MAGIC MIX

avant . leftfield . post-rock . drone

WEEK STARTING 27 Oct

Genre pick of the week Cover of Ruins by Grouper.
Eagerly anticipated new album from Liz Harris AKA Grouper.

IN HER OWN WORDS...

Ruins was made in Aljezur, Portugal in 2011 on a residency set up by Galeria Zé dos Bois. I recorded everything there except the last song, which I did at mother's house in 2004. Iʼm still surprised by what I wound up with. It was the first time Iʼd sat still for a few years; processed a lot of political anger and emotional garbage. Recorded pretty simply, with a portable 4-track, Sony stereo mic and an upright piano. When I wasnʼt recording songs I was hiking several miles to the beach. The path wound through the ruins of several old estates and a small village.

The album is a document. A nod to that daily walk. Failed structures. Living in the remains of love. I left the songs the way they came (microwave beep from when power went out after a storm); I hope that the album bears some resemblance to the place that I was in.

Bell Gardens

Slow Dawns For Lost Conclusions

Bell Gardens combines the musical visions of Kenneth James Gibson (formerly of Furry Things, now recording as [a]pendics.shuffle, dubLoner and Eight Frozen Modules) and Brian McBride (one half of Stars of the Lid) and began releasing music in 2010, beginning with an EP, Hangups Need Company on Failed Better/Burger Records. Their debut album Full Sundown Assembly (Southern/Burger Records) appeared in 2012 and, now signed to Rocket Girl in the UK, the band are set to release their second, Slow Dawns for Lost Conclusions.

Bell Gardens’ origins began arguably as more of an experiment than the duo’s current ‘experimental’ projects – McBride’s drone- and string-laden ambient symphonies, and Gibson’s ventures in dub and minimalist techno – as they sought to manifest their mutual reverence for folk, psychedelia and chamber pop in a traditional band structure without cannibalising any particular past genre. Bell Gardens’ sound is less reliant on effects and studio trickery than the pairs’ independent guises, laying bare as it does vocals and live instruments with emotional sincerity, and presenting songs imbued with an almost pastoral or gospel simplicity and timelessness.

'Slow Dawns for Lost Conclusions' was again recorded mostly at home studios, but additionally the band made use of a friend’s desert cabin in Wonder Valley, California, and it seems this willingness to retreat from the city has lent an expansiveness to the tracks, in particular the spacious, ceremonial ‘Silent Prayer’ (written in a snowbound mountain cabin in Idyllwild, C.A.) and the crepuscular ‘She’s Stuck in an Endless Loop of Her Decline’ (mapped out under the stars in the desert).

While the addition of strings (contributed by Lauren Chipman of The Rentals and The Section Quartet) and trumpet (Stewart Cole of Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros) provides a double rainbow of tonal textures throughout, the nine tracks of Slow Dawns for Lost Conclusions are united by an understated elegance belying the newly expanded, communal effort in the studio: each instrument earns its place, nothing is overwrought or conspicuous. Moreover, it is McBride and Gibson’s artistry in building stirring soundscapes from the barest of materials in their other guises that lends such assurance and sophistication to these arrangements.

The band is a result of the complimentary cross-pollination of Gibson and McBride’s musical tastes – borne from a late- night conversation between the two that grew wings – and it is the universality of the sentiments and their restrained, reflective approach to writing and recording that allows the music to simultaneously straddle the past and the present. The music avoids pastiche, its pedal steel, sleigh bells and harmonies giving a nod to the ghosts of musical genres past, but never overriding or distracting from the emotional content of the sum of its parts.

The album ends with the glorious ‘Take Us Away’ – one of the first demos Gibson gave McBride when he was on tour with Stars of the Lid – neatly bringing their work to date full circle and exemplifying the band’s mindfulness of their own serendipitous beginnings: the dawning of an auspicious, unique musical force.

Bell Gardens - Take Us Away - ★★★★★★★★★☆ Harmonies alert!! Actually, this is rather lovely. Slow-tempo, just the right side of 'twee' and packed full of strings, as if Air and Midlake had been taking balloon trips over the mid-West and sprinkling good-vibes dust across the land. From L.A. and subconsciously plugged into the '60s dream-pop scene, taking in a little bit of Mercury Rev and Brendan Perry en route, stopping off at Pearls Before Swine and Big Star's house for inspiration, before getting stoned with '70s era Brian Eno and Harold Budd.- Flipside

Bing & Ruth

Tomorrow Was The Golden Age

'Tomorrow Was the Golden Age' is an album length composition by minimalist ensemble Bing & Ruth. Written and conducted by pianist David Moore, 'TWTGA' is a halcyonic journey to a neverending place, where music waxes, wanes and drifts imperceptibly from silence to grand, glowing sound.

