Burial’s sophomore LP, originally issued in 2007 only a year after his pivotal debut, is another masterpiece of urban UK composition and innovative imagineering whose sense of melancholic space, pop-wise dexterity and dancefloor yearn has rarely been explored or surpassed since its release.
Where its predecessor was starkly paranoid, mostly instrumental, Untrue was gilded with gorgeous, cut-up R&B and UKG vox, and interspersed with segments of nocturnal reverie that played out like the OST for a yung UK romance that replaced posh, gurning actors with real life road characters and focussed on the spaces between - between the club and home; between night and day; masculine and feminine; waking life and dream life; Maccy D’s and alley doorways; being high AF and coming down.
It was and still is Burial’s love note to UKG and R&G, and by turns gave context and validated those genres for a lot of listeners who arguably wouldn’t have touched that sound, or at least dismissed it as pop pap or with some snide, racist undertone before Burial’s revivalist instincts hybridised it with trip hop and snarling D&B memes.
More positively, however, depending on which way you look at it, this album also opened the endorphin floodgates for a whole raft of f****e garage producers to get in touch with their feminine side, especially in contrast to prevailing, laddish dubstep rave trends, and, since that sound has faded away, it’s not hard to hear this album’s influence in the vocal processing of Mssingno, in the uneven, off-kilter swing and parry of Zomby, the patch-worked constructions of Jamie xx or Evian Christ, or in Deadboy and Murlo’s more boundary-pushing creations.
As with any album that gets a lot of attention beyond its putative scene, Untrue was an unintended red rag to the cynics and rockists - and even garage purists - but for almost anyone who recognises and appreciates that more modest, aching sort of electronic, UK street rave soul, it remains a really transcendent album that still grips like few others.
Two years since 'Splazsh' topped a stack of annual polls, Actress presents his 3rd, and most coherent album, 'R.I.P' - his 2nd for Honest Jon's.
Despite being a vital cog in the machinery of underground UK dance and electronics since at least 2004 (when he released his 'No Tricks' debut), it's fair to say that it's only in the last few years he's made the shift from cult concern to acknowledged auteur of some repute. His work with Damon Albarn's DRC Music, beside a legendary DJ set at Sonar and killer remixes of Shangaan Electro, Panda Bear and Radiohead all certify the fact; so expectations are no doubt set high for 'R.I.P'.
Produced exclusively on hardware and inspired by Milton's classic poem 'Paradise Lost', he's arranged his most labyrinthine, esoteric release to date; a timeless set of 15 tracks traversing crystallized radiophonics and subterranean Techno with a psychedelic sideswipe that leaves us dazed and beguiled. By assimilating machine-like characteristics - his notions of "seeping yourself liquid into the machinery" and "I'm just an instrument, I'm completely dead when I write" - he's become an interpreter, a symbiotic conduit of semi-lucid visions into the interzone whose revelations contain the potential to manipulate your consciousness in magical ways compared to the prosaic intentions of so much bland and overwrought electronic music out there.
The newfound clarity and fluid narration of 'R.I.P.' makes this the most intriguing chapter in the Actress saga so far - an unmissable experience.
Autechre's classic debut album from 1993, reissued for the first time in 15 years...
Go on, blink; for the first time in fifteen years Autechre’s peerless debut album, Incunabula is reissued as a facsimile copy of the original, 1993 release, replete with silver-printed gatefold jacket.
We’re not going to bang on about this too much, but you should know by now that Incunabula is one of the cornerstones of modern electronic music, one of the pinnacles of the British rave epoch and among the most life-affirming records ever, bar none.
Aye, it’s 100% essential.
An advanced masterclass in Berlin beat science, ‘Wireless’ is the final and arguably strongest solo release by T++; aka Torsten Pröfrock, an artist with a long lineage of important releases under numrous aliases - Dynamo, Erosion,Log, Resilent, Traktor, Various Artists and more - a true pillar of Berlin's Techno legacy.
First issued by Honest Jon’s in 2010, the 2x12” features samples of singer and ndingidi-player Ssekinomu (originally found on the EMI archival dive ‘Bellyachers, Listen - Songs From East Africa, 1938-46’) reworked by Pröfrock into a volley of rambunctious but rudely disciplined club workouts some 75 years later. In many other hands, this could have been just another passable cut ’n splice edit, but T++ treats the material with a balance of reverence and raving license, highlighting an instinctive understanding of the original music's intent and purpose, and their deep rooted connection to modern fast rap and hardcore dance musics.
The four tracks amount to a contemporary classic in their field and also exist in a strong tradition of German artists ranging from Stockhausen to Can and Basic Channel whose music has crucially incorporated the fluid, rolling nature and spectra of African drumming patterns. However, it’s vital to point out that T++’s take on African drumming is also filtered thru a love of UK music - Jungle, D&B, garage, dubstep - meaning that his rhythms are properly underlined with syncopated, technoid basslines owing as much to Kingston, Jamaica as Brixton and Sheffield in the UK.
For anyone who had been intently listening to Pröfrock's output since his Traktor gems, thru his Dynamo aces, to early work with Monolake and his string of seminal T++ 12”s in the 2000’s, on its release in 2010 ‘Wireless’ quickly came to epitomise his approach to broken techno production at its most open-ended and inexorable. Between the itchy, sprung step of ‘Cropped’, the puckish darkside torque of ‘Anyi’, a voodoo communal in ‘Voice No Bodies’, and the reanimated spirits of ‘Dig’ you have some of the finest mutant techno ever cut to vinyl.
An absolute must-have for dancers and DJs.
This lot have released 5 x 12”s anonymously over the last 3 years via Hardwax and there’s no info about them anywhere, pretty sneaky.
They now land on Mana, a label so esoteric it has a flowchart on its website showing you how to get from Luc Ferrari to Nico Jaar in one short leap.
There are 4 long tracks, one per side, each clocking in at 15 mins and each taking time to expand into being. There is persistent water drumming, the a side is all exotic melodica, nature sounds and bells with Flanger-esque bass humps plus some water drumming, side 2 has a very burial mix sounding bassline sat low in the mix to give the water drumming more presence, side C is more reflective and serene tropical vibes, with side D giving it some classic dub pressure and location recordings which we think we once heard Bill Kouligas play on the radio a few years back and which is dope as fuck.
