Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Kaytranada ‎– 99.9% (2016)

Style: House
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: XL Recordings

Tracklist:
01.   Track Uno
02.   Bus Ride
03.   Got It Good
04.   Together
05.   Drive Me Crazy
06.   Weight Off
07.   One Too Many
08.   Despite The Weather
09.   Glowed Up
10.   Breakdance Lesson N.1
11.   You're The One
12.   Vivid Dreams
13.   Lite Spots
14.   Leave Me Alone
15.   Bullets

When Mark Pritchard first released "?," that question mark made perfect sense. It was 2009, and the track—six somber minutes of gelatinous, pitch-black drones and a doleful, harpsichord-like synth melody—didn't sound like anything else he had ever done. And that's saying something, because Pritchard has done a lot: Between his time in iconic early-'90s groups like Global Communication, Jedi Knights, and Reload, plus an array of solo aliases including Harmonic 313 and Troubleman, the UK producer made ambient, electro, house, acid, instrumental hip-hop, and broken beat, among other styles and hybrids. Not long after "?" appeared as the A-side of a 10" single (the B-side cut, "The Hologram," sounded more like a lost Mo Wax instrumental from the mid '90s), he embarked upon his career's wildly prolific second act, making dancehall, grime, footwork, trap, ragga-jungle, and throwback rave tunes in the duo Africa Hitech and under his own name. Throughout it all, "?" felt like an outlier among outliers; in an oeuvre full of left turns, it was the only one that didn't seemed to have steered him full circle. 
Seven years later, that stray puzzle piece falls into place as the opening track on Under the Sun. "?" has always had a liminal feel to it—a number of DJs, including the Gaslamp Killer, Manuel Tur, and Oneman, have used it to open mixtapes, and a few more have closed out their mixes with it—and here it also plays a scene-setting role, establishing the base notes of one of the most curious and idiosyncratic records in Pritchard's catalog. For the most part devoid of drums, Under the Sun is loosely ambient in feel, but it's a world away from the lushly psychedelic chillout-room tropes of Global Communication. Many of its tracks feel like soundtrack cues, and its blippy analog palette often suggests the influence of Delia Derbyshire and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. There are nods to Boards of Canada, particularly in the vocoded recitation of colors in "Hi Red," the shortest of a number of sketch-like, interstitial cuts. But the album's most unusual aspect, and its unifying thread, are the thin, quavering synthesizer patches suggestive of flute and clarinet and recorder, which, playing quiet, contrapuntal melodies, imbue the album with an almost medieval air. 
Against this atmospheric backdrop, a few key vocal features help give the album its shape and sense of movement. The first, immediately following the ambient intro of "?," is the Bibio-sung "Give It Your Choir," which pairs chiming synth parts with richly colored vocal harmonies that whirl like the beads in a kaleidoscope. For much of the warm, woozy "Beautiful People," Thom Yorke's voice is processed nearly beyond recognition, and even when the effects are stripped away, it sounds like he's singing through clenched teeth, his words reduced to something like pure tone. But the odd phrases that sneak through ("Angels stroke your head," "I can't go back") reinforce the song's dream-like logic, forever on the verge of pulling into focus. "The Blinds Cage" also bobs on the surface of consciousness, as Anti-Pop Consortium's Beans narrates a stream-of-consciousness report from the border between life and death over a blippy backdrop of electronic abstractions. 
In the album's centerpiece, "You Wash My Soul," the folksinger Linda Perhacs is accompanied by delicately plucked acoustic guitar as she sings mournfully of elemental forces and spiritual connections. At once chilly and pastoral, it's evocative of a strain of gothic folk that stretches back through Jarboe, Current 93, and Nick Drake; it's the polar opposite of "Infrared," a nervous synth'n'roll number that's reminiscent of Suicide. On paper, the two songs might not seem to have much to do with each other, but part of the beauty of the album is how it pulls such contrasting moods together into a coherent whole. 
Deeply atmospheric and richly impressionistic, Under the Sun is an easy album to disappear into. Alternating short sketches with long, immersive tracks like the sumptuously droning "EMS," and balancing emotional vocal tracks with more abstracted moodpieces, it never feels scattered; instead, each piece leads into the next, like the segments of a maze. I put it on for an hour-long perambulation through the city and found myself cozily cocooned in its folds. I was surprised, when I finally took my headphones off, to be confronted with the lively din of an outdoor café I had been idly watching for 15 minutes; it felt as though I had been zapped back to the heart of the city, transported from a faraway place that was green and warm and ancient. The only question was how music so simple, and almost naïve, had done such a thorough job of erasing the traces of the modern world around me.
Jonah Bromwich / Pitchfork

Laurie Anderson & Kronos Quartet ‎– Landfall (2018)

Style: Contemporary, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Nonesuch

Tracklist:
01.   CNN Predicts A Monster Storm
02.   Wind Whistles Through The Dark City
03.   The Water Rises
04.   Our Street Is A Black River
05.   Galaxies
06.   Darkness Falls
07.   Dreams
08.   Dreams Translated
09.   The Dark Side
10.   Built You A Mountain
11.   The Electricity Goes Out And We Move To A Hotel
12.   We Learn To Speak Yet Another Language
13.   Dawn Of The World
14.   The Wind Lifted The Boats And Left Them On The Highway
15.   It Twisted The Street Signs
16.   Then It Receded
17.   The Nineteen Stars Of Heaven
18.   Nothing Left But Their Names
19.   All The Extinct Animals
20.   Galaxies II
21.   Never What You Think It Will Be
22.   Thunder Continues In The Aftermath
23.   We Blame Each Other For Losing The Way
24.   Another Long Evening
25.   Riding Bicycles Through The Muddy Streets
26.   Helicopters Hang Over Downtown
27.   We Head Out
28.   Everything Is Floating

Credits:
Cello – Sunny Yang
Viola – Hank Dutt
Violin – David Harrington, John Sherba
Violin, Vocals, Keyboards, Sampler [Samples], Percussion, Effects [Filters] – Laurie Anderson
Composed By, Music By – Laurie Anderson
Arranged By [Arrangements By] – Jacob Garchik, Kronos Quartet, Laurie Anderson
Words By [Text] – Laurie Anderson (tracks: 2 to 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, 17, 18, 28)
Producer [Produced By] – Kronos Quartet, Laurie Anderson, Scott Fraser
Recorded By, Edited By, Mixed By – Scott Fraser
Engineer [Assistant Engineer (Recording)] – Noah Killeen
Executive-Producer – David Bither
Liner Notes [English] – Laurie Anderson, Steve Smith
Mastered By – Robert C. Ludwig
Transcription By [Transcriptions By] – Jacob Garchik
Photography By – Jason Stern, Mark Allan
Design – Barbara de Wild
Artwork [Art By] – Laurie Anderson