Formed in the mid-00s among music student friends at New York City’s New School, Bing & Ruth’s lineup has shifted with the scope of each recording. For 'Tomorrow Was the Golden Age', the group whittled down from the eleven players on their first album, 'City Lake', to seven: two upright bassists, two clarinetists, a cellist and a tape delay tech, all supporting David Moore’s sublime yet resonant piano scores. Moore is responsible for the compelling melodies mediating the overarching ambience of 'TWTGA'. With untethered textures inspired by the indeterminate music of Morton Feldman and later torch bearer Gavin Bryars, 'TWTGA' achieves canon-level quality for instrumental music. Within the piece’s extended passages, Bing & Ruth wander through gradient fields of colour, illuminated by a delicate architecture of slowly developing microtonal harmonies, Steve Reich-ian piano lines and the same analogue tape delay that launched both Brian Eno’s 'Apollo' and the greatest dub reggae engineers into the unknown. Moore employed fundamental contrasts as the conceptual mode for 'TWTGA. Daybreak offered one contrast, with its untraceable hues from dawn to sunrise. Silence and its intrinsic gift of listening offered another. The emergence of 'TWTGA from the two is Bing & Ruth’s epic and ultimate reprisal.

The album was recorded in Yonkers, New York and mixed in Brooklyn, with Brian Bender and Moore at the controls. Intended to be experienced at both high and low volumes, 'Tomorrow Was the Golden Age' is perfectly calibrated for meditative backdrops, burrowed headphone listening and utter captivation when performed live. Its sonorous palette inspires emotional response across a dynamic field, welcoming a journey to and beyond tomorrow’s promise.

William S Burroughs

Break Through In Grey Room

    Extraodinary cut-up voices recorded during the mid-60's in hotel rooms in New York, Paris, London... it's impossible not to recognise the writer's voice - the sonority of this voice - a sonority also present in the silence of every text he wrote. an explosion of styles - a blasting of borders - the silence after a gunshot - the overtaking of the fetishized word - from the exploded painting to the cut tape.

    This record starts with a piece of more than 13 minutes, recorded around 1965 with Ian Sommerville somewhere in New York and London - K-9 was in combat with the alien mind-screens, including various monologues, radio short waves and music... tapes, cut and cut and cut up to the limit of sense - emerged new structures of communication... and senses . words gain power when loosing the boundaries of semantics. Including too Joujouka music recorded by WS Burroughs in the hills of Morocco with Ornette Coleman, circa 1973.

    The Charlatans

    Talking In Tones / Tonal Nagual Fur Star Liner Aquatic Ape Mix

    In some ways this first taster from the forthcoming album is typical Charlatans, swirling keyboards, a loose groove and a huge chorus, but it has a sort of spacey, haunting vibe about it too. It's a great single and includes a Grumbling Fur remix on the flip too.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Ltd 7" Info: 7” Ltd to 500 copies for the world.

    Gregor Curten & Anselm Rogmans

    Planes

      Wah Wah Records proudly presents a luxury vinyl reissue of this rare 1974 private pressing. Cool long electronic experiments splitted in two tracks, one on each side. Recorded in one take and offering an astounding combination of synth drones, wordless vocals, ambiental electric organ and ethereal guitar arpeggios.

      An outstanding work that moves away of the more classical kraut cosmische sounds to walk darker paths, yet retaining some early Kluster reminiscences.

      The Wah Wah reissue comes to life thanks to the cooperation of Gregor Cürten himself, this new LP and the 2012 CD release on Entr'acte are the only legit reissues of this great lost piece of kraut music history. Don't be fooled by imitations!

      Limited to only 500 copies. Remastered sound and featuring an insert with liner notes.

      Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band

      Intensity Ghost

      ‘Intensity Ghost’ is the follow up to last year’s critically acclaimed ‘Solar Motel’ album, which made year end lists at The New Yorker, Uncut Magazine and Popmatters and provoked ecstatic comparisons with Television and Neil Young & Crazy Horse to Richard Thompson and The Grateful Dead.

      ‘Solar Motel’ came together as a solo album but the band Forsyth assembled to tour the record - bassist Peter Kerlin, guitarist Paul Sukeena (Spacin') and drummer Steve Urgo (ex-War On Drugs) - took things to another level and quickly became a powerhouse. Forsyth brought the group into the studio in late 2013 to capture what became ‘Intensity Ghost’, a 5-track masterwork of grace and power.