So yeah, it sounds a bit like a k-hole version of Burnt Friedman & Atom Heart’s early Flanger gear crossed with Burial Mix and that incredible water drumming vid dust to digital posted a while back on there tweeter.
BOC's much loved second album proper.
The blueprint is similar, with short interludes scattered across and in between the 'full tracks', starting with the opening 60 seconds of 'Ready Lets Go' - a distant wildlife documentary soundtrack in glorious childhood technicolour.
'Music Is Math' features spoken fragments, a vocoded refrain, simple and evocative melodies, '1969' is another spine-tingler, ever so slightly out-of-tune and drenched in sweetness.
Geogaddi also offers up some new developments - 'Gyroscope' features an uncharacteristic tribal rotation of drums put through the BOC system, sounding like a lost tape unearthed and carefully restored, retaining the mark of nostalgia that directs BOC tracks so instantly to that part of the brain reserved for its earliest memories.
'The Devil Is In The Details' also follows new turns, bringing to mind Autechre's 'Overand' : subliminal use of rustling found sounds over a single delayed synth progression.
Jamaican Recordings compile some tuff tracks from Scientist circa late 70's / early 80's - just before everything went digital.
"Some great dub versions to some killer tracks that rocked the dancehalls around this golden time.The mighty Tristan Palmer whose killer cuts 'BadBoys','Stop Spreading Rumours','Eveready' and 'The Greatest Lover’ alongside Michael Palmer's debut release 'Mr Landlord' and Robert Trench's 'Mr Babylon'. The songs stand back-to-back with Tony Tuff's timeless 'Never Trouble Trouble' and the biblical Rod Taylor's 'The Lord is My Light'. Sammy Dread's 'Wah Dah Wah' and the always respectful Dennis Brown's 'Time and Place' all benefited a touch of magic from The Scientist and his laboratory of effects."
Telas is Nicolás Jaar's 6th full length album, and follows Cenizas from earlier this year.
"Telas (Veils) is multiple things at once. It's a visual terrain created by artist Somnath Bhatt. It's a record by Nicolás Jaar, with key contributions from Milena Punzi (cello), Susanna Gonzo (voice), Anna Ippolito & Marzio Zorio (instrument makers), and Heba Kadry (mastering). It's a digital terrain created by Abeera Kamran where the sounds and illustrations of Telas live in their primordial states. The site was imagined by Abeera, Somnath and Nicolás as a panspermic terrain where no matter -whether existing in thought, physical form or other- has a solid or unmovable origin.
Multiple parts of the music were first played during two shows at The Kitchen in NYC in the fall of 2017, alongside performances by Africanus Okokon and Patrick Higgins."
Underrated 1997 collection of soft-focus jungle and Detroit-influenced Plaid-adjacent bouncefunque.
Back in the mid-1990s, before Lee Norris went solo and started the Neo Ouija label, Metamatics was a duo with Dominic Kennedy, releasing a run of influential 12"s on the influential Clear imprint. "A Metamatics Production" collects those early plates and rattles through the duo's fuzzy take on '90s dance formula, fudging the edges of jungle, techno and electro. It's gorgeous stuff that still holds up decades later, mostly because it's out on its own; the most obvious reference point would probably be the duo's Clear labelmates Plaid, but Metamatics were more skeletal and undoubtedly funkier.
Spiking the essence of Bukem et-al's resoundingly popular liquid d&b, Norris and Kennedy carve out slippery grooves on jazzy low-enders like 'Swimmer' and 'Raytracks'. 'Skunk Me' and 'Two the Point' meanwhile point at the pad-rich Midwestern shuffle of Norris's Norken project with elegiac synth-house moods and fathoms-deep beatbox loops. The album is at its best though when the duo let their love of day zero electro and vintage electro pop to permeate the bedrock. 'Dope for the Robot' still sounds completely fresh, augmenting an almost Drexciyan robotic squelch with feather-lite melodies and clattering beats, and 'Piece it Together' settles into a sexy downtempo groove that lays the groundwork for Metamatics' next run of releases. Well good.
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."
After 23 years out of print, FSOL’s definitive early ‘90s ambient-epic Lifeforms now returns to its natural habitat. Serving near-dangerous levels of nostalgia for almost anyone who came thru in the ‘90s, Lifeforms is set to soundtrack myriad afterparties and claim its place on a whole new generation of record shelves.
Originally released in 1994, a few years after FSOL had become a household name thanks to their debut LP Accelerator and its standout rave anthem, Papua New Guinea (and not forgetting Humanoid’s Stakker before it), Brian Dougans and Garry Cobain’s project really blossomed into something else with Lifeforms, where they consolidated a wealth of esoteric ideas and philosophies into what was effectively a new manifesto for psychedelic electronic music.
Whether unconsciously and osmotically absorbed, or dutifully studied and cherished by those cognisant of its brilliance, Lifeforms was almost unavoidably ubiquitous at the time, and inarguably worked its way into the popular consciousness in a way that electronic records rarely do nowadays. It was definitely a product of its time, and now, 23 years later, we can safely say it’s kept its charms intact.
Riffing on then-emergent themes of cybernetics, amorphous androgyny and artificial intelligence, together with nods to classic ‘70s psychedelia and kosmische - it features guest spots from Ozric Tentacles and Robert Fripp, and sampled Klaus Schulze - the results tapped into the era’s undercurrent of aerobic mysticism and eldritch new age spirituality to locate an unprecedented confluence of those styles which has influenced swathes of electronic dreamers ever since.
It’s techno-romantic and tech-gnostic in the lushest sense, a utopian beauty flush with the thrill of unknown futures, yet fringed with an MDMA come-down melancholy that’s totally crucial to understanding that era’s play and juxtaposition of energies. Quite simply, though: Lifeforms is an incredibly enigmatic and life-affirming album awaiting your (re)discovery.
