Big software changes around here, so things are both easier and more work all at the same time… so some things are taking longer, but luckily there still isn’t that much coming out this year yet so I guess we picked a good time to do it. Anyway, enough about us, here’s some killer tunes for you to stick in your ear.
…..picks of the week…..
Terekke: Improvisational Loops (Music From Memory) LP
Terekke drifts gracefully onto Music From Memory with a long player of looping ambient pad pressure. Terreke explains: “The recording of Improvisational Loops began in 2012 during yoga classes at Body Actualized Center in NYC. In the spirit of past ‘new age’ or minimal music, it aims to open up a space within the room giving the listener a chance to explore inward or outward. It was recorded using a digital synthesizer, reverb, and looper.”
File Under: Ambient, Electronic
Heldon: Electronique Guerilla (Bureau B) LP
Bureau B present a reissue of Heldon’s debut album Electronique Guerilla, originally released on Disjuncta in 1974. In 1973, 22-year old Richard Pinhas was well on his way to becoming a full-time philosopher. He had almost finished his PhD and begun teaching at the University of Paris. But he also had a hobby: writing music and recording it himself. When he submitted a few tracks to British label E.G. (home of King Crimson and Roxy Music), the imprint was interested, but Pinhas was frustrated to find out he’d have to wait a year for them to release anything. So Pinhas put out his first album on his own label, Disjuncta. He called the project Heldon (from a location in Norman Spinrad’s 1972 sci-fi novel The Iron Dream). It might have been the first self-released rock record in France. “Or at least the first one that worked,” says Pinhas. “It was like a musical and political event in France. Musical because there were few artists using synthesizers here, or even in the world. And political because we tried to say that the big companies make everything bad and their records are too expensive.” Most of Electronique Guerilla was made by Pinhas alone, but “Ouais, Marchais, Mieux Qu’en 68” featured five collaborators, including one of his mentors, Gilles Deleuze. Over winding guitars and pointed percussion, the French philosopher reads lyrics taken from Friedrich Nietzsche’s “The Voyager and His Shadow” (1880). Despite being self-released — with Pinhas himself delivering some stock directly to record stores — Electronique Guerilla quickly sold over 19,000 copies. That convinced Pinhas he should make and release more music by himself — but he would have little time for philosophy. “I had to make a decision, because at that point in France, you couldn’t do two jobs,” he remembers. “So I made this very bad choice to be a rock ‘n’ roll musician.” It’s a choice he’s stuck to for four decades, and the fiery Electronique Guerilla provided a potent spark. 2018 remaster by Willem Makkee.
File Under: Prog, Psych, Electronic
Alessandro Alessandroni: Romance & Drama (Transversales Disques) LP
Transversales Disques present the first reissue of Romance & Drama, an essential LP by Italian pioneer and Ennio Morricone cohort, Alessandro Alessandroni. Originally released on Munich based experimental, progressive library label Coloursound. Alessandroni at his best: very refined Italian cinematic sound, tense 12-string guitar themes, synth sequences, beautiful sound of chamber classical music mixed with psych choir. You can feel Alessandroni’s magical touch for melodies and arrangements on nearly every song and at the same time, some are reminiscent of François de Roubaix on themes like “Dramatic” and “Sad Farewell”. No doubt each track of this underrated masterpiece could have been a classic soundtrack theme. Remastered from original tapes.
File Under: Library, Italian
Tony Allen: Black Voices (Comet) LP
Comet presents a reissue of Tony Allen’s Black Voices, originally released in 1999. This reissue features remastered versions and “Ariya (Psychedelic Juju Mix)” as a bonus track, which was not part of the original release. Tony Allen completely rewrote the books on what was possible within the Afrobeat genre with his stunning 1999 album, Black Voices. When one considers exactly “what” is going on throughout Black Voices, it is quite mind boggling, as it is almost impossible to associate a minimalist, electronic feel with the massive walls-of-sound which Allen was known to create. Yet these walls-of-sound are still very present, yet they gain an entirely new feel due to the presence of the producer, Doctor L. He takes the mesmerizing rhythms that Allen creates and he spins them into a stunningly modern sound. While Doctor L’s production work throughout Black Voices is truly fantastic, it is clear that the genius behind the album lies within the mind of Tony Allen. With the absolutely mesmerizing, funky grooves that Allen creates, it comes as little surprise that the vocal collaborations are handled by members of one of the funkiest bands in history: Parliament-Funkadelic. For almost two decades, Black Voices has remained a stunning example of the fantastic results that can occur when seemingly unrelated genres clash.
