The fleet fingers of harpist Rhodri Davies pick out connections between Gaelic, West African and Far Eastern traditions - to our untrained ears at least - on the 3rd album via his Amgen label
Making up 1 part of 4 to his ‘Pedlar’ boxset, ‘An Air Swept Clean of All Distance’ was recorded in 2014 at Blank Studios, Newcastle, and exec produced by folk chief Richard Dawson, and adorned by a continuing series of artwork by Anna Peaker. It skips back along the timeline to what sounds like happy times, where Davies’ playing fizzes with typically inventive, optimistic, and timeless beauty, which, if you shut your eyes and try a little, could almost hail from any point in the past half millennia - although we do wonder if they really shredded like this back in thee day.
He’s really going for it on this one, so understandably the tracks are mostly succinct, as who the chuff could keep up this sort of energy for any longer?! They come on In flurried waves with ‘soaked ruins of a raft’ and culminate in him expending his energies on the longest, final piece with the hyper jabs of ‘on the outer reach of the unending’, with numbers such as ‘In Distortion-Free Mirrors’ attacking like Rian Treanor doing Korean classical music at hi-speed, and the breathless, mellifluous flex of ‘continues, placement’ recalling Kadodi styles we’ve heard on Nyege Nyege Tapes. But of course he makes room for slower, serene moments, diffracting the pace thru more spacious and lilting parts like ‘Each clear and sudden drop itself’ and the anticipatory pauses of ‘fingers pluck played on by’ that temper the album’s gushing sequence.
'Described by Richter as “a place to think”, VOICES was a response to our tempestuous political climate and the enduring need for compassion. VOICES 2 develops this principle, continuing and intensifying the “place to think” concept.
"While the first part of the project focuses on the text of The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights and its uplifting vision – opening with the 1949 recording of Eleanor Roosevelt reading the Declaration, and including excerpts read by a global community of 70 voices – VOICES 2 opens up a meditative musical space to consider those ideas raised by the first record,"
Trust Montreal's anti-capitalist post-rawk heroes to rustle up the ideal soundtrack to global collapse. It's their most charged material in years: raw, deliriously cinematic and rich with serrated urgency.
New albums from Mogwai and Godspeed in a matter of weeks? Is it 1998 again? We're not complaining - this flickering, silvery opus from GY!BE is among their most satisfying sets to date. "G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END!" finds the band in an awkward comfort zone, inspired by 2020's pandemic and subsequent global collapse to dust off their shortwave radio and compose a fuzzed-out response to the failure of the state system. It makes a lot of sense; since they debuted with "F? A? ∞" they've never been quiet about their anti-fascist, anti-corporate, anti-state views. With this in mind, "G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END!" is almost a "told ya" moment, or a euphoric apology for decades of prophetic post-rock doom-saying.
Weaved together with crackly snippets of shortwave hum, the album almost begins like John Carpenter's "Prince of Darkness" with spine-chillingly indistinct chatter that signals isolation, desperation and media distortion. From there, the band allow their glacial compositions to hiss and crack through each distinct movement. At this stage in their career they have nurtured a rapport that sings as loud as any instrument, and twinned with their timely creative surge this has led to tracks that feel like a distillation of GY!BE's best qualities. The thrumming crescendos, Kraut-fed percussion, thick walls of layered feedback, near-classical compositional care and an unashamedly widescreen grasp of narrative. Godspeed sound heavier, tighter and more vital here than they have in ages. Who else could craft such elegiac, melancholy doom for the end of the world?
After releasing their 17th album 'Abolition of The Royal Familia' earlier this year, The Orb are back with further guest appearances on their remix album 'Abolition Of The Royal Familia - Guillotine Mixes'.
Including mixes from David Harrow, Moody Boyz, Youth, Violeta Vicci, Andy Falconer and more.
More bizarre and brilliant outsider funk from fine artist and latter day renaissance man Lonnie Holley.
Modern Americana pioneer Matthew E. White teams up here with sculptor, educator and later-life musical hero Lonnie Holley to rock through a set of eccentric psych-funk-gunk that should appeal to anyone who has been fascinated by Holley's last few records. Holley's idiosyncratic lyricism is the draw here, as he deconstructs the issues du jour - selfies, reality, outer space, psychedelics - with wit and undeniable style. But White's musical contributions make this more than just an odd aside, if you've enjoyed Holley's recent run ("MITH", "National Freedom") then "Broken Mirror" shows that Holley has more mileage yet. Not bad for someone who released their debut album at the age of 62 eh? Southern funk at its weirdest and wildest.
Jangling, mostly instrumental bluegrass and country variations from Chicago-based acoustic guitar maestro Bill MacKay and Durham, North Carolina-based Appalachian folk player Nathan Bowles. Quite lovely!
'Keys' is MacKay and Bowles' debut, and is a plaintive horseback ride into American folk music. Both players have trad chops, and flesh out their playing with virtuoso flourishes giving their music a haze of Fahey-esque experimentation. But this is more melancholy and more immediate than anything Fahey ever meditated on - MacKay and Bowles aren't afraid of scratching the country itch and teasing out a tear or two.
Imagine Bonnie "Prince" Billy covering the "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou!" soundtrack and you'll have some idea of where this one's headed.
Thomas Fehlmann returns to the sediment of ages, drawing from a similar lexicon of sounds to that used on 2018's '1929 - Das Jahr Babylon'.
"Like that album, Böser Herbst was produced as the soundtrack to a documentary made by Volker Heise, Herbst 1929, Schatten Über Babylon, which offers historical insight to the third season of the television series, Babylon Berlin. It adds yet another string to the bow of this most forward-thinking and creative artist, whose history takes in NDW (Palais Schaumburg), techno (3MB) and psychedelic ambience (The Orb), plus a clutch of gorgeous solo albums that explore wide terrain, from the dancefloor through supine home listening to compelling soundtrack work.
Fehlmann's approach here was to "capture" samples of contemporaneous music, "picking up the dirt and dust of original 1920s archive sound and music excerpts and shaping the essence into this selection of tunes," he recalls. After delivering the material to the editing room, Fehlmann "threw all the pieces up in the air, deliberately lost the overview in consequence, researched the atmospheric thread and assembled it for this album."
"In an industry always pinning its hopes on the next big trend, Benny Sings is in it for the long haul. The Dutch artist has honed a signature sound while creating a colorful catalog of essential pop gems that have led to loyal global following.
Benny’s songs are sophisticated and easy to fall in love with, ear-worming melodies and sticky choruses the result of years of craft that have made him the ultimate songwriter’s songwriter. Rex Orange County, with whom Benny wrote the platinum hit ‘Loving Is Easy’, says, “In my opinion he’s one of the most underrated producers and artists going.”
