Repose (Circle Two: Coastal Rotation For Dune Loop)
LP // £15.99
*Strictly limited, individually numbered edition of just 500 for the world* Eleh’s series of releases since 2006 have been some of the most enigmatic additions to the avant-garde/minimalist canon in recent memory. ‘Circle Two: Coastal Rotation For Dune Loop’ is a new 17 minute composition which recently debuted at the Mutek festival in Montreal. It completes a trilogy of releases following the ‘Retreat/Return’ LPs for Touch, replete with an etching of concentric circles on the reverse. His/Her/Their (who knows?) sound of swollen bass pulses and augmented acoustic phenomena is rooted in the minimalist traditions of Charlemagne Palestine, Eliane Radigue and La Monte Young, offering a personal and deeply spiritual investigation of analog synthesis concerned with emphasizing the physical presence of sound. This means that Eleh records demand to be played loud and with your complete attention. When experienced through capable speakers the juxtaposition of tones, subatomic bass quivers and electroacoustically shaped microtonal shifts are dispensed with an intense tactility, and unnervingly so at high volume. Compositionally, the piece is almost palindromic in arrangement, like emerging from a crater in the dunes of the title to meet a visceral sea breeze, before descending back into the abyss to be joined by chirruping hi frequencies while the low-end tremors become trapped under the weight of their own gravity. Only in the hands of such hyper-aware dronesmiths can this music affect so deeply, and in the case of Eleh, seem to attain a beautifully cathartic and intimate quality that’s impossible to describe. This LP is limited to 500 copies for the world and comes with our highest recommendation.
| GEOFF MULLEN|
DARK AMBIENT / DRONE / METAL
LP // £8.99
*Strictly limited vinyl-only album* Geoff Mullen is a hugely respected member of the New England experimental/improv scene, often found in the same circles as Keith Fullerton Whitman aka Hrvatski. He makes his Type debut with an utterly bewitching, secretive set of sounds which were originally heard on a cassette released by the ‘Razors And Medicine’ label earlier this year, containing six tracks of personal, heavy and undeniably magical drone music. He uses a modest setup of treated guitar together with the Yamaha CS50 synthesizer (a baby sibling of the CS80 used so definitively in Blade Runner), plus mottled FX and loops to create fascinating music which gracefully darts away from any clear pigeonholing. Over the course of this album he vividly evokes the spirit of some towering avant-garde/drone figures but consistently holds his own with a unique sense of arrangement and innate inner movements. This is evident from the first track, with its subterranean core of symphonic movement shyly guarded with layers of tape hiss and stray drones, followed by a loop-based piece of reversed rustic drums and bloopy ’60s electronics. As we wind deeper in, he continues to change discipline, conjuring cavernous ambient scapes and darker skylines, but there’s a distinct, silvery thread of positive emotion flowing through his ferric silt which makes writing about these sounds an almost fruitless task as they continue to shift focus and beguile at every turn. Ultimately, Mullen has an uncanny grasp of melody, mood and harmony which should be ignored at your peril.