Romeo Poiriér and Michael Marshall’s choice morsels of balmy ambient resurface on a maiden vinyl voyage with Kit, who were also behind Poirier’s coveted ‘Plage Arrière’ sojourn
Neatly timed to arrive in the glistening wake of Roméo’s ‘Hotel Nota’ side for sferic, his five year old trip with long time pal, Marshall acts like a nano-break for the mind in light of the times, offering 40 minutes out of your usual environs and supplanted into daydreamy wooze. As ever, comparisons to Jan Jelinek are warranted with Romeo’s involvement, but we also surely reminded to the likes of To Rococo Rot at their sweetest, melodic, Joe Hishashi’s city-pop, or Huerco S.’ frayed ambient textures, all simply adding up to a very pleasant and endearing dose of sunshine sonics for your lunch break.
The ‘Atelier’ tracks were recorded in Strasbourg, combining trumpet, guitar, saxophone and array of vintage synths in gently playful, instrumental grooves that bubble with warm promise, characterised in the air-stepping charms of ’Stras5’, while their ‘Altitude1’ number was realised in Brussels and features deliciously hypnagogic sax liens by Devon Loch. Finally the ‘Ferme’ tracks were captured out in the hills of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines and follow their nose for smudged micro-house into sublime, jazzier climes on ‘Ferme6’ and dope Detroit beatdown in ‘Ferme7.’
Autechre drop ‘Plus’, the ruder counterpart to their brooding ’Sign’ album, rinsing squashed drums and harsher textured tones in a newly aerated, noisier sort of sound design.
If you were left glowing but still hungry for some rufige after ’Sign’, this album’s for you. Their staunchest North Manc C++Boy attitude is in spine twisting, neck snapping effect on nine unusually raw cuts that bleed dank air and squeeze melody from scuffed and scaly surfaces. It’s definitely still AE, but allowing for more space and finer graded textures in the mix, from their juiciest sloshing basses, to the rusted drums and iridescent, aerosolised timbres in a subtle new mutation of their sound.
As we commented with ‘Sign’, it feels like they're haunted by their older forms on ‘Plus’, but still inexorably pulled toward a futuristic unknown. We can feel those opposing forces at action in the stunning hyperstep dynamics and almost nostalgic ken of ‘X4’, which is one of the album’s durational highlights along with the totally absorbing concrète setting and avian chirrups of ‘ecol4’, and the quicksilver techno slipperiness of ‘TM1’, while the likes of ‘7FM ic’ deliver sharper shocks of impossible limb movements, and ‘marhide’ epitomises a noisier approach with straight-jacketed electro extruded thru some kind of imaginary airlock, saving bittersweet touches for the extended melodic thoughts of ‘lux 106 mod’ and the aspartame flavour tang of their beatless roller ‘ii.pre esc’, which is bound to become a favourite.
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.
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.
Horsegirl are a noisy rock trio from Chicago composed of Penelope Lowenstein, Nora Cheng and Gigi Reece, all 17-18 years old.
"Inspired by the shoegaze and post-punk sounds of the ’90s US and UK indie underground, in their year together they have played contemporary art museums, all ages venues, open mics and house parties.
First written during a Chicago teacher’s strike in 2019, ‘Ballroom Dance Scene’ presents Horsegirl's glassy guitars and vocal counterpoint, like a cross between Yo La Tengo and The Raincoats. The competing vocal melodies cascade over one another, detailing the lives of various fictional characters. With a title inspired by a misread product name sold at their local grocery store, ‘Sea Life Sandwich Boy’ was the first track Horsegirl wrote together and comes across like Pavement or The Breeders (or, perhaps more accurately, The Amps)."
Expanded edition of Dots & Loops, Stereolab’s fifth studio album and for our money their best. It was the first Stereolab album to mostly ditch the motorik/Neu! obsessions that had been a trademark since their inception; instead the sound here is dominated by odd time signatures wrapped in electronic, lounge and jazz textures, once again produced by Tortoise maverick John McEntire, with Mouse on Mars taking over duties on three of the tracks to showcase the band's most complex set of recordings to date. Remastered from original tapes, this new expanded edition includes a bonus disk of unreleased demos, outtakes and alternate mixes - which serve to highlight just how great the songs on this album are. Stripped of all the studio trickery, they still hold up - they hold up very well.
22 years old and Dots & Loops still sounds like a defining album of its era. Released in 1997, it found the band’s motorik fascinations upended by mostly electronic, loop-based foundations, in places augmented by echoes of Tropicalia and Sean O’Hagan’s psychedelic Farfisa. It’s an album that’s both exotic and rooted in the everyday detail with which they made their name over the previous decade - with that growing electronic dimension joining dots between their kraut roots, Pharrell /Timbaland and the more complex electronic music of the day typified by Autechre, Aphex, Mouse on Mars and so on.
Recorded in Chicago and Düsseldorf, Dots & Loops bridges a unique American-Euro influence - Bossa Nova and ’60s Euro pop are still major touchstones - imbuing proceedings with a deceptively light feel; while further listens reveal an elaborate work, with almost every track featuring complicated and layered arrangements. “Parsec” is space-rock meets drum and bass; “Brakhage” marries a minor key bass line to clinking vibes and a shuffling beat; the segmented, 20-minute “Refractions in the Plastic Pulse” is sunny and appealing, yet intricately constructed.
The dividing line between the band’s first phase and what would be its more experimental latter period, Dots & Loops is an intricately woven and complex masterpiece that's somehow breezy and evocative, like nothing else.
Prophet Noir is a 6 track 12" of dystopian industrial dancehall experimentalism created by Twin Cities Sound System Feel Free Hi Fi featuring the vocal powers of eclectic Brooklyn MC Eddie Hill and vagabond lyricist Manic Times.
"Feel Free Hi Fi began in 2016 when Derek Maxwell and Shawn Reed met in Minneapolis. Reed’s vast Jamaican-centric vinyl collection met Maxwell’s passion for designing and building custom speakers and the collective was born. Their mutual appreciation for worldwide mobile sound system culture, music and history would be their driving force.
