Dominic Valvona’s Albums Revue For November
Unless stated otherwise all releases are now available to buy

Edrix Puzzle ‘Coming Of The Moon Dogs’
(On The Corner Records)

Looping string theory jazz particles to a rocket ship bound for a deep space cosmology of titan referenced stellar sets, the Nathan “Tugg” Curan led Edrix Puzzle ensemble find a musical freedom amongst the stars of an alien concept world on their newest trip, the Coming Of The Moon Dogs.

Reimaging Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi transferred to the made-up body-locking Afro and futurist jazz planet of Battagon, Curan and his astro crew of Martin Slattery (on bass guitar, clarinet and saxophone duties), Tom Mason (double-bass), Oli Savill (percussion) and Darren Berry (violin) zip and zap across a lunar environment overseen by a galactic vision of mythology’s Gia and Uranus and some of their kin: Rhea, Dione, Hyperion and Phobe.

Amongst the analog calculus, signals and bleeps an equally elastic and moon-bound tripping transformation of the Art Ensemble of Chicago vibe takes shape on an imaginative off world. It’s a world in which Afrikan Sciences break bread with King Crimson; where Soweto Kinch reassembles the late Pharaoh’s astral projections. Within that science fiction the troupe balance totally untethered chaos with breakbeats and a certain swing.

David Ornate Cherry’s organic water bowl percussion joins a celestial voodoo march on the old country resonated Art Ensemble fiddled ‘Deep In Dione’, whilst Matthew “Doc” Dunn and Andy Haas slink and waft the vapoured murk of the living, breathing ‘V11’ coded suite.

Tracks like the time changing spin around the Van Allen Belt ‘Unhuman Hyperion’ verge on hip-hop. But it’s the imbued spirit of Herb, his peers and acolytes in the space, progressive jazz field that permeate this alchemist exploration of far out atmospheres. In a constant motion throughout with the energy released in all directions, and on all planes, Coming Of The moon Dogs is an incredible survey of quickened and more floated, waning galactic jazz evocations. A solid piece of art, lit by a remote chemistry and performed with assured but always probing musicianship. Rather an escape to the planet of the breaks than an escape from it, sci-fi jazz meets the experimental, spiritual and progressive in a visceral explosion of ideas, vibes and grooves.        

Surya Botofasina ‘Everyone’s Children’
(Spiritmuse Records)

An acolyte of Alice Coltrane’s devotional embrace of Eastern spiritualism, imbued by that sagacious innovating jazz seer’s afflatus music and teachings, the keyboardist, composer and actor of some repute (from parts in Vinyl and Broadwalk Empire) Surya Botofasina bathes in his mentor’s light on this debut opus.

With the meditative, motored ascending arcs of Om Rama and such threaded throughout, Botofasina and friends set out on an astral and naturally felt work of spiritual jazz, trance, new age and ambient transcendence.

Our guide on this album of worship, remembrance and healing grew up at the Sai Anantam Ashram in the Southern Californian hills, where Coltrane led the daily bhajans, the traditional Hindu songs of praise and paean. His mother, Radha, was a disciple before him of this idyllic retreat’s guardian, a notable harpist but also pianist and vocalist herself and a one-time member of the American string band, The Spirits Of Rhythm. With such an enviable musical lineage and influence it’s no wonder that Botofasina would go on to become the Ashram’s music director and to internationally spread the word of this particular devotional form.

Encompassing all that reverence on his first fully realized album, Botofasina, aided by a cross-generational cast of guests, seeks to calmly honour but also demonstrate that faith. As a album to these enraged, divisive times, Everyone’s Children – with everything that album title’s metaphors, allusions, analogy entail – perseveres in the face of turbulence; softening and weakening the choppy waters in a blessed light of disarming but deeply felt warm suffused elevation.

With a both sentimental and yearning new age language of utterances from the Los Angles jazz singer stalwart Dwight Trible and fellow Californian indie folk vocalist Mia Doi Todd welling up and adding a certain wailed gravity, these divine acts of veneration ascend at a peaceable pace. The opening beachside temple suite running to over twenty-seven minutes as it shimmers and glistens with dappled electric piano, a serene air of the holy and washes of ambient synth.

Although often soothing with lightened touches of astral plane jazz and soul music, Botofasina’s piano occasionally stirs up outpourings of louder and harder pressed expressive emotions and serenades – as on the semi-classical and 60s jazz riptide evoked ‘I Love Dew, Sophie’

Accentuating these spells of keyboard cascades, lit-up bulb like notes and rays the Canadian jazz drummer Efa Etoroma Jnr. adds splashes and tumbles, and the New York saxophonist Pablo Calogero wafts in with a suitable longing embrace. And overseeing it all is the Californian polymath (from noted producer to radio host, poet, percussionist and performer) Carlos Niño, who resembles a counter-culture 70s Carl Wilson chic. Together on this swami dedicated odyssey they border the heavenly as successful inheritors of Alice Coltrane’s devotional magic. As a debut album it’s a grand statement of spiritualism, nature and peacefully ascendant jazz; an escape from the material world.

