This week's picks speak for themselves, and if they don't, the paragraphs of Nespresso-fuelled (yeah it's THE WAY I ARE) dross below should help. As such, gonna use the preamble to flag up - in a bit more detail - our upcoming LOW COMPANY XMAS PARTY.
Yessss on December 8th, 2018 we'll be celebrating the birth of christ with special guests NKISI (NON Worldwide/Arcola/UIQ/Doomcore++) and MARK (A Colourful Storm/Unterton++). We're returning to our favourite dark and dank and airless N16 basement, Bar A Bar, scene of our 1st birthday earlier in the year, but this time we’re bringing our own sound and we’ve got a late license so we can go louder n longer and really destroy your weekend!
We’re very excited to welcome Nkisi. Her forthcoming LP on UIQ is VERY eagerly anticipated round these parts, especially after her ‘Dark Orchestra’ 12” on Arcola earlier this year tore us a new wormhole with its splicing of African rhythms and hardstep/gabba/tekno sonics, prompting us to draw hamfisted but not-given-lightly comparisons with The Mover, Christoph de Babalon and Rufige Cru (yep!). Someone the other day remarked how crucial, and how often lacking, a sense of ALARM is in the dance - well Nkisi (b)rings the alarm, and then some, making music that is fearless and radgy as fuck but somehow supple and sensuous too and which you feel might actually be inventing the future rather than just sniffing its corpse.
The elusive Mark has become a bona fide SHOP FAVE off the back of his three 12”s to date, ‘Here Comes A Fucking Startup Campus’ and Integrier Dich Du Yuppie on A Colourful Storm, and more recently ‘The Least Likely Even Will Occur In The Longrun’ on Ostgut’s Unterton: deconstructions of prowling, predator-mode jungle/darkside dnb that actually re-mould and armour-plate the music for NOW, blending its DNA with that of flexing, minimalist warehouse techno, and somehow also finding time to lampoon/rue the flood of global capital and associated fuckery into Berlin. His in-store set for us back in spring impressed us mightily.... EXECUTIONER…. Shoppe crew… Kenny, Jim, Meg, Sanjay ++ … filling in the gaps. Tickets are £10 from our website or £8 for paper tickets available in-store only (these have finally been printed and are ready for ye)
Labyrinthine synth music that seems to borrow from the depressive electronics of Scandinavian black metal, the dark side of kosmische and progressive rock, disintegration-loop techno, and the kind of impossibly bleak interior landscapes conjured by Nico/Cale on The Marble Index. Arv & Miljö's origins are in noise, but in recent times its releases have traded hard-modernist harsh-outs for more playful and digressive pieces - from corroded parodies of new age to skewed, glue-it-yrself almost-pop and downer psych experiments that betray the Gothenburgian project’s heavy obsession with NZ lathe-cuts / zero-audience 4-track fuckabouts.
This new album appears at first a perfect vision of bucolic bliss - its title translates roughly as “Swedish Summer of Peaceful Tranquility” - but its surface calm of shimmering harmony belies - OF COURSE - roiling currents of existential unease…a loneliness and listlessness ripe to metastasise into psychosis and violence (the first is track titled ‘Stabbed In The Brain’, juz in case you didn't get the memo). Blood-lust aside, Svensk Sommar feels part of a venerable desolate-Swedes-with-keyboards continuum that also includes Ralph Lundsten, Anna Själv Tredje’s enigmatic, untouchable Tussilago Fanfara and those recently unearthed Civilistjavel! recordings, but also connects with the sequestered electronics of Burzum’s 'Rundgang um die transzendentale Säule der Singularität', the demolished folk of Alistair Galbraith and Flies Inside The Sun, the eternal-horizontal-moment of RST and GAS, the hidden-reverse drone-spells of Mirror and Vicki Jackman. By the time you’ve finished listening, those gambolling deer on the cover resemble nothing so much as DEAD MEAT. Gulp… Featuring guest appearances from Korea Undok Group, Charlotte Malmenholt, and Stefan Christiansen. Edition of 300.
Showcase of “SONICS PROPER” on Enginetics and Plasmalterations from enduring Portland mad-lad Best Available Technology. It’s a syzygy (JUST LEARNED THAT WORD TODAY) of abstract, duffed-up, drowned-world downtempo - think REQ’s One, or Urban Tribe’s Collapse of Modern Culture, etc - and mystic, mulchy, after-after-after-party dub-tekno, all threaded together with distinctly 21st century drone-logic. Yeah, it’s a really good one this, feels both timeless/rooted and very of the now... definitely my favourite ISLEINNAWHILE. Screenprinted tae fuck and v limited as per.
