From progressive, intergalactic disco to tribal techno, otherworldly electronica and eccentric techno ideas, Optimo Music holds the intent that ‘love is the message’. The label is the musical outlet of the Glaswegian nightclub Optimo Espacio and is led by Keith McIvor aka JD Twitch of the DJ duo, Optimo. Since 2009, the imprint has forged countless memories with releases from artists including: Tornado Wallace, The Golden Filter, Noo, Vanessa Worm, The Golden Filter, Maria Rita, Bergsonist, Penelope Trappes, Pussy Mothers and more.
Review: Optimo Music Archiv is a new offshoot label for revisiting music JD Twitch has been a big fan of for a very long time. This first release takes a selection of Force Dimension favourites and reconfigures them as an extended EP reissue. Cited as the first EBM duo to spearhead what we now know as Belgian new beat, Feel The Tension comprises four bangers and the one, dazzling, B-side hit "200 FA" ( described by Optimo as a perfect and sought after piece of '90s rave era E-music). It's poppy lead track "Tension" comes in two forms, 'Red' with its gnarly bassline and 'Blue' with sweet synths, complimenting the gothic riffs in "Aqua 2000" and industrial neo-punk of "All Systems Out". This is Belgium.
Review: Originally released on legendary outsider label Staalplaat smack-bang in the middle of the '90s, sounds of the post industrial & ambient duo O Yuki Conjugate have been recalled once again, this time by Optimo Music. Until now the original Staalplaat 12" was a near impossible record to find, with Optimo giving its 2021 reissue a slightly reconfigured version. Cherry picking "Bismuth", "Carbon" and an original album version of "Sunchemical" itself, the album dusts off a time capsule of exotica, percussion and hand drumming music amid a stream evolving textures, subtle drones and other new age instrumentation. Bonus to this comes a timeless remix from Sheffield and Peacefrog producer Charles Webster!
Review: With a name for the ages, Isolating follows his recent remix of the Golden Filter with this dystopian record on Optimo. It starts with the stepping rhythm and noisy analogue riffs and howling vocal samples of "Protomartyr", a wayward take on techno. In a similar vein, "But Please" features gloomy sound scapes and a repetitive vocal unfolding over a stuttering rhythm. Isolating makes a move of sorts towards the dance floor on "Expatriotism", where the focus is on a low-slung EBM groove, while the release concludes with "Lesser Free", a comparatively serene affair featuring dreamy, neo-classical ambient textures.
Review: Following on from his 2017 Lonely Planet long player, Optimo has teased a mini-album from Tornado Wallace. Focusing on the earth and its place in the cosmos, Midnight Mania is an expansive affair that starts off with the psychedelic, swampy title track, before moving into the blurred chants and dense drums of "Atoms". "Mundane Brain" is by contrast a deeper piece, with melodic chimes and rickety back beats prevailing, while he ups the tempo on "Png (Praise No Ghosts)", which resounds to a pulsating electronic groove, hollowed out break beats and mesmerising electronic melodies. This highly conceptual piece concludes with the rolling breaks and techno bleeps of "Jungle Dream".
Review: Deep and exotic folk trips from the prevailing alias of Rena Rasouli, Venus Volcanism, whose traditional chants, bird songs and field recordings combine with shaded and evolving synths to deliver Optimo Music a most enchanted EP. Beats are few and far between here, if at all, allowing sustained chords and deep pulsations of bass to create emotively-moving atmospheres made all the more luminous by Rasouli's rich vocal passages, doubled down by progressive harmonies and nebulous undertones. With a heavy set of Greek inspirations, the artist lifts her sound from the depths of an enchanted terrain otherwise neverheard gaining us access to a deep-reaching bliss.
Review: Bergsonist aka Selwa Abd follows 2017's From Dualism To Monism long player with this collection of left of centre tracks. Drawing on her Eastern roots, Middle resounds to organic drum sounds. At times chaotic and dense, audible on the title track's clattering arrangement, in other instances club-friendly and direct - just check "Gaza Border Violence" or the electronic groove of "Otology" - it marks her out as an artist with a unique approach. In case you are in any doubt about Bergsonist's capabilities, on "Magnesium" she deconstructs beat down house and adds extra, textured layers that are nothing short of hypnotic.
