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: The heavens have answered our prayers - it's the third helping of Silo Editions up on our shelves, and that means we actually get to review some good ambient this week! The enigmatic label have flown below-radar since their inception, and that is exactly what's helped them to gain more and more respect from a sub-scene so obsessed with surface appearances. That is, they've now conquered the minds of critics who actually base their judgments on music rather than frivolities. Much like the previous outing, SILO003 introduces us to a whole range of new talents, from MMY to Lea Caussat and Kapak; the one thing all these artists have in common is their utter neglect for anything grounded in sanity or predictability. Not once do we get the impression of sterility... each and every moment on here is grounded in improvisation and hedonism. Just like it should be.
Review: The Geins't Nait trio continue to wreak havoc on our charts and disorder in our minds, coming through with a new LP for the excellent Offen Music, home to the likes of Rex Ilusivii, Toresch and Ivan Smagghe's collaboration with Rupert Cross. Make Dogs Sing is an album of euphoria and mystique, offering 13 tracks of ethereal beauty, ranging from the very moody to the unscrupulously wide-eyed. There is a gentle movement amid the drones, however, with scrappy analogue beats weaving their way into a cauldron of cavernous dread, such as "Ciseaux Daddy", a fine piece of electronic tweaking that flows beautifully into the likes of "China" and "Discord", all equally mesmerizing pools of beats and sonic performed with nothing but heart and soul. This is a stand-out for us, and it will surely be an album that stands the test of time. TIP!
Review: The latest transmission from Emotional Response's ever-essential Schleissen series takes a trip to the Fourth World with Jon Keliehor on the A side. There's no denying the influence of Jon Hassell on tracks like opener "Serpent In The Sky," but Keliehor channels those exotic notions into some truly captivating music that is all his own. From chiming tones to purposeful percussion, his sound is a rich and evocative one, beautifully recorded and artfully composed. On the other side, Lord Of The Isles indulges his ambient side to great effect with no less than seven vignettes of varying moods and energies, all played out through delicately handled synthesisers.
Review: Back in 1981, London-based Anthony Waites decided to create some "poetic, subversive pop music" with borrowed synthesizers in friends' bedroom studios. The result was a sole, self-released seven-inch single under the Scenes De La Boheme alias, a record that has long been a cult item amongst collectors. "Standing In The Rain", his first ever album, includes those two tracks - the bubbly brilliance of "Zara" and the lo-fi, beat-free, guitar-driven shuffle of "The Tale Of The Butterfly" - alongside four others recorded in the same period. It's an impressively off-kilter and atmospheric set, with the early Human League style hum of "Leap Into The Void" and the icy shuffle of "A City Such As This" standing out.
Review: In 2015, long-serving Slovenian experimentalists Laibach became the first Western band to perform in North Korea, including a number of songs from "The Sound of Music" - a favourite in the DPRK since the 1960s - alongside their own material. Three years on, and with the assistance of Silence's Boris Benko and vocalist Marina Martensson, they've finally delivered their interpretation of the musical film's familiar soundtrack. Swaying between rock balladry, experimental synth-pop, darker tones and industrial style fuzziness, the band's covers are both revolutionary and revelatory, as staples such as "The Lonely Goatherd", "My Favorite Things" and "Do-Re-Mi" are given radical makeovers. As they did at the concert that inspired the set, they also give their interpretation of some traditional North Korean folk songs.
Review: Given that Junior Boys' Jeremy Greenspan is the man at the controls, it's perhaps unsurprising that this surprise debut full-length from little known Canadian chanteuse Jessy Lanza drips with smooth, synthesized sweetness. Packed with Greenspan's trademark melancholic, Metro Area-ish synths, but built around Lanza's fragile, otherworldly vocals, Pull My Hair Back is a contender for the best leftfield pop album of the year. Variously touching on synthesized R&B, deep boogie, sparse torch songs (see the sublime title track) and starbust wonkiness (the beautifully off-kilter "As If"), Lanza and Greenspan have delivered an impeccable, unassuming delight. Recommended.
Review: Frequent Jeremy Greenspan and Morgan Geist collaborator Jessy Lanza was hailed as a future star on the release of her 2013 debut album, Pull My Hair Back. That album projected her as some kind of New York freestyle chanteuse dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, backed by an all-electronic band fascinated with the potential of future R&B and left-of-centre synth-pop. This belated follow-up, which was once again produced in cahoots with Jeremy Greenspan, is even better. Colourful, vibrant and attractive, the ten songs are truthful to their '80s NYC inspirations, but smartly avoid the pitfalls of such blatant retro-futurism. In other words, it's a superb collection of future R&B and pop gems.
Review: Russia's Lapti has been away from the scene for a while, because his so called brand of 'vaporwave' is exactly the sort fo thing we're into when it comes to abstract moulds of ambient and drone. He returns to action after four years with blinding album on his native Ghost Zvuk label, bringing through a truly fresh and daring blend of electronic sounds. "Ushu", for instance, deserves no categorization thanks to its odd broken beats and swelling mutant bass, and the equally excellent "plague" is an experimental hip hop tune from the depths of the inferno. There's so much in this LP that it's almost beyond description; what we can say is that if you're looking for something that truly blurs the lines, then Lapti is the man for you. Very hotly recommended.