Review: Primitive Brumbeat is the order of the day from Minimal Wave on this weighty seven inch presentation of early Karl O'Connor material. Recorded under the Sandra Plays Electronics banner, Her Needs presents two versions of the same track from different periods of O'Connor's musical development and provide further enticing historical evidence of one of techno's most illuminating figureheads. Those who indulged in the brilliant White Savage Dance 12" from Downwards from late 2011 will be all over the DIY odes to O'Connor's childhood heroes such as DAF and Liaisons Dangereuses here. The 1999 version in particular which originates from the same recording sessions that ended in the seminal Diversion Group release A Man Has Responsibilities.
Review: The latest Emotional Response release provides something very special indeed, in the form of a new track from under the radar psychedelic rock musician Nick Nicely. Nicely has been making music from the 70s onwards, but his music has recently undergone something of a critical reappraisal, with the likes of Robert Wyatt and Robyn Hitchcock supposedly inspired by his work; "Wrottersley Road" provides the ideal entry into his music, a masterful piece of shoegaze pop filled with fuzzed out guitars and Eastern psychedelic tones. Remixes are provided by Invisible Hands, who provide a minimal 80's inspired electro-pop version, which comes saturated in radiophonic textures, and The Oscillation, who take the track into even more abstract ambient territory than the original, deep into a place where time seems to stand still entirely, drawing its rich textures out into infinity.
Review: Samurai's highly collectable Red Seal series continues with a mission to Manchester. Home to key players such as Skittles, Dub Phizix and DRS, the 'Mani' scene just keeps on giving. This three track 12" is a perfect example, as we find fellow native Indigo joining the dots between three genres with ease and engaging production skill. "Reaching The Source" is a blissed out Autonomic workout that's ideal for both headphones or early doors, "Trthys" is a much slower, sludgy bass 4/4 workout that sits somewhere between Dirtybird and Wookie while "Talia" ends us on a soft, soulful note. A lullaby on marbled vinyl: does life get much better than this?
Review: Released with the minimum of fanfare, Dismantle represents Rabih Beaini's first substantial release as Morphosis since last year's Tepco Report 12", and comes in the form of a five track double 12" release for Honest Jon's The first comprises two Morphosis productions obviously aimed at more adventurous DJs, with the title track (in collaboration with Donato Dozzy) comprising subtly rattling percussion and organic tones unfolding over a steady rhythmic pulse, while "Tamrat Version" comes across as more full bodied, with thicker organ textures tied up with pulsing synths. The second 12" meanwhile is something entirely different, comprising a live score to Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr recorded in Romania; free of rhythm and utilising some outlandish modular sequencing, it's the producer at his most immersive.
Review: Given that One Circle is formed the trio of Editions Mego artist Lorenzo Senni, Monkeytown artist Vaghe Stelle and soundtrack composer A:RA, their debut for the consistently excellent left_blank label is as skewed a trip into experimental techno's wormhole as you'd expect from such a union. Whether it's the ectoplasmic Kompakt vibes of title track "Flight To Forever", the stuttering rhythms and euphoric synths of "Delta City" or the Fade To Mind grime via Eurosynth of "Please", there's enough here to make One Circle well worth a look for inquisitive electronic minds.
Review: Minimal Wave's Cititrax imprint has had one of its most prolific years to date in 2013, with the release of excellent albums from Streetwalker and The KVB, and a KVB remix EP featuring the likes of Regis, Silent Servant and Shifted. The Veronica Vasicka-helmed label looks to expand on that success with a number of forthcoming releases planned over the next few months commencing with the debut EP of Facit, whose Mat At Duvorna EP is described by the label as "quintessential melancholic Swedish wave at its finest." Comprised of Joakim Karlsson and Mai Nestor on vocals, the Gothenburg native Karlsson has previous form as Jocke & Elliot, under which name he released an electro-inspired 12-inch on Swedish label Kust Musik in 2010. this new project seems to be more downtempo in nature, with a sound that most resembles a modern day version of French synthwave duo Deux, making them perfect for the stable of labels run by Vasicka.
Review: With releases on a who's who list of labels that are pushing experimental, underground house and techno including L.I.E.S, Creme Organisation, Echovolt and Strange Life, William Burnett has been steadily putting out releases that have gained a lot of respect without having to shout too loud about it. So much so that as well as running his own stella WT Records label, William is now often cited as a producer's producer. Deep and full of dub aesthetics that encompasses a world of it's own, his music is not just driven by a need to keep the floor moving, but are also about taking your headspace somewhere else. Progressing things a stage further is the Black Deer project. Recently launched, but in gestation for some time, it's introspective slant, plus loose referencing to his upbringing in Texas, allows William more freedom for experimentation. The Last Tortuga is taken from the same sessions that yielded the Willie Burns The Overlord EP on Trilogy Tapes as well as Black Deer's Trail Of Tears EP on Rush Hour, this 6 track EP has been due on the label for sometime, but it's been worth the wait as his sound has developed and expanded to take in ambient, drone and krautrock and highlights his musicianship in a new light.