As the physical sound system evolved, the duo began performing live dubbed vinyl sets throughout the Twin Cities. The next logical step was the creation of original rhythms cut to dub plates. During this time of experimentation Prophet Noir began to take shape. Originally conceived as an instrumental project, the record took a different direction with the addition of Eddie Hill and Manic Times on vocals."
Wickedly zonked, naturally perpendicular dancehall from JA’s widely adored Equiknoxx, dicing with the Twin City’s Feel Free Hi Fi in a one-for-one mixtape style.
In turn, the wayward bashment unit and their spars trade tune for tune on a low-key, minimalist, digi-dub tip ripe for MC’s to do their thing, or for DJs to work up a sweat in back yards and basements. There’s one percolated bubbler from Gavsborg, pairing quizzical strings and canny sighs on ’11am with Frankie Bubbler’, plus three nuggz from Time Cow; the clipped gyrations and furtive bleeps of ‘The President Eats The Children’, an unmissable Goldeneye N64 style bullet named ‘Birds of Passage Dub’, and the spaced out Sleng Teng stylings of ‘Chipheads Dub’ for those that know. Feel Free Hi-Fi spin those results thru the echoplex in tidy form, generating tight highlights in the aggier attack of ’11am Dub’, lending a rude tension to ‘The President…’, and accentuating the lurky anticipation of ‘Birds of Passage.’
A collection of beautiful Country-Western inspired music from 1950s Zimbabwe, South Africa and Kenya.
"Fingerpicking “omasiganda” troubadours, train car yodels, raw slide guitar, and haunting travel-weary ballads, all reissued for the first time from rare 78s. A heavy duty document of a nearly lost scene, and all the songs are all stunners to boot. Featuring George Sibanda, Josaya Hadebe, Sabelo Mathe, Petrus Mntambo and more, with a 12" booklet of deep research and full lyrics, packaged in old school tip-on covers. Co-released by our friends Olvido Records (A. Kostis, The White Birds, George Mukabi). Audio restoration and transfers by Michael Kieffer."
Yves Tumor lands on Warp with his debut album for the label; more popwise and polished than before, still pitched perfectly between the avant garde and the mass market...
Laced with guest vox and production from Croatian Amor, James Ferraro, Oxhy, Puce Mary and James K, on ‘Safe In The Hands of Love’ Sean Bowie a.k.a. Yves Tumor is the liminal, connecting spirit between a unique push ’n pull of samples and original instrumentation, acting like a porous transducer of style, tone and pattern that absorbs and amplifies lost (but not dead) light and energy and turns it into something wholly his own.
Where previous singles such as ‘Noid’, ‘Lifetime’ and ‘Licking An Orchid’ - the album’s core trio - distinctly nodded to Brit-pop and ‘90s ambient-pop pastoralism, the rest of the album curiously unfolds along those axes to take in nods to Warp’s earliest signings, N.O.W. on the introductory fanfare of ‘Faith In Nothing Except Salvation’, while ‘Economy Of Freedom’ opens out into futurist sci-fi soul, and ‘Honesty’ masterfully melds indie-pop and rugged electro-soul.
And it’s that polysemous definition of soul that continues to be the uniting ligature or filament to the rest of the album, from the raging black metal mutation of ‘Hope In Suffering (Escaping Oblivion & Overcoming Powerlessness)’, to big beat-y psychedelia of ‘All The Love We Have Now’, and the white hot, foaming shoegaze distortion of ‘Let The Lioness In You Flow Freely’, all cannily highlighting a sense of emotive mutualism that transcends style, credo, and vibe.
For the good of your health, Warp have re-pressed one of electronic music's golden moments. Like many we've lived with this album for a long time now and it safely ranks in our personal best ever list...
Ever unpredictable avant folkie, Richard Youngs bares his teeth in a set of biting point shredders and distorted atonal experiments sure to light up the pleasure centres of Wolf Eyes and Merzbow fans
“On 'Metal River', Richard Youngs offers four songs of deep space beamed curdled electronics not far removed from being akin to the contorted death caterwauls of a cyborg species reaching out in uttermost anguish. It's like prime Edgar Froese getting snagged on Incapacitants before tumbling headlong into a dingy cellar that then has its door slammed shut and locked before one notices the only company is accorded by body parts in dusty and mouldy demijohns. Features three songs on the first side, 'Days of Gravity Indoors', 'Metal River' and 'Rainy Days Static Caravan', plus the side long 'Dual Monody of Accumulated Detritus'. The perfect follow up to the limited edition (and now sold out) 2dicks 7" lathe-cut also featuring Richard Youngs and released by FD in June 2020.”
B.o.C chase up their hypnotic mix on the WXAXRXP NTS weekender with their a reissue of their 1998 ‘Peel Session’, augmented with the previously unavailable ‘XYZ’ off the same session
The OG EP’s trio of classic versions remain in place, revolving a beautifully reworked take on ‘Aquarius (Version 3)’, plus the neck-snap breaks and head kissing licks of ‘Happy Cycling’, and the bucolic air of ‘Olson (Version 3)’.
‘XYZ’ was recorded during the same session but never made it to the original release. It’s an eight minute beauty gently escalating from windswept, flyaway psych riffs to a fractious sort of folksy drill ’n bass onslaught.
Fully remastered edition of Hassell’s debut trip into the Fourth World for Lovely Music, now prepped from original master tapes and packaged with sleeve notes by Hassell and Eno for optimal immersion in their oddly familiar world, and on occasion of the 2020 Vernal Equinox.
Hailed in Pitchfork’s 50 best ambient of all time list, ‘Vernal Equinox’ charts the first bold and probing trips by trumpeter Jon Hassell into a parallel dimension that exists between jazz, dub, Indian raga, and new age ambient. Released in 1977, it was one of the groundbreaking albums of its era, channeling a wealth of inspirations into an imaginative framework that would come to resonate with many other listeners and musicians, but in a much more fully formed, if dreamlike, style.
