Wacked-out electronics / worries in the dance from Acido's extended family, names like PG Sounds, Dynamo Dreesen and Porn Sword Tobacco brushing up against a few new or lesser-spotted projects/aliases. T.V.A. offers up two rhythm tracks that mercilessly strip cosmic/coca-disco down to its droning, trippiest essence - like Black Devil or Metro Area trapped in some kind of locked-groove, drumapella mode (and good!) - while "unknown artist" (ooh mysterious!) 'Chance Encounter' offers a nice of bit of giddy-up DIY/improv that sounds like Keith Rowe transplanted to an early '90s Xpressway side. With its rompy saw-tooth synths Roadworker's briefly threatens to usher in the second coming of French Touch, before seeing sense and setting into a typically scrappy (and wonderful) Neues Deutschland piano-house groove. Dynamo Dreesen and PST throw themselves headfirst into a 'Wormhole' of ambient-minded concrete, PG kills it with an exemplary lo-fi acid outing, and Telephones brings things to a classy (also faintly post-coital but that sounds creepy eh) conclusion with the shimmering Balearish blooz of 'Pok-A-Tok (Sundown Mix)'. Their house is most definitely not your house... and like the two previous entries in the series, this comp's playful, provisional vibe goes hand in hand with genuine depth and derring-do. Highly recommended!
Kenny: WOW. Hard to imagine a more fitting record to arrive in the shop amidst the thunder and lighting storm currently battering the streets of greater London. Relief Tours by Scott Douglas Gordon is a set of eight compositions for adapted piano and electric guitar, alongside numerous other bric-a-brac, both acoustic and electronic. Some ethereal moments throughout, however most of these pieces lean towards the DREAD end on our shallow scale of emotions and although most of these compositions are relatively short for this style (half clocking in around the six minute mark) they still achieve a meditative quality that initially recall the work of Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe as well as the tonality of the Taj Mahal Travellers, the U.S. Steel Cello Ensemble or something that could have came out on Ultra Eczema. A serious record for serious times.
Wahey! Move D's CLASSIC 1994 album Kunststoff (hasn't got any easier to spell in 24 years) back in print on 2LP courtesy of the German ..ava label, well over a decade since City Centre Offices' first, reputation-sealing reissue. Across twelve tracks (and nae duds) your man yolks together loungey deep house, electro and downbeat into a seamless and compelling narrative, but with a loose, semi-improvised feel that screams (ironically given its title) "HUMANITY!" Impossible to pick faves, but go on then, 'Sandmann''s pared-down jack-attack sounds more than ever like the best bits of Yuzo Koshiro's Streets of Rage soundtrack (!) and opener 'Eastman' feels as familiar and bittersweet as the waft of an ex-lover's scent (D&G Light Blue since you ask!). Like the natty mid-century chair on the cover, 'tis a period piece, but a timelessly stylish and VERY COMFORTABLE one. Take a load off!
[Jumped the gun when we stuck in this in the n'letter a few weeks back; finally it's in stock, and what a great record it is, you NEED a copy, so flagging it up again...] Following on from their 2LP edition of John T. Gast's Inna Babalon, Italy's Haunter Records continue to get serious with a heavy mini-LP of aggro-techno/grime phuturistix from ZULI, the Egyptian producer best known for his outings on Lee Gamble's UIQ (although the eagle-eyed will have spotted his tasty 'astrogangsta' mix of Petit Singe a couple of Haunters ago).
Yeah this stuff is noisy and frequently enervating and sometimes impatient (see the knowingly titled 'Your Tracks Are Too Short') - like so much contemporary "club" music, less the soundtrack to dancefloor bliss-out than to a collective crisis of identity and (urban) ecology - but perhaps thanks to his background as a beatmaker for the Cairo rap scene, ZULI knows when to pull back and let a rhythm, or a plume of ambience, ride out. Highlights come in the form of the title track's blown-out, decelerated jungle-techno - kicking and spitting like the hydra-headed, radiation-poisoned progeny of Christoph de Babalon's IYIIIOOI - and the demented, minimalist drum workout 'Your Tracks...', which sounds like Azzazzin-era Muslimgauze dragged through MESH's flash-drive backwards. In a GOOD way.
