| CICCIOLINA HOLOCAUST / SERMONIZER|
Albeit Albeit / Sibelius Spiders
LP // £10.99
*First release from this important new imprint dedicated to releasing archival and previously unreleased material from the darkest end of the synth/analogue electronic underground dating from the late 70’s to mid 90’s – cut at dubplates & mastering in Berlin and pressed up in a limited run of 550 copies* There’s no shortage of electronic reissue imprints operating these days, especially ones concentrating on ‘lost’ synth-wave recordings from the late 70’s – mid 80’s – but few have access to the kind of material amassed over the years by Forced Nostalgia, a brand new label curated by one of Belgium’s most knowledgeable and methodical sound archivists: Fré De Vos. The breadth and quality of the material already scheduled for release by Forced Nostalgia is just jaw-dropping – extending the remit to begin with the post-punk heyday of the late 70’s all the way through to the mid 90’s, taking in often unreleased, mostly unheard and overlooked material from tape music to industrial, from bossa-pop to proto-techno, from drone to out and out analogue experimentation – with the vast majority of the music now being made available on vinyl for the very first time. For this first release, the label has unearthed incredible material from two brilliantly monikered production units dating back to the early-mid 80’s: Cicciolina Holocaust and Sermonizer. Florim Prishtina and Rezart Veseli recorded together as Cicciolina Holocaust in Firenze, (Italy) during the late ’70s and early ’80s, releasing several tapes, all as small private editions given to friends. Using a bunch of drum machines, home-made electronic synths, guitars, effects pedals and a Tascam 4-track Portastudio, the pair produced oppressive and uber-dark synthscapes and minimal proto-techno experiments that slot perfectly alongside the kind of darkside work typified by Regis and the more experimental end of the Downwards label in 2011. Sermonizer, meanwhile, is the work of an anonymous producer from Bologna who started experimenting with primitive (field-) recordings and tape manipulations in late ’79. From 1984 he recorded numerous avant-garde, industrial and ambient works on to a 4-track recorder and his massive output consists of numerous private tape albums, both studio and live recordings. The 5 tracks here were recorded between 1983 and 1986 and were made on Synthesizer, Guitar, Violin, Drum Machines, Electric Shaver and other found objects and voice – producing some of the darkest electronic material you’ll likely hear – somewhere between Coil, Throbbing Gristle and Gray. For those who like to dig deep – welcome to a whole new world of crucial, largely unknown and now thankfully unearthed material from the archives. Essential Purchase.
| TYLER, THE CREATOR|
2LP // £14.99
*Deluxe gatefold vinyl edition* At this point it’s hard to separate Odd Future frontman Tyler, The Creator’s music from the hype that has come to surround him in the few short months preceding this album’s release. His weirdly charismatic, cartoon personality has probably overshadowed his music, and you can be sure that there are plenty more people who know his face (and shorts) than have managed to get through the whole of his sprawling, controversial debut, ‘Bastard’. He’s an enviably smart kid mind, and though he’s only twenty years old (a point that is triumphantly shouted loud and proud in any editorial scrawl about the dude) ‘Goblin’ through its insecurity and pointed childishness, is just an impeccably conceived record. While his detractors just want to highlight the fact that the guy dresses in shorts, swears more than a Brummie bricklayer and likes to take Super Soakers to festivals; through the barrage of offensiveness, parodies and murder allegories you’ll find the kind of internal struggles most of us grew up with. The wounds are still fresh as daisies, and Tyler’s resentment, vitriol and poison are still corrosive when he spits. ‘Goblin’ is a concept album which finds its young protagonist in a warts ‘n all ‘therapy’ session, and over the course of an hour he exorcises nightmares and fantasies alike, setting his growing pains to some genuinely inspired production. Much has been made of Tyler’s obsession with the Neptunes, and ‘Goblin’ absolutely reminds me of the first time I gripped Kelis’s shockingly good (and still underrated) ‘Kaleidoscope’ LP back in 1999. The brutally minimal, spacious beats, the side-swiping storyline, it’s all there, but manages somehow to pay tribute to Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo without ever sounding like a carbon copy. By the time the album’s up you’ll have formed an opinion one way or the other – this isn’t the album that’s going to save rap music, and at times I’m not even certain it’s rap at all. While Tyler professes a love for nu-school hero Wacka Flocka Flame there’s