Review: JD Twitch's Optimo Music bring us an EP/mini-album from the Glasgow duo of Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook, formerly known as Happy Meals but currently sailing under the Free Love flag. Experimental electronic disco is the mood overall here: opener 'Inner Revolution' has elements of bleep, Italo and electro, 'Everyone' rocks the Balearic vibes, 'Out Of Body' reaches further into full-on ambience, 'Bones' is an Italo-acid fusion thang and 'Skin On Skin' recalls the punk-funk of late 70s New York, while 'Everywhere' brings the EP to a suitably wonked-out conclusion. More a home listening experience than a collection of floor-fillers, but worthy of investigation all the same.
Review: If only all electronic music had such a sense of purpose. Weaponise is a compilation of contemporary tracks, conceived and curated by Kristina McCormick the host of the NTS radio show Diet Clinic. Like that broadcast outlet, this collection puts a focus on women producers, and it's a stellar affair. There's the slow-motion industrial of artists like Hanna Jones and Fantastic Twins; Maral's "Ey Nezanin" is a wild mix of a club techno and Middle Eastern motifs and C.a.r's "Frau" is an arty, vocal-led take on dance floor electro. Weaponise also features ethereal ambience from Penelope Trappes and Slime's reduced broken beats - if that isn't enough of an incentive, all sales proceeds go to London housing charity Focus E15.
Review: Australian-born DJ, producer and instrument maker Lia Mice began work on her sophomore set, "The Sampler As A Time Machine", following her relocation to London in 2015. Three years, numerous techno and electro club nights and countless hours spent reading books on time travel later, the album is finally complete. It's a rather fine set, all told, with Mice delivering off-kilter futurist tracks that sit somewhere between leftfield sci-fi synth-pop, metallic IDM, wonky synth-funk, bustling up-beat electro, weirdo ambient, contemporary new wave and meandering intergalactic techno. That Optimo Music has decided to release it isn't much of a surprise: it's full of the kind of inspired, stylish electronic oddities that have always appealed to boss man JD Twitch.
Review: There are reissues and then there are reissues like Different Voices. The tracks on this EP were recorded by Robert Rental back in 1980 and lay for years unplayed and untouched in the possession of Rental's family. This material is given loving treatment by Optimo and shows a strikingly personal side to the deceased artist who mainly collaborated with Daniel Miller and Thomas Leer. In places, like on "Big Day", Rental veers close to off-kilter psychedelic pop, while on other occasions, he experiments with electronics and reverb to deliver the syncopated, hypno-groove of "Double Heart" and drops the slurred vocals and lo-fi guitars of "Before Closing Doors". It's an essential release for anyone with an interest in 80s DIY electronic music.
Review: Newcomer Feon up next on Optimo Music, with some some gorgeous and sunkissed balearica. The London based producer wrote these tracks in a brisk 10 day session, shortly after the experience of Ayahuasca ceremony - which is evidenced in the psychedelic sound of the first track. He has explained that the production involved his vocals being layered 30 times in different harmonies, then put through a space echo and you can sure hear it! This one was awesome. Then we have the trance inducing muscle disco of "Holland Fly By" with its super cosmic influences enough to propel your mind into the stratosphere. Finally there's something much more experimental on the solemn, breaks-driven tripper "Without Sound".
Review: Sex Judas, who carries the infamous name of Tore "Jazztobakk" Gjedrem, is perfectly suited to the Optimo Music aesthetic. Both visually and acoustically, the producer's vast pool of sonics mean that he is never sticking to one formula or sound, and that is surely bang on the way Optimo like to approach music. Go Down Judas is his debut LP, and while we've dubbed it as 'balearic', this is very much a complete work that spans many different genres and thoughts. There are sparse, beatless moments as well as more fast-paced, bass-driven dance numbers, but the man's vision remains constant throughout. In fact, we'd say it is the perfect balance of noise and symphony, all wrapped up in a post-modern club vibe that will undoubtedly strike more than a few chords...