This dream would come to more resounding fruition with 1980’s ‘Fourth World, Vol.1: Possible Musics’, co-produced by Brian Eno, but in ‘Vernal Equinox’ it’s possible to hear a primordial and enigmatic genesis of what would become known as Fourth World music, with Hassell accompanied by Lovely Music’s avant-garde brigade (David Rosenboom, Nana Vasconcelos, Bill Winant) to effectively bridge Miles Davis’ forays into Indian music with the emergent appeal of more meditative New Age, and open up whole new avenues of exploration for future generations in the process, from Skaters to 0PN and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith.
A classic in its field.
Newly expanded with a bonus disc of 10 unreleased demos and alternate versions and available on vinyl for 1st time since 1996, Stereolab’s classic 4th studio album is back in circulation, offerign a fresh chance to dive into what Pitchfork ranked as the 51st greatest album of the 1990s, and was then (and still is) a cornerstone of retro indie-pop and post-rock experimentalism starring guest turn by Tortoise’s John McEntire.
Remastered from original tapes with a bonus disk of unreleased demos, outtakes and alternate mixes. Co-released by band’s own label Duophonic UHF Disks and Warp Records. Fold-out poster insert with lyrics and sleevenotes from Laetitia Sadier and Tim Gane Vinyl comes in bespoke gatefold sleeve with download card, housed inside a heavyweight clear PVC wallet.
Harold Budd’s profound influence is absorbed deeply into Dialect’s zen-like debut bouquet for RVNG Intl., marking a very welcome return from the Liverpool-based composer after his 2018 LP on Forest Sword’s Dense Truth
Ever since the release of his 2015 album ‘Gownanus Drift’, and in particular the emotional punishment of its quietly blub-worthy standout ‘Ghost Of Red Hook’, it’s been a real pleasure to keep an ear on the movements of Andrew PM Hunt aka Dialect. His 4th album, ‘Under~Between’ now sees him blossom a gorgeously understated style of electro-acoustic ambient classicism every bit as restrained as it is enchanting, characterising a refined sort of honest emotional intelligence and knack for gently suggestive, ephemeral melody and harmony that speaks to his ongoing interests with Buddhism, and related ideas of interdependence and relativity.
‘Under~Between’ began life as a series of orchestral pieces commissioned for the Immix Ensemble some years back, but somehow the artist has managed to sit on the recordings until now. Their release is effectively the culmination of a long-standing friendship with RVNG Intl., and was prompted by the artist’s reading of ‘Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory’ by Joanna Marcy, whose thoughts on the Buddhist doctrine of Pratītyasamutpāda gave Dialect the nudge needed to give these gorgeous works their wings.
It’s really not hard to hear the influence of Harold Budd’s arch pastoralist touch to the proceedings, but there’s also a vital sense of NYC minimalism, as well as wide skied Liverpudlian wonder, to the 11 works that should be correctly identified as Dialect-ical, and distinctly accented. They unfurl at a conversational pace, bubbling with a friendly energy and fizzing with detailed invention between the poetic title piece and lucid, eastern-inspired tonalities of ‘An Archipelago’, with his animist FM synthesis abilities fully in check on the folksy whims of his ‘Yamaha Birds’ works and the Visible Cloaks-esque ’Stacks’, and while Budd’s evergreen beauty informs the centrepiece of ‘Sentimental, Sedimentary’, and the likes of ‘Feathers Dance’ or ‘Avert Yr Path’ recall the evocatively timeless beauty of Ernest Hood’s ’Neighbourhoods’ as much as Budd’s sublime descriptive skills.
Disarmingly lovely tape saturated ambient piano movements that should appeal to anyone with a soft spot for Alva Noto's collaborations with Ryuichi Sakamoto.
Samuel Reinhard's "Interior" is deceptively simple stuff: obsessively glacial, smudged-out piano notes, stitched together for optimum ambient effect. But it's all in the details; Reinhard's skill is in letting things play out for exactly as long as they need to, channeling the spirit of William Basinski with his hypnotic, slithering loops.
Reinhard is best known for his work as Wildlife!, where he offered an ambient-friendly take on experimental club music with a slew of records for NYC's influential Mixpak label. Here, all that hi-res bluster is absent completely, there's barely a sound outside the piano, tape hiss and the occasional creak. But rhythms come from Reinhard's pacing, and his Carsten Nicolai-influenced use of glitchy editing. The Satie-esque spacious notes twist and turn in their own time, coaxed into delicate soundscapes by Reinhard. It's music for contemplation, rather than airports.
Nice ’n nasty baile funk hybrids from french producer Amor Satyr, voiced by Brazilian rappers, MC Buzzz and T9 RJ for another heat pack on Paris-based Promesses
It’s a fine solo debut introduction on a label known for breaking new producers, throwing down the brooding but cartoonish blend of MC Buzzz’ hoarse delivery and T9’s breathy counterpoint against sliding accordion licks and São Paolo-via-Miami-and-Lisbon rhythms on ’Na Viela’, before echoing UK sino-grime subgenres in their syncopation of brittle Brazilian grime beats with Chinese string riff on ‘Virar DJ’, with T9 going on playfully aggressive. Both include instrumentals for the DJs and MCs to get busy at home.
Rarely has an album owed so much to production... Low return with their most daring, experimental release in years, co-produced by James Blake's man at the controls B.J. Burton, at times verging on a layered, pulsing electronic sound you'd associate with the likes of Andy Stott. Doused in distortion, throbbing electronics, submerged vocals, side-chain effects - this could easily have been a nauseating exercise in modernisation; but instead the strength of the songwriting shines through for one of Low's best = a standout full-length for 2018.
"In 2018, Low will turn twenty-five. Since 1993, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker—the married couple whose heaven-and-earth harmonies have always held the band’s center—have pioneered a subgenre, shrugged off its strictures, recorded a Christmas classic, become a magnetic onstage force, and emerged as one of music’s most steadfast and vital vehicles for pulling light from our darkest emotional recesses. But Low will not commemorate its first quarter-century with mawkish nostalgia or safe runs through songbook favorites. Instead, in faithfully defiant fashion, Low will release its most brazen, abrasive (and, paradoxically, most empowering) album ever: Double Negative, an unflinching eleven-song quest through snarling static and shattering beats that somehow culminates in the brightest pop song of Low’s career.