      Mark Jenkins

      Analog Archives

        A leading figure in the UK’s electronic music scene, Mark Jenkins has played with White Noise, Arthur Brown and members of Can, Gong, Van Der Graaf Generator and Tangerine Dream. He is the author of the acclaimed books Analog Synthesizers and iPad Music (Jenkins became the first musician in the world to release a CD created entirely on the Apple iPad).

        Analog Archives is a collection of recordings from the early to mid eighties. Armed with his Moog Sonic Six, Sequential Prophet 600, EDP Wasp & Spider and other legendary electronic weapons Mark Jenkins delivers envolving electronic textures that could be filed along those of artists like Klaus Schulze or Ash Ra Tempel.

        These recordings are issued in vinyl format for the first time ever, in a limited edition of 500 copies only.

        Kiasmos (Ólafur Arnalds And Janus Rasmussen)

        Kiasmos

          Ólafur Arnalds and Janus Rasmussen finally release their unique Nordic electronic sounds in album size

          After dropping several tracks and performing at select festivals throughout the years, Ólafur Arnalds and Janus Rasmussen dedicated the year 2014 to explore the area in-between Ólafur’s more acoustic, piano-based solo work and Janus’s synth-heavy electro pop, with their collaborative electronic project Kiasmos.

          By focusing solely on their self-titled debut album, Ólafur and Janus have been able to combine and further develop their unique sound aesthetics to complete an album driven by their mutual love for electronic music. Made in Ólafur’s newly build studio in Reykjavík, Iceland, a majority of the album was recorded using acoustic instruments next to a variety of synthesisers, drum machines and tape delays. It features a live drummer, string quartet and Ólafur performing on the grand piano, producing an ambient, textured sound, which makes it a perfect home listen and equally danceable record. If you listen closely, you can spot them record the thumb piano, finger snapping and even the sound of the metal grinder of a lighter slowly to replace the usual electronic hi-hat sounds, giving the album a far more intimate and unique atmosphere.

          “We decided to start almost completely over with this record, so most of the material is written this year with the idea of making a record that can stand as one piece rather than a collection of songs. I am very excited to get a proper record out exploring a different territory than I am used to. I touch a lot on electronic genres in my own music but never have the opportunity to go full out electronic like we do here.” – Ólafur Arnalds

          “The Kiasmos project has been around since 2007, but because of all our other projects we never really got the time to sit down and write all the tracks we always wanted to. So when we early this year finally found the time to sit down and make a full length album there was so much we wanted to try out. The result surprised us a bit, it's deeper and more emotional than we imagined it to be, but that's the beauty of being able to make an album.” – Janus Rasmussen

          Long-term Erased Tapes graphics collaborator Torsten Posselt at Feld Studios in Berlin created the cover artwork. Feld Studios was a natural choice for Kiasmos, seeing he also designed the cover for their Thrown EP, released previously.

          Kiasmos is made up of Icelandic BAFTA-winning composer Ólafur Arnalds, known for his unique blend of minimal piano and string compositions with electronic sounds, and Janus Rasmussen from the Faroe Islands, known as the mastermind of the electro-pop outfit Bloodgroup. Based in Reykjavík, Arnalds used to work as a sound engineer, often for Rasmussen's other projects, where the two musicians discovered their common love for minimal, experimental music. They eventually became best friends, often hanging out in their studio, exploring electronic sounds.

          MONO's 2014 musical offering is a departure from all that's gone before. It is the sound of a band heading in different directions, and coming together all at once. It is the sound of a band exploring their dark side and opening up to the light simultaneously.

          Since the dawn of MONO - where Under The Pipal Tree laid out their intentions in frenetic psychedelia - , right the way through to 2012’s For My Parents, their blissful path of musical meanderings grew ever more lavish. MONO evolved into an orchestral rock band and performed in prestigious venues in New York, London and Tokyo, with renowned orchestras by their sides. Following a wave of creative peaks, MONO regrouped and planned where to go next.

          This departure comes in the form of two albums; The Last Dawn and Rays of Darkness. Together but different. Side by side but opposites.

          The twin albums were recorded concurrently, yet conceptually and creatively, they are worlds apart. They are two sides to a story, but they remain hand in hand. Themes that have permeated MONO’s previous output are revisited through the conjoined albums: hope and hopelessness, love and loss, immense joy and unspeakable pain. Whilst one hand soothes, the other wreaks havoc.

          RAYS OF DARKNESS is the more ominous and brooding beast. Notable for the absence of MONO’s near-trademark orchestral instruments, this album leans heavily on the aggression of blistering riffs, jarring angles, and a doom-layered undertone.

