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You've lost me there

 

Hello! 

Last week’s staff meeting descended into a piss-up that ALMOST COST KENNY HIS LIFE after the feckless wee man attempted an early-hours cycle ride home to Catford, having mistaken the ability to have a lucid conversation about Christoph de Babalon (or something) for ACTUAL LUCIDITY. We did warn him. Thankfully he DIDN’T die, but he did break his arm and his wrist, which is obviously no fun but has at least given him even more of an excuse than usual to sit around in his pants watchingHellraiser. Be sure to TUT the One Armed Man when you see him next. 

Speaking of which, next Friday, 10th August, we’re having another in-store swally, BYO as usual, 6pm-11pm or something like that. This one’s a FRIENDS AND FAMALAM SPECIAL so come have a drink and buy some rekids while Meg, Jim, Estelle, Kenny, Carla, Sanjay (pictured above contemplating the ultimate fate of the CD) and JAMES SINGER serenade you. More details next week. 

Love,
LC




SPECIAL OCCASION

THE WORD

LOW COMPANY | LP | £12.99

Pristine rhythm and blooz for fugitive hearts from David C. Gray and Guy Gormley, recorded round the corner from the shop. The Word’s sleek, synthetic urban pastorals collapse the space between the OCD pop geometries of Pyrolator, the opaque art-ache of Eno’s Before & After Science, and the sloooooow, sweet seduction of choice Jam & Lewis productions. Romantic but ever so slightly paranoid, all muted lovelorn horns, sighing synths and playful bossa/house-wise drum loops, it’s true DIY in that it simply suits itself. Mostly instrumental, it's bookended by two Gray-sung songs, 'The Hours I Wait' and the title track: drifting, downbeat, quietly devastating things, with a blue-eyed soul vibe judged just right (down-at-heel not flash with cash), and echoes of Scritti, The Blue Nile, Gareth Williams, Disco Inferno, Fish From Tahiti… but really the The Word has a sadness and sway all its own, and above all it feels OF THE NOW: with tight, tucked-in arrangements and ultra-lucid production (a Gormley trademark, but especially apparent here) that leaves just enough space to dream. The original tape release on Jolly Discs last year was our first introduction to that outstanding label - and a rare example of music EVERYONE here could agree was genius. Bless them for consenting to this limited vinyl pressing, it's one we'll cherish for the rest of our sorry lives. Highest possible recommendation, obviously.




FUMU

SINUATE

YOUTH | CD | £9.99

Andrew Lyster’s Youth (or is it YOUTH?) label follows a pretty impeccable run of 12”s from Yard, Shamos and Yugen Disciple with this winningly bolshy 18-track CD drop from FUMU. It’s the Manchester producer’s debut, in fact, and a promising one at that: a blistering, Robocop-grim showcase of hard-edged, sweaty-palmed industrial electro, wrong-techno and aggro hip-hop jams which (for us at least) hangs together brilliantly well, and without compromise. ‘Disto Beatz2’ and ‘3’ seem to channel the Bomb-Squad-on-a-budget sound-murdering of Criminal Minds and Unique 3, while '15’ sounds like a Sidewinder grime plate bitcrushed by Tad Mallinux. Elsewhere a path is plotted somewhere between, what, Neubauten’s abvant-bonehead klang, Final Cut’s mutant beat dance and Lego Feet’s B-boy cubism, but the vibe is very much FUTURE, whether on burned-out Memphis-via-Hulme low-riders like ‘Graveyard’ and the witchier ’Nununununun7oldold’, or exploring minimal dancehall (‘In The Darkness Girl’) or boinging breakbeat science (‘Untitled 5’). 'Late’, incidentally, sounds like it escaped from the Dust Brothers’ Fight Club soundtrack (in a good way honest!). It’s all pretty unrelentingly radgy, alienated-sounding stuff, but the quality is such that it doesn’t get tiring. I mean the fact that these EIGHTEEN tracks, far from outstaying their welcome, actually leave you wanting MORE, tells you all you need to know: FUMU’s one to watch, and this disc is a must for all paranoid anti-social beat-heads, which is what, at least 40% of yous reading this.


 



SIMPLE ELEMENTS
9.2%

PRISONER OF SOUND | 2x12" | £24.99

Seminal Brum techno from Simple Elements aka House of God resident Nicky B. This rare double-pack, originally released in ’97 on Neil Macey's Ideal Trax, has accrued something close to legendary status, and it's easy to see why: er, it's f*****g great! Across six cuts Simple Elements channels some of the Downwards crew's imperious, drop-forge physicality but in the main it's a lusher, trippier, rootsier affair - far more in thrall to the classic Detroit techno shimmer that Neil Rushton and co flooded the Midlands with a few years earlier. 

It's still raw, though, and very British-sounding...in fact sonically it's closest cousins are in early bleep’ n’ bass - particularly (and logically) the Network side of things (Nexus 21, Rhythmatic and the rest of the Bio Rhythm bods). Unlike that stuff though, 9.2%, came out in 1997 - and so in some ways its pointedly psychedelic but ultra-rugged, low-end-driven machine-funk must have sounded retro on arrival. Who knows. All we say for sure that this is timeless, transporting rave music - from the brawling, high-velocity title track (pure HoG no-coat-no-home abandon) to the moody, b-boys-on-acid electro of ‘R.E.C'. Check the clips! 




C. MEMI + NEO MATISSE

NO CHOCOLATE / DREAM'S DREAM

BITTER LAKE | 7" | £13.99

Bitter Lake Records (Japan-o-centric reissue label run out of Material World store in NYC) realise the wet dreams of many current record seekers (yes, you at home with the unpaid Discogs invoice!) / hit a total bullseye with this limited re-run of the 1980, NOT ON LABEL, MINIMAL / EXPERIMENTAL…JAPANESE 7 INCH SINGLE - C. Memi’s 'No Chocolate' / 'Dreams Dream'.

