Review: Rabih Beaini's Morphine label have stepped it up once again this year, embarking on a series of projects that sees the Lebanese artist producing albums from unique artists with the visual assistance of French-born designer Nathalie Du Pasquier and Tankboys. The first introduced the fairly unclassifiable Senyawa and Brother I Prove You Wrong sees the welcome return of Charles Cohen. We have Morphine to thank for introducing us to the work of the Philadelphia-based Buchla synth pioneer with the label's trilogy of retrospectives in 2013, and this nine track set actually represents Cohen's first solo album since the early '80s. Experimental electronics of the highest order!!
The Three Sides Of Audrey & Why She's All Alone Now (7:33)
No One Is Looking At U (7:48)
Review: Fresh off news of his commission to soundtrack the latest Jacques Audiard film, Nicolas Jaar delivers Nymphs II, his first solo material since 2011. Let that sink in for a moment. There's been a lot of change in Jaar's life in this period, with the Darkside project emerging and coming to a logical conclusion, Clown & Sunset being shut down and replaced by the Other People label. Both "The Three Sides Of Audrey & Why She's All Alone Now" and "No One Is Looking At U" are delightful compositions from Jaar bristling with atmosphere and deep in textural detail. The fact both were recorded in the past four years suggests Jaar is sitting on plenty more solo material which is potentially very exciting news!
Review: Ever wonder where Music From Memory founders Abel Nagengast, Jamie Tiller & Tako Reyenga got the name of their label from? The answer is obscure New York musician Vito Ricci, whose diverse and quite stunning discography of private press releases is compiled on this wonderful retrospective I Was Crossing A Bridge. Active during the '80s musical heyday of New York, Ricci description as "one of the unsung heroes of New York's downtown music scene" is fully qualified on this 18 track double LP release, which contains such a dizzying array of musical styles it's tempting to call him a musical genius. The three strong suite of "Inferno" tracks in particular could easily be mistaken for the work of Container, and that Ricci was capable of that as well as some tongue in cheek coke boogie like "I'm At That Party Right Now" means Music From Memory should be applauded once more.
Review: Berlin's PAN outlet continues its ever-impressive run of form with a deranged and utterly brain twisting collaboration from the collective minds of Errorsmith (!!) and Mark Fell, two experimental techno veterans who know the score. "Protogravity" is a disjointed, pseudo half-step number with a rising melody which falls back in on itself with each new bar, while "Cuica Digitales" is similarly wonky but manages to stumble its way into a neater groove thanks to the wailing vocals surrounding the beats. Lastly, "Atomic #80" is the dancefloor banger, the daring techno missile that'll turn those necks in the dance. Fearless and utterly singular.
Review: It's been six years since the last Xerrox album, but in the meantime Raster-Noton boss Carsten Nicolai has been busy dreaming up new concepts. The latest in the series is inspired by movies he watched during his childhood, which in turn led him to compose this soundtrack to an imaginary movie. It's hard to imagine Nicolai providing the backing score to a blockbuster and if anything this could be a substitute for narrative in a kids' fantasy movie. The ominous bass on "Xerrox Radieuse" sounds like the villain entering the scene, while the gentle bell tinkles of "Xerrox 2ndevol2nd" is the heroine's signature. Most impressive though are the swirling, cumulous-like synths on "Xerrox 2ndevol" and the orchestral strings of "Xerrox Helm Transphaser", which place Nicolai in the company of Vangelis.
Review: For fans of minimal wave and DIY electronic pop, Oppenheimer Analysis's self-released 1982 debut cassette, New Mexico - little more than an extended demo cassette - has become something of a collector's item. While it has been reissued digitally since, it never received a vinyl release. In tribute to Martin Lloyd (the other half of the duo, alongside Andy Oppenheimer), who passed away recently, Minimal Wave has decided to make New Mexico available on wax for the first time. While the sound quality is appropriately dusty (it was badly recorded in the first place, of course), the music remains magical - bubbling, evocative, left-of-centre leftfield pop created with home-made synthesizers, modular hardware and little else. It's no wonder many consider it a classic album (even if was never officially released first time round).
Review: The Death Waltz label continue their never ending run of form with another winner, this time by Pye Corner Audio aka Martin Jenkins who steps out of his own self-titled label and into the gallows of one of the most singular labels out there. "Stars Shine" is a gorgeous and beatless soundscape that could have easily made any number of science fiction soundtracks, while "Like Eyes" is its beat-driven offspring, a true synth-heavy disco number in an unmistakable italo coating. "Quasar II", on the other hand, is all machine feedback and subtle layers of noise up until its growling mutant of a bassline kicks in and sends us into hyper-space mode.