Re-press here at looooooong last! What we said first time round: A year on from their opening salvo, 12th Isle deliver an LP of warped amphibian techno-delia and tranqu'd-out hip-hop from Glasgow's Cru Servers. Sounds at times like a less annoying Wagon Christ, or maybe the un-asked for second coming of aqua-crunk. Is excellent because, not in spite, of this. Already sold out at source, these won't last long. The original review of this was longer and better but Kenny accidentally deleted it.
Greetings, and welcome to the most rushed LC newsletter since records began (saying something). Sanjay, Carla and me are all away busking/basking in the sun (for what it’s worth) meaning Kenny is holding the fort, with a little help from Estelle and new recruits / extended family Jim and Meg. Given he’s pretty much nailed to the shop floor every day for the next couple of weeks, and also basically doesn’t know how to work a computer, I figured it would be excessively cruel to make him put together the mail-out too, and so here I am, on me hols, in a coffee shop surrounded by dozens of other keyboard-punching flat-white-twats just like me, attempting to summarise a week that I haven’t actually lived through. Oh well.
First up In Sync…2018 re-press of Delsin’s ’14 12” of ‘Storm’/‘Subway Route’. Lee Purkiss’s early work is really beyond compare, so PHYSICAL (dance music!) but so weird and inward-looking at the same time, and managing to convey - to my mind better than any techno before or since - both the giddy upside and the yawning voidal downside of dance/drug/drum-induced ego-annihilation. Says Kenny: “Transportive UK techno of the highest order. Focusing entirely on ‘Storm’, which was originally released on the mighty Irdial Discs in 1992 and although it requires a certain patience for it to have the full effect (again, rendering sound clips fucking pointless), I don't think I've heard more tales of dance-floor elation about any other techno record. Be it a Glaswegian basement club in the mid-90s or Panorama Bar last bloody weekend, this one is here to stay!” Yeah that’s about right. Understandably, this 12” pairs ‘Storm’ with Purkiss’s other most unabashedly ‘floor-friendly outing, the tracky, tranced-out ’Subway Route’, a minor masterpiece in its own right, although I can’t help but pine for the original B-side, the truly sublime and incomparable ‘Warm’. We'd urge anyone who isn’t familiar with these two totally foundational mind-bombs - pressed louder and truer than ever before - to cop a load.
Three of British Murder Boys’ peerlessly bleak and baleful 12”s for Counterbalance are back in print for the first time ages. And thank god or whichever deity endorses music as dissolute as this: because although canonical to some, BMB 1.0 just isn't listened to or admired enough by the rest. So: rub your eyes and re-focus. This stuff is just beyond. With the benefit of hindsight, 'Learn Your Lesson’ (2003, fuck!) is now very obviously what happens when Whitehouse meets with Basic Channel (a mad union to imagine in 2003, never mind execute). Regis’s malevolent babble might fall far short of Uncle William in full flight, but its combination with babylon-Berlin chord flutter and geysers of corrosive noise, was, and remains, inspired. ‘Rule By Law’ has aged even better, and - though it took a while for the rabble to catch up - its deadly swung rhythmic blueprint quietly revitalised 2000s techno from the margins, make no mistake.Don’t Give Way To Fear (also 2003) is just as crucial, Part 1 offering perhaps the most vital iteration of the iron-first BMB breakbeat on record - and the closest that (ahem) INTELLIGENT techno has ever come to genuine rip-out-the-seats delirium/ultraviolence. By the time of All The Saints Have Been Hung (2005) all that wheeling aggression has been condensed and compressed into purest (anti-)funk - see especially the dropforge rollage of the title track and the blistering ‘Anti Inferno’. Listening back to all this stuff, I'm freshly struck by its subtlety, both in terms of texture and architecture: though the core of the project is belligerence and route-one BOSH (and truth be told first time around that’s all I cared about), there are just as many passages of strung-out, droning, minimal, dub-damaged introspection - and it's these more understated/subliminal bad vibrations that leave the stronger impression now. Behind the street-fighting, bad-booze-and-speed bluster, a revolution in sound design: whichever way you look at it, this is a body of work that updated, redefined, and exploded the parameters of both industrial AND techno musics…no mean feat, bub! Visionary, ahead of its time, and, let’s not understate it, GENIUS. The wider world wasn’t ready then, and I’m not sure it is now. But YOU are. Get in!