To make Double Negative, Low reenlisted B.J. Burton, the quietly energetic and adventurous producer who has made records with James Blake, Sylvan Esso, and The Tallest Man on Earth in recent years while working as one of the go-to figures at Bon Iver’s home studio, April Base. Burton recorded Low’s last album, 2015’s Ones and Sixes, at April Base, adding might to many of its beats and squelch and frisson beneath many of its melodies.
This time, though, Sparhawk, Parker, and bassist Steve Garrington knew they wanted to go further with Burton and his palette of sounds, to see what someone who is, as Sparhawk puts it, “a hip-hop guy” could truly do to their music. Rather than obsessively write and rehearse at home in Duluth, Minnesota, they would often head southeast to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, arriving with sketches and ideas that they would work on for days with Burton. Band and producer became collaborative cowriters, building the pieces up and breaking them down and building them again until their purpose and force felt clear. As the world outside seemed to slide deeper into instability, Low repeated this process for the better part of two years, pondering the results during tours and breaks at home. They considered not only how the fragments fit together but also how, in the United States of 2018, they functioned as statements and salves.
Double Negative is, indeed, a record perfectly and painfully suited for our time. Loud and contentious and commanding, Low fightsfor the world by fighting against it. It begins in pure bedlam, with a beat built from a loop of ruptured noise waging war against the paired voices of Sparhawk and Parker the moment they begin to sing during the massive “Quorum.” For forty minutes, they indulge the battle, trying to be heard amid the noisy grain, sometimes winning and sometimes being tossed toward oblivion. In spite of the mounting noise, Sparhawk and Parker still sing. Or maybe they sing because of the noise. For Low, has there ever really been a difference?"
Master Italian minimalist Donato Dozzy meets percussionist Daniele Di Gregorio on the first trip for Maga Circe Musica, a new label set up by Dozzy and Alicia Carrera. It’s a slow & hypnotic exposition somewhere between Daniel Schmidt’s gorgeous 'In My Arms, Many Flowers’, Reichian Minimalism and Raster Noton’s classic, pristine grid-worship.
‘Buchla & Marimba’ extends Dozzy’s increasingly experimental vectors into ‘floor-adjacent forms of rhythm-driven minimalism that hearkens back to Steve Reich’s phasing rhythmelodies and the kind of sublime experiments explored by Daniel Schmidt & The Berkley Gamelan, also converging influence from the jazz genius of Don Cherry and the organic electro-acoustic works of Jonathan Fitoussi.
But for all that wealth of influence and wide-ranging inputs, the results are effortlessly enjoyable and self-evident, rippling with a gentle, lysergic magick that percolates between the six parts, from the polymetric pointillism of ‘Sessione 1’, to the freckled lilt of ‘Sessione 2’, finding a spell-binding sort of West African cadence in ‘the 3rd, and practically dematerialising into stereo-pinging widescreen on the final two parts.
On their 2006 follow-up to 'Geogaddi', Boards Of Canada indulged their tastes for a folk-rock and shoegaze sound that had long lain latent, shimmering around their beats.
We're not so keen on the opener 'Dayvan Cowboy', but there's some archetypal BoC gear to be heard on the lovely 'Left Side Drive' and the rolling blend of breaks and library synth shivers in 'Sklyliner', besides the two gorgeous interludes, 'Heard From Telegraph Lines' and 'Under The Coke Sign'.
Mindboggling new material from GRM pioneer Beatriz Ferreyra and British acousmatic expert Natasha Barrett. Seriously next level outer zones for dedicated, adventurous listeners.
Ferreyra has been pushing sound into new directions since she joined the Groupe de Recherches Musicales in 1963 and here offers up new twelve minute piece 'Souvenirs cachés' and bundles it with 2003's shorter 'Murmureln' to fill out the A side. On the flip, tireless British sound alchemist Natasha Barrett explores Norwegian culture with 'Innermost', a long, ghostly abstraction of whispers, shouts and drones.
Both sides are essential listening for anyone with even a cursory interest in offworld abstraction or concrete music. Ferreyra's side sounds like the gurgle of a room full of woodwind instruments, pushed into a swamp of digital FX and seismic tectonic shifts. It's psychedelic by its very nature, toying with our learned perception of sound and tripping up our brain's programmed responses; voices become synthetic gurgles and electronic womps and transported into airy hisses and almost imperceptible clanks and croaks.
Barrett meanwhile uses two long recordings from outdoor events in her home base of Norway. Over the course of the piece, echoing almost inaudible voices and cheers suggest the blurry quality of memory before being squashed into numbing drones, pulling the mind into dark recesses pocked with occasional beams of light. It's phenomenal stuff, and both sides compliment each other perfectly.
Grubby mid-tempo club grooves with feet in house, new beat, and industrial zones
“The Black Bones story is born out of a shared obsession for crate digging, collecting, and the playing of weird and wonderful music. Their releases so far have manifested in a highly-sought series of seven psychedelic disco 12”s - picking up numerous Record of the Week plaudits on the way.
Kicking off with the full throttle 120 bpm of ‘ABTS’ - the duo take you straight to the ‘floor with one of the wildest rides we’ve heard in some time. ‘Denied’ pulls us in to darker territory - chest pummelling bass, ominous high-pitched warnings and a chuggy acid throw-down finding us once again lost in that 5am dance floor fog.
Over on the flip and ‘Punghi’ combines a hypnotic groove, dubbed out FX, percussion and a tripped-out Eastern breakdown. One for the more adventurous DJs and dance floor! The EP is closed by 'Gabi’ which sounds like minimal gone maximal with an insane industrial
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.
Threshold-dwelling lower case elisions of field recording and barely-there instrumental gestures by the wonderful Anne Guthrie, an occasional and prized presence on these pages.
