdown and cut the internet conx, the first volume of this stuff has already gained cult status, covered in national media and coveted by ravers looking for any form of classic buzz. This 2nd set features a further 40 vignettes from the golden daze of rave, with voices flogging everything from datelines to “tasty leather jackets”, 25K turbo sound rigs, and, quite cannily, ads for throwback rare groove parties that kinda show certain UK ravers have always had one misty eye over the shoulder to a “golden era” when it was just better than it is now.
If we’re playing favourites, the blown out jungle rush of ‘Monster Soundsystem’ is right up there, along with some lass appearing to mimic M*ggie Th*tcher on House FM’s ‘Legal Pulse’ ad, the X-amount of flange on the Fantasia promo ’NYE ’93’, a spine-freezing ’Stunning Dimension’ rave flier, and most definitely the Scouse lass flogging “Tasty Leather Jackets” (well i’ll tell ya, it’s bad!). Despite that Today Programme feature doing its best to cover it all in a sneering/sexless/overly polite sheen, it’s completely undeniable that this stuff is just pure gold, we all owe a debt of gratitude to Death Is Not The End for putting the work in to get it all compiled.
Nyege Nyege Tapes showcase their diverse, inventive strengths with a full spectrum, 47-track motherload of material by label regulars and friends.
‘L'Esprit de Nyege 2020’ is a body-wobbling testament to the Ugandan label’s scope and integral links to East, Central and South African musics that the label has been disseminating to the wider world for the last 5 years. In that time, they've released thrilling Tanzanian Singeli, swingeing Bugandan drum batteries, ritual circumcision soundtracks, Kenyan grindcore - not to mention the rest - all of which can be found in this epic 3+ hour package, sequenced beside mutual spirits ranging from Kuduro stars RS Produções and Blacksea Não Maya, Indonesian mentalists Gabber Modus Operandi, and a stack of new artists ripe for discovery.
The set specifically relates to the label’s 2020 activities, when their revered annual festival was cancelled and instead took place online as a 96+ hour extravaganza. We’re seriously spoilt for choice with the all killer/no filler selections, notably including a mystic bewt by Duma at the front, ‘Cape to Cairo’, and Gabber Modus Operandi’s take on Tanzanian styles in ‘Mencuri Singeli’, while MVP Slikback serves the stunning Congo tekno of ‘Vein’ and we can practically smell the BBQ in the live festival recording of HHY & The Kampala Unit.
Singeli heads will be buzzed to hear heat from scene pioneer Bamba Pana, plus new names such as MC Kadilida and DJ Travella, and the likes of Mali’s DJ Diaki keep the pace recklessly UP alongside DJ Finale’s piquant percolator, while the pivotal South African scene gives up darkside Gqom mutations from DJ Menzi, Phelimuncasi, DJ Skothane, and DJ MP3, complemented by Kuduro sizzlers such as RS Produções Afro-Indo gem ‘Ansiedade’ and the murky meditation of ‘Reborda’ by Blacks Não Maya. Factor in inimitable business from Elvin Brandhi & Eckobass, stone cold rap from Boutross and NNSS-KHX05, EQ Why’s night-riding footwork, and the nutty Kizomba of Le Meilliur, and you’ve got enough to see you good until the festival’s next edition.
Hanne Lippard draws us into her unique soundworld, narrating life in Paris through an un-sentimental but ultimately deeply moving audio diary, making use of seemingly humdrum observations for a layered, phonetically mesmerising work of art apt for this anomalous time.
If you’re new to Lippard’s work; she’s a conceptual artist of some significant acclaim, usually concerned with the mechanics of language and meaning. Her ‘Work’ album last year was our first introduction, an unusual collection of spoken texts playing on what she calls ‘degenerate, or “b-language” - things like autoresponders, FAQ’s, social media posts, bot-generated spam mail etc. Part social commentary, part visual poetry, it lingered in the mind thru some linguistic voodoo we couldn’t quite fathom, and has been on regular rotation since.
In contrast, ‘PigeonPostParis’ plays like a ramblin’, diaristic travelogue; Hanne observes and navigates Paris through a summer of lockdown, following a train of thought starting from a newfound appreciation of pigeons, to the restlessness of daily life in a small apartment, and the difficulties of understanding, and being understood, when speaking french - a language that doesn’t care for the first letter of her first name - with a mask on.
Where ‘Work’ drew from the digital realm, PigeonPostParis ponders the world just outside her window - pigeon’s shagging - to gain a new perspective on the city’s detested/beloved air rats. But that’s just the conceptual touch paper for a stream of consciousness, fringed with the sounds of everyday life under lockdown, from the violence of a passing skateboard to an ironic lick of the Amélie theme, intertwined with a precise, alliterative investigation of her own physical, spiritual displacement.
Once you peer through the syntax, you discover existential blisters. Hanne distills our - mood - in a way that never feels sentimental, mirroring the way our thoughts have tended to meander late at night, after weeks of barely interacting with anyone - honing in on mundane details, then big important ones. Let’s quickly move past those.
Five years since their mix of Belgian New Beat++, ‘Reel Torque Volume Douzzze’, Conor Thomas finally supplies an unsolicited, 4 hour-long follow up and finds themselves weirdly writing in the third person again.
