avant . leftfield . post-rock . drone . experimental


Genre pick of the week Cover of Gruidés by Stephen O'Malley.

Stephen O'Malley


Barry Says : Stephen O' Malley, formerly involved in all the projects dedicated to all the subgenres of drone/classical/dark ambient (Sunn o))), Aethenor, KTL, Khanate, etc) presents this, his latest incarnation.

"Gruidés" is a collaboration with the French improv orchestra, ONCEIM and is very much a longform drone piece dedicated to texture and weight.

Overtly sustained notes on all instruments ( special shout-outs to Xavier and Louis, clarinet and trumpet respectively) build atop each other slowly, sometimes dissonantly to create an increasing magnitude to the piece. Though the notes themselves are not changing, the organic sway of breath, or hand on the instrument lends it a living feel.

The second side presents a slightly more airy and spacious affair (within reason), clangs of wood and surpringly small sounding, yet strangely jarring bells pierce the washing pulls of strings. Shockingly candid, and visceral, this piece even more than the last displays a fragility and finity not often seen in classical music, and to stunning affect.

Through classical methods (and instrumentation), and the intensity of drone, "Gruidés" presents an initially bleak outlook, but glints beneath the surface. Shining and stunning, this is a modern classical masterpiece, a fascinating and life-affirming journey, and is one further notch in the extensive musical bedpost of Stephen O' Malley.

Melancholia. Longing. Melancholia is a mood which we like to invoke and to maintain, we like to envelop ourselves in it like in a warm blanket. Our brain and our sensory systems appear to be made for perceiving and emotionally responding to music in a very immediate fashion. Consequently music is the obvious drug for all of us melancholia-addicts. However, there is a thin line between melancholia and sadness, and music which is meant to be melancholic too often crosses this line by far. Only very few artists succeed in avoiding this crossing, and in creating music which is melancholia in its most pure form. It is safe to say that BERSARIN QUARTETT - the electronic music project of Thomas Bücker - is one of them.

After his successful self-titled debut in 2008 and the sophomore 'II' in 2012 - album of the month in many magazines and in numerous "Best of the year" lists - Bücker returns with his third. Much like his two predecessors, III is a pure paradox. It is the creation of a perfectionist, an adamant control freak. Every element, be it a note, an ambience layer, a string arrangement, a field recording, a baseline, a vocal (Clara Hill on Track 11) or a beat, is meticulously modified and then assigned its place in Bücker's vast but still minimalistic arrangements. Thus, superficially Bücker's pieces seem to radiate a certain mechanical bleakness. However, there is a unique reduced warmth and liveliness emerging from these stainless compositions and transcending them. This transcendence is precisely the point where Bücker ironically looses control over his creations.

In contrast to the first two BERSARIN QUARTETT albums, 'III' offers a few darker shades and succeeds even further in narrowing down the arrangements to the absolute essentials without losing the characteristic grandeur of Bücker's sound. Whereas BERSARIN QUARTETT's debut was merely a description of melancholia in its most pure form, III maybe even goes as far a defining what melancholia really is. It is the only emotion in the vast spectrum of human states of mind which one can bear forever. 

'Under the shimmering diversions of the spectacle, banalization dominates modern society the world over and at every point where the developed consumption of commodities has seemingly multiplied the roles and objects to choose from. The remains of religion and of the family (the principal relic of the heritage of class power) and the moral repression they assure, merge whenever the enjoyment of this world is affirmed–this world being nothing other than repressive pseudo-enjoyment. The smug acceptance of what exists can also merge with purely spectacular rebellion; this reflects the simple fact that dissatisfaction itself became a commodity as soon as economic abundance could extend production to the processing of such raw materials.'