Review: Irish tech house hero Phil Kieran has been throwing some curveballs at us in recent times, appearing with sunny house music on Hot Creations, some punky indie dance on L.A.'s Machine Ltd (with SONNS) and now some Afro tribal grooves that'd make even Daniele Baldelli stand up and notice - his new one for Optimo Music. With a name like "Polyrhythmic" it pretty much does what it says on the tin, but this trance inducing use of syncopated rhythm is definitely the most restrained of the bunch. "Polyrhthmical" and "Polyrhythmica" respectively go for some seriously intense latin carnivale rhythms - in particular the latter which is reminiscent of the Good Men or more directly the legendary Sergio Mendes.
Review: NYC's The Golden Filter, a duo made up of Penelope Trappes and Stephen Hindman, are naturally infused into the genetic code of Glasgow's Optimo imprint. Not to be confused with Golden Teacher, the pair also delve into the depths of dance music, merging the boundaries of house, techno and outernational. Their recent EP, End Of Times, is what has produced this latest outing, also on Optimo. Dub Of Times, as you can imagine, is a three-version offshoot that developes and evolves the title tune into some pretty killer territories, with the Golden Dub deploying a warm, driving bassline that's rich with a hedonistic euphoria all too often forgotten these days, and the Silver Dub ups the tempo, while the accapella does its duty with some fine voices and wondrous drones. Absolute magic.
Review: American-Aussie alliance The Golden Filter are back on Optimo Music again with more modular synth based post-punk inflected electronics. This follows up an impressive solo album by singer Penelope Trappes a few months ago. The London based duo (by way of New York City) claim that they are quite agnostic and unreligious, but there are some Buddhist vibes associated with their music - in the way that it is mindful and aware of impermanence. Beginning with the sultry slo-mo Italo of "End Of Times" while the deep and brooding electro jam "Serenity" is offset by a charming progressive house style chord progression. The 10 minutes epic "Heart Control" is a right thriller: this deep acid exercise in mood lighting is beatless for the most part but when the groove hits: it does it with great impact. Finally the slow burning retro sleaze of "Darkness Falls" has the same charm of Heartbeat era Chris & Cosey or their legendary CTI material.
Review: More post punk inspired electronics courtesy of the Optimo Music camp by Fantastic Twins: the project of Julienne Dessagne - who some of you may know as one half of genre-bending outfit Saschienne with husband: the Berlin stalwart Sascha Funke. Following up her impressive debut (The New You EP) on Superpitcher & Rebolledo's Hippie Dance imprint, Dessagne unleashes a full length effort here which spans classical, avant garde and baroque influences while merging with the Cologne style of indie dance sensibilities. She'll help you delve deep into the exotic such as on tracks like "Construire Un Igloo" or "Bataille", then to get weird on the hypnotic "Ivres De Fatigue", while the evocative and bittersweet closer "Tableu Final" is just lovely. All in all a cohesive effort that transcends musical boundaries to interesting effect.
Review: Presenting the new solo album from Aussie singer Penelope Trappes, who many may know as the one half of New York City duo The Golden Filter. In 2016, Trappes rented out a small piano studio in East London for the year and set out to write an introspective ambient album. Inspired by the likes of This Mortal Coil and Scott Walker, she limited the instrumentation to an acoustic piano and effects, which left spaces between where she could expose a lot of emotional vulnerabilities about herself and those she held close. Writing lullabies about being a mother in a dystopian world, with pensive words about swimming against the tide as a female artist in the current musical landscape, she felt free to divulge untold truths that she had never felt comfortable talking about within her music before. For Trappes, this was a truly liberating and empowering process and it certainly is all on display on this marvellous opus.
Review: Glasgow based composer Iona Fortune presents her debut release inspired by Eastern philosophy and said to be the first in an eight album series exploring the symbols of the I Ching, Her music is influenced by oriental sounds and features a palette of instruments that includes the Guzheng, Gamelan and Synthi AKS. The overall effect is a singular and beguiling sound that loosely fits in with Jon Hassell's Fourth World concept. Fortune also contributed a track to Optimo Music's new Fourth World compilation entitled Miracle Steps earlier in 2017. The initial vinyl edition will come on a trans lucid pressing with inside sleeve and original artwork by the artist.