Review: After appearances on the likes of Downwards, Clan Destine and Minimal Wave offshoot Cititrax, Berlin-based duo The KVB land on Geoff Barrow's Invada label for the first in a series of releases. To introduce the duo, Invada have elected to give the super rare Mirror Being album a proper release on vinyl after The KVB self-issued on limited cassette back in January. Mirror Being differs from most releases from The KVB as the pair's deep set vocals, a key component of their sound, are largely absent from the 10 tracks but their reverb soaked mastery of guitars and analogue gear is still very much evident throughout. We await their forthcoming new album from Invada with real interest.
Review: Damn! Dark Entries are on a roll! Their latest reissue is of Scotland's Thomas Leer, an early 80's independent artist who recorded "Private Plane" in his bedroom using an extremely limited set-up...the prototypical '80s experimental kid! The tune is dreary, funky and on the abstract side all at the same time, but our favourite is actually "International" thanks to its wonky groove, driving percussion stabs and bursts of distorted jazz flute. On the B-side there's also "Saving Grace", a more poppy affair in that inimitable 80's Karate Kid flair...highly recommended, a 12" worthy of a reissue.
Review: After completing a quadrilogy of Mecanica releases for ESP Institute inspired by "opium dens and whorehouses" earlier this year, Serbian artist Nenad Markovi? brings his 33 10 3402 project to Music From Memory offshoot Second Circle. If you indulged in anyone of those Mecanica 12"s for Andrew Hogge's label you will be all over this Bura EP with Markovic channelling similar depths of rhythm and texture across the four tracks. There's enough semblance of rhythm on display in cuts like the title track and the dubby machine funk of "Syg" to intrigue the more adventurous DJs out there whilst "P-Tok" could easily be mistaken for a forgotten Borft B side. A superb record.
Review: Antigravity, although knee-deep in Blackest Ever Black's tenebrous trademark style, is an LP that spans different corners of the electronic spectrum and one that gravitates more towards the punky side of things. Jac Berrocal, David Fenech and Vincent Epplay create what could almost be considered to be a horror soundtrack. Surrounded by dreary, morphed vocals, there are strands of upbeat instrumentation such as on "Panic In Bali" and almost jazzy landscapes on pieces like "Where Flamingoes Fly". This is a 360 degree spin through the cycle, dig in and check it for yourself. Another daring release from Blackest Ever Black which is highly recommended.
Gravure/Continuum (Fis Hayfield To New Mills version) (7:01)
Gravure/Continuum (Regis Whip Hand mix) (6:08)
Review: This 12" sees the welcome vinyl edition of remixes of Akkord's "Gravure/Continuum" from Fis and Regis which originally appeared on a CD issued through Fabric's Houndstooth label earlier this year. With the Mancunian duo possessing such a clinical take on rhythmic construction; it's always interesting to see how artists commissioned to remix Akkord choose to approach the task. Sometime Tri Angle artist Fis is on impeccable form twisting the track into paganistic string-laden ambience on his self-styled 'Hayfield To New Mills' version which brings to mind "Hashshashin Chant" era Demdike Stare. Downwards boss Regis goes for gravelly broken techno on his 'Whip Hand' mix though he channels similar levels of spectral foreboding to Fis in the underlying human groans set deep in the mix.
Review: Living up to their deliciously unpredictable nature, Uncanny Valley offshoot Rat Life Records exhume the works of forgotten Swedish wave act The Pagan Rites for their first transmission of 2015. As the back cover reveals, The Pagan Rites was the work of Johan Norling and Karl Lihagen, two Stockholm artists affiliated with the Top Nice collective who recorded these tracks together between 2008 and 2013. Channelling the darkness of the Scandinavian winter, The Pagan Rites seem to revel at applying a sense of melancholy to their naive cold wave recordings and it makes for a fascinating document of a forgotten project.
Standoff/Too Many Complications/The Guest Escapes (4:36)
He's Not Who You Think He Is/The Diner (2:28)
Back To School (1:01)
Atmospheres 1 (bonus) (4:41)
Atmospheres 2 (bonus) (2:35)
Unused Chase Theme (bonus) (4:12)
Review: Adam Wingard's The Guest came out last year and as modern horror films go, it's certainly the creme-de-la-creme of black comedy. Even more interesting to us here at Juno, the soundtrack was composed by Steve Moore, a multi-talented American producer who was one of the first artists to release on Ron Morelli's LIES imprint. Apart from making experimental club music, Moore specialises in freaky synthesizer sounds, all of which can be heard on this excellent soundtrack. Comprised of a whopping nineteen tracks, Moore delivers vast sonic landscapes that are as eerie and foreboding as the film itself, the perfect sort of ambience to a comically gruesome film. Sequenced basslines, mild pads, minimal beats and Moore's inimitable sense of space fills this release with a blissful sense of dread. Lovely.
