Review: Credo boss Alex Bau returns with some deep dub techno excursions on the fittingly titled Echo Echo imprint - a new Echocord sublabel. With previous releases on top labels like CLR, Kombination Research and Cocoon - you can trust this veteran A.M. specialist. From the glacial and cavernous "Clouds" and the introspective dub of "Contour" nailing that Basic Channel vibe of old. On the flip, we get two versions of "Zenstory". The first (prelude) being a chilling ambient version while the second is a stripped back epic that builds full of tension and suspense throughout.
Review: Michigan producer John Beltran is a master of atmosphere and emotion. His ambient has been used for countless seminal TV shows, he's been cited as an inspiration to Four Tet and has put out key albums on labels like Delsin and Peacefrog. Here he is in a distinctively club-focussed mood, but the synths still very much speak to your heart. "The Lake" is pure Motor City techno soul, and the ambient reprise allows you to wallow in his pads even more. "Twilight" then bustles with shimmering metal hits while pixelated keys drift about like a million fire flies in a warm night sky. Lush.
Review: Tucked away in his Peak District hideaway, Jack Lever has been laying down sumptuous fusions of dusty ambience and lo-fi electronica for some time now. He first rose to prominence via a fine 12" on Apollo in 2013, before heading back to Derbyshire to self-release music from the archives on cassette and download. This return to wax is well worth a listen, if only for the drowsy, 6AM ambience of "Convair", which wraps shortwave radio crackle and yearning chord progressions around gentle acoustic guitars. "Torches" is a blissful and dusty outsider house shuffler, while lead cut "Roads" is a terrific, dancefloor-tempo trip-hop head-nodder rich in distorted guitars, cascading instrument solos and beefy dub disco bass.
Review: While he's offered up the occasional remix, William "Burial" Bevan has been rather quiet of late. In fact, this two-tracker marks his first original material for almost two years. Lead cut "Claustro" is an unexpectedly up-tempo dancefloor affair - a sweet and sticky chunk of future-garage that sees Bevan wrap sugary female vocal snippets, spacey chords and bubbly analogue electronics around snappy two-step beats - drenched in vinyl crackle and tape hiss - and a rock solid bassline. It will raise a few eyebrows given his previous work but nevertheless sounds like a summer anthem in waiting. Bevan returns to familiar territory on flipside cut "State Forest", a ghostly, field recording-laden ambient excursion where pedal steel style motifs slowly rise above opaque electronics.
Review: Naturally, there's been plenty of hype surrounding this new Hyperdub 10", which features Burial indulging his often-discussed ambient influences. It's a typically creepy and ghostly affair, with the lack of beats - if not rhythmic elements - only serving to amplify the shadowy producer's impeccable sound design and brilliant use of manipulated field recordings. A-side "Subtemple" is particularly paranoid in tone, featuring as it does chilling melody loops, curious vocal samples, looped vinyl crackle and all manner of layered background noise. Flipside "Beachfires" is, if anything, even more dystopian, with Burial basing the action around the kind of pulsing chords that gust back and forth like an autumnal breeze.
Review: The partnership of Kassem Mosse and Beatrice Dillon; Dillon Wendel is a place for the two respected artists to explore soundscapes, aesthetics and synthesis in pastures aeons away from the dancefloors they're most familiar with. Both compositions weighing in over 15 minutes, they're experiences which challenge form and convention; "Pulse" ripples with its namesake, a texture that buzzes and drones in endless waves while "High" mutates a warmer, grainer tone with dizzying effect.
Review: Alex Barnett and Faith Coloccia return to the dark, militant and disorderly outlet that is Blackest Ever Black for a second LP of twisted ambient-filtered noise infusions. Much like their previous album, Weld is inherently abstract but still manages to tell a story, taking the listener on a journey by using primitive forms of sound design. There are certainly more concrete pieces within, such as the kick-powered "Dreamsnake" or the hazy stoner jam that is "AM Horizon", but the release is largely freeform and loosely held together by fuzzy shreds of electronic fuzz. "Ash Grove" is a favourite of ours, its circling toms giving the track a sporadic backbone. It's a beaut, as per usual.
Review: The latest full-length excursion from William Basinski has its roots in a 2017 Berlin exhibition that the long-serving experimental composer was invited to contribute to. Basinski created music for two installations, making extensive use of recordings of two distant black holes captured using the interferometers of LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory). Of the two tracks on show, it's the epic title track that hits home hardest. It's a 40 minute ambient epic of intergalactic proportions, with Basinski offering up slowly-shifting, ice cold chords, crackling aural textures and occasional bursts of distant activity. The track that follows is a little warmer and undeniably drowsy, with Basinski utilizing manipulated neo-classical movements to create an intoxicating ambient mood.
Review: Originally Recorded live at Music Laboratories, New York, September 29, 1982 and eventually released 27 years later, William Basinski's 92982 receives a vinyl re-issue courtesy of the Temporary Residence label. Spread across two slabs of vinyl, the four separate parts to 92902 see Basinski teasing out ethereal, mesmerising loops from a reel to reel in all their decayed and degraded glory. It's all drenched in delay and reverb that works in the same tradition of his seminal LP, The Disintegration Loops . The truly haunting dark ambience of "92982.2" in particular is essential listening and a moment you won't forget, complete with eerie field recordings of NYC.