Review: We've been waiting on this pearl for quite some time. Optimo frontman JD Twitch steps out his more usual, disco-tinged house affairs and lands on some next level dub for the heads. As a project, Lo Kindre kind of reminds us Jah Wobble at his best, without the added pinky frills, and completed by a fine layer of dark industrialism. "Torment Of One" and "Mardi, Ennui" are both cold, brooding digital steppers backed by some sci-fi lion vibes, while "Wisdom Teeth Dub" and "Distant Dreams" branch out a little further into the electronic sphere. What a fine release - warmly recommended!
Review: Since Optimo Music founder JD Twitch is a walking encyclopedia of weird and wonderful music from around the globe, it's unsurprising that the label's occasional compilations are little less than essential. Miracle Steps: Music From The Fourth World - named in honour of John Hassell's description of ambient music - is another must-have from the Glaswegian stable. Featuring music made over the last three decades, it draws together trippy new age, droning experimentalism, electro-acoustic soundscapes, meandering synthesizer workouts, tropical-tinged bliss, and even the odd bit of spiritual jazz (Larry Chernicoff's wild "Woodstock"). In other words, it's the kind of ambient compilation you'd expect from someone who takes a widescreen approach to music, and who laughs in the face of genre pigeonholing.
Review: Penelope Trappes and Stephen Hindman are The Golden Filter; a duo who formed in New York City but are now based in London. They have released some great music in recent years on their own Perfectly Isolated imprint and of course JD Twitch's Optimo Trax; their new full length Still/Alone being their third release for the esteemed imprint in two years. This follows up that great split EP with France's Morgan Hammer. There's a variety of moods and grooves on offer with this great album with such highlights as "Vibrational" (where they throw down some wobbly minimal EBM business), the slow burning minimal techno of "Now We Get Lost" or the sexy modern coldwave of "Questions" where Trappes sultry vocals could bear comparisons to Beth Gibbons. The irresistible synthpop ballad "Dust" is sure to be a hit on the dancefloor in 2017 too!?
Review: Here JD Twitch, head honcho Glasgow institution Optimo, proudly presents a rarity from the unique artist Dennis Bovell. Described as being a 'musical polymath, top flight producer, dub legend and one of the finest artists the UK has ever produced', Bovell released an album in 1981 called Brain Damage which was an absolutely bonkers fusion of Afrobeat, funk, dub, jazz, blues and more. Everybody bought Duran Duran's record instead of course, but justice prevails here as both "Heaven" and "Smouche" are rescued and re-released from the LP. Also featured is the awesome Garland Jeffreys experiment "Escape Goat Dub". Absolutely essential.
Review: For the seventh volume in Optimo Music's Disco Plate series, JD Twitch has recruited Alex Warren AKA Kiwi, whose previous releases on Blase Boys Club were particularly well received. "Throw Down" is arguably his most ambition cut yet: a cover version of Carmen's cult 1986 electrofunk jam of the same name that comes in two contrasting versions. On the virtual A-side you'll find Warren's original version, where Ciara Holder's confident, nuanced vocal rides a chunky synth bassline, clipped guitars, sparkling synthesizer flourishes and an unfussy, toe-tapping drum machine rhythm. Arguably even better is the Latin Freestyle mix, which sounds like a long lost Latin Rascals production with additional, spine-tingling piano riffs.
Review: Optimo Music founder JD Twitch has a hotline to Glasgow's Green Door Studio, and tends to get first refusal for much of the wild and wonderful material recorded there. His latest Green Door-raised recruits are Pussy Mother, a "cross continental" duo made up of a native Scot, and an Australian. There's plenty to get excited about on this no-nonsense debut EP, from the metallic, spaced-out percussion hits, trippy vocals and moody electronics of "Skirt", and Golden Teacher-go-Latin jazz flex of "Echo Party", to the loved-up, Quando Quango-sampling curio that is "When I Get It Right". Closer "Wrap Machine", a mutant electro-meets-new wave shuffler, is also pretty hot.
