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NIGHT SCHOOL

Molly Nilsson

Extreme

    “The letter X marks the spot, crosses over, literally with a cross. It’s the former, the ex-. The ex-lover known simply as “an ex”. Ex- is the latin prefix meaning “out”. Exterior, an exit. Extraordinary. Excellent. It’s exciting. Generation X. X-files. X is the unknown. X is Extreme“.

    Extreme is Molly Nilsson’s tenth studio album. Recorded in 2019 and throughout the 2020 global pandemic at home in Berlin, Extreme is a departure for Nilsson, an explosion of angry love. It’s an album of anthems for the jilted generation, soaked with joy and offering solace, bristling with distorted, Metal guitars and planet-sized choruses that bring light to the dark centre of the galaxy. It’s an album of the times, by the times and for the people. It’s a record about power. About how to fight it, how to take it and how to share it.

    Absolute Power explodes with massive guitars, double kick beats and the instantly iconic line “It’s me versus the black hole at the centre of the galaxy.” Nilsson’s performance itself portrays absolute power in its confidence but the song is a call-to-arms, an entreaty to grasp the here and now, to take the power back. It’s Nilsson pacing the ring and we’re instantly in her corner. Earth Girls takes familiar Molly Nilsson themes - female empowerment and subverting the patriarchy - but casually throws in one of the choruses of her career. “Women have no place in this world” she sings, but it’s the world that isn’t good enough. Stadium-sized but still warmly hazy, Earth Girls has its fists in the air, glorifying in harmony, almost ecstatic in its feeling good. Nilsson’s Springsteen-level conviction and righteousness bleeds through the speaker cones, the cognitive dissonance between the song’s cadences and angry lyrics redolent of Bruce in his prime. Female empowerment isn’t always an angry energy on Extreme, however. On Fearless Like A Child, Nilsson’s anthem to the female body and women’s sovereignty of it, she croons over a mid-80s blue-eyed Soul groove. It sets a nocturnal scene as the narrator surveys her past and her surroundings. Before we’re fully submerged in a dreamlike, Steve McQueen-era Prefab Sprout poem to learning from your mistakes the song erupts into one of those lines only Molly Nilsson can get away with: “I love my womb, come inside I feel so alive” she fervently sings. Against the backdrop of ever-encroaching, conservative rulings on women’s reproductive rights in places like Texas, it’s simultaneously angry and full of love.

    Every song on Extreme is a gleaming gem in a pouch of jewels. On Kids Today, Nilsson is the voice of wisdom, archly commenting on the eternal struggle between youth and authority. Wisdom infuses Sweet Smell Of Success with a transcendent love that forgives the narrator’s shortcomings and celebrates the moment, it’s a letter to the author from the author that asks “what is success” and concludes that this is it, this song, this moment. It’s a rare moment of simple reflection that is generous in its insight to Nilsson’s inner life. “Success” is a tool of power and we don’t need it… We need power tools and there are moments on Extreme where it feels like Nilsson is showing us how to find them. It's an open conversation through out Extreme. She’s a warm, comforting presence through out the album and specially on these songs of encouragement, songs perhaps sang to a younger Molly Nilsson or, really, to whomever needs to hear them. “They’ll praise your efforts, they’ll call you slurs a rebel, a master, an amateur / Merely with your own existence, you already offer your resistance.” On Avoid Heaven she’s even more direct, pleading with us to avoid concepts of purity and to embrace the glorious, ebullient, emotional mess we’re often in as a method of upending the power structures who need things to be perfect.

    They Will Pay brings back the big, distorted power chords in the form of a agit-punk, pop slammer. Of course, when Molly Nilsson does punk pop we get the catchiest chorus this side of The Bangles or The Nerves. It’s rendered in an off the cuff, throwaway manner that is just perfect in its roughness. However, it’s on Pompeii that Nilsson delivers the album’s epic, emotional heartbreaker. Like 1995 on Nilsson’s album Zenith, or Days Of Dust on Twenty Twenty, the lyrics of Pompeii are heavy with a transcendent sadness, an aching poetry that cuts to the truth of the heart like the best Leonard Cohen lines, though here delivered with an uplifting, life-affirming love. It contains the most personal moments of Extreme, a song lit by the dying embers of romance. Yet it’s here where the alchemy at the base of all Nilsson’s best work is found. Turning small nuggets of personal truth into big, generous universal moments that invite everyone to cry, to love and to fight the power. In an album of jewels, it might be the shining star.

    Molly Nilsson’s biggest, boldest and most vital album to date, Extreme is about power. Against the love of power and for the power of love.


    TRACK LISTING

    1. Absolute Power
    2. Earth Girls
    3. Fearless Like A Child
    4. Kids Today
    5. Intermezzo
    6. Sweet Smell Of Success
    7. Obnoxiously Talented
    8. Avoid Heaven
    9. Take Me To Your Leader
    10. They Will Pay
    11. Pompeii

    Fine Place

    This New Heaven

      Fine Place is a new duo comprising Frankie Rose (Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls) and Matthew Hord (Running, Pop. 1280, Brandy). Based in Brooklyn, NYC together they’ve crafted a crystalline full length of nocturnal, electronic pop music that charts a way out the post-global, cyberpunk dystopian environment it was crafted in. Their debut album This New Heaven drenches minimalist song structures in post-industrial washes of sixstring delay and gothic post-punk synths. Presiding over it is the most evocative, emotive vocal performance Frankie Rose has committed to tape to date.

      Following Hord’s relocation from Chicago, the pair wanted to explore new avenues apart from their respective bands or solo projects. “The sound we were going for was an attempt to capture the dystopian feel of New York during a period of desertion by the wealthy. It was produced in a time-frame saturated in both uncertainty and serenity, and the soundscapes we created felt fitting and almost organic as a response to our surroundings. The title also reflects this in an arguably literal, maybe even satirical way.” Sonically, Fine Place references the pioneering mid-to-late 80s pioneers of icy melodrama The Cure and Cocteau Twins, while reflecting both the individuals’; music trajectories thus far. Modular synthesis triggers rhythm boxes and fluttery arps chirp around clanging 808-patterning as Rose’s reverb-laden vocal layering envelops the remaining headroom. The result is massive; a towering, shadowy music that embraces darkness while offering Rose’s bright vocal as chinks of light in the cracks; the production filling the head space of the beholder with preternatural imagery and emotional resonances that are real but not quite defined.

      The title song propels forth out of the fog, scintillating with delayed guitar before the reverb-immersed vocal injects the human drama. The chorus constantly teases a big release but holds back creating a taut, dynamic tension. Cover Blind’s slow march makes full use of Rose’s layered vocal sinking and emerging from Hord’s bank of synths. Stand out It’s Your House is pure honey pouring from the speaker on a bank of of arps and near-hymnal vocal layering, a syrupy light offering in the mist. It’s an emotive highlight that only increases as the album progresses; Impressions Of Me is the Lynchian ballad that glides onward into the sunset. The album finishes on a choice re-interpretation of the 1989 track The Party Is Over by Belgian group Adult Fantasies, one of the great over-looked ballads of the era given an almost ecclesiastical makeover by Matthew Hord and Frankie Rose in 2021.

      Says Hord: “This record was an incredibly challenging endeavor to make, as I had just come home from a European tour with another music project and wanted to invest into and focus on this collaboration with Frankie. I essentially reimagined how to approach writing basic sequences with the synthesizers I had been rehearsing and performing with for months prior to make something more accessible and pop- like for Frankie to build upon. Frankie is an unsung hero when it comes to mixing, and she was constantly mixing down and processing elements of the tracks to create different atmospheres as we forged forward with every song.”

      This New Heaven is an ecstasy of sorts, a half-dream in the border between sleep and daylight.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. I Can’t Shake It
      2. This New Heaven
      3. Cover Blind
      4. Tending To Twenty
      5. It’s Your House
      6. Impressions Of Me
      7. Tell Me A Second Time
      8. The Party Is Over

      Molly Nilsson

      These Things Take Time - 2021 Reissue

        "Night School announces a new pressing of the long sold out debut album by Molly Nilsson, These Things Take Time, on clear with black smoke vinyl and for the first time on CD. As a significant cultural artefact of the underground pop movement that bubbled up in the early 21st century it's an important landmark. In Molly Nilsson's herstory it remains one of her most adored works"

        It would be easy to say that Molly Nilsson needs no introduction, but These Things Take Time is an introduction. Originally self-released in 2008 on a limited CDR run with handfolded sleeve, Nilsson’s debut album has slowly taken over the hearts of many. In 2014 this modern classic of autonomous, DIY pop and punk-as-you-like attitude was released as a double vinyl a beautiful edition featuring unreleased bonus tracks across two discs, it sold out within a month of release.. Now repressed....

        Ela Orleans

        Movies For Ears

          “With Ela’s music I feel emotional, engaged… I can’t help but feel she’s always looking for a sense of belonging and it seems to inform all the music that she makes. Glasgow must have more of that belonging feeling than most cities because she’s spent the most time here, an exotic bird in a rainy city she maybe finds a lttle bit of comfort in. It’s a pleasure to have her here, in this awful time to be living in Britain, her illuminations feel important and hopeful. A stubborn light; someone making great timeless music out of the humdrum of the everyday.” - Stephen Pastel

          Movies For Ears is a retrospective collection of works by Polish-born, Glasgow-based artist Ela Orleans which navigates almost two decades of songwriting in the heart of the global pop underground. This remastered collection casts an ear over what Orleans might call the ‘pop sensibility’ within her back catalogue. Released previously on a number of small DIY labels, Orleans’ music coincided with the explosion of auto-didactic musicians finding their voice in the age of the blogosphere, artists emboldened by the democratisation of music-making afforded by the internet. From the outset, Orleans’ childhood studying formal music mixed with cut-up techniques, sampling, sound-art and experimentation to create a distinctive signature cloaked in an innate melancholy and playfulness. Fully remastered by James Plotkin, featuring extensive sleeve-notes and rare photos from Orleans’ archive, Movies For Ears presents an appraisal of the musician’s work, painting a portrait of an artist with an uncanny ability to evoke emotions and ghosts of memories in the listener.

          Each song pulls sunshine from its surroundings, moments of pleasure plucked from eulogies. The Season employs a hypnotic loop with Orleans’s prophetic voice heralding the season we’re doomed to repeat. In fact the singer is often cast as the changing protagonist in her songs: on Walkingman, a hazy ballad heavy with ennui, the narrator is laden with the world’s weight, forever pacing a groundhog day world blank, a pissed-off actor in a Kafka-esque melodrama. On Light At Dawn we’re in a seedy kitsch bar-room go-go scene, a ghostly rock’roll romance with shimmering percussion, poledancing in a Lynchian half-dream. Movies For Ears’ moods straddle memory and fantasy: scratchily invoking halfremembered exotica, the flickering shadows of europhile cinemas screens, a delicately woven world anchored in Orleans existential meditations on longing, intimacy, solitude and the search for love. These rich textures in every song don’t overpower some crystalised moments of emotion however: on In Spring Orleans sings simply “I have been happy two weeks together,” summarizing that feeling of elation when emerging from a depression, a long winter. It’s a moment that perfectly illustrates the lightness of touch and clarity in the singer’s voice.

          The power of the loop and Orleans’ weaving songwriting that breaks its spell is illustrated perfectly by I Know. Over an aching chord progression, the vocal takes flight into bittersweet loneliness, Pachelbel’s Canon played at a wedding where only one person shows up. The repeated refrain “I know, I know” ascends to the heavens as the chords descend to the dumps and the listener is left in the middle, happy but not knowing why, maybe a little changed, two weeks together. On Movies For Ears, Ela Orleans lets us into a secret: the rare moments of joy to be found in the joins of the loop, the spaces between things, the spring after the winter are the moments that last after the day has faded.