          Another dynamic is added by the involvement of post-hardcore pioneer, Tetsu Fukagawa of Envy; Tetsu provides vocals, for the first time ever on a MONO recording. The crescendos here seem all the more threatening, and the diminuendos feel that much more bleak.

          When asked why MONO were releasing two album instead of, perhaps, one longer one, Taka simply says "There were black and white sides inside of me, like darkness and hope. It could not fit on one album."

          The Last Dawn and Rays of Darkness were recorded in May 2014, in Pennsylvania, USA, produced by MONO and engineered by Fred Weaver.

          MONO's 2014 musical offering is a departure from all that's gone before. It is the sound of a band heading in different directions, and coming together all at once. It is the sound of a band exploring their dark side and opening up to the light simultaneously.

          Since the dawn of MONO - where Under The Pipal Tree laid out their intentions in frenetic psychedelia - , right the way through to 2012’s For My Parents, their blissful path of musical meanderings grew ever more lavish. MONO evolved into an orchestral rock band and performed in prestigious venues in New York, London and Tokyo, with renowned orchestras by their sides. Following a wave of creative peaks, MONO regrouped and planned where to go next.

          This departure comes in the form of two albums; The Last Dawn and Rays of Darkness. Together but different. Side by side but opposites.

          The twin albums were recorded concurrently, yet conceptually and creatively, they are worlds apart. They are two sides to a story, but they remain hand in hand. Themes that have permeated MONO’s previous output are revisited through the conjoined albums: hope and hopelessness, love and loss, immense joy and unspeakable pain. Whilst one hand soothes, the other wreaks havoc.

          The "light" side of this chapter in the MONO story is THE LAST DAWN. The pared down tracks take inspiration from influences as diverse as minimalist film scores and vintage shoegaze. Noticeably more stripped back than their previous releases, the album clocks in at under forty minutes; the succinct offering proffers the hope, love and joy in a neatly wrapped package.

          When asked why MONO were releasing two album instead of, perhaps, one longer one, Taka simply says "There were black and white sides inside of me, like darkness and hope. It could not fit on one album."

          The Last Dawn and Rays of Darkness were recorded in May 2014, in Pennsylvania, USA, produced by MONO and engineered by Fred Weaver.

          Rodion G.A.

          Behind The Curtain

          Rodion Rosca grew up and got his musical education in Cluj, on the Romanian / Hungarian border, during the relatively ‘open’ years of 1965-1972, before Ceacescu’s regime cracked down viciously on the cultural opportunities (and freedoms generally) available to the Romanian people. He was drawn to electronic music, at that time still an exciting new possibility, represented by East Germany’s Karat, Czechoslovakia’s Matador and Hungary’s Skorpio, as well as bands from the west including Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Yes, and the inevitable Kraftwerk and what would become known as ‘krautrock’.

          By 1975 Rosca had amassed an eclectic selection of equipment and established a reputation as a DIY tech-wizard. He created his own unique way of creating music on reel-to-reel tape recorders, using the various tape machines to multitrack. His nascent studio included several Tesia tape recorders, drum machines, phasers, flangers and fuzz pedals. Then there were a toy Casio VL Tone and a Soviet made Faemi organ. He was joined by Gicu Farcas and Adrian Caparu in a band he had started, which then took the name Rodion G.A.

          Vocals, drums and guitars formed the core ‘rock’ elements but in every other way the music of Rodion G.A. was leftfield, unique and inimitable. Recording opportunities in Romania were severely limited, with just the one state-owned record label (Electrecord), and a paranoid suspicion of ‘western decadence’ and censorship of those who might be seen to have adopted such traits.

          Rodion’s band concentrated on touring, from gigs in restaurants to the country’s festivals, where they built up a loyal following for their unique and inimitable sound. Otherwise, Rodion’s career consisted of commissions to score theatre, ballet, opera and gymnastics exhibitions, and, later, in the mid-‘80s, the animated film Delta Space Mission (though his music wasn’t used). At the beginning of the ‘80s his music was even featured on a Romanian TV show to usher in the New Year.

          Coinciding with the death of his mother, a dispirited Rodion walked away from music after a festival appearance in 1987, and that could have well been that. It was only some 25 years later that film-maker, blogger and enthusiast for Romanian music Luca Sorin, tracked down Rosca, by now living in a secluded country cottage. Through the auspices of Sorin and fellow enthusiasts Future Nuggets, Rosca’s music came to the attention of our friends at Strut, who last year released 'The Lost Tapes', effectively Rodion G.A’s debut album, to widespread critical acclaim.