Steve Lyon's phenomenal Bitter Minnow project returns to Ono for another excursion into synthetic-organic sonic exploration. Lyon's guitar playing is spacious, ambient and experimental; often preferring singular harmonic resonances to full chords or scales. Comparisons could be drawn with Mark Mcguire as to the ethereal optimism contained within his frequencies and tones but Bitter Minnow sounds completely different to McGuire, instead floating on a Fuxa-esque wave of dreaminess. Absolutely sublime, from start to finish, and should keep you hovering above the heavens for some time after. Recommended. 


Ltd CD Info: Hand stamped, limited run CD complete with wrap-around Ono artwork sleeve. Exceptionally presented!

Tom Carter

Long Time Underground

    Tom Carter is one half of the long - running and influential underground duo Charalambides (Kranky).

    Tom Carter’s new solo album, Long Time Underground, is nothing short of stunning. While Carter shrugs off suggestions that Long Time Underground represents some sort of sea change in his approach to making music, this (along with its companion post - illness release, Numinal Entry, on Halatern) comprises his first solo work this decade.

    Long Time Underground, moreover, is the first solo studio recording Carter has ever done. Long Time Underground is almost unsettling in its purity. A collection of fractal guitar études, the album is comprised mostly of composed material some of which was written in the studio, some worked out in performance over the past few years. Each song was set down live without overdubs, and the result is an almost confessional intimacy.

    The sprawling side long opener ‘August is All’ begins in a kind of languorous humidity, Carter’s bell like guitar chiming  against a scrim of cicada song and building to a storm of jagged heat lightning before subsiding again. Carter’s guitar is painting landscapes here, conjuring a panorama in such vivid colors and textures that one is happy to idle there for a time. ‘Entreaertne’ is an electric prayer, set against the harmonium-like breathing Carter somehow elicits from his guitar. The bluesy, cascading dirge of ‘Carvedilol Cowboy’ has just enough swagger to almost count as rock and roll.

    The luminous ‘Prussian Book of the Dead’ slowly transmutes a hopeful, hymn -like progression into bright, buzzing angelic noise. (The song’s title, with its intimations of mortality in Berlin, promises something radiant, if not quite human, awaiting us all on the other side.) The album closes with an older song, ‘Colors for N,’ an earlier version of which appeared on Carter’s 2007 Whispers to Infinity CD.


    2xLtd LP Info: 2LP pressed in an edition of 900 copies on 140 gram Dutch vinyl housed within a gatefold jacket (with download).

    Circuit Breaker

    My Descent Into Capital

    ) "My Descent Into Capital" represents the most ambitious recording from this London-based duo to date. Even if they're taking influence from minimal synth, post-punk or early industrial sides, Circuit Breaker are unmistakably contemporary with their delivery. Forging together metallic drum machines, propulsive synth lines and stark guitar degradation into bold , simple and effective songs about down-trodden themes of isolation, discontentment and the true horror of work. This album transgresses any simple nostalgia for its musical forefathers and showcases a band with their eyes fixed firmly on the future. Any obvious reference points are contorted and stretched to the point where they are transformed into something new. After ten years of obscurity and a refusal to go away, and after two well-received records on Tombed Visions, this album is their first full-length album, and first for abstract-punk imprint Harbinger Sound. After many shows with supporting Harbinger Sound mainstays Sleaford Mods, the duo are about to embark on an extensive tour with new label mates Consumer Electronics early next year.
    The album was mastered by Barry Grint at Alchemy.