          TRACK LISTING

          1. The Season
          2. Walkingman
          3. Light At Dawn
          4. In Spring
          5. Something Higher
          6. In The Night
          7. I Know
          8. Black And White Flight
          9. Myriads
          10. Neverend
          11. Planet Mars (CD/Digital Bonus Track)
          12. Apparatus (CD/Digital Bonus Track)
          13. Elegy (CD/ Digital Bonus Track)

          Molly Nilsson

          Hey Moon

            “Hey Moon” remains one of Swedish singer Molly Nilsson’s most popular songs. Originally released on her debut album These Things Take Time, the song since took on new life being covered by other artists and Molly famously never plays it live. In act of reclamation, Molly Nilsson is releasing Hey Moon as a 7” single with all profits donated to Black Lives Matter worldwide. It comes backed with a rare early song, Silver.

            Molly Nilsson

            Europa - Reissue

              When Molly Nilsson began recording her second album Europa in 2009 the world seemed to be at a turning point and she along with it. In the aftermath of a global financial crash, at the dawn of a new decade, the Stockholm-born, Berlinbased singer was busy moulding her songwriting into an idiocyncratic, personal mythology that would take her to every continent, speaking directly to hearts in every corner of the globe.

              The first album on her own Dark Skies Association imprint, the first recorded in her home studio The Lighthouse, Europa broke new ground for Molly Nilsson at the time. But also it spoke earnestly to the world about an idealism, an openness and hope that has not dimmed in the 11 years since its release. Europa contains the songs of a young, idealistic songwriter coming to terms with her genius for cutting to the chase, saying it as it is and, most importantly, as it should be. Over 10 years on the artists’ vim and urge for... more credits.

              Written and Recorded by Molly Nilsson at The Lighthouse, Berlin, 2009.

              STAFF COMMENTS

              Barry says: 2009's 'Europa' really shows the spark of songwriting genius and emotional heft that Nilsson has become known for, and is the perfect document of a talent in the very early stages of fruition. It's fitting then that this superb LP should be remastered by James Plotkin and reissued in it's full glory. Note too, the continuation of the superb monochaomatic visual theme consistent through all of Nilsson's albums.

              TRACK LISTING

              In The Mood For A Tattoo
              The Revenge Of The Stalker
              More Certain Than Death
              When I Have No Words
              Berlin, Berlin
              Europa
              I Whisper In My Ear
              The Crisis
              Asleep In Stockholm

              Following a revelatory concert in Glasgow in January 2020 wherein the two sets of musicians met and performed together for the first time, a recording session was arranged the following day, resulting in the most elevated permutation of Amor’s art to date. Each track was built upon a rhythmic bedrock of percussion and drums performed by Paul Thomson and samples/synthesizer by Luke Fowler. Thomson used bamboo Javanese gamelan (most notably on “For You”) and scrap metal, as well as traditional percussion and drums while Fowler incorporated processed ambient field recordings recorded in enclosed acoustic spaces around Glasgow. Singer/pianist Richard Youngs contributes some of the most bright and mindful work of his career. Acoustic bass player Michael Francis Duch, whose lush playing as ever provides the elastic spine to each song, scored the string parts for “Lemur” on piano at home in Norway. The addition of swelling strings and drones fills out the Amor sound significantly, lending a sonorous tone to 8 minute, epic closer “For You” or an ascending melodic introduction to “Stars Burst” that feels like a new morning dawning on a world saved from certain death. With the circumstances of lockdown forcing the musicians to work differently, a thread of optimism and utopia grounded in the moment weaves through these tracks. “Unravel” reveals a spine tingling vocal from Youngs. It’s a song about the simultaneously grounding and ecstatic effect of love, feeling connected to others. It’s a simple message, ‘I’m finding myself in your smile, always unravels me’ speaks of ego death, the dissipation of the material into a nirvana of pure energy, the power of surrender.

              This isn’t a quasi-religious message, this is the power of each other, a love song to connection in a temporary age of isolation. “Stars Burst” is a play on the inner and outer cosmos, with narrator Youngs exploring wonder to a pounding galloping rhythm and snake-charming synth. It’s an open dance, with the group locked in together for the wild ride. “Fear” is the centerpiece of the record, starting with drones and scraped overtones before swirling synth notes filter upwards to meet reverberating minor chords. Over 8 minutes of tight but loose playing, Youngs is the shaman instructing us to use “Fear” as a celebration of the moment, embrace it and jump into the unknown. The only way to overcome your fear is to feel it, use it as an energy. The use of the studio as an instrument throughout side 2 is particularly important, with the dubbing and mixing prowess of engineer Paul Savage (who mixed unattended due to lockdown restrictions) and tape manipulations performed by Jason Lescallet coming into play. “For You” closes out with a largely instrumental, evolving composition that uses many of the abstract and novel aspects of this permutation to aid the trance. It’s massive, an unfurling creature with unexpected tonalities and serious heft.


              STAFF COMMENTS

              Matt says: Another fruiting body from the cultivated hotbed of musical mycelium - Green Door Studios, Glasgow. It's decidedly less jagged that previous eminations from the studio - possessing a loose, baggy groove that'll resonate with fans of ACR and the more tasteful end of the Madchester scene.

              TRACK LISTING

              Side 1
              1. Unravel
              2. Stars Burst
              Side 2
              1. Fear
              2. For You

              The Space Lady

              The Space Lady's Greatest Hits - Repress

              The Space Lady began her odyssey on the streets of San Francisco in the late 70s, playing versions of contemporary pop music an accordion and dressed flamboyantly, transmitting messages of peace and harmony. Following the theft of her accordion, The Space Lady invested in a then-new Casio keyboard, birthing an otherworldly new dimension to popular song that has captured the imaginations of the underground and its lead exponents ever since, with the likes of John Maus, Erol Alkan and Kutmah being devotees.

              Of her early street sets, only one recording was made, self-released originally on cassette and then transferred to a home-made CD. "The Space Lady’s Greatest Hits"(LSSN020) features the best of these recordings - mostly covers but with some originals - pressed on vinyl for the first time and features archival photographs and liner notes from The Space Lady herself. “Greatest Hits” contains The Space Lady’s personal favourites; her haunting take on The Electric Prunes’ “I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night),” a frantic “Ballroom Blitz” amidst other reconstructed pop music. Included are also 4 originals that easily match for the Pop canon. Following the release of this archive, The Space Lady will be issuing new material and travelling the world to present her message outside the United States for the first time.

              In the mid 90s The Space Lady packed away her Casio synth and silenced her distinctive voice, retiring from the streets of San Francisco. Now, more than 30 years after her initial forays on Haight Ashbury, she has surfaced with the first ever official release of her timeless, startling music and, even more remarkably, has re-started her live career. Now in Colorado, The Space Lady continues to spread her message of peace, harmony and love.

              Special Interest

              The Passion Of

                But would you bat an eye, waiting for war machines to pass you by? But aren’t we going out tonight? Aren’t we going out?"" Special Interest have returned with their sophomore LP. A dual release from Night School (UK) and Thrilling Living (US), The Passion Of... combines elements of glam rock and no wave pushed through a mangled filter of contemporary electronic forms. Special Interest present a precise and deranged vision of punk, an apocalyptic celebration, a step forward into a perverse and uncertain landscape. Recorded throughout 2019 with engineer James Whitten, The Passion Of finds the band with a fuller realization of their sound.

                While their debut, Quintron-produced, album Spiraling documented a band discovering their purpose, The Passion Of… is both more chaotic and melodic, daring to finally live up to their notorious wall-of-sound live performances. Massive, juddering beats from an old Electribe sampler and distorted bass provide much of the rhythmic backbone. The effect is purely physical, circumnavigating the brain and heading straight to the body’s core, sounding at times like an Industrial take on the most brutal Gabber 12”s from the Groningen hardcore underground.

                Crass, decolonized guitar work and haunting synth lines cut through the low end noise to serve the album’s layers of drama. It’s a cloying, intense dynamic that builds to almost unbearable fever pitch at points, threatening to overwhelm and overpower. Aided by mastering work by Rashad Becker, The Passion Of… is a true document of Special Interest as the intense and radical unit they are. Alli Logout’s razor sharp lyrics drip with the collective lust for life in the midst of painful truths. Offering moments of clarity and hope in their signature bratty maladjusted manner, switching from high camp satire to insightful political imperatives often within the course of one song.

                The Passion Of... takes you on an odyssey, from celebrating the highs and lows of hedonism (Disco III), to dystopian anthems (All Tomorrow’s Carry) and disillusioned love songs (Street Pulse Beat). Ending in a powerful final decree (With Love) offering visions and desires for futures to come. The Passion Of... is a culmination of Special Interest’s long standing obsessions. Not just bearing witness but living and moving towards our innate desire for rapture in an urgent and raw testimony of the here and now. "Beyond blood we fight towards liberation"

                TRACK LISTING

                1. Drama
                2. Disco III
                3. Don't Kiss Me In Public
                4. All Tomorrow's Carry
                5. A Depravity Such As This
                6. Homogenized Milk
                7. Passion
                8. Head
                9. Tina
                10. Street Pulse Beat
                11. With Love

                Manuela Iwansson

                Strangers On A Train / Blank Surface

                  Manuela Iwansson is a force of nature. Beginning as vocalist in now-defunct Swedish punk group Terrible Feelings, Iwansson's solo music harnesses the doomed romance of early 80s post-punk with a leather-bound flourish of late-70s hard-as-nails rock music. No one really believes in Rock 'n' Roll any more, not in these times of eroded faith and disillusionment but we still believe in the redeeming power of the night. Manuela Iwansson's music soundtracks the drama of the nocturne; grimy bars that breathe acrid smoke like veils over lovers parting, the paranoia of the illicit, the thrill of darkness, the transformative power of holding hands against the storm, doomed and righteous. Strangers on a Train surges forward on a taut post-punk beat and aching Cult-like guitar riff, Iwansson's narrator lamenting an ending, stations whirring past her field of vision.The chorus feels like a stadium of fists held aloft in unison, belying the cloying tale, perhaps, of an awkward break up. It's an unabashed anthem caught between leather and lace.

                  On the flip, Blank Surface is a bona fide AA track. Tight drums and an elastic bassline make the song feel like a lost 80's goth pop single, Iwansson's lyrics feel like the self dissolving into a thrilling melancholy, the narrator's very selfhood evaporating with the dry ice. Much of Blank Surface reminds the listener of The Cure mixed with a kind of DIY stadium rock rendered with the perfect charm by Iwansson's vocal performance, a tool which manages to sing of vulnerability with an enviable confidence. Rock n Roll is dead, good riddance; we're creatures of the night.

                  Cucina Povera

                  TYYNI

                    Tyyni is the third album by Finnish-born sound artist and musician Cucina Povera aka Maria Rossi. The second album recorded using a more studio-based scenario – as opposed to last year’s Zoom, a collection of in-situ, spontaneous recordings – Tyyni feels like a slowly unfurling mediation on the clash between nature and mechanical living, a rumination on the complexities of modern life that begin to unveil more about the inner landscape of the artist as it progresses. A Finnish word referring to still, serene weather, the title belies a new note of turmoil in Cucina Povera’s soundworld. Tyyni represents a more detailed focus on the sculpting of sounds that curl around Rossi’s hymnal vocal performances.

                    It’s a more adventurous work than Rossi’s previous output that goes further into noise elements and vocal abstraction while maintaining the balance and ecclesiastical ecstasy of her debut Hilja. While tension at the core of Cucina Povera is always prevalent, previously it was organic sounds that were used to counterpoint Rossi’s singing but on Tyyni these are often replaced with aggressive synths and distortion, profane clashes with the seemingly sacred hymns. Whether close mic’d and intoning in a loop or in full flight, Maria Rossi’s voice remains in the foreground, set here against a more synthetic backdrop.

