And yet another week of late shipments…. apparently shipping on Friday as we have for the last 5 years has suddenly become problematic. ANYWAY, there’s LOADS of other great stuff in, along with the stuff that should be arriving tomorrow. We FINALLY, after a year of trying, got an account set up with the elusive Boomkat which gives us access to some labels we’d lost access to. Ecstatic, West Mineral, etc. So that’s exciting if you’re into those ambient, electronic thangs like we are. Well you’ve got lots to read below, so… have at it.
As for the new restrictions, they don’t really effect us. According to our business association’s clarification of the new restrictions, we are already doing what is required of us, limited capacity and mandatory masks. The vaccine exemption does not apply to retail stores. So mask up and keep your visit brief if it’s busy so no one has to wait outside.
– in-store shopping/pick ups – 11 – 6 pm Monday – Friday, 11 am – 4 pm Saturday
(if you don’t want to come into the store for a pick up, call and/or use the back door)
– Max 4 people in the store at a time
– Wear a mask(if you don’t have one, we’ll have some)
– Sanitize your hands(we’ll have some)
…..picks of the week…..
XYR: Anciente (Possible Motive) LP
Green vinyl! The Russian producer Vladimir Karpov is well on his way towards a lasting legacy as a modern synthesizer wizard in the grandiose vein of Vangelis and Jarre. With a propensity for concept albums he has built a sturdy discography during this past decade that echoes the progressive ideas of the psychedelic generation as it moved into adulthood with Moog in hand. While equally a part of the postmodern generation; Karpov’s ouvre also embraces the utopian daydreaming of the new age, the environmental concerns embodied in field recording, and the holistic approach of Jon Hassels 4th world concept. While the esoteric fantasies of previous works linger on, the conceptual aspect of Anciente is rendered more abstract. And instead of dividing ideas into tracks that form an album, here Karpov is pushing the boundaries of his compositions further into longer forms. Like trails into humid forest landscapes, they run deep enough for one to get lost along the way. Clocking in at a neat 20 minutes per side, the two tracks that make up Anciente weaves soft brushes of undefinable sounds and tropical field recordings that almost create ASMR-inducing vibrations in the minds of the listener. Eventually they might open a doorway to a twilight-lit wilderness and the possible secrets of the first civilised men. As Carlos Castaneda once wrote, relaying the wisdom of the Yaqui; “twilight is the crack between worlds. It is the door to the unknown”. Or, as in this case, the door to the ancient.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Fourth World
Pendant: Make Me Know You Sweet (West Mineral) LP
Special new edition of Pendant’s gaseous, shoegazing ‘Make Me Know You Sweet’, without a doubt one of the most immersive electronic albums released these last few years. Pendant is, of course, the alias of Brian Leeds aka Huerco S – here delving into the kind of blurred harmonic bliss that avoids ambient cliché and instead acts as an absorbing vessel for deep introspection… The artist sometimes known as Huerco S. ushers a phase shift of sound on the shoegazing harmonic gauze of Make Me Know You Sweet, his immersive debut proper under the Pendant alias. In this horizontal mode he relays abstract stories from a headspace beyond the dance, placing his interests in the Romantic landscapes of JMW Turner, Robert Ashley’s avant-garde enigmas, and Indigenous North American philosophy at the service of a more expressive, oneiric sound that sub/consciously avoids the trapfalls of ‘chillout’ ambient cliché. Across seven amorphous, texturally detailed tracks he establishes far reaching coordinates for both Pendant and the West Mineral label, which aims to release everything except commonly accepted, traditional forms of late 20th/early 21st century dance music, while also representing the work of his inner circle of friends, producers and artists. In that sense there’s a definite feeling of “no place like home” to his new work, but that home appears altered, much in the same way The Caretaker/Leyland Kirby deals with themes of memory and nostalgia. It’s best described as mid-ground music, as opposed to the putative background purpose of Ambient styles, or the upfront physicality of dance music. Rather, the sound here billows and unfurls with a paradoxically static chaos, occupying and lurking a space between the eyes and ears in a way that’s not necessarily comforting, and feels to question the nature and relevance of ubiquitous pastoral, new age tropes in the modern era of uncertainty and disingenuity. The results ponder an impressionistic, romantically ambiguous simulacra of reel life worries and anxiety, feeling at once dense and impending yet without centre. From the keening, 11 minute swell of VVQ-SSJ at the album’s prow, to the similar scope of its closer, Pendant presents an absorbing vessel for introspection, modulating the listener’s depth perception and moderating our intimacy with an elemental push and pull between the curdling, bittersweet froth of BBN-UWZ, the dusky obfuscation of IBX-BZC and, in the supremely evocative play of phosphorescing light and seductive darkness in the mottled depths of KVL-LWQ, which also benefits from additional production by Pontiac Streator. Make Me Know You Sweet taps into a latent, esoteric vein of American spirituality that’s always been there, yet is only divined by those who remain open-minded to its effect.
File Under: Ambient, Electronic
Abul Mogard: In Immobile Air (Ecstatic) LP
Master of harmonic empathy Abul Mogard makes an ever welcome return to Ecstatic with a suite of patented pathos for testing times, mostly generated from an old Bechstein upright piano built in 1891. Inspired as much by the instrument’s rich harmonic textures as the Italo Calvino short story that lends the album’s track titles, ‘In Immobile Air’ collects five works written by Mogard during the ill-fated Spring of 2020. Thematically, the album dwells on Mogard’s typical concerns with memory and states of mind, and comes to feel like the musical rendering of a soul preoccupied by their mortality. As such, it can be read as a suite of instrumental hymns for a world coming to terms with its current condition and state of static unrest, evoking a stillness of air in its glacial movements while reflecting a gnawing sense of something impending. Yet, it’s simultaneously and quite profoundly soothing in its widescreen harmonic shifts along the knife-edge between bliss and dread. The album arrives after a pause in Mogard’s prized oeuvre since 2019’s ‘And We Are Passing Through Silently’ with a humbly arresting presence that perfuses all of his best work and keeps his listeners rapt for more. The handful of pieces speak to both the artist’s rich inner life, and the inner voice of his instrument. Using analog and digital equipment, he transforms the melancholic simplicity of his melodies into a quietly dreamlike space. The title track lays out this bare aesthetic with wilting, elegiac notes that vaporise into a timbral thizz, before its brooding course takes in the oblique beauty of ‘Clouds’ and tarry drones recalling recent Deathprod moves in ‘Black Dust.’ He finally emerges from the murk most poignantly with the clearer keys of ‘Sand’, only to shore up somewhere more contemplative, abstract, in the low key magisterial expanse of ‘On a Shattered Shell Beach
File Under: Ambient, Electronic
Amyl and the Sniffers: Comfort Me (ATO) LP
In tomorrow… Coloured vinyl! Amyl and the Sniffers, the Melbourne, Australia rock band fronted by Amy Taylor, deliver their second album, Comfort To Me on ATO Records. It’s the follow-up to the band’s 2019 self-titled debut album, which won acclaim for its “pure, uncut rock’n’roll fun” (Pitchfork) and its modern update on ‘70s punk – “spiky, wild, provocative, and a little dangerous with a fierce live reputation” (The Fader). Taylor and her bandmates – guitarist Dec Martens, bassist Gus Romer, and drummer Bryce Wilson – wrote Comfort To Me during the pandemic while quarantining in the same house together, spending more time refining the songs than they had previously. “The nihilistic, live in the moment, positivity and panel beater rock-meets-shed show punk was still there, but it was better,” says Taylor. “The whole thing was less spontaneous and more darkly considered. The amount of time and thought I put into the lyrics for this album is completely different from the EPs, and even the first record. Half of the lyrics were written during the Australian bushfire season, when we were already wearing masks to protect ourselves from the smoke in the air. And then when the pandemic hit, our options were the same as everyone: go find a day job and work in intense conditions or sit at home and drown in introspection. I fell into the latter category. I had all this energy inside of me and nowhere to put it, because I couldn’t perform, and it had a hectic effect on my brain. My brain evolved and warped and my way of thinking about the world completely changed. “Having to deal with a lot of authority during 2020 and realising my lack of power made me feel both more self destructive and more self disciplined, more nihilistic and more depressed and more resentful, which ultimately fuelled me with a kind of relentless motivation. I became a temporary monster,” she adds. “I partied more, but I also exercised heaps, read books and ate veggies. I was like an egg going into boiling water when this started, gooey and weak but with a hard surface. I came out even harder. I’m still soft on the inside, but in a different way.”