Maybe 'No Chocolate' is the one for you, gleeful piano bashing and that new wave BOUNCE, but for us it’s the whacked-out flip, 'Dream's Dream', that steals the show. Absolutely no idea what Megumi Nagahara is singing about here, but her words are phrased with a MOST PLEASING rhythm that transports you back to the first time you heard Martin Rev's atonal, afflicted bleating. There's an immediacy here that you always hope will be part of any DIY project, it’s a personal, imaginative and timeless song that resonates in the moment while also boasting all the intrigue and mystique that you could hope for in that early-80s-German-sculptor-that-done-this-one-self-released-single-thats-really-hard-to-find-but-is-actually-quite-gnarly-and-could-totally-trip-out-a-dancefloor” shit. 

Aye, 'Dream’s Dream' is full of impulse, most notably delivered by a shrieking winkle-pong synth (courtesy of Tohru Saitoh) that drives a spike through it’s slurred, enchanting rhythmic strut, its squeal, the only thing slapping you out of the tense cowbell clank of this totally off the hinges, woman-from-the-moon, ritualistic dance.

Not entirely sure if this one will speak to everyone who copped the recent reissue of the Heavenly Peace 12", this 7” came three years earlier and feels far less refined, less sure of itself - and in the best way possible. But also tougher. More leather jacket than pyjamas!

Limited copies of this in stock now, act fast to avoid that 'orrible NO CHOCOLATE feeling. 





DILLINJA

YOU / KING OF THE BEATS

DOM & ROLAND PRODUCTIONS | 12" | £10.99

Ugh! Dom & Roland blow the cobwebs off what is surely the tuffest of the unreleased Dillinja dubplates that ex RAVERS turned Youtube gawkers / Discogs contributors have coveted for all these years. 

'You', hammered out in ’94, sports some fearless filter dread whilst descending into timeless drum-hurricanes akin to DJ Fokus / Akustik Research, all the carnage rolling under an unsettling, don’t-push-your-luck tone float that helps you catch you bearings for just a brief moment, before being dragged back under and into the inimitable Dillinja death-roll. 'King Of The Beats' on the flip has a tighter, JUMP UP swagger that feels as though it could have been written a bit later on in the heyday, it’s relentless torque sharing more with ’95 and onwards Ed Rush / No U Turn style sounds. 

D&R spoiling us rotten with this one! Gold Vinyl (why?!) and edition of just 200.




FRKSE
DENIGRATION RAPTURE

IRON LUNG | 7" | £11.99

Punk in essence/origin only on this top new 7” from Iron Lung, which seems more interested in droning industrial dankery and brittle, brain-damaged drum-machine/art-rock minimalism than, you know, the other stuff. Atmospheric, above all, in a harrowing, suffocating sort of way: the kind of leering, bloodthirsty take on Fourth World tropes that has more in common with Force Publique Congo or Whitehouse’s Racketthan Jon Hassell. Brilliant! 

To catch a gull

 

Photo credit: The Geezer

No intro today, too hot++

 



LOLINA

THE SMOKE

NOT ON LABEL | LP | £17.99

“Light up / and have a thought that leads to nowhere…”

What the fuck… this Lolina album is brilliant. Part existential murder mystery, part stoned London travelogue, few records – few anything – capture so well the exhilaration and chaos and emptiness and absurdity of semi-rootless, semi-privileged life in Zones 1-6. It’s a world away from the dissolved-girl dub worries of Because I'm Worth It and a quantum leap on from the INNERESTING but frequently irritating Relaxin' With Lolinaand Live In Paris. The Lolita 10” was pointing in the right direction, but musically The Smoke is on another level: an inspired, crazily compelling and properly NOURISHING, pure-pleasure palimpsest of classic UK DIY art-damage, deadpan 90s R&B/trip-hop tropes, rock-hard grime/avant-dancehall riddims, ecstatic keyboard tone-float and a kind of digressive, semi-improvised alien lounge-jazz sensibility (?!) that threatens to dissolves even the toughest beat and bleep patterns into a semi-improvised, ectoplasmic ooze. Wahey. The influences are easy enough to unpick, but they're beaten into shapes you haven't quite seen before. No lo-fi obfuscation either, the production is stunning: lucid and high-def and underlining the boldness and brightness and BOTTLE of the songs/playing/arrangements. 

Going on the track titles alone, The Smoke is linked to Inquiry & Collaboration, L’s recent performance piece with Johanna Ulfsak, about “a private detective disguised as an art and design student from Central Saint Martins”, and there are plenty of other London signifiers too, from the blurry St Pancras station on the cover to ‘The River’, a paean to the open-sewer murk and majesty of the Thames that grafts wild Eski string-stabs onto the kind of sinewy bass-driven meta-metal last heard on Tricky and Martina’s ‘Black Steel’. Oui chef! The gleaming suicide-note synth-pop of ‘Murder’, the bedsit Timbaland bounce/bump of ‘The Missing Evidence’, the mocking S-M diorama ‘Style & Punishment’, the fucked cabaret monologue of ‘Roulette’…it’s all fire.

The Smoke came out digitally earlier in the year, but thank god for this self-released vinyl edition – when the servers melt, this is one you’ll wanna reach for to remind you who you were, where you were, what all this nonsense WAS.



PESSIMIST
SPRTLZM / SCIFI (PRE-RELEASE)

PESSIMIST PRODUCTIONS | 12” | £9.99

**Limited pre-release of 12" coming in Autumn 2018.** Droning, downtempo breakbeat dreadnoughts...unmistakeable Pessimist. First release on his new label. Hand-stamped test pressing, 15 copies.



