synth-pop . alt-R&B . cold wave . industrial

WEEK STARTING 5 Aug

Genre pick of the week Cover of Belief by Belief (Stella Mozgawa & Boom Bip).

Belief (Stella Mozgawa & Boom Bip)

Belief

    With a back catalogue at Lex Records that spans half a dozen studio LPs as Boom Bip, plus another two as one half of electronic pop duo Neon Neon, Bryan Hollon has already made a name for himself as a Mercury prize-nominated producer and multi-instrumentalist. Equally impressive are the credits to Warpaint drummer Stella Mozgawa’s name; she’s contributed percussion to albums by Kurt Vile, Cate le Bon, Courtney Barnett, Sharon Van Etten, and Kim Gordon, among others. But as improvisational techno duo Belief, the pair make music that harkens back to ‘90s acts like LFO and 808 State – artists that indelibly, but near-anonymously, altered club and rave culture, mostly identifiable by clean, bold logos on 12” sleeves. “They didn’t have much of an image – you didn’t really know what the guys looked like, it didn’t matter at all,” says Hollon. “Their logos kind of define them.”

    Hollon met Mozgawa just after she joined Warpaint, when Boom Bip shared a rehearsal space in Echo Park with the band. The two quickly bonded over a love of early Warp Records, drum breaks, acid house, and Y2K-era rave flyers. They swapped playlists and ideas when Mozgawa played drums for Neon Neon’s 2013 West Coast tour, but due to busy schedules, it would be another three years before they packed every piece of gear they collectively owned into Eric Wareheim’s Absolutely Studios for an initial jam session. “The actual rat’s nest of midi cables was so overwhelming and intense. But for some reason when we just started jamming, it just felt like we intuitively knew how to make something sound the way that both of us wanted it to sound,” says Mozgawa. “We had a kind of mutual taste or something. It just came so easily once there was another mind there.”

    Instinctively playing to each other’s strengths and whims – and recording the session to build on later – allowed Mozgawa to explore a style of music she’d long considered a dark art, and pushed Hollon, known for his meticulous planning in previous work, to be more spontaneous. “There is a looseness and jam quality to it that my other music doesn’t have. We have hours of improvised sessions, which is something I always wanted to do but never took the time in my solo work nor have I ever trusted anyone as much as Stella in knowing exactly what to do and when to do it,” Hollon says. “We connect on another level that you can only tap into when improvising.” They found pockets of time to revisit the project over the next four years, even playing some early shows where they billed themselves as ‘Beef’ – a comedic wink to the project’s pulsating minimalism.

    While it was all in good fun, more reverent threads began to emerge as they began finalizing and recording headier, more enigmatic tracks. “As the music started developing, it was a bit more soulful and deep,” Hollon says. “There was always that little bit of a religious element in early rave culture… it gave us a bit of a box to work within.”

    When they’d hit on something during a performance, they’d make a note to record it; samples they’d used as placeholders were reworked with the duo’s personal touches; Mozgawa tapped bandmate Emily Kokal to record some vocal textures during Warpaint studio time; Hollon chopped, looped and arranged the jungle breaks Mozgawa had recorded from memory; and finally, the two returned to a mostly complete album during pandemic down time to flesh out and warm up some of the cooler machine-like tones, an invaluable final step.

    “The house-y acid-y stuff works really well in the live setting but when it came to recording the stuff, some of it just didn’t feel as warm or as whole as it should, to represent Stella and I,” says Hollon. “We were able to go back and inject a lot of personality into the music, so I’m really happy that we didn’t rush it and spent more time digging a little bit deeper into the songs.”
    “We were also very aware of not overcooking it,” adds Mozgawa. “It’s such a delicate balance.”

    Though governed by the central question – What Would Mark Bell Do? – Belief were careful not to create anything too derivative. “It’s something that really does come up a lot when we’re making decisions in the studio. We felt a kindred connection with one another over that music,” says Mozgawa. “It’s definitely a record that we made with our own influences and capabilities but there’s still this prevalent thread of wanting to add to that conversation in the musical universe, like making a contribution to that out of reverence to what came before.” Born out of an oddly divine foresight the duo share, Belief pays homage to the pioneers of techno, the synergy of two devout tastemakers building a shrine to inner peace and outward pleasure.


    TRACK LISTING

    Side A
    1. I Want To Be
    2. Anx
    3. Bayo
    4. Luther
    5. Dreams
    Side B
    1. Nebo
    2. WOT
    3. Ulu
    4. Jung
    5. Art Of Love

    Black Bones

    Nairobi Night Train / FAD

    Shamanically leaning late night tribalism here from Black Bones with a unique take on afro, techno and post punk which puts the production duo firmly in the covenstead of Hoga Nord. This is their first 7" on the label but with the diecast sonic voodoo they're demonstrating here, I doubt it'll be there last display!