Christ almighty, a notably calm, somewhat wholesome evening of listening to The Flower Travellin’ Band, slugging herbal tea and debating whether a third Tunnocks Tea Cake is a bit much considering I have been sat on my arse most of today (day off, proper), HAS NOT aptly prepared me to buckle up and take on this putrid, waling DEMON disc - hissing spitting noise has come crashing into this humble abode and now it feels like someone is trying to top up my nonexistent tan with a blow-torch. Ouchya!!
Italian noise titans Urashima continue to burrow, at a rate like no other, further into the molten core of petrified noise cassettes from across the globe, this time, shining a light on a forgotten offering from two of Japan's most prolific all-things-impov’ers - Fumio Kosakai and Toshiba Mikawa. Their associations with Hijkaidan and a personal love of their early outings, Zouroku No Kibyou and King Of Noise is what initially called me to this modern re-do of the duos 1997 release, I, Residuum. Obviously it’s NOTHING remotely like these early documents, Zouroku coming out in 1982 and inhibiting a belting collection of live shouting matches / symphonies between noise modules, broken acoustic instruments and fractured rhythms a like, not to mention the 2min recording of one these cats making themselves sick - you go girl!
So aye, by the time 1997 has come around and these two are operating as INCAPACITANTS - their primary outlet for all things free of human intention, I, Residuumis a whole new, hardened, kettle of stress / boiling flesh! 40-something minutes of free, lawless sound, battering away on yer noggin’, screaming metal and tortured circuit boards come to form a punishing yet enchanting cadence - the sound of lying beneath an old rickety London Underground train as it rattles through a tunnel built barely big enough to fit it, creating ear-piercing vacuums as it rattles to its destination, transporting endless grey faces from one screen to another, or as if you’ve caught conjunctivitis on an aircraft carrier and unknowingly walked behind the engines of a revving harrier jump-jet. Aye, a bona fide face-melter.
Powerful stress-test and a BIG recommendation if you are intae Atrax Morgue, P.S.F., M.B. + the POINTY END of ESP Disk.
Crucial mini-comp from the UVB bunker, the latest chapter in their wholesale (but somehow barely remarked-upon by the wider world!) reinvention of dnb, but this time calling on a four-man hit-squad from beyond their immediate personnel - leading off with a cavernous, Ruffhouse-style dungeon stepper from newcomer Entire. Nekyia offers a more minimal, dub-techno-flavoured take on the same sort of rhythm, while the increasingly ubiquitous Forest Drive West delivers one of his very best productions to date in the form of 'Inverse''s skeletal but tuff, tensile drumfunk. The most impressive salvo though comes from another shadowy London producer: Hidden Hawaii associate DB1 and his time-signature-defying, techno-into-db revelation, 'Duppy Pulse'. Outstanding 12"!
Quite amazing that the chaotic deluge of reissues that have materialised since Peter Christopherson’s passing have almost succeeded in making Coil seem boring. Yes, you CAN have too much of a good thing - no one likes to have a starter of chocolate cake followed by a main course of chocolate cake and then chocolate cake for dessert (except my old mate Dean and he would be the first to admit he is FAT and not entirely happy). Coil records are generally speaking rich, bountiful, complex and multivalent things, and you need time to savour them, immerse yourself in them, and then, ideally, enjoy some distance from them. Some kind of patient, coherent and above-all chronological reissue programme - I think there was talk of Mego doing something like that at one point, but it didn’t come to pass - might have served the band’s legacy better, and might have better narrativised their evolution. But I suppose that approach might have been annoying and limiting and de-libidinizing in a dozen other ways, and also wouldn’t exactly reflect the disorderly way in which their work was published when they were still alive. Why try to make sense of senseless of things? So…it’s fine.
Following on from recent revivals of Worship The Glitch, Time Machines, Another Brown World, Astral Disaster and who knows what else, comes another outing for The Ape of Naples, more accurately a second pressing (2LP gatefold) for Important’s robust 2016 reissue. Enough time has elapsed since its initial release in 2005 for us to say, with a fair bit of confidence, that Ape is Coil’s masterpiece (and to be fair that sort of praise was pretty forthcoming even at the time). Completed by Christopherson in the aftermath of Jhonn Balance’s untimely death, you can’t help but feel it is, at some level, the sublimation of Balance’s deepest desire: to speak not TO “the absolute elsewhere”, but FROM it, to literally become a ghost, free of bodily limitations, a purely metaphysical, ethereal, and ultimately mythological being. An angel, a daemon, a god… or just a flux of deterritorialised energy. Working with Balance vocal takes and other material recorded at Trent Reznor’s New Orleans studio for the blighted Backwards LP, Christopherson created a work of sonic necromancy that is also, quite obviously, a devotional act, an expression of love and unimaginable grief.