File Under: Afrobeat, Funk
Aidan Baker & Gareth Davis: Invisible Cities (Karlrecords) LP
Invisible Cities, the first collaboration between Aidan Baker (Nadja, B/B/S) and bass clarinetist Gareth Davis (Oiseaux-Tempête), offers the finest ambient/chamber jazz/subtle drones of a highly meditative quality. Be it solo, as member of the drone duo Nadja or B/B/S (his trio with Andrea Belfi and Erik Skodvin, aka Svarte Greiner) or in various collaborations with artists like Tim Hecker or Thisquietarmy, the Berlin-based Canadian is one of the most productive and versatile artists when it’s about post rock, drone, or ambient and without doubt a true master on the guitar. In recent years Baker also starting exploring new grounds as a composer of contemporary/ensemble music — e.g. his composition “An Instance Of Rising” was commissioned by Spółdzielnia Muzyczna Contemporary Ensemble and Sacrum Profanum Festival for their 2017 edition. Invisible Cities marks Baker’s first collaboration with Gareth Davis whose eclectic oeuvre spans contemporary classical, free improvisation, and orchestral music through to rock, noise, and electronica. The bass clarinetist is a steady member of the critically acclaimed post-rock formation Oiseaux-Tempête and A-Sun Amissa, interpreted compositions by Alvin Lucier with Machinefabriek, worked with Bernhard Lang and Peter Ablinger, performed with musicians like New York downtown veteran Elliott Sharp, Merzbow, or Robin Rimbaud (aka Scanner) and realized multimedia work with artists including Christian Marclay and Peter Greenaway. Recorded in November 2016 at Muziekhuis, Utrecht, the four tracks create a calm, even meditative atmosphere in their reduced manner that gives much room to the individual instruments/sounds, occasionally spiced up by field recordings that intensify the overall chamber jazz/ambient moods. 180 gram vinyl; includes download code.
File Under: Ambient, Jazz, Drone
Bola: D.E.G. (Skam) LP
Skam Records present the return of Bola. After ten long years hidden away in the hills, huddled in the Bolamachine — at long last Bola awakens, delivering an album of power, elegance, and beauty… All tracks composed and performed by Bola. “Kappafects” was co-composed and performed by Dennis Bourne. No humans were harmed during the making of “Evensong”. While every care was taken, slight but unavoidable human abuse was endured in the making of “Kappafects”. Art and design by Michael England.
File Under: Electronic, IDM
Max Eastley/Steve Beresford/Paul Burwell/David Toop: Whirled Music (Black Truffle) LPBlack Truffle present a reissue of a landmark UK release, Max Eastley, Steve Beresford, Paul Burwell, and David Toop’s Whirled Music, originally released on Quartz in 1980. Remastered and cut at 45RPM by Rashad Becker at Dubplates & Mastering Berlin. Includes a 24-page booklet with archival materials and notes from David Toop, alongside contemporary reviews, flyers, notes on the instruments and performance documentation; Gatefold sleeve. “[Whirled Music is] one of the key documents of the inventive and energetic scene around the London Musicians Collective in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Originally released on Toop’s own Quartz label in 1980, the LP features a remarkable series of performances made entirely with whirled and swung instruments and objects. Part of the second generations of British free improvising musicians, the prolific scene centered around the performers heard here chafed at the limitations present within the music and ideology of improvising legends such as Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Tony Oxley, and John Stevens. Where the first generations of British free improvisers often demonstrated a rigorous commitment to non-idiomatic free improvisation and instrumental virtuosity, musicians like Beresford reconnected with the dada antics of figures like Han Bennink and surrendered to joyful musical promiscuity, gleefully disrupting expectations around ‘serious’ improvised music through quotations (of anything from Beethoven to reggae) and deliberate amateurism. . . . Beginning in 1979, Whirled Music was the title given to a series of performances in which a variety of instruments and objects, both home-made and store bought, traditional and invented, would be whirled to produce sound. In addition to variations on traditional instruments such as the bullroarer, Whirled Music also made use of whirled whistles, hand drums, radios, and microphones. Due to the danger this represented for both performers and audiences, the performers wore protective masks and were separated from the audience by a net. . . . Presented in glorious cassette-recorded room fidelity, the LP’s first side features a single extended live performance in which percussive chattering, resonant gong-like tones, mysterious wind tones, and swells of delirious noise join together to create a sonic landscape as reminiscent of an environmental recording (wind in the trees, the squawking of birds) as of an ethnographic recording of the music of an unknown civilization. Although purely acoustic, the music has an unstable, dispersed quality reminiscent of the pioneering live electronics of the Sonic Art Union or even early Voice Crack. The LP’s second side presents a series of shorter excerpts, including some beautifully sparse outdoor recordings where the sounds of the whirled instruments blend indistinguishably into the backdrop of environmental sounds.” –Francis Plagne
File Under: Improvised Music, Experimental
Nadah El Shazly: Ahwar (Nawa) LP
Clear vinyl version. Nawa Recordings present Ahwar, the debut album by Nadah El Shazly. Starting out singing Misfits covers in a local punk band, then moving on to producing her own electronic tracks and making a name for herself in Cairo’s underground scene, Nadah El Shazly’s backstory is not that unusual. Her debut album on the other hand, is an entirely unexpected story. Two years in the making, Ahwar (Arabic for “marshlands”) is an otherworldly record, not unlike an abstract mythological story-tale. Opening with the mangled and filtered vocals of “Afqid Adh-Dhakira (I Lose Memory)”, like an alien dream, the drones of a bowed double bass lead the listener into a drum groove that lays the groundwork for El Shazly’s sultry and captivating presence. The Arabic prose lingers over interjections of slap-back delayed guitar twangs and an avant-garde arrangement of dissonant winds, horns, and seemingly random drum fills, ending with an eerie soundscape that wouldn’t feel out of place in a giallo classic. Composed, written, and produced by El Shazly herself in collaboration with The Dwarfs Of East Agouza’s Maurice Louca and Sam Shalabi on co-composition and arrangement duties, the album was crafted across two continents, between Canada and Egypt, and features the crème of Montreal’s contemporary-classical and improvised music scene, most of whom are members of Shalabi’s own Land Of Kush ensemble. In between El Shazly’s five original tracks, the listener is treated to an abstract conversion of Sayyid Darwish’s classic “Ana ‘Ishiqt (I Once Loved)”. El Shazly’s haunting vocal floats over broken kalimba and harp arpeggios which slowly intertwine with a free, bowed double bass improv to nestle within the breaks between Younes Al-Qadhi’s early 20th century verses of love and betrayal. More than that, it is difficult to really describe, but imagine the worlds of Nico, Björk, and Annette Peacock with the Arabic language as their mother tongue, re-approached through acoustic avant-jazz harmony and re-constructed with a dash of Kamilya Jubran’s modern styling of Arabic maqam and you may be somewhere close. Recorded and delicately mixed through miles of analog cabling by Thierry Amar and mastered by Harris Newman, the album is adorned with the surrealist artwork of Egyptian artist Marwan El-Gamal and designed with custom typography by Egyptian designer Valerie Arif. Includes booklet featuring the lyrics in Arabic and English.
