Hello! Hope you're doing good. What news? Not a lot. Everyone's back from their travels, which is nice. We’ve even got our shopfront sign back up again – so having become impossible to find, we return to being merely difficult to find. Woi!
Lots of tasty new stuff in, including the last available copies of Carla’s Top Of The Pops tour tape (see below), a batshit new Arcola from Ethiopian Records, perfectly dour dub-techno from Yugen Disciple on the always excellent YOUTH, and, marking the Solstice, and with further wanton abuse of all caps, the very welcome return of XVARR.
What else? Our most recent NTS show, recorded earlier this week, is available to stream here. The usual mix of new/upfront stuff (John T. Gast, Pessimist ++) and GOLDEN OLDIES; a little more wobbly than usual on account of an unexpected visit from Neneh Cherry (sadly the only audible evidence of this is me wibbling like a MANCHILD. Arf.)
Have a good week!
CARLA DAL FORNO
TOP OF THE POPS
NOT ON LABEL | CS | £7.99
Managed to snag a few contraband copies of this limited tour tape from our very own Carla-of-the-oven, pieced together for her recent US tour (aka her “HOLIDAY”). Consisting entirely of covers (The Kiwi Animal, Liliput ++), it’s a self-evidently playful entry in the dal Forno discography but hardly ephemeral either, showcasing, as it is does, her panache as an arranger, her versatility as a vocalist, and of course her impeccable TASTE. As interpretations, they range from the disarmingly faithful to the quietly radical; but all are purifications, rather than elaborations, of their source material. With the deftest of touches, and minimum fuss, she makes them her own. Classic CDF songs-in-space - whether essaying crisp, bass-driven pop propulsion (‘Lay You Down’), more painterly/pastoral folk-hypnosis (‘Blue Morning’), or the kind of ultra-sparse, turn-the-heater-on post-punk blooz (Manchester, so much to answer for>>>) that characterised her first LP. No showboating, then, but small, meaningful acts of devotion, dare we say not just celebrations of the songs themselves but of SONG ITSELF: exulting and invigorating the originals and compelling you to seek them out. These little fuckers won’t hang around…
TWIN WOMB | 12" | £9.99
We made no secret of our love of XVARR’s Beyond Illuminism LP and its intense, rarefied ritual/sidereal electronics – it had a weight to it, that record, and an obvious timelessness - one listen and you knew straight away you’d be reaching for it 5, 10, 20 years down the line.
The London-based psychonaut is back with a new 4-track EP, which also happens to inaugurate his own Twin Womb label, and, to our slight surprise and his tremendous credit, it’s not just more of the same. ‘Know Thyself’ sets the new, distinctly Teutonic tone: cut-glass, elegiac industrial dance – with some echoes of Chis Carter’s Space Between...just beautifully produced music that resonates across the full spectrum of existential techno, minimal synth/cold wave and real-deal TRANCE music. ‘Thought Forms’, meanwhile, is a gorgeous, tremulous piece of ballet statique that owes something to Con, and to Von Deyen and the Berliner Schule - with that perfect balance, or tension, between infinite drift and infinite propulsion. It's only on the concluding ‘Subliminal Bliss’ that we return to the expansive, droning astral projections of Beyond Illuminism, its planet-gargling gravitational pull reminiscent of Pete Namlook's Schulze and Hawtin hook-ups on Fax, or a more luminous, optimistic mirror-image of Lustmord and Rich's mud-slathered Stalker.
Another masterful effort - edition of 250.
ETHIOPIAN RECORDS / የኢትዮጵያ
YE FEQER ADAYE / የፍቅር እዳዬ
ARCOLA | 12" MLP | £11.99
Plenty has been said (not least by us) about Warp's newly revived "abstract dance" outlet in recent times, which this year has brought us stellar 12"s from Rian Treanor and Nkisi, among others. Seems like it's engines have fully warmed up cos it's now propelling disparate styles of modish electronic music into the world on an almost weekly basis - hard to keep up with but not unwelcome. This, one of their two latest offerings, comes galloping out of the stalls in frantic, percussive convulsions, a style that has been developed but is still very much recognisable from Endeguena Mulu’s previous releases as Ethiopian Records in 2015/16.
There are two main strung-out pieces that allow different elements of Mulu’s vast sound palette to take the shine: the opening five minutes of 'Makeda' and its demented time signatures that kick around a barrel of butchered, unidentifiable instruments and chants that make you feel like you’ve accidentally double-dropped and lost your shoes/wallet/friends/mind at a Principe party, then mellowing out with the delicate vocal samples that float around the latter half of 'Ye Feqer Edaye' forming some kind of misunderstood, sombre bedroom R&B collage. So yeah: Modern Club Music that's wildly psychedelic and totally unpredictable but at no point a chore to listen to. Full marks!
UPSET THE RHYTHM | LP | £13.99
This slice of jangly monochord bliss pressed to yellow vinyl from Glaswegiens, Vital Idles, is everything you wanted (and expected) after that tantalising, ebullient, instant-cult-classic 'The Garden' 7” on Not Unloved in 2016. It’s got The Clean and that Flying Nun/Dunedin-sound stamped all over it but Jess Higgins’ vocals has got this band shadowing but also early Kleenex with all their raw, lyrical squat punk genius or even that killer Patsy LP from earlier this year (for the more contemporary/LVEUM fans among us), while still managing to sound, more than anything else, TWEE AS FUCK. And though the label touts the ‘bigger budget recordings’ the studio clearly hasn’t ruined VI’s locked-on, monochord garage indie/punk sound. Even on the songs where you wish the stone-cold bass lines sat up in the mix (like on ‘Now & Again) you can’t resent the practice room aesthetic just for the sheer ear-worm song-writing. Some might find this debut album irritating with its it’s ultra-narrow dynamic range and though on some level they might be right, fuck those people - the streamlining is the f****ng point. The Idles don’t hide any part of who they’re are what they’re trying to do. If you dug the I Won't Have To Think About Youcompilation, The Feelies, Blue Aeroplanes and the Cananes this one’s for you. Again and again and again.
YOUTH | 12" | £8.99
Sick new one one Andrew Lyster's reliably solid YOUTH label that's earned justifiable comparisons to Shinichi Atobe, DJ Sprinkles and Dozzy. The lush, linear hypno-techno of the A-side is all well and good, but it's pon the flip that things get interesting: 'Pattern Recognition''s bruised, melancholic electro that earns its title with a payload of Bridge Trilogy-grade, post-everything ennui, and the broken, bleep-fuelled bullet train of 'Shinkansen Blur' . It's an understated one, this 12", but it's a keeper...