Although it's Sleazy's inspired arrangements and glinting, gleaming threshold-electronics that bind The Ape of Naples together, he was fortunate to have a talented hit-squad of musicians in his employ as well: not just established lieutenants Drew McDowall and Thighpaulsandra, but also Ossian Brown (“synths and sensibility”), Cliff Stapleton (hurdy gurdy) and Mike York (pipes and duduk). All are crucial to the realisation of Ape’s vivid, transdimensional traumascape, its droning, cyclical songs which marry the mechanic and the organic, the astral and the shit-under-your-fingernails earthbound. Not for the first time, but never more so than here, Coil sound like a (cyber-)gothic folk band - Comus in space. Unsurprising that Sleazy’s next project was TG’s Desertshore installation, the Nico/Cale influence is really noticeable here.
'The Last Amethyst Deceiver', 'Cold Cell', 'Teenage Lightning'...every single track is stand-alone magnificent, and vital to the architecture of the whole. Closer (in the truest sense of the word) ’Going Up’, sung by Balance in teetering falsetto, is almost unbearably poignant, which only makes the realisation that the lyrics are taken from the theme tune of Are You Being Served? more delicious. It’s the perfect epitaph for Balance, Coil, and now Christopherson: more serious than you’ll ever be, even when they’re taking the piss….having their cake and eating it (hold tight Dean!).
Heavy, delirious with loss and pain, but also strangely optimistic and effervescent and empowering, The Ape of Naples will surely be remembered as one of the last true expressions/documents of England’s Hidden Reverse, and among the greatest albums ever made in any list that matters.
Shop fave Nick Klein stumbles back in with sounds from the bathroom wall, not quite going down Wetherspoons and setting up the mic for the old geezer grogging in the urinal next to you, or generating lyrical content from cubicle wall scribblings but tough, rolling, psychedelic grit scraped from basement cludgies where the soap don’t shine. It’s five cuts of bruiser/boozer modular clobber running HOT with blown out, broken hand dryer distortion contorting your surroundings - fleeting moments of clarity feeling like your getting a good wash, as in hosed down in the back lane or thrown in a washing machine with a coupla bricks and cranked to the longest cycle. Another set of tough sluggers from NYC.
Sleeping giant on Egyptian/Algerian imprint NASHAZPHONE from earlier in the year, “BASTET” by Alberto Boccardi & Stefano Pilla is comprised of two shut-out-the-sun compositions (in four parts) - dynamic, troubled, electro- acoustic mesh that carry distant, suffocated melodies and deep, subsonic BEEFCAKE. Screamer. 100% recommendation if you are into Taj Mahal Travellers / Scott Douglas Gordon.
Hiya, hope you’re keeping well… Bank Holiday this weekend isn’t it, carnival, silly opening hours, summer’s last true showing, jumpers for goalposts, all that shite. If you're lucky, that is. Either way, we wish you a good one.
A heads-up – although at this late stage I’m not sure “heads-up” is the right phrase. We are putting on a show down the road at Café Oto on Thursday 20th September and would love you to join us. We’re very pleased to be presenting three bands/projects we’ve been following for ages but whose most recent recorded offerings have burnt our brains up something rotten: the mighty Tropa Macaca from Portugal, Sweden’s Blod (of Förlag För Fri Musikfame), and London’s own Acolytes. Should be a night of heavy vibes, heavy drinking, heavy everything. It certainly won’t be the same without YOU… tickets available soon.
A majestic, quietly awe-inspiring return to record for Sweden’s preeminent heavy-weather minimalists. Träden is the latest incarnation, or descendent, of the group mind that first assembled under the name Pärson Sound, morphed into International Harvester around ’68, and then settled into a long and illustrious stretch as Träd, Gras Och Stenar (Trees, Grass & Stones) - their aim to “find a music with potential to transform the sense, a music that could make way for the new world order.”
We all know that when veteran groups hit the studio in game pursuit of The Old Magic, things usually goes tits-up. Not so here. This perhaps has a lot to do with the purity and potency of the Träd mission, but also to do with personnel: long-serving (since ’71) TGOS psychonaut Jakob Sjoholm is backed up here by young disciples Hanna Ostergren, Sigge Krantz and Reine Fiske, who bring a certain vigour and freshness to things, sure, but also (it seems to us) the puritanical stuckist zeal of the true fan. Like Annie with her sledgehamer, they're not about to allow Sjoholm, let alone themselves, to sully Träd's godlike reputation and, more to the point, they know what WE want, because, well, THEY ARE WE.
What an incredible album they've pulled out of the hat. Even at its most fanatically repetitive, monged-out and elliptical (the late Thomas Gartz isn't the only TGOS member to have pointed out the band's affinity with experimental techno and trance musics), there's a humble, pastoral quality to these carefully harnessed improvisations. It's music bound to landscape, in tune with the environment, honouring Träd's foundational dream of making sound suitable for a modern nature religion: mysterious, hypnotic, ego-dissolving, effortlessly eternity-bestriding. It's a music of both grand gestures, and tremendous subtlety, detail and restraint: evocative of both towering forest pines, and, in the memorable words of the band themselves, something more like "tree porridge" (!).