Etceteral ‘Rhizome’
(tak:til/Glitterbeat Records) 11th November 2022

In what is a different, unique fashion, the Slovenian trio’s musical pairing of Boštjan Simon and Marek Fakuč (in part) react to their bandmate Lina Rica’s visual stimulus to create a cosmic electronic-jazz album of interlaced networks, connectivity and environmental crisis alarm. 

Joining their fellow Slovenian compatriots, the dream-realism Širom, at Glitterbeat’s explorative, fourth world imbued instrumental sister imprint tak:til, the kosmische and organically freeform Etceteral base their new, mostly improvised album on the concept of its title, Rhizome: A continually growing horizontal underground stem, which puts out lateral shoots and adventitious roots at intervals; a non-linear network that connects any point to any other point.  

With that theme, process in mind the trio reflect back a constant motion of soundscaping, rhythm and probing; balancing, at times, contemporary jazz with computer calculus, data, signals and metallic polygon shaped electronica. Yet, whilst Simon’s saxophone often drifts off into space, and his electronic effects, undulations more than hint at gravity-free zones in the cosmos, tracks such as the rolling, bounced and techno purred ‘Rome Burns’ allude to climate change and the extreme wildfires that engulfed much of Europe this year. It’s a great piece of flexible jazz that fuses Donny McCaslin and Go Go Penguin with Basic Channel to reflect an environmental angst of doom – fiddling with your suv sat nav whilst Rome burns to a cinder.

The rest of this interconnected, visual reactive album of performances and electronic augmented pulses and fusions goes through varying degrees of warping and reverberating transference. A jazz foundation is guided through a mirrored and computerised apparatus, which evokes shades of Squarepusher, Anteloper, Alfa Mist, Pyrolator and (rather handle as they share this column this month) Edrix Puzzle. Familiar echoes of rasped, cyclonic and honked sax, drum breaks and splashes receive an outer space production. Fakuč’s drums actually go into slow motion on the chrome soundscape ‘Dunno’. Etceteral turn it on and out on their improvised odyssey and contortion of activism.  And yet the rhythms often driven, progressive and on occasion buoyant or bobbing, make this a most unique sort of an electronic dance album, despite its avant-garde, free and cosmic jazz foundations. 

Karu ‘An Imaginary Journey’
(Beat Machine Music) 18th November 2022

Lost in the Karu alias of mystical, atavistic mining and reimagined absorptions and traverses, the Italian double-bassist and producer Alberto Brutti’s collaborative project transforms, transmogrifies a fertile polygenesis palette of rituals and dances and ethnography to produce a contemporary affected album of Afro-Futurism, jazz and primitivism.

Wrapped up into a musical journey across both familiar and more ambiguous, vague cultural landscapes, Brutti creates suggestive atmospheres and ceremonies; many of which are conjured from title references to old worlds, religious and mythological etymology. In that wide field of influences, inspirations there’s the Abrabic “kalam”, which can roughly be used to mean “speech”, “word” or “utterances” pertaining to the Islamic faith, but was also the catchall term to define that religion’s tenants of faith in the face of the philosophical doubters; the antiquity Hattian empire festival “purulli”, held at the Bronze Age settlement of Nerik, dedicated to the earth goddess Hannahanna (which may well be the source of the Biblical “hosanna”); the West Slavic (otherwise known as Lechites) tribal name for the chthonian god “Nyia”; and the ancient Greek word for “breath”, or in the religious context, “spirit” or “soul”, “pneuma”. 

The first of that quartet lends itself to the album’s opening peregrination of African drums, Blacks’ Myth and cut-up Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell jazz renderings, reversals, abrasive industrial resonated sounds, Širom type otherworldly primitivism and stick choppy rhythms. Following in its wake there’s signs of Andy Haas, the esoteric, elephant trunk raising horns and the no wave sound of Mars and Milk TV. The latter title of that same quartet of wordy mentions signals a move further East, with again, vague notions of the Indian, Baul but also a soundtrack of downtempo breaks (ala Alfa Mist and J Dilla) and the hallucinogenic trance of Fursaxa (if remixed by Clap! Clap!).

