MAGIC MIX

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

WEEK STARTING 24 Jan

Genre pick of the week Cover of Closer To Grey by Chromatics.
Portland's masters of cinematic synth, the inimitable Chromatics are back with their fifth studio LP, "Closer To Grey". The band's first album since 2012, "Closer To Grey" continues the outfit's exploration of neon lit diners, freezing city streets and 80s noir, kicking off with a stripped back and atmospheric interpretation of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound Of Silence". The tempo rises for "You're No Good", "Closer To Grey" and twist the knife, which alternate between vintage Italians Do It Better disco and propulsive new wave, before "Light As A Feather" pairs Chromatics' trademark sound with the fresh addition of a breakbeat. The first disc ends on a note of romance with the prom-friendly "Move A Mountain", a reminder that vocalist Ruth Radelet can kill with a whisper. As we head to the C-side "Touch Red" leads us through a little lounge-styled melancholy while "Whispers In The Hall" finds the middle ground between trap-bass tones and Carpenter's Halloween soundtrack. A synth and scuzz cover of Jesus And Mary Chain's "On The Wall" reminds us of the group's DIY origins, a wonderful contrast to the luxurious textures of "Love Theme..." and dreamy closer "Wishing Well". 

And just like that, Chromatics pull off that most difficult of tasks, creating something which is the same, but different. All the emotion, feeling and mood remain, but bolstered with a few new musical flavours which compliment rather than detract. 

FORMAT INFORMATION

2xColoured LP Info: 180g blood red vinyl.

After the release of "Hello Darkness" in 2017, a collaboration with Dag Rosenqvist, "Uzonia" is the fourth solo album of the Scotland-based composer Matthew Collings. His acclaimed 'audio-visual opera’, "A Requiem For Edward Snowden", for strings, clarinet, electronics and real-time visuals was premiered to a sell-out crowd in October 2014, and has been performed at Glasgow CCA, Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Utrecht's Gaudeamus Muziekweek (NL). He’s responsible for several installations using custom-made software, which have been exhibited at Burning Man Festival in San Francisco or Glasgow's Centre for Contemporary Arts. His work for films includes a specially commissioned live score for Dziga Vertov’s 1929 silent classic, "The Man with the Movie Camera" and an invitation to work on "The Invisibles", a commission from Amnesty International. Matthew about his concept and the initial ideas to write "Uzonia": 'Usonia’ with an ’s’, was a term coined by architect Frank Lloyd Wright about an ideal view of America, and of living. There is something very optimistic about the idea, not only architecturally but aesthetically, which other people have picked up on over the years. With the name "Uzonia" I’m almost imagining someone appropriating the phrase for their own means; respelling and reselling it, in the same way that ideas, and facts seem fluid and up-for-grabs these days, in our post-Trump, post-Brexit landscape… the symbolism of anything can be shifted, manipulated into another idea for political or social means at any times.

As a meme, as an agenda, as a pseudo-fascist icon. So the phrase sums up, for me, this balance between something utopian, and something potentially dangerous, and/or meaningless, which feels like a good analogy for the time we are living through. The feeling running through the record is of energy, of trying to find something positive in dark times, of being confronted with vast forces, often beyond your control, surveillance, social media, climate collapse. It ends with a question mark, and has energy but also an aspect of despair; to me at least. I generally make lists of interesting ideas, concepts and phrases which pick up from all over. I then just assign a title almost randomly from the list when a piece is coming together. There are many references to dark things; corrupt organisations, military contractors, natural forces threatening to destroy, weapons, dark intentions, giving up… We live in a time of apathy, of action, of confusion…will middle class, white men (like me?) own the future? Who has been paying attention?'

- 'deeply unsettling' The Wire

- 'this is art-house ambience aiming to be something a lot different to the norm, and succeeding...in an era where everything seems a copy of a copy, his work has a freshness to it' - Metro


The Cult Of Dom Keller

The Cult Of Dom Keller

2019 REPRESS of the debut LP by Nottingham’s finest purveyors of psychedelic noise, The Cult Of Dom Keller.

Originally released in 2013, the album went immediately sold out.