File Under: Punk
Walter Bishop Jr.’s 4th Cycle: Keeper of My Soul (Real Gone) LP
Coloured vinyl! Keyboardist Walter Bishop, Jr. recorded the second album released by the Black Jazz label, Coral Keys, a masterpiece of Blue Note-style atmospherics infused with ‘70s soul-jazz. But a mere two years later, Bishop, Jr. brought a whole new sound and a whole new band into the studio for 1973’s Keeper of My Soul. Contrary to the album title, the name of the band was not The 4th Cycle; instead, as the liner notes put it, the name reflected “Bishop’s composition and improvisational techniques based on the Cycle of 4ths and his various personal musical cycles as performer, student and teacher.” The album also was imbued with a spirituality owed in part to his studies with yogi Parmahansa Yogananda; little wonder, then, that Keeper of My Soul was a more ambitious, electric, and “out” record than its predecessor. With the estimable support of flautist/sax man Hubert Laws, bassist Gerald Brown, and vibraphonist Woody Murray, Bishop explores Keith Jarrett-like free-form passages (“Those Who Chant”), Latin stylings (Kenny Dorham’s “Blue Bossa”), and offers one of the most unusual and funky interpretations of “Summertime” you’ll ever hear. All in remastered sound with liner notes by Pat Thomas. First-ever vinyl reissue of a long-lost classic, also available in an orange with black swirl vinyl edition limited to 750 copies and exclusive to independent record stores!
File Under: Jazz
Ben Bondy: Glans Intercum (West Mineral) LP
Last year’s “Sibling”, released on Special Guest DJ’s Experiences Ltd was one of the year’s subtle standouts, but Bondy’s music refuses to tether itself to one sound or another, instead hovering around the fertile area between experimental ambient and outre club modes. “Glans Intercum” paces further sideways, toying with dub and drone ideas and sandwiching these sketches between buzzing drum workouts that squeeze texture from collapsing beat templates. Oscillating piquant shocks of vibrant energy with steeply opiated hypnagogia and OOBE-like sensations, the results locate a mind in flux, torn between the need to flex hyper-articulated limbs and becoming lost in discretely introspective ambient interzones. The eight tracks course from a sort of kaotic power ambient energy to a lushly unresolved daydream serenity through alternately convulsive and temple-smushing turns. ‘Rest’ opens with a bitter explosion of digital scree that escalates into pill-belly jitters, and ‘Ash In Emerald Casing’ keeps toes off the ground with Rian Treanor-levels of pointillist hyper-footwork tekkers, contrasting with the DJ Python-esque slithering vox and atmospheric mulch of ‘Spangled (With Stella).’ From the skittish ‘Drip on Nape’ his circles start to bleed into one, with the aqueous shimmer of ‘Ven’ and Stella’s vocals returns on ‘2404’ to blur the lines between up/down, where ’Skizz’ enacts a sort of perpendicular grime and he ultimately comes to bliss out in the fragile glassine fractals wilting from the closing title tune. Club or bedroom, this one’s for the dreamers.
File Under: Electronic
Laura Cannell & Polly Wright: Sings As the Crow Flies (Boomkat Editions) LP
An utterly timeless collection of vocal improv takes its first bow on vinyl, as Laura Cannell & Polly Wright’s debut tribute to the landscape, history and people inspired by a 19th-century book of Norfolk customs and ballads graces our Editions imprint. It’s a wondrous, humbling, and haunting album bridging folk and medieval styles with a plaintive magick that only appears intensified on record – a huge RIYL Hildegaard von Bingen, Arc Light Edition’ Psalm singer recordings, Julianna Barwick. Remarkably conceived, recorded and released in 2019 – the same year they first met – ‘Sing as the Crow Flies’ is a super-natural meeting of mutual souls seeking to limn a sort of deep topographical reading of their home turf in a series of haunting, near-wordless hymns. Shockingly effortless in execution and spine-freezing in effect, the nine songs are Laura & Polly’s beautifully concerted effort to rectify the lack of historical female voices in text or music hailing from the Norfolk/Suffolk borders where they live and create. With little to go on, they decided to add their joint female voices and experiences to the rural sound ecology and culture of East Anglia, and created something un-arguably unique in the process. Drawing on a shared formative background in classical music (and specialities in medieval composition), Cannell & Wright nod to the sort of heterophonic improvisation found in Psalms from the Isles of Lewis (as heard on those amazing Arc Light Editions volumes), as well as Hildegaard Von Bingen inspired call-and-response styles, while taking select words from the 18th C. text ‘Norfolk Garland, A Collection of the Superstitious Beliefs and Practices, Proverbs, Curious Customs, Ballads and Songs, of the People of Norfolk’ to provide structural underpinnings. But what happens in between is just a spellbinding sort of magick, using Raveningham Church as a sounding chamber for their finely controlled but naturally keening and graceful, unhurried expressions of tradition and folklore. A forlorn, late decade masterwork in a field of its own, ‘Sing As The Crow Flies’ is an unusually life-affirming record that channels centuries, near a millennia, of uncanny expression into its wordless hymns to the land. Perhaps it’s fair to say that folk were emoting very similar feelings during the OG pandemics of yore.
File Under: Ambient, Classical
Chet Faker: Hotel Surrender (BMG) LP
Limited picture disc! At the top of 2020, after a year of traversing the globe in support of 2019’s Run Fast Sleep Naked, Nick Murphy began creating music that simply felt good. Though the singer had retired his billion streaming Chet Faker project four years prior, the new songs he was working on in his New York City studio had an energy reminiscent of his earlier work. Reviving the project “wasn’t on my radar” at the time, Murphy admits, but the next thing he knew, he had a full album. The result is Hotel Surrender, a radiant 10-track LP full of swaggering bass lines and electrifying melodies that reintroduces Chet Faker to the world – and to Murphy himself. Like his debut LP, 2014’s Built on Glass, Murphy wrote and produced Hotel Surrender solely on his own, finishing most of the songs before COVID-19 hit in March 2020. He admits that before Hotel Surrender, he had never approached his process with such ease. This time, as the album title suggests, he surrendered to the music. “There was this, like, unconsciousness – not thinking, but just feeling, letting it come out and letting it steer itself,” Murphy says. “The great lesson for me was that I could write from a place of joy. I was also just being kind to myself. None of this music was hurting, it just felt good. It made me feel better, and it helped me be better.”
File Under: Electronic
CV & JAB: Landscape Architecture (Editions Basilic) LP
Beautifully serene and contemplative, ‘Landscape Architecture’ sees classical minimalists Christina Vantzou & John Also Bennett describe quizzical scenes on their follow-up to a sterling 2018 debut for Shelter Press, all mixed and self-released on the duo’s Editions Basilic imprint and now available on vinyl for the first time. It’s a suite of blurry dreamscapes made with flutes, piano, hazy environmental recordings, subs and subtle fx, a perfect companion for works by Félicia Atkinson, Alice Coltrane, Jim O’Rourke, Luc Ferrari, Deaf Center, Pan American. Reprising the lucid dream-like dimensions of their debut ‘Thoughts Of A Dot As It Travels A Surface’, CV & JAB assuredly trace a line between etheric whimsy and a spellbinding sort of atmospheric mastery on their sophomore sequence. Fashioned from petalled classical and jazz keys blended with woodwind, richly enigmatic electronics and gently aleatoric intersections of street noise and bird song with water sounds, the album’s 10 parts and bonus track limn a drift through what they evocatively term as “remote thought gardens and conceptual collonades” to deeply trippy effect. Recorded over the course of three days during a residency in Brussels, the album is detailed with a sure-handed directness as ephemeral as spring light, appearing like a dream that lingers on the mind’s eye with its own perpendicular sense of time and space. That effect has long been key to Christina Vantzou’s work, from solo to collaborations with The Dead Texan and Heinrich Mueller, and it’s now clear that JAB shares this gift for elegantly supposing and luring listeners into their ever-curious explorations of ambient classical metaphysics. The duo recall the rapt effect of Félicia Atkinson’s poetic compositions in ‘Down a passageway’, while the brooding allure of ‘Phantom Tunnel’ remind us of the quizzical nature of Catherine Christer Hennix’s style, whereas the more explicitly electronic works such as ‘Pungent Lake’ and ‘The maître d’ is dead’ capture the sort of laminal ooze and woozy effect of Jim O’Rourke’s amazing ‘To Magnetize Money And Catch A Roving Eye’ 4CD in a more concentrated form.
