Reviewed this week
Paul Woolford's second album under the Special Request alias is a very different beast to its predecessor, 2013's Soul Music. While that was little less than a strobe-fired romp through Woolford's early, rave-era influences, Belief System is an altogether more complex and considered affair. With 23 tracks, the album took three years to produce, contains a number of modular hardware explorations, and features elements of tracks recorded by Woolford as far back as 1993. The sheer breadth and depth of the material is, at times, staggering, as the veteran Leeds producer giddily mixes and matches elements of electro, techno, cinematic soundtracks, hardcore, acid, jungle and experimental electronica. In a word: stunning.
Hailing from the fertile community they have built up around them in Bucharest, Delusion Men and their label Future Nuggets represent a very different twist on the contemporary Romanian electronic music scene. This album is a prime case in point, dealing in off-kilter wavey synths, intriguing rhythmic approaches and spooked out atmospheres that speak as much to the folkloric mystery of the East as any electronic traditions from other parts of the world. If you're drawn to music that sends you to exotic new places on the fringes of your imagination, then Stuck On The Border is the album for you.
Bill Kouligas' always unpredictable PAN imprint brings forth some cutting edge experimental electronics once again in the form of Erik Wiegand aka Errorsmith. Solo artist, a member of MMM and half of Smith 'n Hack in addition to producing some amazing musical software for Native Instruments. Superlative Fatigue is his first album in 13 years and reflects this tension between over-the-top/hysterical emotions, against more deeply felt expressions of realness. Wiegand has stated that it is a rather accessible and cheerful collection of tracks, compared to his usual work; going from 'ridiculously cheerful' but sincere and emotional all the same. From the broken, tongue in-cheek party techno of "I'm Interesting, Cheerful & Sociable" to the blunted and computerised hip-hop of "Retired Low-Level Internal Server" or the downright indescribable weirdness of "Internet Of Screws" it's all in all a pretty compelling listen.
Visionist aka Louis Carnell is off to stardom with this new album, his second to date, after a debut LP for PAN back in 2015. All nice and hyp-like. Big Dada is the label this time, a London unit belonging to Ninja Tune and who have been responsible for the early works of peeps like Wiley. They've clearly decided to head out onto more experimental pastures over recent years, and Value seems to be a perfect representation of where they stand now in terms of sound. The ten-track LP is sparse and loose across all its borders, but the one factor uniting all of its leftifled glory is a sense of coldness. Tunes like "Homme", which are relatively beatless, still have much in common with the likes of "Made In Hope" or "High Life" - the vivid sense of frost binds them together to form one glacial piece of music from the future. Angelic and demonic all at once.
On the debut album of Aparde (aka Paul Camillo Rachel), he certainly took his liberties in regard to his musical output. He consciously limited and aligned this series of songs which originated between the end of 2015 and mid 2016. Each one is said to have gone through a lengthy process of development. The album was finalized in early summer of 2017, in an old cottage upon a lake in the north of Germany. Featuring lead single "Mouth", the album as a whole is sombre yet wholly evocative and features even more stunning highlights. From the dramatic opener "Siren" which sounds like freefall in motion, the jagged "North" which is reminiscent of a Life & Death style journey track that's been deconstructed, plus the lush deep house of "Sand" which provides an adequate momentum at a time when the LP benefits from it.
Portland's Million Brazilians, made up of Grant Corum and Suzanne Stone's wild-eyed blends of sax and electronics, return to the foray for Amsterdam's Lullabies For Insomniacs, an imprint which has recently housed pieces of music from the likes of Donato Dozzy, GP Hall and Tarotplane. Red Rose & Obsidian is the duo's 12th LP since their debut back in 2006, and their development since then has focused on piling more and more electronics over their singular approach to folk music. The album is an eerie, almost spectral experience, taking on a new life with each new listen thanks to, in part, the vast harmonic spaces in between more rhythm-driven tracks like "Red Rose & Obsidian" or "Behold". Surely a winner for any serious neofolk geek. Lovely.
Kasper Bjorke and Colder's Black Magic EP is what James 'Fucking' Friedman's label describes as 'both brand new and like a return to something powerful, rooted in what came before'. Marc Nguyen Tan's post punk attitude and 'no wave skronk' was honed a long time ago, with a couple of genre-defying releases on Trevor Jackson's short lived Output imprint. Danish producer Kasper Bjorke has long been a fixture on Hamburg's HFN/Hafendisko imprints, in addition to his collaboration with homeboy and Whomadewho frontman Tomas Barfod in the Filur project. Their Black Magic EP now gets some great remixes by the Optimo Music affiliated Golden Filter - who turn in something much more introverted and texturised with their raw rendition of the track. Frenchman Pilooski (Dirty/RVNG Intl) gives it and woozy, spaced-out, Correspondant styled rendition for the afterhour. A gnarly techno version awaits your courtesy of Mutado Pintado of Paranoid London fame too: beware!
Lullabies For Insomniacs present a compilation of music from Mimic Records circa 1980-1982. Yasuo Sugibayashi explored ancient ethnic music and wanted to combine his influences with daily experiences of city life. The short-lived label was home to three of his solo releases, a self-titled LP and two 7 inches. Shortly after this period, Sugibayashi went on to pursue other musical projects; in 1985, he was a founding member of the band Qujila which is still active today. He was Inspired heavily by the art movements of the late 1970's, in particular the innovations of Brian Eno and David Cunningham. Chilling drones, psychedelic freakouts and freeform synth improvisations all collie on this curious collection of oddities.