BLACK LODGE
BITTER BLOOD: A COLLECTION OF ARCHIVAL RECORDINGS

DISCIPLES | LP | £16.99

Released in parallel with an Arcola 12” of his “lost” Mo’Wax productions, this compilation from new imprint Disciples focusses on the more DIY/industrial-hued creations of cult producer Dan Dwayre aka Black Lodge. It's pretty hard to peg this bloke. A lesser-spotted member of Autechre and Rob Hall’s Gescom crew, Dwayre emerged at the fag-end of the 90s with a series of 12”s on Acupuncture and Mo’Wax, then pretty much vanished. He re-surfaced in 2010 with a brace of cassette drops on The Trilogy Tapes, and a double-pack of top-drawer disco re-edits, only to drop off the map again. Recorded in the upstairs room of a Manchester pub, we're guessing in the early 90s, a couple of the tracks here feel like the missing link between the acid b-boy culture of Ae et al and the seamier manoeuvres of the industrial/scum-underground, but for the most part we’re treated to the kind of wistful, hermetic, dub-distressed chamber-music/space-folk - lots of clarinet, cello, violin and stiff-upper-lip yearning - you might expect from a Woo or a Flaming Tunes or a Leven Signs (really Disciples say it best: “Eno’s Another Green World drowning in a sea of Boddingtons”). We don’t summon those names lightly, this is honestly incredible stuff: accomplished and grounded but also lawless and idiosyncratic and full of deep feeling.

To be clear though, it's not all Music For Bus Depots and lunar jazz, ‘Wodwo’ (is that a Ted Hughes reference?!) is a slice of disorientingly pristine Hosono-ish synth-pop, and ’Soph Says’ feels like minimal techno if Storm Bugs had invented it, while ‘Withershins’ and ‘Castle To Castle’ are dopesick dispatches from the frozen borderline that are just ECSTATICALLY depressing. It’s early days, but it seems safe to say that this is going to be one of those records we cherish, and return to again and again.. it zones in on, and sustains, that rarefied bittersweet mood we look for in, well, pretty much everything. In fact it delivers it in such abundance that it feels almost too good to be true. Essential must-have ++






PALTA & TI

PALTA OG & TIPALTA OG TI PA DEN TOLVTE

12TH ISLE | 12” | £10.99

New 12th Isle courtesy of Palta & Ti, an Aarhus duo last spotted doing their thing on Gravity Graffiti. A bit of a departure from the blooty fourth-world abstraxxions the label is best known for, what you get here is three mini-epics of sumptuous, inward-looking, rub-a-dubbed dream-house with one foot in dubbed-out, early 90s hypnobeat / Blue Room biz - shades of Seefeel, Reload, an icier Irresistible Force. Class throughout, but the B-side is the one for us, floating skywards on wings of pure Cluster-y synth shimmer. Lush screen-printed sleeves as per. 

 



INGUS BAUSKENIEKS

SPOKI

STROOM | LP | £23.99

Latvia has been a goldmine for the Stroom project. Following on from that much-loved NSRD collection, this new compilation, Spoki (Ghosts), showcases the peripheral demented pop genius of Ingus Baušķenieks. Prolific and well-known in his home country both for solo work and his band, Dzeltenie Pastnieki, this record - culled from the years 1988-2011 - might taste of bubblegum, but closer inspection reveals a visionary/crackpost assemblage of dubbed-out vocal samples, fx and all kinds of unruly tape manipulation and looping.  which tells the real story of a visionary dating back to his first records in 1979. It's full of unconscious Balearic and synth-pop signifiers, but the sheer insanity running down the spine of this record prevents it falling into the realm of full-on Pyjama Music - the heavy basslines and electronics owe just as much to EBM, new beat, and at its most extreme ('Trīsi, Trīsi, Sikspārnīt..') Spoki is more reminiscent of Laibach than the Fourth World fluff you might be primed for. A gloriously unpredictable and enlightening record, and, like the Cybe and the Vazz, this is one of the entries in the Stroom catalogue you absolutely need. 

 

BACK IN STOCK!!!

 



VARIOUS ARTISTS

LA CONTRA OLA: SYNTH WAVE AND POST PUNK FROM SPAIN 1980-86

BONGO JOE | 2LP | £25.99

You might well ask: do I need any more cold wave / post-punk / minimal synth comps in my life? Course you don't! But if you still can't resist - and frankly the immaculate 'dos those cover girls are sporting was all it took to reel us in - you will be very handsomely rewarded by this amazing 2LP. Often with these sorts of comps you tolerate a load of half-arsed tape-music/proto-industrial filler because there's two or three un-Pop KILLERS on there that you need, but La Contra Ola has been put together not just with historical expertise but also a firm eye on quality control - steering well clear of the aforementioned noisy blah, and of the dull-as-dishwater darkwave that Spain produced no shortage of in the early-mid 80s - focussing instead on more idiosyncratic, less generic stuff, with electronics clearly foregrounded.

Whether by accident or by design, the tunes on here to me sound so much more interesting than the by-now-canonical Belgian/Dutch/French MW classix.. there's a wildness (dare I say "latin flair"?!) to the songs and the performances, the instrumentation and arrangements are is dense and weird and unpredictable but invariably PARTY-minded. I don't think it's the case that Spanish post-punk at large was better than any other country's, but the track selection here is so good that it really makes it seem that way. Sometimes it just comes down to what's under the hood: cut any act on here, even the most synth-centric or dubbed-out (check Derribos Arias's mad ricocheting percussion work-out 'A Fluor'), and they would bleed rock'n'roll...check out Zombies' nervy surf-punk curio 'Extranos Juegos' - sounds like Cramps armed with a drumbox and a Polysix. Esplendor Geometrico are the . best known act included: their well-worn but still scintillating proto-electroclash, mecha-billy banger 'Moscu Esta Holado' is a perfect, signal opener.





BLESSUM

BLESSUM

VRYSTAETE | LP | £20.99

Getting harder and harder to think of new superlatives each time Dutch press Vrystaete offer 150 hand-stamped copies of some strange goodness you've never heard of. But this self-titled LP from Blessum is GORGEOUS even by the label's own out-of-this-world standard. The duo behind the record, Wouter Venema and Keimpe Koldijk (the latter was also half of hallowed DIY/minimal pop duo Bebe Fang, architects of another Vrystaete masterpiece), recorded on an church organ in situ built in 1659 in the Frisian village of Mariakerk, Blessum in Northern Holland. The recording is monstrous in its all-enveloping realism, capturing all the musical potential the 17th century had to offer and in its billowing, stately dialogue with guitar/fx the organ is clearly the star of the LP.  And though this is soft music, for contemplative listening do yourself a favour and play it LOUD. Windows (and the soul) will shudder. This meditative Cyclobe-cum-Earth explosion continues Vrystaete's impossible habit of hitting ridiculously high benchmarks and leaping over them with ease.
 




