Rave mutations, No Wave and hardcore punk, ambient solitude, EBM malevolence, a Slovenian take on North Korean opera propaganda and the return of the greatest hip-hop duo since Madlib’s last greatest hip-hop duo. The soundtrack of June 2019…
BEAK> – Minus Pillow (Life Goes On EP)
More futurist psych grooves from Beak> on their new EP, whose cover features a bastardised scrawled bad trip version of the artwork of their 2018 album >>>. ‘Minus Pillow’’s half-buffered percussion, shattered electro synths and detached cyborg voices makes for the most satisfying weirdo highlight.
MAY EAST – Maraka (Outro Tempo II compilation)
Following London-based DJ John Gómez’s brilliant 2017 compilation Outro Tempo: Electronic and Contemporary Music From Brazil, 1978-92, this follow-up tightens up the time period to 1984-82 and takes it on a further electronic exploration. The highlight is May East’s ‘Maraka’, with its Belgian New Beat vibes touched up with jazzy synth solos. More here.
FRENCH VANILLA – All the Time (How Am I Not Myself? LP)
Insanely catchy track from this LA loose punk groove act, who channel the early 80s No Wave here, with the dank bassline and skronky sax blasts. There’s a defiant ring of The Slits’ Ari-Up from lead singer Sally Spitz, which is always a good thing.
JUSTIN HOPPER, SHARON KRAUS & BELBURY POLY – Out of Body (Chanctonbury Rings LP)
Another unsettling release from Ghost Box Records, a “journey in poetry, prose, music and song”, with haunting electronica, electroacoustic passages, rural field recordings and spoken word passages from Hopper’s book, a psychogeographical account of his experiences at Chanctonbury Ring in Sussex. It’s a mystical, transportive psychedelic experience, and Hopper’s speaking voice is impossibly rich. If this music nixer doesn’t work out for him he’d make a good hypnotist.
FREDDIE GIBBS & MADLIB – Crime Pays
The gift that keeps on Gibbing – Freddie and Madlib’s new album Bandana comes five years after Pinata and it’s another hall of fame record from the pair. I’m not the biggest fan of soul sample choruses in hip-hop, but the “look to the sky” hook here is straight-up magical, and Madlib’s rich and woozy psychedelia will never sweeten up Gibbs’ rugged street bars too much.
ABADIR – Aphasia
This EP from Egyptian producer Abadir could be loosely filed as ambient, but it’s a compelling, intense listen that doesn’t merely waft past. Sharing a similar hyperreal ultra-hi-def arsenal with artists like Objekt, M.E.S.H., Logos and Elysia Crampton, it feels like the sonic flips are working on a subatomic level.
BIOSPHERE – The Senja Recordings
Producer Geir Jenssen’s latest Biosphere project is a work of ambient solitude, an hour-long collection of electronic improvisations and outdoor field recordings in Senja, Norway’s second largest Island. It wafts between serene passages to grainy, glitchy and metallic textures, and it’s best listened to as a whole piece.
LAIBACH – Honorable, Dead or Alive, When Following the Revolutionary Road
In the past, Slovenian performance art industrialists Laibach have gone on an ‘Occupied Europe NATO Tour’, released an album of desecrated national anthems and created their own independent state with passports, among hundreds of provocative moves. So one batted that much of an eyelid when their latest provocative move was to become the first ever Western band to play North Korea – performing songs from The Sound of Music, which later became an album.
The plot and concept thickens with this latest release, a reworking of an old Korean propaganda pop song – a pretty tender version with lush strings and operatic vocals. It’s taken from an opera that’s “set in the period of the anti-Japanese armed struggle”.
CIGNOL – Talbot Sunbeam
I work on Talbot Street in Dublin and let’s be generous and say it’s an ‘interesting’ part of the inner city. The running soundtrack is the dodgy bar across the road blasting Karaoke at Magaluf at midnight volumes, but what about this new EP by Dubliner Cignol as a summer alternative? A warm comfort blanket hybrid of Vibert acid and Drexciyan electro that probably has nothing to do with Talbot Street, but it’s drowning out some alco vomiting out Simply the Best right now. The second release from the brilliantly-named Winthorpe Electronics — more on the previous EP here.
TEN YEARS LOST – Mind Sex
If you’re calling a track Mind Sex you’ve gotta have your shit together. Thankfully this debut EP from Ten Years Lost on Dublin label Apartment Records follows up on the title with a belter that starts off with a Front 242 arpeggio bassline but offsets the EBM paranoia in no time with cosmic sci-fi synths and and a string section around 3.50 that could give you a lump in your throat depending on the time of night or what state you’re in.
VARYA KARPOVA & VANYA KOREYA – Extrapolation
St Petersburg duo Varya Karpova & Vanya Koreya know how to rub up classic dance music and industrial strength techno the right way – with Mentasm Hoover synths and rave piano motifs knocked into a corner by frantic breaks and dystopian sci-fi sound design. More here.
PERFORATED CEREBRAL PARTY – LED
Russian duo Perforated Cerebral Party are leading a self-proclaimed ‘sect’ in St Petersburg spreading a form of dark electronics they’ve called Somatik – a “ghettopsychedelic futuristic music wave”. LED off their new album Routestory is a good intro to their dank dub and psychedelic slow-mo techno. More here…
XUXA SANTAMARIA – Rudos Del Mar
Oakland duo XUXA SANTAMARIA fit a lot into a track that on first listen feels like a euphoric, proggy synth banger. But they’ve framed ‘Rudos del Mar’ as a tale of pirates “patrolling the seas beyond the edges of language, reason, and time”, with their upcoming album an exploration of mythology, political theory, fine art and feminist untold histories. More here…
GROSS NET – Gentrification
I won’t lie, I got nervous when I saw Gross Net’s Philip Quinn holding an acoustic guitar in a still for his new video – after the industrial mechanised thrill of his last album Quantitative Easing. Sigh of relief, he won’t be on Grafton Street singing Glen Hansard songs any time soon – call off the intervention. In fairness, ‘Gentrification’ is a sidestep from previous Gross Net, but I’m all for the smudgy synths, melancholy vocals and that bassline that reminds me somehow of Aphex Twin’s Actium.
AUTUMNS – You’re Not an Artist, You’re a Dickhead
AUTUMNS – Nah, You’re Actually Wrong
Double-drop of gold star titles of the month from Derry producer Christian Donaghey aka Autumns, whose track Recovery is one of the nightlights of Earwiggle’s recent Eel Behaviour series.
Both of these follow a similar malevolent industrial EBM techno path, with one track on the Clan Destine Records compilation LIFE IST KRIEG and the other as part of Opal Tapes’ comp Amateur Vampires.
HIDE – Chainsaw
‘Chainsaw’ is the first single from the Chicago duo’s second album HELL IS HERE, a sheet metal industrial pile-up with no beat that somehow manages to batter you sideways with a repeated riff that’s fraying at the edges. The lyrics aren’t written by the band, but rather Heather Gabel vomits out shitty insults they’ve heard repeatedly on the street, “often while in the company of a child”. More here.
VICTIMS – The Sea and Poison (The Horse and Sparrow Theory)
The ‘horse and sparrow theory’ is a 19th century precursor of trickle-down economics, as in, “If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows”. You can guess Swedish hardcore crust-punk act Victims aren’t really fans, and their new album is a half-hour D-beat petrol bomb, with ‘The Sea and Poison’ landing a bullseye.