The guitar soloing and interplay, while boasting something of the lyrical, liquid (porridge?!) shimmer of peak Dead or Ash Ra or Nick McCabe, and the grieving cosmic howl of Bremen or Corrupted, is fundamentally rootsier, its ragged, mid-paced harmonic attack maybe owing more to Neil Young (although on the high-lonesome 'Hymn' its dialogue with the drums echoes nothing so much as Pajo/ McCombs in Tortoise). The droning, voidal intensity of the music comes (as far as we can tell) not from synths or oscillators, but from the bleed and blur of guitar, drums and bass, and is more satisfying for it. Vocals, when they do appear, are in Swedish: no idea what exactly they're saying but they convey all the yearning and hurt and ecstasy and confusion you could ask for.
In its celestial aspirations, Träden seems somehow to reconnect you to the earth, your self, The Place From Which Your Whole Life Flows. And maybe there's an added poignancy to the whole project given the new world order’s ongoing no-show - hey, even Svensk hippies get the blooz. Available in an undeniably expensive 2LP (worth it for the exquisite artwork) or you-may-still-eat CD edition; whichever you plump for, it’s absolutely essential.
Even if you’re understandably wary of old-skool jungle revives (who needs ‘em???) I urge you to check out this absolute beauty of a four-tracker from The Jaffa Kid, which use retro tools, true, but to build something I reckon sounds pretty timeless. The vibe is along the lines of Photek’s T-Raenon, but a little smudgier, rolling breaks submerged under dreamy synths that nod to the androids-on-spliff heyday of early British IDM and the more ambient end of Detroit techno. If I was gonna hype it (oops there I go) I’d say, imagine Convextion/ERP if he was a junglist – such is the stately sweep of them string-pads. Check it! La Beaute Negatif is always quality really, once you get beyond the “drum n bass from Italy” thing, dug out this one the other day too, it’s great.
So we’ve been tentatively buying in a few CDs for the shop – sometimes records just bore the hell out of you eh – and among the back cat stuff that presented itself and felt essential was this 2013 Guerssen reissue of Steve Hall ’s braindead, cranked-up, grotbags psych-punk epic Get Stoned Ezy, originally self-released on his Bonk label in 1982. Self-professed hippy-punk, with a prodigious appetite for glue and smack, this Kentish one-man-band pretty much nailed bonehead rock PERFECTION across his slim discography, and Get Stoned Eazy – credited to High Speed & The Afflicted Man - remains his greatest and most sublimely nihilistic achievement. Tom Lax put it best when he described it as “too freaked out for punks, too punked out for freaks.” It’s dead simple really: over a minimal, unrelenting drumbeat and three-note bassline your man just churns out hard bruising riff after hard bruising riff, chuck in the occasional hooligan Hendrix lead, stomp every pedal in sight, and… BLAST OFF. Hawkwind, Stooges and High Rise are all helpful signposts for Hall’s gleeful self-immolation, but I always think of a more fucked-off and drug-deranged Tony McPhee: the title track and ‘Zip ‘Ead’ especially sound like Groundhogs at the lowest ebb of a three-day bender but still bringing it. The aural equivalent of smoking three fags at once…the true sound of oblivion…FLAWLESS MASTERPIECE. Remastered sound with liner notes from Chris Stigliano (Black To Comm).
Eye/ear-opening compilation of contemporary electronic music from the Arab World, put together by the Tunisian collective Arabstazy. I can barely make it to breakfast without accidentally saying something culturally insensitive or ill-informed or presumptuous, so I’ll quote Arabtazy’s manifesto for the Under Frustration series (two further volumes are on the way) directly: “This musical journey stands for the diversity of this scene, and deconstructs the occidental perceptions that sees the Arab World as a culturally united and homogeneous entity. It is a manifesto for the burgeoning wave of post-revolution futurism…Following the Arab Spring events that brought a major change to the Maghrebi cultural and artistic ecosystem, the collective explores how the Arab World is perceived and perceives itself, and lays the foundations of what could be part of a new wave of North African and Middle Eastern futurism." Many of the tracks here marry explicitly local song-structures and tonalities to modern digital processing, with often dazzling and disorienting results, but the most compelling pieces for me are those that are less easily placed: the fizzing, popping, Pole-esque techno-dub of Ismael’s ‘2310’, Shinigami’s radgy house deconstruction ‘FGTN’ (which could easily be mistaken for Tribe Of Colin or Heith), or Muudra’s collision of amplified field recordings with minimal 808-driven hip-hop on ‘Hemshin Breath'.