File Under: Electronic, World
Heldon: II: Allez-Teia (Bureau B) LP
Bureau B present a reissue of Heldon’s second album Allez-Teia, originally released on Disjuncta in 1975. Before making his own music in the early ’70s, Richard Pinhas was a King Crimson fan. The British group has buzzed in Pinhas’s mind for decades, but their greatest impact came early. When he first saw them play, Pinhas was struck by music played during intermission. “When I saw (King Crimson guitarist) Robert Fripp and Brian Eno perform in Paris later, I realized that the intermission music was their work,” Pinhas said. “I didn’t know that when I first heard it, but I was very impressed by it. It was the most important influence on Heldon.” That influence is clear on Allez- Teia, originally released in 1975 on Pinhas’s own Disjuncta label. “In The Wake Of King Fripp” is a soaring mix of string-like electronics and smeared guitar, a reference both to the guitarist and King Crimson’s second album In The Wake Of Poseidon (1970). The meditative “Omar Diop Blondin”, in which free tones float above a repetitive guitar figure, is dedicated to Fripp and Eno. A strong influence also comes from The Soft Machine’s Robert Wyatt, who was slated to record some tracks with Pinhas for Allez-Teia until the expense of his travel from London to Paris proved prohibitive. Yet Allez-Teia — the title a nod to the ancient Greek term for philosophical truth, “aletheia” — is hardly a tribute album. The pieces Pinhas crafts with partner Georges Grunblatt — guitar, Mellotron, ARP synths — are beatific on the surface but infused with undercurrents of tension. Over four decades after he made Allez-Teia, Pinhas’s admiration for King Crimson remains profound. He actually met Fripp in 1974, and the two still stay in touch. “We have a great friendship; he has been very helpful,” says Pinhas. “Fripp has always been my Hendrix.” Some artists might balk at admitting such strong influence over their own work, but for Pinhas it’s all about respect. “In the academic world in France, you list your sources,” says Pinhas, who received a PhD in philosophy before launching his music career. “So I thought it was good to say, ‘Yes, we are influenced by this, and we are proud of it, and people have to know it.’ The work of King Crimson at that time was very important. It’s not a secret.” 2018 remaster by Willem Makkee.
File Under: Psych, Prog, Electronic
Hunger: Strictly From Hunger (Now Again) LP
“The latest release in Now-Again’s Reserve Series is Hunger — Strictly From Hunger: the band’s preferred version of the album, unedited, fuzz-guitar heavy late 60s psych-rock, restored and remastered from a rare test press. Hunger arrived in L.A. from Portland in late 1967 as the Outcasts, a teenage cover band, but within six months they had signed with a connected manager, played all over Los Angeles, embraced psychedelia and signed on to record an album of original music for the label their manager founded for them: Public! Records. They showed tremendous promise — and their producers invested heavily into a band that was going to be the next marquee act at the Whiskey A Go-Go, bringing in members of Strawberry Alarm Clock, including future Lynyrd Skynyrd star Ed King, to produce an album. But Hunger broke up before their album’s release and their entry in rock’s canon was shadowed for years. This is the definitive Reserve Edition reissue of a late ’60s psych-rock classic, overseen by Hunger’s band members John Morton, Steve Hansen and Mike Lane: the band’s preferred, unedited, fuzz-guitar heavy version of the album, restored and remastered from a rare test press. This is the first time that band’s vision for the album has been issued in full on vinyl. Contains an extensive booklet by Jim Cherry, Eothen Alapatt and Clark Faville that corrects many factual inaccuracies told over the record’s celebrated past three decades as one of rock’s holy grails. The booklet is filled with never-published photos from lead guitarist John Morton’s archive. Here’s an example of what’s in store ? the full version of ‘Open Your Eyes’ featuring Ed King’s lead guitar lines — all but absent on the Public! Records issue — and nearly double the length of the issued version!”