Lastly from our Ken: shop favourite Mark returns stronger than ever after disposing of the bodies of some corporate weasel fuck-boys, thoroughly baw-twanged by his previous EPs for A Colourful Storm. At pointsThe Least Likely Event Will Occur In The Long Run (a title that sounds like my mother trying to lend some advice when she has had a few vodkas) feels every bit as much like a commission for some contemporary dance piece (or something like that) as it does a STORMING mutation of darkside DnB. Both lead tracks dense, industrial tones gain momentum slowly, reminding us of mid-80s Bruce Gilbert and developing into precisely programmed, yet totally frenzied, dance-floor assaults. The clips don't quite do it justice, but whatever - KILLER 12”…
In addition to the above, a timely revival of D.I.E. (Detroit In Effect)’s classic The Men You’ll Never See on Clone, the final re-stocks of two of our albums of the year, XVARR’s divine Beyond Illuminism and (due next week) Deadline Paranoia’s 1/3, plus last remaining copies of the much-feted Upsammy ‘Another Place’ 12”, a top-notch Buttechno on Zodiac, ++++
Oh and I imagine like everyone we’re going to have send out a message asking you to re-subscribe to the mailing list if you want to keep receiving our missives. How tedious. Anyway, if you want to, please do.
Right, can't stop long, I’m off on HOLIDAY tomorrow - holiday in the sense of temporarily relocating the paralysing stress and frustration and self-doubt of day-to-day life to a sunnier setting (like being HOT helps). Joking aside (though I’m not joking) I am looking forward to having a little free time to contemplate… but contemplate WHAT?! I don't even know. Some answers when I return.
So much good stuff in this week, with a particularly generous serving of unseasonably grey and miserabilist dnb/techno: a second outing of junglist mayhem on DROOGS from Aspect, and a new hydra-headed label/project from (I think!) Vega, Pessimist, Overlook and Karim Maas called 4562.
We didn’t participate in so-called Record Store Day last month - not out of ideological protest (I mean who even cares), but laziness really, and also because, well, blah. If there was a protest, it was more on aesthetic grounds, but again whatever... Reason I blather about this is because each year, when the day is done, and the great unwashed have had their fill of tat, the leftovers are made available to the skulking likes of us.... And it just so happens that this year, among, are (relatively fuss-free) reissues of two of our all-time favourite albums. One of them is among this week's picks below, but we’ll save that one for next week when we have a bit more time to lavishly sings its praises (ooh, SUSPENSE!)
These two new limited 12”s from the rapidly expanding and increasingly prolific UVB-76 camp have arrived at the same time and are both pretty crucial, so they can share this week's limelight (such as it is) - grab them from us either separately or, for a limited time, together in a £-saving BUNDLE. First up a new label and group project, 4 6 2 5, which is a cloak and dagger affair but bears (we think?!) obvious traces of Pessimist, Vega, Karim Maas and Overlook. A kind of UVB allstars then, and as good, and as diverse, as you would expect of that: 'Non Citizen' slows and pares down Source Direct's snake style into a droning, minimal drum-funk, while ‘Proles’, mid-tempo breakbeats hooked onto its brittle, reduced electro chassis, feels like the natural extension of experiments undertaken by Pessimist on last year's self-titled LP. It's almost certainly the shadowy Karim Maas behind (ace) club-hassle / noise pressure-cooker 'Cassette_A' but the EP's most vital, vicious and sound-bombing offering is ‘The Barrens’: a ferociously on-point dungeon stepper, driven by planet-gargling Reese bass, that sounds like the long-awaited reincarnation of Ruffhouse. Granite-hard and ultra-alienated, but also swinging and dubwise, it owes as much to classic Sandwell District as it does to dnb - but this is music concerned not with genre, only fully righteous, rave-demolishing intensity. Such a banger!