little here that sounds as club heavy or drugs ‘n liquor dumb as the current mixtape set, but I have the sense that – if there was – it would sound disingenuous and ill-fitting. ‘Goblin’ is closest to a prog record (storylines, extended multi-faceted tunes etc etc), but maybe the first prog album rooted in the horrible truth of growing up in the migraine generation; the constant let downs, the over-exposure to media and the bulging, lingering, disgusting depression of not knowing what the f*ck is going to happen and where it’s going to take you. It doesn’t offer instant gratification, it’s not an album full of ‘Yonkers’ time and time again – and it’s definitely not horrorcore (grow up, haters). You’re all gonna need to listen carefully and listen more than once, and yeah, you’re gonna need to listen as loud as is humanly possible. ‘Goblin’ might just be the most important record of 2011, and whatever you think of it, it’s surely going to be the record that lodges itself in your mind more than just about anything else I can think of. A huge recommendation.
| MOON WIRING CLUB|
Somewhere a Fox is Getting Married
SOUNDTRACKS / LIBRARY / EARLY ELECTRONIC
LP // £15.99
**Includes a massive full colour fold out 24″x24″ poster and printed inner sleeve** As the Royal Wedding quickly becomes a faded memory we have Moon Wiring Club’s ‘Somewhere A Fox Is Getting Married’ to remind us just how absurd it all was. His latest missive from the fictitious town of Clinksell continues the story of a fox-faced phantom who won the opportunity to marry into royalty thanks to his success in a surreal card game. This is essentially the souvenir album, destined to be discovered and pored over by baffled charity shop diggers in 50 years time, next to battered copies of Vic Reeves and The Wonder Stuff 7″s and Kromestar white labels. It’s an apt tribute, imagining the soundtrack to a dark fairytale of anachronistic traditions and strange spectacles from a parallel world to our own. Again, MWC aka Ian Hodgson works with his trusted Playstation 2 to weave a knotty tangle of loping HipHop beats and sampledelic texturing, perhaps favouring more explicitly “darkside” sounds than many of his previous albums. In the dread dub crevasses of ‘Trapped In Four Dimensions’, the ghostly harpsichord of ‘Antiques Roadshow’ or the haunted voices on ‘Coquettish & Insane’ he elicits a magisterial sense of looming forces at play, always with an unnervingly stoic yet giddy weirdness, mirroring the latent strangeness of the ruling classes with a really sinister tint. Best of all, it’s one of the most compelling Moon Wiring Club albums we’ve had the pleasure of checking, a sentiment shared by the likes of The Guardian and Simon Reynolds who are both singing its praises. Highly recommended – especially if you’re into the work of Position Normal, Z-Trip, Ghost Box, Woebot or those classic Disengage radio transmissions on KISS FM back in the mid 90’s.
| THOMAS ANKERSMIT / VALERIO TRICOLI|
CD // £9.99
*First CD release on the incredible PAN label, limited to 1000 copies, housed in pro-press digisleeve jacket and containing another dose of flawlessly curated, picked and realised music from the extremes of the electronic spectrum – do not miss* Pan Records’ first CD release is also the first collaborative output by respected electroacoustic sound artists Thomas Ankersmit and Valerio Tricoli. Their five tracks on ‘Forma II’ were composed and recorded in Berlin from 2008 to 2010, and include four shorter electroacoustic pieces based on experiments with a Serge Modular Analogue synthesizer and one long-form tract of overdubbed saxophone exploring the timbral extremes of Ankersmit’s instrument. The four hyper-sensitively detailed electroacoustic pieces range from 6 to 13 minutes in length and move between ultra-vivid blizzards of textural detail to plangent drone and vast atmospheric diffusions. Through deft computer and tape processing coupled with almost tangibly “real” sound sources such as metal foil floating on ultrasonic soundbeams or the man made resonance of the radar domes at Teufelsberg outside Berlin, the pair create a kinetic space which challenges our perception of simulated, or virtual shapes and spatial settings, and non-virtual, acoustic tangibility. In particular, the thirteen minute ‘Plague #7’ is an immersive passage of deep, thrumming bass tones and glassy hi-frequencies with the potently surreal effect, while the longer finale, ‘Takht-e Tâvus’ builds a swarm-like cluster of sumptuously discordant saxophone tones amassing a slow, gripping intensity and uncannily natural detailing. The CD is really brought to life by Rashad Becker’s mastering at Clunk, and comes housed in one-tone silk screened pvc sleeve with interweaving geomteric designs, with artwork by Kathryn Politis and Bill Kouligas. Another exceptional transmission from PAN, a label that’s fast attained buy-on-sight status.