Returning to a cradle of late ’80s European dance music, the mix starts out in Belgium but sprawls out to encompass that sound’s contemporaneous parallels in the UK, and its influences from US dance music - mooching between myriad strains of early techno, acid house, EBM, Latin freestyle, bleep, proto hardcore and rave music, proper. It covers oddball cuts that didn’t make it to the first mix, plus a stack of new acquisitions including rucks of reissues that have been mercifully ticked off the wants list over the interim, all sequenced into a kind of fantasy, semi-uchronic session that aims to forge obvious, and oblique, links between the house and body music diaspora of the mid-‘80s to early ‘90s.
The mixing itself owes a lot to the experience of DJing regularly at The White Hotel, Salford since its inception (circa release of the first mix.) Depending what night and stage of the moon, one might catch Conor locked into a timewarp playing this sort of lark, and the selection is presented in thru takes - warts ’n all - but users may be able to smudge out the creases and better get into it with a few bevs and bifters. In that sense, and in light of the current dearth of IRL rave, it’s arranged long and unyielding for home use; building momentum with one tape of Belgian new beat suds and hard beat mutations, before checking links between early acid house and the UK’s free-rave scene, threading Miami and NYC freestyle mutations to bezzerker industrial, and checking for Detroit EBM edits alongside SoYo and Manc bleep pressure, plus a barrage of mentasm-laced breakbeat nuttiness.
Currently sequestered in the Boro gridiron, Conor intends this to be the first in a series of mixtapes spanning roots and branches of the “hardcore ‘nuum”, so long as he can hear the tunes over his neighbour’s turbo folk sessions, and stop thinking in the third person, ‘cos it’s weird as fuck!
Nyege Nyege back with a tape-only mix of screwed Afrobeat and Naija anthems by Jesse Hackett, Lord Tusk and Mariano Chavez; rugged, impressionistic, psychedelic expressions of Kampala nightlife highly recommended if yr into DJ Screw, Zuli, Andy Stott...
Firmly established among NNT’s weirdest and most watchable units, Metal Preyers slug screwed anthems on their killer 2nd mixtape for the central/east African powerhouse. Responsible for some of 2020’s strangest highlights with their eponymous debut, plus a single-sided 12” and the ‘Preying Well’ mixtape, the project now gathers their late night energies at a wickedly knackered slant across two sides of original compositions patched into a snaking tale of psychedelic torment and grouching grooves that pick up where they left off, deep in the underbelly of Kampala after dark.
Under the cryptic title of ‘432+’, a grippingly slow sequence of events and smeared styles occur, following an elusive thread of sozzled logic between bleary ballads, drag-mode Afrobeat bangers, and absolutely killer patches of splayed drill drums, into more gutturally psychoactive, bad-belly turns of digital distortion and smeared Naija anthems that make way for viscous R&B and dematerialised noise.
Quite simply, nobody else is making this kind of concentrated crud right now, striking the most vital balance of daring impressionism and rugged, druggy function that can’t help but suck listeners into its surreal temporality and psychedelic weltanschauung.
Shadowy cinematic doom-synth weirdness from Barn Owl drone dude Evan Caminiti. If Sunn O))) recorded an album at the GRM studios we'd imagine it wouldn't be far from this...
Drone veteran Evan Caminiti recorded "Autoscopy" using the grand Serge modular at EMS in Stockholm and managed to eke out low-end drones so thick they'll turn your stomach. It's truly ominous, deeply unsettling material, put together for London filmmaker Claes Nordwall's "Autoscopy", a short film about a young man's hallucinatory voyage in an abandoned floatation tank. This makes sense to us: the sounds are just psychedelic enough to inspire the kind of reaction you'd hope would accompany this kind of source material without ever relying on tired soundtrack tropes.
Caminiti takes his years of experience with ambient music, psych rock and drone and channels it into a short selection of cues that aren't afraid to experiment with form, but never lose that all-important sense of cinematic grandeur. The Serge synthesizer's thick, brassy wobble is fleshed out with glassy wavering electric guitar scrapes, dissonance layered on top of an epic wall of sub. It's so fitting given the subject matter: dark and foreboding, isolating and unsettling, but never without beauty.
In a white hot blast of synthetic light and bone-splintering rhythms, Holy Similaun intends to interrogate the notion of safe spaces for their return to Florence’s OOH-Sounds
“Following the aphex-blessed En-To-Pan and the recent ep Hegenrax [OOH-014] Holy Similaun goes further in its intimate and personal musical discourse with Ansatz [attempt / approach] to investigate uncertainty and the mutation of our "safe spaces”.
Extremely dilated fades, intermitted structures, massively warped voices, blasting industrial distortions and gaming sound effects populate the synthetic environments of a not-necessarily dystopian post-something, multifaceted and porous. The feel is that of a soundtrack for a present future, inspired to the narrative naivety of anime.
Holy Similaun seems to frame its attention on the matter between and around standard musical objects—rhythm, melody to name two— overturning normal hierarchies and apparently reorienting the listeners towards the scenery rather than the ‘action’. The voids, the gaps, the structural falls and the physical impact of sounds are the core of that "negative space" in constant change.
Ansatz leaves a sense of the unfinished—distant ambient mutant techno echoes in a Neo-Tokyo-3 soundscape.”
