A HAPPY RETURN — A HAPPY RETURN
Label: Spillage Fete
Cat: SFR006 | Format: LP | Release date: August 28th, 2018
Astonishingly beautiful private press LP from Mat Fowler, Aimée Henderson and their daughter Agnes Bell. Sketches of innocence and experience recorded before and after Agnes’s birth on January 27th, 2017, in their living room on Sprules Road. A Happy Return glows with the promise and optimism of new life but it is not a straightforward document of domestic bliss (can you imagine anything more insufferable?!)... I mean, it would be overstating the case to say that any meaningful/authentic celebration of life must also at some level be about the Other Thing, but let’s just say that this record feels fully engaged with the provisional and temporary nature of all things...our changing relationships to time, to our selves, to each other... the mysteries of the human chain! Anyone familiar with Fowler’s collaborations with Kevin Cormack, BONS (also with Matthew Hunt) and Jam Money, will recognise his MO: poignant, evocative instrumental miniatures that seem to disperse almost as soon as they’ve arrived, but never before they’ve left their mark. Arcadian chamber-folk instrumentation (guitar, violin, woodwind, hand-percussion) meets hermetic, disorienting tape loops, spacey minimal synth textures and strange little ecologies of found-sound. With its mix of vérité and concrète, its taste for the uncanny and for strange juxtapositions, and its underlying collagistic, ambient pop impulse, A Happy Return variously recalls the work of Graham Lambkin, the melancholic pastoralia of Woo and Plinth, the bedsit economy of Young Marble Giants and Flaming Tunes, and the thrift-psych zone-outs of Pram and Movietone. Disquieting often, beautiful and haunting always. A hand-numbered edition of 150 copies, housed in sleeve with cover painting by Aimée plus insert and postcards.
JOHN T. GAST— BTEC VERSION #2
Label: Not on label
Cat: NEXYARD13 | Format: 12" | Release date: August 10th, 2018
White label 12". More tracks from the ark circa 2013. 45rpm.
SPECIAL OCCASION— THE WORD
Label: Low Company
Cat: LOW2 | Format: LP | Release date: August 10th, 2018
Pristine rhythm and blooz for fugitive hearts from David C. Gray and Guy Gormley, originally released as a tape on Jolly Discs last year. The Word’s sleek, synthetic urban pastorals collapse the space between the OCD pop geometries of Pyrolator, the opaque art-ache of Eno’s Before & After Science, and the sloooooow, sweet seduction of choice Jam & Lewis productions. Romantic but ever so slightly paranoid, all muted lovelorn horns, sighing synths and playful bossa/house-wise drum loops, it’s true DIY in that it simply suits itself. Mostly instrumental, it's bookended by two Gray-sung songs, 'The Hours I Wait' and the title track: drifting, downbeat, quietly devastating things, with a blue-eyed soul vibe judged just right (down-at-heel not flash with cash), and echoes of Scritti, The Blue Nile, Gareth Williams, Disco Inferno, Fish From Tahiti… but really the The Word has a sadness and sway all its own, and above all it feels OF THE NOW: with tight, tucked-in arrangements and ultra-lucid production (a Gormley trademark, but especially apparent here) that leaves just enough space to dream.
JOHN T. GAST— BTEC VERSION #1
Label: Not on label
Cat: ANGELAS13 | Format: 12" | Release date: June 18th, 2018
White label 12". Tracks from the ark circa 2013. 45rpm.
OSSIA— DUB HELL / DEVIL'S DANCE (RE-PRESS)
Label: Blackest Ever Black
Cat: BLACKEST074 | Format: 12" | Release date: June 18th, 2018
Re-press (250 copies) in plain paper sleeve. Two tracks of tail-thrashing, sound-murdering dub-tekno/f*ck-punk...'Dub Hell' a sustained snarl of a DJ weapon that eschews smoked-out introspection in favour of a more direct and droogish 4/4 death-march: all industrial-strength drum-shudder, boneheaded rave vamps and plasmic, predatory bass-drones, like some kind of grim bio-mech death-racer built using parts stripped from old On-U/Maffia and the torn-off limbs of small children (gwan, Satan!)… ‘Devil’s Dance’ a more insidious, Isolationist nightmare, slower-acting and crueller for it - one for the committed sinners and Cenobites. Bad vibes the order of the day then, but also a certain sybaritic PLEASURE…negative ecstasy baby!
