A Krautrock-enhanced alternate version of NZ OG Roy Montgomery's recent long-form epic. Cluster x Popol Vuh x Spacemen 3 styles.
Roy Montgomery's recent "Island of Lost Souls" was a rare treasure, and 'The Electric Children of Hildegard Von Bingen' was its shimmering centerpiece - all Florian Fricke spirituality and that unmistakable New Zealand fuzz. This special "Motorik Version" adds a driving pulse which no doubt would have sounded out of place on the LP, but presented alone gives the track fresh life. Imagine Popol Vuh's "Hosianna Mantra" crossed with Cluster's "Zuckerzeit" - transcendent, basically.
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."
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.
Recorded at INA GRM and Steamroom, covering a period of thirty years, the gap between the two visits Jim O'Rourke made to the GRM, featuring Eiko Ishibashi on piano, Atsuko Hatano on violin and viola and Eivind Lonning on trumpet .
"Shutting Down Here" is an exceptional recording, commencing GRM's brand new series of releases "Portraits GRM" and covering 30 years of activity from Jim O'Rourke. O'Rourke first visited the studio as a dedicated fan in the 1980s, returning three decades later with his own legend now set in stone. But the pre-supposed dialog between apprentice and master is difficult to excavate; the sounds presented on "Shutting Down Here" melt into each other: piano from Eiko Ishibashi, viola and violin from Atsuko Hatano, Eivind Lonning's trumpet and electronics and other elements from O'Rourke himself.
It's a graceful, poignant fusion of past, present and future, with fragmented pre-digital cyber-drones mutating into acoustic textures, swelling into jubilance or deep-diving into whirlpools of dissonant doom. There's a story here, somewhere, self-referential and non-linear, sipping the auteur's mysterious legacy and contributing criticality. O'Rourke has dedicated four albums to visionary director Nicolas Roeg (Drag City quadrilogy "Bad Timing", "Eureka", "Insignificance" and "The Visitor"), but "Shutting Down Here" might be closest stylistically to Roeg's idiosyncratic, deconstructed vision.
"Due to the wide dynamic levels, please adjust your volume accordingly."
Autechre's classic second album from 1994, reissued for the first time in 15 years...
At bleeding’ last, Warp reissue one of their rarest gems, which Autechre themselves have referred to as conceiving as their “Warp record” - written to complement the label’s early ‘90s ambient/AI catalogue.
Depending your perspective, Amber is quite possibly the most beautiful Autechre album. It’s much softer, atmospheric than the needling electro tones of Incunabula, and also much friendlier, almost innocent than the cold, rugged Tri Repetae; almost like a snapshot of the duo in post-club gouch-out mode, hugging the sofa and chewing their ears in the days before somebody might snap you doing so on their iPhone.
Basically it’s completely essential if you love electronic music.
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”
The French young composer is the link between the most accomplished scholarly music and some radical aspects of noise. Born in Toulouse mid-seventies, he settles in Brussels - which becomes the crossroads of a continuous creation. Currently works and has been collaborating since several years with numerous European ensembles and musicians such as Ensemble
"Unfinished Altar His most recent pieces intimately mix instrumental timbre and sound hybridization, cultivating a certain secrecy around this alchemy. Here more than everywhere else, Christophe Guiraud's new compositions create a dialogue between the times, from the polyphony of Ars Nova to Spectralism, while integrating his noise heritage.
Resolutely an-historical, the last pieces presented here unfold in a trembling stagnation. Performers The ensemble of the pieces creates coherence across a wide range of musicians coming from different places and traditions and from different ensembles - everything is woven together towards a rather spectacular conclusion."
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.