Benny cut his teeth as a studio collaborator and to this day is as comfortable working with a huge range of musicians as he is writing his own distinct songs. He says: “I’ve learned along the way that working with other artists enriches my music. I’m a bit of a loner, and because of that I’ve always had more affinity with songwriters than with musicians. Over the past few years I’ve been actively chasing collaborations with kindred spirits.”
Some of those kindred spirits bring their talents to new album Music. Mac DeMarco lends deadpan vocals to ‘Rolled Up’; Tom Misch contributes a blazing guitar solo to ‘Nobody’s Fault’; the title track was written with songwriter P.J. Morton, and ‘Kids’ features L.A. rapper KYLE. Cautious Clay appears on the laid-back pop song ‘Run Right Back’, and Kelsey Gonzales of The Free Nationals and Emily King contribute vocals to the ecstatic, gospel-influenced ‘Miracles’. Music was engineered and mixed by Renaud Letang, of the famed Studios Ferber in Paris.
Before Benny even started working on the album, he had an idea for a song that he knew would be a perfect fit for Mac DeMarco. When the two artists met up in L.A., they wrote ‘Rolled Up’ together almost effortlessly – even its opening lyric came about by happenstance, overheard from someone in the street. A song about feeling down without any reason, ‘Rolled Up’ is a counterpoint to the album’s generally upbeat tone."
Finnish future jazz eccentric Jimi Tenor collects a bevy of unreleased tracks from his fertile Warp era on this fun, free and funky set.
Between 1993 and 2000, Jimi Tenor was composing and recording music at an alarming rate. His bundle of Warp albums was honored on last year's "NY, Hel, Barca" set, and "Deep Sound Learning" goes deeper, exploring the Finnish multi-instrumentalist's extensive vault of unfinished demos and unreleased material.
Anyone who hear Tenor's classic run with albums like "Organism" and "Out of Nowhere" should know what to expect. Brittle tropicalia, leftfield jazz, sweaty library music funque, eerie Italian giallo vibes and slippery acid house. Tenor inhabits his own universe completely, not lifting music styles but folding them into his peculiar, effervescent and unashamedly passionate celebration of sound.
R.I.Y.L. Jason Molina, Bonnie Prince Billy, Bill Callahan, Damien Jurado.
"The raw inspiration for Vague Tidings came from a 2006 DIY tour of the 49th state. It was a trip that went off the beaten path sometimes a bit too far for comfort. Now, over a decade later, listeners find Joe O’Connell aka Elephant Micah stationed at a creaky spinet piano, singing about the Alaskan sky. Throughout, his lyrics take a new angle on a pet theme: human encounters with the natural world. Vague Tidings places these encounters in the American West and, at times, in its sci-fi corollary, outer space. Its imagery draws from the allure of Alaska, the idea of Western prosperity, and the human relationship to wilderness more broadly. Often, O’Connell sings about the goal of capturing and commodifying nature. In poetic sketches of resource extraction industries and dark sky tourism, frontier lust runs amok. Pipelines catch fire and stars disappear, all to the tune of a stark, uncanny Americana.
Vague Tidings is a sustained, hallucinatory rendering of this theme. In style, its eight songs follow a switchback path between foggy incantations and mountain anthems. Made with a small cohort of acoustic instrumentalists, the record is rough hewn, but easy on the ears. To put Vague Tidings down on tape, O’Connell assembled some of his favorite musicians in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina area, where he’s lived since 2015: Libby Rodenbough (Mipso) bows and plucks a detuned fiddle, Matt Douglas (Mountain Goats) breathes life into various woodwinds, and Matt O’Connell (Lean Year) sets the pace on a two-piece drum set. Their loose, imaginative playing pushes Vague Tidings beyond the singer-songwriter genre into something richer in texture. Ultimately, this is foreboding but spacious music, with plenty of room for reconsidering life on earth."
'Synopsis Seriation,' Hecker's latest release with Editions Mego, draws upon current research in machine listening and music information retrieval, where the 'ghosts in the machine' are unsupervised, engineered operators designed to extract auditory features from a signal.
"The album advances a general research programme Hecker initiated through various projects. In 'A Script for Machine Synthesis' (EMEGO 226, 2017), the third chapter in the trilogy of text-sound pieces in collaboration with Reza Negarestani, both a resynthesized and a computer-generated voice modelled after the narrators voice, reflect on systems of language, automatons and chimerized synthesis. 'Articulação Sintetico' (EMEGO 180C, 2017) — a complete resynthesis of 'Articulação' (EMEGO 180, 2014) — features synthetic voice models of Joan La Barbara, Sugata Bose and Anna Kohler. Central to 'Inspection II' (EMEGO 268 / UF047, 2019) is a bespoke computer-generated voice, reciting Robin Mackay's libretto — by means of deep neural networks and machine listening computation, perpetually crossing formal anticipations of sound analysis to the unexpected artefacts of synthesis**.
'Synopsis Seriation' does away with such staging of computer-generated speech. It dramatises synthetic sound in all its unnameable intensities and detail by transforming four multichannel pieces Hecker produced since 2015. These have been analysed, dissected and reconstructed utilising information geometry, a subfield of mathematics at the interaction between statistics and differential geometry, designed by Vincent Lostanlen. Similarities and logical segmentation, partly accessible to the human listener, partially exclusive to virtual listening agents, open a dialogue with these spectral operators. Moving between analysis and synthesis, they render audible their intelligence signature, the signal trace of their nonhuman brain-ear, between discriminative and generative models. This newly seriated arrangement of 'Synopsis Seriation' further abstracts and detours the appearance of specific motifs, sequences and characters, into a hallucinatory gaze. Remembrance of what has just been heard, in which formulation and mode of synthesis continually navigate between sensible and highly formulated registers. Resembling George Seurat's perception of the Seine, 'Synopsis Seriation' is a streamlined, structured whole. Yet, by embracing time, succession, and sound as an immaterial, its multitude of auditory perspectives and encoded logic challenges a traditional synoptical overview of analytical architecture and resynthesized sensation."
Finally available once again, "Keyboard Fantasies" was originally self-released on tape in 1986 and contains some of Beverly Glenn-Copeland's most fascinating material. An FM-synthesized combo of new age private press eccentricity and accidentally prophetic Detroit techno futurism. So good!
'Keyboard Fantasies' was entirely recorded using a Yamaha DX-7 synthesizer and a Roland TR-707 drum machine, giving Glenn-Copeland's third album a glassy, robust character that sets it apart from many of its contemporaries. Tangentially, he was working in the new age sphere, but his eerie homespun compositions pointed at far more more mind-expanding, idiosyncratic places.
While opener 'Ever New' (a highlight of last year's fantastic Glenn-Copeland primer "Transmissions") is charmingly light-hearted, with Glenn-Copeland's vocals layered over chiming BBC Radiophonic Workshop synths, 'Slow Dance' sounds more like slow techno, operating in the same realm as Yellow Magic Orchestra with synth bells and voices spun around a grinding 707 beat. Elsewhere, the jazzy 'Old Melody' sounds like a discarded cue from Angelo Badalamenti's "Twin Peaks" soundtrack, or an interlude from Air's "Moon Safari". Lovely.