Low Jack’s Editions Gravats return with Johann Mazé’s enchanting suite of driftmode concrète poetry, packaged in suitably grand boxset, hand-painted by artist Tiphaine Buhot-Launay and recommended if yr into work buy Luc Ferrari, Lionel Marchetti, Ghédalia Tazartès.
Leading down the jardín path from Mazé’s action on ‘L’homme à Zéro’ by France Sauvage in 2019, the french sound artist now appears as a peripheral presence on ‘Gérard’, which combines interviews, field recordings, poetry and fleeting passages of music, to frame an intimate tribute to a childhood friend of Mazé’s father - the eponymous Gérard. In the style of Gravats’ ’Saudi’ tape box by Krikor Kouchian, the medium plays a crucial part of the message here, with a hand-crafted package of tape and postcards that permits the user access to a private, other world unto itself.
For almost an hour, occasionally prompted by Mazé, Gérard speaks about the bliss of nature while surrounded by the verdant lushness of his garden in Paimpol, on the Brittany coast. With passion and humour Mazé speaks at length about his interests, often breaking off into laughter, with passages of speech punctuated and overlapped with the sounds of his peacocks and hens, and augmented by dabs of organ melody and fizzing drum machine patter.
It’s really as simple as that; on one level recalling the way Luc Ferrari or Lionel Marchetti divine the poetic from the prosaic, and on another, more instinctive level, reminding of warm days in the countryside with good company chatting about nature, philosophy and whatever else comes to mind - and who can sniff at that in the current climate of perpetual housebound darkness?
Another highlight of Ascetic House’s newr batch, Der Kindestod expresses strains of darkroom sleaze, fractal trap soul, and gnarled digital n0!ze, alongside a rrattering bam remix by False Witness
‘Orion I Want You’ is the follow-up to Der Kindestod’s debut for Rabit Halcyon Veil in 2018. Since that release they also teamed with Rabit for a killer remix of House of Kenzo, making this their vital 2nd appearance on Ascetic House. It’s a proper pick ’n mix of styles, taking in a pensive, combustible techno trampler ‘Everything And Nothing’ and the absolute ecto-mode banger ‘A Little Bit’ from the top shelf of horny mid ‘90s house fantasies for a blistering start. But it starts to crumble around the edges into filthier mutations with the stumbling gabber noise of ‘OYFN’, and some deeply weird fractal soul jam in ‘By Your Side’, with Berlin’s False Witness taking it back to the ‘floor via a slamming techno remix.
Big Scraps leans heavily into mid ‘00s road rap in a crucial follow-up to his ‘Now Thats Wot I Call Drill’ mixtape for Tom Boogizm’s Shotta Tapes
Throwing back to the era parallel to grime which birthed the likes of Giggs and laid the groundwork for UK Drill, Big Scraps’ 2nd mixtape burns thru dozens of slow, brooding bangers mostly produced and voiced south of the river in Peckham and Brixton, but also from Hackney and Tottenham in London’s north and eastern ends. At the time, the tunes were mostly disseminated via CDs or the likes of Channel U (and then YouTube), arriving as a properly UK-styled, dibble-bothering answer to US rap that more than made up for years of LARPing UK “Hip Hop”.
Big Scraps knows the style and racks up some of the cruddiest cuts from that period right here, packing tonnes of chat and red-eyed sluggers patently skooled in contemporaneous US rap styles, but articulated with a road level UK rufige that’s distinguished from its cousin, grime, by its tempos and flows, and likewise from the myriad wannabe Eminems from Nottingham or the home counties who made up the UKHH scene prior this epoch. Trust the bars are mucky as fuck and perhaps should be approached with caution by more conscious beans.
Next up on Felix Hall’s Chrome label; a killer C90 mixtape of B-More classics on one side, and up-to-minute rap, dembow, and outernational mutations on the flip.
Arriving hot on the heels of a B2B tape with Skee Mask, Simo now switches modes to rack up one side of rudest B-More bangers, backed with a properly up-to-the-minute B-side plotting a path from wavey French and US rap to Congo tekno mutations and warped dembow heat. If listeners need any more persuasion that Simo is one of french dance music’s finest exports, this mixtape is it.
Primed for anyone who has just done the Wire boxset during lockdown, the first side cues up a cherry-picked ruck of raw-ass Baltimore club zingers from the sound’s ‘90s heyday. Packing tonnes of dirty south call-and-response lyrics, fizzing breaks, and Miami-style bass, the B-More sound was effectively the rugged US parallel to UK hardcore, and Simo follows the likes of Finn and Dress 2 Sweat to portray the niche regional style at its party-starting best here, leading to a run of compatible, contemporaneous club killers.
Flipside, he gets craftier on a slow/fast flex, zig-zagging from road-ready rap to outernational aces and alomst autechre-compatible rhythmic heaters, before simmering the vibe from heavy rap crud to jaw-slapping steppers and slippery diffractions of dembow currents perfected for the instant rewind.
FWD pressure from DivPro, chucking their hat in the ring with Gábor Lázár and Rian Treanor styles on a scything set of garage warpers for indomitable US label Ascetic House
Impressive for a first effort at the least, ’Surge’ wears DivPro’s influences clear and present, to the extent that the pinging 2-stepping structures of ’Surge’ and ‘Glitter’ could easily be mistaken for a Lázár production. But a little closer inspection perhaps betrays a closer knowledge of UK mechanics under the hood, especially in the Terror Danjah-like gremlinoid voices that pepper the grimy flex of ‘Sapsan Bounce’, and the natty nod to Youngstar in ‘Pulse DP.’