If it's bangers you want, make sure you also check in with the new DROOGS. The second instalment in this very collectible but also brilliantly functional white label series of war-dubs is an Aspect solo mission, and we think it's fair to say it's RIDICULOUS - in the overwhelmingly positive sense of the word. Both tracks, that is, although you've got to hand it to 'Stand Clear': with its boisterous, zero-hour duh-duh vamp and brawling, rrrrrolling breaks, this is the kind of remorseless, heavy-ordnance, all-comer-crushing dancefloor weapon we didn't think anyone made any more. Oi!
Lush reissue (and first vinyl edition) of Sul Tempo, the sole album by the suitably mysterious Lorad Group. This '88 opus is a bit of a holy grail for the pyjama set, and it's not hard to understand why: "a musical rendering of the contemporary work-day", it's an agreeably airy, jazzy, minimalist vision of mood-music / pop-ambient, rendered with the kind of boderline twee and wipe-clean digital polish you'd typically associate with post-YMO/Hosono Japan. It's so utopian-sounding that it actually ends up sounding pretty dystopian... the suicidal salaryman's soundtrack of choice. That's a recommendation! Amazing artwork too...the full creamy package.
Some worthy RSD spill-off in the shape of Easy Action's new limited (500 copies) vinyl edish of this high-def but gorgeously mottled DIY/art-rock beauty from Jowe Head of Swell Maps and Television Personalities FAME. Out of print on the black shite since the mid-80s, Pincer Movement is easily the best of the post-Swellies solo albums, effortlessly eclipsing Epic Soundtracks and Nikki Sudden's (OK occasionally heart-rending but) thoroughly unadventurous offerings; in fact its relative vim makes it clear that it was Head who gave his former band their unpredictable, (experi)mental edge. It also anticipates at some level the concise, drug-damaged dronescapes that TVPs mk.2 (with Jowe on board) would essay on records like The Painted Word. It's a strange record, a whimsical crustacean scuttle through various psychedelic pop and lugubrious art-funk cut-ups, as if the Eno of Taking Tiger Mountain hit the blotter and then got locked inside a seafood restaurant...aye. The music is busy but incredibly spacious and dubby (far too pristine and studio-polished to truly be called DIY, despite its lawlessness), meaning even the more sub-consciously surreal motifs hit the mark, culminating in an unforgettable sequence of eccentric, underwater death-disco anthems: 'Glistening Pincer', 'Mermaid', 'Swissair'... So good, no self-respecting collection of UK hippie-punk is complete without this fella.
2LP of four-dimensional grime/2-step/tekno/electro/flat-beat... easily one of the most exhilarating and legitimately futuristic dancefloor shock-outs of 2018 so far, effortlessly vaulting past the lofty benchmarks set by FFT, Nkisi and Rian Treanor with the help of some unexpectedly biiiiig, sticky hooks and space-time-disembowelling, liquid-sword production that makes pretty much everything else we’ve heard in recent times sound dated, parochial and fundamentally f****ng pointless. Whether or not GL’s intention, it feels like the giddy culmination of long-term clinical trials to bring the bleeding edge of hardcore/avant computer music into the heart of the rave - mature here meaning totally unpretentious, with a refreshing emphasis on PLEASURE and IMMEDIACY. It’s never boring - but unlike so much stuff from the same milieu, it’s not annoying either, doesn’t feel like homework.
I mean of course when you zoom out slightly it’s absolutely, sectionably mental, as you’d expect from any worthy Death O' Rave side, but fundamentally Unfold UPDATES and COMPLICATES and INVIGORATES established codes of club-friendly structure, measure and texture, rather than rejecting them wholesale. With its reliance on prismatic mid-range tones, there’s an obvious debt to Mark Fell’s labcoat-house interventions, but there’s a sensuousness to this gear - and a playfulness, and a hooligan SWERVE - that is sorely missing from, say, a Sensate Focus record, or indeed Lazar’s striking but fundamentally pretty trying 2015 collaboration with Fell, The Neuorobiology of Moral Decision Making (I know). So it's OUT with science for science’s sake, IN with rolling sub-low basslines, ballistic, clap-heavy drum edits and nuff life-affirming, mind-strobing chord vamps! OUT with Nurofen-necessitating harshness, IN with a sound that is - despite its extra-terrestrial scope - properly rooted and dubwise. Yes, 100% gen-u-ine avant-garde yet TIMELESS garage-techno that sounds PHENOMENAL when you’re stoned. Isn’t that all anyone ever wanted?! Such a good record - built to shock and awe, but also to last. Treat yourself!