“How many people can do everything?” asked Lou Reed in 2003. He was explaining to the television host Charlie Rose why Laurie Anderson was the “absolute perfect person” to be NASA’s first artist-in-residence. (She would also be its last.) By then, Anderson had been a visual artist, filmmaker, and unlikely pop musician. She once read David Bowie’s mind; she hung suspended upside-down over Coney Island; she taught her dog to play piano. With the folks at NASA, Anderson toured the Hubble Space Telescope and met astronauts and nanotechnologists, ultimately producing a poem called The End of the Moon, which she recited between violin interludes. Formally and conceptually grappling with colossal forces of the unknown, The End of the Moon is a fitting precedent to Anderson’s gripping collaboration with the revolutionary Kronos Quartet—a string quartet who also once worked with NASA and have in their four-decade career, you could say, done everything. 
Both Anderson, a consummate New Yorker, and Kronos Quartet, from San Francisco, have been prolific interrogators of American power since the 1970s. In classical music, Kronos challenged the dominance of European-American composers, investigating world music, rock, and jazz; at times, they have played with projections of Occupy and the Arab Spring behind them, or collaborated with leftist historian Howard Zinn. In a 2014 interview, Kronos founder David Harrington said, “Of all the string quartets in the world, I’m intending to have the largest F.B.I. file.” But the greatest link between Anderson and Harrington might be their abilities to see the future. 
Harrington dreamed of collaborating with Anderson for decades. But it was not until after the release of Anderson’s 2010 LP Homeland that Landfall began to take shape, first as a traveling live performance and now as a 30-track album of epic sweep. Composed by Anderson and featuring her spoken word, Landfall is a cycle of songs that observe the devastating wake of Hurricane Sandy through her eyes. Though much of Landfall was written before the third costliest storm in U.S. history ravaged the East Coast in October of 2012, Sandy dominates this intense work. It is the sound of a quintessential New Yorker processing a New York tragedy, salvaging something from the sad wreckage, internalizing the debris of a creative life, showing how human memory can be stronger than catastrophe. 
The elegiac tracks of Landfall, most no longer than two or three minutes, are episodic fragments that can cut off abruptly, like photographs with torn or water-damaged edges. This gives Landfall a momentum and a grace that’s slightly askew. There is a celestial scope to these pieces, as if Anderson has composed a new cosmos where lies are not hidden, but rather laid bare; where we can decipher what is real. Anderson’s lucid spoken word combines with the quartet’s weeping elegance to portray the gravity of disaster, of seismic motion, of ominous anticipation, all with a gentle immediacy. By “Our Street Is a Black River,” Anderson begins her story: “From above, Sandy was a huge swirl that looked like the galaxies,” she states, and in her iconic way, she continues, “whose names”—pause—“I didn’t know.” 
Anderson’s spatial phrasings convey a sense of steadiness in an increasingly precarious world. She speaks on only a handful of tracks, but her extended pauses are like deep breaths amid the exhausting act of processing. Here, the Kronos Quartet heighten her breaks to audacious effect, sometimes emulating the shape of drones, or ragas, or curled question marks, sometimes augmented by electronics. Anderson—who once turned the William S. Burroughs maxim “language is a virus” into song—has found fantastic collaborators in Kronos, who can say so much without language when language fails. On “The Electricity Goes Out and We Move to a Hotel,” there are no words but churning, paddling, involuntary movement; it is a resigned procession; you have to keep moving. 
On “Everything Is Floating,” Anderson plainly describes how it felt to descend upon her waterlogged downtown basement after Sandy and see the muck of keyboards and projectors, papers and books, “all the things I had carefully saved all my life… becoming nothing but junk.” With this somber, dramatic, and yet peaceful music, she evokes another maxim she has repeated often, from her Buddhist teacher Mingyur Rinpoche: “Feel sad without actually being sad.” This is a survival guide, and maybe Landfall is, too. 
Landfall seems to synthesize many of the concerns of Anderson’s life: language, technology, America’s gargantuan cons. And it all coalesces on “Nothing Left but Their Names,” an astounding nine-and-a-half-minute monologue in Anderson’s classic down-pitched vocal style. She catalogues extinct species such as spotted lizards, mastodons, and many kinds of sloths. Her meditation wanders through the imaginative power of words, how they can be superior to experience itself. But Anderson ends, profoundly, on the moon and the stars. “You know the reason that I really love the stars?” Anderson asks. “It’s that we cannot hurt them. We can’t burn them. We can’t melt them or make them overflow. We can’t flood them or blow them up… But we are reaching for them.” If natural disasters are wrapped up with the worst of humanity—the greed and consumption and violent men that keep greenhouse emissions rewiring the atmosphere; the forces of destruction that cause nature to combust upon itself—at least we still have the stars. 
Simultaneously with Landfall, Anderson has released a career-spanning book of art and essays called All the Things I Lost in the Flood. In it, she recalls the wild discussions she had at NASA, like a 5,000-year plan to move all manufacturing, and its pollution, off the Earth. She also illuminates her 1981 hit “O Superman,” the electronic odyssey of a tune that transformed her into what she’s called an “anthropological” pop musician. “Here come the planes,” it goes, “They’re American planes.” 
When Anderson sang it a few days after 9/11, she writes, “I had the eerie sensation of singing about the absolute present. Each time I revived the song people would say, ‘Did you just write this? It’s so much like what’s going on right now.’ They had forgotten that the current war has been going on for well over 30 years, every once in a while getting a new name: ‘The Gulf War,’ ‘The Iraq War,’ ‘The War on Terror.’” If climate change, a war against Earth, is to continue, Landfall is destined to retell the story of the next hurricane, the next perilous Sandy. Anderson still sees the future, but she starts by paying attention.
Jenn Pelly / Pitchfork

Joe Armon-Jones ‎– Starting Today (2018)

Style: Dub, Soul-Jazz, Fusion, Broken Beat
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Brownswood Recordings, Beat Records

Tracklist Hide Credits
1.   Starting Today Feat. Asheber
2.   Almost Went Too Far
3.   Mollison Dub
4.   London's Face Feat. Oscar Jerome
5.   Ragify
6.   Outro (For Now)