Southern gothic shoegaze soul from Sharp Veins, debuting on Andrew Lyster’s YOUTH with a sorely affected album distilling aspects of A.R. Kane, B.o.C, and SALEM with fugged-up bedroom atmospheres in a brittle but tender style.
Finding his place on the Manchester label between Sockethead’s cranky blatz and the smoked-out downstroke of Dijit, ‘Lips The Same Colour’ reveals Sharp Veins’ burned-out soul at its most vulnerable and absorbing. It’s a lushly depressive come-down from the giddy rush of his self-released album ‘Armor Your Actions Up In Quest’ in 2020, and previous excursions on Different Circles and NYC’s UNO, betraying a syrupy emotive core dematerialised in clouds of reverb and harmonised pads, anchored in some of his most disciplined nods to rugged US hip hop drums and emo rap tropes.
In slowing down and opening up his sound to downbeat, pop-wise levels, Sharp Veins comes into his own amid a new wave of artists expressing the melancholy of modern life, with a personalised sound design that says as much as his bleak lyrics and ohrwurming melodies. Everything feels eviscerated and held in suspended animation, attempting to expunge ubiquitous emotions.
Between the numbed doomy tension of ‘Unless’, with its plagent vocal lament, to the gutted cry of “what the f*ck am I doing here?” in ‘Bastard Swarm’, Sharp Veins strikes a nerve on the tinny shimmer of ‘Glue Forest’ and continues under the skin with the B.o.C.-like wooze of album centrepieces ‘Paste 1’ and the Paddy McAloon-on-blues screw of ‘Paste 2’, with a deeply disarming moment to be discovered in ‘A Promise’ and unmistakeable echoes of A.R. Kane on the radiant elegy ‘For Gigi.’
A bearhug of chill-out room gouching gear from MFM spanning the golden era of ‘90s ambient dance music with gems from David Moufang, LFO, Global Communication, Kirsty Hawkshaw, Sun Electric and many more notables of that era.
Since the world turned into a big chill out room in early 2020, albeit with a heavy sense of anxiety, this set could hardly be better placed for downtime in the comfort of your own home, rolling out mystic highlights such as LFO’s MDMA-tingle arps and pads in ‘Helen’ and the sublime suspension systems of Global Communication’s remix of ‘Arcadian’, along with Move D’s early nugget ‘Sergio Leone’s Wet Dream’, and the lush pads of his close spar Jonah Sharp’s Spacetime Continuum, plus a strip of killer slow acid in Sideral’s ‘Mare Nostrum’, and the blissed romance of ‘Love 2 Love’ by Sun Electric.
One for the lovers and the ravers.
Tune-Yards' fifth studio album, ‘sketchy.’
"Tune-Yards’ last release, ‘I can feel you creep into my private life’, was a self-reflexive question mark at the end of a decade of outspoken, polyphonic indie music. From 2009 to 2018, Tune-Yards (both Merrill and her partner and collaborator Nate Brenner) released four critically acclaimed albums, travelled the world relentlessly to play live shows and composed the psychedelic score to Boots Riley’s surrealist cinematic masterpiece ‘Sorry To Bother You’. “We had really been non-stop hustling,” Merrill reflects. “And when we’re hustling, we’re complicit in all of the systems that I really don’t believe in.” Interrogating these systems and her role within them had left Merrill feeling heavy with grief and lost about how to move forward.
The duo pressed on, inspired by the Beastie Boys Book and Questlove’s Creative Quest and began jamming daily for hours in their home rehearsal studio “like athletes.” They ditched computer screens for live instruments (Merrill on drums, Nate on bass) and before long full songs started to emerge. Unlike the lyrical introspection of previous outing ‘I can feel you creep into my private life’, on ‘sketchy.’ Merrill balances self-inspection and reflection with bombastic rallying cries, reminiscent of the furious tones of early days Tune-Yards. The result is a colourful and joyous record with lyrics that cut to the bone. “I started remembering that people come to us to be entertained, to move, to feel joy. And together, I think, we can wake up.”
NWW’s 2009 recording resurfaces, backed with Colin Potter’s exclusive new iteration distilled from multiple versions by the band’s visionary synthesist.
‘Cabbalism III’ was the result of NWW meeting Blind Cave Salamander in Venice, where the latter were playing support for them at Teatro Fondamente Nuove.’ NWW thought that Blind Cave Salamander’s set sounded a bit like their classic ’Soliloquy For Lilith’ and suggested recording together. Two years later the final piece was conceived in Turin and the limited edition release quickly turned into a collector’s item. Due to demand the piece is now available again, backed with an extra track made by Colin Potter using sources from all three previous ‘Cabbalism’ recordings, completed at IC Studio, London 2020.
It’s not hard at all to hear how the original ‘Cabbalism III’ resonates with the legendarily spooky presence of ’Soliloquy For Lilith’ - arguably thee blueprint of dark ambient music - and it’s easy to understand how it became a fan favourite. It’s equally apparent that Colin Poter’s new megamix, of sorts, will deeply satisfy those fans’ cravings, too. For 45 minutes the master synth alchemist generates a gloaming cloud system of layered drones and trembling strings tones recalling the heights of Deathprod circa ‘Morals And Dogma’, with imperceptible transitions between unfathomably wide, steep and keening masses of synthesised electronics.
‘Island’, the latest album from Oscar-nominated composer and songwriter Owen Pallett.
"Almost entirely acoustic, ‘Island’ begins with 13 darkened chords and was recorded live at Abbey Road Studios with the London Contemporary Orchestra. The introduction is the sound of waking up alone and on the shore of a strange land. What follows is a shimmering and luscious orchestral album that draws across the full breadth of Pallett’s discography, from ‘Heartland’’s Technicolor to the glittering, fingerpicked guitar that marked Pallett’s first records with their trio, Les Mouches.
In addition to Pallett’s Grammy Award-winning work with Arcade Fire, Pallett’s commissions have included string, brass and orchestral work for Last Shadow Puppets, The National, The Mountain Goats, Christine and arrangements for Frank Ocean, Caribou, R.E.M., Linkin Park, Sigur Rós, Taylor Swift and the Pet Shop Boys. Since the release of ‘In Conflict’ (2014), Pallett has earned an Oscar nomination for their film scoring work on Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ and an Emmy for Sølve Sundsbø’s ‘Fourteen Actors Acting’."
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."
Dry Cleaning release their debut studio album ‘New Long Leg’ on 4AD. The 10-track long-player, which includes ‘Strong Feelings’ and last year’s single ‘Scratchcard Lanyard’, was recorded over two weeks last summer at Rockfield Studios in rural Wales with producer John Parish (PJ Harvey, Aldous Harding).