Review: Although William Basinski's work is often tagged as 'neo-classical', the veteran producer is very much an electronic musician. His craft does involve plenty of deep instrumentation and symphonious arrangements, but he's been experimenting with tape loops and reel-to-reels for over three decades. A Shadow In Time is his new EP for his own 2062 imprint, run alongside James Elaine, and it's every bit as glorious as the rest of 2062's glorious catalogue. "For David Robert Jones" is the opening slice of glorious sonority, a wondrous loops of aqueous sounds with free-roaming jazz instruments balancing in mid-air, and a mysterious charm to its hazy smoke of sounds. The title track "A Shadow in Time" is a sparser, less imperceptible slice of ambient textures that slowly builds into a vast, fiery soundscape of aural delight. A beautiful sonic massage.
Review: Experienced experimentalists William Basinski and Lawrence English have long been friends, growing closer over the last half-decade thanks to a string of chance encounters in cities around the globe. Finally, they've joined forces on their first collaborative set, an album that was reputedly "simultaneously recorded in Brisbane and Los Angeles". It's a thing of beauty, with both of the long, poignant and slowly shifting ambient cuts being tinged by melancholy brought on by the loss of their mutual friend, experimental filmmaker Paul Clipson. Like "Selva Obscura", Clipson's work celebrated the act of getting lost in experiences that lie beyond everyday understanding.
Review: Like Delsin label mates Conforce and Claro Intelecto, veteran producer John Beltran seems incapable of producing duff albums. "Hallo Androiden", his first full length outing for two years, is another wonderfully atmospheric, melodic and emotive set that recalls the producer's impeccable 1990s output. The nine tracks are as lushly produced as you'd expect, with Beltran effortlessly drifting between eyes-closed ambient techno, lilting electronica, slowly shifting sunset soundscapes and the kind of grandiose, life affirming ambient compositions that have long been a feature of the veteran producer's work. As with much of his output, there are enough intricate details and emotion-stirring motifs to suggest that the album will sound just as good on the 50th listen as it does the first.
Review: Ten Days Of Blue is John Beltran's second LP to date, from a distant-not-so-distant 1996, when a rush of neo-techno - on an intelligent tip - began to rush over the scene. The opening "Flex" is one of the greatest of its kind, a near 7 minute voyage of sparse drums, heavy bass and a level of euphoria that is close to match anywhere else. The truth is, however, that every tune on here is absolute fire, from the gentle IDM waves of "Collage Of Dream", the jazzed-out percussion of "Gutaris Breeze (6000km To Amsterdam)" and, of course, the knifty, pseudo d&b of "Ten Days Of Blue". There is so much more to explore, too, including the totally innovative techno of "Venim & Wonder". This gear really does sound like it was made the other day. Warmly recommended.
Review: Another Italian reissue label enters the fray as Orbeatize makes a powerful first move by looking back to the 80s and the wild experimentation of jazz drummer Armando Bertozzi. Having already made a distinctive entrance with two previous albums, Bertozzi's final masterstroke was Fantastic World, a daring body of work originally released in 1985. Rich with African percussion and wayward synthesis, this is far from a traditional record, and its hefty second hand price tag makes it more than worthy of a reissue for a whole new crew of cats to turn on to.
Nick & Kev Set Controls For The Waning Moon (5:51)
Loneliest Animals Of Them All (4:52)
Disrecalling The Assassatoir (2:19)
Unfathomed Fathoms (6:35)
Tranquatic Slakes (3:57)
Extinct Song (8:24)
Review: Tucked away in a shed in Portland, Kevin Palmer continues to cultivate an unmistakable sound, grown around a seemingly untiring exploration of the machines that he works with. He has previously alluded to doing much of his production work in the small hours when his family are asleep. After over a dozen full length releases thus far, his newest one comes courtesy of Glasgow's 12th Isle and sees the Working Nights boss explore more introverted expressions in afterhours soul reflection on Enginetics & Plasmalterations. Mind the baffling titles, these jams are totally hot: from spooked-out minimal house jams like "Nick & Kev Set Controls For The Waning Moon" that treads the same territory as Lowtec or STL, to his idiosyncratic version of dub techno as heard on "Orbitiara or "Unfathomed Fathoms". Elsewhere there's noisy soundscapes, sublime ambience to knackered house - this one will cerianly to appeal to the insomniacs and loners out there and it's tremendous.
Review: Transatlantic twosome Billow Observatory (AKA Detroit-based Jason Kolb and Copenhagen resident Jonas Munk) tend to take their time over albums, but more often than not the results are worth the wait. "III: Chroma/Contour" definitely fits into this category. The result of two years of work, it bristles with effervescent soundscapes, delay-laden instrumentation, shape-shifting aural textures and gently unfurling compositions. Their particular brand of luxurious ambient music makes great use of Jonny Nash style glistening guitar sounds, the fluid chord progressions of Gigi Masin, the emotion-rich movements of Brian Eno collaborator Mark Shreeve and the synthesizer-fired dreaminess of 1980s new age composers. It's a stylistic blend that not only guarantees great results, but also some of the most beguiling and becalmed ambient music you'll hear all year.