    Based in Californian Humboldt County, Brian Pyle is Ensemble Economique. On his by now eleventh album and fourth Denovali release "Blossoms In Red", Pyle combines and perfects elements of his previous output into a cohesive narrative. The opener ""From The Train Window, Red Flowers On The Mountain"" is a surprisingly scarce ambient piece, which feels like an almost infinitely stretched precious moment of time. Despite being austere, it is warm, sublime and incredibly captivating and after listening to its full 8 minutes, one cannot help but to rewind and replay. Having barely escaped this seductively infinite loop, one encounters the title track "Blossoms In Red" featuring Portland electronic duo Soft Metals. Starting off with a characteristic sluggish programmed beat, one is immediately overpowered by the onset of the towering combination of a warm bassline and a shimmering synth ambience. As the track flows, these elements writhe around each other in a delicately beautiful fashion, absorbing the materialising wailing guitar which almost sounds like an ethereal voice, as well as the occasional melodic and rhythmic accents. The next track sees this guitar return in a rather pure form. ""On The Sand"", featuring jack-of-all-trades Peter Broderick, is essentially just reduced analogue drums, electric guitar, a simple vibrating bassline and hoarse almost spoken vocals. Slowly and methodically, these constituents form a captivating erotic ritual, much like a beguiling and hypnotic mandala procession of imperturbable blissful individuals on the beach. As proven on numerous occasions, Pyle can easily lead all his trumps in the presence of female lead vocals, and "Blossoms In Red" makes no exception. Indeed, "You, By Candlelight" is easily the best Ensemble Economique track with female vox to date. Pyle manages to embed the vocals just in the right minimal amount of instrumental layers, making the track radiate an elusive tranquility. The fifth and closing track "Nothing Is Perfect" is a classically tinged piano piece with only very little processing and sparse field recording samples. Ensemble Economique's most minimalistic album, but at the same time - or maybe just for this reason - his most skilled work. 


    Barry says: Ensemble Economique's Brian Pyle once again expands his already venerable sound palette on his latest release for ambient/synth/post-rock titans Denovali. Near-gothic sounding drums hammer over echoing guitar and cavernous reverb, backed up on the third track by Multi-instrumentalist Peter Broderick's hoarsely whispered vocals. This is a haunting and stunning addition to the label's ever expanding domination over the ambient field.


    LP Info: 180 gram vinyl.

    Includes MP3 Download Code.

    Like Hawkwind on even more acid or Sunn O))) meets Butthole Surfers/P.I.L. with four bassists and droning powerful songs...

    Those masked marauding architects of cacophonic, bombastic, psychedelic bass bothering rock have been at it again, by which we mean making another album of unrivalled and quintessentially unique rock music.

    Everybody Come To Church is the new album from Evil Blizzard. To say it’s been eagerly awaited in many quarters is an understatement, something we reckon fellow North-West based musician Mr Mark E. Smith, who’s been heard to say of the Blizzard “I like Evil Blizzard, they give me hope that music is alive and kicking” will no doubt agree with. The Guardian are also huge fans of the band having featured them on their cover and describing them as“…afearsome collision of Hawkwind, krautrock, molten noise, dazzling psychedelic lights and weird, gnarly looking masks.”

    The album was “recorded live in one day with minimal overdubs at Magnetic North Studios” “Everybody Come To Church is a fierce, spontaneous outburst of evil noise.” Like we’d expect anything less. They hadonly four songs written before entering the studio and the rest of the album just ‘happened’ around ideas they’d had knocking about.“Everybody Come To Church features eight tracks of brooding, sinister psychedelic rock that will melt your mind and soul. You have been warned” concludes the press release. Amen to that.


    Ltd LP Info: Red vinyl repress - limited to just 300 copies.

    Family Fodder

    Sunday Girls (Director's Cut)