File Under: Psych, Garage
Jung an Tagen: Agent Im Objek (Edition Mego) LP
Jung An Tagen is practicing sonic animism on a molecular level. With Agent Im Objekt he confronts his listeners once more with a form of highly abstracted electronic music — puristic club sounds for an accelerated future. Kicking off with an accumulation of high-pitched, psychoactive sounds, Agent Im Objekt takes you into a hyperreal sphere reigned by sonic entities. Playing with swarm-dynamics and singular signals, moments of distance and proximity and noise textures that stimulate perception, Jung An Tagen transgresses the common syntax of club music. His strategies resemble computer music composition and focus on timbre, texture, and structure in an almost analytical way. The sounds filtered from his synthesizer are polished and bright, but behave in an astonishingly organic way, forming propulsive melodic sketches. Arranged in multiple layers of versatile polyrhythms, the tracks are nurtured by the forceful dialectics of precisely arranged chaos and ecstatic order. With his titles, Jung An Tagen is further adding an enigmatic narrative to his tracks, transcending the actual sphere of the dancefloor towards fictional storytelling. Following the structure of a one-sided chat log, they evoke associations from the X-file series or mystery novels, revealing a brainteaser that is drawn from mysterious coordinates and secret codes. In addition the official video “20:03 [Y] HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?” underlines Jung An Tagen’s interdisciplinary interest in synesthetic processes. Developed in collaboration with the programmers JeongHo Park and Scott Sinclair the video visualizes particle explosion data from CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Inspired by Peter Kubelkas’s Arnulf Rainer (1960), the resulting geometric figures are exposed to a “complimentary stroboscope” that glitches your receptors and stimulate your brainwaves with photo- and EEG-stimulation close to seizure, inducing a hallucinative reality. Agent Im Objekt is playful but analytical, uplifting but mentally disturbed. While the dynamic use of reoccurring motives forces your body to move, cerebral timbres provoke a series of stimuli to massage your brain. It is intellectual body music that might mark a poetic turn in progressive dance music. Composed, recorded, and mixed by Jung An Tagen in the VIV. Titles by Stefan Juster. Artwork and layout by J. Fröhnel. Mastered by Rashad Becker.
File Under: Electronic
Liminanas: Shadow People (Because) LP
“What was old is new again” … The old adage is so tired that nobody takes its proper measure: all people hear is the word “old”, when the important one is “new”. Making new things out of old things is an act of alchemy. The proof is in The Limiñanas’s fifth album — no rest for the wicked of Perpignan — which is blown right open here and there by a few very contemporary guests. After the opener, “Ouverture”, with its almost surf-like guitars, comes “Le Premier Jour”, where Lionel Limiñana talks about his rock baptism with the punks, the mods, the skinheads, and the Lambrettas of his youth in the South of France. What comes just after is the seismic shock of “Istanbul Is Sleepy”: the Imprimatur of Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre is simply enormous. Then comes Emmanuelles Seigner’s super sexy tornado on the title track; and “Dimanche” follows, with Bertrand Belin. Lionel sees him as a “French Nick Cave who writes songs that resemble films.” “The Gift” features Peter Hook who scrapes his bass guitar again here; obviously a song reminiscent of an early period New Order. Finally, the Limiñanas on their own send out an instrumental cavalcade with a furious beat, like a kraut Morricone, “Motorizzati Marie” followed by “Pink Flamingos”, introduced with psych rock pads played backwards forming a vaporous song bathed in acoustic arpeggios. A respite in the album… before the fuzz and the abyssal bass of “Trois Bancs” violently shakes the ghost of Gainsbourg: an electroshock in talk over. And to close the scene, a love message: “De La Part Des Copains”; its organ, its tambourine, its quaver, and its brass place it in the classic soundtrack category revered by the band. An ideal conclusion for this incredible, faultless record. The rock n’ roll epiphany thus continues. It belongs to those who will listen — full blast — to Shadow People and will doubtless feel the urge to plug a guitar into an amp. A valve amp, of course.
File Under: Garage, Psych
Randall Mclellan: Healing Music of Rana Vol 2 (Aguirre) LP
Aguirre Records present the first vinyl reissue of Randall McCellan’s The Healing Music Of Rana Vol. 2, originally released on cassette in 1983. Exceptional recordings by this new age maestro, only recently re-discovered by his friend JD Emmanuel and the band Sun Araw. Randall McClellan was a founding member of the electronic music studio at the Eastman School of Music in 1967 where he later received a Ph.D. in Composition, Theory and Musicology. A growing interest in North Indian music and vocal technique prompted him to develop his personal compositional practice into an active platform for inducing altered states of mind. He constructed his concerts to be spaces for harmonization of mind and body through a musical practice informed by his esoteric studies of ancient mystery schools and sacred geometry, believing these to be primarily teachings on intentional resonance. These performances were given between 1977 and 1983 in semi-darkened spaces that allowed listeners to relax on carpeting while being enveloped by sound. Each improvisation lasts from 25 to 45 minutes. An entire performance is up to three hours and is designed to provide an environment of meditative sound. His final live performance took place at New York City’s Alternative Museum in October, 1983. The Music Of Rana Enviromental Series uses synthesizers, drone box, tamboura, voice, and tape delay to create an environment of continuously evolving multi-layered melody. Described as subtle, graceful, and of other worlds. The name Rana (“Sunbreath”) has its origin in ancient philosophical concepts that recognized vibration as the fundamental creative force and central principle of the many esoteric mystery schools of the ancient world. In the broadest sense, the practice of music for its healing ability may well stand as our oldest continuous musical tradition. This album is the second volume in the series, and part of the cassette box set published by Sun Ark in 2013. This music is based on principles outlined in Randall’s book, The Healing Forces of Music: History, Theory and Practice (1988). These compositions are selected for their meditational and healing abilities. EQ settings of treble and bass levels determine the music’s effect upon you. Please explore until the most comfortable settings are found. Instrumentation includes the Moog Prodigy and MicroMoog synthesizer. RIYL: Joanna Brouk, JD Emmanuel, Iasos. 180 gram vinyl; Edition of 500.