Super-tasty new age/ambient synth reissue from Andrew Wilson aka Andras Fox aka A.r.t. Wilson. Originally conceived as the soundtrack to Rebecca Jensen and Sarah Aitken's contemporary dance piece 'Overworld', it was first self-released as a cassette in Australia before hamburg's Growing Bag Records stepped in to give it a vinyl life. Working under the mantra/subtitle 'The Body Says What Words Cannot', Wilson coaxes the sweetest synth pads and burbling drum machine patter in ten parts, breezing between cloud-like ambient shapes and a quintessentially Antipodean take on Balearic bump interspersed with the most romantic little vignettes. It's dead charming if you're susceptible to pastel coloured daydreams about coconut strewn beaches.
Bonnie “Prince” Billy stays busy - in the past five years he has released albums of previously-recorded songs by Susanna Wallumrod, Mekons, Merle Haggard; even himself, and a collaborative record with Bitchin Bajas. The only thing he hasn't done is a new album of Bonny originals - in case you weren't counting, 2011's Wolfroy Goes To Town was the last one. That's from the first half of the Obama presidency!
"Things happen for reasons that are often bigger than ourselves and outside of our control. They happen suddenly or they happen slowly - but they always happen one day at a time and day after day. Here's Will Oldham, on the confluence of marketplace, values, aesthetic and process that slowly built new album I Made A Place: "In recent years, the whole world of recorded music, in the way that such music is conceived, perceived, recorded, released and distributed, has been atomized. I tried holding my breath, waiting for the storm to pass, but this storm is here to stay and its devastation is our new landscape. What else is a person to do except what he knows and feels, which for me is making records built out of songs intended for the intimate listening experiences of wonderful strangers who share something spiritually and musically? I started working on these songs thinking that there was no way I was going to finish them and record and release them. This was a constructive frame-of-mind that protected the songs until this frightening moment when we let go of them and give them to you."
The world has changed. Some things will never change. Some are gone forever. Thankfully, this isn't one of them: the wait for new Bonnie “Prince” Billy is now on a timer. What's more, the new single drops a bit of Apocalypse WOW. Picking up in a sense where last year's "Blueberry Jam" left off, "(At The) Back of the Pit" considers what to do with the things we love when it comes time for the death (and therefore, rebirth) of our painstakingly-built'n'kill't world. It's an affirming country jam: elegiac early moments give way to jaunty roots-rock strides, a horn section soulfully charting the long rays at the end of the day as well as the first rays of the new rising sun as they light on all our hopeful tomorrows."
D.K.’s adroit aerobic mystic suite, ’The Ancient Kingdom’ is inscribed to vinyl for the first time following its now sought-after tape release during the ill-feted summer of 2020. South East Asian-inspired beatdown, rude steppers, and dancehall-adjacent psychedelia that’s recommended listening if you’re into Shackleton, DJ Python, Horsepower Productions, Roska...
Hustling a handful of rhythmelodic nuggets informed by his Vietnamese heritage, the Paris-based Dang-Khoa Chau aka D.K. delivers in a sublime and slinky style that has become his hallmark over the course of four solo albums and a clutch of singles since 2014. Returning to Good Morning Tapes, site of his superb and already hard to find ‘The Goddess Is Dancing’, he reprises that record’s outernational psychedelic themes thru five ‘floor-ready cuts working adjacent to 100bpm dembow dancehall, beatdown house, and ancient-futurist UKFunky.
With bags of disciplined swagger, D.K. bends disparate styles to his will in each bit. On a slow, humid yet deft flex he rolls out reverberant gamelan patterns punctuated by slicing 808 rimshots in ‘Po Nagar Towers’, and follows a shimmering sort of dembow motion with fluttering lysergic motifs in ‘Cham Dance’, and a rudely dubbed-out variation ‘Five Wisdoms’, whereas the others keeping the tempo needle flicking upwards, as in the needlepoint stepper ‘The Ancient Kingdom’ recalling vintage Horsepower Productions, and in the pendulous UKF parallels of ‘Assault From Java’ recalling classic Roska.
Reissue of Mika Vainio's final album under the Ø moniker...