      "Family Fodder exude an exhilarating sense that everything was possible, that there weren't any limits to imagination and humour. The scope of their musical range remains as dizzying and exciting as it once was." (Time Out New York) Staubgold proudly presents the legendary first 12" EP from 1979 by UK underground heroes Family Fodder, for the first time reissued on CD and vinyl. "Sunday Girls (Director's Cut)" comes as a lovingly assembled full-length album compilation. It features the complete "Sunday Girls" EP, the very first Family Fodder 7" single "Playing Golf" (1979), the "Debbie Harry" 7" from 1980, the 7" A side "Warm" (1980) and last not least two tracks from the rare "Te Deum" 12" (1979) by Alig Fodder's pre-Fodder project Frank Sumatra. Family Fodder was originally formed in 1979 by Alig Pearce - with a cast of thousands over three decades. They emerged from the melting-pot of 70s/80s London alongside This Heat, The Flying Lizards, The Pop Group, Slits and many others. The original formula consisted of psychedelic and new wave influences, incisive song-writing, improvisation, experiment and far-out dub mixing. They always managed to evade major exposure, but influenced generations of bands on five continents. Family Fodder was often more at home in the studio than on-stage, but completed several European tours as well as cherished performances in their native London. The group released a series of compelling, now collectable singles and albums between 1979 and 1983. Described as "entertaining idiosyncratic experimentalism with pop sensibilities", they were best known for indie-chart hits such as "Debbie Harry", "Playing Golf (With My Flesh Crawling)" and "Savoir Faire". More recently, Family Fodder songs have been covered by Zion Train and Unrest, and they've been hailed as "unsung heroes" in The Wire. Family Fodder also appear on the infamous Nurse With Wound list. "Their music was generally playful, a hint of dub and reggae mixed with absurd, blissful pop, with synthpunk and sometimes experimental instrumentation. Most of the lyrics were also sung in French, courtesy of original vocalist Dominique Levillain, a combination rumored to be of some significant influence over Stereolab." (Systems of Romance) 

      Al Lover

      Zodiak Versions

        San Francisco-based producer Al Lover has spent the last several years evolving a unique approach to psychedelic music by way of exploring the common threads within it’s various genres. His newest effort, ‘Zodiak Versions,’ sees Al exploring what he views as two musical styles that have defined modern underground music culture, Jamaican Dub Reggae and the German experimental “Krautrock” from the 1970’s. Sketching out repetitive dub baselines and leads using only the keyboard of his laptop as a musical device, Al formulated the basic structures of the what would become these versions. Reminded of what artists like Kraftwerk and Neu! attempted to portray with the driving motion with their motorik beats and expansive washes of analog synthesis, Lover felt compelled to write music directly within the environment that had once inspired the original ‘Krautrock’ sound.

        Once back in the states Al teamed up with good friends Burnt Ones in LA to add some touches of guitar and synth drone to the sketched out songs. At this time he was further introduced to the some of the lesser known efforts of Kraut pioneers that would later influence the rise of Ambient music. Returning home completely inspired, he added even more layers of analog Moog synthesizer, tribal percussion, and vintage rhythm box drum sounds before sequencing and mixing all the elements through a vintage Roland RE-201 Space Echo. The end result is is what you have here in Zodiak Versions. With his last few projects, Al Lover has been bouncing back and forth between a more sample based remix approach and actual synthesized music composition.

        You can hear elements of his earlier works - Distorted Reverberations (of Reverberating Distortion), Vodun Moon, Goat Remixes, Sacred Drugs, Cave Ritual (& Redux) - in Zodiak Versions, but the music is heading in a more textured, droned out direction. An experiment in maximized minimalism. Subtlety and nuance hidden within an intense wall of sound, as if the psychedelic aspects of everything that influenced the record have been extracted and reconfigured to produce the sonic dub version of a bad trip. 

        David Lynch & Marek Zebrowski

        Polish Night Music - Vinyl Edition

        Barren train stations, Polish factories at night, and silent hotels where lonely travelers meet. These are the images and suggested narratives that pervade the spirit of Polish Night Music, the musical collaboration between American filmmaker David Lynch (Twin Peaks, Eraserhead) and Polish concert pianist and composer Marek Zebrowski.

        Zebrowski and Lynch first met during the Camerimage Film Festival in Lodz, Poland, and started to work together during the organic evolution of Lynch’s Inland Empire. Originally, Zebrowski served as a translator for the shooting of several Lodz-based Polish scenes in Empire, but upon discovering their shared interest in musical experimentation and improvisation, Lynch invited Zebrowski to his Los Angeles studio to participate in a series of musical experiments. From these initial collaborations, inspired by their unique and distinct connections to Poland, emerged a tangible mood and distinctly modern texture that became Polish Night Music.