2CD // £12.99
*The long awaited full-length return of Markus Popp with a brand new, 2 hour long album for Thrill Jockey* Having dropped off the radar over recent years , Markus Popp made a much-anticipated return under his Oval guise earlier on in 2010, delivering the Oh EP for Thrill Jockey. Now, the full-length is with us – all seventy-tracks and two hours of it. There’s a very clear distinction between the Oval material of the 1990s and this new music: previously, Popp had emphatically put theory and concept ahead of the actual end product, and this made for groundbreaking, often startlingly alien sounds. All these years on and the notion of wilfully disrupting digital music platforms as a means of creation (the essence of the ‘glitch’ movement Oval spearheaded) feels like a well-worn and familiar idea, and so rather than retread former glories, ‘O’ represents a radical departure for Popp. Abandoning his own custom-built, glitch-generating apparatus, the new approach brings Popp’s musicianship to the fore, and across this sprawling track selection he further explores the language of trilling electroacoustics previewed on the recent EP. Once again, Popp occasionally adorns his compositions with percussion, adding a further ‘real-life’ layer to the whirring, machinated sounds that pierce the fabric of his recordings, but perhaps contrary to the intention, you can’t help but wonder how those central electronic constituents are made. On the surface, it seems as if you’re listening to guitars and soft-synths being sculpted into prickly melodic shapes, but you can’t quite tell how much is performed in real-time and how much is an electronic treatment – or for that matter what that electronic treatment might be. Consequently, it’s a little bit difficult to accept O as an about-face from Popp’s conceptual, process-heavy past; the essential aesthetics of this music (particularly the more fragmentary, miniaturised tracks of the second disc) actually seem like close cousins of the old-style Oval works – almost as if you’re listening to a synthesis or replication of that pioneering glitch music, except it’s all very live, even acoustic sounding this time around. However it was made, O is a triumphant return for Popp, one that sets out to reinvent the Oval sound yet remains true to its singular, pioneering spirit. Highly Recommended.
| CONRAD SCHNITZLER|
LP // £11.99
Extraordinary and essential archival obscurity from kosmische generator Conrad Schnitzler, reissued for the first time on vinyl with reshapes from Pole, and Bornbräber & Strüver. Schnitzler’s 20 minute composition ‘Zug’ was issued on a private tape back in 1974, capturing the innovator in his most alien and transcendental form. The track revolves around a hypnotic and infinitely linear rhythm which Schnitzler gradually develops into glorious astral plumes, increasing with creepy intensity towards some foreboding, unresolved conclusion. The two remixes offer possible solutions to this problem. Firstly, Pole’s reshape sounds remarkably similar to the recent MvO Trio experiments, detaching the prickly, metallic hi-end rhythms and arranging them around a swooping subbass momentum with acres of space in between. It’s more earthbound than the original, but equally hypnotic and abstract. Further on and Bornbräber & Strüver give another grounded but similarly driving effort loaded with slow pounding kicks and a slowly maturing synth grind reminding us of Motiivi:Tuntematon’s incredible ‘Mankind Failed’ to some extent. No messing, this is an unbelievably important archival discovery which couldn’t have surfaced at a more apt time. Highly recommended.
DARK AMBIENT / DRONE / METAL
SLOW FLOW REC
CD // £7.99
*Beautiful album of aged recordings, drones and field recordings – a must for followers of William Basinski* Caesarean’s lead track, ‘Discrete Memorial’ is a real rarity within the field of ambient music: it’s a piece that instantly takes hold of you, dragging you deeply into its faded, tape-eroded realm. Rather than stringing out drones from analogue synths, soft synths or field recordings, Concern’s Gordon Ashworth instead calls upon the services of various acoustic sound sources (clarinet, banjo, guitars, organs and more), all collaged together in an almost tangibly physical recording environment that seems a million miles away from the computer-dominated soundscapes this genre generally throws your way. It’s only the start of a very long journey (the album isn’t too far off maxing out the disc), but you might have trouble moving on from ‘Discrete Memorial’. It’s really quite wonderful; full of faults and dropouts, an introductory piano riff fires up in a stuttering loop, before languid woodwind tones join in. In theory this would all sound a bit derivative of William Basinski, but Ashworth ably asserts a very different voice on these pieces and certainly doesn’t adhere to any strictly repetitious loop-driven formula. Even on more conventionally drone-driven compositions like ‘Mending’ or ‘Leaving Gold’ there’s very evidently something special about those shimmering harmonics and endlessly sustaining strings; as much as the music itself, it’s to do with the production and the way the instruments dissolve into one another as Ashworth pieces the different elements together. Using both cassettes and quarter-inch tape, the album layers various crumbling stretches of acoustic sounds – perhaps never more adeptly than on the finely spliced ‘From Warmth And From Violence’ and its half-hour-plus follow-up ‘Immersed In Envy, Porous With Forgetfulness’, a formidable, slow-moving montage of ideas and sonic environments. Opening with ten minutes or so of dazzling metallic thrum, Ashworth goes on to pool sparse, untreated concrete sounds with overspilling harmonium chords to tremendous effect. Like Caesarian as a whole, it’s not easy to pinpoint precisely what it is about all this that distinguishes Concern as something special, but take a listen and it’ll soon become self-evident. Highly recommended.