          Perhaps mindful of his legacy, Rosca has unearthed a good deal of old material, divesting countless boxes at his country cottage of their contents, painstakingly listening to his old tapes on an old reel to reel machine. Amongst this material was that we proudly present here: ‘The Lost Album’. The existence of a complete album by Rodion G.A was somehow known to many enthusiasts of Romanian and electronic music, even though even its creator was unsure of its fate. Rumours about confiscation by the secret police and such like abounded. The more prosaic truth, that it had simply festered indoors as Rosca had turned his back on his old calling, surprised even him!


          Tlaotlon / Katie Gately

          Split Series #23

            A hugely exciting new talent, LA-based Katie Gately has only recently stepped out from her regular job as a sound designer in the film industry, to craft a set of brilliantly intricate and ambitious sound pieces that exist in a borderzone between electroacoustic composition, field recording and deconstructed pop. Mixing the widescreen scope of Scott Walker or Julia Holter and the precise playful abstraction of Matmos and Holly Herndon, her music tends towards the epic, luxuriating in rich textural detail and its own creative potential. Whilst finding anchorage in established songform, her dynamic, explosive structures form a breathtaking, hugely impressive achievement.

            Another exciting, unique voice in avant-electronica, Tlaotlon is the alias of New Zealander Jeremy Coughbrough, a member of Orchestra Of Spheres.

            Messy, maximalist and psychedelic, he proffers a kind of squelchy, hyper-colourful, dislocated electronica that shares commonalities with producers like Patten, Konx-Om-Pax, Sculpture, Gobby and AyGeeTee. A Dummy feature described this new school “a messy, rough-edged, restless churn of sonic material... it ignores the normal rules of structure, of build-ups, drops and breakdowns, constantly reinventing itself as it rushes along... [it] has increasingly little to do with the forms of the past... Instead, this techno is headed into the realms of abstraction.” Description Excerpt

            Another high quality, album-length release, the twenty-third - and penultimate - issue in FatCat’s long-running and highy-acclaimed Split 12” Series features two emerging artists, each working in markedly different ways to forge bold new territory for modern electronic music.

            Will appeal to fans of Julia Holter, Scott Walker, Patten, and anyone into forward-thinking, curtting-edge electronica.

            Custom packaged in the Split Series’ trademark hand-drilled and numbered sleeves, pressed in a limited edition of 500 copies for the world.

            Upset the Rhythm and M’lady’s Records are very pleased to be teaming up for the first time to release the debut record from one of America’s most exciting groups today. VEXX, living in and playing out of Olympia, Washington, have been devastating the Pacific Northwest music hubs for the last year now. Their self-titled mini-album is explosive, vital, and many leagues deeper than it has any right to be in this wicked epoch.

            Recorded by esteemed engineer, Dave Harvey (who also recorded both HYSTERICS 7”s issued on M’lady’s), this record originally came out in a small edition on the Grazer label late last year, which sold out instantly just through word of mouth. The very excellent Jason Ward (of Chicago Mastering Service) has since worked his magic re-mastering the recording, and now it’s even more wild and vibrant than ever.

            VEXX hit the ground running like punk hasn’t happened yet! Blazing through the first three songs on side one with a fury rarely seen in the modern underground. ‘Clairvoyant’ is equal parts jagged as inventive, twisting out of reach at all the right moments. The song captures the band perfectly, raging headlong with unmatched momentum.

            VEXX also know how to write a powerful slow burner, as evidenced by ‘Strength’ and the first half of ‘Ocean Shores’. Maryjane’s lyrics and vocals are a clarion call of intent; on fire with possibility, whilst wrestling with the power of everything. She’s such a force of nature as a frontwoman that you’re left stunned as much as amazed.

            Meanwhile, Mike and Corey’s guitar and drum fireworks have left almost all spectators breathless (note: bass guitar duties on this recording were handled by Aaron, who has since been replaced by the very capable and excellent Ian). Each song is a maelstrom, whipping band and audience alike into a whirlwind. Pushing forward, thinking harder, striking home.

            John Zorn

            The Testament Of Solomon

            For their fourth release, Zorn’s most intimate and spiritual 21st century ensemble returns with a melodic and open book of music reminiscent of the Masada music. Drawing inspiration from the Biblical Song of Solomon and originally intended as a companion piece to Zorn’s vocal masterpiece Shir Hashirim, the music is regal, sensual and romantic—a magical blend of classical, jazz and folk music. There has never been a group like the Gnostic Trio, and The Testament of Solomon is a unique CD in their catalog, filled with strong solos, telepathic interplay and a charming lyricism.


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