Killer stuff. One to watch!
Cellist, composer & sound? artist Leila Bordreuil takes us to the bowels and liminal spaces of a deserted NYC during the summer months of lockdown, with contrasting works of tempestuous and sorely enervated nature, played on location in the subway at the Ralph Avenue subway stop in Brooklyn - complete with passing trains, people and the tension in the air, plus a resonance/frequency headmelter performed on cello, ruined piano and electronics on the flip. If yr into anything from Arthur Russell to Lea Bertucci, this one's a must.
For Documenting Sound, Leila supplies a richly evocative pair of performances recorded in a near-abandoned subway station (Ralph Avenue) and the hallway of her apartment block in Bedstuy, Brooklyn, with a grippingly stark edge that owes as much to the city’s history of jazz as it does to experimental classical forms, much in the vein of her exceptional ‘Headflush’ album from 2019 that we’re still trying to wrap our heads around two years later.
On ‘For Tamio’ Leila pays tribute to her most recent collaborator, Tamio Shiraishi, whose late night performances at the Spring Street subway, 10 stops away from Ralph Avenue, have greatly inspired her own approach to capturing and playing with resonance in the subway. For just shy of 20 mins, and accompanied by an incidental conductor who was residing in the station, she makes the air burn and buckle with a combustible grasp of loud/quiet dynamics and keening discord that has us seat-edge by the end.
In contrast, ‘Past Continuous’ on the other side operates at barely perceptible levels of tonality, working in the liminal space of her building’s hallway and positioned to its old, upright piano as a sort of resonator, with brick placed on the pedal to create hallucinatory, ghostly overtones and one colossal sub underneath that speaks to the anxiety dreams of a megatropolis in stasis.
Yeah this one’s a bit special; selected and arranged by Jack Rollo and Elaine Tierney, ‘Ballads’ is a waking-dream meander through beautiful, romantic, weird, exotic, intimate, un-categorisable music that shouldn't go together but yet somehow makes complete sense, offering a sort of spiritual life-enhancement in the process. It’s a bit like discovering a portal to long forgotten memories that fill you with nostalgia but also the thrill of the new - disorientating, but also a reminder, once again, that music = life.
A Colourful Storm’s Fleetway Tapes seems to have already become the ideal place for skilled musical storytellers to flex their muscle, and on ‘Ballads’ the London-based duo turn their attention to the classic storytelling category of songcraft with the mix of forensic digging and poetic arrangement that has made their long-running NTS show a cult hit for many. Spanning a literate and cinematic world of sound with signature delicacy, they conjure a far flung and totally absorbing set whose track-listing remains impenetrable, and may well drive diggers to a tizzy. Suffice to say; numerous pearls lie within.
Sung in myriad tongues, the ballads range from the romantic and sentimental to the abstract and instrumental, spieling yarns that may not be fully understood, but whose atmosphere, pacing, and seductive vibe is unmistakable.
What a stunner?
The enigmatic allure and environmental tragedy of Arctic regions provides impetus to Frederikke Hoffmeier (Puce Mary) and Jesse Sanes’ 2nd set of collaged tapestry as Free The Land
Also recording as JH1.FS3 and Fejhed in recent years, the duo now return to the project that supplied a highlight of Ascetic House’s 2018 release schedule with ‘Global Ecophony: Audio Transmissions From The Exhibition.’ Their aesthetic palette remains similar to their previous one on ‘Arctic Freedom’, comprising vocal snippets, field recordings and original synthesis, but is arranged in a more precise and variegated manner that’s less impressionistic and more figurative, from the descriptive track titles to the physical presence of their recordings.
’Svalbard Global Seed Bank’ starts out like a tourist trip to the important Norwegian facility, but soon turns more anxious and impending with its detailed, Chris Watson-esque rearrangement of location samples and textured synthesis, setting a more intricate template that they trust into a sort of Brinkmann-like minimal bleep techno on ‘gas-emission craters of the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas’, whereas ‘Permafrost Loss and bacillus anthracis outbreak in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug’ evokes a more menacing, encroaching sort of evil, and ‘The essential goal of human beings is to transcend, not dominate the biological, with a view toward bringing a new input: consciousness’ seeps with ancient sounding whistles, whimpering huskies and mottled AI voices that hint at some sort of spiritual gnosis.
Febrile, cut-up phantasies from new figure/s on Ascetic House, gushing with mutant energy comparable to likes of Elvin Brandhi, Gonçalo F. Cardoso, or a lo-fi Arca
Arriving with no background info, 266SX’s debut delivers a head-swilling blast of free-handed sampledelia and body-gurning synthesis with a wickedly unpredictable logic. Part of an ace new batch from Ascetic House, the deepest dwelling worms of the American underground, the seven cuts fit perfectly awkwardly in their catalogue with a tumbled mix of psychedelic Latin nous and naturally avant instinct that leads into some pretty fucking weird creases of sound; from bit crushed choral croaks, thru shattered kaleidoscope twysts on ‘Spartan’, to fractal wormholes of deconstructed dance music in ‘Chino Burbank Van Nuys’, to surprisingly doses of cut-up strings reminding of a smashed Fenn O’Berg, and kissing off with the recursive folk warp of ‘Un Veleta.’