File Under: Ambient, Classical
Czarface & MF Doom: Super What? (Black & White Edition) (Silver Age) LP
In tomorrow… Limited black & white cover/white vinyl edition! The icon MF DOOM unleashes his wizardry and wordplay throughout the record, while CZARFACE (bolstered by the legendary Wu-Tang Clan’s Inspectah Deck and Esoteric) slash through each of the Czar-Keys’ produced tracks as the team raises the bar on their previous LP, Czarface meets Metalface (2018). Featuring golden-age superhero DMC (of RUN-DMC) and Hieroglyphics’ leader Del The Funky Homosapien, with art by longtime CZARFACE co-creator Lamour Supreme, this album will bring all the thrills of a cosmic summer blockbuster. Recorded and slated for an early 2020 release, and paused while COVID raged, this collaboration of masked men is finally finding its way to you on all formats.
File Under: Hip Hop
Vladislav Delay: Rakka II (Cosmo Rhythmatic) LP
After the exceptional first volume of ‘Rakka’, Vladislav Delay is taken by the wanderlust again for a ravishing 2nd album of elemental electronics inspired by the Finnish wilderness. RIYL Shackleton, Rian Treanor… Where 2020’s ‘Rakka’ represented some of Sasu Ripatti aka Vladislav Delay’s most intensely noisy textures and rhythmic complexity, as inspired by walks in his native Finnish wilderness, his follow-up further draws on and refines that experience in a beautifully brutalist bouquet of brambling distortion and tempestuous pulses that speak to the chaotic power of nature’s ecological interdependence. In the process ‘Rakka II’ fulminates Delay’s reactive sound even closer to the styles of Shapednoise, but still distinguished by his signature, freehanded style of percussive tumult that reaches beyond techno and club music into an ecstatic, holistic hybrid of power ambient, black metal, avant-dub, free jazz, and extreme dance musicks. While still breathlessly busy and densely overgrown, ‘Rakka II’ is intended as the romantic answer to the more hostile first volume. Its seven parts balance a sense of febrile passion with hyper-disciplined logic in more explicitly emotive, optimistic gestures that emerge from its atonal murk and convulsive structures. Boundaries of discord and harmony are smudged almost into the red, but rendered with the spatial definition that become a hallmark of Delay’s best work for over 20 years, but never heard quite so wild and lushly semi-conscious as on cuts such as the soaring and collapsing ‘Raato’, or the craggy might of ‘Raaha’, and the heart-in-mouth headiness of ‘Rapaa.’
File Under: Electronic
Digital Underground: Sex Packets (Tommy Boy) LP
In tomorrow… Featuring the runaway hit single “The Humpty Dance,” Sex Packets is the earth shattering, multi-platinum 1990 debut from pop music’s hippest heroes, Digital Underground. Recognized as one of the first hip hop bands, Digital Underground included Chopmaster J, Shock G, Money B, DJ Fuze and the then 18-year-old Tupac Amaru Shakur. The group’s meteoric rise to fame in the early ’90’s was accentuated with chart topping hits like “Doowutchyalike,” “Freaks of the Industry,” “Same Song” and “Kiss You Back.” The band made waves with their colorful and costumed attire, animated stage antics and innovative dance styling and moves. However, Digital Underground is best remembered for turning hip hop on its proverbial head and invading the realm of pop with their 1990 pivotal Grammy nominated release “The Humpty Dance.” The track climbed all the way to #11 on the pop charts, #7 on the R&B charts, and #1 on the Billboard Rap Singles chart. “The Humpty Dance” is one of the most sampled songs recorded by a hip hop/rap artist. The group’s contribution to history has tentacles that reach even further though. From their 12 inch drop, “Doowutchyalike” to their debut album Sex Packets, D.U.’s music unfastened a door in hip hop that was previously non-existent, mixing mad merriment, mayhem and sex with rhyme, rhythm and rap. Factor in the detail that rap music’s biggest legend, Tupuc Shakur, started his music career with the group as their roadie, dancer and emcee and the D.U. legacy is all but cemented in the annals of pop music history.
File Under: Hip Hop
Donato Dozzy & Daniele di Gregorio: Buchla & Marimba (Maga Circe Musica) LP
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.
File Under: Electronic
Duster: 1975 (Numero) LP
In tomorrow… 2K prepper-rock for the underemployed. Tracked at home in 1999, the 1975 EP expands on Stratosphere’s slacker-positive dreamscape, with layers of guitars both clean and fuzzy, humming organ, and – gasp! – a drum machine. Needle down, candles on.
File Under: Indie Rock
Bob Dylan: Springtime in New York (Columbia) LP
The latest chapter in Columbia/Legacy’s highly acclaimed Bob Dylan Bootleg Series shines fresh light on the provocative new musical directions Dylan was taking as a songwriter and a recording artist from 1980 through 1985. In the early 1980s, while the music industry was grappling with the arrival of new trends and technology, from MTV to compact discs to digital recording, Bob Dylan was writing and recording new songs for a new decade, creating an essential new chapter in his studio catalog. This 11-track vinyl 2LP highlights edition of Springtime In New York: The Bootleg Series Vol. 16 (1980-1985) celebrates the rich creative period surrounding Dylan’s classic albums Shot Of Love, Infidels, and Empire Burlesque with previously unreleased outtakes, alternate takes, and rehearsal recordings. According to the producer’s note in the album: “The alternate takes selected for this set are different than the ones released on previous volumes of The Bootleg Series. They are included here to illustrate the musical journey Bob Dylan undertook during these years.” In his liner notes, Damien Love writes, “And that’s the real story of this gloriously untrammeled collection. The songs. The songs stripped free of trappings, tampering, passing tastes, and judgements. The songs broken down to the sound of people really doing this, right now, acting on instinct. The songs rough and rowdy, bruised and tender, joking and crying, nagging and striving and yearning. The songs were always there, and here they are still, keeping pace with us.”
File Under: Folk
Ann Margaret Hogan: Without the Moon (Downwards) LP
Dead strong LP of Ann Margaret Hogan in collaboration with Nick Cave, Jarboe, Marc Almond, Barry Adamson, Kid Congo Powers, Gini Ball and JG Thirlwell, inc instrumentation from Siouxsie / Banshees drummer Budgie, recorded over a span of 30 years and now assembled by Regis/Downwards and mastered by Veronica Vasicka. Hogan’s involvement with new wave, new romanticism, post punk and all-things-avant makes her a uniquely placed character thru so much foundational music in our world – her recording/performing biography intersects with everyone from Soft Cell, The The and The Human League through to Simon Fisher Turner, Barry Adamson, The Style Council and more recently with Karl O’Connor aka Regis’ Downwards universe. For ‘Without the Moon’ (a title borrowed from Cathi Unsworth’s book of the same name), Hogan pulls out some of the most satisfying collaborations from her archive, featuring a couple of tracks originally released in 1985 on Cabaret Voltaire’s Doublevision label, as well as recordings that are here issued for the very first time. It’s properly all-over-the-place brilliance, ranging from Nick Cave’s incredible 1983 piano blues slo-mo grind ‘Vixo’ all the way thru to the Paul Kendall (Nitzer Ebb/Depeche Mode) engineered ‘Come Take My Hand’ produced and featuring Barry Adamson and sounding like some vintage Les Disques du Crépuscule poolside obscurity. Opening with ideas mapped out while staying at Lydia Lunch’s gaff in summer ’83, the record lassos 30 years of Hogan’s personal highlights, harking to a time circa 1984 when she regularly caught The Birthday Party playing Leeds or London, often crossing paths with Cave, and right thru to 1989’s ‘Come Take My Hand’. While ‘Delirious Eyes’ is a gorgeous slow dervish of swaying middle eastern scales featuring Gini Ball’s elusive smoke trail vocals, it’s best heard in context of the sequencing, which soon erupts with Marc Almond’s vocals on the arsonist thrill of ‘Burning Boats’ and JG Thirlwell’s signature clangour, while ’Scattered Carelessly’ was written in 2008 and gives the sweetest canvas for Hogan’s keys complemented by a whispering Jarboe ov Swans, and ‘Black Nocturne’ stars a perfectly tempered guitar shimmer by Kid Congo Powers, a longtime accomplice, whom Hogan first heard playing guitar on The Cramps’ records that she played in DJ sets at the time. Illuminated by Hogan’s favoured solo piano, ranging from flickering candlelight to hammering theatrics, and even including a rare appearance of her vocals on the could-have-been-a-popsong closer, the six songs on ‘Without The Moon’ speak to an incredibly rich artistic life spent immured at the core of her practice. Song to song, she outlines an extraordinary oeuvre that ties together and leaps between eras, drawing on decades of experience as a performer, composer, collaborator and ardent listener to portray a full spectra of styles she’s been involved in shaping for decades. Stunning.
