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Reviewed this week
Last year, Andrew Weatherall launched yet another collaborative project, joining forces with long-time pal and occasional studio partner Nina Walsh as The Woodleigh Research Facility. Here, they continue their partnership with The Phoenix Suburb (And Other Stories), a fine debut album that marks the first material on Weatherall's Rotters Golf Club imprint since 2013. Rooted in the Detroit end of electro, but with more than a hint of the early, IDM influenced escapades of the former Junior Boys Own man's Two Lone Swordsmen project, it's a set that combines moments of snappy dancefloor heaviness with more evocative, ambient-influenced fare. There are, of course, plenty of intriguing aural references to shared influences - psychedelia, rockabilly, Arabic music, and so on - scattered throughout, making it an intriguing and entertaining proposition.
NYC songstress Lafawndah makes her big label debut on Warp with some killer jams produced by Night Slugs lynchpin Lvis 1990. "Town Crier" is bass driven urban dance with her sweet soaring vocals backed by stuttering and clattering industrial textures. "Ally" is a full frontal and funky bass assault with exotic middle eastern instrumentation infused throughout as she declares "I'll take you like in like a firefly". "Tan" is the most restrained and stripped effort on here, with massively reverberated drums carrying the track wonderfully while "Crumb" is the most chilled track: it's pop inflected and will take you on a journey with its immaculately programmed steel drums. Big things!
Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, or simply Rob Lowe under some of his releases, is a talented man, indeed. His jams have taken him to labels like Thrill Jockey, Type, and even Rvng Intl., but this week he pops up on DDS - or Distort Decay Sustain if you're averse to brevity - home to the talents of Demdike Stare, Shackleton, and Stephen O'Malley, of all people! "Cognition (Forbes)" is pure magic from the start; the tune flutters and bleeps away sporadically, but is held together by a thick layer of bass, and a very fine slice of percussion...true cognitive dissonance, in fact. The flip "Observation (Sophrons)", develops and mutates the same train of thought, except the air is murkier here, more dubwise, and that little bit more sinister. Beautiful.
Matt Karmil is an artist of many talents, and his adventures in sound have taken him across techno, disco, and even ambient explorations. He makes his return herein to Bristol's Idle Hands, coming through with a new album that spans just about all his skills, and can only be described as a musical mind drift - a sonic reverie, if you will. Throughout, we're presented with everything from glitchy, broken down hip hop, to shady shreds of house, and even odd and rhythmic blends of drone and Balearica. It's been on the office stereo all day here at Juno, and it might just be album of the week, in our opinion!
Some 31 years after they were first conceived, the cuts that make up Anna Homler and Steve Moshier's Breadwoman & Other Tales remain thoroughly odd, out-there and entertaining. During the duo's mid-1980s collaboration, performance artist Homler channeled the spirit of a character she'd created called Breadwoman, delivering bizarre vocals - half sung, half spoken, in some kind of made-up dialect - she referred to as "divine speech". These were worked into musical pieces by experimental composter Moshier, who utilized cheap drum machines, battered analogue synthesizers, and chamber music players to create hypnotic, otherworldly tracks that remain hugely charming. The story of their creation and performance, told in great detail in the accompanying liner notes, is also fascinating.
After a string of wild and diverse appearances for Get Some and Gaia Sound, respectively, the multi-talented enigma of an artist, that is Ling, lands on PAN and Visionist's ever compelling Codes for something totally different to his previous works, and very much up our end of the block. "Thuril Whir" is a mechanical sort of beast that sits somewhere in the middle of bass, broken beat, and noise, and "44 Blue" jerks and stutters its rattling shreds of percussion all over the place, before being swallowed whole by a sea of meditative sonics. "Jezmonite", on the other hand, is murkier and that little but more sinister, whereas "Canthem" is an ode to grime, or rather a completely new and exciting interpretation of the genre. Sick.
Lee Gamble's UIQ imprint got off to a promising start last year with the Wrong Headspace 12" from Latvian artist N1L. Gamble's purview for the label is clearly international as this second UIQ release dips into the world of Zuli, aka Ahmed El Ghazoly, Egyptian multi-instrumentalist, producer and DJ based in Cairo. Limited to 400 copies. Jagged beat experiments merge with high definition sound design plus classic and exotic instrumentation on "Robotic Handshakes in 4D", it's an apt title, really. New frontiers in bass music are explored on "131001G", texturised minimal techno on "Ahmed?" and rather abrasive bass assisted noise experiments like on final track "Dr Beckett". What next for UIQ? Consider us intrigued.
Swedish experimental saxophonist pushes the outer limits here. These long pieces "are incredibly pure, simple-sounding and slowly-ascending drones that feel convincingly like tractor beams for the soul." Side A is the more minimalist and transcendent drone piece focusing on one single hypnotic tone that self generates its own layers. But its side B which is the most captivating, made up of several layers drenched in effects creating haunting pad-like sounds. A soundscape reminiscent of Alva Noto's works.