File Under: Ambient, New Age
Nap Eyes: I’m Bad Now (You’ve Changed) LP
Acclaimed Canadians Nap Eyes return with I’m Bad Now, an ambitious, allusive third album that achieves a new sonic clarity, depth, and range to match their effortless melodies and extraordinary writing. It’s the band’s most transparent and personal set of songs to date, in which singer Nigel Chapman interrogates social, psychological, and spiritual milieus for clues about the elusive nature of knowledge. I’m Bad Now constitutes the third chapter of an implicit, informal trilogy that includes Whine of the Mystic (2015) and Thought Rock Fish Scale (2016). Colored vinyl LP features heavy-duty reverse board jacket, color inner sleeve with band photos and lyrics, and high-res Bandcamp download code. RIYL The Only Ones/England’s Glory, The Modern Lovers, Felt, The Clean, The Verlaines, The Go-Betweens, Bedhead, Kurt Vile, Courtney Barnett, Nikki Sudden, Belle & Sebastian, and all things Lou Reed.
File Under: Indie Rock
Of Montreal: White is Relic/Irrealis Mood (Polyvinyl) LP
“Two important events occurred during the making of White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood. I became “Simulated Reality” paranoid and I fell in love. Well a lot more happened during the process of writing and recording, but those are the two big ones. I also reached a healthy point of self-forgiveness for my failed marriage and became deeply educated in the lies of America the Great. I feel like a switch was recently turned on in my brain and now I’m beginning to see through the lies that have been fed to me my whole life by the masters of media and by those who control and manipulate the narrative of our cultural identity and social order. “My paranoia began during the presidential election cycle and reached a dangerous peak shortly after the inauguration. In the meantime I watched and read countless works of art in a mad effort to be reminded of how many truly brilliant people there are living/struggling among us and to try to maintain a positive outlook. The works of Angela Davis, Noam Chomsky, Chris Kraus, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and the autobiographies of Malcolm X and Mark E Smith were all great inspirations, to name a few. Musically, I was very inspired by the extended dance mixes that people used to make for pop singles back in the ‘80s. It’s so cool how a lot of the 80’s hits had these really intricate and interesting longer versions that wouldn’t get played on the radio and could only be heard in the clubs. I used that template with these tracks, I wanted them all to feel like the extended “club edit” of album tracks. “I also decided to abandon the “live band in a room” approach that I had been using on the recent albums and work more on my own or remotely with collaborators. I used the same drum sample packs throughout because I wanted the album to have a rhythmic continuity to it. I wanted the drums to have a strong and consistent identity, similar to how Prince’s Linn Electronics LM-1 drum machine played such an important role on his classic albums. Zac Colwell also played a huge role on this album, adding saxophones and synths to most of the songs. I also got a lot of help from long time collaborators, and of Montreal touring members, Clayton Rychlik and JoJo Glidewell. “The two title concept came to me when I was thinking about how difficult it is to frame the message of a song with just one title, because so often the songs are about so many different subjects. ‘White Is Relic’ was inspired by James Baldwin’s writings regarding the creation and propagation of a toxic American White identity. I’ve come to learn how it’s just a tool wielded by the 1% to give poor white people a false sense of superiority in an effort to keep the masses placated and numb to how deeply we’re all getting fucked by our capitalist rulers. An ‘Irrealis Mood’ is a linguistic indicator that something isn’t yet reality but does have the potential to become so.” – Kevin Barnes
File Under: Indie Rock
Oneida: Romance (Joyful Noise) LP
Six years after the release of A List of the Burning Mountains, Brooklyn, NY”s Oneida release their newest studio creation Romance, their first album for Joyful Noise Recordings and a record marked by wild eclecticism, even for a group known for its shape-shifting nature. Recorded over several years in various locales, the eleven songs on Romance are built around deeply developed long-arc rhythm/phase concepts, noise, yearning, blind guitar rage, longing, the lurch of dying electronics, and a multi-modal embrace of human fallibility and artifice. From the crackling synth-led opener “Economy Travel” to the expansive 18-minute epic “Shepherd’s Axe,” Romance is an album in constant flux. On “Bad Habit” the band employs phasing between organ and guitar to great, disorienting effect, while the primitive riffs of “Cockfight” offer a contrasting vision of rock minimalism. Listen closely on “Lay of the Land” and you will hear constant rhythmic development, with drummer Kid Millions eschewing repetition in favor of morphing patterns of hi-hat and snare. As with all mystery, Romance reveals more through closer attention and multiple listens.