    Black Bones use familiar components in surprising ways: electronics and loops swirl over sequenced pounding backbeats, but when the aggressive stereo bass kicks in on “Nairobi Night Train”, Kenya’s border stretches all the way up to the British Isles and a huge savannah opens its horizons just south of Belfast.

    This is an alluring mix of European and African music tradition - harness by electronic wizardy and wrapped in a magic that'll tempt everyone into the dance! 


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Matt says: Höga Nord Rekords continue to provide the aural spells for the witch's coven. Broomsticking into datura realms of sound and space. Only for the spiritually strong!

    TRACK LISTING

    A. Nairobi Night Train
    B. F.A.D

    Make A Dance change things up for their third release, ushing in rising Yorkshire post-punk outfit Deadletter to collaborate.

    "Line The Cows" is a kinda wobbly, post-punk reggae-disco jam. Like Yard Act meets ESG and Jah Wobble with lyrical direction from John Cooper Clarke. A skeletal drum machine groove supporting winding bass and Zac's deadpan, well pronounced vox cutting through like a knife and providing some clever and insightful phrases. The second track is a recording of the band doing a full live take in London’s Pony Studios showcasing just how tight this 6 piece band are.

    On the flip Make A Dance get to work with the remix package with broken beats and arpeggiated baselines, turning the track into a dark twisted monster fit for a 4am bass bin workout.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Matt says: Make A Dance present rising Yorkshire firm Deadletter. The OG should appeal to fans of Yard Act and ESG whilst MAD are on hand with two wobbly, electrified disco-not-disco jams. Killer!

    TRACK LISTING

    A1. Line The Cows
    A2. Line The Cows (Live At Pony Studios)
    B1: Line The Cows (Make A Dance Remix)
    B2: Line The Cows (Make A Dance Dub)

    C Duncan

    Alluvium

      ‘Alluvium’ is the fourth album from C Duncan, Glasgow’s classically trained multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, released through Bella Union. After the haunting raptures of Architect (2015), the Twilight Zone-inspired reveries of The Midnight Sun (2016) and the richly melodic Health (2019), Alluvium is a sublime palate-refresher for Duncan (C for Christopher), brimming with revitalised fluency: a warming dispatch from the daylight zone, if you like.

      TRACK LISTING

      Air
      Heaven
      We Have A Lifetime
      Bell Toll
      Lullaby
      Torso
      Pretending
      You Don’t Come Around
      I Tried
      Sad Dreams
      Alluvium
      Earth
      The Wedding Song
      Upon The Table

      Ladyhawke

      Time Flies

        Time Flies, is an extraordinary collection that fuses intimate subject matter and upbeat guitar-led rock with irresistibly catchy electronic elements. In the half decade since her acclaimed 2016 album Wild Things, Pip has gone through a personal transformation.

        Pip has openly struggled with mental health, anxiety and depression for a long time and, after dealing with severe postnatal depression + a serious skin cancer condition which has thankfully seen a full recovery, was able to successfully procure the right balance of therapy & medication which is so individually specific. When she embarked on writing songs for this new record in 2019, there was a sense of freedom in the work. “I was feeling pretty grateful to be alive and making music, so I felt like I didn’t ‘care’ anymore - not in a bad way, I just stopped overthinking it.”

        Time Flies was produced with a host of incredible collaborators including, LA songwriter and producer Tommy English (K.Flay, Carly Rae Jepsen, Kacey Musgraves, Adam Lambert, Broods etc), Auckland based Josh Fountain (Leisure, Benee), Jeremy Toy (Leonard Charles, She’s So Rad) , Sydney's Chris Stracey (Bag Raiders, Paloma Faith, Diplo.) and Jono Sloan (Empire Of The Sun, PNAU).

        TRACK LISTING

        SIDE A
        My Love
        Think About You
        Time Flies
        Mixed Emotions
        Guilty Love Ft. BROODS

        SIDE B
        Take It Easy Mama
        Loner
        Adam
        Reactor
        Walk Away
        Love Is Blind

        Moonchild Sanelly

        Phases

          The trailblazing South African musician Moonchild Sanelly - real name Sanelisiwe Twisha - signed to Transgressive Records in 2020, kicking off with diverse mini-LP Nüdes. Now, she returns to the international label with her genre-crossing second album Phases. Forming a sonic foundation that veers between Amapiano, Gqom, grime, pop, house and R&B while showcasing her vocal talents on more downtempo songs, Phases 19-tracks document the varying chapters of a toxic relationship and subsequent freedom. A double album, the first side is a journey through the relationship with production reflecting those different moods and aspects of her personality; the second side, meanwhile, leads into a clubbier amapiano space. Collaboration has always been core to Moonchild’s alternate world.