2LP. It's no DJ Python (tough act etc etc), but this second release from Jenny Slattery and Anthony Naples' Incienso is plenty absorbing and weird enough not to be too easily filed away. Largely but not exclusively downtempo, all smeared with reverb and suffocated with sub-bass, its just the right side of easy listening, an introspective collision of blunted city-glo ambience, decelerated deep house and rugged, chillin-with-the-wrong-b-girl breakbeats. One to spend some time with and get to know properly...(sorry I realise that sounds a bit creepy).
"Went to Saatchi Gallery...there were penises everywhere." - Carla
Hope this finds you well and that the British contingent enjoyed the hottest May bank holiday in four thousand years or whatever. I spent most of mine indoors with the curtains closed, doing my quarterly accounts and contemplating re-training as a dentist/farmer/jockey.
Oh but WHAT RICHES of music to console me. A box of preciousness arrived yesterday from the wonderful Dutch label Ongehoord - in it, the last remaining copies of their Narwal LP from last year, and a brand new LP compiling mid-late smoke-choked ‘80s tracks from the little-known Amsterdam outfit Deadline Paranoia. We don’t get out of bed for just any DIY/post-industrial archival job, but this one is top-drawer, very special.
Whaddelse? The always good-value Joe Talia on Black Truffle, some very accessible and darkly romantic Henning Christiansen on Penultimate Press, and upfront copies of new 10” of infernal disco rekahs from Ossia (edition of 199, VERY sexy screen-printed sleeves ++), plus classic Dennis Bovell reissued, and then a bunch of stuff that arrived too late for this week’s newsie - check the site tomorrow and Friday, there’s loads to be added once I’ve finished writing this bastard and drunk my various headaches away.
Having set the bar incredibly high with that Narwal LP (last copies available from us, bub), deepest dredger of the Dutch canalways, Jeroem Vermandere, brings us the second release on his Ongehoord imprint, a crucial document of mesmeric, ganja-steeped, outernational death-jazz and plaintive, plangent DIY shimmer.
Were it not for this very welcome 2018 intervention – the first in a projected trilogy of LPs showcasing the band’s work – Deadline Paranoia would’ve remained an all-legend, no-legacy concern: active in Amsterdam ’86-’88, their tape releases were entirely self-distributed, and their live reputation hinged on a few WHS (dub squat radio) sessions and one guerilla street-corner performance.
Culled from four of those borderline-mythical private press cassettes, everything but the drums on these tracks was home-recorded, and, freed from the time-pressure or prescriptive SANITY of a proper studio, the questing (and perpetually spannered) quartet were evidently able to explore their flipped-out vision to the hilt - and commit themselves fully to the none-more-important business of taking drugs to make music to take drugs to. Each member – with a rotating cast of eight or so guests - would handle four instruments each, among them bass, clarinet, radio, synthesizer, surna and organ, and play off and against post-industrial tape-loops culled from a collective kitty of field recordings and unheimlich drones of mysterious provenance. The results, a strange dreamlike blurring of textures and complex (but always intuitive, grooving) overlaid rhythms, are frequently stunning. Things like Normil Hawaiians, Leven Signs and Flaming Tunes are probably helpful signposts, in terms of dubwise/thrift-store inner flight, but 1/3 is generally a darker and more jaded-sounding (not to mention entirely instrumental) affair.