Credits:
Bass – David Mrakpor, Mutale Chashiis
Drums – Kwake Bass, Moses Boyd
Effects  – Maxwell Owin
Electric Piano – Joe Armon-Jones
Guitar – Oscar Jerome
Piano – Joe Armon-Jone
Tenor Saxophone – James Mollison, Nubya Garcia
Trumpet – Dylan Jones
Vocals – Asheber, Big Sharer, Ego Ella May, Oscar Jerome
Producer – Joe Armon-Jones

Something exceptional is happening in London in spring 2018. A succession of albums, recorded by an intimately connected community of around 60 young musicians, is taking jazz in ear-opening new directions. Hybridisation and genretic modification are the names of the game, but the scene also reaffirms the music's traditional building-blocks, among them the creativity of black musicians in Britain, North America, the Caribbean and Africa. Nothing quite like this has happened in Britain for around 30 years. Not on this scale anyway.  
First out of the traps was We Out Here (Brownswood Recordings), featuring around 35 members of the new community in various guises: Maisha, Ezra Collective, Triforce, Kokoroko and line-ups led by drummer Moses Boyd, tuba player Theon Cross, saxophonists Nubya Garcia and Shabaka Hutchings and keyboardist Joe Armon-Jones. Hard on its heels was Your Queen Is A Reptile (Impulse!) by Hutchings's Sons Of Kemet and Loveplaydance: 8 Scenes From The Floor (Brownswood) by Toshio Matsuura Group. All three albums have already been reviewed here. And there are more releases in the pipeline, the most immediate being keyboardist and Brownswood alumnus Kamaal Williams's The Return (Black Focus Records), and Garcia's self-released EP When We Are, made with a band drawn from the We Out Here community including Armon-Jones.  
Meanwhile, here comes Armon-Jones's own-name debut, Starting Today. A 100% proof blend of jazz, fusion, hip hop and dub, the album showcases Armon-Jones's breathtaking sonic-wizardry. It also reveals him to be a composer of note. His lyrics are perhaps a tad perfunctory, but no matter—he writes great tunes and interesting arrangements. And he brings a seemingly inexhaustible bag of timbral tricks to the Wurlitzer. The band, drawn in the main from the We Out Here family, is top ranking, too, with a killer rhythm section and strong frontline-contributions from Garcia and trumpeter Dylan Jones. Armon-Jones is the main solo voice, however.  
Brownswood, the label formed by London club DJ and BBC Radio 6 Music broadcaster Gilles Peterson in 2006, figures large in this spring 2018 musical high-tide. Peterson's previous label, the jazz dance and acid jazz-centric Talkin' Loud, defined one corner of the London jazz world in the 1990s. Brownswood is doing something similar right now. It is the sort of outfit that gives monopolies a good name.
Chris May / All About Jazz

This Mortal Coil ‎– This Mortal Coil (2011)

Style: Alternative Rock, Modern Classical, Ethereal, Ambient
Format: CD
Label: 4AD


It'll End In Tears


1-10.   Kangaroo
1-02.   Song To The Siren
1-03.   Holocaust
1-04.   Fyt
1-05.   Fond Affections
1-06.   The Last Ray
1-07.   Another Day
1-08.   Waves Become Wings
1-09.   Barramundi
1-10.   Dreams Made Flesh
1-11.   Not Me
1-12.   A Single Wish


Filigree & Shadow


2-01.   Velvet Belly
2-02.   The Jeweller
2-03.   Ivy And Neet
2-04.   Meniscus
2-05.   Tears
2-06.   Tarantula
2-07.   My Father
2-08.   Come Here My Love
2-09.   At First, And Then
2-10.   Strength Of Strings
2-11.   Morning Glory
2-12.   Inch Blue
2-13.   I Want To Live
2-14.   Mama K (I)
2-15.   Filigree And Shadow
2-16.   Firebrothers
2-17.   Thaïs (I)
2-18.   I Must Have Been Blind
2-19.   A Heart Of Glass
2-20.   Alone
2-21.   Mama K (II)
2-22.   The Horizon Bleeds And Sucks Its Thumb
2-23.   Drugs
2-24.   Red Rain
2-25.   Thaïs (II)


Blood


3-01.   The Lacemaker
3-02.   Mr. Somewhere
3-03.   Andialu
3-04.   With Tomorrow
3-05.   Loose Joints
3-06.   You And Your Sister
3-07.   Nature's Way
3-08.   I Come And Stand At Every Door
3-09.   Bitter
3-10.   Baby Ray Baby
3-11.   Several Times
3-12.   The Lacemaker II
3-13.   Late Night
3-14.   Ruddy And Wretched
3-15.   Help Me Lift You Up
3-16.   Carolyn's Song
3-17.   D.D. And E.
3-18.   'Til I Gain Control Again
3-19.   Dreams Are Like Water
3-20.   I Am The Cosmos
3-21.   (Nothing But) Blood


Dust & Guitars


4-01.   Sixteen Days / Gathering Dust
4-02.   Song To The Siren
4-03.   Sixteen Days (Reprise)
4-04.   Kangaroo
4-05.   It'll End In Tears
4-06.   Come Here My Love
4-07.   Drugs
4-08.   Acid, Bitter & Sad
4-09.   We Never Danced
4-10.   Thaïs (Bird Of Paradise)

Phil France ‎– Circle (2018)

Style: Leftfield, Downtempo
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Gondwana Records

Tracklist Hide Credits
1.   Circle
2.   Bells
3.   River
4.   Prophet
5.   Mr Jackal
6.   The First Thing That You Say
7.   Cathedrals
8.   The Breaks
9.   Circles Reprise

Credits:
Mixed By – Seadna McPhail
Recorded By – Brendan Williams, Lee Aston
Written-By, Producer, Keyboards, Synth, Programmed By, Mixed By – Phil France

