Anyone in London this Friday (8th June), we’re having an informal in-store thing, playing records and necking some beers w/ Nina (NO INTRODUCTION NECESSARY), her fellow Golden Pudeller Phuong-Dan, and Will Bankhead (TTT). Open late til 11pm, BYO, and there’s a night market going on in the yard to satisfy all your poncy food needs if you’re not the type to pack a ham sandwich. Come down!
Carla, Sanjay and me are back from holiday next week, meaning Kenny can finally have a day off after 27 straight days of work (except he can’t, ‘cos he has to move house and then it’s his Nan’s birthday. Life HARD). But let me take this opportunity to SINCERELY thank him, Estelle, Meg and Jim for holding the fort over the past few weeks. Now we are seven...
Until next week then, keeping it brief--
ALTER | LP | £16.99
In a world which tends to reward the prolific, give it to the man who leaves it fully four years between albums. Acolytes’ (self-titled, camo-concealed, highly recommended) 2014 debut was a brilliant side of gnomic DIY, and we would’ve happily settled for more of the same; instead, “London-based enigma” (lol) D. Shan has overhauled his solo project, steering it into the realm of rhythm-based computer music. Wait, come back! We thought we’d had enough of way-out takes on REPETITIVE BEATS as well (it’s been a long decade), but this is an utterly fresh and forcefully idiosyncratic offering that ignores all the rules of the game (OK easy) and basically comes up with better ones (nigh-on impossible, WHAT'S GOING ON). One of the tracks is called 'Autocannibalising Loop' and that pretty perfectly describes Shan's M.O. There’s no fucking about: the opening 1-2 sounds like Danny Weed got abducted by mardy aliens and only escaped an unceremonious probing by agreeing to conduct said Martians’ military marching band, while elsewhere there are echoes of Gabor Lazar’s hyperreal electro play-doh and Off World’s lunar tone-float, drums hanging off the grid like goo, but also, somehow, Twice Is Not Enough-era Whitehouse and The Shadow Ring, while ‘Aneurysm’ could be scrapings from Marc Trauner’s studio floor (compliment!): darkside tekno reduced to its beatless venomous essence and then spun out into droning, dub-crazed infinit-E. Fearless! Exciting! But also understated, unassuming! Is this the best record Alter have ever put out? Think so. And in a room dark and forgiving enough - even if that's just your troubled mind - you will DANCE to it.
COLUNDI | LP | £12.99
Whether or not you buy into the CULT of Colundi, there’s no denying that figurehead Aleksi Perala has used it to produce some boss techno over the past few years. This compilation - actually a sampler of a forthcoming 3CD (surely that’s too much Colundi for any0ne?!) sees eight new disciples using the feted tone sequence to make, well, a bunch of tracks that sound like Aleksi Perala. Only joking! Sort of. There’s actually a fair bit of variety on display here, and plenty o' intrepid drum programming, within the given parameters. Broadly speaking, the tracks that aim for some kind of upness or bolshiness don’t quite hit the mark, but those that double down on the atmosphere of Isolationist dread / gurning-your-trap-off-in-a-suddenly-quite-scary-seeming-stranger’s-flat are uniformly excellent. See especially: Tunnel One’s ‘Sundilundi’, WHRK’s ‘Extract V’, Marshall Applewhite’s 'Only’ (splitting the difference between Aphexian ambient and the kind of high-def soundboy trance you might expect to hear on Timedance or Hessle next week), and RAKFT's 'Tu123' (whose vocal samples bring an unexpected kinda DAF/Liasions Dangereuses vibe to proceedings). Essential tackle for any futurists and/or fuck-ups left in the room.
IDLE HANDS | LP | £14.99
Impeccably frayed, emotionally eloquent Bristol blooz, arranged in short, library-like cues: touching on smudgy minimal synth inna Strange Life style, lonesome R&B abstractions and duppy-stirring, dub-distressed grime. Can't help but feel O$VMV$M - Young Echo troopers Neek and Amos (also of Jabu) - would be far better known if their name was even just a LITTLE BIT easier to say/write/remember...we're FANS and we still have to Google it ever time. And not sure whether they've doubled or halved the problem by self-titling this, their third album (the final part of a trilogy they began in 2015)... but whatever, you should check it out, it's a very peculiar and precious set of instrumentals, and Idle Hands are right: in years to come it'll be considered among the very best music ever to have come out of the city. Essential!
FIRE | 2LP | £24.99
2LP gatefold. Chances are you're acquainted with Bark Psychosis's UK post-rock keystone Hex, but not with their less fawned-over follow-up: 2004's brooding, bloated, often brilliant Codename: Dustsucker. Having borrowed Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock's world-weary chamber-jazz palette wholesale for Hex, here they went one step further, enlisting Talk Talk's Lee Harris on drums - a move both logical and, you can't help feel, a little bit creepy (the musical equivalent of trying on Mummy's dress...). Anyway, his signature fluid, rolling parts are class as you'd expect, while Graham Sutton's semi-improvised, melody-shy vocals exude lethargic gravitas (think a drug-numbed, barely-bothered David Sylvian) where they once just sounded directionless, the use of electronics is subtle and powerful, and there are flashes of outright genius in 'The Black Meat' (shoegaze-goes-Sketches-of-Spain) and the deathbed Balearica / Maxinquaye-isms of 'INQB8TR'. In the end Dustsucker's many frustrations and imperfections might make it a more interesting record ultimately than Hex; either way, it's a fascinating swansong, not only for Sutton's troubled group but for modernist, textural, studio-as-instrument art-rock in general.
NULLPUNKT | 12" | £9.99
Forward-leaning techno weaponry from Felix K on his new Nullpunkt imprint. These are the kind of carefully modulated, deceptively simple rhythm tracks that mutate into something else entirely when put through a system, but even here, now, listened to at a meagre musn't-piss-off-the-neighbours volume, they are mightily impressive: the title track, with its tightly coiled breakbeats and dread, dub-scuffed ambience, is a peach, but the brutalist, BMB-esque kick patterns of ‘We Ran Out Of Food’ and the hench, dead-eyed 4/4 flex of ‘MSCL’ also hit the mark and then some. Great 12”!