As the liner notes repeatedly assert, THC was as crucial to Deadline Paranoia as electricity - they would smoke themselves insensible for hours before even picking up their instruments, and I’m sure that isn’t the half of it. Mediocrity tends to be amplified by LOS DROGAS, but so too (up to a point) does genius: and Deadline Paranoia clearly had talent to burn, because far from succumbing to self-satisfied stoner whimsy or builder’s-bum jam-band bollocks, their music – despite its open-ended, patently tripped-out structure – has a controlled, minimalist, very CENTERED quality… alert, sensitive, and sharply focussed.
Two tracks of tail-thrashing, sound-murdering dub-tekno/f*ck-punk, steamrolled onto 10" and housed in hand-screen-printed sleeve, strictly limited edition of 199 copies…’Dub Hell' a sustained snarl of a DJ weapon that eschews smoked-out introspection in favour of a more direct and droogish 4/4 death-march: all industrial-strength drum-shudder, boneheaded rave vamps and plasmic, predatory bass-drones, like some kind of grim bio-mech death-racer built using parts stripped from old On-U/Maffia and the torn-off limbs of small children (gwan, Satan!)… ‘Devil’s Dance’ a more insidious, Isolationist nightmare, slower-acting and crueller for it. Bad vibes the order of the day then, but also a certain sybaritic PLEASURE…negative ecstasy baby! LC/RWDFWD up-front exclusive.
The latest two releases from Penultimate Press focus on the previously unreleased soundtracks for the films of Ursula Reuter Christiansen by her partner and collaborator Henning Christiansen. As those of you who picked up his disarmingly lovely Hesteofringen 10” on Holidays will know, Christiansen is capable of some heart-rending stuff when he decides to indulge his inner (morbid) romantic - that he deigns to do so only rarely makes those instances that much more precious. His score for The Executioner, Ursula’s 1971 debut (now regarded as a key work in early Danish feminist art), includes some of his most plain-speaking and affecting compositions: take ‘Woman, You Are Pregnant’, a mournful, stately, slow-motion folk implosion for piano and cello that will bring any latent sadness in you brimming unbidden to the surface. Catharsis!
Pieced together by PP’s Mark Harwood from the original master tapes in the Henning Christiansen Archive, this handsomely presented LP also features several vocal-based works as well as nature sounds from the island of Moen recorded for the film. Edition of 500 “on sorrowful black vinyl”.
Sanjay: Melbourne-born, Tokyo-based Joe Talia scrambles out of the cracks left by Kye with his first solo work worth paying attention to, out on Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle label. For over a decade Talia has been the consummate collaborator and hired gun for the middle-aged avant aristocracy (lol): drumming for Ambarchi, O’Rourke and Haino San, mastering, mixing and/or recording for Nazoranai and Arek Gulbenkoglu and a performer and musician in his own duo/group projects, most notably (and DEFINITELY worth checking) with James Rushford for their bleached-out electroacoustic / field recording LPs,ManhunterandPalisades. You cop the full force of this (non)storied career all the way throughTint.Tape loops and modular synths combine with Talia’s percussive intuition to deliver moments of sprawling, ecstatic free jazz mind-fry. Taking it’s inspiration from Jean-Claude Eloy’s Tokyo homage, Gaku-No-Michi, the record crescendos and plateaus in similar fashion but Talia’s exaltation has a knowing twinkle in it’s eye. It’s a look at Tokyo from the highest vantage point and transcribing its sparkling, neon pulse rather than the ghostlike automated imaginary of Eloy’s love note. Tint is (finally) a solo work from Talia that defines decades worth of work on the periphery - a fact that makes this constantly shifting, amorphous record all the more worthwhile.
Evergreen Matumbi magic reissued! Until now this slice of dewy-eyed but hard-hitting '77 lovers was available only on the original (and of late prohibitively expensive) More Cut 7" - so this fresh pressing, though not much to look at, is manna from heaven. It's peak Bovell, top to bottom, his swoit imploring multi-tracked harmonies riding criss staccato snares to the far end of the rainbow. Not just a UK reggae classic but a bona fide universal (un)pop anthem. Suitably studio-real-cloudy dub on the flip. ESSENTIAL MUST-HAVE!