        “(Poland) is a landscape that continues to remain at once familiar and completely alien to me,” Zebrowski explains. “Every time I am there, I am surprised by some- thing, and I think for David, Poland certainly represents the process of discovery.”

        “We don’t know what will happen,” says Lynch, simply. Somewhere in this not- knowing exists the experience of a Polish night, and this album is its soundtrack.

        Lubomyr Melnyk returns with his new album ‘Rivers and Streams’, the embodiment of his signature style.

        Ukrainian pianist Lubomyr Melnyk has often felt that his unique Continuous Music playing is akin to water – flowing and ever connected. As he further developed his technique, and the more the notes flowed, the closer to water he felt. “I found my hands and arms and everything inside them changing from normal muscle and flesh to well... water.”

        With his latest album, ‘Rivers and Streams’, Lubomyr focuses deeply on this connection to water, to the point where the music itself begins to embody its liquid form. Produced by Robert Raths and Jamie Perera, the album flows seamlessly from the live recordings of ‘The Pool of Memories’, captured in a church, to pieces entirely born in the studio, such as ‘Sunshimmers’ and ‘Ripples in a Water Scene’, which feature Perera on acoustic and electric guitar.

        Amorphous, ever-changing, Lubomyr as performer becomes subsumed into the natural ebb and flow of the keys as the album drifts between nascent upstream trickles and deeply reflective passages through winding river valleys. The album reaches its climax in ‘The Amazon’, a 20-minute piece dedicated to the world’s largest river. Raths invited Korean flautist Hyelim Kim to guest on the first part, before Lubomyr closes the album with cascades of arpeggio figures, stretching across the breadth of the keyboard with rapid virtuosity.

        Following on from 2013’s ‘Corollaries’ album and last year’s ‘Evertina’ EP, Lubomyr’s latest offering compounds upon his existing fluid signature style, and breathes an organic vitality, both nuanced and thoughtful.

        "In the body of the Continuous Piano Master, the fingers and the hands turn into Water, Air and Stone. These are the three manifestations of the Continuous Technique. And for the Continuous Pianist, the fingers physically transform the music into one of these three elements.

        The greatest of all miracles in the universe is Water. It is also, I believe, the rarest of all physical things in the universe. Water is the most magical and the most mysterious of all things we know! And so I dedicate this album to the Rivers and Streams of this world – in gratitude for their Beauty!“ – Lubomyr Melnyk.


        Barry says: Another beautiful release from Lubomyr Melnyk, creator and practician of what he calls 'Continuous Music'. A technique in which constant notes are played throughout the pieces, creating a driven and dynamic style. Despite being continously playing, Melnyk manages to imbue these pieces with a certain delicacy when needed, reminiscent of Labelmate Nils Frahm, these tracks are beautifully nuanced and outstandingly performed. Gorgeous meditative modern-classical.


        LP Info: Black vinyl edition.

        Deluxe LP Info: Limited coloured vinyl edition.


        Two Ways - Coloured Vinyl Edition

        London-born brothers Ben and Tom Page return from their travels with Neneh Cherry with a crisp new black-and-white split colour vinyl 12”, the James Holden-produced two track celebration of synth and drums "Two Ways". Accomplished jazz drummer Tom also plays in Holden’s own live band so Border Community provides a fitting home for his live take recordings of the RocketNumberNine brothers’ in-the-moment improvisations, capturing them at the peak of their performative powers. "Two Ways" sees afro-tinged percussive melodics and a beefy bass component build to a wild and joyful free jazz crescendo. The insistent rave stabs of flipside "Balance Of Imbalance" meanwhile power ahead noisily over judiciously placed atonal metallic clangs and the frenetic rattle of Tom’s vintage drum kit.