Recommended to fans of Spectrum, Spacemen 3, Faust, Wooden Shjips, Moon Duo, Psychic Ills, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and 13th Floor Elevators.

Vinyl release available in a limited edition of 400 copies on gold vinyl.


FORMAT INFORMATION

LP Info: 2019 gold vinyl edition

Music From Memory are back with more essential action on the archival tip, this time combining the ultimate techno-tropical tonker from Curt Cress with the finest dancers from his most celebrated solo LP "Avanti" - providing those with a thirst for the deeper dancefloor experience with the best of Cress in one easy place.
Prolific as a percussionist and producer, Curt Cress came to fame during the 70s, lending his rhythms to a who's who of German prog groups, jazz rockers, fusionists and popstars, before finally stepping out on his own with the "Avanti" LP in 1983. Inspired by his time with the fusion groups, the burgeoning NDW scene and cutting edge synths, Cress swept through backbeats, breakbeats, syncopation and solos, providing melodic intricacy via tumbling mallets and otherworldly electronics. The three tracks which make up the B-side on this retrospective 12" all appear on the second side of "Avanti", and give an instant impression of the impact, accomplishment and ambiance of the LP. "Sundance" sprints through syncopated hits, tumbling talking drums, ace electronic passages and a hypnotic mallet refrain made for dancing feet. Taking a tougher approach, "Power Vein" thumps out the toms, rock snares and white noise hats in true mechanical funk fashion before "Flying HIgh" offers us dreamy Asiatic melodies, bouncing Linn idents and an intricate, ever changing web of pure percussive joy - a true dancers' delight.
From a DJ's point of view, all this was just foreplay ahead of Curt's '92 12" "Dschung Tek", pulled from a point in his career when the veteran drummer was experimenting with techno and tribal house, with the confidence to have a little fun. Played with passion by Ruf Dug, Talking Drums, Basso and Bufiman over the past half decade, "Dschung Tek" takes us on a trip through the undergrowth, pairing warped synthetic metal hits, a pounding beat and all sorts of tropical tropes (birdsong, cicadas, crickets) with a gurgling sequence a bit like an army of ants chomping their way through a DX7. Add in an elephant trumpet, ace pads and a break with a fly swatter and you're having the time of your life.


STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: My favourite and most played dance record ever, and the essential Talking Drums track! Play "Dschung Tek" loud enough and you'll actual land in Jumanji! If that weren't enough to have you buzzing harder than an irate mosquito, the flip pulls three of the best tracks off Curt's excellent "Avanti EP" and gives them a fresh pressing for club use. Top!

For the unitiated, Alaxis Andreas G is the man behind legendary electro imprint Invasion Planète, experimental stable Hiératique and the musical mastermind behind razor sharp, and recently re-appraised French electo (fans of Justice et al need wash their ears out now) project Le Syndicat Electronique. Entering the new decade reborn as De Sang Froid, monseiur Gand harnesses minimal wave moods, buzzing electronics and scorched circuitry for ten tracks of the chilliest bleepery you're likely to hear this year. Whether he's laying down twisted analogue lullabies, skittering electro bombs, or hypnotic industrial creepers, our main man is always interfaced with his hardware rig, getting full Lawnmower Man on our asses. Recommended to fans of Dopplereffekt, I-F and Legowelt.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Limited red vinyl LP

Jesse Kanda is a visual artist and musician widely known for his modern gothic surrealist art, especially his work with Björk, Arca, and FKA twigs, and in recent years for his own musical output as Doon Kanda. At Hyperdub, we are very excited by his transition into music; if there were a sound to his beautiful, otherworldly art, this is it in its pure form. ‘Labyrinth’ is his debut album, comprised of 13 pieces of new music, and 10 artworks. It is a dreamlike, exhilarating listen from start to finish, covering emotional ground from hell to heaven. It was created between summer 2018 and spring 2019 in London and Ontario.