Review: It's as if throughout the production process and mastering session of Profligate's Can't Stop Shaking EP faulty connections and loose wiring were intended to give the two tracks a distinctly broken timbre. The title track, infected with a T.V-static buzz, marches with the most basic, but effective, industrial back beat drums, while classic New York electro synths offer a "Can't Stop Shaking" its melody. "Dormant" on the other hand is more frenetic in its arrangement, as megaphone vocals treated to a band-pass filter are embedded into a gauzy crowd of harsh textures and arpeggiated chords that ebb and flow between the despondent and uplifting.
Review: One half of the Steven Porter duo, Katsunori Sawa, debuts solo on the Weevil Neighbourhood, a mysterious Berlin label borne out of the equally enigmatic, and now defunct, Weevil Series. Here Sawa delivers four tracks of industrial and experimental sound design, minus the ear shattering sonics and overbearing drone that other producers of a similar creed may employ. Windswept waves of white noise blow across "Augur" while its drums create a syncopated groove like that of injured beetle limping to safety. Piston pumping sound effects and factory ambience soundtrack "Black Sugar", while "Phenomenon" is the EP's most rhythmically coherent production. Sawa then ends on "NGM" which sounds like the night time hustle of New York city night heard from the empty viewing deck of the Empire State Building.
Review: A special release from Minimal Wave here as the uber rare Irene & Mavis EP from UK synth poppers Blancmange is granted a reissue! Those with a pub quiz winning level of knowledge of UK synth pop will no doubt be familiar with the 80s hits of Blancmange duo Neil Arthur & Stephen Luscombe, yet this debut EP dating back to 1980 will still sound revelatory. The self released Irene & Mavis EP marked Arthur and Luscombe to be fully willing to experiment with DIY electronics, impressing Mute founder Daniel Miller sufficiently to proclaim them "maiden aunts of electronic music," and thus more than suited as a subject of focus from the Minimal Wave label. There are definite similarities between this nascent stage of Blancmange and the output of Cabaret Voltaire from the same era, particularly in the masked and disembodied nature of the vocals, whilst "Holiday Camp" and "Just Another Spectre" are wonderful examples of instrumental synth music. Despite originally being released in 7" format, the six newly remastered tracks are presented here in 10" format by Minimal Wave with the distinctive artwork retained!
Review: Having released over fifty records since their foundation back in 2009, Dark Entries use the widened exposure afforded by that excellent Patrick Cowley compilation released in the last quarter of 2013 as a springboard to launch a new dedicated 12" series. Retaining their archival approach, the first release focuses on the short-lived Italian act Victrola; formed as a four piece combo in Messina, Victrola slimmed down to the synthesizer and guitar-based duo Antonio "Eze" Cuscina and Carlo Smeriglio and moved to the fertile music scene growing in early 80s Florence. In 1983, the pair issued their one record-shaped contribution to the early 80s Italian synth scene in the shape of Maritime Tatami, a two-track 12? issued on the Electric Eye label. Recorded using the Roland TR303 and TR606 at a time when these models had only been made available, so this reissue of Maritime Tatami from Dark Entries offers a chance for people to assess a slice of analogue experimentation at its most nascent.
Review: Stupendously rare Italo gem from the criminally under-prolific Trieste-based Big Ben Tribe, this quirky poplet first came our way in 1984 on Gong. Last spotted changing hands for hundreds on auction sites, Dark Entries have done the disco world a favour and licensed a reissue. Untouched and naked in all its 80s glory, the synth patterns, abstract lyrics and arrangement were way ahead of their time and clearly influenced many electronic pop and Balearic bands who followed. Vocals just a bit too much for you? No worries, just flip for the instrumental. Tarzan loves summer nights, and we love Dark Entries for unearthing this utter classic.
Review: Although the Lovers Rock label run by Daniel Martin McCormick - better known as Ital - has previously been an output for his own music, this year see the label expand operations with records from other artists. Although a future collaborative 12? between Ital and Mutual Dreaming's Aurora Halal has also been promised, the label first looks to the music of Earthen Sea, the musical project of San Francisco artist Jacob Long, who previously performed alongside Martin-McCormick as part of Mi Ami. Although Long played bass as part of Mi Ami, the Earthen Sea project - which has released a number of cassettes since 2003 - sees him utilise various electronic textures to create his own immersive style of ambient music, which takes both a rhythmic and beatless approach incorporating elements of dub techno, drone and minimalist composition.
Review: Valcrond Video presents the next work by sound and image artist Luke Wyatt, Songs From Bad Kid School.
On a high desert plain, inside a cinder block compound, a prank squad is incarcerated. Between fiddling with ninja stars and leafing through back issues of Fangoria, they find time to scrape out the soundtrack of their escape.