Fabric 53: Surgeon
TECHNO / HOUSE
CD // £9.99
Anthony Child aka Surgeon knocks up one the finest mixes in Fabric’s illustrious catalogue. It finds him at a point in his career where tempered experimentation is key, taking risks and derivés into zones most other “techno” jocks wouldn’t touch with yours. As ever, the selection is subject to meticulous sequencing and deft mixing, blurring the rhythmic codes of dubstep and techno like a Dutch botanist attempting to cross a cactus with a tulip. The throb is at the root of what he does here, but it’s broken with tracks from Instra:mental, Greena, Starkey, Gatekeeper and Subeena, adding a more tumultuous topography to the linear thrust of his pure techno selections from Ritzi Lee, FSG, Reeko, Ancient Methods, Orphyx, PAS, Hood and many more. This is aerobic club music for athletic ears and should be soundtracking your next power walk or saturday night warm up without question.
| DAVID DANIELL / VARIOUS|
Offstrings: Inventions For Guitar
HOME LISTENING / MODERN CLASSICAL / AMBIENT
LP // £14.99
Around the turn of the century there seemed to be a wave of guitarists versed in experimental and electronic musics who sought out ways of drawing new sounds from their instrument of choice; the likes of Fennesz, Tim Hecker, Keith Fullerton Whitman (on his still-superb Playthroughs album), Sebastien Roux and Christopher Willits were among the most notable artists in this movement, and now, at the start of a new decade, this excellent album strives to highlight the work of five emerging guitarists from Chicago with similar designs on re-imagining the guitar’s timbral landscape. Travis Bird & Daniel Burke contribute the first two tracks on the album, arriving with a brand of subtly constructed music that owes something to the lulling melancholy of Loren Connors. The duo pluck a mournful, electrified path through opener ‘Breaking The Ice Before Winter Sets In’ and subsequently drift through a freetime soundscape of volume-swelling chords and frayed, jangling frequencies on ‘Dark Matter’. Venturing in a more abstract direction, Michael Vallera’s ‘Arm Of The Sun’ reshapes the guitar’s tonal range into something more akin to an analogue synthesizer, pulsing through tidal drone motions. Here, the guitar doesn’t actually sound like anyone’s actually playing it. There’s no expression in the performance as such; instead the instrument is used as a tone generator, incrementally building up to an incredible, intense crescendo. David Daniell’s contribution, meanwhile, is just utterly breathtaking. Daniell has recently been found touting his wares in collaboration with Christian Fennesz, and on his piece here, ‘Strobe’, an underlying tremolo figure and organ-like sustaining tones provide a dramatic background context for swathes of stirring, soundtrack-ready six-string manoeuvres. The poise and magnitude of all this seems to reach far beyond the normal parameters of purely guitar-generated music, yet your attention isn’t particularly drawn to the presence of post-production or processing. Daniell’s definitely one to keep tabs on. Mark Shippy closes the album wielding his steel-strung acoustic on ‘x-Involucrant-x’, which to a certain degree brings to mind John Fahey’s Table Of The Elements-era output. On a purely harmonic level, Shippy’s piece might be the most involving of the bunch, taking you through dissonant cascades of ascending/descending runs that rumble and reverberate between the speakers in a commanding fashion, to some degree translating the spirit of bluegrass into a new, modernist language. Limited to 500 copies on 180 gram coloured vinyl (100 white vinyl, 100 translucent blue, 100 clear, 100 clear & translucent blue, 100 white & translucent blue), complete with digital download coupon, redeemable directly from the label. Very highly recommended.