For the second week in a row, Gondwana Records has released another great record, this time the sophomore album from Phil France, titled Circle. The Manchester-based composer, bassist and producer is probably best know as a key collaborator alongside Jason Swinscoe in the Cinematic Orchestra where he co-wrote some of the group’s best albums including Everyday (2002), Man With The Movie Camera (2003), Ma Fleur (2007) and award-winning soundtrack for The Crimson Wing documentary in 2008.  
His new record picks right up where his 2013 debut, The Swimmer, left off, with layers of melodic electronic textures and minimal arpeggiated patterns that build and shift throughout each song. The title track “Circle” is not only the album’s opener, but acts as the overall symbolic concept for the album. France states “I consider circles to be a strong symbol of unity, strength and inclusiveness and ultimately I’ve aspired to make something beautiful with those values at its heart”.  
Overall, Circle is solid from start to finish, taking listeners on a sonic journey using atmospheric sounds, multi-layered textures, and harmonic melodies. The album has a soundtrack-like feel to it, with each track complimenting the one that came before it. Some of my favorite tracks include “Circle,” “Bells,” “Mr Jackal” and “The First Thing That You Say.” The album appropriately ends with a reprise to the title track, creating what could be considered an infinite sound experience.
TJ Oliver-Gorton / beat caffeine 

VA ‎– From Brussels With Love (1980) (2007 Reissue)

Style: Leftfield, Abstract, New Wave, Ambient, Interview, Synth-pop
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Les Disques Du Crépuscule, LTM

Tracklist:
01.   John Foxx - A Jingle *1
02.   Thomas Dolby - Airwaves
03.   Repetition - Stranger
04.   Harold Budd - Children On The Hill
05.   Durutti Column* - Sleep Will Come
06.   Martin Hannett - The Music Room
07.   The Names - Cat
08.   Michael Nyman - A Walk Through H
09.   Brian Eno - An Interview With Brian Eno
10.   Jeanne Moreau - Un Entretien Avec Jeanne Moreau
11.   Richard Jobson - Armoury Show
12.   Bill Nelson The Shadow Garden
13.   Durutti Column - Piece For An Ideal
14.   Kevin Hewick & New Order Haystack
15.   Radio Romance - Etrange Affinite
16.   Gavin Bryars - White's S.S.
17.   Der Plan - Mein Freunde
18.   B.C. Gilbert* & Graham Lewis - Twist Up
19.   John Foxx - A Jingle *2

The question of pretentiousness was evidently a hot topic during the heady New Wave days in which From Brussels with Love first appeared. Paul Morley, reviewing the compilation for the NME in 1980, wrote: ‘Of course it’s posey: what isn’t? It’s pop/art. Insufferably over-fashionable, lavishly over the top, dreadfully dilettantish, finely eclectic. Pop can be so many things.’ Brian Eno, in an interview featured on the compilation itself: ‘For me the great strength of dilettantism is that it tends to come in from another angle […] an intelligent dilettante will not be constrained by the limitations of what’s normally considered possible; he won’t be frightened, he’s got nothing to lose.’ Compiled by the Belgian indie label Les Disques du Crépuscule, in part-collaboration with the hugely influential Factory Records label, the original release was issued on tape along with a beautifully illustrated booklet designed by Benoît Hennebert, with Jean-François Octave and Claude Stassart. Although there have been a number of official and unofficial versions subsequent to the original release, these have mostly featured alternative tracks or songs missing from the 1980 cassette edition. LTM’s reissue is the first to restore the work of glorious dilettantism that is From Brussels with Love to its original form. 
Bookended with two short synth sketches by John Foxx, almost every track on From Brussels with Love is an unabashedly melancholy or angst-ridden gem. Early in the running order come Thomas Dolby’s poignant ‘Airwaves’ (its lyrics peppered with words such as ‘broadcast’, ‘antenna’, ‘pylon’ and ‘motor homes’, the track is pure Modernist nostalgia 20 years before it became fashionable), the unease of Repetition’s ‘Stranger’, replete with Siouxsie Sioux-influenced vocal stylings, and the unbearable resignation of The Durutti Column’s electronic ballad ‘Sleep Will Come’. Michael Nyman’s ‘A Walk Through H’, with its charmingly wheezy strings sounding like an unhealthy Philip Glass gone jogging, provides an upbeat Minimalist segue into the compilation’s spoken word interlude: the above-mentioned Eno interview (spliced with Phill Niblock’s composition ‘A Third Trombone’), a ten-minute interview with legendary actress Jeanne Moreau (in French, untranslated, and to the accompaniment of languid Erik Satie piano pieces) and Richard Jobson’s poem ‘Armoury Show’ (‘To be popular, one must be a mediocrity’). Towards the end can be found French post-Punkers Radio Romance, Germany’s Der Plan and B.C. Gilbert and Graham Lewis from the band Wire, throwing menacing and astringent contributions up against Kevin Hewick and New Order’s clunky but affecting ‘Haystack’ (the first time the ex-Joy Division members had played since the suicide of the band’s singer, Ian Curtis). Alongside these is Gavin Bryars’ gently breathtaking ‘White’s SS’, which refers to the ‘systems and sentimentality’ that his friend the composer John White applied to music-making. 
From Brussels with Love is a masterpiece of distinctly northern European post-Punk eclecticism. Comparisons could easily be made with the Cold-War romanticism of Low and Heroes-era David Bowie: wintry synthesizer textures, Minimalist piano melodies that sound like they’re played in empty drawing-rooms at dusk, cover images of classically inspired art, multilingual lyrics and not an American accent to be heard anywhere. The accompanying booklet features texts in French, Russian, English, Japanese and German, illustrated with Octave’s pen-and-ink drawings, which wouldn’t look out of place in a group exhibition of young artists today – a hooded figure on the shore of a lake, empty armchairs in a wood-panelled room looking out onto alpine landscapes, a lonely bed-sit (not to mention the hand-drawn portrait of Marcel Duchamp that graces the cover of the 1983 edition) – painfully enigmatic, possibly rendered by a clever but existentially troubled undergraduate poet. 
If you were to draw a picture of the ideal From Brussels with Love listeners, there would be little difference between the 1980 and 2007 versions. They would be young women dressed like Jeanne Moreau, hanging out forlornly in grim new-build towns with young men in long overcoats and 1940s’ haircuts; on the one hand nostalgic for a postwar Europe of faded grandeur, and intellectuals living in exile amid chilly technocratic progress never experienced first-hand, on the other all too aware that this wonderful ‘intelligent dilettantism’ might just be their ticket out of there.
Dan Fox / Frieze

Steve Beresford / David Toop / John Zorn / Tonie Marshall ‎– Deadly Weapons (1986)

Style: Abstract, Contemporary Jazz, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl.
Label: Nato

Tracklist:
01.   Schockproof
02.   Du Gris
03.   King Cobra
04.   Tallulah
05.   Dumb Boxer
06.   Lady Whirlwind
07.   Shadow Boxer
08.   Sitting In The Park
09.   Snow Blood
10.   Chen Pe'i Pe'i
11.   Jayne Mansfield