          Since her 2015-released award-winning first album Rabulpha! put her on the global map, she has collaborated with local favourites Maphorisa, Sho Madjozi and Thandiswa Mazwai. In the years that followed, she caught the attention of a host of international superstars, leading to high-profile collaborations with artists including Wizkid, Beyonce (featuring on “My Power”) and Gorillaz (on “With Love To An Ex”). Phases is a highly collaborative record, too, with production and guest features from Sad Night Dynamite (their track “Demon” is already a huge hit), Wesley Joseph, Xavier Thomas (Débruit), TOKiMONSTA, Holly and Aramboa.

          The album’s title takes on a multitude of meanings: via the range of genres covered across its runtime, the different sounds and styles that it encompasses and the personal journey that Sanelisiwe Twisha has taken to get to this point. But, for Moonchild Sanelly, it’s more literal than that: “I think that, with this album, I’ve managed to piece all the different parts of me together, because I’m known for different things in different parts of the world. I think you get to know me better with Phases - all the different sides of me.”

          TRACK LISTING

          1. Undumpable
          2. Demon (Moonchild Sanelly And Sad Night Dynamite)
          3. Cute (Ft. Trillary Banks)
          4. April Fool’s Day
          5. Strip Club (Ft. Ghetts)
          6. Let It Rip
          7. Over You
          8. Money Tree
          9. Favourite Regret
          10. Too Late
          11. ULi (Ft. Blxckie)
          12. Covivi
          13. Soyenza (Ft. Sir Trill)
          14. Yebo Teacher (Extended Version)
          15. Chicken
          16. Jiva Juluka
          17. Bad Bitch Budget
          18. Jump
          19. Bird So Bad

          Pyrolator

          Niemandsland

            The musician Kurt Dahlke is not only a member of the bands Der Plan and Fehlfarben, founding member of the group DAF and co-founder of the label Ata Tak, but also is Pyrolator.The sixth album in Pyrolator’s Land series has a formal language all of its own, meandering between the beauty of crystal clear melodies and restrained ambient moments on the one hand and rugged, dystopian brittleness on the other. A cycle revolving between the hope of a revolution for humanity and arrival in no man’s land.

            Bienvenue Recordings presents the first recordings of Secret Witness. Created in winter 2020, the band brings together producers Gabriel Rei and Gene Tellem, singer/songwriter Laroie and drummer Pascal Deaudelin. ‘Volume I’ is presented as the fruit of this reunion, an ideal pairing for seekers of dancefloor influenced reflection. Night tunes to best capture the driving and soulful essence of deep house, with lyrical play to help you imagine. Recorded between Saint-Sauveur and Montreal, this six track mini-album reaches for sophistication, playfulness and romance... we can all agree that it is a useful triptych to base a theme...



            STAFF COMMENTS

            Matt says: High fidelity, DSP production, sun blushed aesthetic, deep soulful vocals and a house music mindset make this the surprise late summer winner. RIYL: Andras Fox, Lou Hayter, Ruf Dug, Ron Trent & Larry Heard.

            TRACK LISTING

            A1. Endless Nights
            A2. Secret Witness
            A3. Refuge
            B1. Influence
            B2. My Love Is Dark (Everlasting Fight)
            B3. More For Us

            Sophie

            LOVE / Just Like We Never Said Goodbye

              After 'Lemonade's' bouquet of ephemera concealing a secret firecracker within, the musical marmite of Sophie returns to our shop. It's hard to think of an artist that splits opinion so much, which is perhaps why I like her (- Matt). So far I've managed to convince about half our customers that this is 'the shit', but none of our staff. Anyway, I'll let you make up your own minds. Abstract, post-millennial electronics on the A-side, "LOVE" just buzzing and squealing through a cannon of VST-pluggins you probably can't even own yet while Sophie spits a plethora of one-letter snips onto this radioactive hue. One of those head-turning soundbeds to immediately change direction in a set, or even as the first tune to play when taking charge of the controls. As usual, we get one experimental piece and then, shall we say, one warped-chipmunk-in-wonderland take on pop music, set in the 23rd century. And that's what "Just Like We Never Said Goodbye Is". A post-break up tune for 15 year old aliens when we traverse to the next inhabitable galaxy. Honestly, this could reduce a cyborg to tears. Heartfelt, naive, childish lyrics about love, lust and yearning set to the most euphoric fidgety, futureproof and all encompassing of instrumentation - and there's not even any drums! So powerful, for me personally, it works; so, so very well. After playing this TWICE during a recent DJ set (I never play tunes twice) and multiple listens at home it still sends synthetic, MCAT-flavoured goosebumps down my arms and fires me with an intangible energy from deep inside the pit of my stomach. It's hard to place, but its there if you feel it, and who cares if the youth like it as much as you. There's not much else I can say about it - just have a listen and please do mail in your opinions (or don't - Ed).