We're good here. Can't speak for the others but this week I've mainly been thinking about (in addition to political and cultural ENTROPY): Linus Roache's hair, Linus Roache in general, doing our VAT return, how to clean a century-old leopard-skin and - speaking of hide - wondering whether I'll ever wear the RED jacket that I bought last month and which lies languishing in my wardrobe, labels still on, the deadline for return/exchange looming ever closer.
Can't think what else. Probably nothing else.
Well, been enjoying a lot of new stuff that has come in. Always thought the Steven Julien LP was going to be good but but not THIS good, and two new 12"s from fft and ZULI offer proof that NU dance music can be aggy and angular while still very capably drowning the brain's traditional pleasure-centres. Loads of goodies in this week that aren't covered fully in this 'ere: including very compelling candy-floss in the shape of Yu Su'sPreparations For Departure(premium Pyjama Music) and that Pablo's Eye LP on Stroom, and the return of cloak-and-dagger techno veterans Pom Pom (best thing on Ostgut Ton in years!). Also forgot to flag up that gnarly Martstman 2LP on Hidden Hawaii from a week or two back, and two re-presses on Batu and Lurka's Fringe White imprint... bangers all!!
In a couple of weeks I'm off on holiday, and Carla's heading out on US tour with Sanjay in tow, so Kenny and Estelle will be holding the fort in the second half of May and beginning of June - together with one or two new recruits. Yes, that's right, new trainee drivers aboard the LOW COMPANY LOCOMOTIVE. Be nice.
Album of the year so far?! Yes!!!!!!!! Rated Steven Funkineven's last full-length, the unmistakeably special Fallen - but dunno, at times it felt a little aloof and meandering, in the end perhaps not quite transcending its sketchbook premise. Bloodline seems a more coherent and cumulatively DEVASTATING record. True emotional wallop in machine-music is a rare thing, more often than not we have to settle for shorthand, broad brushstrokes…mere moodiness. Not here. This one is on another level. No pulp futurism or quasi-dystopian posturing, no oversaturated dread or melancholy-by-numbers - no hiding behind the pretence of the "cinematic". Bloodline isn’t the soundtrack to the film, it IS the film. It's billed as an autobiographical work, and while it’d be a fool’s errand to try to infer your man’s life story from the whine of a synth or jabber of a drum machine, you can’t help but feel there’s a WEIGHT to this material, a clear sense of a LIFE lived, and the LIVES that feed into and off it, dreams fulfilled and dreams denied, the sum of all the yesses and nos and maybes that = your time on earth…OK could be some Blue Tuesday vibes colouring our judgement here - feeling VERY sensitive darling - but Bloodline’s rhythmic and textural contours seem to map the warp and weft of time and memory itself, that strange double helix of ANTICIPATION and REGRET (lol). The five tracks that form the backbone of this album are each masterpieces of a kind, but Special Mention must go to the impeccably ruff, zero-hour street-acid of 'Roll Of the Dice’ (the best track of its kind since Kyle Hall’s ‘Zug Island’), the snub-nosed techno ennui of ‘Apache’, with its relentless stress-waves of pure maxed-out drum choppage steamrolling you into an uncertain exhilarating future even as its deep-blue keys nail you to the mouldering fence-post of your past (not again!), and, bringing you back from the brink, ‘Queen of Ungilsan’s’ coolly euphoric, urbane funk expansions>>>. Julien has managed to preserve the chewy, improvised, falteringly HUMAN quality that has characterised his work since day dot while doing away with all excess fat and affectation, producing a mature work that matches the psychological intensity and truth and beauty and eloquence of loftiest Detroit/Chicago canon, but lives and breathes and bleeds (Last) London. Some people just get it...