Following on from the crushing technoid scapes of 'Kilo' under his own name and the blackened alloys of his ÄÄNIPÄÄ album with Stephen O'Malley, 'Konstellaatio' reveals the revered producer at his most sensitive, teetering on the brink of the abyss and projecting to the stars. Between the goosebump-inducing panoramic pads of opener 'Otava' and the twinkling electro-dub of closer 'Takaisin' we're made privy to some of the strongest material in his whole oeuvre, and we really don't say that lightly.
His tactile manipulation of bass and sub-bass dynamics and spacious application of pure, isolated frequencies is just mindblowing, evoking imagery on sub-atomic scales. Far from being an academic exercise in production, there's an awe-inspiring and compelling sense of pathos and wonder at its core owing as much to the grandeur of Beethoven as it does the diffuse sound sculptures of Parmegiani.
It's pointless listening to this material on shit speakers because you're gonna miss half of it's extreme subtleties, but for those who know and care about this music, prepare to bunker down with one of Vainio's finest.
Wound Without A Tear is a compilation of “Australian” Ambient and Experimental Music; an area so often overlooked and misunderstood because it does not easily fall into historical context. However, the fifteen years (1993-2008) the collection cites–a period of early 90s post-rave ethereality defined by pleasure-centred spaces (chill-out rooms) and the personal computer’s emergence as a popular tool for file-sharing and secondary-living in the 00s–is befitting of closer examination.
"The recordings were sourced from artists, labels, corrupted disk drives, CD-Rs, the WWW and archives of Melbourne’s 3RRR community radio station. During the 1990s, as new technologies emerged and mass digital culture flourished, artists explored the emergent possibilities of the Internet with a utopian fervour, viewing the web and its plethora of images and information as a site of boundless potential. In the 2000s, file sharing connected people around the world directly to one another, and this incorporation of online experience into material objects, meant there was an increasingly porous border between the online and offline worlds–if there remained a border, at all.
What is remarkable from this collection is that so many people, working (mostly) on their own came up with such remarkably similar ideas. In most cases these similarities can be related to the inherent qualities of the medium, though often any distinction is decidedly blurred at the edges. The compilation seeks to make the works of these various artists available as a means of “demystification”. No specific destination is intended upon. Perhaps by the time you have reached the end, you will have forgotten where you began."
Crucial early work from the Japanese master of digital minimalism - like Thomas Köner or Lustmord, but with more bass.
Ryoji Ikeda needs no introduction here - the Japanese composer and A/V originator has been impressing the world with his game-changing hi-frequency rhythmic loops and stark monochromatic visuals since the mid 1990s, and has never gone astray. This special Sähkö vinyl EP combines two of Ikeda's most important early pieces, 'Luxus 1-3' from his 1995-released solo debut "1000 Fragments" and 'Space (Altered Version)', from 1998's "Time and Space". Both pieces highlight why Ikeda is an enduring presence in minimal electronic music, but reveal vastly different sounds than you might expect if you've only peeped later material like "dataplex" and "Supercodex".
'Luxus 1-3' is beautifully deep, almost orchestral as it melts from pulsing, harmonic ambience into gloomy resonance, sounding as if you're trapped at the bottom of a gigantic steel drum. 'Space (Altered Version)' begins to sound more like the Ikeda we recognize, with trunk-rattling sub-bass stabs and ultrasonic glitches dancing around a doomy, dissonant drone that creeps ever closer. It's startling, essential work from Ikeda that bridges the gap between gloomy dark ambient and the glossy, iced-over hi-design minimalism of Raster Noton.
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."
The master of the tape loop returns with "Lamentations", yet another collection of eroded drone for low-light dreamers, captured and constructed from tape loops and studies from Basinski’s archives – dating back to 1979 – Lamentations is over forty years of mournful sighs meticulously crafted into songs. They are shaped by the inevitable passage of time and the indisputable collapsing of space – and their collective resonance is infinite and eternal.
Those familiar with Basinski's catalog won't find a lot new here - not a complaint - like the molasses-slow shots that made David Lynch's "Twin Peaks: The Return" so eerily affecting, Basinski's spine-chilling repetition drags u into a state of near-hypnosis, focusing on the tiny details as they crumble in and out of view.