                    This development builds new worlds for Cucina Povera, a digital environment which brings in a sense of the alien for Rossi’s vocal to duel. The effect is often dazzling. On Salvia Salvatrix, an ode to the medicinal plant used to ward off evil spirits, Rossi’s invocation is encircled by a distorted synth sound tearing at the fabric of the composition. It’s an inspired juxtaposition, leaving the listener to appreciate both sounds as separate and as a duet. Anarkian kuvajainen embraces a sense of chaos, an accidental transmitting mobile phone’s pulse is swept up gently with looped synth swells as Rossi’s prayer-like vocal rhythmically teases the composition into loops that embrace and then drift apart. Teerenpeli flirts with a minimal beat rendered by sampler and processed, layered field recordings of capercaillies, while Side A ends with one of Rossi’s most beautiful, simple tracks yet recorded.

                    Varjokuvatanssi is an a cappela recording built on top of a wordless glossolalia, a shadowy interplay which foregrounds the solo vocal. Pölytön nurkka is the most melodic song yet recorded by Cucina Povera. While it still maintains an off-the-cuff performance style, the synthesized chimes and 4/4 beat are smothered by a distorted synthesizer which almost replicates the bravado of an electric guitar feedbacking into the night. Rossi’s subject matter talks of trying to start anew, getting rid of extraneous material, perhaps still feeling powerless to affect positive change. On Haaksirikkoutunut, the protagonist vocal is lost, a vessel rudderless on the ocean, buffeted by waves metaphorical or real, digital, atonal chords gurgling and splashing against the bow, a storm forever brewing on the horizon. Saniaiset recalls Coil in its eldritch, nocturnal tone and digital-bell like synth, Rossi’s half-spoken/half-sung voice attaining a creepy tone before flipping into flight.

                    Album closer Jolkottelureitti uses an escalating, sequenced synth that splinters into both abrasive tones and harmonising chords creating a kosmische effect, reminding the listener of Kluster or synth-era Popol Vuh, all the while elevated by Rossi’s searching vocalising. For an artist with such a singularly unique musical language, Cucina Povera is continually teasing new strands and emotive tones from an evolving palette. Most importantly, Tyyni appears to be pulling back the veil to uncover an artist finding a synergy between her own emotional inner world and practice. As such, on her third album, Maria Rossi has found a third way between abstraction and extraneous emotion, personal experience turned inside out to reveal more about the listener.

                    TRACK LISTING

                    1. Salvia Salvatrix
                    2. Anarkian Kuvajainen
                    3. Teerenpeli
                    4. Varjokuvatanssi
                    5. P?lyt?n Nurkka.
                    6. Haaksirikkoutunut
                    7. Saniaiset
                    8.Jolkottelureitti

                    R. Elizabeth

                    Every And All We Voyage On

                      R. Elizabeth is the recording name of London-based artist and academic Rachael Finney. Every And All We Voyage On is her solo recording project’s second full length and is a focused distillation of her practice in sound art and her knack for pop minimalism. It follows a long sold out release on Where To Now? Records and a prolonged period in which she concentrated on artist residencies exploring her interest in recorded sound and voice. Immediate and natural, Every And All We Voyage On manages to sound joyful while tackling complex themes, handling everything with an improvisatory touch.
                      The songs are full of air and light; infectious, melodic and off-the-cuff.

                      Recorded using a single 80s Casio keyboard, reel-to-reel tape manipulation, piano and vocal, Finney’s practice with R. Elizabeth belies a studious attention to detail. Her academic work is often focused on analysing sounds – particularly voice and language – divorced from meaning and R. Elizabeth challenges the listener with overtly emotional tropes: sweeping portmento lap-steel guitar keyboard tones on Back From Ten suggest a nostalgic melancholy when it intersects with the narrator closing her eyes, realising she has nothing left to give. The lilting vocal cloaked in reverb is disarming, with an almost child-like surrender to the undertow of the song. On Tragedy And Trade there’s a rough grace to the mixing with visceral, manipulated tape sounding like the artists’ hands are literally in the speakers wrenching the melodies in mid-air. When it intersects with chants about the “gaps and the silences” it has an eerie, hauntological effect. R. Elizabeth is constantly playing with sound and song: a Wonderland of perceived emotion, the listener’s perception of what they’re hearing constantly in flux, it’s deceptively simple and deserving of repetitive listening.

                      Cut Piano opens the album and introduces a documentary-feel which the album upholds through-out. It’s the sound of the artist mangling a tape of her own piano recording, twisting it out of shape and suggesting a bend in reality. We’re listening to the artist becoming a ghost in her own machine, a 3rd or 4th generation copy of an emotion rendered a long time ago, chilling and playful at the same time. An Image Is Different bursts out of this with a sunny Casiotone beat, a melodic contrast that also introduces Finney’s vocal. It flitters between a gorgeous repetitive melody ruminating about the nature of reality and a seemingly careless, conversational tone. The effect is joyful, but you don’t really know why. The lyrics instruct someone (you? The artist?) to “go outside and break someone’s neck, make it feel so real” before ending with R. Elizabeth nonchalantly stating “I dunno, to be honest I don’t really care” as if on the phone to someone they’re bored with. It would be jarring if it wasn’t so catchy and uplifting. The title track is a slow-tempo meditation with droning synths providing the background to slow, dragging tape sounds and
                      grounding, just-out-of-focus vocals bunkering down in the mix. The methodology suggests the work of Broadcast: there’s a loping bassline that propels the track forward but the duet/duel between Finney’s haunted vocal and the soloing tape warble provides aural snakes for the listener’s ear to follow. Spiritual To Symphony is the brightest, most unabashed example of what R.Elizabeth achieves on Every And All We Voyage On. It’s utopian, bright and hypnotic: over a repetitive hook, a double tracked vocal intones a kind of post-structuralist, feminist manifesto: “A different kind of intimacy, a kind of female masculinity, I sense how to be, from vision to visuality.” It’s the perfect example of a piece of music that can be taken on its own terms, enjoyed as pure sound massaging the receptors in the brain or as something that can be dissected, it’s a microcosm of the album as a whole. Effortless and endlessly playful, the album is constantly shifting in and out of focus, from airy imagination to earthy reality. R. Elizabeth invites you to take the sound however you want it. Maybe she doesn’t really care, maybe she does. Who really knows? 

                      TRACK LISTING

                      1. Cut Piano
                      2. An Image Is Different
                      3. Back From Ten
                      4. Every And All We Voyage On
                      5. Spiritual To Symphony
                      6. Tragedy And Trade
                      7. Piano Cut

                      J. McFarlane Reality Guest

                      Ta Da

                        “Ta Da” is the debut full length from J. McFarlane Reality Guest, the collective name for the trio headed by the eponymous McFarlane. As a member of the group Twerps, McFarlane has traversed guitar-centric, melodic pop music for some years while honing a highly unique, personal musical language. Ta Da is the first recorded unveiling of McFarlane’s affecting, oblique songwriting panache. Originally released in her native Australia on Hobbies Galore, Ta Da will be released worldwide by Night School in June 2019.

                        Wheezing into view with a troubled reed instrument set against a s of whoozy synth lines, Human Tissue Act is a foggy curtain the listener is invited to peel back. The dissonant notes are left to dance entwined, with clarinet heralding a Harry Partch-esque mallet percussion interlude. It’s a mood. With no resolution in sight, an audience dragged closer into uncertainty is suddenly drenched with the light of inter-weaving wah wah synth and saxophone. I Am A Toy introduces us to McFarlane’s vocal, an effortless and matter-of-fact, accented statement that quietly takes the reins. While McFarlane’s previous work in Twerps might reference 80s UK and antipodean guitar pop, Ta Da showcases a different influences immersed in psychedelic music and synths. It’s a brilliant, deft concoction swimming in Young Marble Giants-type minimalism washed with bare pop and harmony similar to Kevin Ayers making sense of a Melbourne suburb full of faces half-recognised in the blanching sun.

                        What Has He Bought begins with a Casio-keyboard rhythm pattern, palm-muted guitars and immaculately enunciated vocal give way to a burnt melodica part that elevates the spirits. Simple patterns repeated, like a well-tempered pop song that does what it needs to do and no more, build into the sound of summer leaking orange juice. They’re moments of joy, layered on top of each other like a melting cake. Do You Like What I’m Sayin’ recalls Marine Girls covering a classic ‘66 Garage nugget, organ lines fighting funk with guitar chords played just behind the percussion. “In a talking world, meanings are the same. Words want to hold on to the people they contain. Do you like what I’m sayin’?” We’re in a Beckett play perhaps, obtuse absurdities rendered pretty. Alien Ceremony is a heart-melter, given a melancholic timbre by bowed double bass it’s a tragi-comic piece that almost reeks of Robert Wyatt at his mid-whimsical twisting a fugue completely out of shape. Beneath the layers of harmony and twinkling instrumentation you sense there’s a genuine sadness somewhere even if it remains veiled.

                        Through out Ta Da, McFarlane plays with counterpoint and contrast to sometimes delirious effect. On Your Torturer, a simple, upbeat chord progression is hard panned, underpinning a flute solo which seems out of place, hence making it completely in place on this warmly surreal album. My Enemy is a slowly swinging eulogy to a failed relationship punctuated by analogue synth burbles, with our protagonist simply asking, in the aftermath, “can we be nice?” Here McFarlane’s vocal is straight forward, lyrically conversational but still not completely in focus, a surreal kitchen sink drama filtered through a dream where everything is in the wrong place. It’s a fine precursor to Heartburn, which similarly borrows BBC Radiophonic Workshop-style noise synths and the use of space to carve up the simple “You Will Make My Heart Burn” line. At this point, the listener has been in such close proximity to McFarlane’s show, the reality guest in a performance where they’re the sole audience member, that when Where Are You My Love rises on the horizon as a sleepy, psychedelic send off it’s uplifting. The vocal drifts away into the sunset, simple and direct. It leaves the listener slightly confused, perhaps, but grateful for the gentle surprise.

                        TRACK LISTING

                        1. Human Tissue Act
                        2. I Am A Toy
                        3. What Has He Bought
                        4. Do You Like What I'm Sayin??
                        5. Alien Ceremony
                        6. Your Torturer
                        7. My Enemy
                        8. Heartburn
                        9. Where Are You My Love?

                        Long overdue reissue of this Molly Nilsson early release (her fourth), now repackaged and reissued via Night School / DSA.
                        “I hope you die by my side, the two of us at the exact same time, I hope we die not long from now, the two of us at the exact same time”

                        By the time Molly Nilsson released History, she had already established a fledgling cult status built on homemade YouTube videos and home-burnt Cdrs. Writing from a distance, it’s clear that History is the first classic album in her canon and arguably a classic of the 21st Century underground music panorama. While the methodology on History hadn’t changed from Nilsson’s previous 3 albums – it was recorded solo at The Lighthouse, Nilsson’s home studio based on a Berlin crossroads – on this record the songwriting reached a new peak and the emotional scythe cut deeper. Here, Nilsson managed to combine a cosmic, outward looking perspective with an intimate knowledge of the human condition and its place in these turbulent times. In truth, no other songwriter has excavated the modern psyche so clearly and perfectly.