SAINT ETIENNE 

FOXBASE ALPHA

HEAVENLY | LP | £18.99 



SAINT ETIENNE
SO TOUGH

HEAVENLY | LP | £18.99

The heatwave shows no sign of abating… perfect time to reach for these twin masterpieces of summer-in-the-city enchantment from Saint Etienne... Foxbase Alpha (1991) surely needs no introduction?! Quite simply one of the most brilliant and blissiest debut LPs of all time, every track a (serene, supine) banger: the surging poptimism of ‘Nothing Can Stop Us’, the dubwise cover of Neil Young’s ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ (further versioned into immortality by Weatherall), horizontal house workouts ‘Stoned To Say The Least’ (Richard Whitely sample!) and ‘She’s The One’, the impossibly languid lovers rock of ‘Carnt Sleep’ (based on the Youthman riddim!), ‘Girl VII’ (if I die, let it be to the sound of Sarah Cracknell drolly intoning place-names. “...Clerkenwell, Portobello, Maida Vale, Old Ford, Valencia, Kennington, Galveston, Holland Park, Studamer, Dollis Hill, Fougeres, London Fields, Bratislava, Haggerston…”)

So Tough (1993) is the less iconic record, but it's arguably a more mind-blowing listen, and certainly more fully realised in terms of sound and concept and all-consuming SWOON: a drowsy, dubbed-out, sampledelic collage of a concept album, charting an imaginary dérive around London (beginning at 'Mario's Cafe' in Kentish Town). This is, of course, an impossibly glamorous London of yesteryear - a scruffier, more romantic incarnation of the capital, before its energy and mystery was mapped and sapped by satellites and smartphones and Yelp reviews. Perhaps this idealised, prelapsarian city never truly existed except in the imaginations of fugitive suburban dreamers like Bob and Pete and Sarah and you and me. But fantasy or not, in the grooves of So Tough it LIVES. The influences/references are the same as before - a crazy-sophisticated brew of house, hip-hop, reggae, indie-pop, lushly orchestrated 60s folk-rock, chanson, ye-ye and drug-numb dolly-doom - but they’re harnessed here with even more precision and postmodern flair, and embroidered with sampled dialogue from films like Peeping TomBilly Liar andThat’ll Be The Day that hammer home the uniquely British themes of self-thwarting / longing for ESCAPE.

Further contemplation of viral infection

 

 

Hello! 

Greetings from the sick-bed once again (same sick-bed, different disease) 

Thanks to XVARR, Biscuit, Y-L Hooi and Tarquin Manek for the tunes, and everyone who turned up to have a drink - and defy the rain - at our in-store on Friday. It was fun, and almost worth the hassle +++

Carla and Sanjay took the reins for the Low Company radio show on NTS this week, you can listen back to it here

Check the site for a load of new things not broached below, including marvellous new Stroom, the aforementioned XVARR’s in-demand Serpent Power tape, and a Lolina LP that is actually so good (nah genuinely) that it threw me completely and I ran out of time to adequately sing its praises. Will attempt to do it justice on our Instagram tomorrow, which, if you don't already follow, you should (@lowcompanyrecords). PLUGGGGG!!!!!!

xxx

 

MOSQUITOES
WATER DRIP HOLLOW OUT STONE

EVER/NEVER | LP | £15.99

Malarial shudders of out-rock abstraction from London/SE outfit Mosquitoes, whose name - doubtless familiar to some of you from their previous self-released 7” and single-sided 12” - has really become them: their music being a swarming, insistent, decentralised attack, as mesmerising as it is MALEVOLENT. Dream-dance of the disease-carrying parasites!  Their approach is crafty, their bite is real, and good luck trying to swat the bastards. Not sure if this conceit will stretchy any further...It would be tempting to call their minimal, carefully modulated but bracingly violent outpourings dubwise, but that implies cliches of echo and delay that Mosquitoes don’t adhere to: better to call it spatial, each element positioned carefully and moving deliberately in space, be it deeply submerged guitar distortion, the incessant clang of a radiator, or plosive vocal jibber-jabber that manages to sound simultaneously and primal and deadpan (think Keiji Haino, or Alan Vega babbling in his sleep, or The Shadow Ring’s Tim Goss with all his teeth knocked out). Just what kind of music is this? It certainly makes use of rock instrumentation and ecology, but it is ROCK only in so far as Mars and Onna and Taj Mahal Travellers and Jac Berrocal are ROCK - sharing, as it does, a certain vertical quality with musique concrete, industrial, and the avant-garde fringes of post-punk, while its walking basslines and percussion parts situate it firmly in the realm of (psychotic, internally combusting) JAZZ. Just in terms of rhythm, of repetition, of counterpoint and interplay and whatever-the-fuck-you-call-groove-when-it's-definitely-not-groove, this is the most exciting 12" we've encountered all year, a reminder that liberation from the doldrums comes almost always, inevitably, from the GROUP mind. More prosaically, but just as accurately, Ever/Never, the New York label responsible for putting this thing out, compare Water Drip to the work of US Maple, and there are some affinities - even it's just a close-mic'd noirish intensity - with Nate Young's Regressions series too. Dunno, it’s just the real deal, this record - how rare to encounter a band, in this day age, so absolutely in control of their intent, manifestation, and effect. Highest possible recommendation! One-time pressing of 200. 