File Under: Indie Rock
Rudolph Johnson: The Second Coming (Real Gone) LP
Coloured vinyl! The album title is apt, as this was saxman Rudolph Johnson’s second album for the Black Jazz label (and this reissue marks only the second time this 1973 album has been released on vinyl)! But more importantly, the quality of the music it contains renders the more common, Messianic meaning of the phrase “the second coming” equally applicable. Saxman and bandleader Rudolph Johnson never attained the commercial success of some of his contemporaries, but his fans consider him the rightful heir to John Coltrane’s improvisational genius. And with keyboardist Kirk Lightsey in the band for this go-round (we already reissued Johnson’s very fine 1971 Black Jazz album Spring Rain), sparks are gonna fly, starting right off with the cookin’ album opener “The Traveler,” which if you close your eyes will definitely bring to mind Coltrane’s classic quartet circa the early ‘60s. Indeed, unlike most of the other releases on the Black Jazz label, The Second Coming barely nods to the fusion and soul jazz trends that were sweeping jazz at the time. Instead, this is expressive, free improvisation at its best, beautifully recorded by producer Gene Russell and deserving of a much wider audience than it found the first time. Newly remastered and annotated, and, like we said, reissued on vinyl for the first time!
File Under: Jazz
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Live in Brussells (Drastic Plastic) LP
In tomorrow… In 2020, prolific Australian psychedelic rockers King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard put together the “Bootlegger” project: a series of live albums and demo collections that they allowed anyone to put onto any audio format. This vinyl 3LP-set from Drastic Plastic documents King Gizzard’s live performance at Ancienne Belgique in Brussels, Belgium on 10/8/19 and 10/9/19
File Under: Psych
Hiro Kone: Silvercoat The Throng (Dais) LP
In tomorrow… Orange vinyl! New York electronic experimentalist Nicky Mao’s fourth full-length, Silvercoat the Throng, emerged against the backdrop of lockdown, compelled by an intuitive directive: “resist the urge to fill the space.” Compositionally this translated as a simmering, shadowy energy, veiled but variable, traced in a composite of strings, synthetics, rhythm, and voice. The title alludes to a poetic notion of “possibility, rescued from darkness,” which aptly evokes the shape-shifting, devotional feel of these ambitious and elegant sound designs, crafted in defiance of impermanence, driven by the pursuit of becoming “more and more articulated, differentiated.” Collaborations with Travis from ONO, Speaker Music, and Muqata’a further expand the album’s lyrical, liminal palette, meshing elements of experimental techno, spoken word, neo-classical, and industrial noise into a fluid, encrypted dialect all its own. Mao speaks of creative strategies of solidification and reification, encounter and transformation, pure being and punctuation – a multitude of sparks, fuses, and forking paths leading across fresh thresholds and twilit terrain. Taken as a whole, Silvercoat the Throng captures Hiro Kone at the peak of their powers, alchemizing disruption and decomposition into regenerative interior worlds: “Within the darkness and absence is an opportunity for discovery.”
File Under: Electronic
Low: Hey What (Sub Pop) LP
In tomorrow… Black vinyl. Coloured next week. Focusing on their craft, staying out of the fray, and holding fast their faith to find new ways to express the discord and delight of being alive, to turn the duality of existence into hymns we can share, Low present Hey What. These ten pieces – each built around their own instantaneous, undeniable hook – are turbocharged by the vivid textures that surround them. The ineffable, familiar harmonies of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker break through the chaos like a life raft. Layers of distorted sound accrete with each new verse – building, breaking, colossal then restrained, a solemn vow only whispered. There will be time to unravel and attribute meaning to the music and art of these times, but the creative moment looks forward, with teeth. Hey What is Low’s thirteenth full-length release in twenty-seven years, and their third with producer BJ Burton.
File Under: Indie Rock
Taylor McCall: Black Powder Soul (Thirty Tigers) LP
Emerging singer, songwriter and musician Taylor McCall presents his anticipated full-length debut album, Black Powder Soul. Produced by Sean McConnell (Michael Franti, Wade Bowen), Black Powder Soul is the product of a winding musical journey for McCall that began at age seven when he received his first guitar. In the years since, the South Carolina native and avid outdoorsman and fisherman has formed his own sense of unique musicianship – incorporating self-taught styles that fit each song rather than following conventional techniques. With Black Power Soul’s fourteen tracks, including a special prologue featuring the voice of his late grandfather, McCall explores the balance of good and evil, destruction and healing and the importance of having faith in the darkest of times. Reflecting on the album, McCall shares, “This, to me, felt like what I’d been dreaming about for years…Black Powder Soul is the circle of life: you’re dropped off here, by the old ship of Zion, and everything in between is life itself, from good to bad. The things that clutter up the pure soul are all in here. We all have a black powder soul that can explode, but there is redemption in all of us too.”
File Under: Country
Ennio Morricone: The Blue Eyed Bandit (Verve) LP
In tomorrow… One of the very rare chances – quite possibly the only chance – to listen to the genius of Ennio Morricone engaging with the jazz musical language. His soundtrack for the film The Blue-Eyed Bandit (aka Il Bandito Dagli Occhi Azzurri by Alfredo Giannetti, 1980) is marked by the very singular 5/4 time which creates a relentless rhythm that perfectly matches the crime atmosphere of the film. This new edition of The Blue-eyed Bandit is part of the Morricone Segreto series by CAM Sugar and it is remastered from the original tapes preserved in the historical CAM Sugar archives. This is the first official vinyl reissue of the score since its original release in 1982 on the Cerberus label.
File Under: OST
Rick Myers, Matt Krefting: Movements for Reginaphone + Cassette (Pre-Cert) LP
Brittle tape-fluxed music box lullabies from art mystics Matt Krefting and Rick Myers, assembled and released via Andy Votel & Sean Canty’s Pre-Cert Home Entertainment label and sounding something like Colleen’s array of music boxes let loose at the GRM basement. Myers (former member of MancRap unit Violators of the English Language with Andy Votel, and whose artwork adorned classic ‘90s release by everyone from Lamb to Doves and Badly Drawn Boy), and Krefting (veteran of idiosyncratic tape miniatures and improv oddness for labels like Penultimate Press, Graham Lambkin’s Kye, Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace! and cult Vancouver imprint Ascetic House) produce something much greater than the sum of its parts here, using a antique hand cranked Reginaphone – an archaic machine that plays both music box discs and 78s – to transport us into a crumbling, cassette dubbed wonderland. The pair explore the various anachronisms of the 100 year old family heirloom with results that are part sound art/sound poetry and part mechanical musical curio, delving into its cogs and wires with wonderfully time-out-of-joint effect springing fractured melodies and a drowsy oneiric ambience that gets under the skin. In five parts of fragmented melodic thought, plus a tremulous 13 minute coda, ‘Movements For Reginaphone’ modestly enchants to the horizontal, casting its magick in fairy dust sprinkles of music box melody and workshop detritus, with a rustling airiness that beautifully complements quieter listening spaces and mindsets, achieving a hazily nostalgic wooze that throws back to a barely plugged-in era, when one had to physically crank up their kit to get it working. It’s a fascinating, switched-on slice of sound that falls completely outside of easy classification; part history lesson, part turntablism and part tape music, an oddity that’s unmissable whether you’re into Cécile Schott’s filigree “Colleen et les Boîtes à Musique”, Graham Lambkin’s deeply personal environmental music, or DJ Olive’s genre-shifting, languorous experiments = one of the most quietly messed up but beautiful albums we’ve heard this year.