                        The tracklist to Nilsson’s fourth album reads as an early greatest hits for Molly Nilsson followers and also serves as the perfect entry point to a whole world the artist has been building for the last 10 years. In Real Life crystalises the millenial obsession with relationships built online, with a generation paying for the baby boomer’s excesses with their anxiety towards the harshness of every day life. It’s a call to arms for a generation who fell in love on Skype. On I Hope You Die, one of Molly Nilsson’s most iconic songs, the songwriter flips the song title into a tale of doomed romance, a relationship based on miscommunications and the thrill of the other. It’s also one of the most heartfelt songs full of pathos written by anyone, an ode to obsession. Doomed romance, life lived on the flipside of day and the role of the outsider in society are themes that crop up through-out History. On Bottles Of Tomorrow, the narrator is sweeping up, in love with the night and examining the remains a society leaves behind.

                        On City Of Atlantis, Nilsson veers from the plaintive balladry she had begun to make her name with, embracing trance-like synth and dance music details to create an unlikely anthem using the mythological city as a means to comment on the patriarchal rendering of history by power. With by now trademark panache, she turns complicated subject matter into a glorious song that transforms into an ecstatic pop moment.

                        Hotel Home, another Nilsson classic, paints loneliness not as a debilitating anxiety, but as a powerful tool that propels the artist forward through her travels. It’s a song that hints at an endearing self-awareness also; the writer is never at home, living life on the road, content that “the world will find me when the time is ripe.”

                        TRACK LISTING

                        In A Real Life
                        You Always Hurt The One You Love
                        I Hope You Die
                        The Bottles Of Tomorrow
                        Hiroshima Street
                        Intermezzo:The Party
                        Hotel Home
                        City Of Atlantis
                        Qwerty (censored Version)
                        The Clocks
                        Skybound

                        Cucina Povera

                        Zoom

                          Zoom is a verité collection of situational recordings made by Cucina Povera - aka Finnish-born, Glasgow-based sound artist Maria Rossi - in intimate spaces full of acoustic or ideological intrigue, primarily using a capella voice. It is a document of different locations and moods that interested the recorder, a postcard look into the stream-of-consciousness processes of an artist developing her own language.

                          Using little else other than a Tascam Zoom recorder and loop pedal these are highly personal recordings originally intended as notes for future compositions that ended up becoming the purest rendition of this first phase of Cucina Povera's music to date. Originally presented as WAV files named simply ZOOM---, these on-the-fly compositions are a perfect distillation of Rossi's practice. With no augmentation, not even a song-title, these bare, beautiful tracks become a materialist document of the wonder of the every-day.

                          While Rossi's previous album, Hilja, was a sculpted whole that at times used post-production techniques and electronic instruments, Zoom presents acoustic sound as a source of joy and discovery largely without artifice. Rossi's voice is used a searchlight, shining into the crevices of a room's dark corners, or as on ZOOM0005, projected into a Coke bottle aperature, for an almost Shakuhachi texture. Voice dissapates into texture, with rhythms created by simple hissing sounds and the interweaving of loops. ZOOM0001 interlocks 4 different a capella melodies to create a chorus, an improvised solo hymn that seems to rise and rise. ZOOM0010 uses staccato vocal bursts, like Meridith Monk huffing out Steve Reich rhythms, while the soloing Rossi expertly ducks in and out of the frame.

                          Like the most celestial moments of her debut Hilja it is a religious experience but rendered more powerful in its naked, secular form. Indeed, there are shades of Hilja in the sounds, with some strains resurfacing from that album, insinuating that Rossi's practise is a continuing form, a series of sentences in the artists' personal language that mutate over time, bending into new shapes. On Zoom, Rossi’s minimalism is fully stark, a process fully transparent and all the more celestially powerful because of it.

                          TRACK LISTING

                          1. ZOOM0003
                          2. ZOOM0004
                          3. ZOOM0005
                          4. ZOOM0015
                          5. ZOOM0001
                          6. ZOOM0010
                          7. ZOOM0016
                          8. ZOOM0014

                          Amor

                          Sinking Into A Miracle

                            Sinking Into A Miracle is the debut album by Glasgow’s AMOR, a quartet of musical travellers exploring the sonic open-ended-ness of dance music. Following two critically acclaimed 12-inches, this is a fully developed treatise on ecstasy and transcendence. Here, Richard Youngs, Michael Francis Duch, Paul Thomson and Luke Fowler are more honed, razor sharp in focus and timing, testing their instrumental prowess on condensed song structures and new, enlightened feelings of expansive hope and bliss. From the outset, it’s an ambitious yet ultimately inclusive journey. Recorded to 24-track tape at Chem 19 and mixed by Paul Savage and Richard McMaster (Golden Teacher), this full length retains the elastic grooves of Paradise and Higher Moment, the group’s previous singles, but relinquishes the classic Philadelphia International-tinged sound in favor of looser rhythmic patterns. There are new depths to the compositions: a more free-flowing approach to percussion and deft experiments in hybridity make for a full and rounded, emotionally tinged record. Indeed, there are times when AMOR sound like the lost house band from David Mancuso’s Loft parties: Richard Youngs’ uplifting, gospel-tinged lyrics talk about moving beyond, universal truths, sailing through the horizon. It’s a wideeyed optimism Mancuso would perhaps have approved of and which is embroidered with spectral details that begs to be auditioned on large, tweaked out sound-systems.
                            Fantastic cover art by Robert Beatty.

                            TRACK LISTING

                            1. Phantoms Of The Sun
                            2. Glimpses Across Thunder
                            3. Full Fathom Future
                            4. Heaven Among The Days
                            5. Truth Of Life

                            Happy Meals

                            Fruit Juice

                              Fruit Juice is the first new recorded material from Glasgow-based electronic avant pop duo Happy Meals since the intense aftermath of Apéro, their debut album which garnered a place in the Scottish Album Of The Year final 10. Shorter in scale but sharpened and expanded, Fruit Juice takes the tender experimental beginnings and unabashed pop moments of ther first LP into undiscovered countries glowing with possibility. Since Apéro’s release at the end of 2014, Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook have toured the globe, from Moscow to Bangalore via various European festivals, and have honed their dynamics live, in the moment, improvising and twisting the beat into new forms. As their live show has become more visceral and cinematic, Fruit Juice documents the duo’s new confidence. Run Around opens the E.P., with a sun-soaked tropicalia as conceived by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Rodden’s vocals warped into wordless peons to the rising sun. Lá Lá-bas reaquaints the listener to Rodden’s Franco-Gallic tendancies, but this time Happy Meals reveal a sparse melancholy, with spacious percussion and synth fragments giving way to one of the group’s most immediate moments to date. If You Want Me Now is pop music, pure and from the source. Alternating between French and English, Rodden recreates the live persona that has emerged since the group’s beginnings; an unrestrained performer bringing the innate sensuality beneath Happy Meals’ surface exploding into the light. Cook’s production work here sounds fresh and classic simultaneously, a glorious Jacno tribute enthralled to House music and Italo Disco. Fruit Float, opening Side 2, brings us back up into the cosmos, with arpeggiated synths from Cook’s synth arsenal duetting with a flute solo before Suivez-Moi delivers another pop song worthy of eternal repeat, a slice of electro not unlike the heady heights of Dare!-era Human League. Seductive and irresistible, it precedes the biggest step-up in Happy Meals’ history, the acid-fried Now That You Have Me: ostensibly a high-BPM remix of If You Want Me Now that hints at the insanity of the final moments of a Happy Meals live show. Released as a limited to 500 12” featuring marble-painted artwork hand-made by the band, Fruit Float precedes Happy Meals’ 2nd full length album, being prepared for October release. Each copy of Fruit Float will be different and feature a digital download.

                              Amor

                              Higher Moment / Amnesia

                                "Higher Moment / Amnesia" is the follow up to "Paradise / In Love An Arc", Amor’s debut 12”, which surfaced in May 2017. Culled from the same sessions at Chem 19 and The Green Door in Glasgow, these two tracks elevate the ecstatic, transcendent aesthetic Richard Youngs, Luke Fowler, Michael Francis Duch and Paul Thomson introduced with their previous release. Amor is collectivism in the servitude to trance, a master class in ensemble playing, an avant-disco one-mind. Amor’s practice is simple. Four musicians, in a room, together with the groove. Playing for hours on end, improvising and honing down each track to its bones to be fleshed out, Amor fuses acoustic instrumentation with sharp, electronic precision.
                                Central to each track is the elastic double bass playing of Michael Francis Duch, a backbone that breathes and allows drummer / percussionist Thomson to explore. This time around mixed by Paul Savage at Chem 19, "Higher Moment" on Side A, forsakes the 4/4 of the group’s previous two tracks for a loping ecstasy, a driving rhythm that forges forward around the bassline. Youngs’ vocal here is the focal point, teaming with an almost utopian positivity. For an artist who’s built a career obfuscating, sidestepping the straightforward, to hear a sentiment so pure is spine-tingling. In fact to imagine a Youngs brimming over with a higher love is almost the biggest curveball this artist has ever thrown at the listener. With the line 'following fearless through clear boredom,' we imagine a path to a new world shorn of the material. On the flip, "Amnesia" re-introduces the pounding 4/4 kick with a bittersweet cadence provided by Youngs’ piano. Here, Fowler’s subtle effects dress the movement, highlighting the tension between the forceful, House percussion and Youngs’ minor key melody. "Amnesia"’s power comes from the edit, a skillful carving up of the groove to create several beautiful, odd moments in time. Indeed, with its to-the-floor pulse, "Amnesia" searches deeper into inner space, providing a melancholy twist to "Higher Moment"’s optimism. Artwork by Robert Beatty.

                                'Combining grooving double bass, felt electronic beats, analogue keyboards and quivering vocals, all explored within the contours of an epic 14 minute dance jam, Amor’s "Paradise" suggests what the mutant, earthy funk of the early 1980s might have sounded like if it had found its first breakthrough in 2017. It’s simply one of my favourite tracks of the year.' - Tim Lawrence.


                                Stacian

                                Person L

                                  STACIAN is Person L is Oakland resident, solo artist and academic Dania Luck. Beginning in the American Mid West, Stacian has been an ongoing Bay Area concern since 2008, deeply involved in the minimal wave and underground electronic music scene. A dystopian vision of alienated humanity, broken communications and technoid mal-forms, Person L is her most fully developed full length and a leap forward from 2012’s Songs For Cadets.

                                  Moving away from the primitive Cold Wave of previous work, Person L manages to create a bleak dystopia without relying on Ballardian cliche, though still invoking concrete prisons and urban disassociation. Person L is a throbbing, murky underworld that revels in imperfections, a submersive, digital swamp bleeding through the club. Themes of humanoid alienation and identity confusion abound. Person L is the nominal (and sole) band member of STACIAN, a manifestation of Luck’s that re-creates a near-human face in the mirror.

                                  Album opener Volx is a massive stomper, 909 kicks bringing an almost electro-glam thump into the stereo field. Luck’s skill as Person L and as STACIAN is in maximilising minimalism. Volx is a simple composition, an arpeggiated analog synth and simple kick-snare but it creates the drama Luck’s vocal thrives on. Headstand is similarly huge sounding, though here the track unfolds gradually with synth strings eeking out a simple melody before the catastrophising kick ramps up the pressure. It’s a wonderful exercise in abstraction vs. body moving dynamics. Album single Telephonix is the closest thing to a conventional pop song on Person L, with murky electronics belying a thrilling Cold Wave dancer.

                                  We’re lost in the throes of miscommunication: in placing our trust in electronic communications we’ve divorced ourselves from human interaction. On Side 2, Dirgent heralds a darker portion of the album. A slow burner with a blown-out low end anchoring the doom, it marks a dark wave of distortion that swells up and consumes the listener. The narrative turns in on itself Remote Cntl, ironically marking the most human of the tracks here.