| BRUCE GILBERT|
This Way / The Shivering Man
2LP // £14.99
*Special vinyl set collecting the first two incredible solo albums from Bruce Gilbert – not to be missed* In 1979, after completing their third and final group masterpiece, 154, Wire dissolved, leaving Bruce Gilbert and fellow traveller Graham Lewis free to explore their interests in minimalist electronics across a series of solo and collaborative projects. Originally released on Mute in 1984, ‘This Way’ was Gilbert’s first solo album and was primarily made up of work commissioned by choreographer Michael Clark. The introductory ten minutes takes a floating choral sound, modulated alongside panning noise signals, moving in lapping wave formations until the tone darkens with what sounds like treated recordings of crying babies and howling electronic winds, leading us into the pulsating ambience and reverb splashes of the second part. For the third part, Gilbert morphs and phases a muffled breakbeat, over the course of a further ten minutes or so, working with rhythmic tape loop figures, strobing organ stings and phantom background wailings. The remaining two pieces are considerably shorter, and both deal with rapid, percussive takes on electronic sound manipulation. There’s a dramatic industrial feel to ‘Here Visit’ – and ‘U, Mu, U’ is no less confrontational, pummeling the listener with locomotive noise signals. Twenty-five years on they retain so much of their power largely because of their single-mindedness and creative belligerence. The 1986 follow-up, ‘The Shivering Man’, has now been remastered by Russell Haswell and is just a stone cold classic: a landmark in post-punk electronic music that sounds more relevant today than ever. Full of pulsating, dubwise rhythm and beautifully modulated noise, it benefits from vocal contributions from the angelic Angela Conway (AC Marias), most notably on the proto-techno, minimal wave groover ‘Eline Cout II’, and from Lewis on the closing ‘Epitaph For Henran Brenlar’ (which sounds like Raime and Old Apparatus producing Bauhaus, or near enough). The queasy tape loops and gurgling analogue synths of ‘Net In The Feather’ are poised somewhere between early Cabs and the modern-day murk of Ekoplekz and Mount Vernon Arts Club, and ‘Hommage’ and ‘There Are’ take us into gnashing, gnarly industrial territory. What makes this record so beguiling is the way it plays off textural abstraction against more traditional melodies and song structures, how suavely it walks the tightrope between sound art and pop, violence and romance. Just so good.