We’ve had this in for a week or two, and I wasn’t going to bother putting it in the newsletter, but to be honest this weekend I was working in the shop three days straight (rare for me) and must’ve listened to ‘See You On Monday’ 20 times or more. Perfect soundtrack to Friday night giddiness, Saturday hangover, Sunday soul-searching and all points in between. Didn’t get bored of it. Was also struck by how many punters either instantly recognised it, wanted to know what it was, or involuntarily grooved to it (a foot tap here, a little shimmy there…varying degrees of sass). There aren’t many records – especially ones of such restrained, unconfrontational, emollient character – that have that kind of instant and broad appeal. So yeah, I felt we might I well give it it’s a due, in case there’s any among you who don’t know it, or have never given it much attention.
It’s weird, the acceptable sound of deep house ossified so long ago that it’s easy to forget that it took ingenuity and and experimentation and inspiration to arrive at it, and that once, many years ago, that sound felt truly cutting edge. It’s also easy to forget what an absolute fucking DON Herbert was when he was making music for dancefloors and not for conceptual shits and giggles – or, more accurately, when the balance of function and conceptual shits and giggles was judged just right. He surely deserves as much credit as anyone for finessing the imported sound of Chicago and NY into the silken, unmistakeably Euro sound that still dominates the world of housey house today – and Christ, he does it with such CLASS. ‘Rude’ and ‘Ooh Licky’, which prop up the A-side of this nicely (as in handsomely but modestly) presented reissue of the Parts 1 12” (originally released on Phono in ’96) , but I could never really get on with those vocal samples. Rivalled only by the surgical ruffness of ‘Take Me Back’, ‘See You Monday’ is unquestionably Herbert’s defining house moment: just divine, so stately and centered, a comedown track really, with an undertow of deep melancholy but fundamentally optimistic – even at my craggy basically-waiting-to-die age, I listen to this and feel an instant shedding of dead weight, and see the future opening up in front of me. What a beautiful and unlikely gift that is. Cheers Herbert.
Lost for words this week, so exhausted am I, poor flower. Probably no more exhausted than you. But still… exhausted. Busy week at home, busy week on the floor (fading sunlight, shopkeeper’s delight). Weekend self-destruct can’t come quik enuf.... and I trust for many of you it's already begun.
Thanks to everyone who played at our in-store last week, especially James Singer, Meg and Jim… enjoyed that a LOT. Roll on the next month, make the most of summer’s scrag-end eh, details soon. Oh and we're putting on a gig down the road at Cafe Oto on September 20th, date for your diary perhaps, will tell more next week.
The Low Company show returned to NTS earlier this week, in its new monthly Monday DRIVETIME slot. Kiran hosted this one (Kenny returns in September!), it includes new/forthcoming bits from Brannten Schnure, Gossiwor, A Happy Return, Enchante ++. You can listen here, the tracklist is missing a few bits but you’ll live.
Loads of new / still warm stuff in-store not mentioned below, check the site for more and if you're in London come see us.
Astonishingly beautiful private press LP from Mat Fowler, Aimée Henderson and their daughter Agnes Bell. Sketches of innocence and experience recorded before and after Agnes’s birth on January 27th, 2017, in their living room on Sprules Road. A Happy Return glows with the promise and optimism of new life but it is not a straightforward document of domestic bliss (can you imagine anything more insufferable?!)... I mean, it would be overstating the case to say that any meaningful/authentic celebration of life must also at some level be about the Other Thing, but let’s just say that this record feels fully engaged with the provisional and temporary nature of all things...our changing relationships to time, to our selves, to each other... the mysteries of the human chain!
Anyone familiar with Fowler’s collaborations with Kevin Cormack, BONS (also with Matthew Hunt) and Jam Money, will recognise his MO: poignant, evocative instrumental miniatures that seem to disperse almost as soon as they’ve arrived, but never before they’ve left their mark. Arcadian chamber-folk instrumentation (guitar, violin, woodwind, hand-percussion) meets hermetic, disorienting tape loops, spacey minimal synth textures and strange little ecologies of found-sound. With its mix of vérité and concrète, its taste for the uncanny and for strange juxtapositions, and its underlying collagistic, ambient pop impulse, A Happy Return variously recalls the work of Graham Lambkin, the melancholic pastoralia of Woo and Plinth, the bedsit economy of Young Marble Giants and Flaming Tunes, and the thrift-psych zone-outs of Pram and Movietone. Disquieting often, beautiful and haunting always.
A hand-numbered edition of 150 copies, housed in sleeve with cover painting by Aimee plus insert and postcards.
HEAVYWEIGHT retrospective of a band that truly deserve the oft-bandied assignation “underground” - even if it has (I mean it definitely has) become less and less of a FEELING and more and more of a marketing technique, a genre, ultimately just a stupid meaningless WORD. Ceramic Hobs have been stuck in reverse this whole time, hurling impulsive, liberating cut-ups of caustic punk, loner-psych, ADHD-drone (what!?), drug-addled folk (the one true kind) and bastard synth-pop. Would it be ludicrous to call them Britain's answer to Smegma?!