Bitter industrial and dark ambient misanthropy from Jaclyn Kendall, newest recruit to Ascetic House, invoking invasive thoughts and putrified sonics for the headstrong - RIYL Prurient, Pharmakon, Lussuria
‘The Infamy of Pleasure Unto Death’ is not very nice but we like it. There’s an indelible sense of existential angst at play that really draws us into its pitch black folds and oblique aspects, first killing the lights for the slow pummel and groaning distortion of ‘Higher Source’, and and fully committing her darkside credentials over the course of blistered slow sluggers such as ‘Wasn’t Allowed to Wear a Burning Witch Shirt to Grandma’s Birthday’ and thee dankest sound design in the sunken other place of ‘Time Dilation’, with scant respite offered in the choral spirits cooing from the drains on ‘The Archangels Sing My Name.’
Standout from the latest Ascetic House batch, Omeed Norouzi impresses with a debut album of chamber-like electronics blessed with a geometric intricacy sure to engage fans of anything from Arca to Sote and ZULI
Omeed Norouzi chases up work on his net label Sibilants, and an early works comp for Lime Lodge, with a complex expression of self articulated thru inventive rhythmic shifts between electro-chaabi-alike and grimy drums, synched with totally beguiling melodic vamps that keep us seat-edge for the duration.
The trio of ‘RS’ pieces rudely characterise his rhythmic instincts, roughly working in proximity of styles found on Nashazphone’s mutant electro-chaabi set ‘This Is Cairo Not The Screamers’ with deadly crunchy, precise drum patterns revealing killer similarities with UK grime - seriously RS3’ is unmissable! - while the likes of ‘Eroscript’ demonstrates stunning, manacled noise sound design tekkers, and he’s given us a serious headfreeze with the harmonic tunings of ‘H.’
Be daft not to!
Mage-like selector and DJ, Vladimir Ivkovic graces Fleetway Tapes, sublabel of Moopie’s A Colourful Storm, with an extraordinary sequence of 20th century avant-garde, modern classical, space jazz and haunting Balkan folk. If yr looking for a treasure trove of amazing music you’ve likely never heard before, this is it.
Regarded among the very best to do it in recent years, Vladimir Ivkovic cut his teeth playing records at his dad’s club in Belgrade as a kid in the ‘80s, and honed his style while helming legendary sessions at Düsseldorf’s Salon des Amateurs, developing something of a cult following in the process. Vladimir’s mixes can be found strewn across the ‘net, but physical editions remain thin on the ground, making this jaw-dropping selection dedicated to ACR boss Moopie only his 2nd physical mixtape, proper, following the sought-after ‘lOVe tape’ for Berlin’s Sameheads in 2016.
‘Gospels for Moopie’ is essentially a selection of the rarest calibre, pulling from decades of fervent digging to plot out personal, rhizomatic links between the lesser heard nooks of his enviable collection. Rather than his typical conception of slow trance (literally Goa trance played on 33 not 45), there’s an entrancing slow-burn to this set, which slants away from fixed meter and into an other-world of music encompassing everything from oneiric theatricality to between-worlds folk, thru blinding, spine-freezing banks of horns, spirit-gripping choral passions, and inconceivably wonderful obscurities that may take a lifetime to ID and feels something like being lost in an Emir Kusturica film about the fall of civilisation.
Vancouver’s City explores a dynamic range of prepared electric guitar sculpted into icy miniatures, with input from i.o, for a quietly engrossing return to their spiritual home, Ascetic House
Operating at liminal levels of sensitivity, City coaxes out exceedingly sparing melodic figures from prepared and processed guitars that appear to resemble synths or even slowed down details of a Durutti Column composition. Restraint and space are key to the beauty of the thirteen works on offer, tiling concise, ephemeral vignettes with a handful of longer works where he allows the notes to ring out into unobstructed space.
The textures and shape of the strings shift with an elemental quality across the set, from pointillist glitter to cold sogginess, windswept aeriel harmonics, exquisite piquant dissonance, crafty Middle eastern microtonal tunings, and two folksier charms with i.o, perhaps most spellbinding in the arctic plangency of ‘Body Of Hell’, and the pineal squeezer ‘Claim Your Home.’
Napoli’s MBE series turn in a high energy techno set by Leftfield’s Paul Daley, recorded in 1994 at a legendary edition of the city’s United Tribe warehouse parties
Leading on from sterling mixes by likes of Beatrice Dillon, Nyege Nyege Tapes’ Moroto Hvy Indstr, and our own Conor Thomas, the series’ 5th instalment is a throwback to the heyday of Neapolitan raving, with Daley’s 60 minute set accompanied by local hypeman Ivanmaria Vele, and delivered on a 20kW rig to 3000 peaking techno pagan dancers pumping away under Bladerunner-esque club decor. Trust you can practically touch the sweaty walls and feel bodies bumping into you in the darkness.
We’re hard pushed to give any tracklist, but it’s basically loads of thunderous ’94 techno of the breakbeat and progressive varieties that Daley made his name DJing, and would go on to produce as half of seminal studio/live act, Leftfield, who were practically a household name for many in the ’90s (especially after their link up with Africa Bambaataa and an Irish drinks company).