                                  Though the album is devoid of any overt feminist sentiments, here Stacian covertly samples a male voice man-splaining electronic music before burying him in electronic sludge. It’s absurdly thrilling. Spooky Action At A Glance takes John Carpenter-esque atmospherics into Stacian’s Maximalist approach, the horror blow up to kitch, day-glo proportions. Album closer gNoMoN takes a dub rhythm and blasts it into the Cold Wave outerverse, a menacing doom to close Person L.

                                  Rose McDowall

                                  Our Twisted Love

                                    The Our Twisted Love E.P. constitutes the most contemporary recordings by Rose McDowall available, heralding her return to live performance and songwriting. Building on the groundwork laid by McDowall with her group Sorrow, and various collaborations with key figures in the post industrial landscape, it features a full band recording and long-form songwriting that draws heavily on both McDowall’s keen sense of pop melody and melancholy.

                                    Breaking into a harmonium drone and Rose’s instantly recognisable, vocal, the epic title song unfurls at a glowing, glacial pace. Never hiding her love for the Velvet Underground, Our Twisted Love reminds the listener of 70s-era Nico, but McDowall’s fragile vocal has a spine-tingling fragility of its own. Guitarist Dru Moore provides shimmering chords that dress the melody, itself framed with multi instrumentalist Eilish McEvil’s plucked violin strings. Rose’s gorgeous twists with the vocal erupt into a full band jam, with bassist Clay Young, acclaimed cellist Jo Quail and drummer Lloyd James joining in for a neo-folk, dronist excursion that elevates the song into psychedelic territory.

                                    TRACK LISTING

                                    SIDE A:

                                    Our Twisted Love (8:10)

                                    SIDE B:

                                    This Calling (4:16)
                                    Make It Easy On Yourself (4:18)

                                    Molly Nilsson

                                    Single

                                      Molly Nilsson is in a mood: the mood for love, perhaps? For an artist who has spent almost 10 years skirting the issue of love, almost addressing it, taking it out to dinner only to stand it up, “Single” almost lands a sucker love-punch to the listener’s heart. About Somebody seems to be about somebody, or maybe even somebody’s body, about desire too, perhaps. How else to interpret the line “Babe I want to party with you every night, and have a hard-on for the rest of my life?” But this is a Molly Nilsson song, and this is Empowering Content. Over a rousing, even anthemic, verse/chorus one-two, a soaring synth-string hook that rides the handclaps beautifully, we‘re soon left wondering whether our beloved narrator is really focusing on the “other” at all. Love lets you down: treat it mean, keep it keen, and remember if you can’t love yourself how the hell are you gonna love any body else?

                                      On the flip, Quit (In Time), is a classic minor-key Nilsson elegy to obsession and addiction, sounding almost close to an early 80s Springsteen love-story. Here we imagine Nilsson at the piano, her heart a resounding bell for all longing. If About Somebody is the tumultuous onset of an affair, here we’re hopelessly drawn to the flame, unable to leave alone that which causes the sweetest pain. It’s a universal theme, the longing for something we shouldn’t have, and Nilsson seems to elucidate the feeling with a precise, razor-sharp lyrical nous that fans will instantly recognize.

                                      “Single” is about the self and the other; about navigating the love of others that tries to trip us up. But it’s also about you. “Single” is because you’re worth it.

                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                      Laura says: Sublime hook-filled, synth infused pop from Molly Nilsson.

                                      TRACK LISTING

                                      SIDE A: About Somebody
                                      SIDE B: Quit In Time

                                      That we live in a world changed is beyond question. Since 2015’s Zenith, Berlin-based songwriter Molly Nilssonhas surrendered to the world, traveling from Mexico to Glasgow, observing the changing socio-political landscape and imagining a better world. For an artist who has so successfully created her own environment and gradually let others in, her 8th studio album Imaginations sees Nilsson directly engaging with her surroundings, engendering change and allowing love in.

                                      Molly has built an almost 10 year career on perfectly summing up how we feel and this is no different... W ho else could write a song about privilege (Let’s Talk About Privileges) and make a heart-r endi ng c hor us of “It ’s never being afraid of the police, it’s expecting every thank you, every please.” The artist’s vision on this album is perhaps more forceful than the emotionally fragile moments of previous album Zenith, at times exemplified on songs like Memory Foam, a bright, driving pop song that belies themes of nostalgia and the past, reminding us that Molly alone can make us feel so welcome in loneliness.

                                      If there’s overt anger in songs like Money Never Sleeps, an anthem for a post-capitalist utopia if ever there was one, there’s also seams of optimism sewn into the album’s genetic code. A ny revolutionary will tell you that anger alone achieves nothing - Nilsson’s mission on Imaginations is to offer some alternatives we can hold close. Not Today Satan is a song about accepting love as the agent of change; “D on’t be sad, but do get mad at all the small men who act so tall, in the end they always fall; there ain’t no sin in giving in to love, that’s just how we’re winning the f i g h t . ”

                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                      Sil says: This is perhaps the poppiest album we have had in the shop this year. Catchy and sweet yet unique and elaborate in its message. Swedish Molly Nilsson transports you back to the 80s with her synth drenched compositions. This is not polished glossy plastic mainstream pop. ‘Imaginations’ has an overall home-made feel to it, reminiscent of the cold wave genre and dark side of post punk 80s aesthetics. The melodies are smart and ingenious in places yet they manage to pull together a great result when coupled with the potent lyrics and themes covered in tracks like “Let’s Talk About Privileges”, “Not Today Satan” or “Modern World”. The main characteristic in this great LP is the balance in place between evoking an array of emotions whilst sounding carefully detached from it all. As a whole this is an album where intensely personal music and universally understood pop converge successfully. A future classic indeed.

                                      TRACK LISTING

                                      1.Tender Surrender
                                      2.Let's Talk About Privileges
                                      3.Mona-Lisa's Smile
                                      4.Memory Foam
                                      5.American Express
                                      6.Money Never Dreams
                                      7.Not Today Satan
                                      8.Think Pink
                                      9.Modern World
                                      10.Inner Cities
                                      11.Theory Of Life
                                      12.After Life

                                      “The closest we’ll ever get to heaven, with a stolen six pack from 7/11, and though the city sleeps I better she never dreams, she never dreams like you and me.”

                                      The beginning moments of Molly Nilsson’s second album Follow The Light now seem like the start of a personal mythology that was to reach further than she could have imagined. Few contemporary artists have so seeped into the underground pop psyche than the Stockholm-born songwriter. After releasing her debut These Things Take Time on hand-made CDrs, Nilsson’s follow up was a leap in scope and ambition. Of course, the personal takes on a tumultuous life in Berlin and the journeys to and from it inform the songs as before, but there’s a growing maturity in the songwriting in evidence. From the diary pages of These Things Take Time to a growing stature as a songwriter in touch with the universal, Follow The Light contains many of Nilsson’s now firm fan-favourites.

                                      The Closest We’ll Ever Get To Heaven is classic Molly Nilsson. Over plaintive piano chords and little else, Nilsson narrates a story of doomed friends lost, the onset of an East German winter reminding the singer of a time lost, nostalgia frosting the windows to the past. Meanwhile In Berlin, perhaps a passing nod to Leonard Cohen in the melodic refrain, opens up the sonic palette, with synth strings fitting Nilsson’s delivery perfectly. Never O’Clock is a pure pop moment, with a lilting funk and percussion adding a carpe diem immediacy to the album’s flow. Last Forever, which remains a staple to live encores now, seven years later, is fist-pumping melancholy that only Molly Nilsson knows how to do. It’s over before it begins and begs eternal repeat. Truth, a synth pop song that sees Nilsson exploring the upper and lower registers of her voice, feels like a lost chart hit from the mid 80s. I Hope You Sleep At Night, a vitriolic lover’s admonishment gives way to one of Nilsson’s most popular songs: I’m Still Wearing His Jacket. It’s a sentiment that needs no real explanation: the mementos of a completed love affair remain in our wardrobes waiting to hurt us all over again. Hello Loneliness could also be an updated Leonard Cohen song, a peon to melancholy which reminds us that Nilsson has a knack for distilling the complex into sharp epithets. We end on one of Nilsson’s greatest songs. A Song They Won’t Be Playing On The Radio is so finely loaded with emotion that it’s the singer’s reserved delivery that makes it so powerful.

                                      Follow The Light is the second installment of an ongoing Molly Nilsson reissue campaign and is the first time the album has been available on vinyl.

                                      TRACK LISTING

                                      The Closest We'll Ever Get To Heaven
                                      Meanwhile In Berlin
                                      Never O'Clock
                                      Last Forever
                                      Truth
                                      I Hope You Sleep At Night
                                      I'm Still Wearing His Jacket
                                      Hello Loneliness
                                      A Song They Won't Be Playing On The Radio

                                      Helena Celle

                                      If I Can't Handle Me At My Best, Then You Don't Deserve You At Your Worst

                                        HELENA CELLE is the synth work and multi-dimensional audio practise of Glasgow-based musician Kay Logan. A 21st century polymath, Logan’s interests lie in the power relationships inherent in technology, how to harness aleatoric practise in a discipline that is often rigid and in exploring the interface between computer science (Logan is also a computer programmer) and sound. Originally recorded in 2014, "If I Can't Handle.." is the first step on the wander, a deliriously sun-burnt foray into abstract techno and a very personal take on an electronic music language that remains obscure to outsiders but here rendered a unique form of emotional communication.

                                        While Logan’s interests are powered by academic exploration, what’s most striking about Helena Celle’s approach to electronic music is how effortlessly she deconstructs it, makes it personal: the results are emotive without being explicit, raw and engaging, a true outsider music. The taking apart of norms can be heard on the squelched solo on "I'm Done With 666", governed by the love of noise, the wave is eviscerated, smothering the track in a glorious disregard for convention. The crashing, ultra-compressed chords that flatten opener "Streaming Music for Biometrics" re-wire the listener to appreciate chance, to break the loop. Recorded exclusively using a faltering MC303, live in a room straight to consumer dictaphones, the breadth of texture and depth of ideas on these tracks is truly astonishing. "Miming Swinging Baseball Bat" manages to submerge a bass-line straight into the tape heads, grounding a celestial synth arpeggio that flutters overhead.

                                        Informed by limit yet sounding limitless, If I Can't Handle Me... evokes a personal space, a rewired take on electronic music, convention seen through the prism of anti-tradition, a wonderfully careless disregard for electronic music dogma before Logan's next phase as Helena Celle. After several releases under various other pseudonyms (Rick Ross, Larks) Helena Celle sees Logan focusing her ideas into a coherent whole, questioning the hegemony of neo-liberal ideas and their intersection with capital, culture and social practises, how these ideas inform the music we make, the choices we buy. Indeed, while Logan's current practise is moving further into the field of an open-source musical programming language, developing a truly democratic music practise set adrift from capital, here Logan's intent is to make sense of the nonsense we take for granted.

                                        CC DUST

                                        Shinkansen No.1

                                          Shinkansen No.1 / New Ways is the second release from CC DUST, a new duo from Olympia, Washington featuring Maryjane Dunphe and David Jaques. Shinkansen No.1 introduces the record with a more industrial, harder edge than much of the group’s debut 12” (CC DUST – S/T), a fast paced, urgent song powered by by fast kick drums and Jaques’ bassline acrobatics.

                                          CC Dust opened every show on their recent European tour with this salvo, a dark energy that spirals upwards, with Dunphe’s vocal giving the production space to build into a crescendo. New Ways on the other hand, is perhaps Dunphe’s finest moment yet set to disc. Dunphe is a performer who battles restraint, her every vocal performance a tour de force and New Ways is one of the most emotional and transcendent performacnes imaginable. With a terse retraint in the verses, the chorus here erupts into an anthem for doomed youth, with every crack in Dunphe’s voice hitting the listener square in the chest.