Guthrie’s solo work has previously snagged our ears with the gorgeous ‘Codiaeum Variegatum’ album and ‘Brass Orchids’, both for Students of Decay over the past decade. She returns to the label three years after her previous, and collabs with the GRM’s François Bonnet and Seymour Wright, to offer her most sublime sort of sonic mulch and vapours in ‘Gyropedie’, where she appears to quiesce the enduring air of Satie’s proto-ambient music into a more natural, elusive ecology of cherry-picked small sounds that amount to a lushly absorbing whole primed for pastoral sound bathing in the comfort of your own home.
In Guthrie’s own words, “Quite literally a record of pilgrimage from East to West. Remnants of Midwest and East Coast soundmarks, instruments sold to lighten the travel load, sketched out and then buried under the new. Winter birds and crunching snow, frozen playgrounds, broken synths - I spent a year decoupaging over this, but of course it’s still there. A second moon appears occasionally in the daytime, and there are frequent, murky transmissions. California has something alien about it I’m still trying to grasp. Primarily vintage, unabashed, corny, I find myself becoming an impressionist.”
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.
Classic South African psychedelic afro-rock albums marking the watershed of Harari’s evolution from Soweto soul (as The Beaters) to the afro-centric rock and funk that brought them fame and changed South Africa’s musical landscape forever. Reissued with printed inner sleeves containing notes by “Soweto Blues” author Gwen Ansell and archival photography. Audio remastered and cut for vinyl by Frank Merritt at The Carvery with heavyweight 180g vinyl pressed at Pallas in Germany.
"The Beaters – Harari was released in 1975. After changing their name, Harari went into the studio late in 1976 to record their follow-up, Rufaro / Happiness. In 1976 they were voted South Africa’s top instrumental group and were in high demand at concert venues across the country. Comprising former schoolmates guitarist and singer Selby Ntuli, bassist Alec Khaoli, lead guitarist Monty Ndimande and drummer Sipho Mabuse, the group had come a long way from playing American-styled instrumental soul in the late sixties to delivering two Afro-rock masterpieces.
Before these two albums the Beaters had been disciples of ‘Soweto Soul’ – an explosion of township bands drawing on American soul and inspired by the assertive image of Stax and Motown’s Black artists. The Beaters supported Percy Sledge on his 1970 South African tour (and later Timmy Thomas, Brook Benton and Wilson Pickett). But their watershed moment was their three month tour of Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) where they were inspired by the strengthening independence struggle and musicians such as Thomas Mapfumo who were turning to African influences. On their return, the neat Nehru jackets that had been the band’s earliest stage wear were replaced by dashikis and Afros.
“In Harari we rediscovered our African-ness, the infectious rhythms and music of the continent. We came back home inspired! We were overhauling ourselves into dashiki-clad musicians who were Black Power saluting and so on.” Sipho Hotstix Mabuse, talking of the band’s time spent on tour in the (then) Rhodesian township from where they took their name. As well as expressing confident African politics, Alec Khaoli recalled, they pioneered by demonstrating that such messages could also be carried by “...happy music. During apartheid times we made people laugh and dance when things weren’t looking good.”
The two albums capture the band on the cusp of this transition. One the first album Harari, Inhlupeko Iphelile, Push It On and Thiba Kamoo immediately signal the new Afro-centric fusion of rock, funk and indigenous influences. American soul pop is not forgotten with Love, Love, Love and, helped along by Kippie Moeketsi and Pat Matshikiza a bump-jive workout What’s Happening concludes the album. The second album Rufaro pushes the African identity and fusion further, with key tracks Oya Kai (Where are you going?), Musikana and Uzulu whilst the more pop-styled Rufaro and Afro-Gas point to where Harari were headed to in years to come. The popularity and sales generated by these two classic albums saw them signed by Gallo and release just two more albums with the original line-up before the untimely death of Selby Ntuli in 1978. Whilst they went on to greater success, even landing a song in the US Billboard Disco Hot 100 in 1982, it was never the same again.
“Harari’s music still speaks directly to one of my goals as a younger artist: to express myself as an African without pretending that I don’t have all these other musical elements – classical, jazz, house – inside me.” Thandi Ntuli, niece of Selby Ntuli.
Absolute killer gear from techno mutant Pavel Milyakov (Buttechno) and explorative sax player Bendik Giske, the first release on Smalltown Supersound's highly promising new offside jazz label, Le Jazz Non Series. If yr into owt from Colin Stetson to Beatrice Dillon to Lynch/Badalementi or Alex Zhang Hungtai’s work as Love Theme - this is a must.
Milyakov & Giske are both strongly regarded in their respective scenes - Milyakov for his dare-to-be-different techno, and Giske for a remarkable debut LP ’Surrender’ and collaborations/interactions with Caterina Barbieri, Laurel Halo and many, many others - and their pairing here provides a burningly intense form of hybrid electro-jazz that feels vitally restless and searching.
Produced remotely over the course of 12 months between Berlin and Moscow, the album’s seven pieces portray the duo at an early crest of their collaborative, creative powers, revelling in the thrill of invention and innovation with Giske’s physical, improvised prowess matched for fleeting unpredictability by Milyakov’s bespoke modular systems.
The results are tangibly brittle but in an immersive, world-building fashion that speaks to the openness and mutuality of their visions, trimming any excess fat and never testing attention spans, they move in quick steps between searingly emotive bursts of energy and naggingly rhythmic jags, skipping from peaks of breathtaking flightiness to cavernous skronk and ghost-in-the-machine divinations with elemental logic and dexterity.
Les Disques du Crepuscule presents Subway, a collection of singles by cult NYC duo Thick Pigeon, originally released on Crepuscule, Factory and Factory Benelux between 1981 and 1991.
Comprised of vocalist Stanton Miranda and instrumentalist Carter Burwell, Thick Pigeon emerged from the downtown New York artrock scene which also spawned Glenn Branca, Bush Tetras, DNA, Arthur Russell and Sonic Youth. Like their chosen name, the duo were typically atypical: Miranda was previously a dancer with the Marthe Graham ballet company, and Carter a film animator and Harvard fine arts/architecture graduate. Very much a studio project, the ‘group’ hardly ever performed live.