 

BÔ'VEL
CHECK 4 U

BE WITH | 12" | £13.99
 

Sublime, highly sought-after (some c**t on Discogs has it listed for £2k) UK street-soul banger from '96 reissued on Be With, backed with a new and irresistible garage mix from Metrodome.) 'Check 4 U''s sultry, poppy, slo-mo and above all soundsystem-bombing Manc blooz sits nicely alongside the very best of Smith & Mighty, Soul II Soul, Martine Girault, and the kind of stuff Kevin Pearce eulogises in his monumental A Cracked Jewel Case. A summer record if ever there was one.

The version which appears here was one of three mixes that occupied the B-side of Bô'vel's self-released 'Coming Back' promo 12". I have no idea who Metrodome is/are, not sure I want to, but their contemporary (in name only) re-rub on the flip channels the sound and sashay of vintage UKG with disconcerting accuracy - there's literally nothing about this production to suggest it was made post-2000, and that's a compliment.

 


OMEGA TRIBE
NO LOVE LOST

Remastered reissue of this idiosyncratic, melancholic peace-punk death-trip, originally released in '83 on Corpus Christi. On this, their one and only album, Omega Tribe are picketing the same displays of government fuckery and asking the same big questions ("What the hell am I fighting for?" etc) as the rest of the Crass mob, but what comes across on No Love Lost is the band's sheer BEWILDERMENT at the state of the world, as opposed to the standard-issue DISDAIN for it. Far more wavy and melodic than their '82 7" Angry SongsNo Love Lost's inner hippie comes bubbling to the surface regularly throughout the LP,  with sweet (maybe?), melodic passages amid the barrage of anarcho-punk rag-dolling - Poison Girls' fury cut with Dan Treacy's disheartened twang. This sincere and disjointed and CONFUSED delivery of their message leaves us with a stark, honest document of self-expression and protest - and one completely immune to imitation. White vinyl with insert. 
 
U.S.O.C.A.
EMANCIPATOR
MUSIQUES ELECTRONIQUES ACTUELLES | LP | £17.99

Industrialised synth-punk/body-horror from '90s Chicago. Taking inspiration from Front 242, Skinny Puppy, early NiN, Lassigue Bendthaus etc, U.S.O.C.A. pedalled a kind of gristly, militaristic aggro-funk that would've been right at home on Wax Trax!, while also, in its more playful moments, anticipating electrocash postmodernists like Soft Pink Truth and Safety Scissors, and modern-day fetishist-purveyors of shut-in, ultra-alienated machine grind like Beau Wanzer and the L.I.E.S. crew. Minimal, metallic and always rhythm-centric, but still DIY and dilapidated as fuck - Latvian emigre Jānis Sils home-recorded this music, using primitive, mass-market synths and samplers, with no computers or sequencing - Emancipator is a caustic, confrontational, and invigoratingly honest document of urban frustration and resistance. Edition of 250 copies. 

Contemplating viral infection

 

Every week the Low Company newsletter is supposed to go out on a Wednesday but it never happens. Every week there’s some excuse. Yesterday it was illness, me having come down with some kind of strangling summer COLD, but also, sorry, football - mainly I wanted to see how that all went because, well, I didn’t want to misjudge the MOOD OF A NATION. I needn’t have worried…normality has been restored, and we’re back to speaking our common language of disappointment and self-loathing, with an extra 2018 dose of numbness/anticlimax. Cool. We can work with that!

If you're need of some SOMETHING to lift your mood / start the weekend, come to the shop tomorrow (Friday 13th July) night for a low-key midsummer bacchanal with music from Bake, Biscuit (Good Morning Tapes), XVARR, Y-L Hooi and Tarquin Manek. 6pm-10pm, BYO, free entry...

Love,

LC

TAJ MAHAL TRAVELLERS
AUGUST 1974

AGUIRRE RECORDS | 2xLP | £32.99

F****g finally! First legit vinyl reissue of Taj Mahal Travellers channelling the earth’s most haunted vibrations in 1974, remastered by Rashad Becker, and pressed on actual vinyl (two LPs to be precise), in an actual sleeve (woiii!). Takehisa Kosugi’s intrepid, tree-whacking troupe has long ranked amongst Japanese out-rock’s most revered outfits, thanks in no small part to the cheerleading of Julian Cope, who memorably compared the experience of listening to TMT to “an acid trip I once took in South Wales, in 1981, throughout which I lay recumbent and immobile for six hours believing that I could hear the raindrops outside screaming as they hit the ground, each desperate to enjoy just one more millisecond of individuality before being subsumed into water’s vast eternity.” AYE. Perhaps more helpfully, he also invoked AMM, Anima and Kluster (all useful, if imperfect, signposts). To be sure, this is no flower-picking, dolphin-bothering early '70s psychedelia, but rather the most potent recorded document of the distressing, inward-facing journey music that the TMT pedalled throughout the 70s with the likes of Don Cherry and the attendees of their (sometimes all day) concerts on their legendary tour that took them across Asia and Europe - although it was recorded, funnily enough, at Nippon Columbia’s enormous Studio Number One. ENORMOUS is the word for this album, really: it’s an oppressive, all-consuming, all-saturating experience - less an album than a malevolent weather-system. If being trapped in 90 minutes of sinister, paranoid drone-muzak sounds like more than just a bad trip, you will find August 1974 to be one of the most substantial and invigorating and life-affirming interzones that exist between improv / free jazz, noise and psych. Really it sounds like nothing else on earth, but we'll file it alongside Sun Ra, The Curfew Recordings, and Michael O'Shea's Dome LP in our own bastard canon. Highest possible recommendation, August 1974 is one of the all-time greats, fully embodying a truth that the mind becomes adept at evading: YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR LIFE!!!
CIVILISTJÄVEL!
1 (PRE-RELEASE)

NOT ON LABEL | LP | £14.99

**Limited pre-release of LP coming in Autumn/Winter 2018.** We’re extremely honoured to be distributing the first officially available material from the ultra-covert Civilistjavel! project - primarily active in Northern Europe in the 1990s, their work has never been properly documented outside of their own private tape/CDR-trading networks. Cold-world, dronal ambient techno and minimal synth, austere but full of nameless yearning - existential electronics of the highest order! Created mostly using Juno60 and Korg MS20. This one truly speaks for itself. Hand-stamped test pressing, 8 copies only.