                                          A light that casts shadow, CC Dust is doomed, romantic music anchored by Jaques’ live bass and the powerful performance values Dunphe has honed both in her punk group Vexx and in various film and performance projects. Musically, CC Dust’s precedents might be considered the European synth pop originators of the early 80s, there’s also an abundance of low-end hooks played on baritone and bass guitars that teases the ear like early New Order productions, but in Dunphe’s passionate vocal performances there’s a close-to-thebone reality that bypasses cool detachment.

                                          CC Dust play and write real songs lived. A desire for desire. What is it? How does it manifest? Is it all worth the tumult? CC Dust offer no answers as there are none, but they ask the right questions in a life-affirming way. Doomed, romantic, unanswerable and vital.

                                          TRACK LISTING

                                          SIDE A: Shinkansen No.1
                                          SIDE AA: New Ways

                                          Ela Orleans

                                          Circles Of Upper And Lower Hell

                                            Circles Of Upper and Lower Hell is the grandest, deepest work to date by Polish-born, Glasgow-based sound artist and composer Ela Orleans. The seventh album under her own name, Orleans' expansive vision, loosely based on Dante's Inferno but infused with deep personal experience, incorporates sound art, orchestral textures, synth pop and electronic music to construct a world equally peppered with loss and inspiration. Circles Of Upper and Lower Hell pulls all the strands of Orleans' previous work together, an epic depiction of turmoil wide in scope but reveling in detail. From her beginnings inaugurating a lo-fi, homespun sound that has since developed fully into a language uniquely her own, from tentative live outings featuring multiple instruments to a now-masterly command of sound, Orleans has become one of the most consistently surprising musicians of the global underground.

                                            "Circles" documents Ela's research into dark sonic interiors and a far more personal approach to conventional songwriting. Previously, Orleans' sonic textures have relied on samples cleaved out of context, buried songs beneath warped aural gauze, but Circles blows every element of Orleans' art upwards and further apart. Circles begins with a masterful, sparse composition, The Gate, that instantly showcases the expert mastering by Jon Brooks before melting into You Go Through Me (featuring Stephen and Katrina from The Pastels), one of the most direct, aching pop moments. Ghost and Whispers is a hit from another universe, a sparkling propulsion instantly recognizable as an Ela Orleans composition; light of touch and almost unbearably, ghostlily human. Circles Of Upper and Lower Hell is an honest portrayal of a descent; be it personal or metaphorical and there are times, like on the minimal, string-led Tower, when the listener feels submerged, alienated from comfort. Through-out there's a massive, cinematic scope to the album, rumbling synth textures escalating into celestial harmonies, the stereofield sparkling with sound, shimmering melodies crackling with the sort of pathos that Ela has made her recognisable trademark. It's a weighty journey, pitched aurally between Ghost Box records and a mournful classicism, drawing references from literature and autobiography.

                                            Circles... is really without parallel in Orleans' discography, though its most obvious sister record, 2015's Upper Hell, gave some streamlined, carved-up hints at Circles Of Upper Hell's majesty. Orleans' previous work has always suggested threads, blurred ghost-ideas from an artist always growing. In 2016 Orleans has mastered her craft completely, never heavy-handed but deftly handling themes of loss, chaos, documenting personal journeys sometimes arduous with an ever-deeper understanding.

                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                            Barry says: 24 tracks? Some short, some long... that would usually be a red light right there, but in this case, you'd be wrong. This is a cohesive and flowing collection, varied but with a similar ilk of instrumentation and drive. Electronic and percussive, but studded with acoustic elements. There are organs in there, pianos and guitar weaving through the fog of electric drone. On top of all that, vocals segue in and out, punctuating the chaos with divine melody. A skilled and meticulous construction of acoustics and electronics.

                                            The Flexibles

                                            Pink Everything

                                              The Flexibles are a Punk Rock Band. The Flexibles bend space and time, flex your head, space your Punk, a jarring lightning bolt of truth to the heart of the matter. Comprised of Richard Youngs, his young son Sorley Youngs and family friend Andrew Paine, they operate within Glasgow city limits, outsiders in an outsider culture. Swirling around the wild, searing guitar playing and cosmically infused songwriting of Sorley, The Flexibles' Pink Everything is a concept album of sorts, on the surface a narrative about space travel, the state of the human race in the modern Acopalyx. While vicious in its take down of humanity's own death-drive, the subtext of Pink Everything describes a world where anything is possible. Perhaps the Acopalyx, or Apocalypse, needs to happen for us to be re-born. Anything can be Pink.

                                              Over both sides, The Flexibles depict a realm where fantasy and reality are inexplicably fused together… Sorley’s lyrical flourishes touch on the stream-of-conciousness imagery that seems to be swimming in the Youngs genepool, but there are dashes of real life. When I Was 86 has Sorley tearing modern living apart both from the perspective of the anti-hero Arcosta – an alien visitor to Earth but also from his own perspective as a young man making sense of a reality that needs changed. Smothered by Richard’s electronics and the super-massive fuzz bass of Paine, it’s a radical stomper. Album opener Pink Everything however, offers the flip: a distorted, crazed sermon that essentially asks Why Not? Why can’t everything be pink, true and truthful. Side B comprises a suite chronicling Arcosta’s journey, struggling to comprehend the things we do; capitalism, the endless grind of work-play, the rituals that to extra terrestrials and indeed to children unaffected by cynicism seem meaningless.

                                              As a power trio, The Flexibles blow apart pre-conceptions, burn down barriers and paint them pink. The Flexibles believe anything can be possible and embody an ultimate creative freedom, unencumbered by age barriers, limits. Anything can be Pink.

                                              Liberation

                                              Liberation

                                                Liberation is the latest evolution by David West, a dedicated underground dweller and traveler with his groups Rat Columns and Rank/Xerox and previously spotted in Lace Curtain and Total Control. Many familiar elements of West’s songwriting creep out from the speakers this time around, albeit in a sonically more adventurous and personal manner. Swathed in analogue and FM synths, pinned down by near-funk drum machines, and with a vision expanded into the past and future. While in previous incarnations, West’s alienated and fragile vocal has battled with jangling guitars and distortion, Liberation sets free his woes and ruminations into space.

                                                Taking inspiration from the heyday of Mute Records, the beginnings of electronic dance music’s rudimentary sampling, broken R’n’B and sound art, Liberation’s debut LP is 10 songs of the road, about the nameless ghosts on the highway, accidental lovers, the alienation of the stranger in a strange land, the unbearable weight of freedom. Beginning with a curveball, Liberation’s first vocal sets out the position of the forever-cuckold, the sad lover hanging on: Looking For A Lover combines a Roland 707’s loping mid-tempo with creeped-out synth lines as West intones his intentions close to the ear. Continuing in a more baroque manner, Move Me makes astounding use of string samples and space, with esteemed engineer Mikey Young’s (Total Control / Eddy Current Suppression Ring) production prowess making for a distilled yet inviting loneliness. Forget is the night-drive centerpiece of the album, a 7 minute that erupts into a nihilistic sub-disco darkness.

                                                A constant theme of Liberation is the friction between West’s characters: a frustrated love in victim-status paired with a menacing intent. The adorable, fragile stalker in the moonlight, illuminated by Whatever You Want, a subjugated protagonist offering they have while the city burns. The brightest pop moment of the album has this in abundance: Cold And Blue, a classic synth pop jam to be played on repeat til the end of time, like New Order played by one man in his bedroom, with no drugs for a cushion: “She’s coming down the stairs, she looks like a perfect fear and I’m a monument to your existence.” But West has moments of touching sincerity that speak direct to the listener, as in album highlight Leaves Falling; a sparse string arrangement frames his vocal, “why do I keep falling for you? I must just really like to be alone.” Liberation is the freedom from attachments, about how sometimes they’re what you want most.

                                                Happy Meals

                                                Fruit Juice

                                                  Fruit Juice is the first new recorded material from Glasgow-based electronic avant pop duo Happy Meals since the intense aftermath of Apéro, their debut album which garnered a place in the Scottish Album Of The Year final 10. Shorter in scale but sharpened and expanded, Fruit Juice takes the tender experimental beginnings and unabashed pop moments of ther first LP into undiscovered countries glowing with possibility. Since Apéro’s release at the end of 2014, Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook have toured the globe, from Moscow to Bangalore via various European festivals, and have honed their dynamics live, in the moment, improvising and twisting the beat into new forms.

                                                  As their live show has become more visceral and cinematic, Fruit Juice documents the duo’s new confidence. Run Around opens the E.P., with a sun-soaked tropicalia as conceived by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Rodden’s vocals warped into wordless peons to the rising sun. Lá Lá-bas reaquaints the listener to Rodden’s Franco-Gallic tendancies, but this time Happy Meals reveal a sparse melancholy, with spacious percussion and synth fragments giving way to one of the group’s most immediate moments to date. If You Want Me Now is pop music, pure and from the source. Alternating between French and English, Rodden recreates the live persona that has emerged since the group’s beginnings; an unrestrained performer bringing the innate sensuality beneath Happy Meals’ surface exploding into the light. Cook’s production work here sounds fresh and classic simultaneously, a glorious Jacno tribute enthralled to House music and Italo Disco.

                                                  Fruit Float, opening Side 2, brings us back up into the cosmos, with arpeggiated synths from Cook’s synth arsenal duetting with a flute solo before Suivez-Moi delivers another pop song worthy of eternal repeat, a slice of electro not unlike the heady heights of Dare!-era Human League. Seductive and irresistible, it precedes the biggest step-up in Happy Meals’ history, the acid-fried Now That You Have Me: ostensibly a high-BPM remix of If You Want Me Now that hints at the insanity of the final moments of a Happy Meals live show. Released as a limited to 500 12” featuring marble-painted artwork hand-made by the band, Fruit Float precedes Happy Meals’ 2nd full length album, being prepared for October release. Each copy of Fruit Float will be different and feature a digital download.

                                                  Billy Bao

                                                  Lagos Sessions

                                                    Night School is extremely proud to work with Billy Bao and Munster to present Lagos Sessions. “Experimental; Conceptual? That’s what these sort of things are usually called, when references are anything but immediate: in the feeling, hearing, and seeing, especially by many. Even more troubling, when the accustomed in us gets ajar... We lack articulation of the seemingly unfamiliar! Even at that, I think the most charitable review of this live electronic exploration will suggest the four sections bordering on insanity. How else? Even when not a few self-styled patriots were booking their flights out of the country, with an election looming to signal the end of a nation, and a band of modern day faith-heads detonating grenades in every other street corner, two dreamers swim against the currents and sneak through the lagoon into the country collecting inputs of derelict art; of garbage can noise; of hooting; honking horns on screeching brakes squelching tar; rackety generator booms? For an imagined program! What’s that? Who, what do these doods think they’re doing with Lagos?! I’ll call it rebirth. That simple. How to find a centre here? The output? The hum-drum of the street’s daily accent compels the sense of the immediate, the terrestrial; and then those primitive, primeval-seeming echoes of the earliest beginnings of the big bang and its wave-sound simultaneously releasing Sun Ra’s reverb sensation of end time! This should not be danceable but these guys are suggesting the possibility of rhythm in the inchoate. Believe me, you can’t miss the Lagos Faaji, Sakara flow, Awurebe, Afrobeat slices; its jazz, highlife/ Euro- Afro funk/rock/rap and seedy night echoes too. But in their otherworldly dimension. No matter the accolades, I will encourage a therapy of some sorts to the creators of this production.” Sola Olorunyomi, poet, bassist, co-editor of Glendora Review Kunle Tejuoso, Jazzhole, Lagos.

                                                    Lagos Sessions featuring: Billy Bao, Ambido, Diana Bada, Duro Ikujenyo, Mark Ido, Oduyomi Isaiah Oluseye, Joel Isioma Okoh, Orlando Julius, Mendo, Emeka Ogboh.