Credits:
Cover – Pierre Cornuel
Guitar – Steve Beresford
Guitar, Flute, Percussion, Keyboards, Drum Programming, Sampler, Pedal Steel Guitar, Alto Flute – David Toop
Keyboards, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone – John Zorn
Keyboards, Tape, Trumpet, Guitar, Sampler, Drum Programming, Percussion,
Vocals – Tonie Marshall
Producer – Jean Rochard

This collective of jazz improv weirdoes banded together for a one-off in 1986 to riff on the deep vibe of all things French and cinematic. Backing vocalist Toni Marshall, Zorn, Beresford, and Toop created a virtual and highly experimental film noir soundtrack to a movie that perhaps existed in the mind of Jean-Luc Godard in the 1950s, but was never made. Toop is clearly the sonic architect here, haunting the proceedings with his deep use of effects, subdued percussion, and strategically placed guitars among the keyboards and Zorn's unmistakable alto. The set beings with a theme written around a narrative by Benjamin Peret, and comes out of the box as a R&B vamp that paints a picture of foggy wharfs, smoky bars, and people in trench coats. It gives way quickly, however, to a noisier kind of meditation that somehow keeps the vibe. As we move through "Du Gris" and Zorn's "King Cobra," the textured and sampled passages become more pronounced but the eerie, foreboding feeling remains. When Marshall begins, in her grainy, soft voice, to sing the gorgeous "Tallulah," -- one of two tributes to actresses here, the other is to Jayne Mansfield -- the effect is complete as we enter into a dreamy soundscape of pure cinéma vérité. From here on, the listener has fully entered a landscape that is familiar yet somehow strange, as if the color mix were off on a TV or movie screen. We can understand the images but not the language, and there are no subtitles. And that's what this quartet is going for, a manner of creating musical images that are outside the specific languages they employ in the architecture of their chosen sounds. By the time the end credits roll (on "Jayne Mansfield"), this quartet has done what so many attempt, but so few actually succeed at: They've created a virtual cinema of the unconscious, colored by sound yet evoking not only images but sounds, feelings, and textural awareness; beautiful and harrowing.
Thom Jurek / AllMusic

Can ‎– Soon Over Babaluma (1974)

Style: Krautrock, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label:  United Artists Records, Spoon Recorda, Restles Retro

Tracklist:
1.   Dizzy Dizzy
2.   Come Sta, La Luna
3.   Splash
4.   Chain Reaction
5.   Quantum Physics

Credits:
Bass – Holger Czukay
Drums – Jaki Liebezeit
Guitar, Violin – Michael Karoli
Keyboards – Irmin Schmidt
Written-By, Producer – Can
Engineer, Edited By – Holger Czukay

For many, Can began and ended with Damo Suzuki at the helm. However, the problem with looking at the band with that in mind is that you really only end up hearing four albums, and you miss out on the later gems, of which there were many. When Suzuki left the group, vocal duties were split between guitarist Michael Karoli and keyboardist Irmin Schmidt. And, of course, the band took the opportunity to record instrumental tracks in addition to their vocal ones. Nonetheless, the band’s evolution didn’t end, and their compositions far from suffered by having Suzuki leave the group. 
The band’s sixth studio album, Soon Over Babaluma, judging by the title and cover alone would appear to be assimilating to the prog rock norm. However, the band’s music remained innovative and ahead of its time in spite of any hints of astronomy in their window dressing. Soon found a slightly different Can, but a competent and enjoyable one. Karoli’s vocals on opening track “Dizzy Dizzy” were still weird, which likely assuaged any fears that fans may have had at the time. Over a groovy, bouncy melody, Karoli chanted more than sang, with the slight touch of reverb giving him an odd echoing whisper effect. 
Schmidt, too, strayed from convention in his vocals on “Come Sta, La Luna.” Singing through bizarre effects, Schmidt haunted the song more than commanded it, which seemed to be more Can’s style anyway. The song featured a horror-movie piano melody, giving it a spooky aura that matched Schmidt’s vocals perfectly. But on “Splash,” one of two instrumentals, things were altered quite a bit. Sounding more like a free jazz song than rock, the band married squealing violin and a near-Dave Brubeck keyboard line. The band was certainly accomplished musically, and though they did start veering into wanky territory, never got too obnoxious about it. 
The giant song on this album, titled “Chain Reaction,” clocks in at eleven minutes. It’s only about half as long as “Bel Air,” Future Days‘ closer, yet still stands as one of the group’s most accomplished classics. Jaki Liebezeit’s percussion, as usual, takes center stage during a large portion of the song, getting funky to the point of almost sounding afrobeat. Meanwhile, Holger Czukay offers some funky bass of his own, while Karoli freaks out on his violin. Yet, the song morphs into a more accessible funk-blues song with Karoli’s vocals at the front again. 
The final track, “Quantum Physics,” is a more free, exploration, something the band practiced freely, though this composition was far more loose than many of their previous works, wrapping up Soon Over Babaluma with a hint of Can’s future, though it would prove to be mostly a tease. Still, Karoli and Schmidt proved to be more than competent singers, even though the band’s vocals were never really the main attraction in the first place. With or without Suzuki, the band was determined to make another great addition to the catalog, and they succeeded in doing just that.
Jeff Terich / Treble

Irmler / Liebezeit ‎– Flut (2014)

Style: Abstract, Future Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Klangbang

Tracklist:
1.   Amalgam
2.   Golden Skin
3.   Ein Perfektes Paar
4.   Sempiternity
5.   Washing Over Me
6.   König Midas

Credits:
Drums – Jaki Liebezeit
Producer, Organ – Hans Joachim Irmler
Mixed By – Andreas Schmid