File Under: Experimental
Neotantrik: 241014 (Pre-Cert) LP
Synth legend Suzanne Ciani, Demdike Stare’s Sean Canty & Finders Keepers’ Andy Votel come together on this killer hour-long 2014 synapse popper of a collaboration pooling the occasional group’s esoteric collage-based approach into a remarkably foreboding session pregnant with a dread that’s never quite resolved. Think Vladimir Ussachevsky, Todd Dockstader, Spectre and Company Flow melted thru the Deutsch-Italo industrial DIY tape era and funneled thru an almost impenetrable fog of Ann Arbor basement noizze. Hustling some of Neotantrik’s most amorphous gestures, ’241014’ is a four-segment movement of reduced Buchla treatments, destroyed vinyl loops and scraping foley suspense; like a cosmic dream diary layered into a collage of drones and clatters. Little in Ciani’s extensive catalogue has hinted at what’s on display here; the joyful lullaby-pop of “Seven Waves” or metallic alien soundscraping of “Flowers of Evil” are only hinted at. She instead paints new sonic vistas, allowing space for her collaborators to make themselves known; Votel’s chiming toy autoharp and Bubul Tarang (a Punjab string instrument) add a distinctive flavor, while Canty’s grimy drones and noise-soaked textures drizzle pitch-black molasses into the cracks and crevices. Together, the effect is a bit like hearing Philip Jeck improvising over Popol Vuh’s peerless Moog-led debut “Affenstunde” or Demdike Stare knocking out impromptu reworks of Tangerine Dream’s abstrakt early run. Perhaps unusually, the trio have still never set foot in a studio together, exclusively maintaining their practice in-the-moment and on stage when schedules intersect. So it’s all the more remarkable that their improvisations naturally find a democracy of role and such a heightened level of intuition, beautifully converging their thoughts to mutual, open-ended conclusions that leaves billowing room for interpretation. In a most classic sense, it’s like the sensation of sleep paralysis or dream/nightmare ambiguity, with a level of suggestiveness that’s disorienting from end to end. For the first time the recordings are now available in high fidelity (there was a tape version a couple of years back) – now remastered by Rashad Becker to better represent the otherworldly scope of their actions on stage, from the NWW-like queues and drone of ‘Scanned Accents’ and keening silhouette of ‘Second Action,’ to new sections of subaquatic Porter Ricks-like murk in ‘Anti-Contraction’ and the levitating webs of synth and tactile, sampled textures in ‘Last Canción.’ Tape music and synth music have long shared a passionate embrace, and here turntablism coolly slides in on the action. Canty and Votel’s background in beat tape assembly and crate digging pays off: they’re keenly experimental creators but bring an unfussy sense of rhythm and performance that’s miles beyond any facile repetition of a nostalgia for vintage glory. Combined with Ciani’s delicate Buchla work – it’s a unique proposition.
File Under: Electronic
Jim O’Rourke: Too Compliment (DDS) LP
Clear vinyl! DDS catch enduringly absorbing sonic alchemist Jim O’Rourke at his knottiest and most ingenious in a wormholing suite of amorphous rhythm and psychedelic electronics – a massive RIYL Autechre, Roland Kayn, Bernard Parmegiani, NYZ, Keith Fullerton Whitman. Playing up to and into DDS’ freeform aesthetics, O’Rourke renders 40 minutes shearing hyaline synth tones and ruptured rhythm generated at his Steamroom facilities in Tokyo, a modular out-zone trawling that harks back to his iconic Mego releases and some of the more recent Steamroom experiments. It’s an ideal addition to the ever expanding DDS cosmos, following Demdike’s recent ‘Drum Machine’ expo with a slice of purist and screwed modular magick that transcends early electronics and modern styles in pursuit of musical sensations that defy stylistic brackets. ‘Too Compliment’ was assembled using a bespoke Hordijk modular system, a rare West Coast-style setup hand made by Dutch engineer Rob Hordijk. O’Rourke focuses on the frequency shifter here, using it to coax out fluxing tone thickets, haphazard frequencies and elongated drone corridors. It’s transportive stuff, harking back to the early days of private press academic synth music but also sitting on edge alongside Autechre’s recent long-form work, as well as O’Rourke’s classic “I’m Happy, And I’m Singing, And A 1, 2, 3, 4” In O’Rourke’s hands, the mass of electronics takes on throbbing, organic dimensions, congealing grey matter and purplish veins of fluid in viscous transitions that glisten and spark with invention as they form new tissue. What comes out is as unearthly as the earliest electronic music, but also blessed with a psychedelc spirit in a way that’s long kept O’Rourke right out on his own, teetering between paradigms yet never settling into any single style. If you’ve always been keen on finding a way into that sprawling soundworld, ‘Too Compliment’ is a perfect entry point into a highly rewarding creative macrocosm.
File Under: Experimental, Electronic
Angel Olsen: Aisles (Jagjaguwar) LP
In tomorrow… “While spending time trying to conquer the audio of live-stream at-home performances, I got better acquainted with my friend Adam McDaniel, a local engineer and producer in Asheville, NC. Adam and I had known each other for years. When the band was a bit smaller I would often rent his studio, Drop of Sun, for pre-recording / pre tour rehearsals. Summer 2020 was tough for many reasons. But Adam and his wife Emily opened their home to me and made it a safe space to create and let go. I told Adam I had an idea to record some covers and bring some of the band into the mix, or add other players. I wanted to record 80’s songs that I’d overheard walking the aisles at the grocery store, and I needed to laugh and have fun and be a little less serious about the recording process in general. I thought about completely changing some of the songs and turning them inside out. “One that came to mind was “Gloria,” by Laura Branigan. I’d heard “Gloria” for the first time at a family Christmas gathering and I was amazed at all the aunts who got up to dance. I imagined them all dancing and laughing in slow motion, and that’s when I got the idea to slow the entire song down and try it out in this way. “Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats was a song that I was trying to do something similar with. I felt that it could be reinterpreted to be about this time of quarantine and the fear of being around anyone or having too much fun. It made me wonder, is it safe to laugh or dance or be free of it all for just a moment? Right after we recorded these two, we were commissioned to cover “Eyes Without A Face” by Billy Idol for a film due to come out later this year. I didn’t really connect to the rap part in the middle so we went for more of a tripped out instrumental instead. “Forever Young” by Alphaville and “If You Leave” by O.M.D. were the two outliers. I really wanted to keep these close to the originals, but with a slightly different spin.
File Under: Indie Rock
Malcolm Pardon: Hello Death (The New Black) LP
Roll The Dice’s Malcolm Pardon makes a rare solo appearance with a long awaited debut album of solemn keys, with his regular collaborator Peder Mannerfelt providing co-production alongside Aasthma bandmate Pär Grindvik. Evidently the more brooding half of Roll The Dice, judging by the air of ‘Hello Death’, Pardon carries over that project’s wistfulness and cinematic qualities to his solo work in eight minimalist works subtly adorned and rendered with atmospheric synth ornamentation by his fellow Swedish collaborators. The results could be called ambient neo-classical for home listening, but is elevated by its synthy input and a tangible kosmiche yearn, opening out immersive space between Pardon’s gently rolling keys and the complementary arps and pads that flesh out the music’s firmament, ultimately casting a sort of lonely, earthly sound that longs for the heavens. It’s almost solo piano, but Pardon’s skeletal loops are augmented with subtle, atmospheric electronic elements from Mannerfelt and Grindvik that imbue proceedings with an almost an Eno-esque quality, echoing the tapey, hypnotic minimalism of “Thursday Afternoon” or the delicate cosmic throb of “Cluster & Eno”. We’ve been subject to far too much solo piano tinkling over the last few years, but “Hello Death” avoids the usual pitfalls. It’s never too pretty or too obvious, avoiding excess and basking in silvery, widescreen subtlety. There’s beauty to be found here, but it’s encased in psychedelic reverberation and woozy, tape-dubbed electronix.
File Under: Electronic, Classical
Pixies: Trompe Le Monde (4AD) LP
In tomorrow… Green vinyl, 30th anniversary edition! For its 30th anniversary, Pixies 1991 album, “Trompe Le Monde”, is being reissued on limited marbled green vinyl. “Trompe Le Monde” bookended a golden run of landmark records – a mini-album followed by four albums, released in quick succession – that cemented Pixies as one of the best for a generation. “Trompe Le Monde” showed the band still restless to push their sound forward. Recorded between Burbank, Paris, and London, with producer Gil Norton again at the controls, their fourth album is arguably their most playful, with Black Francis’s lyrics on UFOs and conspiracy theories keeping things weird while power pop creeps in to amplify the space rock established on predecessor “Bossanova”. Featuring singles “Planet of Sound,” “Alec Eiffel,” “Letter to Memphis,” and a flawless cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Head On,” “Trompe Le Monde” goes full throttle with 15 tracks coming in a quickfire 40-minute salvo. Receiving critical praise at the time and being supported by a huge tour that included playing stadiums with U2, it also proved to be the end of act one for the band, with them taking over a decade before returning to the stage together.
