We're good here. Can't speak for the others but this week I've mainly been thinking about (in addition to political and cultural ENTROPY): Linus Roache's hair, Linus Roache in general, doing our VAT return, how to clean a century-old leopard-skin and - speaking of hide - wondering whether I'll ever wear the RED jacket that I bought last month and which lies languishing in my wardrobe, labels still on, the deadline for return/exchange looming ever closer.
Can't think what else. Probably nothing else.
Well, been enjoying a lot of new stuff that has come in. Always thought the Steven Julien LP was going to be good but but not THIS good, and two new 12"s from fft and ZULI offer proof that NU dance music can be aggy and angular while still very capably drowning the brain's traditional pleasure-centres. Loads of goodies in this week that aren't covered fully in this 'ere: including very compelling candy-floss in the shape of Yu Su'sPreparations For Departure(premium Pyjama Music) and that Pablo's Eye LP on Stroom, and the return of cloak-and-dagger techno veterans Pom Pom (best thing on Ostgut Ton in years!). Also forgot to flag up that gnarly Martstman 2LP on Hidden Hawaii from a week or two back, and two re-presses on Batu and Lurka's Fringe White imprint... bangers all!!
In a couple of weeks I'm off on holiday, and Carla's heading out on US tour with Sanjay in tow, so Kenny and Estelle will be holding the fort in the second half of May and beginning of June - together with one or two new recruits. Yes, that's right, new trainee drivers aboard the LOW COMPANY LOCOMOTIVE. Be nice.
Album of the year so far?! Yes!!!!!!!! Rated Steven Funkineven's last full-length, the unmistakeably special Fallen - but dunno, at times it felt a little aloof and meandering, in the end perhaps not quite transcending its sketchbook premise. Bloodline seems a more coherent and cumulatively DEVASTATING record. True emotional wallop in machine-music is a rare thing, more often than not we have to settle for shorthand, broad brushstrokes…mere moodiness. Not here. This one is on another level. No pulp futurism or quasi-dystopian posturing, no oversaturated dread or melancholy-by-numbers - no hiding behind the pretence of the "cinematic". Bloodline isn’t the soundtrack to the film, it IS the film. It's billed as an autobiographical work, and while it’d be a fool’s errand to try to infer your man’s life story from the whine of a synth or jabber of a drum machine, you can’t help but feel there’s a WEIGHT to this material, a clear sense of a LIFE lived, and the LIVES that feed into and off it, dreams fulfilled and dreams denied, the sum of all the yesses and nos and maybes that = your time on earth…OK could be some Blue Tuesday vibes colouring our judgement here - feeling VERY sensitive darling - but Bloodline’s rhythmic and textural contours seem to map the warp and weft of time and memory itself, that strange double helix of ANTICIPATION and REGRET (lol). The five tracks that form the backbone of this album are each masterpieces of a kind, but Special Mention must go to the impeccably ruff, zero-hour street-acid of 'Roll Of the Dice’ (the best track of its kind since Kyle Hall’s ‘Zug Island’), the snub-nosed techno ennui of ‘Apache’, with its relentless stress-waves of pure maxed-out drum choppage steamrolling you into an uncertain exhilarating future even as its deep-blue keys nail you to the mouldering fence-post of your past (not again!), and, bringing you back from the brink, ‘Queen of Ungilsan’s’ coolly euphoric, urbane funk expansions>>>. Julien has managed to preserve the chewy, improvised, falteringly HUMAN quality that has characterised his work since day dot while doing away with all excess fat and affectation, producing a mature work that matches the psychological intensity and truth and beauty and eloquence of loftiest Detroit/Chicago canon, but lives and breathes and bleeds (Last) London. Some people just get it...