It’s all high velocity but not quite hardcore, more made for the party and epitomising the thrust of United Tribes, a gang of pals who saw Napoli thru the transition from ‘80s punk and underground styles to ‘90s rave, and who soon moved to London, where they helped kick off the scene surrounding the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane from 1997 onwards.
A true mid-decade classic, Mica Levi's ‘Feeling Romantic Feeling Tropical Feeling Ill’ is available once again in this new edition featuring Matt Colton’s re-master and new artwork, for optimal absorption in its lush aetheric flux.
Issued somewhere between Mica Levi’s emergence in 2008, and their recent gush of solo and band releases with Curl and Good Sad Happy Bad, Mica wrote and recorded ‘Feeling Romantic Feeling Tropical Feeling Ill’ around about the time they were receiving award-nominations and resounding acclaim for their soundtrack to Jonathan Glazer film, ‘Under The Skin.’ Naturally it shares some of that OST’s tones and moods, but the results are far more febrile, lush rather than dark and tense, stitching together a tapestry like mixtape-cum-production showreel of curdled chamber pieces, shrugged hip hop, ambient flights of fancy and gorgeous snatches of strings recalling the intervals of Carl Craig and Derrick May’s seminal ‘Relics’ set going into what sound like early sketches for what would become Tirzah’s ‘Devotion’ album a few years later.
Replete with new, minimalist artwork symbolic of the album’s enigmatic nature, the record’s second wind is arguably ideally timed for the world’s current state of torpor and tentative anticipation, with 60 minutes of figurative, quietly perplexing, evocative melodies that work by inference as opposed to ever beating you around the head with a message. It’s peppered with some exquisite, often unexpected moments that arrive and recede into its matrix with uncanny logic that perhaps comes as close as you’ll get to living inside Mica’s iridescent, endlessly intriguing mind.
Superb chapter of moodily absorbing, pulpy, cybernoir-ish melodrama by Vancouver’s Baby Blue, marking their debut on Ascetic House after a tape and remix for PTP - RIYL James Ferraro, TCF, The Sprawl, 0PN
One for the doomed ravers, ‘Death Of Euphoria’ is an ideal accompaniment to the current state of club stasis and nostalgic reflection at the start of the 2020s. Gelling a deconstructed dance vernacular in a keen narrative style, Baby Blue has us rapt with eight original productions supplemented by remixes from fellow North Americans, 7038634357 and i.o.
While there’s been no shortage of producers working with weightless trance riffs and sculpted noise over the past decade, Baby Blue’s efforts in this arena stand out for their mix of underground, experimental nous and a more broadly appealing grasp of (mostly) instrumental narrative structure and extended melodic thought that places their work in an echelon with likes of James Ferraro’s future classical strokes or 0PN’s retro-futurist cinematic vision.
From initial blasts of fractured textural ambience and sawn-off hardcore techno, the album congeals a forlorn ravers soul with the elegiac rise of ‘Human’, leading to the cold negative ecstasy rush of trancey supersaws in ‘Collapsed’, and a breathless 10’ of widescreen wonder in ‘i hold u’, with i.o supplying a staggering 15 ‘ rework of ‘Collapsed’ transitioning from Merzbow-like noise to Drew McDowell-esque electronics.
Incredible kaleidoscopic/psychedelic synth works by Novo Line, inspired by Japanese Butoh, Gurdjieff’s proto-psych, and ancient Pythagorean tunings and highly recommended if yr into Depeche Mode, Paul DeMarinis, Autechre, Art of Noise, NYZ...
Under a title adapted from Huxley’s pivotal tome on C.20th psychedelia and mind-expansion, on ‘Doors of Proprioception - Articulation’ Novo Line shifts his interests from the noirish, filmic fixations of his ‘Autobahn Zwei’ and ‘To Qatsi And Die In LA’ tapes, to a more profound expression of ideas about “meta-cognition” and awareness of the body’s movement and position within space. The project crucially features research input from artist and yogi, Mathilde Fenoll, and Hélène Tharrault, a yoga teacher and acrobat, who both helped firm up the album’s overlapping interests in mind-body-spirit syncopation, with Mathilde’s voice also appearing as a sampler-mangled mantra, while the pair also plan contribute to the project’s performance iterations in the post-lockdown world.
The two pieces serve to conceptually resonate with, and deepen Novo Line’s references to ancient, Pythagorean tunings, as found on his breakthrough side ‘Movements’ (2016) and its follow-up ‘Dyad’ (2017), but switch their aesthetic touchstones from Belgian and German New Beat to a finer elision of Japanese Butoh’s slow, brutal elegance, with the contoured gradients of ’80s synth soundtracks and New Age ambient. In effect, these references lend a looser conception of meter and space to the music, practically manifesting its impetus to mindfully heighten and align the listener’s kinaesthetic awareness and “observe the appropriate balance of tensing and relaxing” as suggested by Butoh expert, Vangeline in their book ‘BUTOH: Cradling Empty Space’.