His two previous EPs 'Heart' (2017) and 'Luna' (2018) focused on melody across a spectrum of emotion, and like his visual work often metamorphosed pain into beauty. 'Labyrinth' chronicles a period of loss, in ecstatic fantasy. Stylistically, much of the album is in 3/4 time signature in rhythms reminiscent of waltz, allowing Kanda to create movement through melody. This idiosyncratic gothic style was hinted at in his first EP, and is in full bloom here. It is also a proposition of a new form of club music; one can imagine venues transformed into an alien world, where the music moves the crowd in previously unknown ways. The album has a narrative arc of building chaos, peaking with ‘’Mino’, then a resolve of clarity at ‘Bunny’. Jesse hopes listeners experience ‘Labyrinth’ in its presented order, while maybe flipping through the artwork in the accompanying full size 10 page picture book. 

STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Looking for summat fresh? Look for further pop pickers! Totally twisting my melon with his neo-gothic-electronica, Doon Kanda's "Labyrinth" is one of the most transportative and imaginative things I've ever heard. Incredible!

When was the last time EDMX served you what you expected? Maybe you drop the needle down in anticipation of some slick boogie-inflected synth pop and get walloped in the face with hellfire techno. Perhaps you were itching for body-popping electro and got cerebrally hijacked by pagan coldwave.

On this latest magnum opus, his first on Queen Nanny. Ed Upton is in the mood to get down low in every sense of the word. On the frequency range, this is a record dripping with lard-fed bass at every turn. The arrangements too are devilishly low in channel count – raw riddims with just a few key ingredients to do the necessary damage. Then there are the tempos, which predominantly set cruise control at 90 BPM and glide.

It’s not hard to tell where EDMX’s inspiration has sparked from on this album – in the spirit of celebrating the compatibility of oddball sonics from all corners of the globe, he’s patched his sound into a specific vibe and struck gold with some of the most distinctive riddims you’re likely to hear all year.


STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Ed DMX does a digi-dub album and absolutely nails it! It seems obvious now it's here, given Ed's outboard inventory; but we didn't anticipate just how well he'd pull it off... Extemporary!

Alongside the raw, icy aggression of vocal-led "Burning Car" and "Miss Machinery", this collection of instrumental music from 1980 initially appeared on the 2018 Metamatic box set. Now on vinyl for the first time to celebrate Metamatic’s 40th anniversary in January 2020, this is a haunted, at times beautiful electronic soundtrack which stands as a sister album to the main work. Photo by C.P. Gabrin. Artwork by Jonathan Barnbrook

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Grey vinyl LP.

Giant Swan

55 Year Old Daughter (Extended Mix)

An uncompromising statement of intent, ‘55 Year Old Daughter’ set the tone for the recently released Giant Swan debut album: metallic KO drums and an earworm hook constructed from a scissored vocal sample, the album lurches into life with perhaps the closest the band have come so far to an out-and-out banger.

Only now has this (essential) extended mix - a simultaneously deconstructed avant-noise and devastating DJ weapon become available on a limited edition etched white label 12". Crunchy industrial drums, unflinching electronics and a wicked interrupted vocal make for a floor flaying weapon.

Both Jon Hopkins’ and Kelly Lee Owens’ work perfectly complements each other here on ‘Luminous Spaces’; Hopkins’ transcendent, dancefloor-focussed electronics paired with Owens’ entrancing, often spiritual vocals and her ethereal techno production creates a euphoric electronic collaboration.

What was originally destined to be a remix of Hopkins’ ‘Luminous Beings’ by Owens morphed into a track in its own right, following the pair working closely in the studio together.

12’’ in black poly-lined inner sleeve with digital download card.

STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Spectral, star-gazing and blissed-out, Jon Hopkins & Kelly Lee Owens hit that sweet spot of relaxed euphoria. Gently rushing, this will go down perfectly at Bluedot festival!

The music of Johnny Jewel, Glass Candy, Chromatics, Mirage, & Symmetry all articulate different visions for different moments — the pure ecstasy of a Saturday night out; unrestrained romantic devotion between vulnerable people; walks on wet streets on foggy nights; isolated twilight meditations. They make music for all moments, all feelings, all stories — in films & in life. Theirs is natural soundtrack music. Bruce Thierry Cheung brings their cinematic music to celluloid to tell the story of a family’s struggles in Don’t Come Back from the Moon, starring James Franco, Rashida Jones, & Jeffrey Wahlberg.