File Under: Indie Rock
Primitive World: White on White (Ecstatic) LP
White On White is an absorbingly dynamic, multi-layered album of improvisations made on the seminal PPG Wave synth, inspired by the work, life, and theories of the great, if forgotten, British constructivist artist Marlow Moss (1889-1958): a radical, gender-bending British Jewish lesbian and innovator of non-figurative art who was a then-contemporary influence on Piet Mondrian, with whom she worked alongside from the late 1920s as part of the Abstraction-Creation artists association in Paris, until the Nazi’s forced her from mainland Europe back to England, where she settled in the far west of Cornwall. White On White forms a follow-up of sorts to Sam Willis’s Ascention tape (2015), and perhaps more aptly, leads on from his and Alessio Natalizia’s reworks of Daphne Oram — arguably another overlooked, British female pioneer of her field – which are collected on their Walls album, Sound Houses (ELP 005LP, 2014). There’s little doubt that this is some of Willis’s strongest solo work, which can be attributed to the fecund inspiration of Moss’s work, life, and theories, as well as his access to a prized arsenal of rare vintage synths. Titled after the Moss piece which adorns the LP’s front cover, White On White forms a welcome first introduction for many to Moss through a combination of visual representations — photographs of the artist and her work — with text by Lucy Howarth, curator of Moss’s recent exhibitions at Museum Haus Konstruktiv exhibition (2017), the touring Tate display (2013-15), and of course the music itself, which seeks to describe Moss’s mathematically sound geometries and evocative aesthetics through its lattice of unique, free-floating timbres and spatialized rhythm patterns. White On White is thus a direct result of the artist immersing himself in Moss’s oeuvre, or what is left of it (most of her pre-WWII output was destroyed in the war), with results strongly reflective of the austere clarity and modernist structure of her works, from her syncopated line drawings modeled in the helixes of “Double Line”, to the rotating perspectives of her 2D-into-3D metal sculpture manifest in the illusive, Peder Mannerfelt-like designs of “Matrix Of The Visible”, whereas the closing nine minutes of perilous abstraction recalling Wendy Carlos’s Clockwork Orange OST in “Man Guessed At A Spiritual Meaning And Imposed A Moral System” both literally and metaphorically serves a sort of unsentimentally elegiac, enigmatic lament for the artist’s neglected status. RIYL: Oneohtrix Point Never’s Good Time OST, Peder Mannerfelt’s brut ambient, Rashad Becker’s lysergic sound designs.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient
Pye Corner Audio: Where Things are Hollow (Lapsus) 12″
Martin Jenkins, aka “the artist’s artist”, explores emotive techno in “Resist” and “Northern Safety Route”, two tracks that coast through progressive arpeggios, slow pulsating beats, and soaring pads. Meanwhile, “Mainframe” and “Continental Drift” move through more ambient and melancholic terrains, two cinematic songs perhaps reminiscent of works by John Carpenter or Delia Derbyshire. This special release will also feature the collaboration of two of Spain’s most prestigious independent graphic artists, Alex Trochut and Basora, whose artwork for Where Things Are Hollow is sure to become a collector’s piece.
File Under: Electronic
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats: Tearing at the Seams (Stax) LP
In tomorrow… Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ highly-anticipated new record, Tearing at the Seams, follows the band’s critically and commercially lauded self-titled debut, which has now sold over a million records worldwide. Issued through Memphis’ legendary Stax Records, the album was recorded with producer Richard Swift who has helmed records by The Shins and Foxygen in addition to The Night Sweats’ debut, collectively creating a group of songs that capture the band’s emotion and intensity. The group dynamic is pivotal to the Night Sweats; initial writing and recording sessions for Tearing at the Seams took place in Rodeo, New Mexico where Rateliff and the band re-established their writing and recording process. “For the first record, I demo’ed everything up and created most of the parts,” says Rateliff. “This time, I felt like we’ve all spent so much time on the road that we should all go off somewhere together. We should all have that experience together.” This mentality and approach to the record is no more evident than on opener “Shoe Boot” a five minute, funk infused jam and “Intro,” the raucous jam used to open the band’s sets over the last few years. The album closer and title track however is perhaps the most moving, lyrically tackling the huge challenges and sacrifices faced along the way by a band who are constantly away from home on the road. Tearing At The Seams is a deeply personal yet always accessible record for any situation.