                                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                                    Barry says: A bizarre but brilliant glitched-journey through hip-hop, experimental rock, electronica, afrobeat percussion aspects, and spoken word. Immersive and disconcerting, intense and exciting.

                                                    Rose McDowall

                                                    Cut With The Cake Knife

                                                      Cut The With The Cake Knife was recorded by Rose McDowall in 1988/89 following the break up of her group Strawberry Switchblade. Produced with the aid of several musicians in several studios, the album features songs written for the fabled second Strawberry Switchblade album. More importantly perhaps it showcases the honest, direct and life-affirming songs of one of the greatest unsung songwriters of the modern pop era at a tumultuous time in her career.

                                                      Tibet opens the set and could be one of the best pop songs you’ve never heard. The innate sadness of the songs’ content – the loss of a friendship, impending sorrow – is heightened to heart-melting level by McDowall’s pop nous and melodic sensibility. Choruses and hooks are everywhere on Cake Knife, from the outsider take on stadium 80s pop in Wings Of Heaven to the spiraling, ecstatic So Vicious, a glorious anthem that highlights the human fragility in McDowall’s vocal performance, an instrument that has never lost the naïve purity it first exemplified in Strawberry Switchblade’s early 80s recordings. The centerpiece of the album, the title-track, is the greatest Switchblade pop chart hit that never was. Like the veiled melancholy of her former group’s hits, Cut With The Cake Knife hints at a darkness beneath the gloss, a darkness that saw McDowall delve into more esoteric territory with her subsequent recordings and collaborations. Cut With The Cake Knife serves as the bridge between the pop music McDowall had been making with her friends Jill Bryson, Lawrence from Felt and Primal Scream to what became a more extreme, deep sound informed by neo-folk and post industrial music.

                                                      Rose McDowall’s role in the canon has always been one of an outsider. Beginning in Glasgow’s East End in the avant proto-noise group The Poems, achieving fame briefly in the 80s and then disappearing into counter-cultural folklore, the emphasis in the internet-age has been skewed towards her image and cultural significance. Unseen to many, her solo work, her groups Sorrow and Spell and her collaborations with a whole host of underground luminaries have still touched lives. As McDowall elucidates: “They're real sad songs, about real life. I've had people come up to me to say I'd connected with them and helped them. I remember a gig in America when we made a whole room cry. It was bizarre. A couple at the front of the stage started crying and then these two boys beside and suddenly everyone was crying. And I thought, "that's power."

                                                      Night School’s issue of Cut With The Cake Knife includes unpublished photographs, extensive sleeve notes from Rose McDowall and 2 bonus tracks culled from the bootleg 7” “Don’t Fear The Reaper.” 

                                                      Liberez

                                                      All Tense Now Lax

                                                        Hermetically sealed and reveling in tumult, All Tense Now Lax is the most significant and developed work yet forged by Liberez. Based in main orchestrator John Hannon’s remote studio No Recordings in Rayleigh, England, Liberez have expanded their palette from previous outings on Alter to produce a perfectly engineered machine that consumes the beholder.

                                                        A tense, gut-wrenching listen wrought with carefully considered space, the range of techniques and the depth of atmosphere is staggering. All Tense Now Lax never settles on a simple depiction of dread, foreboding or anxiety but layers textures upon rhythms to produce towering minarets of conflicting emotion. _???????? ???????? (translated “Grateful Family”) is a case in point: Hannon’s wailing violin is torn across collaborator Nina Bosnic’s lyric, while a loping beat is crushed with distortion. Indeed, a more pronounced focus on rhythm and movement on Liberez’ 3rd album is perhaps what sets it apart from previous work. Centerpiece Grease The Axles showcases Hannon’s technique of detourning from other cultures to dramatically altered effect. A lopsided rhythm and scraped violin are torn to breaking point: what starts off as a Moondog-esque tap at a train station ends with the train in flames. Liberez’ brutality is not as literal as this all the time: on How Much For Your Brother an aggressively over-driven vocal loop is hammered into the stereo field by primitive percussion courtesy of drummer Pete Wilkins, but the overall effect is one of movement and hypnosis. A Rebetika melting into night-terror. The title track, meanwhile, presents a premature eulogy, coming halfway through what is an all-consuming album of frightening power.

                                                        John Hannon’s breadth of technical mastery on All Tense Now Lax is never fully revealed in an ostentatious way. Instead the album is allowed to breathe and evolve, with field recordings, industrial patterns and alienated instrumentation woven together seamlessly. A tumultuous experience which transports rather than grounds the participant.

                                                        Sally Dige

                                                        Hard To Please

                                                          Consolidating 2 years of solo work, “Hard To Please” is the debut album by Canadian polymath Sally Dige. First coming to prominence in the synth-wave scene with an elusive, meta-persona in a blur of homemade costumes, Dige’s world has grown to encompass visual art, theatre and design elements. Most surprising on her long-awaited debut however is the occasional removal of the various masks and characters Dige has played to date, revealing something more tangible and fragile underneath.

                                                          “Hard To Please” still revels in a darkly thrilling, Euro synth-pop music, awash with dry ice and hidden in shadow, most personified on the instant classic 'Immaculate Deception'. However, on the long, nocturnal walk home Dige begins to sing of loneliness, being lost, the transience of our relationships. Attention to detail is paramount. On the title-track the crisp early-80s, swooning bass line duets with Dige’s desperate plea to a lover fading into the distance, a presence lamented with even more pathos on the towering, early-4AD-esque, slow-burner 'Your Girl'. It’s a new fragility that effortlessly manages to convey a luxurious, inescapable sensuality at the same time.

                                                          Indeed, 'Hard To Please' portrays a clear narrative, with electronic body movers like Doppelganger portraying an out-of control, self-obsessed persona at the beginning of the record. Breaking down into the foggy murk, the more hopelessly romantic album closers “A Certain Beauty” and “Dance Of Delusion” burn a ghostly image into the listener’s mind, as Dige, or someone like her, over Cure-like swooning reverberations entreaties the powers that be to let her dance. Dige never fully reveals her hand, but the game is worth playing endlessly.

                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                          1. Hard To Please
                                                          2. Immaculate Deception
                                                          3. So Far Away
                                                          4. Doppelganger
                                                          5. Losing You
                                                          6. Your Girl
                                                          7. A Certain Beauty
                                                          8. Dance Of Delusion

                                                          Apostille

                                                          Powerless

                                                            Apostille is the solo musical guise of Glaswegian DIY protagonist Michael Kasparis. Initially a creative harbour from his groups Please and The Lowest Form, Apostille has grown into an explosive synth-punk project unafraid of both physicality and emotional leakage. Powerless is Kasparis’ first album proper, following exploratory works on Goaty Tapes and Clan Destine, and is Apostille’s first release on his own Night School Records. Fiercely independent in practice and execution, Apostille’s stated purpose is to bridge the gap between audience and performer, to connect through the fog of power structures and post-modernism; to ferment a direct pop music unconcerned with control.

                                                            Powerless explodes with Life - a rage of brilliance that acts as a communal outlet of shared frustration and confusion at the world. At moments haiku-like mantras lament over a damaged industrial de-composition as in The Collector, at other times there’s a Depeche Modish fragility as in Side 2 opener Deserter. In warped, subterranean ballad Olivia’s Eyes an almost decapitated duet details criminal instincts, while live favourite Slurry demolishes proceedings with a Suicide-like take on Chicago house; a mammoth journey into the psyche of a ‘Falling Down’ prototype, lost in a world of perpetual motion, speeding up and uncaring. Touchstones of early Mute artists like Fad Gadget can be found in Apostille’s overwhelmingly physical live performances but like Tovey’s best work, or perhaps that of Crash Course in Science, there’s a depth on record that paints in more complex colours.

                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                            1. Life
                                                            2. The Collector
                                                            3. Panic Attack At The Station
                                                            4. Control
                                                            5. Worry
                                                            6. Deserter
                                                            7. Good Man
                                                            8. Olivia's Eyes
                                                            9. Slurry

                                                            Paper Dollhouse

                                                            Aeonflower

                                                              An exploration of warped, dream-like atmosphere and taught, noise-ingrained electronics, Paper Dollhouse has evolved from the solo work of Astrud Steehouder into an expansive, cinematic project now involving visual artist Nina Bosnic. Recorded with a stronger focus on electronic processes and with a deeper, light-starved aesthetic, Aeonflower’s emboldened use of crushed-noise dynamics takes the London-based group’s debut “A Box Painted Black” (2011, Bird/Finders Keepers) frame into darker, murkier and more thrilling territory.

                                                              Aeonflower is the slow decent of a newly-discorporated spirit into a fogged, neon-lagoon, a drowned world still-lit. If the first LP was a box of raw secrets with hints of obscured folk roots, Aeonflower is the endless rain of expression, experience and change. On this outing both artists’ vocals are expressive, forgoing complex lyrical concerns for minimal text invested with emotive power. Opener Oracle bleeds into Stand, the first of Steehouder’s haunted vocals, a fragile minimalism augmented with barren guitar. Helios sees a drum-machine kick + ride cymbal pin down an dark, enveloping vocal duet until Psyche obliterates it all with billowing noise, a thrilling shock to the system. The swirling synths and suppressed emotion of Your Heart peak in the centerpiece Diane, a shadowy piece highlighting Steehouder’s minimalist approach. Side 2 acts as a mini-suite, with Diamanda Galas-inspired vocal abstractions and walls of sound coming down with stand out ambient track Black Flowers. Dark and light interplay beautifully on album closer Siren, a turbulent if ambiguous build -up of harmony and noise.

                                                              A cinematic portrayal of an internal hinterland, Aeonflower is a complete, encompassing world.

                                                              Happy Meals

                                                              Apéro

                                                                Happy Meals is the Glasgow-based duo of Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook, life-partners since high school finding expression in cosmic form. Originally from the Scottish borders, Rodden and Cook (also of The Cosmic Dead) began Happy Meals in a flurry of experimentation at Glasgow’s creative hub The Green Door Studio. Initially the result of a free music production course, 'Apéro' sees the pair embark on a blissful voyage into a love-fuelled, outward-looking hedonism. Both artists operate machines and sing but it’s the dominating Franco-Scottish lingua-franca of Suzanne Rodden that imbues a sense of seductive fun to the album.

                                                                Their first recorded statement, 'Apéro' is an instant rush of Kosmiche-disco, utterly addictive and inviting. The epic 'Crystal Salutation' welcomes the listener in with analogue synths delayed into the horizon before 'Electronic Disco' ushers in distorted drum machines and Rodden’s disco-at-sunset vocal. Album stand-out 'Altered Images' is a pop-masterpiece, mixing French / Italo disco, acid basslines and a sense of Scottish optimism. 'Age Of Love' is unabashedly the feeling of being up until day-break, with layered synths climaxing all-around. Retro-futuristic visions abound on the beat-less 'Visions Of Utopia' before closer 'Le Voyage' reprises back the cosmopolitan disco, playing out the perfect club night in ecstatic fashion. It’s an enchanting, inclusive vision; everyone is invited, the future is bright. Just say yes.

                                                                Charcoal Owls

                                                                Tin Roof

                                                                  Charcoal Owls is the ever-evolving collaboration between musician Tom James Scott and poet/vocalist Russell Walker (Pheromoans, The Bomber Jackets). Their debut LP "Tin Roof" sees Scott draw on disparate forms - Satiesque minimalism, field recording, abstracted pop and improvisation to converse with the peculiar lyricism that Walker has perfected over his various activities. The result is a warm, absurdist meditation on suburban insecurity and the tragi-comic.

