Review: For the uninitiated, 2Xirtam is a collaboration between two artists who can trace their roots back to the IDM and ambient techno days of the late 1990s, Lee Norris (AKA Metamatics, Norken) and Frank Rumpelt (Nyquist, Silver Planet). "Quantum Worlds", their second album, draws on these roots for inspiration, offering up a set of impressively psychedelic, otherworldly tracks bristling with bubbly acid lines, deep basslines, intergalactic-sounding ambient chords, sci-fi melodies and beats that are variously skittish, angular, sludgy and hypnotic. It genuinely sounds like a long-lost classic from 1994, and a fresh, far-sighted and fantastical one at that.
Review: There was a little of Talking Heads about 3 Teens Kill 4, an arty, post-punk combo whose 1983 album No Motive has long been a favourite with dusty-fingered crate diggers. As this Dark Entries reissue proves, the band's vocal style, musical arrangements and love of madcap stylistic fusions drew heavily of David Byrne and company's open-minded and singular approach. This is perhaps most evident on the low-slung dub disco outing "5/4", stripped-back bass-and-drum machine jam "Hut/Bean Song" (whose odd lyrics discuss shaking cans of baked beans) and sample-heavy fuzziness of "Tell Me Something Good". Brilliantly, this edition also features two previously unreleased tracks that were left off the original album.
Stasis Sounds For Long-Distance Space Travel (Stage 1)
Stasis Sounds For Long-Distance Space Travel (Stage 2)
Stasis Sounds For Long-Distance Space Travel (Stage 3)
Stasis Sounds For Long-Distance Space Travel (Stage 4)
Stasis Sounds For Long-Distance Space Travel (extended Hypersleep Program 1 - Stasis Room)
Stasis Sounds For Long-Distance Space Travel (extended Hypersleep Program 2 - Cave)
Stasis Sounds For Long-Distance Space Travel (extended Hypersleep Program 3 - Rain)
Stasis Sounds For Long-Distance Space Travel (extended Hypersleep Program 4 - City At Night)
Stasis Sounds For Long-Distance Space Travel (Reduction 1)
Stasis Sounds For Long-Distance Space Travel (Reduction 2)
Stasis Sounds For Long-Distance Space Travel (Reduction 3)
Review: Earlier in the year, experienced ambient producers 36 and Zake released two different versions of the same album, "Stasis Sounds for Long Distance Space Travel", with the vinyl and cassette releases featuring totally different mixes. Happily, they've now decided to compile all of these contrasting takes on one limited-edition CD. It's well worth a listen, because in our opinion it's one of the best ambient albums of 2020 to date. The included tracks mix echoing sonic tones, drifting sound effects, drone-style aural textures, slow-burn electronic melodies, swelling, near neo-classical musical movements and the kind of immersive, sustained chords that were once the preserve of the late, great Pete Namlook.
Review: Belgian reissue imprint Stroom are back with more retro obscurities, this time in the form of 48 Cameras: the brainchild and life project of self-proclaimed non-musician Jean-Marie Mathoul. After hearing an album of William S. Burroughs reciting poetry, Mathoul decided to put poems and spoken word to music. He was a poet in his own right, having already published a book of poems. At a literary event in Liege, he met UK-based writer Paul Buck (author of the novel The Honeymoon Killers) and the two of them decided to collaborate - and thus formed 48C. Mathoul was said to have built the album in his mind, long before starting the recording process, which involved something of a 'non-band'. The musicians and collaborators never actually recorded together, and to this day some haven't even met each other. Jean-Marie Mathoul sadly passed away earlier this year at the age of 66.
Review: Two years ago Ostgut Ton launched their ambient-leaning A-Ton imprint with "Chronicles", a fine trawl through the archives of Luke Slater's ambient techno project 7th Plain. This is the second part of a trilogy (the third and final instalment is also out now) and, like its predecessor, gathers together tracks released on General Productions between 1993 and 1995, and previously unheard material. It's as evocative, atmospheric and on-point as that previous volume, sashaying between more dancefloor-leaning fare (see the deliciously dreamy but percussively heavy "Astra Naut-E" and the Motor City flex of "JDC"), genuinely beat-free soundscapes (the Pete Namlook style bliss of "I Think I Think Too Much" and "Big Field") and cuts that shuffle further towards "Artificial Intelligence" style IDM.
Review: Ostgut Ton A-Ton completes their trilogy of compilations charting the early-to-mid-'90s ambient techno work of British producer Luke Slater under the 7th Plain alias. As with its predecessors, the eight included tracks offer a mixture of previously released fare from the project's heyday and music that's sat on dusty DAT tapes for well over two decades. Highlights come thick and fast, from the sun-bright sci-fi melodies, sustained ambient chords and bubbly acid lines of "Time Melts" and the Black Dog-ish shuffle of "Reality of Space", to the booming, club-ready "Lost", drowsy IDM cut "Think City" and the intergalactic, stretched-out bliss of brilliant closing cut "Seeing Sense".
Review: Since the dawn of the decade, A Winged Victory For The Sullen has delivered occasional albums for Erased Tapes that effortlessly blur the boundaries between ambient, electronic experimentalism and emotion-stirring neo-classical music. "The Undivided Five" marks their first appearance on mighty British independent Ninja Tune, and seems a little more grandiose in scale and ambition than some of their earlier outings. It was recorded in eight different studios around Europe, with the pair combining atmospheric orchestration and traditional instrumentation with occasional glimpses of modular electronics. It feels like a stunning soundtrack to a movie we've not yet seen - unsurprising given that they have previously composed a number of scores - and genuinely gets better with each successive spin.
Review: Presented in a limited run of 200 copies, "A Higher State Of Body & Mind" is the result of a one-off live performance by storied experimentalist (and Borft Records co-founder) Joachim Nordwall and Lebanese saxophonist Christine Abdelnour. It consists of a single, constantly evolving 41-minute piece in which Abdelnour adds subtle sax sounds and smoky, free-jazz style solos over Nordwall's mysterious, otherworldly electronics. With the Swedish veteran manipulating slate-grey drone sounds, moody aural textures and wayward electronic motifs, the resultant performance sounds like Mika Vainio jamming with one of jazz's more experimental horn players.