On the first track, heatsick guitars and steel wool beats suggest a landscape strewn with abandoned car carcasses, old Camaros left for dead in the sun, used for shotgun practice.
The B-side leads off with the beat-less, articulated sprawl of "Saline Flats". Here is the story of a desert search for water: figures warping mirage-like on the horizon as they make a confused journey over dunes, ending with a cathartic drone that suggests the mirages resolving into a real oasis. Though it is just as likely that the bad kids have expired from thirst, and ascended to the sublime.
Review: Having a debut that managed to possibly be the most regularly outed track by Andrew Weatherall as he dug deep to discover the sound that resonated as A Love From Outer Space, while at the same time seemingly slipping under the radar of practically everyone else and disappearing in to relative cult obscurity is some mean feat.
Unperturbed that the odd(disco)ball that was the acidic genius of Morodor In Milan was shamefully overlooked, Maurice & Charles have again taken time out from their daytime media and art enriched lives to hunker down and offer up another take on their twisted idea of what makes people groove. In Sofa Love, their ode to the marvels and pitfalls of the mega-city, bubbling 303 again underpins a twisted lyrical journey. Set against crashing percussion, this is their peaen to la Metropole. Ably supporting it is a driving, rhythmic workout from our own Jamie Paton, taking the original and stripping everything back to jack like it should. If that frightens off the less adventurous, then I,Carpenter will perhaps offer a respite. An off-kilter, acid-funk nod to the experimentations of Eno & Byrne, this quirky gem makes you wonder, why did no-one use that sample before? To end comes a solo debut from Soft Rock's Piers Harrison. His drum heavy remix straightens things up and lets the story unfold.
Review: Kreidler and Automat have unconsciously kept the Krautrock heritage alive, with both sets of outfits mystically blending more traditional instruments together with nutty electronic twerkings. For their Record Store Day special, they've joined forces with Genesis P-Orridge, formerly of Throbbing Gristle, and have given us a magnetic split release. Automat's tracks are mechanical but nonetheless organic in texture, rendered even more fragile by P-Orridge's trademark rantings. Kreidler, on the other hand, go for a more classic approach, where electronic guitars are twisted and turned into an absolute frenzy amid slicing drum breaks and subtle electronic manipulations. Needless to say, this is a strong release from Bureau B.
Review: The original pressing of Subsequent Pleasures, the self-financed and ludicrously limited debut EP from Dutch darkwave pioneers Xymox (later to rename themselves Clan of Xymox), is notoriously hard to get hold of. Props, then, to reissue specialists Dark Entries for making it available again on vinyl for the first time since 1983. While this version doesn't include all of the tracks featured on the original, it does contain all the killers, including the electro-goth wooziness of "Going Around", the Joy Division-ish "Strange 9 To 9" and the superb synth workout "Call It Weird". It's one of those releases that should be an essential purchase for anyone with even the remotest interest in darkwave.
Review: With a name that nods to My Bloody Valentine it's not surprising to hear a whisper of shoegaze sneaking into this debut single from Soft As Snow. As the latest signing to Houndstooth this release sits comfortably next to the gothic tinges of Snow Ghost, with vocalist Oda Egjar Starheim calling to mind Karin Dreijer Andersson of The Knife and Fever Ray fame. There's a canny mixture of noirish pop and expansive electronica, with the duo unafraid to embrace snappy time signature changes and bombastic choruses in amidst the more subtle elements of their sound. With five distinctive songs to announce themselves in addition to a remix from Old Apparatus alumni Asher Levitas, Glass Body is a powerful debut for an act set to tear up festival circuits in the near future.
Review: Fresh and contemporary intergalactic reissue action from the ridiculously on-point Finders Keepers! For many old-school gamers and general niche nerds, the sounds of the inimitable Atari machines were the foundations of gaming culture. Never strictly available in soundtrack format until now, Suzanne Ciani's shimmering, quasi-techno sounds are the perfect example of the futurism that characterised the 1980s. This particular release features the opening theme and jingles from the Liberator game, which means that the wonderful Finders Keepers could certainly be planning another Atari-related release in the near future. He right, but in the meantime do not sleep on this badboy
Review: Initially a duo responsible for a sole 7" release on Blind Prophet, Void Vision re-emerges here as the sole project of Shari Vari on this sublime 12" for the excellent Mannequin Records. The three track Sour precedes a debut Void Vision LP for the Berlin-based operation which is apparently due later this year and we cannot wait based on the sounds explored here. Lead track "Sour" is a ripe and muscular Italo track which is profoundly danceable and wholly erotic, whilst the accompanying remix from Bordello A Parigi pair Vanzetti & Sacco does a splendid job in magnifying more dancier elements of Void Vision's production. The full throttle instrumental thrust of closing track "20/20" will please fans of Void Vision's earlier work though we are more focused on what she's going to do next!