The act of creation in art is fascinating in the way you can potentially go from nothing to something of value in a very short space of time. In the field of improvised music, it's easy to just make a mess, but sometimes, you can make magic too. Hans Joachim Irmler and Jaki Liebezeit are past masters at the mysterious and tantalising game of improvisation, with both Faust and Can creating much of their most renowned work by simply playing together and seeing what happened. So when Irmler and Liebezeit convened last year to rehearse for a series of live shows, they soon found themselves jamming instead and creating something new – Flut is the result. 
The Faust Studio, where these recordings were made, is situated in an ex-factory beside the Danube, and the accompanying press release makes much of the two artists contemplating the implacable force of the river between takes, the swirls and eddies of its current flowing ever onwards, but never in the same way twice. It's an apposite image, particularly as Liebezeit's drumming on this album tends to anchor the music as much as drive it along, while Irmler's "prepared" organ changes in tone throughout, sounding variously like guitar, strings, horns and synth – in fact, it's sometimes hard to believe that just two people are making this complexity of noise in real time. 
'Amalgam' starts the album with brooding waves of organ underpinned by a measured circular canter of drums, before a volley of horror show Hammond stabs recall the dark cosmic emanations of Pink Floyd circa A Saucerful Of Secrets. You can literally hear the space of the factory building in which it was recorded, and also imagine this playing in the background of some grimy art installation in the early 70s. Irmler's instrument crackles and sputters like a broken, over-driven machine, and elicits that strange sense of joy that comes from hearing certain types of mechanical noise. 'Golden Skin' begins with a hypnotic loop of high organ to which Liebezeit responds with a bhangra beat on his toms. There's a jazzy, Soft Machine vibe to the improvisation that follows, with moody patterns woven into the sound by Irmler's bass pedals. 'Ein Perfektes Paar' is based around a sparse, skeletal beat that threatens to get funky, while a grooving 'Autobahn'-ish bassline emerges at times from beneath Irmler's layers of crunching fractal scree.

The second set of improvisations use a series of simple arpeggios as their foundation (achieved, I assume, by combining the organ with a basic sequencer). On 'Sempifernity', a shadowy drone pushes the arpeggio slowly into the background, where it continues to pulse nervously like an ignored car alarm in fog. Irmler riffs around in the gloom at leisure, peaks and troughs in the sound occurring as potential themes are tried out and then abandoned. A faster arpeggio drives 'Washing Over Me', with Liebezeit imbuing the track with an urgent energy. The dirty distorted organ sound is like the buzzing of an engine, Irmler never soloing exactly but flexing his fingers restlessly over the keyboard. 'König Midas' maintains the faster tempo, and of all the tracks on Flut sounds most like a sketch for a more fully worked-out piece, its relatively simple phrases almost flirting with conventional melody. 
None of these pieces are perfect, but it's the sense of the unknown, the apparent misstep leading to a new path, that makes them so compelling. "Musical bars are like prison bars," says Liebezeit. Flut is a fine example of what can happen when music is allowed to go free.
Joe Banks / The Quietus

Phil France ‎– The Swimmer (2013)

Style: Modern Classical, Leftfield, Ambient
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Gondwana Records, Twentysix-Two Recordings

Tracklist:
1.   The Swimmer
2.   Transition
3.   Kubrick
4.   Joy Of Brass
5.   London Park Hotel
6.   December
7.   Animator

Credits
Bass Guitar – Phil France
Cello – Semay Wu
Cymbal – Richard Spaven
Double Bass – Phil France
Drums – Richard Spaven, Vincent Helbers
Electronics – Patrick Carpenter
Guitar – Stuart McCallum
Keyboards – Phil France
Programmed By – Phil France, Phil Kay
Synth – Phil France
Viola – Naomi Koop
Violin – Adam Robinson, Daniel Bridgewater-Hall, Susannah Simmons


Phil France: The Swimmer When did the future get postponed? Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s it felt as if innovations that might change and improve our lives beyond recognition were tantalisingly just around the corner. Surely the science fiction utopia of a life set free from drudgery, where our preferred mode of transport would either be a teleport or a jet pack, should have arrived by now? Yet well into the second decade of the 21st century our children face a world where materialism is unchallenged and the possibility of taking the hard collective decisions to safeguard our planet has receded. In music too that sense of development and progression has gone—as if the ubiquity of the past, afforded by the internet, has made time fold in on itself. Think of the regular, near seismic, genre shifts between say Elvis in 1956, 1960s psychedelia, disco, punk, acid house and mid-1990s drum and bass —would any record from today beamed back 20 years sound as impossible as, say, Chic's "Good Times" would to a music fan in 1959? When Pete Shelley of the Buzzcocks sang, in 1978, of 'nostalgia for an age yet to come' it felt like a play on words rather than a cultural diagnosis, yet as the late journalist Mark Fisher put it, the internet has effectively brought about the " ...slow cancellation of the future... accompanied by a deflation of expectations...."  
Electronic music, such as this wonderful record by Phil France once of the Cinematic Orchestra, was once the epitome of these visions of now cancelled futures. If France's album could have been made in 1997, it is only because it bears the stamp of those more utopian times, by continuing to look forwards for better in defiance of probability. If, in the parlance of the times, "The Swimmer" is the soundtrack to a movie yet to be made it would be a low key, emotionally charged, personal drama where a lingering melancholy is justified by the tragedy that strikes in the final reel. The emotional poignancy to the music here is up with the best of those early 'Café Del Mar' albums, compiled with love and eclecticism by Spanish DJ Jose Padilla. These compilations thought nothing of placing music influenced by say the modern classical minimalism of Steve Reich, the Penguin Cafe Orchestra or the sonic spaciousness of ECM alongside music developing Brian Eno's ambient experiments, Andy Weatherall's 'Sabres of Paradise' or Matt Winn's D*Note. The music had a brief flirtation with the mainstream late in the 1990s, but disappeared once adverts started using softened versions as a sound bed and "Chill Out" compilations briefly became ubiquitous. The odd direct crossover influence aside their relationship to jazz is oblique, more of a kinship from the shared openness to different forms of music and the sense of space in the sound.  
So you can hear the classic Café Del Mar sound in France's opener and title track "The Swimmer" where a delicate swirl of cymbal caresses the repetitive piano line of the main theme, until the lovely descending string line enters towards the end of the piece. It's a highly effective evocation of summers and good times past. Better still is second track "Transition" where the electronics are more futuristic and the string line builds and swells underneath before foregrounding a statuesque beauty in the final section. "London Park Hotel" feels like Steve Reich having flashbacks to vacation highlights having returned to a cold place -if Dante Alighieri is right that "No sadness is greater than in misery to rehearse memories of joy" then this would be a fine soundtrack. "Animator" uses a warm decayed analogue synthesizer line, reminiscent of Weather Report, but underlays it with a melancholic string line that feels like it would sit well on Bjork's "Homogenic."  
"The Swimmer" was actually originally released in autumn 2013 on 26-2 records, but has perhaps found its natural home on Manchester's open-minded Gondwana records. Sonically excellent, emotional, thoughtful and soulful Phil France has made an album that deserves to be heard and widely appreciated. Highly recommended.
Phil Barnes / All About Jazz