Most vitally, in the mesmerising style of all Novo Line’s work, and for all its lofty references, this is music that will be felt in your bones and is bound to perplex the mind with its deeply insightful application of ancient, affective tunings known to stimulate altered states of consciousness. In other words it’s a proper Aerobic Mystics special, blessed with Novo Line’s patented blend of absorbing esoteric nuance and a pop-wise appeal.
Rave flashbacks, field-recordings and fractal ambient collages by Berlin flatmates John “Xela” Twells and Jake Muir for this immersive and sprawling Documenting Sound double-header.
It took a global pandemic to revive their production juices, but John Twells has finally been coaxed back into action here, no less than a square decade since they excommunicated the Xela project. Working in earshot of their flatmate Jake Muir, who follows from a gorgeous second LP for sferic (‘The Hum Of Your Veiled Voice’), the pair supply reflective journals of a week in the early months of lockdown, respectively dwelling on memories of better times, and the feeling of being cloistered at home, as well as drifting an empty Berlin that’s usually fizzing with energy. Both artists were transplanted to the city in the months and year prior to the pandemic, and thus their relationship to the city feels tentatively curious and distanced on each work.
Xela’s passions for rave and film bleed thru on ‘Safe (in trauma)’, whose title combines a reference to Todd Haynes’ 1995 psychological horror, with a nod to Trauma, the bar they would frequent every weekend in a pre-apocalyptic Berlin, and in particular two clubnights featuring Julianna Huxtable and Ziúr that left a huge impression on them just before lockdown hit. The music follows with a transition from the clammiest vocals and OOBE-like sound design, to an apocalypse-baiting Russian hardbass finale to get your creaky heart started in a way thats pretty much impossible to describe, paying testament to Twells’ insatiable, boundless musical curiosity.
Jake Muir was in an adjacent room, studying, while all this was going on in Twells’ bedroom next door, and felt compelled to respond with a contrasting collage of Berlin’s soundsphere. With patient, absorbingly gauzy magick, they subtly locate the poetry in the everyday soundfield of church bells, strolling neighbours and strangers passing beneath their window, and the unusual silences of usually crowded places at Alexanderplatz. The recording has an almost flickering neon feel to it, a tense ambivalence that could spill into either romance or sheer terror at any moment, precariously balanced between the two for its extended duration.
Skin up, kick back with a killer 90 minute mixtape collage culled from the archives of DJ Stryda, a bastion of Bristolian dub - a big look for fans of Death Is Not The End's pirate radio tapes!
Stringing together a mosaic of chat, tunes, and radio jingles from the airwaves circa 1994, the results are a properly intoxicating dose of nostalgia for another place and time, throwing back to an era when it felt like everyone had a radio playing drowsily somewhere in the house, the street, from cars passing by.
The results clearly resonate with the pearls dug out by Death Is Not The End, and obviously with their Bristol Pirates session. But, where those sets were produced post fact, this tape was recorded, pause-button style, back in the day for sharing between pals, and was only recently discovered during a chance loft-digging session by Stryda, who has been a long-standing pirate radio veteran since the late ‘90s with his Sufferah’s Choice show.
Now dusted down and given a lick of TLC at Dubkasm’s studio, the tape is presented as is, sans edits or fuss, and ready to be prized by anyone in need of a vibe. All of us, basically.
Bursting at the seams with 31 exclusive and previously unreleased works by Félicia Atkinson, Fennesz, Malibu, Christina Vantzou, Takagi Masakatsu, JAB, Oliver Coates, Zelienople, Meitei, Clarice Jensen, Mary Lattimore, Alex Zhang Hungtai, iIlyas Ahmed, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Louise Bock and many others, consider ‘A Little Night Music: Aural Apparitions’ your home listening class of 2021 group portrait.
Spanning over two hours across two cassettes, 'A Little Night Music…’ unfurls itself in a literary horror structure, appearing and disappearing through a stirring Prologue and Epilogue by London-based cellist Oliver Coates, with each side of the cassettes introducing its Chapter with a chilling dirge courtesy of the inscrutable Geographic North House Band. Taking the pulse of offbeat ambient, avant-classical and cranky modern composition 2 years after their smart ‘Don’t Look Now’ compilation, Geographic North’s latest one goes deeper and further with a broader selection of label regulars and names both new and familiar.
Oliver Coates and the Geographic North House Band are prominent, with the former providing poetic prologue and epilogues, and the latter marking the chapters with beautifully sore synth vignettes, while the main body invites the romantic ambient pop sentiments of Malibu, Meitei, Félicia Atkinson, and a must check head-ringer from Alex Zhang-Hungtai (Dirty Beaches, Trouble), plus scuzzed Viennese grandiosty from Fennesz, all sequenced with highlights of their label catalogue such as cellist Louise Bock’s furrowed ‘Flummox’, a sort of wintry string mirage from Clarice Jensen, and the gently weeping guitar of Ilyas Ahmed.
Lilting, melodic Malian pop by one of the most popular singers from Wassalou region, highly regarded for producing some of the best signers in Mali
"The meaning of “Kanawa” is so simple. We see our children trying to cross the ocean all the time. I said that many of our children die in the ocean and some of them while crossing the Sahara. Some climb over the wires across the borders and they have gotten shot. We have asked them not to leave and instead stay home. But I ask them why do they leave their country? Why do they decide to go? They said that they leave because of the family situation or problems, poverty, and unemployment. We told them if ever they are to leave, they should privilege legal ways.