File Under: Indie Rock
Potter Natalizia Zen: Magari (Ecstatic) LP
Colin Potter (Nurse With Wound), Alessio Natalizia (Not Waving), and Guido Zen re-group for a new album of sensuous kosmische synths and complex rhythms that comes highly recommended if yr into anything from Craig Leon to Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, from Alessandro Cortini to Basic Channel. The trio’s pulsing, twanging, expansive ‘Magari’ was recorded between 2018-2020 and adapts their style to the unique Afro-Latin lilt of Brazilian music with central use of the Berimbau; a single-stringed percussion instrument commonly associated with the elegant martial art/dance of Capoeira, brought home from travels in South America. Combined with their almost fleshly arps and Guitar pedal-generated computer voices, the results are wonderfully wide-eyed, embracing bouts of motorik rhythm beside vertiginous noise wormholes and mystic tone poems that speak to a cumulative experience spanning decades spent hunting for life between the wires. Like their first album, much of the recording here took place remotely or in pairs, and rarely with all three present, before the parts were mixed down at Colin Potter’s studio in Leytonstone. In its journey between the intricate meters and perpendicular vectors of ‘Too Much Traffic’, and their mesh of curdled tones with their phone recordings of a manic preacher in Camberwell on ‘Saved’, they variously recall Craig Leon’s alien invocations of Dogon folk tales as much as the heady dissonance of Alessandro Cortini; producing outstanding pieces of tangibly haptic substance in ‘Sergio’ and infectiously tip-of-tongue Berimbau twang on ‘Gennaio’, and for good measure, something like Phil Collins’ ‘In The Air Tonight’ gently losing the plot after a healthy dose of Ayahuasca in ‘Fill’, while ‘Ancora’ sounds like Basic Channel scoring Herzog’s Aguirre. Yeah,. All the good things.
File Under: Electronic
Regis: The Floor Will Rise (Downwards) LP
For our money the weirdest and most satisfying Regis record in a while, featuring stripped, slow, highly atmospheric & muscular productions that were recorded as part of that mad ‘Let The Night Return’ feature film (regis, performing more or less alone in a 2000 year old, empty greek amphitheatre) here rendered in brilliant monochrome including contributions from Justin Broadrick, Ann Margaret Hogan and the music school chorus of Corfu. Trust, it’s a killer. There’s something brutally bare and demented about this one, opening with the simmering choral drone ‘Epidaurus’ fizzing with whirring industrial components and rumbling subs, before ‘Calling Down a Curse’ extends to terrifying dimensions with an intoxicating Ugandan Methods style percussive backbone and a slowed down voiceover by filmmaker Vasileios Trigkas, to our ears sounding like Burial as if rendered by Conny Plank as a kind of alternate version to his still entirely unclassifiable ‘Biomutanten’. ‘The Blind Departing’ is a slow headmelter, all industrial synths and exposed percussion, every hi hat and kickdrum separated and pristine, like the toughest, most angular sort of bare-boned warehouse chugger slowed to a crawl. If you shut yr eyes you can almost imagine Alan Wilder and Martin Gore hitting sheets of metal with a mallet on that crazy old Depeche Mode footage that’s knocking about – played at half speed. Perhaps best of all is the closing ‘Temporary Thing’, featuring Regis, Anni Hogan and Justin Broadrick taking on a cover version of the Lou Reed classic, here extended to HD and sounding fucking ridiculously good. It’s one of the most sought-after pieces of the Regis puzzle, finally available on vinyl here for the first time.
File Under: Electronic
Ronce: Malignant (Death of Rave) LP
Radical protagonist of “feral gore feminist ASMR”, Ronce delivers a truly shocking debut album based on the female form and the violence that comes with it: surveillance, self disgust, anger, touch, desire (or lack thereof). It’s no doubt among the most disturbing yet arresting pieces of experimental music released in recent years, highly recommended listening if yr into Frederikke Hoffmeier, Perila, Maja Ratkje, ELpH/Coil, Kevin Drumm, Sam Kidel, Rashad Becker. Cathartic or deeply discomfiting, depending your disposition, either way ‘Malignant’ sounds quite unlike anything else in the contemporary field. It follows from the French artist’s now-impossible to find 7” ‘Lolita / Acteon’, issued by the Dawn label in January 2020, with a steeper and starker interrogation of its themes; abuse, power dynamics, and how it felt to be a 20 year old woman visible only under the gaze of men, and experiencing, as she says “the visceral need to escape it, to escape the hands and the eyes and crawl out of the physical body; rising above.” Yet for all its excoriating harshness, the album is ultimately a positive gesture on how to navigate trauma and eventually come out of it. While the process was not easy or enjoyable, it was vital for the artist and, by turns, should be considered crucial listening. Recorded in the months leading up to the first lockdowns of 2020, the ten tracks see Ronce continue to adapt the production techniques of ASMR – close miked vocals and hyper-tactile foley – in a dark détournement of ASMR’s semi-erotic fetishisation of the female voice. The results, in Ronce’s own words, form “a toxic, thorny maze holding all the rage and bitter curses that had to be purged in order for me to move on.” Her thoughts manifest as “a mix of primal fantasies, revenge and mourning”, exploring the limits of the frequency spectrum between sibilant highs and guttural drops, with vocals occupying a range between frankly petrifying giggles and subvocalised whispers, to Enfield-haunting croaks and bloodcurdling shrieks, each illuminating structures that shapeshift from liminal, barely-there, to bone-crunching technoid reflux and charged electro-static forcefields. In light of pandemic circumstances that have arisen since its recording, the masochism of ‘Malignant’ may only feel to compound the world’s woes, but let’s be fair; there’s never a good or easy time to broach this topic, and the sense of vulnerability, insight and ingenuity that Ronce brings to her work is hugely admirable, if not vital listening for a world currently reassessing its principles.
File Under: Experimental, Noise
Laila Sakini: Into the Traffic, Under the Moonlight (Laila Sakini) LP
Originally a tape-only companion piece to Laila Sakini’s quietly stunning ‘Vivienne’ AOTY contender last year, ‘Into the Traffic, Under the Moonlight’ now gets a standalone vinyl release, newly mastered by Rashad Becker to provide us with a chance to swoon at its endless, quiet charms from a new perspective. Featuring Laila’s voice, plus piano, samples, cello, bass clarinet, flute and handclaps, it’s a totally unique late night/intimate pop anomaly that sounds to us something like the missing link between Grouper, Bohren & der Club of Gore and The The’s Soul Mining. ‘Into the Traffic, Under the Moonlight’ is no doubt woven from the same fibre as Laila’s ‘Vivienne’ album – one of the records we listened to – and loved – most last year, but it expands on its minimalist palette of piano, voice and effects to include more instrumentation, samples and full bodied arrangements. Listening to ‘Vivienne’, followed by this one, feels a bit like emerging from a small room – curtains drawn – into the outside world for the first time in a while. The quietly suggestive presence of Sakini’s music evokes ciné-rich scenarios and vignettes from a careful paucity of ingredients to limn scenes of lonely existential angst and hypnagogic dreaminess that contrast with ruffer cuts of late night trip hop and nerve-bitten breakbeats that resemble a makeshift coffee table strewn with bits of baccy and weed, mug stains and unpaid bills, rather than unwieldy art books and pot pourri. Despite their quiet nature, these are ambitious, layered, memorable songs for the ages. It pays to start at the back here, as the creaking cold space and aching vox of ‘Night Emotion’ really seems to sum up the wistful sensuality of the whole release, but – to do it properly – the album unfolds as a total artwork, looping from the plaintive vocals – and flute – of ‘Talk My Way’ in succinct turns thru the dust-mite dance of her instrumental ‘Wade High’, to the opiated night flight of ‘Into The Traffic’, while curled-lip smackers in ‘Easy Does’, and her restlessly cranky ‘Metro’ help play out a flux of feelings, ambiguous and determined – that remind you that no one ever really knows what goes on inside other people’s heads. In a world of overly produced and controlled music, this here is yr antidote – Laila Sakini is producing some of the most vital and brittle music of our time.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Pop
Salamanda: Allez! (Good Morning Tapes) LP
Sublime debut of Environmental and electronic music from South Korea’s Salamanda, ushering a sylvan blend of wordless vocals and lissom chimes for Good Morning Tapes’ sought-after vinyl series. Highly recommended if yr into anything from the classic Environments (New Concepts In Stereo Sound) series to Sakamto x Sylvian, ISAN or even Orbital’s ‘Halcyon’. A serendipitous discovery for the quiet ambient dance haven, Salamanda unfurl 41 minutes of rhythmelodic charms drifting between pastoral and etheric headspaces that seek to capture the life of a bird released from its cage. The Seoul-based duo of DJ Uman Therma (Sala) and Yetsuby (Manda) gently muster lilting pulses and hazed vocal inferences, limning a bird’s journey from morning to night with an ineffable lightness of touch that will likely lure the ambient romantics deep into their fragile, imaginative soundsphere. There’s an almost folkloric appeal to Salamanda’s suggestive soundworld, from carefully minimalistic turns of phrase between the opening of the ‘Bird Cage’ and its skittish flight, to 12 minutes of airborne flows as enchanting as an anime soundtrack in the centrepiece ‘Allez!’ and ultimately into the nocturnal dimensions of ‘Hide and Seek’ or ’Shadow Dance,’ where their sixth senses really come into play with an allusive, FM synth evocation of tiny bird movements flitting in and out of moonlight. Like everything on this label, a proper charmer.