                                                                  Tin Roof follows two sold out cassette releases on OneC Records and Night People. Opening with a lilting instrumental piece embedded with field recordings, Russell Walker’s narrative begins on 2nd track “Artificial Eyes.” Soon the listener is drawn into the curious worldview the writer has been expanding on for years, his wonderfully pathetic characters lightning conductors for provincial crisis and every-day profundities. Through out Tin Roof the listener’s ear is drawn by the juxtaposition of Scott’s minimal melodic lines and Walker’s often downright hilarious verse; “Anxious under tin again, one un-emptied wheelie bin.” There’s a real depth to mine – tracks like “Clapham Monster,” a one minute diary entry which will make any listener spit out their porridge in laughter, rub up against stark, downright beautiful pieces like “I Just Can’t Say When.” At another point “Grace Period” (featuring Rose Keeler on vocals) brings a soothing drone cadence after the acerbic, commuter-angst of “Twickenham Slags.”

                                                                  The dichotomies at work on Tin Roof make it a truly unique world. Both sad and funny, minimal and busy, poetic and every-day. Once immersed it’ll be difficult to quite find your way out again.

                                                                  Yong Yong

                                                                  Greatest It's

                                                                    Since seeping out from the Lisbon underground in 2012 with some clandestine internet musics and supplemented by a debut LP - “Love” which garnered universal admiration and confusion - Yong Yong have since relocated and reconvened at the other end of Europe.

                                                                    The duo have re-assessed their sound, experimenting with near dancefloor-bothering beat making, warped samples on degrading loops and a much deeper exploration of the frayed atmospherics that they only hinted at previously. On "Greatest It’s" Yong Yong have further embraced the ethical rectitude of the mistake, further opened the crack in the mirror that popular culture perpetually presents to the consumer. Making a virtue of their limitations, "Greatest It’s" was recorded on decaying machinery and obsolete software but with an enhanced sense of electronic dynamics than previous work: still glorifying in the skewed and broken, but now with new depths and emotional response. Tracks like "Sesamstrrat" seem to pour radioactive fog into a R&B pop hit, resulting in a mutated form of unique electronic pop music, "Macu Lu-Lu" present a broken beat that dredges the outer limits of a mid-90s Warp experimentation and the epic "Oeiras" drags a wobbly beat through the melancholic wringer.

                                                                    Currently residing in the culturally-rich, former industrial superpower of Glasgow, Yong Yong’s excavations of the recent past point ever more pertinently to music of the future. A resolutely imperfect future built on erring, yet beautiful foundations.

                                                                    Terror Bird is the songs of Vancouver artist Nikki Never. Beginning with naive but affecting songs hammered into primitive recording apparatus and released on handdubbed cassette releases, Terror Bird soon attracted the attention of intrepid independent labels such as Night People, La Station Radar and Adagio830. Each release has documented a growing maturity in songwriting and emotional scope. “All This Time” is Terror Bird’s 3rd full length and is by far the most personal, emotionally affecting and musically developed.

                                                                    Recorded at home over a period of 3 months, the 10 songs on “All This Time” document a period of intense emotional upheaval, a period wherein Never underwent major shifts in her personal life, rediscovered the solo recording process (previous albums having used live drumming and studio production) and married a raw, personal music with a straighttotape aesthetic most intone with her early recording experiences. The difference this time is that Never’s unique voice at turns operatic and fragile, untutored and wearing its heart on its sleeve serves as the perfect conduit for the emotional turmoil in the songs. Never’s voice has grown into a formidable instrument, a towering, unabashed vocal whose resonance curls around the synth and drum machine production, at times duetting with itself, at times scaling the vocal register to reach new dramatic heights.

                                                                    Brought up on the music of the 80s “studio” The Smiths, Siousxie, The Cure Never’s music exists beyond modern zeitgeists or considerations, subverting “big production” music into a personal DIY aesthetic. It’s a pure songwriting that outgrows genre and thrives purely on the merits of direct communication between songwriter and listener. Each song on “All This Time” serves as a chapter in a narrative that is universal; from the selfdoubt and loneliness of opener “The Wrong Way,” to the doomed bedroom romance of “Try To Break Me,” from the masochistic guilt of “Locket” to the nearanthemic “Lust & Violence.” Each song speaks directly, plainly, to the listener, dispensing as much as possible with the unnecessary augmentation of modern pop music; “All This Time” is simply the deeply romantic, partdoomed / parthopeful songs of a singular, unique talent.

                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                    The Wrong Way
                                                                    Costume
                                                                    Try To Break Me
                                                                    On Your Vacation
                                                                    All This Time
                                                                    Elliot
                                                                    Do You Remember?
                                                                    Locket
                                                                    Lust & Violence
                                                                    Don’t Believe You

                                                                    Divorce

                                                                    Divorce / Singles

                                                                      Released originally at the tail end of 2012, Divorce's eponymous LP has set new standards in genre defying, sadistic noise rock. Now seeing a CD release, 'Divorce' is accompanied by a second disc chronicling the band's post-Optimo Records output. "Singles" is the first time many of these songs have been available in digital form and it documents a band growing in confidence, ambition and ferocity. From early cuts on Night School through a plethora of UK independent labels' releases, each song warps the Divorce dynamic in different ways and hints at the now-established new baseline for intensity that is Divorce 2013 Recorded by Ali Walker at Glasgow's Arc Studio & Devil's Own Studio, the group's debut album “Divorce” finds the band pushing their furious sound further than ever before; a torrent of pummeling rhythms and serrated, overdriven riffs, extended freak outs and ecstatic push and pull dynamics. They have also explored their experimental tendencies more, incorporating power-electronics, white noise and, on the track “Stabby (Stabby) Stab”, free-jazz saxophone (courtesy of guest musician James Swinburne). All this, combined with an over-arching determination to take their music to new limits structurally and sonically, makes “Divorce” a unified audio experience. Divorce are Jennie Fulk (vocals), Vickie McDonald (guitars), VSO (bass) and Andy Brown (drums).

                                                                      Golden Grrrls

                                                                      Golden Grrrls - Bonus Disc Edition

                                                                        FOR A LIMITED PERIOD BOTH FORMATS INCLUDE A FREE CD BONUS DISC.

                                                                        Golden Grrrls are Eilidh Rodgers, Ruari MacLean and Rachel Aggs. What began as as bedroom guitar experimentation soon bloomed in to a fully-formed pop language inspired by the 80s New Zealand and Australian indie pop scene and DIY punk. Drummer Eilidh Rodgers' inventive, loose cannon drumming and perfect lead vocals have framed MacLean's baritone from the beginning with newest member Rachel Aggs (also of Trash Kit) bringing an effortless melodic sensibility on guitar and backing vocals. On their debut album they’ve written 11 perfect songs about life's realities dressed in 3 part harmonies, heart-tugging changes and a playing style derived from punk and c86 enthusiasm. Each chord, beat and vocal line is perfectly placed, essential and simply has to exist as it is in its moment in time. Golden Grrrls’ first releases exemplified the lo-fi aesthetic they came from. Now long sold out, the two previous 7”s on Night School married the roughed-up recording dynamic with a boisterous, inventive melodic sense that has blossomed further on their debut LP.

                                                                        With all three members singing throughout, the harmonies and guitar lines interweaving, there’s a warmth in every song that adds to the poignant punch of the the album as a whole. Opener ‘New Pop’ is a blast of breakneck spiked power pop while ‘Think Of The Ways’ is a sweetly melancholic song that plays MacLean and Rodgers’ vocals against each other. ‘Take Your Time’ is a punked-up indie pop gem, while album closer ‘We’ve Got…’ is the catchiest ‘anthem’ you’ll hear from a band that would be repulsed at the idea of writing anthems. To say their debut album has been ‘long awaited’ is a cliché but on ‘Golden Grrrls’ the band have crystallized into something rare and essential.

                                                                        Divorce

                                                                        Divorce

                                                                          NIGHT SCHOOL are proud to present the debut full-length album by Glasgow Divorce. “Divorce” is the culmination of four years of uncompromising noise-rock brutality. Having set their own standard with a brace of 7”s, EPs and split singles, released on a plethora of renowned labels like Optimo Music, Merok, Milk, Winning Sperm Party, Night School and Gravy - as well as extensively touring the UK and Europe - Divorce have channeled themselves anew into a miasma of hate and power that is their debut album. Since their formation in 2008 they have progressed from no wave dirge practitioners to an unique cult that blurs the boundaries of what 'punk', 'noise-rock' or 'metal' are presumed to sound like. Remaining slippery in definition but relentlessly focused, Divorce have evolved into a singular, incomparable unit.

                                                                          Recorded by Ali Walker at Glasgow's Arc Studio & Devil's Own Studio, “Divorce” finds the band pushing their furious sound further than ever before; a torrent of pummeling rhythms and serrated, overdriven riffs, extended freak outs and ecstatic push and pull dynamics. They have also explored their experimental tendencies more, incorporating power-electronics, white noise and, on the track “Stabby (Stabby) Stab”, free-jazz saxophone (courtesy of guest musician James Swinburne). All this, combined with an over-arching determination to take their music to new limits structurally and sonically, makes “Divorce” a unified audio experience. Divorce are Jennie Fulk (vocals), Vickie McDonald (guitars), VSO (bass) and Andy Brown (drums).


                                                                          Group Rhoda

                                                                          Out Of Time - Out Of Touch

                                                                            Group Rhoda is a solo project based in San Francisco. The fruits of a five year journey into self-discipline and personal discovery, Mara Barenbaum's Group Rhoda uses stark musical practices and analogue electronics to evoke imagery and rhythms both atavistic and futuristic. Using the tools of musical simplification - synthesisers, analogue effects and drum machines - Group Rhoda's aim is to build a pop music that reaches freedom through discipline. All instrumentation, whether in the studio or on stage, is played live and with no sampling; a completely organic language formed from the roots of synthesis.

                                                                            'Out Of Time, Out of Touch' is Group Rhoda's debut recording. It is the culmination of a process which began with a self-taught keyboard technique and a desire to learn about the machinations of the tools of pop music and, in turn, the environment in which it is produced. While many of GR's choices are implicitly political - from a strict methodology to a strong commitment to DIY ethics and community - the outcome is also easily approachable as sublime pop music in the best sense. With a grounding in minimal wave and the post-industrial landscape, GR takes surprising detours into tropical rhythm patterns, dubbed-out bass throbs, hypnotic Wurlitzer flourishes and, above all, GR's distinctive, plaintive vocal.

                                                                            The alluring contradiction at the heart of 'Out Of Time, Out Of Touch' is the push of the psychedelic, the hyper-real, the overtly physical and the pull of the artificial, the synthesised, the stark. This contradiction is brought to light continually through-out 'Out Of Time, Out Of Touch' - whether in the classic west coast psychedelic melodic sense played with Suicide's mechanical simplicity, or the industrial rhythms of Throbbing Gristle drenched in a technicolour, sun-blanched imagination. The songs on 'Out Of Time, Out Of Touch' seem to be plucked from a continuum - the throb of the bass and splashing of the drum machines are ongoing in the universe - with GR forming the songs with precision. Her voice intones themes of dislocation from reality, loneliness and the conundrum of ultimate freedom.

                                                                            'Virtual Dancer' rides a bassheavy wave to comment on the fleeting nature of human contact in the modern age, while 'At The Dark' is a deep listening experience steeped in hypnotic psychedelia. 'Hi Rise' continues the theme of isolation, a reference to the eponymous JG Ballard novel, on the back of metallic tropical rhythm pattern. 'Fire' closes the album and is a pulsing, linear song which recalls 'Autobahn' era Kraftwerk, a single riff repeating and modulating around Barenbaum's freedom dilemma. 'Out Of Time, Out Of Touch' presents a surge forward in the ongoing critique and participation of pop music that is Group Rhoda.


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