"Lamentations" is the perfect title; we've been spinning this on repeat as the constant chatter of apocalyptic news bubbles thru social media and every newsreel across the planet. It's hard to tell exactly what Basinski is lamenting but it doesn't really matter - each track sounds like a fragment of our past slowly fading from view. As "The Disintegration Loops" mourned a New York City that had been lost, "Lamentations" feels like a memorial for something else huge and all-encompassing. Nostalgia's a hell of a drug.
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."
‘Sign’ is Autechre’s first new album-album proper since ‘Elseq’ and contains some of their most emosh compositions in eons, perhaps since ‘Tri Repetae’.
Practically pocket-sized in comparison to their sprawling torrent of live material and radio recordings in recent years, ’Sign’ is a return to the sort of concision found circa ‘Exai’ and their earlier albums. Effectively they’ve gotten better to grips with their live set-up, and the hyper ideas found in their work-in-progress demonstrations on the five volume ‘Elseq’ and 8hrs of ‘NTS Sessions’ have been refined into moments of crystalline ambient baroque beauty and liquid-limbed swag on ’Sign’.
After their music has undergone what could be called a growth spurt in recent years, the acrid plasma of their complex, hyper-inorganic systems feels to congeal, create more intricate snaps across the album, from the lush cosmic collisions of ‘M4 Lema’, to the rhizomic arp weaving on ‘F7’, while refining their tendons and muscle in the gyrostep of ‘au14’ and ‘such.mefd2’. The anthropomorphisation of their synthesis accelerates with the album’s 2nd half with the elegiac catharsis of ‘Metaz form8’ displaying a greater emotional intelligence, while their shapeshifting synthesis grows semblances of glowing hair and teeth and skin in ’th red a’, and even a plaintive human heartache in the systolic thud and bloo pads of ‘psin AM’ that rawly bleeds out in the album’s future classic closer ‘r cazt’.
This LP was hinted at by Autechre as one of two albums ready for 2020, so we’ll take it this is their “U Ok Hun?” one to some possibly more hardcore turns in the future. Have it.
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.
A sultry change of pace from hotly-tipped, Manchester-based producer 96 Back; working a warmly personalised sound comparable with hypnagogic house gems from NWAQ to Actress and Sensate Focus
Slowing down his more frenetic, hyper sensibilities found on a stack of cherished shots for CPU and Happy Skull in recent years, ’9696 Dream’ dovetails with Local Action’s sweetlad styles across 10 cuts that roll, jack, and swing within the 110-130bpm bracket and leave much more room than usual for his melodic urges to play out.
Darewesay, it’s a more “mature” sound, but don’t take that to mean wine-bar-y. It’s all more in tune with the original Detroit. NYC, and Chi inspirations that hit the North hard when 96 Back was but a bairn, and would soon became twisted to UK tastes via the likes of Warp in his spiritual home city, Sheffield.
He covers many bases under that vibe, from quiescent beatdown on ‘Sat In’, to strutting deep techno in ‘Freepass For Them’, taking time out for beat-less reflection in ‘Phone’ and the lush ‘Friend Moment’ feat. Joe Paisan, before toying with Mark Fell templates in ‘Hide_NGroove’, and saving his more ADD tendencies to the hyper chromatic arps of the title tune.
"Who is Jane Inc.? She is CEO and pencil pusher; she is a blank, unknowable Jane Doe, and she is the singular solo project of Carlyn Bezic. Also known as one half of weird-pop duo Ice Cream, one fifth of rock and roll fever dream Darlene Shrugg, and touring member of US Girls band, Bezic has been building a body of work on merging a pop sensibility with off-kilter influences."
