Review: Nicolas Jaar has been one of electronic music's most consistently hard to predict and innovative artists for a decade. The Chilean-American now offers up a full length on his own Other People label that he says is for inner battles. It is a work of masterful atmosphere that can be at times dense and gloomy, at others ethereal, and was written in isolation away from any form of stimulation-inducing drink and drugs. A constantly shifting sound means listeners are slipped in and out of reality as it plays out, making it tense, sombre and at times furious. This is yet another audacious record from the unrestrained mind of Nicolas Jaar.
Review: Vancouver has long been a hotbed for electronic talent, a city with a score that's as sharp as it is deep, noises that feel submerged in the post-rave, post-techno, post-ambient and post-whatever else underground we've now grown accustomed to as the melting pot of modern dance culture. Khotin isn't letting his hometown down here, nor Ghostly International, the label carrying this release.
The downtempo, space-y 'Heavyball' comes with a particularly pleasing sort of crunch to the beat. Its running mate, 'Groove 32', follows up with a low-stepping groove. 'Ivory Tower' briefly resurfaces into jazz-inflected, dusty house-influenced downbeat. 'Outside Light' takes us into complex, melodic ambient places perhaps most definitive of what this record sounds like overall, and certainly in keeping with its predecessor, Beautiful You.
Review: The latest drop on the consistently brilliant Kimochi comes from Eho Kates, a new project from Todd Gys and Brendon Moeller. While the names involved may be familiar, the resulting sound is something wholly fresh. Certainly, Moeller's rightly heralded instinct for dubwise processes is no great shock, but there's a playful sense of experimentation powering every element of this release from the scuffed, fractured rhythms of 'Anxiety Sensitivity' to the submerged echo chamber surrealism of 'Emotional Distress Endurance'. Inquisitive processes and otherworldly sound design shape out the whole record, shot through with the alluring mystery that defines Kimochi output overall.
Review: Those with extensive knowledge of Nurse With Wound's gargantuan back catalogue will happily tell you that Merzbild Schwet is one of the industrial outfit's greatest albums of all time. It was recorded in 1980, when Stephen Singleton dispatched with his then bandmates to make Nurse With Wound a solo project - as it has been ever since. It remains an alluring and intoxicating affair: a kind of 50-minute sound collage in two parts crafted from a mixture of tape loops, borrowed spoken word snippets, discordant jazz horns, dystopian post-industrial field recordings, outer-space electronics and tons of special effects. If you're interested in experimental music, then you need it in your life.
Review: Recently, Steve Pittis' long-running Dirter Promotions label has offered up a number of vital vinyl reissues of early albums by veteran industrial music experimentalists Nurse With Wound. It would be fair to say that 1980's To the Quiet Men from a Tiny Girl is another. For starters, only 500 copies were pressed first time around, making it one of the band's most hard-to-find releases. It' historically significant, too -it was the final set recorded by all three founding members (NWW quickly became a Stephen Singleton solo project) - but more importantly it's a fascinating, immersive and otherworldly listen, with each of the side-long compositions combining strange noises, odd field recordings, spoken word snippets, electrical interference, weirdo electronics and tipsy, solo free-jazz horns.
Review: In case you somehow missed it. Leo Generator is the new alias from Calvin Harris. It's a project he has said was inspired by underground artist Paul Woolford's Special Request moniker - a place Woolford cut loose and served up a dizzying array of old school sounds but with a modern twist. On this new one, The Internet's Steve Lacy features and the results are soaring, powerful vocal dance music for festival main stages and mainstream radio play. Mark Broom offers a more soulful and throwback house version, Solardo bring the acid on their remix and MK layers in some of his trademark New York drums and dubby undercurrents.
Review: Amsterdam label Music from Memory started their 12" series in order to present music that "was never available in this format but might just feel more at home there". The debut in the series from obscure San Francisco artist Joel Graham set the bar high, and we are happy to report this latest 12" featuring the work of UK artist Michal Turtle is just as good! A precursor to a wider retrospective planned on MFM, Are You Psychic? features two tracks from the early 80s Turtle improvised in his parents living room using various bits of gear and will delight anyone with a taste for discovering obscure electronic music from days gone by. B side track "Astral Decoy" is a particularly delightful production!