The soundtrack mixes new & beloved work from the Italians family. Classic cuts such as Chromatics’ revered “Cherry” & “The River” (alongside the newer “Magazine”) & the disco-bliss of Mirage’s “Lady Operator” are alongside cues from Johnny’s instrumental solo album Digital Rain, all remastered to articulate the resonance of the visuals. Joining them is new music from Johnny & Symmetry. “Bicycle” finds Symmetry taking their Tangerine Dream and John Carpenter vibes into a haunting modern R&B space. Cues like “Street Lights” & “Dusk” use twinkling piano keys & glassy, minimal synthesizers to craft ambient electronic bliss. “Death Valley” is a foreboding & atmosphere track, laced with spectres of fading memories. Once you go to the moon with these songs, you’ll never want to come back.


FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: LP pressed on Ivory Coloured Vinyl.

“…Voices Heard From The Year Of Thirteen Moons…”

Beyond the decay of ruins hums the subtle sound of Vapor, a suite of dystopian instrumentals by Italians Do It Better visionary Johnny Jewel. His trademark analog synthesizers have never sounded more crystalline, their landscape never more evocatively barren. Chiming bells slowly twirl like the rusted music box of a child’s nightmare, a pitch-black bleak that is utterly frightful — Jewel channels the beauty & horror of a world that long ago abandoned its own destiny. This is a fever dream flashback. The kind that strikes you in the blur of night & refuses to weaken its grip until the sheets are drenched in sweat. This soundtrack is as elegant as it is violent, conjured in the deepest blacks & most vivid reds. These 21 celestial tracks clock in at just over an hour. Warping wind from a spiraling pinwheel…The sound of dust in the Garden of Hera, walking the tightrope between Life & Hades. The thin line that divides the Heavens from the Earth. Breathe Deep.

FORMAT INFORMATION

2xColoured LP Info: Ivory coloured vinyl.

Okay Kaya

Watch This Liquid Pour Itself

    In Okay Kaya songs, her world looks a lot like ours — Netflix, jetlag, vegan peanut butter and chocolate ice cream, lonely bowls of ramen, diet trends. But unlike ours, each of these vibrates and shimmers with deeper, darker meaning, with existential dread and desire for understanding. Through Norwegian-raised New Yorker Kaya’s dreamy soft-focus lens, the language of Twitter memes becomes modernist poetry as her breathy contralto voice sings lines like, “If you don’t love me at my guttural sound, you don’t deserve me at my guttural sound.” This is Sade for nihilists. On the opening track of her new record she sings, “I used to fight the feeling, always let it win.” As she transforms these feelings, defeats, and victories into songs, the lyrics often involve pools of sweat, oceans, and other forms of wetness. But Okay Kaya’s world is not one of renewal and rebirth—it’s not water at all, actually. “It’s more like bile,” Kaya says, “It’s what comes out in the purge.” In these songs, Kaya swims through her melancholy and anxiety— not as a way of cleansing herself, but as an understanding of their depths

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Coke bottle clear vinyl.

    Organized Pleasure / Satin Wall

    Tropical Stumble / Dans Les Profondeurs

    In popular imagination, the early 80s were dreadful. Thatcher and Reagan led the world on a diet of austerity, unemployment and depression. The Berlin Wall separated East from West. The Sex Pistols had broken up. In sum, the future was unsure. Belgium was no exception. While Punk had been declared dead by some, its spirit was still roaming in country parishes and city alleyways. As the Catholic bourgeoisie provided young people with few opportunities, music was an obvious pastime. Teenage hopes of starting a band and putting out a record were everywhere. Organized Pleasure and Satin Wall were two bands living the dream. In contrast to a thousand others, they left us sounding evidence. This split 7” gathers two tracks originally recorded in 1981. It was the first and only studio excursion for both groups. After some local gigs, the people involved moved on to other projects. While their music is illustrative for the era, their story is distinct. Same but different.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Patrick says:

    Hot on the heels of a fine outing on Hivern, Italy's Manuel Cascone, better known as Steve Pepe brings his hypnagogic brand of tribal electronics to Sacha Mambo's home of metal music. A firm fixture in Rome's underground for years now, Steve's previously found himself in new wave, pop, avant and experimental bands, experience which presumably informs the singular fusion of genres and styles we find on this double LP. Syrupy, spaced out synths meet ethno-wave flutes, clattering machine drums collide with organic polyrhythms, found sounds pan wildly and re-modeled vocals top sub tickling basslines on this skewed shamanic masterpiece, taking us on a real trip.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Patrick says: If I had commissioned him myself Steve Pepe couldn't have come up with an LP more relevant to my interests than this one. Fourth world flutes, light industrial idents, brain-mulching fx and cosmic synths all coalesce into a killer double LP of tribal electronic bliss.