| AFRICA HITECH|
93 Million Miles
DUBSTEP / GRIME / FUNKY
3LP // £16.99
Africa HiTech’s Mark Pritchard and Steve White have really come correct with a full-length of bashy dubstep, funky and hip-hop variants. From his days in Global Communication, Jedi Knights et to his more recent Hyperdub / Harmonic 313 outings, Pritchard’s beat-building pedigree is second to none, and having skirted on the periphery of the contemporary UK bass scene for the past couple of years he’s now turned out the substantial statement he was threatening to make – aided and abetted by the nu-jazz nous of the man they used to called Steve Spacek. The opening title track is just boss, an accumulation of techy synth washes and rugged drum syncopation – imagine Omar-S if he’d grown up in Croydon instead of Detroit. The ghetto twitch of ‘Out In The Streets’ sits comfortably alongside recent Night Slugs and Pearson Sound productions; with their aquatic subs, wheedling synth tones and ultra-criss claps, ‘Future Moves’, Footstep’ and ‘Glangslap’ sound like polished takes on the kind of grime Slimzee used to spin in Pay As U Go (no higher recommendation than that). Following a lurch into dreamy Timbaland-meets-Drexciya synth-funk on ‘Our Luv’, ‘Light The Way’ invests a trad dubstep riddim with Fourth World texture and unease, while ‘Spirit’ and ‘Do You Wanna Fight’ reimagine UK garage as ethno-psychedelia, the latter bolstered with heavy vocoder usage and Eski horn parps. The closing double-punch of ‘Cyclic Sun and ‘Don’t Fight It’ is just beautiful, channelling Ethio-jazz, Congotronics drums, cinematic strings and Rhythm & Sound-style dub discipline into a sun-kissed hybrid that’s just begging to soundtrack your summer months.
DUBSTEP / GRIME / FUNKY
CD // £8.49
Bold and quite brilliant debut album from Bristol’s Hyetal. Following largely unmissable collaborations with Peverelist and Shortstuff for Punch Drunk and a handful of unique 12″s, ‘Broadcast’ pushes the parameters of dubstep to immerse in vivid VHS soundscapes equally inspired by the ebullient Midi-funk of Games, the tension of John Carpenter soundtracks and the blazing-heart pop of Prince. While the Purple influence has always been explicit in his twitchy, Linn-like drum sounds, it’s the inspiration he draws from the others, in lieu of typical ‘step memes, that makes this album an immense and quite unpredicted evolution. From the outset of ‘Ritual’ the mood is amped, pupils dilating to widescreen synth bursts and heart pumping to defibrillating bass. ‘Diamond Island’ appears next, kinda like a Burial-ized version of Games, before ‘Phoenix’ slips into gear with Outrun-ner arpeggiations pinned under smarting Linn cracks. ‘Beach Scene’ is our joint, like ‘I Would Die 4 U’ remade for the bassbin generation, while the three minute tension raiser ‘The Chase’ comes as close as Anton Maiovvi to that magical John Carpenter effect. Further in the tempos settle in for the ride, from the House clip of ‘Searchlight’ through dark, swaggering alley-funk on ‘Dimepiece’ and the urban gothic Electro-dub of ‘Boneyard’, depositing us at the Skull Disco-esque face-off ‘Black Black Black’, bookending the album with Alison Garner’s breathy vox over dread drums and techy synth-pop surges. In one fell swoop Hyetal has seemingly tied up everything we love about the synth-wave revival, Dread dubstep and VHS horror atmospheres, making this an unmissable listen. Highly recommended!
| JON PORRAS|
DARK AMBIENT / DRONE / METAL
LP // £11.99
**Limited to 500 copies** Arrestingly enigmatic debut solo from Elm and Barn Owl guitarist Jon Porras, dedicated to and deeply evocative of his northwest Pacific coast homeland. A “…love poem to the mist”, ‘Undercurrent’ is unfathomably vast in scope and effect, utterly immersive from the first film of drizzly, melancholy drone in opener ‘Grey Dunes’, to the lapping steel strings of closer ‘Gaze’. In between his sound moves as naturally as the water cycle and with equally incalculable size making us feel relatively minute compared with the unreachable horizons of his soundsphere: a fact no doubt abetted by the Norman Conquest’s exquisite peripheral mix. Inside this ecosystem distortion represents the wayward natural force of huge bodies of water passing between mountains and the ocean; elemental processes embodied as spectral, gaseous forms which shroud breathtaking harmonic topographies. Overall, the mood is as darkly impenetrable as the landscape itself, but certainly not without its moment of sheer beauty, found in the brief elation of fragile guitar found in ‘Calm’ and the heart-stopping ‘Land’s End’, beauty spots of respite from the enveloping gloom. Fans of everything from Tropic Of Cancer to Grouper and Deathprod will find solace with this album. Hugely recommended!