First ever vinyl edition of this Italian neo-noir ambient broodfest from 1992. Thanks to some canny ripper or other, it’s enjoyed the kind of internet afterlife that its makers couldn’t possibly have dreamt of when staring down the barrel of total obscurity way back when. Like so many key contemporary reissues, this one draws on the early 90s (I guess we finally just ran out of '80s), specifically that moment where the industrial and dark ambient impulse meets the textures and rhythms of AI techno and the nascent chill-out/downtempo explosion (implosion?). It’s lovely stuff, its combination of Luigi Morosin’s infinite guitar shimmer and Andrea Desidera’s longing, lambent synths coming off like a close cousin of Michael Brook and Pieter Nooten’s classic 4AD outing Sleeps With The Fishes. It’s rain'n'neon mood is fantastically sustained, but musically it isn’t afraid to wander: ‘Hanging Wave’, with its rolling drums and plumes of all-enveloping reverb, bridges Ingleton Falls-style hypnobeat with the post-rave death-disco of Two Lone Swordsmen, while elsewhere Desidera's more-is-more keyboard approach times drinks from the same well of eldritch folk fantasia as Serge Bulot. But if Skies In The Mirror is a new age record then it’s a pretty paranoid and pessimistic one: see 'T.V. Sky', with its droning fairground chimes and sampled cable infomercial chatter about the cancer-causing properties of your favourite pizza toppings, or Romina Salvadori’s dramatic but distant vocals on ‘Staircase To Nowhere’, seeming to anticipate F ingers at their most ghoulish. Still, for all these moments of psychic unrest, Skies In The Mirror repeatedly springs back to the kind of upwardly mobile existential angst you'd expect from a Michael Mann movie, and my own persie ‘Falasarna Exposure’ definitely has that Terje Rydpal / Heatsoundtrack vibe, careworn but coke-numbed. "I told you I’m never going back…"
Tight, ballistic, subs-bombing future-tekno/bleep gear from a new label - reinforcing rave fundamentals with ultra-modern sound design so pneumatic you feel like your eyeballs are gonna get clean sucked out of their sockets. Opening its account with a track that sounds like Sweet Exorcist's 'Testone' being dissected by Rian Treanor, it ultimately settles on a kind of Analord-ish electro / Stingray-ready ghetto-tech, but rendered with a power, precision and all-round OCD cyborg SWAGGER that is rare. So good!
Another irresistible cache of outsider electronics, ambient obscurities and wavey weapons for the indecisive DJ, shrewdly compiled by Melodie Souterraines and pressed up in an edition of 250. Those who like their comps to have a scholarly/historical approach will doubtless take issue with O/P, which jumps across decades and continents, beholden only to VIBE...but that's also what makes it refreshing… Love David Sudmalis’s crepuscular trip-jazz ‘Aquamarine’ (and his similarly downtempo spoken word collab with Andy Rantzen - yeah that guy is everywhere now - ‘Barren Ground’, also included here), Oberst Gregor’s queasy minimal synth mind-fuck ‘Froschwurst’, Science Patrol’s Solid Space-style swisher ‘Dereks In The Desert’, and the needling messthetic punk of Art Teachers' 'I Don't Earn Money'.... O/P might not quite scale the dizzy heights of the previous instalment in the series, O/R, but it’s a treasure trove nonetheless. Act fast, these won't last...
Following on from their 2LP edition of John T. Gast'sInna Babalon, Italy's Haunter Records continue to get serious with a heavy mini-LP of aggro-techno/grime phuturistix from ZULI, the Egyptian producer best known for his outings on Lee Gamble's UIQ (although the eagle-eyed will have spotted his tasty 'astrogangsta' mix of Petit Singe a couple of Haunters ago).
Yeah this stuff is noisy and frequently enervating and sometimes impatient (see the knowingly titled 'Your Tracks Are Too Short') - like so much contemporary "club" music, less the soundtrack to dancefloor bliss-out than to a collective crisis of identity and (urban) ecology - but perhaps thanks to his background as a beatmaker for the Cairo rap scene, ZULI knows when to pull back and let a rhythm, or a gas-cloud of ambience, ride out. Highlights come in the form of the title track's blown-out, decelerated jungle-techno - kicking and spitting like the hydra-headed, radiation-poisoned progeny of Christoph de Babalon's IYIIIOOI - and the demented, minimalist drum workout 'Your Tracks...', which sounds like Azzazzin-era Muslimgauze dragged through MESH's flash-drive backwards. In a GOOD way.