VA – Fuck Your Dreams, This Is Heaven (1986)

Style: Art Rock, Avantgarde, Soundtrack
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Crammed Discs, Music-Box

Tracklist:
1.   Minimal Compact - Still I'm Sad
2.   Niki Mono & Nikolas Klau - Flaming
3.   Peter Principle - No Man's Land
4.   Niki Mono & Minimal Compact - Marathon
5.   Minimal Compact - Late Nightt
6.   Nikolas Klau, Steven Brown, Peter Principle - Venus In Furs
7.   Niki Mono & Berry Sakharof - Dancing arefoot
8.   Steven Brown - Coming Back To Me
9.   Bruce Geduldig & Peter Principle - Ocean

Credits:
Concept By, Coordinator – Patrick De Geetere
Recorded By – Andy Robbins, Frankie Lievaart, Patrick De Geetere, Uri Barak

A rather strange idea, this original soundtrack has members of Minimal Compact and Tuxedomoon and vocalist Niki Mono diving into material by various disparate 1960s rock icons, with three tracks by Syd Barrett or Pink Floyd, a pair of Velvet Underground tunes, and a song each by the Yardbirds and Jefferson Airplane, as well as a Patti Smith piece and an original to round off the LP. The psychedelic '60s music gets transformed into chamber rock pieces, with somewhat subdued but lush piano and violins, stiff, clunky rhythms, and oozing with the peculiar Euro-decadence tendencies that both Minimal Compact and Tuxedomoon gravitate toward. Since the Velvet Underground pieces were already quite saturated in decadence, the transformation is not quite as radical as the slow and ponderous rendition of Jefferson Airplane's "Coming Back to Me" or the Yardbirds' "Still I'm Sad," with its chorus of deathly vocals. At times this gang almost trips over its own pretentiousness, but then a goofy sense of humor sneaks in on Pink Floyd's "Flaming." Whereas some groups, say the Grateful Dead, will suck the life out of a cover version and leave it at that, the musicians on Fuck Your Dreams suck the life out of these songs to turn them into strange and beautiful corpses. This may not be the best material by either Tuxedomoon or Minimal Compact, but it's certainly quite fascinating just the same.
Rolf Semprebon / AllMusic

Monday, 29 April 2019

Holger Czukay ‎– Der Osten Ist Rot / Rome Remains Rome (2015)

Style: Krautrock, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label:  P-Vine Records, Grönland Records

Der Osten Ist Rot
01.   Photo Song
02.   Michi
03.   Rhoenrad
04.   Esperanto Socialiste
05.   Der Osten Ist Rot (Remix)
06.   Das Massenmedium
07.   Schaue Vertrauensvoll In Die Zukunft
08.   Traum Mal Wieder

Rome Remains Rome
09.   Hey Baba Rebop (Remix)
10.   Blessed Easter
11.   Sudentenland (Remix)
12.   Hit (Remix)
13.   Flop (Remix)
14.   Perfect World (Remix)
15.   Music In The Air (Remix)

Credits:
Vocals – Paul Ott
Vocals, Bass – Jah Wobble
Vocals, Organ – Michy
Drums, Percussion, Trumpet, Harmonica, Piano, Vocals – Jaki Liebezeit
Keyboards, Guitar, Performer (Dictaphone), French Horn, Vocals – Holger Czukay

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Holger Czukay ‎– Der Osten Ist Rot (1984)

Style: Krautrock, Art Rock, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Virgin, P-Vine Records, Grönland Records

Tracklist:
01.   The Photo Song
02.   Bänkel Rap
03.   Michy
04.   Rhönrad
05.   Collage
06.   Esperanto Socialiste
07.   Der Osten Ist Rot (The East Is Red)
08.   Das Massenmedium
09.   Schaue Vertrauensvoll In Die Zukunft
10.   Träum Mal Wieder

Credits:
Drums, Harmonium, Trumpet, Piano, Organ – Jaki Liebezeit
Performer (Telephone, News) – Gandhi
Recorded By – Holger Czukay, René Tinner
Synthesizer (Emu) – Conny Plank
Vocals, Organ – Michy
Written-By – Czukay), Jaki Liebezeit, Traditional
Performer (Dictaphone), Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Organ – Holger Czukay

Holger Czukay ‎– Rome Remains Rome And Excerpts From Der Osten Ist Rot (1987)

Style: Krautrock, Experimental
Format: CD
Label: Virgin, Virgin Japan

Rome Remains Rome
01.   Hey Baba Rebop
02.   Blessed Easter
03.   Sudetenland
04.   Hit Hit Flop Flop
05.   Perfect World
06.   Music In The Air

Der Osten Ist Rot
07.   Der Osten Ist Rot (The East Is Red)
08.   Das Massenmedium
09.   The Photo Song
10.   Rhonrad
11.   Michy
12.   Esperanto Socialiste
13.   Traum Mal Wieder

Credits:
Drums, Trumpet, Piano – Jaki Liebezeit
Guitar – Michael Karoli
Guitar, Piano – Olli Marland
Harmonium, Organ – Jaki Liebezeit
Percussion – Jaki Liebezeit
Performer (Telephone, News) – Gandhi
Sampler– Conny Plank
Recorded By, Guitar, Vocals, Organ – Holger Czukay
Vocals – Sheldon (Kelly) Ancel
Vocals, Bass – Jah Wobbl
Vocals, Organ – Michy
Producer, Bass (Abs-bass), French Horn, Synthesizer, Electronics – Holger Czukay
Recorded By – René Tinner

Holger Czukay ‎– Rome Remains Rome (1987)

Style: Electro, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Virgin, P-Vine Records, Grönland Records

Tracklist:
1.   Hey Baba Reebop
2.   Blessed Easter
3.   Sudetenland
4.   Hit Hit Flop Flop
5.   Perfect World
6.   Music In The Air

Credits:
Drums, Trumpet, Piano, Percussion – Jaki Liebezeit
Guitar – Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli
Guitar, Piano – Olli Marland
Vocals – Sheldon (Kelly) Ancel
Vocals, Bass – Jah Wobble
Organ, Electric Bass, French Horn, Synthesizer, Electronics – Holger Czukay
Producer  – Holger Czukay

Ursula Bogner ‎– Recordings 1969-1988 (2008)

Style: Experimental, Abstract
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Faitiche