"Jane Inc's debut album, Number One, out on Telephone Explosion in March 2021, is an exciting progression of that body of work: a meditation on the self that marries pop songwriting with swirling sonic experiments. The eight songs on Number One act as pieces of a collage, forming a face that's both familiar and strange, direct and oblique. Synths sneer and shimmer, fuzzed-out guitars play against Bezic's soothing and hypnotic voice, and a constant and confident bass grounds each track. She brings us into flowing, dreamlike reflections, creating an expansive world that stretches beyond the album’s limits. Number One began with Bezic layering bass, guitar, synth, and vocals on top of drum breaks and samples. She later recruited Toronto recording engineer and stalwart Steve Chahley (Badge Epoque, US Girls, Ben Stevenson, et al) to co-produce. They then recorded live drums performed by Evan J. Cartwright (U.S Girls, Tasseomancy), saxophone by Nick Dourado (BUDi Band, Aquakultre, Fiver) and Wurlitzer by Scott Harwood (Scott Hardware), expanding a bedroom project to blown out depths and glittering heights.
The album’s thoughtful production and lush layering of futuristic synths push the quick satisfaction of pop song structure into a hypnotizing work that reveals more of itself with each listen. Know thyself. Number One is a testament to the endurance and the shortcomings of that familiar maxim in our current climate. How do we make sense of the world and our place in it when we feel both complicit in it’s ills and victimized by them? How do we navigate being more connected than ever, when that connection twists reality and disconnects us from ourselves? How do we understand our mental health, our relationships, the structures that surround us? We look inward to find glimmers of truth, watching the fragments come together to form a distorted reflection, our own eyes atop a stranger’s grinning, Colgate smile."
Much needed new vinyl edition of Nine Inch Nails' synthesist, Alessandro Cortini's much sought-after second album for Hospital productions, originally released in 2015 and out of print since. On 'Risveglio' Cortini animates an enveloping shadowplay of Roland 202 and TB303, here enhanced by the intangible quality provided by ambient room recordings that lend proceedings a mysterious and unquantifiable dimension. It’s easily our favourite Cortini.
'Risveglio' is the 'Awakening' to 'Sonno''s 'Sleep'. Like its predecessor, it was also written and recorded while on tour but, unlike 'Sonno', it syncs his favoured 202 with the unique integers of a TB303, eliding the two via a delay unit to expand his sound without ever losing sight of the crushing harmonic noise romance at its core. It's fair to say that we've never really heard the 303 used quite like this, eviscerated of its usual characteristics and instead used as an electro-acoustic component to convey a ghostly sense of momentum and underlying tension in some of the albums strongest passages.
Ultimately, however, it's the perpetually claggy, electro-acoustic atmosphere and desiccated timbre of Cortini's spectres that we find ourselves so enchanted by, operating at liminal levels of ambient biting points similar to his label mate, Kevin Drumm, but guided by a grander, innate sense of gothic emotion. Cortini is a genuine anomaly by today's synth music standards, and 'Risveglio' is a perfect case in point.
On the cover: Warren Ellis: As a key collaborator with Nick Cave, the leader of Dirty Three and an esteemed composer in his own right, Warren Ellis has built himself a sturdy outpost on the margins of rock. A new work with vocalist Marianne Faithfull offers further evidence of his versatility. By Emily Pothast
Nazar: Currently based in the Netherlands, the Angolan producer has pioneered his own style of rough kuduro in order to confront the conflict, corruption and poverty of his petrostate homeland. By Ray Philp
Once Upon A Time In Watts: From his arrival in Los Angeles in 1940, trumpeter Don Cherry traversed the vibrant suburbs of the city in search of the new thing. By Gabriel Bristow
Invisible Jukebox: Mike Paradinas × Lara Rix-Martin: The founders of Planet Mu and Objects Limited test each other with a mystery record selection
Nakul Krishnamurthy: Carnatic resonances from the Glasgow based vocalist. By Daniel Spicer
Ann Rosén: Swedish composer sculpts the sound of silence. By Julian Cowley