By all means follow the long and winding breadcrumb trail of limited CDrs, LPs and cassettes to get the truest and fullest fix of the Hobs - you certainly won't regret it. But butter me lazy when a collection Black Pool Legacy materialises, compiled and presented in spot-on fashion by a label that has worked with the band for nearly 20 years.
Lager-for-breakfast lyricism and deranged yet compassionate songwriting powers this unserviced roller-coaster, turning your stomach and cracking your ribs as it tosses you from the wide-eyed and spiralling, FX-drenched longing of 'Flower' to the stark recital at the end of 'Oz Oz Alice' (which paints a putrid picture that makes even the most eh, PROBLEMATIC Brainbombs skits feel as tame as an episode of Cash In The Attic).
While the band have touched on a plethora of subjects and issues throughout their career - kung fu disasters, chips and curry sauce, drug habits or common misconceptions of the mentally ill - arguably the only consistent point on the Hobs manifesto is encouraging people to feel like they can be themselves (uh-oh!), and THAT, surely is their most empowering, important, and ur-DIY statement.
"I can no more change my madness than I can my ethnicticy or my sexual orientation, so I am proud of who I am…”
'MON THE HOBS!
Double vinyl + (gawjus) gatefold sleeve and 12-page booklet with lyrics and madman scribblings aplenty.
Intense tone-poems and f**k-the-lot-of-you techno satori from Japanese duo Group A. A couple of tracks are arranged around pointedly sparse, broadly club-compatible rhythms, but A's work is at its most interesting when there's more of a jazz-informed looseness and dissolve at play, when things get a bit madder and a bit vaguer: the opening track, 'Disobeyed Flute' (hell hath no fury like a disobeyed flute, I'm told) is a mesmerising cyclical piece that feels like it was sprung from some excruciatingly rare and w****d-over Japanese pastoral ambient side (in a good way!), flying high on fumes of Toru Takemitsu, John Cameron's Kes score, and late '70s ECM; the garbled vocals, atonal whines and broken drum loops of 'The Devil To Play' fall somewhere between Fluxus auto-exorcism and dead-eyed minimal techno; and the suspenseful drones and distant percussion of 'Float' would sit nicely on the soundtrack of the art-house conspiracy thriller of your dreams. Lovely hand-assembled, screen-printed sleeve too. Edition of 300, these won't stick around long.
Swoit second 12” from Uncertainty Principle - their first, from FFT, still enjoying heavy praise round these parts - with new recruit LARRY firing four more thundering, microtonal techno torpedoes our way.
The A-side is packed with high-res, pressurised rave mayhem, the lead track 'systems_hyperthread' descending into a full blown wall-shaking tantrum halfway through that makes you feel like you’re in a sinking submarine, unsure whether your lungs or your eyeballs will burst first. Side B refers back to more of what we heard on the FFT 12” - its tracks maintaining that club urgency but altogether sparser, stealthier, more sophisticated, with the kind of committed VELOCITY, deep 'n deadly subs, and tension-ramping arrangements that stand out a mile from the swarm of weekly blah-techno offerings we have to wade through. Banging 12", big tip for fans of ZULI, N1L, Ø ++
More smoked-out hypno-house and fourth/next world fantasias from RAMZi, offering up the first release on her own newly minted Amor Fati imprint following those rightly celebrated Total Stasis, 12th Isle and Mood Hut sides. Apparently it's a journey "through the arcane archipelago that RAMZi calls home, a place where animals, children and wild spirits share territories and cooperate in harmony in their plight to protect these ancient islands from the ceaseless threat of the Great Grey Invasion." But don't let that put you off!
Yeah, as with her previous work, if you can suppress your kill-all-hippies instinct (I know it's hard, real hard), your tolerance will be rewarded: the Canadian producer's languid, quasi-tropical/Balearic 'scapes are richly imagined, lovingly rendered things, teeming with detail but somehow open and airy with it, and their third-eye-dazzling properties are unquestionable. Fetching wee bat on the sleeve too, looks like my Auntie Sue.
Not to be confused with the Swedish geezers who dress up like total bell-ends, THIS particular goat (SMALL G Y'HEAR) is an Osaka-based outfit led by one Kishiro Hino, who you've might've come across through his solo, techno-compatible (but wilfully skittish and grid-melting) rhythm experiments as YPY - album on Where To Now?, good 12" on Nous, etc. goat have been around a while apparently, but this is the first time their music has appeared on vinyl, and unsurprisingly it's EM who've made it happen. Skimming tracks from the band's two CD releases, it attempts to translate to the studio their intensely locked-on and dead-eyed live show - with sax, bass, guitar, and drums - and does a grand job. No wooly business, but rather driven forward by a fanatically precise and remorseless rhythm section that feels like some kind of a missing link between Moebius & Plank, Nissenenmondai and Konono No.1... tracks range from hectic, high-velocity outrock paroxysms that feel aligned to the oldest and best traditions of Cope-cornered Japanese psych, to more spacious and unmistakeably contemporary-sounding, dub-cratered excursions which - a bit like the space-time-warping mbalax of Ndagga and Ernestus - feel at once otherworldly and rootical. Stunning record!
