Hello. I don't want to say "I'm back" cause it's not like I've been anywhere. I've been here. I've been listening. Reading. This past EOY season has been the most complex I've seen. People are challenging the grand narrative more than ever. I try to keep a level head about it all — these lists are always subjective; it's impossible to listen to everything; if we all had the same taste life would be boring etc. Anyway there were a few things I don't think I saw mentioned anywhere. Emra Grid broke my heart two winters in a row. I listened to this tape from Remote and A New Line (Related) almost every day for two weeks in December. Brian Mc Namara brought us to the Aran shores. Perfect Location put out a bunch of great releases, including efforts from Brooke Keller and CMD (who had a great year all round imo). Alien Jams put out a super weird electroacoustic comp. Another solid label was Always Human tapes, whose standout release to me was from Checkpoint. Anonymous Scot Chaotic Reality put out a lovely release that seemed to slip by. Finally, massive shouts to Bergsonist, who's been consistently smashing things on her own Bandcamp and on labels like Where To Now? Expect more things soon. Did I write the word "release" enough there?
In the past few months I tried to take the time to listen to old music but I just kept digging new stuff. It's hard! Everything happens so much. I did listen largely to ~funky~soulful~deep~ house — maybe I could just call it house — and lots of drifting and foggy ambient. For whatever reason, techno has been too hard to enjoy. Boring? Rough? I have delicate ears and a delicate soul. Anyway. Below find a bunch of music that I like.
Dust-e-1 - X-PRESS 2 & DAVEY B - LAZY (DUST-E'S LAYZ-E MIX)
This has no right to be as good as it is. It's a garage/breaks flip of 'Lazy', X-Press 2's 2002 collaboration with David Byrne. I honestly had no idea who Talking Heads even were at the time so was pretty ambivalent reading Ashley Beedle talk about how his hands were shaking when he met the big man in an interview with Muzik. It's neither artist's best work but it's still pretty great, captures a time and is pretty damn catchy. This edit is just silly but it works.
Nakayama Munetoshi - air
You may know Nakayama Munetoshi from the Echolocation album he put out on Terminal Dream some years ago. He's a Japanese producer who makes music for his hair salon. I've listened to this track too many times lately, it's just very very nice, a bit squidgy and blippy. Seven minutes of slowdown time. Just stop what you're doing.
V. Sinclair Live @ Ohm 07.10.18
This is a short set recorded at a Summer Isle gig in Berlin that also featured, among others, Ciarra Black, Death Kneel and E-Saggila on the bill. I don't know much about the artist, other than his name and that he's an ambient/experimental artist based in Berlin who curates Clandestine Compositions and Mute Channel. This is languid and bouncy ambient, squelchy at points, hypnotic in others. Just my bag.
Claire Guerin - The Dead Murmurs : The Gingerbreadman vs Chopin (2018)
improv musique concrete. various noise making instruments used : tin whistle, cat synth, home made electronics, white noise app, Chopin record sandwich with Disney single record, fire grate, plant hanger, metal rod, serving dish, porter's bell, trophy...(Listen loud for the full experience. Just remember to turn it down before the next track starts. Also shouts for the amazing artwork.)
VA - Tripped: 6 Years Of Blankstairs Vol. I
Blankstairs, a label that originates in the PNW and is now based in New York, celebrates six years of its existence with this rich compilation. It features a range of techno-infused excursions, from washy ambience to fast, biting big room sounds, but there's a coherence and continuity of mood that really ties the project together. Apparently the crew started life with a series of all-ages parties in different venues, but I can't imagine young teens vibing off some of the dankness here. But anyway. Arkady's 'The Skoptsy' is a pounding stomp through caverns and back alleys; Heidi Sabertooth and Soramimi offer masterclasses in tension with 'Pines' and 'The Fountain'; Blacklauren and Archivist show two sides of shimmering dubby techno with 'What Is Unspoken By The Subjugated' and 'Mirror Mass', one underlined by rage while the other basks in sunrise. Mirror images and perfect balance, this compilation is a fitting tribute to this long-running crew.
Dream~cycles - memoria
I've shared this with a few people, calling it a weightless trance cover of Nirvana. If that puts you off, move on to the next one. It shouldn't, though. It sounds like Dreamcycles is standing on a cliff in the face of a blistering wind at cloudless daybreak.
RING - BORDER/FORCE
Nice bottom-heavy electro sounds out of Tehran. Subtle yet direct, hefty but nimble. Thanks to tchan for the tip.
MoMa Ready - BODY 18
This is a really impressive collection of sounds. Lots of house that's indebted to and liberally samples from classic records (Aretha singing 'Pride', Earth People's 'Dance') but sounds thoroughly modern. Lots of (seemingly) sample-free stuff too. Wavey synth vibes, crunchy drums. Full of ideas, loads of dance-floor fodder.