File Under: Rock
Ryuichi Sakamoto: Async Remodels (Milan) LP
As one-third of Yellow Magic Orchestra and an Academy Award-winning composer for his work on the soundtrack for The Last Emperor, synth pop innovator Ryuichi Sakamoto is among the most groundbreaking artists to have emerged since the late 70s. A musician’s musician, Sakamoto has created intriguing musical unions with artists such as David Sylvian, Iggy Pop, Tony Williams, Bootsy Collins, and Jacques Morelenbaum among many others. Following the massively successful release of the electronic masterpiece Async in 2017, Sakamoto’s first studio album in eight years, Milan is proud to present the remix compilation Async Remodels. It features a dozen remixes of Async’s tracks by a who’s-who of experimental giants – everyone from Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson (Arrival, Sicario) to Oneohtrix Point Never (composer of Good Time) to Arca (producer of numerous Bjork releases) have gotten their hands dirty remixing Sakamoto’s work. Even reworks by the Canadian synthpop duo Electric Youth and Austin-based synthwave legends S U R V I V E are included. With such a well of talent reinterpreting such a personal album, this is one release Sakamoto fans can’t afford to miss. Pressed on a pair of 180g LPs and housed in a matte coated gatefold jacket.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient
Alfonso Santisteban: Spanish Moog (Adarce) LP
Adarce Records present a reissue of Alfonso Santisteban’s Spanish Moog, originally released in 1975. Don Sicalíptico on the recording: “We can think of fewer things more Spanish than the works of Alfonso Carlos Santisteban. . . . A tireless Spanish music workaholic, he made no differences between copla, rumba, pop or soul and didn’t mind if it was for Bambino, La Polaca, Mara Lasso, Calibre 38, Ellas or Mila. . . . Spanish Moog, an album Adarce Records has the pleasure to present, is one of those strange and almost invisible musical milestones that our man portrayed in Italy. Just as he wrote in his autobiography, in 1973 and thanks to the help of José Antonio de La Loma, he met two of the capos of the most important film music publishing empire in Italy, Giuseppe Campi and Giuseppe Giachi. They were about to open a C.A.M. (Creazione Artistiche Musicale) delegation in Madrid so they could start building their business in the most exciting times for Spanish film industry. The company started by signing two Spanish composers: our man, and Waldo de Los Ríos. . . . Apart from a large number of small (or more like embarrassing) film scores, Santisteban published five library albums up until 1975 for C.A.M.: Ambiente E Folklore (1974), Rinascimenti (1974), Night Club (1984), Situazione Per Orchestra (1975) and this one, Spanish Moog. Five of the songs included (‘Jugando Al toro’, ‘Nuestro Ayer’, ‘Gitanos’, ‘Torremolinos Soul’ and ‘Todo Ha Sido Un Sueño’) were originally recorded by Santisteban and Rafael Ferro for the album Flamenco Pop (1969), and three more (‘Zorongo’, ‘Nuestro Ayer’ and ‘Tierra Mojada’) were originally meant for Sabor A Fresa (1971) by La Nueva Banda De Santisteban. Beyond the supposed editorial filibusterism, what is left is a wonderful festival of grooves and beats; an omnipresent Moog, wah-wah and ‘cañi’ soul blend in ‘Torremolinos soul’. Dreamy melancholy, fuzz and southern touch in ‘Tierra Mojada”, impeccable arabesque beats in the steadfast ‘Zorongo’, funk and folklore sown tight in ‘Noche En Marbella’ and pure space Blaxploitation in ‘Tute De Reyes”… Alfonso Carlos Santisteban would collide inevitably with a time already lost in the annals of history. We cannot think of a better way to resume his works and his person than the sentence he used to open his autobiography: ‘… I speak with the authority given to me by failure…'”
File Under: Library, Moog
Sun Ra: Sun Embassy (Roaratorio) LP
Roaratorio’s survey of the unheard Sun Ra continues with Sun Embassy. Consisting of recordings from Sun Studios (aka Ra’s house in Philadelphia) from 1968-1969, the album features nine tracks: six compositions which have never been heard before in any form, plus fresh coats of paint on such 1950s classics as “Sunology” and “Ancient Aiethiopia”, and an early rendition of “Why Go To The Moon”. Essential listening for Sun Ra devotees. Includes download coupon.
File Under: Jazz
Iannis Xenakis: Persepolis (Karlrecords) LP
After La Légende d’Eer in 2016, the Perihel series presents one of the milestones of electroacoustic music: Iannis Xenakis’s mind-blowing, 54-minutes oeuvre Persepolis. Persepolis is the longest electroacoustic composition by Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001) who ranks among the most influential 20th century avant-garde composers. Commissioned by the Persian Shah, the piece was part of a multimedia performance — Xenakis’s so-called “polytopes” — which premiered in 1971 in Shiraz-Persepolis (Iran) as a performance including light-tracks, laser beams, groups of children walking around with torches, and 59 loudspeakers to project the music in an open-air situation. Xenakis had realized Persepolis on 8-track analog tape in the Studio Acusti in Paris and released a stereo reduction on vinyl in the famous Philips series “Prospective 21e Siècle” in 1972, adding the new subtitle “We bear the light of the earth”, his most hymnal title ever. Out of print for decades now, the LP became — especially the Japanese edition from 1974 — one of the most expensive collector’s item of electroacoustic music. There were some later CD versions with different durations — too long due to a wrong sample rate, others shortened by three minutes due to other reasons. The Perihel series now presents a new version: mixed from the original master 8-track tapes by longtime zeitkratzer sound engineer Martin Wurmnest and mastered and cut by Rashad Becker at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin — the same experts who had already taken care of the 2016 Karlrecords release of La Légende d’Eer, another milestone composition among the works of the Greek-French avant-garde composer. Previous releases in the Perihel series, curated by Reinhold Friedl: Guy Reibel’s Douze Inventions en Six Modes de Jeu (KR 028LP, 2015); Iannis Xenakis’s La Légende d’Eer (KR 024LP, 2016), John Cage’s Complete Song Books (KR 029LP, 2016). 180 gram vinyl; Includes insert and download code.
File Under: Avant Garde
Various: Rumbita Buena (Pharaway) LP
From the archives of the legendary Belter and Discophon labels, essential to understand the birth of the Catalan rumba and flamenco-pop genre in Spain, Pharaway Sounds have selected 14 dance-friendly tracks taken from overlooked LPs and 45s. This is the real gipsy-funk sound, full of screaming flamenco vocals, funk drums, electric guitars, wah-wah, organ, electric bass, exotic percussions, soulish horns, Latin and even oriental touches… Featuring folkloric ye-yé singers, gipsy princes, teen rumba stars, and groovy rumba-pop bands: Dolores Vargas “La Terremoto”, Chango, Rosa Morena, Rumba Tres, El Príncipe Gitano, El Noi… Also features Lola Flores, Los Candelos, Lola Flores Y Antonio González, Teresiya, Los Candelos, La Marelu, and Dolores Abril. Master tape sound. Includes insert with photos and liner notes by Txarly Brown (Achilifunk).