"Following on from their thrillingly taut 2019 EPs ‘Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks’ and ‘Sweet Princess’, ‘New Long Leg’ is more ambitious and complex, with Shaw’s spoken vocals tightly intertwined with the band’s restless instrumentals. With lyrics preoccupied by themes like dissociation, escapism, daydreaming, complicated feelings of love, anger, revenge, anxiety, the kitchen, lethargy, forgetfulness and survival, Shaw says, “the title isambiguous; a new long leg could be an expensive present or a growth or a table repair.” Dry Cleaning was formed by friends Tom Dowse, Nick Buxton and Lewis Maynard after a karaoke party in 2017 inspired a collaboration.
They wrote instrumentally to begin with until six months later Florence Shaw, a visual artist, university lecturer and picture researcher by day - with no prior musical experience - turned up to a band rehearsal armed with reams of her own collected writing and a copy of Michael Bernard Loggins’ Fears Of Your Life to read out over the music. Before long she was the group’s frontperson, contributing words of her own and serving as the perfect foil to the band’s music."
Rod Modell's Deepchord follows on the 'Hash Bar Loops' session with a more detached serving of 20 washed-out and introspective 'Electroacoustic Soundfields'.
These tracks epitomise Modell at his most intimate and fascinating, using granular synthesis and generative software to unfold his analogue hardware source material and field recordings into ghostly clouds of hiss and morphing bass geometries perfect for late night immersion. Those looking for his signature dub house anchors may be disappointed, but if you've always wanted to hear Rod float off like some metaphysical spirit over nocturnal inner-city nightscapes like something out of Gaspar Noé's 'Enter The Void', this one's for you...
Xiu Xiu makes beautiful music for hard times.
"For nearly 20 years, the band has a track record of crafting experimental music for moments when life’s harsh realities meet its existential mysteries. On the latest album, Jamie Stewart explores a recent revelation and is reminded of the power of the band’s music to surprise and connect. Listening to the songs on OH NO, it is hard to feel truly alone. Instead, it is a reminder that even when we’re alone, we’re alone together.
OH NO, the group’s newest album, is an album of duets, with Stewart sharing the stage with an array of guests who have made an impact on him personally and musically. This is the first Xiu Xiu album where every song spotlights Jamie Stewart and a collaborator. The album features artists across the musical spectrum, including Sharon Van Etten, Circuit des Yeux’s Haley Fohr, Grouper’s Liz Harris, Alice Bag, Chelsea Wolfe, Owen Pallet, and Twin Shadow’s George Lewis Jr., all drift into Xiu Xiu’s distinctive soundworld. The album was born out of anguish and isolation, but exists as it does because of a profound rediscovery of community and friendship. It is the sound of finding one’s place in the world after the destructive powers of jealousy and mistrust make any map seemingly unreadable."
Drummers Lee Buford of The Body and Zac Jones from Braveyoung conjure dubbed out illbient spells from spacy, overdriven breaks on their debut full-length. Proper grotty goodness like We TM, DJ Spooky or I-Sound.
Buford and Jones have been collaborating for years, but "World Vision Perfect Harmony" is their debut as a duo, assembled as a way for the two drummers to explore a shared interest in creative percussion techniques. Illbient is almost the perfect mode, and the two create a deliciously eerie atmosphere, combing their drumming with electronics and blurring the line between live performance and sampling.
Abstracting rhythms that have sat at the root of jungle, no-wave, dub and hip-hop, Manslaughter 777 make a compelling noise that feels surprisingly contemporary. With the resurgence of interest in trip-hop, surely illbient is due a revival some time soon? In the meantime, this is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Pleasantville electronics and piano for fans of Helios, Tycho or Boards of Canada.
LA composer and songwriter James McAlister is best known for his work with Sufjan Stevens, but he's appeared on records with Lorde, Taylor Swift and St. Vincent, among many others. Here he goes it alone on a deeply personal collection of shimmering instrumentals that fit into the hazy, meditative world you might expect to encounter on a Helios record: thick sub bass, emotional piano and the kind of emotive synth pads that Steve Roach has made his calling card over the years.
"Scissortail" is a feel-good record, despite being somewhat melancholy. It's made up of sounds that are engineered to bring a smile to your face alongside a requisite nostalgic tear. The emotional world shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's listened to Sufjan Stevens - there are certainly parallels - but anyone looking for more hazy soundtrack music to wack on in the background that isn't going to have you climbing the walls, this is a safe bet.
Hallowed experimental pop-soul sermons that build on 2018's gorgeous, vocal-rich "Soil".
Serpentwithfeet applied a fresh coat of hi-gloss with last album "Soil", enlisting the help of producers like Clams Casino and Tri-Angle labelmate Katie Gately - "Deacon" finds the producer diving into even more personal realms, touching on spiky club forms simultaneously. These songs are soulful musings on serpentwithfeet's emotional world, dedicated to friends and lovers and struck through with feelings that emerge too rarely from contemporary pop. The production is often skeletal - 'Same Size Shoe', for example, is barely more than a kick and snare combo - allowing the complex vocal arrangements to yet again take the spotlight, building in blissful harmonic layers one by one. And by combining a love of gospel music with an implicit understanding of R&B radio pop formula and deep knowledge of experimental ambient music, serpentwithfeet has a winning, idiosyncratic formula. He's basically managed to achieve whatever it is people think James Blake is doing and does so without grandstanding.
'Amir' sounds like an alternate universe 'No Scrubs', all tearful and dense with chopped acoustic guitar and neck snapping '90s R&B production tics. While NAO collaboration 'Heart Storm' finds serpentwithfeet at his most euphoric, fusing choral music with waves of analog synth ambience. Closer 'Fellowship' is the pick of the bunch: a bonafide tearjerker, effortlessly inverting brittle Afrobeats-esque percussion for one of the sweetest musings on friendship we've heard in ages. If "Deacon" doesn't move you at all, you've got a heart of stone honestly. Church music for lovelorn heretics.
Apparently it's been over a decade since avant jazz deity Pharoah Sanders recorded any new music, it took Sam Shephard aka Floating Points to coax the 80 year old out of near-retirement.
Anyone familiar with Sanders' work will know how life-affirming his music can be, from his early work with John Coltrane, through 1967's mind-altering "Tauhid" to his spiritual pairing with Alice Coltrane on "Journey in Satchidananda". Here, he takes a more restrained role, offering bursts of tenor to compliment Shephard's pretty snippets of piano and synth. As "Promises" builds, the London Symphony Orchestra's presence becomes more stark, evolving the slow-moving work into cinematic levels of grandeur.