TECHNO / HOUSE
CD // £10.49
‘The Traveller’ is simply the most anticipated techno album of the year, and probably one of its best. It’s yet another pristine example of René Pawlowitz’s dilated dancefloor scope, sourcing influences from ’90s UK techno and hardcore to explore new routes around the signature 4/4 pulse of Berlin dance music. As with his massively acclaimed predecessor ‘Shedding The Past’, Shed seems completely at ease with the album format, offering a range of deadly, yet often brief ideas which add up to a personal and nostalgic comment on techno in 2010. That spirit of pre-’94 jungle and hardcore is written deeply through cuts like ‘Leave Things’, which initially sounds like a Japanese Telecom track before bursting into into a truly magnificent ‘ardcore head rush, and then there’s the vintage Reload-esque construction of ‘Atmo – Action’ and the hyperactive mentasms of ‘No Way!’ just in case you had any doubts about what makes this guy buzz. And in case if you were wondering, straight 4/4 tracks do make an appearance, bookending the set with the insistent momentum of ‘My R-Class’ and the celestial vectors of ‘HDRTM’, but the best bits are those shorter, dreamy ‘ardcore snapshots like the vintage Carl Craig-esque sweep of ’44A (Hard Wax Forever)’ and the ‘Polynomial C’ style strings of ‘Hello Bleep!’. Needless to say, fans of the previous album should be hugely satisfied, and newcomers should be investigating at the first opportunity. Recommended.
| BJ NILSEN & STILLUPPSTEYPA|
DARK AMBIENT / DRONE / METAL
2LP // £16.99
*Fantastic collaboration between two masters of immersive drone music and location recordings – available on a deluxe vinyl edition for the first time* This incredible ninety-minute album was originally released on cassette earlier on this year. Divided into four lengthy pieces, the album has the feel of a classic piece of analogue experimentation, populated by obliterated field recordings, vintage synth timbres, archaic, blipping tones and above all, acre after acre of sustaining, continuous sound. It’s hard to know exactly how this music came about, but if you scry long enough over these vast, smoky vistas you’ll hear shapes (of some sort) starting to emerge. It’s listed that the principal ‘instrument’ used in the making of this record was a Revox 2-channel tape machine, and the fact that the release was originally consigned to cassette means that the warm, magnetic character of the music is seen through right to the end. The classic, old-fashioned styling of the album contributes to the overwhelming ambiguity that hangs over proceedings; very few modern, digital drone records manage to achieve such an unshakable air of foggy enigma, and at its intangible best ‘Space Finale’ evokes a fantasy meeting between Delia Derbyshire and The Hafler Trio. Strictly limited copies – an absolute treasure.
| THE BLESSINGS|
BEATS / DOWNTEMPO / BOOGIE
LP // £6.99
The Blessings are DomSum and Martyn Flyn, two cats behind one of the best labels in the world right now, Glasgow’s LuckyMe. While their label has given birth to some milestone rekkids like Hud Mo’s ‘Ooops’ 12″ and the American Men album, they’ve kept their own beats on the downlow, choosing to release these six sweet ‘n crispy blends of New Jack Swing, electro and midnight funk on Nod Navigators. In ‘Arisseee Henson’ they ooze purple soundtrack synth juice from every pore, and on ‘Faberge’ take off from the same base as Hud Mo’s lazer funk, before the centrepiece ‘Moranis Riding Ants’ makes their reference points quite clear, balancing warm ’80s nostalgia with flickers of futurist dubstep bass and crushed drum programming. Furthermore, ‘Keith Sweats’ pays tribute to the don of slicked out R’n’B in canny ‘tronic style and the blurred harmonic hues of ‘Hot Song’ leaves a very memorable taste on the ear. Fans of Hud Mo, Mike Slott, and Funkineven need to get on this!