Review: Over the last couple of years, Noo (a collaboration between Plastique De Reve man Christoph 'Daze' Deasen and Bangok Impact/Putsch '79 type Sami Liuski) has delivered a trio of killer 12" singles on Optimo Music's occasional Disco Plate series. This thrill-a-minute debut album gathers together tracks from those singles, plus a couple of previously unheard bits, and shows the duo - alongside a swathe of vocalists and musicians - cheerily joining the dots between string-laden New York disco, breakdance-era electro, boogie, Moroder-ish machine grooves, and hands-in-the-air piano house. It's a terrific set, all told, full of stretched-out floor-fillers, eyes-closed anthems, and life-affirming workouts.
Review: Disconnection's 1982 debut single, Bali Ha'i, has always been one of post-punk disco's most bizarre and brilliant moments. For starters, it's a cover of a Rodgers & Hammerstein number originally featured in South Pacific, re-cast as an acid-fried blur of rubbery punk-funk bass, liquid synthesizers, razor-sharp violin lines and tongue-in-cheek female versions. This tidy Optimo Music includes all of the tracks from the original, sought-after 12", including the contrasting 'US' and 'UK' disco mixes (for the record, it's the slightly more electronic and dub-wise UK version that you should head for). Bonus cut "Aaaah", a thoroughly bonkers and out-there fusion of freestyle female vocals, odd orchestration and strange noises, is worth a listen for its' sheer insanity.
Review: The revolving door between Glasgow's legendary Green Door Studio and JD Twitch's Optimo Music continues, with more graduates of the legendary recording space making their debut on the imprint. If this is EP is anything to go by, Junto Club could well go the way of Golden Teacher and become firm favourites of those who love their dance music eccentric, off-kilter and hard to pin down. Over the four tracks here, the Glaswegian fusionists variously doff a cap to baggy Balearic pop ("Freedom From The Known"), hard-wired, Italo-influenced industrial funk ("Leaving Forever"), the sax-laden post-punk throb of Chakk ("SCG"), and wonky gothic pop ("Let Me In"). That, though, is only half the story, given the combo's unique and enthralling musical vision.
Review: Having previously impressed with a trio of EPs on Tim Paris's Marketing Music label, Sex Judas (a duo comprising an "anonymous Norwegian producer and his trusted sidekick Ricky") pops up on Optimo Music. The duo's contribution to the ever-growing Disco Plate series is a deep disco delight, with the unpronounceable A-side delivering a delicious blend of loose, organic instrumentation, stoner-rock influences, cheeky pianos and eccentric, Mungolian Jet Set style vocals. The comparisons with Pal Nyhus and company are even greater on "Pope Naked The First", which picks up the pace via rubbery slap bass, spacey synths and classic electrofunk touches. That track gets a twisted disco-acid remix, too, a trick that the Mungs have played on more than one occasion.
Review: Boot & Tax have been members of the Optimo Music family since 2013, releasing a pair of well-regarded 12" singles on the offshoot Optimo Trax imprint. While those were formidably dancefloor focused, this eponymous debut set offers them a chance to flex their artistic muscles in a range of styles. For the most part, it's a surprisingly humid set, with the Italian duo variously doffing their cap to indie-dance, post-punk, dub and new beat, with occasional bluegrass and psychedelic flourishes. It's a formula that guarantees mixed results, at least aesthetically. For all the genre shifts, the quality threshold rarely drops from "excellent" throughout.
Review: Not all remixes make sense, but there's something fitting about British dub-reggae and post-punk producer Dennis Bovell reworking tracks by Glaswegian misfits Golden Teacher. Put together by Bovell at Glasgow's infamous Green Door Studio on a day off from touring, these dub revisions take the hard-to-pigeonhole six-piece's adventurous productions and add an extra layer of spaced-out goodness. While Bovell has provided some overdubs - mostly dub organ stabs - for the most part he's just made everything extra-dubby, extra-freaky and altogether weightier. The results are, predictably, mesmerizing, turning "Like a Hawk" and the previously unreleased "Instigator" into dancefloor dub masterpieces.