It's pretty senseless comparing "Promises" to Sanders' early catalogue as he's most definitely in a completely different place mentally. But his cloud-reaching brilliance is still a joy to behold; when his familiar overblown phrases appear from Shephard's gossamer synth clouds, it's hard not to smile. We can't help but wonder how different it might have been if Sanders had been paired with Dean Blunt, mind you. Just saying.
Gilles Peterson has partnered with Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick to reinvigorate the loose, protean energy of the early-80s Brit-funk scene. STR4TA sees them mine new musical possibilities outof that shared formative era.
"On “Aspects”, they revisit that important period and the spirit that guided it: self-taught, DIY vitality, and a raucous energy built on live performance. Bringing a fresh slant to a sound first developed by groups like Atmosfear, Hi-Tension, Light of the World and Freeez – with Maunick, it should be noted, also a member of the latter two bands – it’s the first material that Maunick and Peterson have released together in over a decade.
It’s an idea that had been in the works for a while, but which was encouraged by a surprising catalyst: the award acceptance speech by Tyler, the Creator at the 2020 Brit Awards, where he shouted out the influence of “British funk from the 80s”. It was an acknowledgement of the particular sound that Maunick and his peers had honed, where their US influences were reoriented through their own circumstances. “Like everybody else who plays music, we tried to emulate our heroes,” Maunick says. “But we didn’t have the tools, we hadn’t studied music: were all playing by ear, and we were coming off bits and pieces that we liked off certain records.” This record is guided by the same ethos. An array of musical touchpoints have fed into the album’s direct, no-frills entries: each track’s parts are cut back to the bare bone. In writing and recording the album, the pair of them would work together to strike upon the point of departure – more naive, less considered – that had produced that killer Brit-funk sound. Peterson would dig out records that showed particular flashes or moods as jumping off points, and Maunick would then work with collaborators to build new directions out of those prompts or suggestions.
It’s the latest chapter in a story that started with Peterson interviewing Maunick in his parents’ garden shed, the first interview that the former had ever conducted. Later, they would reconnect to put out a string of celebrated Incognito albums on Peterson’s pioneering, now-defunct Talkin’ Loud imprint. Now, linking up once more, they unpick an under-appreciated flashpoint in a vital musical lineage, one which each of them has been instrumental in shaping."
Jimmy Tamborello returns with the first of two albums this year, a dusty suite of sketches inspired by library music, early electronics and discarded acid folk.
Shaping electronic music for two decades, Tamborello has exerted an outsized influence on both pop and the landscape beyond. "The Seas Tree Sees" follows his recent run of more experimental excursions on Leaving Records, whispering from the shadows instead of shouting from the rafters. A humble, pleasingly low-key set of productions, it's intended to sit in contrast to Tamborello's more pop-poised work (like The Postal Service's 2003 smash "Give Up"), phasing through foggy moods and atmospheres rather than bright, bubbly riffs and hooks.
It almost reminds us of early To Rococo Rot, assembled from gently-coaxed samples of Rhodes piano, xylophone, vocoder and synth, and spiced with subtle field recordings and sympathetic static. Tamborello notes that he wanted the album to sound like something you'd find in a thrift store, so when a vocoder-heavy cover version of Kate Wolf's '70s folk song 'The Lilac and the Apple' appears, everything falls into place. A musical comfort blanket.
Reissue of a cult LP by master Japanese drummer George Otsuka and his quintet, recorded live on 19th July 1975 at the Nemu Jazz Inn.
"A unique time capsule, the album finds the quintet on fire and “Loving You George” is a vivid testimony that Otsuka and his musicians were at the top of their game and one of the best groups in Japan, playing a mix of modal and groovy tunes full of exciting and inspired solos. The album “Loving You George” is comprised of four superb performances fuelled by Otsuka powerful drumming and Fumio Karashima’s fender Rhodes. It also includes a wonderfully funky take on Minnie Riperton’s ‘Loving You’. It comes with original artwork featuring OBI strip and audio remastered from the master tapes by King Records in Japan."
Tomahawk, featuring Duane Denison (The Jesus Lizard / Unsemble), Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle / Fantômas), Mike Patton (Faith No More / Mr. Bungle, etc.) and John Stanier (Helmet / Battles), return with their first full-length album in eight years.
‘"Tonic Immobility’ could just be something in the air we’re feeling,” says Denison. “It’s been a rough year between the pandemic and everything else. A lot of people feel somewhat powerless and stuck as they’re not able to make a move without second guessing themselves or worrying about the outcomes. For as much as the record possibly reflects that, it’s also an escape from the realities of the world. We’re not wallowing in negativity or getting political. For me, rock has always been an alternate reality to everything else. I feel like this is yet another example.” Tonic Immobility’ is the fifth studio album and Tomahawk are one of the biggest Mike Patton projects outside of Faith No More and Mr. Bungle (whose recent album is still charting around the world)."
Clark with his debut release for Deutsche Grammophon.
"Playground In A Lake has been over 5 years in the making, slowly unearthing a new style and a the right, unique musical vocabulary to capture a vast notion. With Playground In A Lake Clark delivers a full concept work that touches and intertwines themes of climate change and lost innocence. Using boundary pushing elements, this recording tears through the fabric of traditional composing."
Arch explorer of EVP and paranormal recordings, CMvH is joined by John Duncan, Joachim Nordwall and other members of the Swedish avant fraternity at the opening of his 2018 solo exhibition in Gothenburg
‘INSNITT’ captures 30 minutes of roiling subharmonic frequencies and anxious scrabble made at 3:e Våningen, Gothenburg on September 14th 2018. It arrives over 40 years since his first recordings to witness the Swedish polymath flanked by a coterie of longtime collaborators including Leif Elggren, Jean Louis-Huhta, and Henrik Rylander, plus the aforementioned, charging the air with stressed electronics that resemble the sounds of shearing metal and hi-pitched, whirring mechanicals.
Their massed effect is saturated with sense of hyperrealist psychedelia, appearing to physically keen and lurch in 3D in a way that ultimately makes us feel seasick and rinsed out by the end. Perhaps it’s best recommend to those listeners with strong sea legs and a tolerance for this kind of northerly climate sounds.
And lo, it was reissued - Coil’s pivotal dose of post-industrial/acid bath-house psychedelia reappears, remastered and expanded with a bonus disc of mostly unheard alternate versions, marking 30 years of soundtracking dreams and party afterlives.
Borne from intensive studio sessions circa 1988-1990 and served hot and slippery in 1991, ‘LSD’ is widely recognised as a key entry point to Coil’s illustrious, but sometimes hard to grasp, catalogue. Their 3rd long player features Jhonn and Sleazy working with Danny Hyde (who was then fresh from remixing Seal’s ‘Killer’) to realise a richly layered and hallucinogenic masterpiece that would influence the visions of everyone from Æ to NIИ, irrevocably infecting electronic music’s water table for a whole generation and beyond.