File Under: Electronic, Fourth World
Pontiac Streator & Ulla: Chat (West Mineral) LP
A balmy set of hypnagogic electronics meshed to meditative rhythms is the order of the day on the third release from Huerco S’ West Mineral Ltd, huge recommendation if you’re into Ulla, Spencer Clark or that classic Hallucinator gear on Chain Reaction. Everything on this label is gold… Pontiac Streator previously appeared as a guest on the first West Mineral Ltd release, Pendant’s by-now classic Make Me Know You Sweet, while Ulla has become one of the most closely followed artists in electronic music, having first appeared on the cultishly adored bblisss compilation tape which also introduced Huerco S.’s Pendant alias to the world at large. Their first album together is a bedroom-crafted confection where drowsy meditations smudge with lounging exotica themes in a blunted style to properly heavy-lidded effect. Chat was recorded on July 5th in Pilsen, Chicago on Ulla’s bed after a long week spent dancing with friends, staying up all night typing in chatrooms, and hate-watching Fox news. The results channel that experience into four lop-sided creations that feel satisfyingly burned out and immersive, like the murmur of zonked chat between close friends. In four parts; Chat One thru Chat Four, the record unfurls with a muggy mid-fi tension between its illusive fidelities, kindling a smoky atmosphere that colours listening spaces with seductive smells and a muggy, keening tension that recalls the minutes before sundown. This balmy feel of the surreal comes out in a sylvan patina of sweetened cicadas and curling pads urged along by a stream of wooden drums, variously recalling Spencer Clark on some kind of Aguirre soundtrack mission in the tropics, a heatsick Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement piece, or, in the dream-pop drift of the last part, like Leven Signs smudged by Muslimgauze. Coolly serving to expand West Mineral Ltd’s remit after that spellbinding Pendant album and a 12” of ectoplasmic dubs from uon, the flux of arid/fluid textures and para-dimensional fidelities in Chat feels somehow calming yet fraught with a somnambulant appeal that’s dangerously easy to fall for.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient
Sylvia: Sweet Stuff (Wewantsound) LP
In tomorrow… Wewantsounds reissue Sylvia Robinson’s super rare soul LP released in 1975 on her Vibration label, part of her All-Platinum/Stang/Turbo empire. Sweet Stuff features several Sylvia cult classics including “Private Performance,” “Soul Je T’aime”, a cover of Serge Gainsbourg’s “Je T’aime Moi Non Plus” and the mellow favorite “Sho Nuff Boogie” recorded with The Moments. As bonus tracks, the release features “Sho Nuff Boogie, Part 2” which only came out as the single’s B-side at the time and the long version of “Soul Je T’aime”. Born and raised in New York, Sylvia Robinson began recording at a young age under the name “Little Sylvia” in the early 1950s. She gained exposure when she teamed up with Mickey Baker scoring a hit in 1956 with “Love Is Strange” as Mickey & Sylvia. She went on to record many singles during the late ’50s and ’60s before setting up her own label, All Platinum Records in 1966 followed by Stang Records and Vibration. Through these labels, she had several hit records in the ’70s as a producer including The Moments’ “Love On A Two Way Street” and Shirley & Co’s “Shame Shame Shame”. Sylvia Robinson continued to record as a solo artist shortening her name as “Sylvia”. She got a massive hit of her own with “Pillow Talk” in 1973, a song she’d originally penned with Al Green in mind. The song went to #3 in the charts and started a string of other hits over the next few years. In 1973 she covered Serge Gainsbourg’s 1969 megahit “Je T’aime Moi Non Plus” renaming it here “Soul Je T’Aime” and duetting with Fania Records’ Latin soul singer Ralfi Pagan. The following year was also busy for the singer and producer with three singles that went to the R&B chart: the Soul Ballad “Alfredo”, the funky “Private Performance” and “Sho Nuff Boogie,” sung with The Moments. They are all featured on the album Sweet Stuff which was released in 1975. Interestingly the song “Sweet Stuff” notoriously sampled by J Dilla for “Crushin'” doesn’t appear on this album even if “Sho Nuff Boogie” sounds very much like a forerunner of the song with its similar languorous pace and almost identical melody. Four years later in 1979, Sylvia Robinson would make another genius move with the launch of Sugarhill Records and the Sugarhill Gang’s single “Rapper’s Delight” which would revolutionize music and almost single-handedly launch hip-hop but that’s another chapter of Sylvia Robinson’s life.
File Under: Funk, Soul
Tirzah: Colourgrade (Domino) LP
Colourgrade follows on from 2018’s immediate cult classic LP, Devotion. It forms a subconscious snapshot from across a year when Tirzah was playing live regularly for the first time, in the depths of promoting Devotion and recorded soon after the birth of her first child and shortly before her second child was born. The album explores recovery, gratitude and new beginnings, presenting a singer having discovered the type of love that is shared between a mother and a child for the first time, whilst simultaneously working as an artist.
File Under: Electronic, Pop, Soul
Turinn: 18.5 min gaps (Modern Love) LP
Repressed! Outta the shadows and into the strobe-light, Turinn’s Modern Love debut is almost 5 years old at this point, a highly rinsable set of sawn-off brukbeats and anxious, nerve-riding productions that triggered a rush of energy into the Manchester undergrowth, sprouting inventive, off-grid, highly original productions form the likes of Michael J Blood, Rat Heart and FUMU in its wake. If yr into owt from Stringray to EL-B, Shake to A Guy Called Gerald, you really should cop this. Crooked and rugged AF, but tempered by an acute emotive sensitivity, 18 1/2 Minute Gaps renders a bleedin’ cross-section of effortlessly all-over-the-place workouts in a breathless, deceptively freehand fashion that comes riddled with an electric blue energy all of its own. Committing ten trax of fractious, mutant funk and sore vibes, it was originally intended as a compilation of Turinn’s formative productions before his phase II works could see the light of day, but is so far the only material he’s released – bar a few bits for the YOUTH label. Like a lead lid on a nuclear rave implosion; the set here traps original ‘ardcore ‘nuum, hyper booty and dank post-punk elements in a perpetual flux of in-the-pocket grooves which ravenously attempt to split at the seams, alternately pushing into Muslimgauze-like buffer zones of distortion or resoundingly wide ambient dimensions, and often both at once. On the first plate, there’s a rare surge of quick/slow torque in Ovum, and then in his nod to the Italian new wave with Elba, which seems to find the square root between Lorenzo Senni and a classic Claude Young grind, whereas the bittersweet soul of 1625 finds compatible links with his longtime mate Willow and Japan’s Shinichi Atobe, while Parratactico swaggers into quantum, slowed down and syrupy dancehall meters. The second disc is no less delirious: the title track runs at a furious Detroit tempo like DJ Stingray flipping Carl Craig’s Kaotic Harmonies, before ESO cuts in like a super cranky El-B wearing itchy Primark underwear, and the bone-rattling hardcore jungle of Spawn soon enough gives way to the sweaty couplet of Petrichor and Ondine, where his elusive, distressed touch shines thru. If u like it loose and deadly, give it a whirl.