Review: If you're looking for futuristic high-speed tribalism then Burnt Friedman's Nonplace imprint is the perfect place to start...and end! Over the last few years, the German maestro has almost single-handedly created a new subgenre, one that blends glitchy techno together with ritualistic drumming and very, very low frequencies - a winning combinations, basically! "Clock" is all broken drum steps surrounded by mild pads and slick vocals; there's a reprise mix, too, which scraps the beats and focusses on vocals and FX. On the flip, there's a different version of "Clock", this time wonkier and more deranged in its melodic approach, and "Lovestruck Battlefield"...another stripped back piece of futuristic bass poetry. Killer.
Review: Having come to light through her captivating Movement LP and a series of singles for Rvng Intl, Holly Herndon is a shining example of the ground that can be covered through the academic approach to electronic music production. That so much of her distinctive sound is powered by the canny processing of her own voice only adds to the impact, and so it is on her follow up album which lands on indie giant 4AD. The drama and shocking sound design is palpable at every turn, with more noticeably song-based structures coming through at times, only to be side-swiped by brutal drum programming at others. With a style that no-one else could dream of coming close to, Herndon has confirmed herself to be amongst the great electronic artists of our times.
Review: The role Richard 'Nozinja' Mthetwa has played in the emergence of Sowetan music Shangaan Electro was first documented on that superb Honest Jon's compilation back in 2011. He is by all accounts a bit of a star so a round of applause to Warp for securing a fine album from Nozinja in the shape of Nozinja Lodge. Arriving soon after Mthewa collaborated with Tessela, this ten track album comes across as a slightly more polished take on the frenetic sound of Shangaan Electro, yet the core elements remain intact. High pitched vocals sourced from the community of Shangaan artists meet skipping lo-fi drum constructions and deliciously sweet melodies. An album to document and dominate the sunshine months.
Review: German post-punk act No More are the latest to be given the Dark Entries treatment with an expanded edition of their self-released EP A Rose Is A Rose. Known best for the stone cold classic "Suicide Commando", No More are a massively prolific Kiel-based band whose exact formation has changed throughout the 30-odd years they've been pushing the DIY barrier. A Rose Is A Rose dates from their early '80s period and in original format was an eight track 10" that outlined their spiky DIY post-punk manifesto. This Dark Entries edition boosts proceedings with the inclusion of both tracks from the original Suicide Commando 7? and three previously unreleased No More demo recordings. As a bonus, the label have thrown in a remastered edition of No More's debut 7? Too Late.
Review: 2015 is Planet Mu's 20th anniversary year and it's fair to say they are completely bossing it with a succession of already classic albums from Jlin, Drew Lustman, and John T. Gast. We can add to this growing pile Reflekzionz, the latest album in a thoroughly compelling recording career from Nick 'Ekoplekz' Edwards, and a third for Planet Mu following the two he committed in 2014. Described by Planet Mu as invoking a "blurry, saturated false-memory of the leftfield electronica" that soundtracked Edwards' formative years in the early '90s, the 12 tracks come across as vintage Ekoplekz with red-lining synths and bubbling percussive processing in abundance.
Review: 'Instruments' is an acoustic project by internationally celebrated producer/performer/composer Henrik Schwarz. He is an artist highly on request to create energetic dance music productions for Boy George, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, indie stars Ane Brun, The Foals, Omar, or jazz legends like Mark Murphy. His intense laptop performances in major clubs and at the largest international music festivals in Japan, USA, Europe, Asia, Australia, South America catapulted Schwarz into the Top Ten League of electronic music performers.
The classical arrangements on Instruments are created by Johannes Brecht as a fully acoustic listening experience of Schwarz's chart topping melodic compositions. On this album, 7 of his compositions are transcribed for a contemporary music ensemble, including the first single ever released that got worldwide attention - "Marvin" (which came out in 2002).
Both performed and recorded strictly acoustic, without the backbone of any electronic instruments, the pureness and elegance of wood brass, strings and percussions are transporting the repetitive grooves and hymnal anthems into renowned concert halls. The Tonhalle Zurich, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Stuttgarter Kammerorchester & Deutsches Kammerorchester commissioned arrangements to be performed in their residential venues - the concert at the Kammermusiksaal of the Berlin Philharmonic Hall on November 15, 2011 was sold out.
Review: Cologne's Magazine label welcome Glasgow's Naum Gabo into the fold with Fyei, a fine two track exercise in slow burn bliss and conceptual record pressing trickery. The story goes that both these cuts which originate from Naum Gabo 12"s on Endless Flight and Kompakt's defunct Fright got played by Barnt and his Magazine cohorts with the tempo pulled down from 45rpm to 33rpm, transforming them into completely different productions. It's here that Magazine got the idea to re-release "Fyei" and "Hantas" at this new tempo but pressed to 45rpm resulting in a 12" that can only be played slower still!!! The long running project of Optimo man JG Wilkes and mastering engineer James Savage, Naum Gabo have been responsible for some brutal cuts over the years but this record proves they can be just as deadly when operating at a much slower speed. The sweeping synth vistas of "Fyei" sound particularly epic!!