Deficit Mix #13 - Hakim Murphy
This is a recording of a "cozy" session, with Chicago's Hakim Murphy playing an hour of house in the Deficit store in Moscow last month. It's fun, groovy, soulful, deep, playful, headsy and did I say fun? All in one hour.
Tavishi - মশ্তিষ্কের কণ্ঠশ্বর | Voices in my head
Wow. This one on Chinabot starts off with some lovely ambient sounds before 'Desert Mirage' turns all medieval choral gothic, with swampy church reverb and utterly entrancing/sickening high-pitched screaming/voice modulation (delete as applicable). It's completely otherworldly, part period drama and part sci-fi nightmare. The album is rooted in the artist's multiplicity of identities, her "in-between" status, as "foreigner in a country which is hostile to immigrants, a queer woman from a patriarchal Bengali tradition, and an artist-scientist who finds the cold abstractions of academia removed from social reality". That latter identity informs the music in a literal sense, as 'I Eat Myself Alive', with its rusty squawk, was developed from the structure and flow of amino acids, replicated into the very sounds on offer. You can read about the process in an interview here. Voices in my head is (are) dense and powerful, harsh yet rewarding.
Delta Rain Dance - Trancemission / Transmission
Delta Rain Dance - Trancemission / Transmission [OUTTAKES]
I can't recall how I came across these two releases — probably a SoundCloud trawl — but I listened to them both a whole lot this past week. Then I got a promo and learned it's the latest project from Glenn Astro. I had no idea he was German. Anyway. It's a kind of project taking bits and ideas and stretching them out before offering them up to be used as "DJ tool, sampling material, or build your own tracks by combining the individual elements". There's a great selection, moving from gentle Rhodes sounds to from blippy beatless moments, into pulsing rhythms and crunching drums. There's even an outtakes album, which is more of the same in the best way.
Russell E.L. Butler - I Know I Am Petty
Among other things, Russell E.L. Butler says this about the sound of their new release, forthcoming on Spectral Sound: "The tracks feel like they’ve already begun before you even pressed play." This is 100pc the case, as I felt fully immersed as soon as the SoundCloud page loaded. This release follows a brilliant album on Left Hand Path that moved between club trax and blissful floaty jams. This title track snarls and bites and mixes up trance-like themes and a simple yet haunting melody. Club friendly yet intricately layered, it's a fitting segue from the aforementioned album and a release on CGI that I still get a kick out of two years later.
Yijia - Sha Man - demo ver.1 22:12:2018, 14.10
I've listened to this a good few times now and don't know how to describe it yet. I feel I'll muck it up if I do so... Brilliant non-vocal singing is about the best I can get.
Ditchdog - Done [IA09]
Murky freaky noise, with echoey voices buried so deep in the mix you'll think the artist recorded it while spelunking.
Bianca Maieli - Guest Mix for Manara's BBC Asian Network Residency
On a completely different note, a party mix here that pits Jagged Edge and soca against Bollywood, speeding things up before moving through baile and garage territory.
Todd Terry - The Best of Freeze Records (Volume 3)
A bunch of classic-sounding house stompers from Todd Terry. Not much else to say. Sometimes record labels accidentally get merged on Discogs — I'm not sure if that's happened here, but it seems that this label helped distribute Jay-Z's earliest work (back when he was called Jaÿ-Z). I can't find anything to link the two bar a reference on a Defected product page, which could be inspired by the Discogs page. So I think it's a mistake, but it's a nice idea, that Todd Terry had a hand in setting Jay on his path.
Bandcloud - Dank in 18
DDR - Bandcloud 06/01/2019
Finally, gonna be that guy because why not. I made an ambient mix last year in which I tried to bring together pieces old and new, familiar and unusual, with tracks played at the wrong speed and moved about and stretched and whatever else. Bar sharing it with some friends, I held it back because I wanted to find a home for it. That didn't happen, so I posted it myself before Christmas. Probably a bad time, sure who knows. I'm sharing it again because I worked hard at it and would hope you might enjoy it. It's got a terrible name because the feeling is more important than the name, I think? Secondly, my latest DDR show is a look back at 2009. This time 10 years ago my mother was dying, and I always thought when I got to this point I'd feel some greater clarity or heft of emotion, but it's just a continuing lack. All I have are fading memories and pangs of nostalgia (literally pain and distress at coming home!!). So indulge me while I side-step the regular January approach of looking back/forward at the previous/upcoming 12 months. Instead I went to the hard drive I bought in 2007, ransacked it for tracks downloaded from blogs, forums and rcrdlbl.com and threw them together in a fashion slightly less messy than my first ever experiments with Ableton. Check it out and cry along with me.