Theme From Blue II/(Silence)/The Hills Are Alive (11:10)
Review: If anyone sees the mind-bending 1980 movie Altered States, tell it we have its soundtrack. Or not. Perhaps late to the sensory deprivation tank party, Coil made much of the music here to accompany filmed scenes of erotica, as the title suggests, although this is more about tantric suggestions of cheekiness and sensuality than most of the orgies you might have in mind.
All very New Age, its crystalline sounds gradually move into more rhythmic tracks, like the suggestively-titled hypnotic pop of 'Happy End'. Polished off with the added bonus of a few cuts taken from the band's work Themes For Derek Jarman's Blue, this is very much one of those archive collections that anyone who knows needs to own, and those who don't need to learn about.
Review: Last year, Disciples rummaged through brain-dance pioneer Bogdan Raczynski's vast archives in order to offer-up a fine collection of previously unheard tunes. Now they've dripped into his catalogue of released music to offer up a new vinyl pressing of Samurai Math Beats, one of the producer's earliest albums and reportedly a big influence on another pioneer of eccentric, off-kilter electronic music, Richard D James. Now 21 years old, the album remains a startling listen thanks to its mutilated, mind-mangling blend of twisted, post-jungle "drill and bass" rhythms, child-like electronic melodies, lo-fi vocals and warped IDM flourishes. It was undoubtedly both of its time and ahead of its time; if you missed out first time around, we'd recommend picking up a copy now.
Review: Having kept his silence for much of the past four years, Nicolas Jaar has finally broken cover to release not one but two new albums under his given name. Telas, which follows the highly personal and critically acclaimed Cenizas, was recorded largely in isolation and consists of four lengthy aural tracts strewn across four sides of wax. Almost entirely beat-free and ambient, it sees Jaar make use of all manner of custom-made instruments, squally jazz horns, unusual instrumentation (a bass clarinet features heavily on one cut) and his usual evocative electronics to create slowly-shifting epics that variously doff a cap to Reich/Riley/Glass style minimalism, Stockhausen-esque sound collage, the ambient works of Brian Eno and, most impressively, the 'Fourth World' sounds of Jon Hassell.
Review: Although not that well known (yet) in the UK, vocal trio Phelemuncasi has spent the last decade at the forefront of South Africa's Gqom revolution. This fine retrospective from Nyege Nyege Tapes tells their story so far, tracking the development of their trademark sound - a dark, off-kilter, rhythmically up-beat and pleasingly bass-heavy take on Gqom which seems to owe as much to UK grime as it does the underground sounds of their home city of Durban. From start to finish, the trio's isiZuku raps seemingly leap from the speakers, in cahoots with punchy and weighty backing tracks produced by such Gqom heroes as DJ MP3, DJ Scoturn and rising stars Menzi.
Review: Still House Plants - AKA drummer David Kennedy, vocalist Jessica Hickie-Kallenbach and guitarist Finlay Clark, who all met at Glasgow Art School - have certainly made a lot of noise with this record. Respected critics are hailing it one of 2020's standout musical moments and, despite the pared back aesthetic throughout, the meeting of jazz percussion styles, repetitive and often locked grooves, and R&B time signatures can reach cacophonous proportions with ease. And that's no bad thing.
You realise about two seconds into the distorted vocal-guitar-drum warm up 'Pleasures', these guys aren't willing to play by the rules, and they really shouldn't have to. It's a rough, ready but incredibly tight nod at punk, UK club music, blues, lo-fi garage rock and something avant-garde or other. 'Shy Song' sounds like a sombre ballad lost its way in opiate heaven, 'Getting Murky' has this wonderfully heavy, sticky night air swagger, and 'PredickateD' is a kind of abstract soul. Exceptional.
Review: Back in 2016, Jah Wobble offered up a two-disc trawl through the more dub-fired corners of his vast back catalogue, In Dub. While that set included dub tracks and self-made reworks that spanned the whole of his then 40-year career, this belated sequel concentrates on material made since 1990. As you'd expect given Wobble's track record, there's little straight-up dub reggae present, but rather a ton of hazy, delay-laden musical fusions that mix and match elements of ambient, electronica, post-punk, no-wave, traditional Indian music, trip-hop, psychedelia, jazz and even dense, tribal style drum tracks - all laden with the sometime Public Image Ltd member's trademark weighty bass. Throw in some never-before-heard mixes and previously vinyl-only versions, and you have another fine collection of heady, dub-wise fusions.