They should abide by laws vigorously when they are to emigrate. That’s better than hiding in boats or adopting other illegal means. I ask them to stay and work in their country. So that we can help each other find a solution to this problem. I call on the UN and African leaders so that we can coordinate our efforts to find a solution, to create jobs for them so that young people stop leaving. This song is about that message and I chose it as the title of my album because I like it. My choice is because it is very meaningful and it is something we see on a daily basis. I chose it in order to alert and sensitize everybody about this question of illegal immigration. To sensitize our brothers and sisters. It is a message. That’s why I chose it as the title of my album so that everybody can learn from it and also so that there is a reduction in the number of people emigrating. To sensitize them so that some can stay home and grow the land. Leaving is not the only solution. That’s my message."
Covert operations from some v. notable figures/producers/artists working under the cover of anonymity (for now), following a banner year for Manchester’s YOUTH after doozies from Sockethead, Dijit, Kassem Mosse and many more in 2020 - highly recommended if yr into Mica Levi, John T. Gast, FKA Twigs, The Dead C, Derek Bailey.
Remer Cier is quite a proposition; hustling a roll call spanning figures from the very pinnacle of experimental, contemporary pop, R&B, new age rave, cinema and TV, and spearheaded by one of the most notable A&R/producers of the last decade, the group speaks to a shared political leaning, which is disseminated literally by samples of Bajan PM, Mia Mottley; Steve Biko (as played by Denzel); and Trevor Noah.
Over the past few years, the project has evolved from a thought bubble into reality during lockdown, taking inspiration from London’s fecund, familial jazz and avant-improv scene to sketch out a witted stream-of-consciousness take on pressing issues, ranging from immigration, post-colonialism and racism to Covid-19, and inarguably lands at a critical point as the conscious world reassesses, well, practically everything.
‘Le Dernier Discours du Trône’ on the A side sees Bajan PM Mia Mottley’s cool-headed praise of her nation’s response to the 2020 pandemic layered over an array of prickling and languid strings that appear to channel Company via Miles Davis and The Dead C, creating an uneasy sense of tension with no real relief. On the flip ‘La Tonalité et La Teneur’ they lean in heavier and swaggering, with yanked strings, buzzing microtonal synths and a crispy drum machine underlying barbs of wisdom from Trevor Noah, who asks what white westerners would do without the food n spice immigrants brought with them, taking aim at historic atrocities carried out by the divs of the British empire, effectively still carried out in the dog-whistle politics of the Tories, and by the big ol’ Flump on the other side of the Atlantic.
Teresa Winter lays her soul bare on an incredible new set of raving, UK dubwise styles to rudely and beautifully recommence our Documenting Sound series, bridging some imaginary gap between Maria Minerva, Saint Etienne and Chain Reaction’s Hallucinator.
The half hour / six songs of ’Love Crime’ were recorded by Teresa during the first month of the 2020 lockdown in her bedroom at home on “the ridge” in Woodhouse, Leeds. Typically hand-built with her array of knackered boxes and secretive 4-track tape tekkers, and trading in some of her lushest vox, the album also belies Teresa’s newfound influence from classic dub spirits - as inspired by Edward George’s brilliant podcast series on ‘The Strangeness of Dub’ - which are evident in her judicious application of bass and FX, and quite literally firmed up in her outstanding cover of The Skatalites and Margarita Mahfood’s ‘Woman A Come.’
The recordings palpably pine for better times, distilling romantic and raving urges in Teresa’s patented style of lo-fi electronic mystique. But, as with all her work, any sense of beguiling breeziness is surely counterweighted by more pressing themes of Feminism and proper, feminine pressure. From the temporal melt of her instrumental opener, Teresa appears at her most honest and upfront throughout; meditating on new relationships over proto-jungle styles in her title song and the quietly devastating slowness of ‘It Isn’t My Game’, while her take on ‘Woman A Come’ is intended as prayer of solidarity for victims of domestic abuse (the song’s writer, one of reggae’s first female artists, Anita “Margarita” Mahfood was murdered by her husband, Don Drummond of The Skatalites.). Yet, for levity, the dream ‘ardcore of ‘M-O-E-T’ and the bittersweet ruggedness of ‘fn’ serve to cast more positive spells for a world in psychic distress.
Promesses player Apulati Bien transmutes iPhone sketches made on Parisian trains into natty bass trax starring Haitian MCDomoreless Zoekila, and Mexico’s Vica Paheco
Following directly from his 2017 album ‘OO:NÉ’, the original sketches for ‘RER Tracks’ were made on the titular train that same year, and polished up more recently at his current residence in Brussels. They feel immersed in the transitory madness of daily life in a big city, and yet detached from it, like a fever dream recollection of the olde world.
The deft collage of opener ‘Zaco’ portrays a sort of waking dream state, with scurrying melodies and vaporous flattering evoking the feeling of going with the early morning rush hour flow, into the reverberant dimensions of ‘Garedunord’, and an ace ambient dembow parry with Vica Pacheco in ‘Ouest.’ The EP’s other vocal cut ‘Oz’ is a major highlight, chopping Haiti’s Damoreless Zoekila into something like a wonky Slikback workout that shares a needling, dissonant oddness with ‘Fon du quai’ that feels very 2020.