Poised and subtle debut single Subway appeared on Crepuscule in January 1981, a connection forged by Miranda’s partner Michael Shamberg. Dog followed a year later, along with wry Christmas single Jingle Bell Rock, before the duo switched to Factory Records, recording debut album Too Crazy Cowboys in Manchester with Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert of New Order producing. Released simultaneously on Factory and Factory US in 1984, the album was billed as “a walk through the civilisation of you soul”.
Having now embarked on a career scoring movies (becoming the Coen brothers’ composer of choice), Carter was absent from the next TP project, 1986 dance single Wheels Over Indian Trails, although Morris and Gilbert remained on board as guest musicians. However Miranda and Carter would reunite for a second (and final) leftfield pop album, Miranda Dali, issued by Crepuscule in 1991.
As well as singles Subway, Dog, Jingle Bell Rock, Jess + Bart and Wheels Over Indian Trails, TWI 351 also includes b-sides (Sudan, Tracy + Pansy), album highlights (Crime, Riding) and a second festive track, Blue Christmas, previously issued only on cassette as part of a Factory Christmas card in 1986.
Alongside Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert, the stellar cast of guests include Fred Szymanski (of Ike Yard), Ikue Mori (DNA), remixer John Robie, and even artist and event designer Jean-Paul Goude on backing vocals."
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.”
What do you think of when you think of British film? Probably not the 1979 ‘puzzle picture’ that is Anti-Clock. And yet, for anyone who has seen this extraordinary film, it would be unlikely that they could forget it. Its sounds and images burn into the brain. It’s an infuriating and invigorating experience. It’s like entering a dream state only to find that one’s unconscious mind has been hijacked by somebody else’s skewed (il)logic.
"And the trance-inducing static of its opening sequence, the burnt-out surveillance monitors, the super-saturated filmed sequences, bewildering performances and labyrinthine ‘plot’ are only half the story; there’s that soundtrack, too. It’s not unusual for a film to have one, of course, but this one fits like a glove. Arden sings the songs ('Sleepwalking' and 'Who Are Those Figures In White?'), and it’s as if Val Denham had been secretly recorded during a session with R D Laing. Its feels warm and comforting, but it’s unsettling too. More than anything, though, behind its apparent calm, it’s angry at us for our complacency, our willingness to consume and to consent to a life within ‘the system’. It’s a lullaby which aims to wound.
Arden and Bond’s collaborative career gave Britain some of the most extraordinary films it ever produced. No one else stuck their necks out even half as far as they did. Their filmography is woefully short – Separation (1966, Arden: screenplay/actress, Bond: dir); The Other Side of the Underneath (1972, Bond: prod, Arden: dir); Vibration (1975, co-dirs); Anti-Clock (1979, co-dirs) – but it’s full to the brim of incredible, daring ideas and completely unfettered imagination. It’s packed, too, with pain and a disconcerting honesty about the human condition; challenging commonly-held ideas about madness and positing ideas which are far less easy to categorise or control.
Arden and Bond’s desire to destroy order and to do things differently was made clear from the very start: the first image in Separation is of a clock being smashed in reverse. But Separation, for all its radical ideas and unconventional moments, self-consciously presented the veneer of something familiar – it looks like it employs a film language which we understand, but it consistently undermines expectations – only to leave the viewer ever more perplexed and unsettled.
The Other Side of the Underneath, on the other hand, was an all-out assault. Revelling in its lack of restraint, it presented hysteria, extreme distress, masturbation, brutality, menstruation, sacrilege and unfiltered ‘otherness’ in an attempt to show all that society deems unshowable. But if Underneath’s extremity is akin to the act of shitting out (or on to) a history of repression and pain, and of turning the order of things on its head, then Anti-Clock was the attempt to consider what is left in its wake. It’s a complex, contemplative piece, and Arden’s apparently comforting delivery of her self-penned songs and the see-saw flow of Mihai Dragutescu’s delicate instrumentation act only as a means to lure us in; to begin the de-programming.
Anti-Clock shares with Separation a disdain for order and blind obedience. In her book You Don’t Know What You Want, Do You? –the basis for the network of ideas at play in Anti-Clock – the motif of the rat is used as a metaphor for the rational mind. The lyrics to ‘Sleepwalking’ (living in a daze, wandering in a maze) also conjure up images of lab rats, of unthinking beings adhering to rules and systems, never questioning what is beyond what they think they know to be true. At the close of Anti-Clock, the central character, Sapha, simply says, ‘It has been my whole life's will to decode this puzzle, as though inside the answer to this equation was the insurance of that peace of mind that had eluded me. But there is no puzzle. And the mind is never peaceful. And dawn’s already here as the stars appear.’
In December 1982, Arden took her own life. Bond reacted with anger and frustration: he removed Anti-Clock from circulation, vowing that the world would never see it again. Thankfully, after almost three decades, he granted the film a second life. And now, with Arden and Dragutescu’s beautifully unsettling sound work getting the attention it deserves, listening to this exquisite soundtrack provides as good a way as any to begin a relationship with a film that is as daring, brilliant and profoundly personal as British cinema gets."
- Sam Dunn, October 2014
A treasure for Norwegian disco, electro-pop, and ambient archaeologists alike; Geir Jenssen aka Biosphere’s earliest work as E-Man is comprehensively collected with 14 tracks spanning 1983-84 - RIYL Kraftwerk, Cybotron, Oppenheimer Analysis
First issued in 1984 and and subsequently with additional tracks by The Tapeworm in 2009 - same as this edition on Jenssen’s Biophon label - ‘E-Man’ makes clear the inspirations and early stirrings of an artist who would help to define European electronic music in the ‘90s. The style is very much of its time, full of perky, jerky machine rhythms and piquant synth pointillism nodding to Kraftwerk, with vocals from the Depeche Mode playbook in ‘Great Nations’, and literally YMO on ‘Hosono’, but also betraying seeds of tonal and melodic ideas in the ‘Upland’ vignettes that he would explore much more richly on later work. It also includes a number of collaborative works with another Trømso native Per Martinsen (Mental Overdrive) and his Bel Canto bandmate Nils Johansen, key figures from the Norwegian scene who would make significant contributions in their own rights.
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)."