Kohsuke Mine: Post-bop and free music collide in the Japanese master’s reissued catalogue. By James Hadfield
Rizomagic: Non-hegemonic beats from the Colombian duo. By Russ Slater
Unlimited Editions: Murailles Music
Unofficial Channels: Etudes
Global Ear: Our regular column continues to report on music in the time of pandemic. This month: festival strategies from The Hague’s Rewire and Newcastle’s TUSK
The Inner Sleeve: William Parker on The Ornette Coleman Trio’s At The “Golden Circle” Stockholm
Epiphanies: Val Wilmer discovers the spiritual roots of jazz in Harlem church congregations
Print Run: New music books: Miss Pat’s reggae empire, Richard Thompson’s folk voice, Steve Beresford’s toys, and more
On Screen: New films and DVDs: Tori Kudo’s Tori Kudo: Archive; Stacey Lee’s Underplayed
On Location: Recent live events and streams: Lafayette Gilchrist, Patricia Brennan, Elysia Crampton, Laraaji, and more
On Site: Recent art shows: Atom Egoyan’s They Will Take My Island; Das Musikgeschäft
Brooding UK garage-techno rollers and steppers from Jossy Mitsu, graduating to their solo debut after a mean shot on the ‘Frass FM 5’ comp
‘Odyssey’ creeps into action with icy, trimmed 2-step and proto-grime energy that they galvanise into a steely steppers techno style on ‘1997’, and tease out into bolshy breakstep with ’Turismo’, and tuck away into dark, whirring garage mechanics on ‘Ø.’
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.
We can hardly believe it, Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore’s diaze-jazz masterpiece finally touches wax some 16 years since the original CD first cast its long shadow over our evenings. Quite simply; a must-have for fans of Lynch & Badalamenti soundtracks!!!
After spending so much time with this essential record it’s become even harder to sum up its impact as it just defines a whole sound or even a feeling for us, and we’d ideally rather leave that definition as smoky and mysterious as the sounds that curl from its black grooves.
It’s an album best absorbed or drunk deeply with close friends or solo in comfortable, low lit situations, preferably with a single malt and mellow smokes for best reception if that suits you. What ensues is as life-affirmingly contemplative and uncannily memorable as it gets, conjuring imagery of classic film noir and rainy city panoramas that conveys an underlying, romantic darkness which faultlessly seduces us every time.
Quite honestly, every home should own a copy for those times when nothing else will do, holding up a rain-spattered black mirror for those times when you’re at the end-of-the-rope, dangling for life, just can’t figure out your feelings, or need reassurance that you’re not the only one prone to those thoughts.
Endearingly naif Aussie art-school/post-punk pop from Melbournian J. Macfarlane’s Reality Guest, finding an ideal home on Glasgow’s Night School
““Ta Da” is the debut full length from J. McFarlane's Reality Guest - aka the solo music of Australian artist Julia McFarlane. As a member of the group Twerps, McFarlane has traversed guitar-centric, melodic pop music for some years while honing a highly unique, personal musical language. Ta Da is the first recorded unveiling of McFarlane’s affecting, oblique songwriting panache. Originally released in her native Australia on Hobbies Galore, Ta Da will be released worldwide by Night School in June 2019.
Wheezing into view with a troubled reed instrument set against a s of whoozy synth lines, Human Tissue Act is a foggy curtain the listener is invited to peel back. The dissonant notes are left to dance entwined, with clarinet heralding a Harry Partch-esque mallet percussion interlude. It’s a mood. With no resolution in sight, an audience dragged closer into uncertainty is suddenly drenched with the light of inter-weaving wah wah synth and saxophone. I Am A Toy introduces us to McFarlane’s vocal, an effortless and matter-of-fact, accented statement that quietly takes the reins. While McFarlane’s previous work in Twerps might reference 80s UK and antipodean guitar pop, Ta Da showcases a different influences immersed in psychedelic music and synths. It’s a brilliant, deft concoction swimming in Young Marble Giants-type minimalism washed with bare pop and harmony similar to Kevin Ayers making sense of a Melbourne suburb full of faces half-recognised in the blanching sun.”