First ever vinyl edition of this Italian neo-noir ambient broodfest from 1992. Thanks to some canny ripper or other, it’s enjoyed the kind of internet afterlife that its makers couldn’t possibly have dreamt of when staring down the barrel of total obscurity way back when. Like so many key contemporary reissues, this one draws on the early 90s (I guess we finally just ran out of '80s), specifically that moment where the industrial and dark ambient impulse meets the textures and rhythms of AI techno and the nascent chill-out/downtempo explosion (implosion?). It’s lovely stuff, its combination of Luigi Morosin’s infinite guitar shimmer and Andrea Desidera’s longing, lambent synths coming off like a close cousin of Michael Brook and Pieter Nooten’s classic 4AD outing Sleeps With The Fishes. It’s rain'n'neon mood is fantastically sustained, but musically it isn’t afraid to wander: ‘Hanging Wave’, with its rolling drums and plumes of all-enveloping reverb, bridges Ingleton Falls-style hypnobeat with the post-rave death-disco of Two Lone Swordsmen, while elsewhere Desidera's more-is-more keyboard approach times drinks from the same well of eldritch folk fantasia as Serge Bulot. But if Skies In The Mirror is a new age record then it’s a pretty paranoid and pessimistic one: see 'T.V. Sky', with its droning fairground chimes and sampled cable infomercial chatter about the cancer-causing properties of your favourite pizza toppings, or Romina Salvadori’s dramatic but distant vocals on ‘Staircase To Nowhere’, seeming to anticipate F ingers at their most ghoulish. Still, for all these moments of psychic unrest, Skies In The Mirror repeatedly springs back to the kind of upwardly mobile existential angst you'd expect from a Michael Mann movie, and my own persie ‘Falasarna Exposure’ definitely has that Terje Rydpal / Heatsoundtrack vibe, careworn but coke-numbed. "I told you I’m never going back…"
Tight, ballistic, subs-bombing future-tekno/bleep gear from a new label - reinforcing rave fundamentals with ultra-modern sound design so pneumatic you feel like your eyeballs are gonna get clean sucked out of their sockets. Opening its account with a track that sounds like Sweet Exorcist's 'Testone' being dissected by Rian Treanor, it ultimately settles on a kind of Analord-ish electro / Stingray-ready ghetto-tech, but rendered with a power, precision and all-round OCD cyborg SWAGGER that is rare. So good!
Another irresistible cache of outsider electronics, ambient obscurities and wavey weapons for the indecisive DJ, shrewdly compiled by Melodie Souterraines and pressed up in an edition of 250. Those who like their comps to have a scholarly/historical approach will doubtless take issue with O/P, which jumps across decades and continents, beholden only to VIBE...but that's also what makes it refreshing… Love David Sudmalis’s crepuscular trip-jazz ‘Aquamarine’ (and his similarly downtempo spoken word collab with Andy Rantzen - yeah that guy is everywhere now - ‘Barren Ground’, also included here), Oberst Gregor’s queasy minimal synth mind-fuck ‘Froschwurst’, Science Patrol’s Solid Space-style swisher ‘Dereks In The Desert’, and the needling messthetic punk of Art Teachers' 'I Don't Earn Money'.... O/P might not quite scale the dizzy heights of the previous instalment in the series, O/R, but it’s a treasure trove nonetheless. Act fast, these won't last...
Following on from their 2LP edition of John T. Gast'sInna Babalon, Italy's Haunter Records continue to get serious with a heavy mini-LP of aggro-techno/grime phuturistix from ZULI, the Egyptian producer best known for his outings on Lee Gamble's UIQ (although the eagle-eyed will have spotted his tasty 'astrogangsta' mix of Petit Singe a couple of Haunters ago).
Yeah this stuff is noisy and frequently enervating and sometimes impatient (see the knowingly titled 'Your Tracks Are Too Short') - like so much contemporary "club" music, less the soundtrack to dancefloor bliss-out than to a collective crisis of identity and (urban) ecology - but perhaps thanks to his background as a beatmaker for the Cairo rap scene, ZULI knows when to pull back and let a rhythm, or a gas-cloud of ambience, ride out. Highlights come in the form of the title track's blown-out, decelerated jungle-techno - kicking and spitting like the hydra-headed, radiation-poisoned progeny of Christoph de Babalon's IYIIIOOI - and the demented, minimalist drum workout 'Your Tracks...', which sounds like Azzazzin-era Muslimgauze dragged through MESH's flash-drive backwards. In a GOOD way.