        Simon Fisher Turner

        Shishapangma - Inc. DJ Sprinkles Remix

        Unexpected, but totally in keeping with the open minded, art-informed ethos of the imprint, the latest release on Comatonse sees Terre Thaemlitz pick up an eleven minute epic from Simon Fisher Turner, backed with a subaquatic Sprinkles mix on the flip. Composed by Fisher in 2013 to accompany Captain John Noel's 1924 film "The Epic Of Everest", "Shishapangma" is a sublime and hypnotic journey into a distant dreamstate of ambient electronics. Underpinned by a rumbling sub bass, the track sees twinkling sequences dance around glacial synth drones while warm woodwind and eastern strings suggest a distant climes. On the surface, Sprinkles Deeperama mix retains the glacial majesty of the original composition, but dig a little deeper and you'll see the producer has lit a fire deep in its belly. Driven into the heart of the post peak haze by precise percussion and a typically deep bassline, this remix works itself right into your cerebral cortex, wrapping subtle sequences and jazzy woodwind around your brain stem and locking you into its endless rhythm. Simply put, this is sublime.

        Workin' Man Noise Unit

        Play Loud

          Knocking around the UK underground toilet scene for the past 4 or 5 years, Reading’s WORKIN’ MAN NOISE UNIT have been busy playing countless gigs, releasing limited run tapes/singles and making a nuisance of themselves on postage stamp sized stages around the country. Along the way they’ve picked up some fans, including the likes of Julian Cope who dragged them to London to perform at one of his book launches, and have shared stages with plenty of the current UK underground Mafioso including Hey Colossus, The Unit Ama, Good Throb, Carlton Melton, Terminal Cheesecake, the Wharves, Sly & the Family Drone, Grey Hairs, Gum Takes Tooth, Art of Burning Water, Henry Blacker, Perspex Flesh, Wolf People etc

          Most of the songs on this record are pretty self-evident. Creepin’ Round is about feeling like an outsider. Smoke Like Hell is about choosing immediacy, choosing the ‘right now’. Jammer is sorta the same except it’s got a beady eye on what you might call ‘basic shamanism’, you know… Cruisin’ the IDR is about Reading’s Inner Distribution Road, which is a concrete blanket that snakes around the centre of the town, holding Reading in a sort of permanent stranglehold. It’s been there since the late 60s and it’s ugly to look at. Part of the IDR has big concrete walls and all you can see whilst driving through these sections is tarmac, concrete and, if you look up, sky. We drive around it a lot. Cruisin’ the IDR is the closest thing we will ever get to a ‘hometown’ song. Yeah, I was Hypnotised is about fascination with the atomic bomb, particularly the ubiquitous ‘mushroom cloud’ image but also the small matter of the human race making this thing in order to destroy itself en masse. Hate It is about apathy and feeling powerless to change owt going on. It’s also about recognising that apathy and trying to get yourself going, find a way through it. And about lying to yourself.

          Julian Cope reviewing the bands ‘DRINKIN’ STELLA TO MAKE MUSIC TO DRINK STELLA’ cassette

          “Okay, now deffo the best way to commence this month’s Reviews Section is to pop on to my nearest ‘90s ghetto blaster this manky chromate yellow cassette emblazoned with the simple words ‘play loud’. Brilliantly named DRINKIN’ STELLA TO MAKE MUSIC TO DRINK STELLA TO and magnificently performed by four English nuttas by the name of Workin’ Man Noise Unit, there’s enough cunted Mithraic fire within these two brief sides of monumental midrange and Tinnitus-inducing plateaux to summon up a whole new music scene around these geezers, nay, these Pyramids of Giza. What’s it sound like? Fuck knoweth, brothers’n’sisters. How about the bastard offspring of Final Solution-period Pere Ubu plays Tight Bros From Way Back When, or even the Electric Eels performing Monoshock’s ‘Model Citizen’ into a single compressor microphone. Sweeeeeett! A classic debut, kiddies; let’s just hope nobody with a studio comes to fuck’em up.”

          Summed up nicely. PLAY LOUD.


          Ltd LP Info: Limited edition 400 only black vinyl LP with download code and insert.

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