ITCHY BUGGER — DONE ONE
Label: Low Company
Cat: LOW1 | Format: LP | Release date: March 30th, 2018
“The freaks flyin solo.” Basically Josh from DIÄT and Heavy Metal wrote some songs and then recorded them on 4-track over a few loooong nights last summer with the help of a wheezing drum-machine and fellow HM mensch Robert. He made a tape of it and passed it to mates as a sort of leaving gift as he prepared to head back to Oz after a blurry half-decade’s stint in Europe. When we heard it we were blown away, and wasted no time in emotionally blackmailing him into letting us press an LP version. So here you have it, the maiden release on our softly-softly shop label (is it softly softly if you say it out loud?), which we started purely so we could give this incredible record the run it deserves. Musically, it's a wry, whimsical, oddly poignant DIY/jangle/part-time-punk micro-odyssey that feels like the introspective, acid-bleary yin to Heavy Metal’s cranked-up hooligan yang. If you’re familiar with Josh’s other bands then you’ll already know what an effortlessly gifted songwriter and guitarist he is, but this set is a world away from DIÄT and HM, actually, although it shares a world-weariness with both, Josh’s bittersweet lyrics - and half-sung, half-spoken vocals - perfectly evoking the beauty and banality of life on the lamb, hearts in exile, and a sense of reality/normality every day deferred if not defeated. Instead these brittle, self-deprecating but incorrigibly romantic songs put us in mind of Dan Treacy and of course classic fractured Oz/NZ pop from The Clean, Cannanes ++. The whole thing has a diaristic, unaffected, please-itself quality, as if it was made entirely for its own sake with no real audience in mind - which, essentially, it was. Tunes like ‘Baker Man’ and ‘Good For Nothing Man’ have quickly become cast-iron anthems round here. Edition of not very many (obviously), with self-portrait picture sleeve and hand-stamped inner.
BASTION — S/T
Label: ACC Records
Cat: ACC001 | Format: LP | Release date: March 16th, 2018
ACC Records is proud to present the reissue of Bastion’s self-titled LP, one of the most scintillating and coveted records of the Yugoslav 1980s.
Recorded in Skopje in 1983 and originally released on the state-owned PGP-RTB in 1984, Bastion is the only remaining document of the short but extremely sweet collaboration between singer-actress Ana Kostovska, composer and musician Kiril Džajkovski, bassist Ljubomir Stojsavljević and film director Milcho Manchevski. One of the first electronic bands in the Republic of Macedonia – hailed by the press as “Macedonian electropop sensation” – the four young artists crafted a quick-footed jewel of eclectic, expert synth-wave, genre-curious yet grounded in a bright, glamorous pop sensibility.
Bastion moves between crazed stadium bubblegum and a serious, seductive solemnity: whirlwinds of womanly wave such as “Hollywood” and “Mister Kompleks” open onto the dark electronic landscapes of “Deca Sunca” and “Mesec u Šolji”, while “Molitva” lifts the record into a soulful, torch-lit, and typically Macedonian mysticism. Across the record, Džajkovski’s luscious, sparkling synths and Stojsavljević’s dexterous bass tease and sustain Kostovska’s vocals as she croons, chants and coos her way in and out of one of the freshest, most surprising records to have ever come out of Eastern Europe.
ACC Records is a new imprint born out of Flora Pitrolo’s radio show A Colder Consciousness, broadcasting since 2011 on Resonance FM (London) and Kanal 103 (Skopje). Mirroring the show’s archival appetite for the more opaque facets of the electronic 1980s, the label’s future releases include previously unheard French minimal synth for film, romantic Italian industrial, and some bleakly club-oriented experimental electronic music from contemporary London.