Their significant studio successor to ‘Scatology’ (1984) and ‘Horse Rotorvator’ (1986) simply sounded like nowt else at the time, aligning their esoteric interests and pursuits in 13 kaleidoscopic forms on the original album, and now supplemented by 10 bonus tracks on the new 2nd disc. The body-gurning cut-up of ‘Disco Hospital’ is now held up for contrast with its loping ‘Unedited’ version, and the crepuscular groove of ‘The Snow’ is featured in multiple Apollonian mixes for the darkroom dwellers, and all time classics like ‘Dark River’ and ‘Chaostrophy’ appear shivering and naked in their alternate, stripped down mixes, giving vital glimpses into their cabalistic studio process.
Alongside untouchable classics such as ‘Things Happen’ starring Annie Anxiety and Charles Hayward, and the This Heat drummer’s sizzling percussion on the title tune, the effect of LSD endures with wide eyed, future-proofed effect that’s bound to infect listeners for another 30 years, at least.
Electric Jalaba comprises six accomplished musicians with an empathy that feels telepathic and a groove that immerses. In Arabic, the mother tongue of Moroccan-born singer and guimbri player Simo Lagnawi, a leading practitioner of Gnawa music in Britain, they call this indefinable quality, “El Hal” – “The feeling”.
“It’s the feeling that comes when we’re playing and totally forgetting where we are,” says producer and bassist Olly Keen. “The feeling of being grabbed by the music and lost in the groove.” ‘El Hal / The Feeling’ is the new third album from Electric Jalaba and their first release in five years. It’s a multi-faceted work that finds the band tighter than ever, deploying a vast cache of influences across nine tracks improvised and developed in their south London studio then deftly produced by Keen. Some tracks pay homage to the origins of Gnawa music, whose repertoire of Arabic-language praise songs contains remnants of West African dialects – Bambara from Mali, Fulani and Hausa from the Sahel region – that point to a centuries-old migration.
“The trance-inducing effect of Gnawa was what hit us first. It was visceral, heart stopping,” continues Olly, whose siblings – producer / keys player Henry Keen, guitarist / multi-instrumentalist Nathaniel Keen and singer / multi-instrumentalist Barnaby Keen – make up Electric Jalaba alongside revered Anglo-Italian kit drummer Dave De Rose and Simo on vocals, krakeb and guimbri. “Simo selected the chant from the traditional song suites and, as a band, we extended these short pieces of ceremonial music and experimented with sound and structure,” explains Olly. Tracks include the Juno-led dancefloor single ‘Cubaili Ba’, ‘Agia Hausa’, a multi-layered wig-out that partly takes its inspiration from Senegal’s fiercely percussive mbalax rhythms and ‘Daimla’, a gloriously dubby ode to Allah and iconic maalems including the late Mahmoud Guinea. “There’s a very strong rhythmic element within the band but because of our different perspectives but the melodic components are really unique as well,” says Henry. That feeling of being outside of yourself but totally within yourself at the same time… That’s what all of us, collectively, are striving for.”
Leading Australian contemporary music composer A. Pateras yields a stunning, phantasmic spectralist work for tape and live players, recorded in 2019 at the 17th Sacrum Profanum Festival in Krakow, Poland
‘Pseudacusis’ is the follow-up to Pateras’ work on Sunn 0)))’s ‘Life Metal’ and Judith Hamann’s ‘Music For Cello and Humming’, and features the latter artist among his Tape Septet recordings, which provide the bed for its live performance iteration, here recorded in Krakow’s impressive new arts space, Ma?opolska Garden of Arts for the festival closely associated with estimable Polish label, Bocian Records.
Reliably helmed by Pateras at his trusted piano, the live septet (Lucio Capece: bass clarinet / soprano saxophone; Krzysztof Guńka: saxophones; Riccardo La Foresta: percussion; Mike Majkowski: double bass; Anthony Pateras: piano; Deborah Walker: cello; Lizzy Welsh: violin) render his strikingly dynamic composition with vigour and precision, found here edited into seven movements.
The results are surreal, febrile, and compelling, sweeping over it’s 50 minute course from frightful string tintinnabulation down concrète wormholes to tracts of glacial stasis and belly-churning dread, with outstanding parts of technically challenging, sustained dissonance and massed, keening orchestration that introduces fractious percussive themes and outlandish electronics. We’ve no doubt it will light up the harder to reach pleasure centres of fans of everyone from Iancu Dumitrescu to Xenakis.
Whew! Radical Welsh harpist runs rings around tradition on a thrilling set of nerve-riding, biting-point performances with processed lap harp for his Amgen label
Another piece of the puzzle to his 4-part ‘Pedlar’ boxset, this one was thrown down in 2011 at Newcastle’s legendary Morden Tower, a C.13th, grade-listed turret on the West Walls of the city’s ancient defences against curious Mackems and Durham scunners, that was also previously and notably site of seminal recordings by The New Blockaders, a.o. In that vein, Davies gets raw to the bone in ‘Wound Response’, using Lap harp fed thru transducer, read by contact microphone, and pushed to seething limits with volume pedal and two amps to make everything bleed in the red with fierce effect.
Accompanied by the quotation - ““And may the freed bear bathe his body amid the flows of the frozen north and not languish in the aquarium of distilled water in the academic garden.” Kazimir Malevich, Suprematist Manifesto (1916) - the album dances on the line between atonal freeness and melody with a wickedly demented alacrity and damaged/destructive results, running ruffshod and wild haired from the excoriating discord of ‘everything at each moment’ thru electrifying high line antics on ‘questions_____of middle distance’ to the caustic shredding of ‘a parallel or mirroring space’ and ‘here the sun does not enter’, with a janky bluesy brilliance in ‘only compromises were arrived at in the end’, spurting tongues of fire on the album’s longest burnout ‘the convergence of how we got here.’
Paul Woolford’s Special Request takes the reins of DJ-Kicks’ latest for a cosmic soulboy trip harmonising myriad stripes of astral jazz, disco, deep house, electro and classic ‘90s jungle
Over the course of 25 tracks in 75 minutes, Woolford illustrates the influences and styles of his Special Request project at its most widescreen and emotive, encompassing the far out coordinates of Sun Ra, the classic AI of Speedy J, and the ravishing jungle of Steve Gurley’s Four Horsemen, alongside a ruck of secret names such as LS1 Housing Project and Intergalactic Quartet that a quid’s bet would stake to Woolford himself.
It’s as much a showcase for SR’s influences as Woolford’s DJ tekkers, coolly scaling from unquantised jazz to grid-twysting breakbeat hardcore with an immaculate, harmonious flow taking in his aforementioned turns as Intergalactic Quartet alongside deep-end digs by Morgan Geist and Virgo Four, thru to his sparkling house nuggets as LS1 Housing Project and compatibles from AceMo and µ-Ziq, to a killer run of new/old jungle spanning Sonar’s Ghost aka Domu’s aggy take on ‘Drowning in Her’, a lush Tim reaper remix of SR’s ‘Pull Up’, and a scalp-tingling beatless collaboration with prodigal loiner 96 Back, named ’Petrichor.’