High expectations for this label from Japan Blues - the pretty unambiguously named Les Editions Japonais. First release exceeds them. Kufuki is a Tokyo four-piece formed in 2010; Dodome is their attempt at electrifying - that is to say electronicizing - minyo, or traditional Japanese folk music. It’s interesting and immediate stuff - especially ‘Torobayashi’, Kufuki’s deft overhaul a song first released in the early 60s by Masao Suzuki, as part of the original wave of popularised minyo. Beseeching vocal (well, it SOUNDS beseeching…obviously I’ve no idea what he’s actually saying) is strapped to a tuff, Jammy-style rhythm with a FAT computerised bassline rolling off it. Japan Blues amplifies that digi-dub/dancehall flavour and dials down the vocal for his ‘Torobyashi In Dub’ version, coming over like Equiknoxx by way of Smith & Mighty. If you dug that recent Emerson Kitamura 12", you need this. Bangers!
Hello boys and girls, hope all’s well with you this week-
Tomorrow, Friday 10th August, we’re having an in-store swally at the shop in the usual slapdash fashion. Perhaps even more slapdash than usual 'cos this one is a FRIENDS & FAMALAM special, with Estelle, Meg, Jim, Kenny, Sanjay, Carla, me and Singer on reluctant-til-pissed DJ duties - come by, slug some beers, buy some records. It’s easy! BYO, 6pm-10pm or thereabouts. (Oh and apologies in advance for the state of the shopfront: our landlords are building some kind of walkway outside which I think will, eventually, serve us well, but is currently mid-construction and so both an eyesore and a deathtrap. We do have insurance, but still, TAKE CARE.)
This week’s choice new releases: another white label KILLER from John T. Gast, one part blissy techno levitation to two parts grime (experi)mentalism. An ESSENTIAL CD of alarmingly well-crafted ork Gabber from the original British Mordor Boy, DJ David Goblin. A revelatory reissue of Native Canadian art-song from Alanis Obomsawin (the kind of person whose biography makes you weep at the total dreariness and pointlessness of your own). A forbidding slab of junglist dark ambient, electro and dungeon steppers from Karim Maas. Amyl-fuelled death-disco and industrial auto-annihilation from Estonia’s Nikolajev. And a career-spanning compilation from UK DIY godhead Robert Storey (of Murphy Federation “fame”). Full details and links to listen and buy below,
Head to the site for loads of other new arrivals, including a 2018 remaster of one of the crowning glories of (ahem) intelligent dnb from Source Direct under their Mirage alias, effervescent house bump 'n swish compiled on the self-explanatory The Deepest Sound of Blaze, and a first vinyl edition of brittle indie-pop perfection from Sarah Records luminariesBlueboy. Plus more and more.
Second (and last???) circa-’13 dubplate showcase from Gast. Gliding high above the EBM sewer-crawl of BTEC #1’s ‘Angela’, ‘Club Version’ is a raw but GLEAMING, nu-era meditation on bluest and blissiest Detroit techno tropes, albeit with an undercurrent of proper Entropy-in-the-UK anxiety/unease. On the flip a pair of even more paranoid, perniciously psychedelic grime sufferahs: ‘Jettison II’'s tooth-grinding, nerve-shredding soundboy Minimalism (equal parts broken Glass and melted Igloo), and ‘NUN-II’ - which pivots between battery-acid-spitting, avant-hard electro/sublow and a kind of uptight Terminator blooz, all swooning darkside strings, machine-gun drum stabs, and properly dread, cone-crushing bass. Mastered by Amir Shoat. Ltd copies, no re-press. Cat#: NEXYARD13.
DJ DAVID GOBLIN launches 40 minutes of rabid new beat / gabber war-dance over the battlements and into your disc-drive.
Freeform Gandalf-bash is back on the menu with this boiling cauldron of nosebleed, Mordor-via-Rotterdam hard step and mead slosh'd euro synth-wave, all brought together in the hysterical GENIUS of the ‘Gobs buzz saw guitar and overdubbed Ork grunt.
This grubby wee CD is essential for all the realm dwellers but if you already get down to the likes of Kotzaak / that Popcorn album on Ultra Eczema / LOTR directors cutz or The South Yorkshire Mick Hucknall, then THIS will really awaken your inner goblin. ORK POWER!