Jesse Hackett and Mariano Chavez - both members of Nyege Nyege supergroup Metal Preyers - dive into the murky world of lo-fi pop. Think A*iel P*nk vs Ghost Box, but not cancelled.
A collaboration between Gorillaz keyboardist Jesse Hacket and Chicago-based artist Mariano Chavez, Teeth Agency is a multimedia project, frothing between formats (their debut was described as a music-book-art-object) as haphazardly as they do genres. "You Don't Have to Live in Pain" was curated by Stones Throw boss Peanut Butter Wolf, and honestly sounds like a mixtape, with tracks bounding from cassette noise to Casio pop to gurgling psyche and blunted jazz without missing a beat.
Everything sounds as if it was recorded to dictaphone tape from shows miles and years apart; instruments are swapped up and torn to shreds, voices mutate from track to track and styles are as incomprehensible as the timeline. If you enjoyed the duo's work on last year's ace Metal Preyers album, give this one a look: it's like a hauntological vaunt through the Sublime Frequencies catalog with only a Grateful Dead bootleg for company.
‘Workaround’ is the singular debut album proper by Beatrice Dillon; an eminent rhythm fiend whose productions and DJ sets are prized for her patient, fluid grasp of space, texture and devilish, syncopated UK club styles. It's almost impossible to articulate just how hard we’ve fallen for this one, but trust that for our money it’s the most vital album we’ve heard in recent times, effortlessly playing to both forward/club and pop-styles without ever feeling like it’s trying too hard to do either.
Counting her most finely sculpted work among its 14 tracks, ‘Workaround’ is the definitive yet most open-ended statement of an aesthetic Beatrice has worked toward for the past decade. Entirely running at 150bpm, but rarely repeating any one pattern, the album works in a fractal not fractional style of rhythmelodic suss that acknowledges a world of influence from African, sub-continental and Caribbean musics, as well as contemporary electronics, and how they’ve all feed into the unique prism of UK club music.
Recorded over 2017-2019 at studios in London, Berlin and New York, and featuring a wealth of tactile guest input by everyone from Kuljit Bhamra (tabla) to Pharaoh Sanders Band’s Jonny Lam (pedal steel guitar); Laurel Halo (synth/vocal); Lucy Railton (cello); Batu (percussion); Hemlock’s Untold, Morgan Buckley and Senegalese Griot, Kadialy Kouyaté - Beatrice deftly absorbs their instrumental colours and melody into an interlinked body of work that suggests immersive, nuanced options for dancers, DJs and domestic players.
Also taking core inspiration from literary and non-musical ideas such as James P. Carse’s book ‘Finite and Infinite Games’ and its central tenet that “an infinite game is for the purpose of continuing the play”, along with English painter Bridget Riley’s essays on grids, colour, and light perception, plus margaret Glyn’s 1907 text on ‘The Rhythmic Conception of Music’, the album operates within a finely crafted, self-sufficient system that favours functionality over anything “esoteric” or mystic.
Of course with such a wide ranging set of influences it requires a steady hand and mind to tesselate the myriad angles of her influences without making a mess of it, and Beatrice’s soberly controlled approach and fixed, minimalist, temporal framework sets the ground for a completely revelatory, crisp, syncretic consolidation of instrumental and synthetic vibes that will speak to the broadest dancefloor church and future-proof the album for a long time to come.
Viewed from any angle, Workaround is tight and brimming with vitality. Using dub’s mutability, but leaving aside its dread aspect, it yields a supple yet solid, elegantly rugged club choreography that dances between Bhamra’s floral tabla rolls to lissom sort of synth-pop with Laurel Halo, and best of all, a killer run of fizzing steppers that somehow wrap up the physics of Artwork’s ‘Basic G’ with the disruptive flux of Rian Treanor, matching the in-the-pocket funk of Ricky Villalobos and Mark Fell’s ‘Multistability’ ideas, while nodding to the swingeing syncopation of Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force and the deeply gratifying percussive anticipation of Photek or DJ Plead. For our money, a masterpiece - no less.
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."