The first full-length work released by the Montreal-based outfit in over a decade.
"House Music unfolds as one long piece, a recorded-then-sculpted improvisation that vastly expands their work, coalescing classical and electronic instrumentation in the creation of genre-defying musical worlds. After having shared the short film “IX: Nature That’s It That’s All.” — which layered archival visuals of blissed-out crowds at a carnival over one of the later, dreamier sections of House Music — Bell Orchestre presents a video for the one-track album’s most anthemic and explosive segment, “V: Movement”, directed by band member Kaveh Nabatian.
In the album’s liner notes, the group recalls countless moments when, in kinetic moments of improvisation, “a nuanced piece of music would emerge organically, completely formed, without any plan or discussion or rational thought” — and then be lost because it wasn’t recorded. In conceiving a new album, they decided to celebrate the spontaneous and accidental, to centrally situate the act of collaborative, democratic creation in their finished work. With the legacies of improvisation-exploring greats like Talk Talk, The Orb, Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis and the late Ennio Morricone in mind, on House Music, Bell Orchestre captures the impulsive, connective, mysterious poetics of musical invention happening in real-time.
With help from engineer Hans Bernhard, the band wired every corner of Sarah Neufeld’s (Violin, vocals) multi-story rural Vermont house. She and the mini orchestra’s other five members — Pietro Amato: French horn, keyboards, electronics; Michael Feuerstack: Pedal steel guitar, keyboards, vocals; Kaveh Nabatian: Trumpet, gongoma, keyboards, vocals; Richard Reed Parry: Bass, vocals; and Stefan Schneider: Drums — assigned themselves to different rooms. They spent two weeks together in camaraderie, creation, and focused isolation to record their improvised sessions every day, but ultimately structured a 45-minute album out of a one hour-and-a-half long improvisation."
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 music on Cycles comprises thirteen organ pieces by Nico Muhly. Performing the pieces in addition to McVinnie are Nadia Sirota, Chris Thompson and Simon Wall.
"What makes McVinnie such an ideal interpreter of Muhly’s music is that he and Muhly share not just an understanding of the capabilities of the pipe organ as a musical instrument, but also an equally deep understanding of, and even affection for, its limitations. McVinnie speaks eloquently on behalf of his instrument's potential. "The organ is like a grand symphony orchestra controlled by oneperson manning a series of keyboards and pedals, stops and buttons. On the one hand, an organ can imitate orchestral instruments—the ardent string section of an orchestra, a lyrical clarinet, a French horn, timpani—and on the other, it has its own indigenous magisterial voice. Organs are built to speak into specific acoustic spaces.
When you play, it’s as if you’re playing the whole building you’re in, which often can be electrifying. And the organ as an instrument is tied to centuries of liturgical practice, capable of supporting or imitating a church choir with a solemnity few others could hope to summon. McVinnie is quick to point out, however, that the organ is also "the ultimate and original synthesizer"—and it is nothing if not a mechanical, wind-powered synthesizer, with all of the uncanny falseness that that word implies. The symphonic, the acoustic, the sacred, the synthetic: there's a little of each in every one of the pieces on Cycles, and sometimes more than a little."
De-formation: Piano Variations, a work for solo piano. Composed and performed by Gal·s in September 2019, the 21:19 minute piece is based on the expressionist poem Das Fieberspital (The Fever Hospital).
"Written by German poet Georg Heym in 1912, Das Fieberspital's depiction of warehoused patients of yellow fever presaged the treatment and hiding of infected and damaged soldiers later in WWI. De-formation depicts a march and delivery of maimed and infected soldiers to hospitals and industrial warehouses throughout Germany during and after the First World War. In the hospitals the maimed would receive experimental operations and the infected would be confined to protect the mental vitality, enthusiasm, and health of citizens of the State. The Piano Variations were inspired by Gal·s' work on the score for Das Fieberspital. In organizing the work, she realized that the piano skeleton had become its own work, and she decided to record that in advance of the vocal work."
Avant garde sound poet AGF works with eleven Greek residents to investigate “women’s struggle for language” in the context of Greek myth and “patriarchal social relations” with remarkably complex and thought provoking results - we're still gettin our heads round it.
“In her famous quote from Three Guineas (1938), ‘As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world’, Virginia Woolf captured the spirit of alienation that women have felt, or indeed should feel, vis-à-vis the request of belonging. Such alienation could morph into refusal, but this, as feminist historians of culture know, has happened in very few cases. For the most part, women have buried their alienation, forced by multiple mechanisms of persuasion and induced consent, to succumb to belonging. But is this the whole story? Or has the territory of language been a central battleground for women? And how is a contemporary female musician and sound artist invested in feminist politics to approach this unstable condition of the gendered experience of language? This is the case of AGF, or Antye Greie, whose creative endeavour is overall an audacious synthesis of electronic compositions, voice, field recordings, as well as of political explorations and re-enunciations of women-centred aurality.
In this new work, Arachnesound, AGF, together with her collaborators (composers, singers, poets), sought to work with an enduring language, Greek, and treat it as a tentative record of women’s speech but also silence. Effectively, AGF relied on the ambiguity of non-belonging to stitch together a counter-archive of words written, spoken, or - when she herself makes them up - associated with women’s struggle for language. Greek has been a language steeped in patriarchal social relations, nation-building, and wildly generalised, civilisational ‘origins’. The task that AGF set for herself was to compose a music narrative that takes women’s efforts to speak beyond the canonical myths surrounding Greek language as a record. It was a difficult task, requiring much research, much listening, much translation, much acoustic imagining. The outcome, however, is movingly rewarding - and it is so as an encounter of myth and history with the contemporary feminist avant-garde in electronic-music experimentation.”
First ever international reissue of one of the most sought-after albums from the Black Fire catalogue, Lon Moshe & Southern Freedom Arkestra’s life-affirming ‘Love Is Where The Spirit Lies’ from 1977.
“Lon was creating his own path in his music life at this time,” remembers Black Fire’s Plunky Branch. “We had met in San Francisco and he had become an original member of JuJu during the early ‘70s. He then wanted to pursue his own music, primarily in jazz; he was an avant-gardist and loved Tribe, Strata-East and Sun Ra.” For his Love Is Where The Spirit Lies album, Moshe drew from musicians within the Black Fire stable. Oneness Of Juju’s Jackie Eka-Ete sang and helped to write songs and members of Southern Energy Ensemble contributed, including their bandleader Marvin Daniels. “The band name, Southern Freedom Arkestra, was a proud declaration that this music was from the U.S. South,” continues Branch.