An emphatic marriage of sparse, minimalist jazz and agonised bellows of cultural identity lie at the heart of the only solo LP of Canada's Alanis Obomsawin: a seemingly unstoppable powerhouse of social activism and esteemed documentary filmmaker. Originally released in 1988, "Bush Lady" features both traditional songs of her Native American Abenaki people and original compositions, rendering ancient folkways in thoroughly avant-garde arrangements. Her voice, with its beautifully strange, (to our parochial ears) otherworldly tonality, floats like a feather over waves of sombre violin and deep, rolling rhythms, bringing to life heart-wrenching tales of the isolation and exile of an indigenous woman in the modern world.
It’s totally out on its own, but worth checking if you get a buzz out of Robbie Basho / Patty Waters or some of the gear on Ocora. For us anyway, who before now had little to no familiarity with her numerous endeavours, this LP illuminates the immense body of work that Obomsawin has accomplished, in all forms, over her life. If you're in the same boat as us this LP comes with hench amounts of added DISCOVERY / future reading - not just a beautiful record, then, but a doorway. 180g vinyl with extensive liner notes and pull-out poster. Highly recommended!
Lawless but carefully wrought d’n’b/electro/dark-ambient experiments from incognito UVB-76 operative Karim Maas (“a familiar face behind a new mask," apparently). ‘C_C_E_D’ is a lean, mean, dungeon-stepper in the vein of classic Ruffhouse (‘Straight 9’s, ‘The Foot’++), but with even more missile-like speed, intensity and bad intentions. With its ominous sampled speech and post-nuclear bass tremors, the beatless ‘Lizzard King’ owes equal debts to Photek’s ‘UFO’ and Lustmord's forbidden planet dronescapes. Huren’s remix of ‘Cassette A’ comes over like distorted radio transmission from a 2000AD-ish guerrilla commando unit on some distant planet (worries in the dance, to put it mildly), 'Civilised' is reverb-choked, noise-corroded post-BMB techno, and, beyond the gothic FX, ‘Zombissim’ is a pretty visionary slice of sub-walloping, dnb-compatible electro. You spent so long waiting for people to make music like this, don't forget to show up now they finally have! Killer 12”!
Don't be put off by the sight of finger-wagging old man Robert Storey trying to lure you up to his gaff ("Come Up and Hear My Etchings?! Fuck off you dirty old get!) It would be an understatement to say that the cover design/photography here doesn't do justice to the music - which is, by truly ironic contrast, AGELESS and IRRESISTIBLE. Though far from exhaustive - you’d need a box set or ten to harness Storey's recorded flotsam in its entriety - this is certainly a definitive and fantastically digestible retrospective of the UK DIY godhead’s peripatetic career. Plucking jewels from nigh-on 40 years’ worth of CDs, tapes, LPs from various solo and collaborative projects - mostly variations on the floating membership/concept of Murphy Federation / Orchestre Murphy / Murphy Working Stiffs etc etc, but also The Miners of Banal and other more recent one-man-bands and guises - it makes a pretty convincing case for Storey as being among the most effortlessly brilliant songwriters of his generation - so brilliant, in fact, that he didn’t ever bother to seek popularity or acclaim, just buggered on, his songs getting better and better - ever simpler, and ever richer. A contemporary and frequent collaborator with Bing Selfish and Chris Gray (The Just Measurers, Amos & Sara), Storey has a lot in common with them, but there’s a poise and polish to his work that sets him apart - even when he’s slumming it, which basically he ALWAYS was, he can’t help but bring a certain elegance to proceedings. As with, say, Flaming Tunes or Mick Hobbs’ Officer!, the best Storey songs feel like TRUE post-punk in that they represent a drug-muddled, chronically self-aware but still thoroughly sincere response to exactly the kind of poetic British folk-rock and psychedelia that punk had declared verboten. Anyway. What’s really amazing about this comp, though, is that the newish recordings not only hold their own with the old, but arguably steal the show: by this point, Storey is gifting his compositions to several talented and distinctive female vocalists: Akiko Sato and Tomoko Minamizaki call out to the most potent moments of Les Rallizes Denudes in Murphy No Geisha, while further down the record the duets with Rachel Gardner as Nobodies and Kathy Hulme as C siders nail the minimal indie-pop sublime a la YMG and The Cannanes. Can't believe how undersung Storey is, in the scheme of things. It's impossible to recommend this comp highly enough.
Slamming, route-one death-disco/scumdance from Tallinn. With its ultra-concussive gated snares and relentless corkscrewing synth lead ‘Retta (Dance)’ lives up to its name...a proper amyl-fuelled, Nitzer-indebted, intergalactic club weapon...irresistible. ‘Evil Mix’ steers things into noisy but carefully modulated abstraction - its bombed-out, subtly rhythmic industrial scree charting a course between queasy power electronics, the haunted Digital Hardcore of Carl Crack’s ‘Black Ark’, and techno with its head kicked in. Sick record from one half of Dima Disk, check it!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!