BLESSUM
BLESSUM

VRYSTAETE | LP | £20.99

Getting harder and harder to think of new superlatives each time Dutch press Vrystaete offer 150 hand-stamped copies of some strange goodness you've never heard of. But this self-titled LP from Blessum is GORGEOUS even by the label's own out-of-this-world standard. The duo behind the record, Wouter Venema and Keimpe Koldijk (the latter was also half of hallowed DIY/minimal pop duo Bebe Fang, architects of another Vrystaete masterpiece), recorded on an church organ in situ built in 1659 in the Frisian village of Mariakerk, Blessum in Northern Holland. The recording is monstrous in its all-enveloping realism, capturing all the musical potential the 17th century had to offer and in its billowing, stately dialogue with guitar/fx the organ is clearly the star of the LP.  And though this is soft music, for contemplative listening do yourself a favour and play it LOUD. Windows (and the soul) will shudder. This meditative Cyclobe-cum-Earth explosion continues Vrystaete's impossible habit of hitting ridiculously high benchmarks and leaping over them with ease.

DAN MELCHIOR & SIGTRYGGUR BERG SIGMARSSON
DARK ARC

ULTRA ECZEMA | LP | £22.99

Lifers Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson and Dan Melchior join forces for the first time for this incredible meditation on zoned, suppurating hypno-electronics and corrosive, punk-acousmatic drone-goo. Yeah you ‘eard! Who knows what to attribute to who, but you get the impression that the more classically-minded Sigmarsson is the grounding force here, setting boundaries which Melchior continuously and gleefully sets about vaulting/vandalising (certainly Melchior's last solo record on Kye Home of the Blues, foretells the same sort of steel string and field recording provocations which shoot holes through Sigmarsson's moody minimalism here). The result is two longform pieces, 'LOCKED UP IN NOVEMBER DREAMING' and 'crepuscule with drunk wrestler,' both coming at you like fireworks pointed straight at your face (as if they hadn’t already nailed the metaphors). Moments of respite only give way to blinding, more lurid found-sound / synth dioramas, at times touching on the more frenetic sequenced recordings of Sigmarsson's group Stilluppsteypa (whose latest, Beach Yolanda, is also in stock and very well worth checking). Something like a masterpiece, this, taking us back to that brief moment when what eventually would be termed “hypnagogic pop” felt like a portal to another dimension rather than a prelude to half the moneyed west growing porno ‘taches and making concept albums about ALF (or whatever). Impishly psychedelic and heavily pregnant with possibility - this is one for the true believers! Btw also mpossible to imagine more perfect artwork than Dennis Tyfus’s - this is an album that sounds PRECISELY how it looks, bub. Edition of 300. 

GEN LUDD
RAD-LUDD2

RUBADUB | 12" | £8.49 

Beltin' set of neck-snap Weedgie rhythm trax from the Golden Teacher camp that manage to conjure all the FUN of a night on the tiles despite employing next to no melodic elements, relying fully on slow tempos, loose sequencing and a genuine air of frustration (presumably the kind of frustration that comes from endlessly punching commands into a drum machine). 

Make no mistake - Ludd do a LOT with a little across these four tracks, looping nauseating, novelty preset sounds (think “Ambient Bongo”, “Rap Kick” etc.) then mutilating until they become unrecognisable and DEADLY SERIOUS: as on “Marraskuu”, where the warring loops are forced into such a confined space that their only option is to begin to fold in on themselves and open up some kind of planet-inhaling wormhole in the process. 

A unique and intuitive take on the idea of rhythm tracks that still feels like it is giving a firm get-tae-fuck to the idea of being run of the mill DJ TOOLS. Only things that spring to mind in the same ballpark would be the ESP releases of 33.1402... or moments on that second Ninos Du Brasil LP. 

It's time for the defibrillator

 

Sanjay on holiday (again)

Hello!

Can’t think of any preamble that doesn’t make mention (yet again) of heat, or football, or Thai boys in a cave, so let’s just skip that bit. Our next in-store is a week on Friday - 13th July, that is. Come by for a few cans (BYO) and a cotch with some records played by Biscuit (Good Morning Tapes), Bake, XVARR (responsible now for not just one, but two, of the best records we’ve ever peddled), Y-L Hooi and Tarquin Manek (LST, F ingers ++). As usual, there’s a night-market going on in the year at the same time - so food and drink and listless babbling young-ish people will be in abundant supply. 6ish til 11ish. Hope to see you there! 

I’ll save the bake/biscuit gags for next week. 

Regards

LC


THE JUST MEASURERS
FLAGELLATION 

EMOTIONAL RESPONSE | LP | £16.99
 

How blessed are we to have this restive, roiling UK DIY/avant-punk masterpiece - a truly special and coveted record from the godlike trio of Chris Gray (Amos & Sara), Jim Welton and Lepke Buchvalter (under pseudonyms of course: out to Narki Brillans, C.D. Great and Yakko Banovic) restored to vinyl for the first time since its original 300-press in 1983 (an original in decent condition would easily set you back £200+)????. Answer: EXTREMELY BLESSED.

Rarity, however, is this album’s least remarkable feature. The playful, ad hoc, forever-on-the-brink-of-collapse M.O. of the trio’s better known projects - Homosexuals, Amos & Sara, L. Voag, Murphy Federation, Tesco Bombers, Milk From Cheltenham ++++ - is present and correct, but there’s also something brilliantly, malignly hypnotic about Flagellation; a psychedelic menace matched only in this milieu by George Harassment's Masai Sleep Walking. See, I dunno, ALL OF IT, but especially the chain-rattle minimalism of ‘Infiltration’, an ‘Petites Guirlandes’, an incredible piece of atmospheric, super-tactile reggae-concrete that out-manoeuvres General Strike.