“The civil rights movement had been led from there and the most serious racial animosities resided there. Lon had grown up in Southern Illinois, South of Chicago, and said that the racial oppression was as bad there as in the South. He wanted to fight back through his music and through his own actions. He found a way to bring energy and aggressive to the sweet sound of the vibes. He played with a lot of dynamism and speed. The most celebrated piece on this album, ‘Doin’ The Carvin For Thabo’, is a tribute to his mentor, the drummer Michael Carvin (also known by same as ‘Thabo’) who had played for Motown, with Freddie Hubbard and many more.
This first international reissue of the album features new sleeve notes including interviews and commentary by Lon Moshe, Plunky Branch and band members with original illustrated artwork by Mary E. Greer. Audio was remastered from original tapes by The Carvery.”
New Age Steppers were a loose studio collective centred around the musical partnership of Adrian Sherwood and Ari Up from The Slits, operating on and off from 1980 to 2012. This is a 5CD + 32 page book boxset anthology of all their work for the On-U Sound label, compiled for the first time.
"Notable for bringing together musicians from the post-punk and reggae scenes together, their records feature contributions from members of The Pop Group, The Raincoats, Flying Lizards, Roots Radics, Aswad and Creation Rebel.
The set also includes a new LP of outtakes and rarities, Avant Gardening (in the On-U tradition of albums such as Return Of The Crocodile, Displaced Masters and Churchical Chant Of The Iyabinghi).
New Age Steppers launched the On-U label as the first artist to release both a single and album on the label, and it's fitting to have these brilliant records back out in the world as the label celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2021."
Relaxation aids from Picnic, the duo of Ju Ca and mdo, trailing the glistening wake of a lovely 2020 debut on Kansas City’s c- with a milky ambient bath featuring added suds by Huerco S, The Humble Bee, DJ Paradise (uon), and Dntel
On their eponymous sophomore outing picnic reveal a fuller picture of their sound. The eight original pieces are given to sensitively mulched textures and softly glowing pads mottled with new age spirited strings and wafting voices. It’s nothing particularly new or inventive but arguably works it’s way under the skin with pharmaceutic efficacy, at its lushest in the descriptive title and feel of ‘drops in the water (with tics)’, and the gently keening, hypnagogic appeal of ‘basket.’
The remixers however capture a sense of subtlety that draws us in closer, from Craig Tattersall’s typically hushed, drowsily suspenseful take on ‘folds and rips’, which contrasts with the air-stepping, weightless version by Huerco S., to the dusky tone of uon’s DJ Paradise remix of ‘drops in the water’, and the veteran Dntel’s aqueous smudge of ‘dewey.’
‘Rocksteady Got Soul’ is a collection of uplifting rocksteady and soulful reggae from the late 1960s and early 1970s.
"Studio One is the number one label in the history of reggae and the album features - as ever with Studio One - an impeccable and unbeatable line-up of reggae superstars, all soaring at the height of their creative powers. Alton Ellis, John Holt, The Heptones, Jackie Mittoo, The Ethiopians, Lee Perry and more. The album is a mix of classic tunes and rhythms alongside rarities that were released in a dazzlingly complex web of Studio One labels and issues, deftly navigated with new sleeve notes from author and Studio One authority Rob Chapman, plus exclusive photography."
RIYL: Alvvays, School of Seven Bells, Tamaryn, Chairlift, Cocteau Twins.
"Keith Kenniff’s solo projects Goldmund and Helios have solid fanbases, and strong support from DSPs including over a million monthly listeners on Spotify. Created slowly over a years-long span that encompassed the recording of 2019’s Stray Fantasies, wife and husband duo Hollie and Keith Kenniff deliver In a Deep and Dreamless Sleep, a distinctly hazier chapter of their technicolor pop venture Mint Julep.
Where the former album bore a crystalline latticework of defined pop structure, the latter blunts the sharpness and softens the glare, striking a balance between songcraft, and Hollie’s solo material, as well as Keith’s output as Goldmund. In a Deep and Dreamless Sleep assumes a more aerated form, exuding a heavy fog of shoegaze sensibility, though the infectious pop know-how of its precursor remains firmly intact. “Our previous material tended to be structured largely in a verse/chorus setting,” Keith explains, “but these songs are more free flowing and through-composed with a focus on mood and texture. He continues “A lot of the songs are more stream-of-consciousness than premeditated; we went with first ideas and let them guide the composition rather than planning a definitive road map-- which hopefully lends itself to creating a specific and unique emotional connection.”
Somewhat counter to its title, In a Deep and Dreamless Sleep is rife with dreamworld inclinations in which waking and sleeping, loving and leaving, living and dying, are all interchangeable. The album is imbued with the soft opiation of oncoming love-- or perhaps that’s the mournfulness of a love in its twilight. Or, further still, that feeling is the spousal duo nurturing their love against the backdrop of their busy lives. “Time is a valued commodity, but we make it a point to do this together.” Says Keith. “Mint Julep is a good bonding experience, it's akin to a date night. Our routine is not structured, but we chip away at it, sometimes in long bursts, sometimes in short windows of opportunity.” In a Deep and Dreamless Sleep is a window into an intoxicatingly romantic parallel world the Kenniffs have constructed out of analog synths, masterful sound design, nectar-drenched hooks, and airy vocals that wade way out into a sea of texture. They have managed to hone years worth of date-nights into a 46 minute collection of phosphoric ambient pop which bears a sense of skillful consistency that belies the album’s casual creation."
Though it's hard to pick a winner among the estimable Black Jazz catalog, this 1972 release from bassist Henry "The Skipper" Franklin would have to be near the top of the list.
"Franklin got his start woodshedding with Latin maverick Willie Bobo in the mid-'60s and went on to play with The Three Sounds, but probably his most notable gig prior to this debut album was his stint in Hugh Masekela's band (that's Franklin playing bass with Masekela at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival). For The Skipper, Franklin assembled a crack outfit that included a horn section of trumpeter/flugelhornist Oscar Brashear (Bobby Hutcherson, Ry Cooder, Donny Hathaway) and tenor & soprano sax man Charles Owens (Buddy Rich, Horace Tapscott, John Mayall) along with a Masekela bandmate in electric pianist Bill Henderson and ace drummer Michael Carvin (Pharoah Sanders, Lonnie Liston Smith, Freddie Hubbard).
This is such a unique, organic recording that it's hard to make comparisons; definitely a little fusion, a little '60s Blue Note feel, and the usual Black Jazz journey to the more lyrical, pop-inspired ("Little Miss Laurie") and funk-infused ("Plastic Creek Stomp") sides of jazz, but perhaps the best comparison is late-'60s Miles before he went electric. In any case, The Skipper is just a joy to listen to from start to finish, beautifully recorded by Black Jazz producer Gene Russell and blessed with some really fine writing, most of it by Franklin himself. First-time LP reissue and a must-have!"
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.