File Under: Electronic, Techno
uon: Untitled (West Mineral) LP
Huerco S’ West Mineral label follow Pendant’s sublime ‘Make Me Know You Sweet’ album with uon’s wholly absorbing study in brownian motion and isolation tank ambience; a hypnotically lush exploration of underwater romance. If you’re into the impeccable run of Vainqueur releases on Chain Reaction, this one’s for you. It’s the 2nd release from the enigmatic project, whose debut 12”s in 2017 was among the year’s standout ambient and dub-related releases. On this new one uon poetically describes three different behaviours of water and its amorphous states through a gently elemental push and pull of forces best considered in the vein of Basic Channel, Wolfgang Voigt’s Gas or the shimmering convections of Ross 154. Beautifully elusive but crucially watermarked with a sense of originality in personalized style, Solaris opens the set with a 17 minute cut – a seemingly infinite journey through swells of diffracted chords and silty filters, simultaneously connoting sensations of opiated amniotic safety and oceanic infinity. Where the A-side feels like floating in a lush mass, the bass-heavy articulation of his B-side’s J may well urge listeners onto the ‘floor with the same, inexorable traction of classic Vainqueur records, and in a way smartly reflects uon’s mutable DJ style, before the aqueous qualities of his final track Bus soothes to a deeper blue state of loved-up introspection which, like Solaris, could have have easily taken up a side to itself. Bliss.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Dub
X or Size: Covert ID (Good Morning Tapes) LP
Sublime Ambient techno sound bath from X Or Size for the ever reliable Good Morning Tapes; long in the works, and it really shows, with deeply spirited suds and rumbles for fans of NWAQ/154, Actress, Andy Stott, Huerco S.++ Effectively the debut proper for NYC’s X Or Size, who also spends his time running the Aeon Bookstore in his home city, ‘Covert ID’ is the result of a durational process of regeneration and personal spiritual growth, naturally absorbing aspects of Eastern Mysticism and his visual practice into a spongiform, radiant style of ambient techno classicism. Beautifully unhurried and languorous, the 4 tracks (7 on the included download) each take all the time they need to unfold in waves of meditative bliss that really found their purpose during a period when the artist was bedridden with injury, and would come to fruition in the early phases of lockdown as a way to focus his energies. The music is allowed to breathe, lathering incremental shifts of textural layers between rolling and swung dynamics, all helmed by throbs that lull us into its glacial pace. In light of recent social media faff about “ambient” music, it’s clear that the style holds heavy meaning – positive or negative – to many users, and we could happily hold this album up as an example of the sound at its optimistic and practically therapeutic best, connoting and convecting a convincing sense of childlike curiosity and amniotic lushness that’s hard to shake once felt. For the dancefloor or bedroom, this one’s a burner.
File Under: Ambient, Dub, Techno
Brandee Younger: Somewhere Different (Impulse) LP
In tomorrow… Over the past decade, the harpist Brandee Younger has been at the center of music’s celebrated work, even if you didn’t know she was there. Be it her output with the soul singer John Legend or the rapper Common, she’s always put her stamp on the music in question, all while setting a new course for what classical music can entail. But with her major-label debut, Somewhere Different, she’s pushing her artistry to the foreground. By her own admission, Younger would’ve stepped back in years past to let others shine; the harp would’ve been mixed behind layers of woodwind instruments. Now she’s putting her instrument first. “It was important for me to thrust the harp forward in a non-traditional setting,” Younger says of her new album. “I made a conscious effort to make sure that the harp was a bit more present in this recording. It’s important for the instrument.” Indeed, the first sound heard on Somewhere Different is the harp, a gorgeous, tone-setting solo that ushers in “Love & Struggle,” the album’s meditative opener. It also sets the mission for the music that follows: Younger has spent her career breaking down the barriers between classical music and contemporary forms of R&B, hip-hop, and funk. This album synthesizes her work while forging new ground. “I started recording music that wasn’t common on harp in 2006,” she says. This is my way of combining all the worlds I have into one. This is me doing my own thing completely.” Listeners will hear this creative freedom throughout the LP, from the introspective tenor of “Olivia Benson,” “Beautiful Is Black” and “Pretend,” featuring Tarriona “Tank” Ball of the breakout New Orleans band Tank and the Bangas, to the vibrant rock and bounce-infused sounds of “Reclamation” and the title track, respectively. In that way, Younger pays homage to the pioneering harpists Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Ashby, both of whom merged the instrument with jazz, funk and soul at a time when such ingenuity wasn’t commonplace. Somewhere Different is not only the realization of Younger’s musical journey, it channels the spirit of a deserving performer whose life merits deeper examination.
File Under: Jazz
Various: Bob’s Burgers Music Album Vol. 2 (Sub Pop) LP
In tomorrow… Bob’s Burgers fans rejoice – The Bob’s Burgers Music Album Vol. 2 Soundtrack is here on triple vinyl LP courtesy of Sub Pop Records. Featuring nearly every single musical morsel from seasons 7 through 9, this 90-song smorgasbord includes contributions from the Belcher family – Bob (H. Jon Benjamin), Linda (John Roberts), Tina (Dan Mintz), Gene (Eugene Mirman) and Louise (Kristen Schaal) – as well as the show’s numerous recurring and special guests. This includes actors, comedians, and musicians Adam Driver, Tiffany Haddish, Jenny Slate, Daveed Diggs, Max Greenfield, Toddrick Hall, Aparna Nancherla, and Matt Berninger (of the National). For fans of the show, enjoying the music of Bob’s Burgers on its own is both an irresistible to-go bag and ultimately a world unto itself. Lose yourself in the strangely epic disco celebration “Hot Pants Rain Dance,” sing along with the musical theater gem, “The Wedding Is My Warzone,” or do whatever you’re gonna do to “Sexy Little Tiger” but don’t miss the Bob’s Burgers Music Album Vol. 2 Soundtrack. Your order is up!
File Under: OST
Various: Cameroon Garage Funk (Analog Africa) LP
A few trips to the land of Makossa and many more hours of interviews were necessary to get enough insight to assemble the puzzle-pieces of Yaoundé’s buzzing 1970s music scene. We learned that despite the myriad difficulties involved in the simple process of making and releasing a record, the musicians of Yaoundé’s underground music scene left behind an extraordinary legacy of raw grooves and magnificent tunes. The songs may have been recorded in a church, with a single microphone in the span of only an hour or two, but the fact that we still pay attention to these great creations some 50 years later, only illustrates the timelessness of their music.
File Under: Garage, Psych, Africa
Various: Daptone Super Soul Revue Live! At the Apollo (Daptone) LP
Coloured vinyl with bonus Daptone anniversary slipmat! Daptone celebrates 20 years of soulful music with the release of The Daptone Super Soul Revue “LIVE at the Apollo”. Performed and recorded over three nights in front of a sold-out crowd at The World Famous Theater in Harlem, NY (December 4th – 6th, 2014), this album brings the electrifying performances that helped put Daptone on the map directly to your living room! Featuring live sets from Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires, Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens, Antibalas, The Budos Band, Menahan Street Band, Saun & Starr, The Sugarman 3, as well as our em-cee, Binky Griptite. This album is lovingly dedicated to the memory of our dear friends Sharon, Charles, Naomi, and Cliff.
File Under: Funk, Soul
Arctic Monkeys: AM (Domino) LP
Arctic Monkeys: Suck It and See (Domino) LP
Big Red Machine: How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last? (Jagjaguwar) LP
Czarface & MF Doom: Czarface Meets Metal Face (Silver Age) LP
Nick Drake: Pink Moon (Island) LP
Flying Burrito Brothers: Gilded Palace of Sin (A&M) LP
Iron Maiden: Senjutsu (Parlophone) LP
Joy Orbison: Still Slipping Vol. 1 (XL) LP
Les Rallizes Denudes: Double Heads (LRD) BOX
Luvmenauts: In Space (Do Right) LP
Mayhem: Deathcrush (Back on Black) LP
Mild High Club: Going Going Gone (Stones Throw) LP
Modern Lovers: s/t (Music on Vinyl) LP
Modest Mouse: Moon & Antarctica (Epic) LP
Modest Mouse: Strangers To Ourselves (Epic) LP
Monophonics: It’s Only Us (Colemine) LP
Porcupine Tree: Recordings (Transmission) LP
Radiohead: OK Computer – OKnotok (XL) LP
Daniel Romano: Come Cry With Me (Normaltown) LP
Daniel Romano: If I’ve Only One Time Askin’ (New West) LP
Daniel Romano: Modern Pressure (New West) LP
Daniel Romano: Mosey (New West) LP
Michael Rother: Fernwarme (Groenland) LP
Six Organs of Admittance: Veiled Sea (Three Lobed) LP
Smiths: Strangways, Here We Come (Rhino) LP
Solid Space: Space Museum (Dark Entries) LP
Space Afrika: Honest Labour (Dais) LP
Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty) LP
Sufjan Stevens: Illinois (Asthmatic Kitty) LP
Sufjan Stevens: Michigan (Asthmatic Kitty) LP
Andy Stott: Never the Right Time (Modern Love) LP
Andy Stott: Too Many Voices (Modern Love) LP
T.Rex: The Slider (Demon) LP
Tyler, The Creator: Goblin (XL) LP
Velvet Underground: & Nico (Polydor) LP
Velvet Underground: White Light, White Heat (Verve) LP
Baby Face Willette: Face to Face (Tone Poet) (Blue Note) LP
Yola: Stand For Myself (Easy Eye Sound) LP
Various: Too Slow to Disco: Yacht Soul Covers (How Do You Are) LP