Review: Over the last four decades, we've come accustomed to veteran electronic experimentalist Uwe Schmidt surprising us with each successive album. Even so, we were still pleasantly surprised by his latest Atom TM release, whose title - Walzeryklus ("Waltz Cycle") - offers a hint to his latest inspiration. Recorded with angel-voiced singer Lisokot, the album is entirely made up of tracks recorded in the 3/4 time signature of classic waltz. Naturally, these waltzes are unlike anything you'll have heard before, variously taking in neo-classical inspired ambient, eccentric left-of-centre synth-pop, bubbly electronica, fizzing Rephlex style "Braindance" and even a gtouch of wonky, mind-altering techno.
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: It's been seven years since the last offering from Munich-based electropop group Lali Puna, in which time two years of writing and a change in lineup have nudged the band in a subtly different direction. The roots of their sound haven't changed too much, and there's plenty of variety to be heard here. The rattling clipped samples and surging synths of 'Come Out Your House' contrast pleasingly with the twinkling warmth of tracks like 'Wear My Heart'. The subject matter of 'Two Windows' empathetically reflects on issues of individuality, freedom and surveillance, with lyrical content that's open enough both to connect with and reflect upon.
Review: Since the release of Laraaji's fine career retrospective, Celestial Music 1978-2011, in 2013, there's been renewed interest in the work of the autoharp-playing ambient spirtualist. It's perhaps surprising, then, that it has taken this long for someone to reissue his Vision Songs Volume 1, the former Brian Eno collaborator's first self-released cassette album. In many ways, it's atypical of his work, featuring as it does "devotional and inspirational songs", rather than new age instrumentals. It was recorded in 1984 and sees the one-time actor combining lo-fi Casio synthesizer chords and melodies with his own soulful, life-affirming lyrics and copious amounts of tape delay. It remains a fine work, with the constant warmth of original tape his offering a reminder of the set's decidedly lo-fi roots.
Review: It's been a couple of years since we last heard from Greta Cottage Workshop's experimental offshoot, Greta Cottage Woodpile. We'll forgive their inactivity, though, because this belated return to action is very good. Minden Nap Vasarnap is the work of little-known Hungarian artist Laslo, a producer who utilizes all manner of outboard hardware and effects units to create atmospheric and densely textured tracks that defy easy categorization. At times, his manipulations of tape hiss, reverberating samples, delay-laden bass pulses and trippy electronic motifs sound like some mutant form of dub techno; at others, these evocative and otherworldly soundscapes inch further towards becalmed electronica. Throughout, Laslo's compositions are never less than strangely alluring.
Review: Since returning to action last year following a near eight-year hiatus, Pete Swanson and Jed Binderman's Freedom To Spend label has been on an impressive run of form. Predictably "Music and Poetry of the Kesh" is another doozy. It was first released on cassette way back in 1985 and saw experimental composer Todd Barton (then still finding his feet in music) and science fiction writer and poet Ursula K De Guin join forces for the first and only time. It's a curious but thoroughly absorbing and entertaining set that mixes and mangles spoken word passages, experimental choral pieces, crackling filed recordings, dreamy analogue electronics, Berlin School ambient, elements of pastoral folk and more than a few nods towards the giants of American minimalism.
Review: Back in 2014, RVNG Intl. released "Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Volume 1", a compilation of pioneering early 1980s electronic music by composer and producer Craig Leon. Five years on, they're finally releasing a follow up - and this time the music is brand spanking new. Leon, with assistance from vocalist Cassell Webb, recorded the showcased music between 2015 and 2018. It explores similar sonic territory to the artist's celebrated early work, offering up an atmospheric, synthesizer-driven fusion of ambient, modern classical, New York minimalism, Radio Workshop style electronic experimentalism and new age soundscapes. The set more than lives up to its grandiose title, offering up atmospheric, extra-terrestrial musical movements that sound like they've been beamed down from a galaxy far, far away.
Review: Liaisons Dangereuses self-titled debut album was not an immediate success on its' release in 1981, but its' influence would spread far and wide. Almost entirely made up of synthesized rhythms, chords and melodies - with the addition of stylish vocals from all three band members - it would help define the "electronic body music sound". It quickly became a big record in both Detroit and Chicago, inadvertently helping to inspire the nascent techno and house scenes. Listening again to this reissue, it's amazing how well the music as aged. While heavy on stylish posturing, it still sounds thrillingly futuristic and alien. It should be an essential purchase for anyone with even the smallest interest in the history and development of electronic music.
Review: Based on the novel written by Australian actor Roger Ward ("Mad Max", "Stone", "Turkey Shoot"), "The Set" was a highly controversial film upon its release in 1970, its attitudes towards sexuality challenging the traditional mores of the mainstream society. The film, now regarded as a lost piece of Australian genre cinema, is considered the precursor to the Oz Sex-Wave films of the following decade such as "Fantasm", "Libido", "Naked Bunyip" and "Felicity". Scored by the highly respected and unique jazz original Sven Libaek, the music has also been unjustly overlooked from any recent focus on Australian cinema.
After scoring several television scores and documentaries in the 1960s ("Nature Walkabout", "To Ride A White Horse", "Man And A Mural"), "The Set" was Libaek's first commission to score a feature film soundtrack. Incorporating elements of baroque and sunshine pop as well as moody mod jazz, "The Set" is an incredible time-piece of Swinging Sydney. Featuring Libaek regulars and top rank Australian jazz players Don Burrows, John Sangster and Errol Buddie, this long forgotten but classic soundtrack has now been fully restored and presented again in all its original glory.
Including rare photos, original newspaper cuttings and extensive liner notes from Australian cult cinema expert & Mu Meson archive curator Jaimie Leonarder.
Review: "Sonic Citadel" marks Brians Gibson and Chippendale's seventh studio album and it is one that finds them revealing a little more of themselves than before. "Blow To The Head" is an intense opener with caustic texture, dense layers and scuzzy noise that soundtracks a manic episode, while elsewhere there are much more angular and punk influenced rhythm tracks with deathly vocals mired in gauzy riffs engulfed in dirt, grit and sandpaper sonics. Standout track "Halloween 3" is a suitably horror fuelled track of high energy, lo fi fuzz that will keep any demons away.
Review: Another superior ambient album delivered to you by Kranky Records. 'Plume' is the fourth album from electronic composer and visual artist Scott Morgan aka Loscil from Vancouver. Improvised organic instrumentation, including guitar and vibraphone entwine with computer generated electronic sequences, analogue with digital, to create an extremely serene and spiritual sonic marriage.
Review: Since 2001 Scott Morgan has released a wealth of material, largely on his spiritual home of Kranky as well as in legion with Destroyer and Thee Crusaders. His thirteenth Loscil album is another serene body of work that deals in harmonious tones, picking up the baton from the likes of Fennesz and seeking to express such melancholic orchestrations through a unique set of voices. Indeed there are human vocal tones within the processed drifts of melody that mark out Sea Island, but they're on a level pegging with anchorless synths and subtle peaks of interference that mark out the character of Morgan's particular kind of ambience.