File Under: Rumba, Funk, Spanish
Various: Tani – Disco Rumba & Flamenco Boogie (Pharaway) LP
Disco music, Philadelphia sound, and Salsoul fever were also present in the rumba-pop and flamenco-funk scene of Spain in the late ’70s/early ’80s. Producers, sound engineers, and studio musicians collaborated closely with flamenco/rumba singers and bands. Among others, Pharaway Sounds offer a compilation highlighting the production/studio work that genius Josep Llobell did for the Belter label in Barcelona. 12 disco-rumba-flamenco-boogie bombs, a time machine to the Spanish boîtes and discotheques of the late ’70s and the perfect soundtrack to an imaginary “Kinki” cinema soundtrack. Features Sangre Gitana, Rumba Tres, Los Gachós, Tobago, La Marelu, Barracuda, Juan Bautista, Las Deblas, El Turronero, and Sangre Gitana. Includes insert with liner notes by Txarly Brown (Achilifunk) and photos.
File Under: Rumba, Disco, Boogie
Various: Waves of the Future (Mannequin) LP
The modern synth wave scene would be significantly poorer without the keen ear and tireless efforts of Mannequin Records, run by Alessandro Adriani. Geographically situated within the nerve centers of Rome and Berlin, yet with a musical spirit that easily transcends these boundary lines, Mannequin Records’ back catalog has been an important component in electronics-based independent music in the 21st century. Recent accolades and accomplishments — being named Resident Advisor’s “Label Of The Month” in May of 2017, starting the Death Of The Machines 12″ series, and being given the “green light” for bi-monthly parties at the Säule room in Berghain — have been earned through Mannequin Records’ unflagging commitment to sonic diversity and Adriani’s own realization that the anxious and sharp-edged sounds associated with, say, the Cold War of the 1980s can convey a completely different message today. Mannequin Records continues to go on exploratory missions to find the best and most relevant aspects of genres like acid, industrial, EBM, post-punk, cold wave, and still more. Mannequin Records’ 100th release, Waves Of The Future, is a double-LP compilation which is not a conventional retrospective collection. None of the artists appearing on this collection have put out their own releases on Mannequin Records yet, despite acting as Mannequin’s unofficial ambassadors (via DJ sets and other means). The set includes other scene leaders and label owners including Beau Wanzer, Willie Burns, Silent Servant, and Ron Morelli. Waves Of The Future projects a sense of aesthetic resilience and continuity; showcasing just how well the current artists allied with Mannequin Records employ and re-interpret the sonic lexicon of the label’s reissues of “classic'” acts. Each track here pivots around a couple of key sound elements that seem to set the stage for the next track to come: see the sputtering/chopped ghost voices on Morelli’s “Charges Won’t Stick”, which easily informs the slicing drone and authoritarian beat of Shawn O’ Sullivan’s “Ill Fit”, which then lays down the emotional foundation for the sequencer-powered “With You” from An-I and Adriani or the glassy landscape of Illum Sphere’s “Exhaustion”. Elsewhere, the wired mischief of Not Waving intersects easily with the spherical electro-funk and coded commands of Beau Wanzer. When all the disparate parts of Waves Of The Future are soldered together, it perfectly illustrates Mannequin Records’ non-linear philosophy and Adriani’s suggestion that listeners engage with the music rather than try to analyze or dissect it.
File Under: Electronic
Ash Ra: Correlations (MIG) LP
Felicia Atkinson: Hand in Hand (Shelter Press) LP
Bonobo: Dial M For Monkey (Ninja Tune) LP
Carter Tutti Void: Plays Chris & Tutti (CTI) LP
Johnny Cash: Rock Island Line (Charly) LP
Earth: 2 (Sub Pop) LP
Nils Frahm: All Melody (Erased Tapes) LP
Hot Snakes: Automatic Midnight (Sub Pop) LP
Hot Snakes: Suicide Invoice (Sub Pop) LP
John Coltrane: Lush Life (OJC) LP
Jaylib: Champion Sound (Stones Throw) LP
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Polygonawanaland (ATO) LP
Terry Riley: Persian Surgery Dervishes (Aguirre) LP
Rolling Stones: Exile on Main Street (Abkco) LP
Shame: Songs of Praise (Dead Oceans) LP
Taj Mahal Travellers: 7/15/72 (B13) LP
Kuniyuki Takahashi: Early Tape Works (Music From Memory) LP
Amon Tobin: Foley Room (Ninja Tune) LP
Cosey Fanni Tutti: Time To Tell (CTI) LP
US Girls: A Poem Unlimited (Royal Mountain) LP
Various: Red Bird Story Volume 1 (Charly) LP
Various: Red Bird Story Volume 2 (Charly) LP
Various: Rock & Roll Pills (Charly) LP
Various: Rockabilly Tunes (Charly) LP
Various: Sunset Special (Charly) LP