Tracklist
01.   Begleitung Für Tuba
02.   Inversion
03.   Proto
04.   Metazoon
05.   Momentaufnahme
06.   2 Ton
07.   Speichen
08.   Modes
09.   Atmosphäre 1
10.   Punkte
11.   Expansion
12.   Für Ulrich
13.   Pulsation
14.   Testlauf
15.   Soloresonanzen

Credits:
Music By – Ursula Bogner
Liner Notes – Jan Jelinek
Mastered By – Kassian Troyer

According to German electronic musician Jan Jelinek, the homemade recordings of the late Ursula Bogner might never have been heard outside her immediate family had Jelinek not discovered them through a random encounter with Bogner's son. I say "according to" because rumors that Bogner's story is a hoax-- a cover for music Jelinek made himself-- have already circulated. Some cite the recordings' rather clean fidelity, odd for music purported to be this old and inexpensively produced; others claim to hear Jelenik's minimal style in Bogner's simple compositions. Then there's the fact that Recordings 1969-1988 is the first release on Jelinek's label, Faitiche-- a name the label's own website claims is a French/German hybrid meaning "factish," or "a combination of facts and fetishes [that] makes it obvious that the two have a common element of fabrication." 
Barring any denials or confirmations from Jelinek, that's probably all we'll ever know. His entertaining liner notes make Bogner's story seem plausible. Born in Germany in 1946, she became a pharmacist, wife, and mother by her early twenties, but still found spare time to study painting, printing, and electronic music. The latter interest led her to record her own synthesizer-based compositions on reel-to-reel tapes in a studio she built herself. Some songs survived intact, while others had to be assembled by Jelinek from individual, unmixed tracks. 
The truth of this tale is ultimately a minor concern, because as intriguing as the story is, the songs on Recordings 1969-1988 are much more interesting. Bogner's work fits squarely in the world of early electronic music-- the period from the late 1950s to the early 70s, when synthesizers were so new that using them to craft melodic songs and create abstract sound were both considered "experimental" pursuits. The king of this era was Raymond Scott, whose whimsical jazz was adopted for cartoon soundtracks, and whose electronic inventions resulted in radio commercials, Jim Henson film scores, and unique curios like Soothing Sounds for Baby, a series intended to help parents pacify their infants. Bogner's music bears much of Scott's playful spirit, finding common ground between nursery-rhyme simplicity and the absurd humor of abstract art. Some of these songs are practically direct Scott rip-offs, but you can also hear echoes of Scott contemporaries and descendants: the radio concoctions of Daphne Oram, the comic pop of Perry and Kingsley, the conceptual art of the Residents, even the post-rock repetition of Black Dice. 
Most of Recordings 1969-1988 sounds simultaneously like pop and art. Bogner's M.O. is to take a few simple loops-- rumbling bass, water-y plops, chirping squalls, laser-like blasts-- and overlap them, producing songs so sweet they'll make you laugh (the elephant-march opener "Begleitung für Tuba"), so repetitive they'll hypnotize you (the swinging "Inversion"), and so inventive they sound alien (the robotic "2 Ton"). At best, like on the jazzy "Punkte" and the cresting "Expansion", she crafts pulsing, organic melodies that burrow into memory like tree roots gripping the ground. 
I've often wondered why the music of Raymond Scott, as catchy as it could be, is frequently relegated to the status of odd curiosity or gear-geek niche. The same will certainly happen with Bogner, whoever she "really" was/is. And sure, the songs on Recordings 1969-1988 (as well as the included shot of her with big glasses and floppy bowl cut) have a tech-y, art-nerd sheen. But give these tunes time, and you may find yourself humming them randomly, much the way a 60s housewife might have unwittingly memorized Scott tunes via the background noise of his sneaky radio jingles.
Marc Masters / Pitchfork

Nuno Canavarro ‎– Plux Quba (1988)

Style: Abstract, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Ama Romanta

Tracklist:
01.   Untitled
02.   Alsee
03.   O Fundo Escuro De Alse
04.   Untitled
05.   Untitled
06.   Untitled
07.   Untitled
08.   Wask
09.   Untitled
10.   Wolfie
11.   Crimine
12.   Bruma
13.   Untitled
14.   Cave
15.   Untitled

Credits:
Composed By – Nuno Canavarro
Instruments – Nuno Canavarro
Remastered By – Rafael Toral

There’s something perfect about our imperfect minds. Most of the thoughts we think are the best, most of the time, aren’t the product of an instant occurrence. I’d say the best ideas truly come from a combination of luck/accident plus human intuition. Sometimes we may not know that our answer, or thought, is correct, but we feel it must be. That must be some of the explanation behind the timeless experimental album Plux Quba – Música Para 70 Serpentes by Portuguese musician Nuno Canavarro. Before Glitch was even a thing, Nuno, in his own way, was discovering that some of the best musical ideas could be created by looking for those bits of accidental imperfection. 
Not much is known about Nuno on our side of the world. We do have an apocryphal story. In 1991, American musician, Jim O’Rourke, traveling by train through Köln, Germany sits in on a listening session where someone takes out a copy of an obscure Portuguese music album. For the next 30-odd minutes everyone listening to the album are just floored by it, unable to piece together how someone could have released something like this, in that frame of time. Years pass – seven to be exact – and finally Jim’s able to secure the rights to reissue the recording. Only 500 or so copies are printed on his own Mokai label, and of the few who get a second chance to listen to this record, once again all of them were left floored by what they hear coming out of that piece of wax. In 2015, once again another label, Drag City, saw fit to reissue the record in a drastically small run which is now out of print. Much like the album itself, it’s existence had this vaporous quality. 
The music of Plux Quba is hard to describe. Gentle, tender, joyful, ghostly, and intriguing, it truly sounds like the gates of heaven opening up to the first sentient humanoid robot trying to process all this illogical oneness. It’s the sound of us trying to comprehend our technology through the technology we in fact birthed. On the record, sampled sound mixes with real and conjured up instrumentation. You also hear real voices slice, transform, and mutate through barely controlled aural prisms; in the end, everything combining into this emotional feeling more appropriate for our disjointed technological time than the pre-internet world that birthed Nuno’s Plux Quba. More songs are left untitled, than titled, as if seeming to allow the listener to fill in the rest of the musical picture. It’s ridiculous to sound colonial over this, but as much as we want to think our modern world holds the keys to human abstraction, someone has already been there before. Our goal, of course, should always be to try to find new blanks to fill in, once one is filled. I’ll share with you just a bit of new history that’s been filled in this year, concerning Plux Quba.
Diego Olivas / Fond/Sound