              STAFF COMMENTS

              Matt says: Available once again. The first four Sophie EPs have become cult artifacts of leftfield-dance-pop. Last chance saloon if you missed 'em the first time!

              TRACK LISTING

              A. L.O.V.E
              B. Just Like We Never Said Goodbye

              The Sound Of Science

              The Sound Of Science

                Dean Honer and Kevin Pearce present a beautifully designed original soundtrack of songs taken from a science show for children and adults alike.

                Dean Honer is a Sheffield based musician, producer and founding member of many iconic electronic music bands including The All Seeing I, I Monster, The Moonlandingz and The Eccentronic Research Council. He has worked as a producer for bands such as The Human League, Add N to X and Roisin Murphy.

                Kevin Pearce is a songwriter from Essex. He has received plaudits for his work from The Independent, The Guardian and Mojo magazine. His music has been used on HBO programmes in the USA as well as BBC TV shows in the UK.

                Castles in Space is proud to present The Sound of Science. Dean explains the background and inspiration for the album:

                “The idea for The Sound of Science had been in my head for a number of years.

                “Being a parent of young kids I endured a lot of very cliched and awful children's songs that were attempting to combine education and entertainment. These quickly became a form of torture to me, something that the CIA might use in covert operations to flush out a drug cartel from their hideout. It became apparent that there was a desperate need for informative songs and music that were appealing and bearable for both children and their parents.

                “I recruited my friend Kevin Pearce, (who I have produced and collaborated with on various projects over the years), to bounce ideas off and who could put together a nice series of chords and could sing! Which helps when writing songs. Kevin is from an acoustic folk background and I'm more of a one finger synth player in the Human League tradition. I thought it would be interesting to mix the folk and electronic element together for children’s songs. Something that harks back to both the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in the 60's and 70's and also the folk songs of TV programmes like Play Away, public information films and music from various weird and oddball kids TV from that era.

                “We then recruited various artists to sing on the tracks including PsychFolk singer Sharron Kraus, performance artist Heidi Kilpaleinen (HK119), synth goddess Tara Busch, artist and ex Add N to X man Steven Claydon and vocalists Liza Violet and Tom O'Hara.

                “Kevin and I are both interested in science and astronomy so that was the obvious direction for the album. Writing songs about various scientific subjects was interesting and a challenge. Aiming them at children meant that we didn't need a PHD for the lyrics. It became more about conveying a sense of wonder and presenting some amazing facts to audience.

                “In 2018 we were asked by Sheffield University to work on a live version of the album and to collaborate with some of their senior scientists on the project. This turned The Sound of Science into a live performance spectacular involving scientific experiments on stage, a live band performing the songs, plus 3D visuals created by Human in Sheffield. We performed 3 shows over two days and the reaction from kids and their parents was amazing. More festival shows due in 2020 were curtailed because of the pandemic, but we hope to get the show back on the road in 2022.”

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Barry says: An absolutely stunning package here, once again for the ever-brilliant CiS, and a landmark release for their 100th cat no. too! Beautiful kosmische synths, robot vocals and airy arps, bringing to mind Kosmischer Laufer or Panabrite, but imbued with a percussive drive and Hohner-exclusive humour. Really beautiful stuff in sight and sound.

                TRACK LISTING

                1. Photosynthesis (Love The Green Machines)
                2. What Makes Sound
                3. Everything’s Made Of Atoms
                4. These Are The Elements
                5. Global Warming
                6. The Water Cycle
                7. The Speed Of Light
                8. Gravity
                9. Nebulae
                10. The Planets And Moons Of The Solar System
                11. Black Hole (Sagittarius A Star)
                12. A Total Solar Eclipse

                Debut release from Austudy: "Burning It Up: Australian Reggae (1979-1986)". A
                compilation surveying the influence of reggae on Australia’s preoccupation with rock, pop, post-punk and new wave between the years of 1979-1986. Much like the cross fertilization that occurred here in the UK. This selection of 8 obscure tracks originally issued on 7” records represent some of the earliest examples of reggae sounds in Australian recorded music. Comes with beautifully illustrated lithograph printed booklet. Highly recommended!


                TRACK LISTING

                1. Nights In Shining - Surfin’ Reggae
                2. Wide Boy Youth - Busy Bleeding
                3. Delaney Venn - Prisoner (LP Version)
                4. Time Lords Inc. - Don’t  5. Lifesavers - Burning It Up
                6. Janie Conway - Temptation 
                7. Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons - Shape I’m In (Dub Version)
                8. The Agents - Night People 


                Back to top