    "Hotspot" was mostly recorded in Hansa Studios, Berlin, and mixed in The Record Plant, Los Angeles. It was produced and mixed by Stuart Price and features ten brand new Tennant/Lowe tracks including the single "Dreamland" featuring Years & Years, which was released in September. Another of the songs, "Burning the heather", features Bernard Butler on guitar and was recorded at RAK Studios in London.

    Pet Shop Boys say:
    'We've written much of our music over the last ten years in Berlin and it was an exciting experience to work on this album in the legendary Hansa studios there and add a new dimension to our sound.'

    The album is the last installment of the trilogy of PSB albums produced by Stuart Price, following "Electric" in 2013 and "Super" in 2016.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Matt says: I heard PSB ont 6 Music this morning talking about how the inspiration for "Monkey Business" was taken from wandering around Texas talking to cowboys. It's an brilliantly catchy track and the whole album finds the likely lads in top form as always. What a legacy!

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Ltd LP Info: Black vinyl in a gatefold sleeve.

    Various Artists

    Red Laser Records EP 10

    As we boldly enter a new decade, we cap off the pingin' naughties with another four bangers for your intergalactic nappers on this, the tenth instalment of our various artist EP series!

    Red Laser Corp. engage tractor beams once again and beam up an elite squadron of galactic firepower for another of their well-lauded V/A EPs. Featuring two new ascending space cadets, ready to prove their worth on the universal playing field, alongside well-decorated star commanders Ste Spandex and Franz Scala; this latest Manctalo mission is destined for undisputed interplanetary acclaim.

    First up, it's local interstellar fugitive, RL regular and black listed hardware abuser, Ste Spandex; whose titular tribute to one of dance music's most notorious labels is as fitting and arresting a piece of glistening, space disco-tek as its namesake deserves. Centered on triplet synth shards and a rugged acid line, Spandex-patented perx snap, crackle and pop as the track careers through the asteroid belts protected by a capacious force-field of electrostatic energy.

    New signing Baba & Ganoush deploy a sleek, Euro-disco themed energy ball named 'Stockholm'. It's epochal synth array referencing classic Italo disco whilst revealing a precision sign-writing maturity that belies the fact that this is indeed the duo's first release!
    Spurting tantalising synth solos and interlocking leads from its holographic sphere, you could easily been sent spiralling into the speaker stacks, eyes-wide-shut upon hearing this piece - note RLC will not be held liable for any injuries sustained!

    Next we enter the cockpit of Berlin-residing, Italo-maestro Franz Scala, who on his debut sortie for RLR, directs the mother ship towards an innocuous star cluster where Ka Zan’s 'Give Me Your Heart' is on permanent repeat. Scala utilises advanced time shift and audio defragmentation devices to re-engage its citizens with this hardcore cosmic climax, transforming it into an erupting supernova of Italo that blasts so far it's now detected across our own stratosphere.

    Ondata's Martin Lefteri and Szymek Lawik are two new rookies snapped up from London and whose 'Feel The Drive' parties have established an alliance with Red Laser Disco members nationwide. Delving perilously into deep space via some meticulously programmed sequences and a dark, cold synthesis method, the pair show a fearless exploration of the outer cosmos on this initial exercise for the label. .

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Matt says: The nation's favourite returns. No. 1 purveyers of the finest Manctalo © (hell, they invented it!), Red Laser drop another various artists EP showing off their 2020 roster and the firm look in good stead for the year ahead; spreading their net across the globe. Check!


    New Music Friday continues. All these great albums out today from @chromatics @IDIB @DJAndySmith @WolfParade plus r… https://t.co/jhOYJfXoud
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