As with, say, fellow travellers Officer!, DIY here is not shorthand for amateurism, so much as dogged individualism: the arrangements and playing are often madly sophisticated, at times edging into true Rock-In-Opposition/Recommended Records territory: ‘The Best Thing I Ever Did Was Give Up Smoking’, for instance, effortlessly bridges the gap between Brenda Ray or Vivien Goldman's scruffy, economical post-punk dub and the more high-minded, proggish huffings and puffings of Henry Cow. Like Amos & Sara's Endless Latino, this is also an album in love with GROOVE, casually parodying Ze-style disco-not-disco on the louche ‘Dinner Party’ and nonchalantly funky ‘Nioo Yiirk (The Big Time). The tuff rhythm section and spidery guitar lines are accented with fragments of music-hall piano, but the vibe is less pier-end jocular and more bedsit paranoia, almost Pinter-esque levels of smiling-man intimidation… The title, Flagellation, is apt - even at it’s most  larky and chaotic, ESPECIALLY at its most larky and chaotic, there’s a sort of violence driving the whole thing, a satirical rage that feels inwardly, as well as outwardly, directed. 

Yes, so, more ideas per minute here than most bands manage in a career, and of course it’s TOO MANY IDEAS - like all the best Homosexuals/It's War Boys-related stuff,Flagellation sounds like it could implode at any moment..but is held together by a sheer, mad, centrifugal force. It's totally unsurprising that the band dissolved after making it, how on earth could they have followed it up?! Just an amazing record that despite our best efforts defies any terrestrial description; the kind that throws into sharp focus the meagre talent, intelligence and daring of today's supposed avant-garde. Where have all the heroes gone???? 



 
VARIOUS ARTISTS
STALINGRAD VOL.1: DAS BESTE STAHL
BUNKER RECORDS | 12" | £14.99

VARIOUS ARTISTS
STALINGRAD VOL.2: BIS AM ENDE DIESER WELT
BUNKER RECORDS | 12" | £14.99

***White labels w/ inserts. Featuring Syncom Data, Rude 66, Legowelt, Subliminal Criminal, Schmerzlabor +++*** Outside of noise/P.E. circles I’ve never encountered anyone with such an interest in military imagery as Guy Tavartes (apart from this weird guy Gavin who was in year at my school. And tbf he probably has a noise project now.) This time around, back in 2005 to be precise, the Bunker general and his lieutenants set out to make a compilation, across two 12"s, of “extreme dark electronic music…about the human suffering at the battle of Stalingrad in '43”.

We’ll let Antony Beevor and/or a million angry ghosts judge whether they succeeded at a conceptual level, but in terms of the music, fuck me, it’s a broad and brilliant set that seems to capture the very essence of the label - transporting you to the heyday of Acid Planet and the Hague’s squat-nurtured/gnarled techno-punk rebellion. Relentless partying, wilful “mind-fucking”, wholesale rejection of society… the full deal. So rather than being a collection of burnt ends (as label comps so often are), Stalingrad feels like the definitive document of what Bunker stood for, with nary a dud across both volumes . In saying that, we have to broach the music at some point, and there will always be highlights: for us they come by  way of Rude 66’s acid-flecked, Unit Moebius-ish psycho-ANTHEM 'Die Starke der vernichtenden Schlage', and Kassen's 'Und der Schnee geduldig', a bleak, rhythmic piece of tortured machine music that feels (genuinely, unaffectedly) like an extended interlude on a black metal album. In fact that the whole comp is a reminder that Bunker nailed the "noise-techno" (yuck) thing long before its full flowering in the subsequent decade. Elsewhere on the comp you’ll come up against a horde of snarling, in your face acid jak trax, interspersed with paranoid, doom-laden soundscapes that basically make you feel like you’ve survived a heavy shelling but an enemy infantryman has raided your foxhole and is now applying slow pressure to your skull with his boot (easy Gavin!).

Deeply unsavoury, these records, and very special.

 
LEDA
JAPANESE KEY / THE SILENT CONTEST

I DISCHI DEL BARONE | 7" | £8.99

Picture-perfect cataclysm/muck from Leda (aka Sofie Herner) out on I Dischi Del Barone. It’s a no fuss two track 7” tiding us over till the next Neutral and Enhet För Fri Musik records (which can't come soon enough). Where there is something (darkly) dreamlike about Herner's contributions to Neutral, this solo outing (following on from 2016's 'City'/'Clear') topples over into the outright nightmarish. Vocals hardly feature on the clamorous 'Japanese Key'- which IDDB characterise as "slow-burning proto-industrial basement buzz", possibly downplaying how bleak, oppressive and forbidding it is. The kind of track that reminds you, in your enjoyment of it, quite how maladjusted you must be. 'The Silent Contest' comes from our favourite side of the Leda wheelhouse: sepulchral silence punctuated with distorted, barely-there chord progressions and ultra-frayed vocal melodies, Herner truly coaxing minimal elements into maximum effect.

So...a very heavy, engrossing record that belies its modest format, exuding that wholly unique industrial songbook quality that possibly has its its origins in NZ but today is broadcast most consistently and convincingly by the Svensks on IDDB, Omlott and Förlag För Fri Musik. If you dug Neutral and Enhet, you need to check this mouldy poison-postcard from the BLEAK, Leda-envisioned future. Each copy is hand-stamped with insert, edition of 200. 
 

ROBERT FLECK
SOFT FOCUS

WELL STREET | 12" | £8.99

Breezy, broken, dub-burnished minimal techno steppers in finest Well Street style... Best-in-show is the title track, 'Soft Focus': a smoked-out, lipo-suctioned dnb workout with deeply submerged, prowling Reese bass and echoes of classic SND and Hidden Hawaii's mighty QNS series; Gasometric Ruin's remix of the same is a loving Rhythm & Sound devotional which doesn't exactly innovate but certainly DELIGHTS. Strong 12" - can think of no better way to spend a hazy summer’s day than lighting up a badboy and sticking this on...INSTEAD I’M HERE, TALKING TO YOU :(
 

D'ARCANGELO
II

SUCTION | 12" | £10.99
 

Six-tracker of quality archival material from D'Arcangelo, most of it previously unreleased. This follows Suction's reissue of the perfectly po-faced Italian duo's 1996 Rephlex EP, and the label bill it as an "imaginary sequel" to that much-loved record. Personally, we reckon this is the superior offering: a stunning, consummate realisation of the duo's totally logical yet somehow never less than peculiar-sounding synth-pop/AI-techno fusions. 

The pure industrial electro hauteur of 'Callying Sybil', with its broken, blown-out, hammer-to-the-chest snares and looming strings, seems to shrink the distance between Christoph de Babalon and Amber-era Autechre; the ultra-alienated, minimal, droning avant-d'n'b of 'Qaballah' meanwhile is the sort of fearless-yet-rooted track that gives BRAINDANCE a good name.

The three tracks on the B-side basically constitute an extended love letter to The Human League, but whereas their best known stuff in this retro-futuristic vein always sounded a little twee to us (whether deliberately or not), these lesser-spotted examples are tough-minded, dead-eyed and ultra-addictive - check the RUDE arpeggiated bassline and clipped drums of 'Diagram V', or the metronomic, none-more-EURO-sounding robo-trancer 'XXIII' which feels like the true missing link between the bedroom-bound '80s minimal wave and the seamy dancefloor ecstasies of Nag Nag Nag etc circa 2001.

So f*****g good. With sweet picture sleeve depicting the boys in all their pouty android glory. 
 

UPSAMMY
WORDS R INERT
DIE ORAKEL |12" | £11.99

Ever get the feeling that “WORDS R INERT”?!!!??? Yeah, us TOO…language sure can be a blunt and clumsy tool for expressing THE INARTICULATE SPEECH OF THE HEART. It fails me every time someone asks “How are you?” and it certainly fails me NOW when I try to explain why Upsammy’s carefully crafted, bass-reinforced updates of (COUGH) intelligent ‘90s techno a la Black Dog/Redcell/Ross 154 style offer so much more than pastiche. But they really DO. Her ‘Another Place’ 12” on Nous’flaer was deservedly rated, and this 12” (titled, yes, Words R Inert) will certainly add to the little cult forming around her - although the vibe here is a little bleepier and bleaker, a little less lush and psy-fi melancholic, than on that previous record - culminating in the infeasibly RUDE, vacuum-packed, livin’-astro electro SPLACK of the title track. Recommended!

 



BACK IN STOCK

 
DE LEON 
DE LEON 

MANA | 12” | £15.99

**Re-press!** Accompanying the amazing, T++/DJ Scud-esque Diptera platter that Mana put out last week, a re-press of the MYSTERIOUS De Leon collective’s self-titled LP presenting “gamelan and capoeira in dub”. It’s a subtle one, this, so much so that you could easily overlook it - but trust us (who us?) when we say it’s one of 2018’s very best and you will regret not picking it up when you had the chance. Go! 
 
DIMBIMAN
ISO GRIFO

PAL SL | 12” | £8.99

**Re-press!** Reissue of a sought-after minimal house landmark from 1998. Way ahead of its time when first released on Baby Ford's Pal Sl imprint, Iso Grifo's slender, skippy but reliably serpentine steppers sound all the more visionary seventeen years on, especially in light of all that they helped spawn. Back then, Thomas Frantzmann was at a newly emerging vanguard of European producers bringing a supple, sensuous quality - and a palpable three-dimensionality - to minimal that had previously been lacking, while also intensifying its most zoned, trippy and alienated characteristics - a high-wire act that would later define Perlon's best releases too, but can be experienced here in its purest and most exhilarating form. The title track and the more linear 'Lava' are essential, but 'Round', impossibly louche yet deadly precise (gd mnml in a ntshll), is the unmistakeable highlight: broken drum programming that seems to mutate bar by bar without ever dropping a stitch, mischievous pop-concrète sampling that ear-kisses and unsettles in equal measure, and the whole thing swelling to a dub-deranged, space-time-distorting climax as pressurised and involving as anything you've ever heard in a club. Think I just came up on a pill I took in 2002. Listen loud, and file alongside peak Herbert, Studio 1, Brinkmann. What a 12". 
 
 NORMIL HAWAIIANS
MORE WEALTH THAN MONEY 

UPSET THE RHYTHM | 2LP | £16.99

**Re-press!** Bury us happy: the lost debut album from Normal Hawaiians, one of the great unsung UK art-rock bands, officially released for the first time some 35 years after it was recorded - and only an absolute bloody masterpiece. Cut in ’82, it never came out properly back then, after their label Illuminated was blacklisted by its distributor for unpaid debts (more wealth than money indeed). Most of us came to this South London outfit via Return Of The Ranters, their final album - also lost (careless lot, this), also salvaged a couple of years back by Upset The Rhythm. Here was a tight, texture-obsessed band that combined the terse and tense qualities of classic post-punk with a kraut-ish predilection for improvisation, hypnotic on-and-on rhythms and unorthodox song-structures, with intrepid use of strings, tape loops, echo boxes and home-spun electronics.

Hatched in the city, they would ultimately regroup in the isolation of rural Wales, where they lived together commune-style in a small cottage, gobbling mountains of shrooms and committing themselves fully to The Work. More Wealth Than Money, expanded here with an extra platter of contemporaneous demos and unreleased tracks, might be their first full-length, but it feels like their magnum opus: to call it a Pet Sounds of misanthropic UK post-punk might merit a slap, but in terms of musical breadth and soul-searching depth, we can do just that, and with a straight face: just listen to the the fearsome, fatalistic jangle of 'British Warm', the drizzle-pop perfection of ‘Yellow Rain’, the plaintive cinematic swell of 'Travelling West' and 'Left Alone With Her Pipe'. This is Big Music, with an expansive, windswept vision drawing on pastoral prog, haunting lapidary folk, dub, and a peculiarly British take on kosmische - with strong pre-echoes of the kind of shoegaze and post-rock that was still a decade away. Of its era, only Legendary Pink Dots come close, maybe bits of Astronauts (at a push). Completely bowled over.