‘Spear Of Leaves’ however, rearranges the bedeviled Faustus pact blues and dialogue of Robert Johnson on a palanquin caravan lumber across vapours of snorkeled saxophone.  The final dream sequence on this imaginary travelogue drifts into a hollowed-out cane spun and fluted rainforest wash; ending on a more laidback piece of South American flavoured geography and waning jazz.

Between the haunted illusionary and mysterious, a removed time-travelling worldly plane emerges. Herbs, Roberto Musci, Amorphous Androgynous and Drexciya converge somewhere in the middle of the underworld and elevated.   

The Dark Jazz Project ‘S-T’
(Irregular Frequencies) 14th November 2022

Making good on this summer’s three-track introductory EP, Andrew Spackman now unleashes a whole album of his latest regeneration creation, The Dark Jazz Project, on an unsuspecting audience.

The singular maverick electronic and art-house boffin recently hung-up his SAD MAN alias (after a splurge of numerous releases over the last five years) to crunch the codes of jazzcore.

‘100% political, 100% jazz, 100% dark’ we’re told, this latest platform for Andrew’s often sporadic leaps in electronic music and crushing techno filament cut-ups is about as removed from that jazz tag as you can get. The fact he’s also borrowed Sun Ra’s ‘Space Is The Place’ mantra too only feeds into the confusion. Any semblance to jazz is lost under a heavy tubular and granular transmogrification of the ominous, mysterious and, well, dark.

For this is the alien, sci-fi broken and fed through the Aphex Twin, Basic Channel, Radium, Rob Hood, Jeff Mills and Niereich & Shadym machine. Although the album’s opening hardline, dialed-in and pummeled beat gabbling Sun Ra lend sounds like Holly Herndon being thrown into the Hadron Collider, and Madlib seems to get trampled over, detuned and dissimulated on the bladed, driven and compressed frequency lunar ‘No Input’.

Andrews full gamut of skills, sonic palette comes to bear, as touches of primal, and even paradise moulding scores are set against more dissonant and chrome coated beats. Pins rain down on pulsating graphite spiky landscapes and imaginative darkly lit techno blocks of scrunched giant, weighted noise. A mirage or a topographic ocean; Olympus Mons or scorched earth, it all sounds a million miles away from even the most edgy and freeform ideals of jazz: not a saxophone in sight.

The Dark Jazz Project is yet another challenging move from one of the UK’s most inventive, inspired and, crucially, interesting leftfield electronic and techno composers of the last decade.    

Yemrot ‘The Sunken Garden’
(PRAH Recordings)

Who wouldn’t when faced with the despair of the modern world and in processing the deep loss of a parent want to take a giant leap into escapism and the fantastical? Looking into one such yearning chasm the Margate-based musician Jimi Tormey, acting under the alias of both Yemrot and the character Dill Dandin, finds solace in a neverworld of the dreamy and plaintive: a creeping sadness to be exact.

Unfortunately, in part, triggered by the death of his father (the gorgeous, welling-up and heavenly ached ‘Big Tree’ being the most obvious eulogy to that passing) The Sunken Garden is a both heartfelt and also psychedelic process of grief and some drama.

That process is, at times, a family affair with his mother Lisa providing the majority of emotive violin/viola, and his brother Eric offering harmonies alongside their sister Tuli, but also mixing and mastering the whole mini album. The results are achingly beautiful, yet there’s a constant deep feeling and vapour of unease, despondency and shadowy despair that swells up or looms over the magical illusions.

Canterbury scene troubadours and Syd Barrett influences wind and delicately emerge from the heavier atmospheres of Alex Harvey, Daevid Allen, Soundgarden and Radiohead. The album’s centerpiece, ‘The Ballad Of Dill Dandin’, is an eleven-minute stretching instrumental of changing, moving parts and passages. From the Floydian to chimes of Mark Hollis an almost theatrical drama and shimmer of something magical and creates a starry aura. Dill floats and tumbles across a trio of “Learning To” affixed songs that balance the soft with the harsh, the cosmic with the mournful.  

Classical forms, the psychedelic, progressive and alternative all merge to form an interesting twisting journey of loss and acceptance; a working through of beautifully heart wrenching and articulated poetic expression. In the end I don’t think that sinkhole world is an escape route, but just a more imaginative coping strategy at dealing and conveying such miserable times. The masterful, gentle ‘Big Tree’ alone will move even the most numbed to tears, and deserves a place in any list of the best songs in 2022.

The Magic City Trio ‘Amerikana Arkana’
(Kailva) Late November 2022

Finally out the other side of the pandemic The Magic City Trio emerges with the second half of their originally conceived double album package of Americana, Country and Western scored songs from 2018. If part one was consumed with death, bad luck and mental health, part two is concentrated on the themes of serenaded, romantic affairs, with disarming little tales, alms, hymns and barn dances dedicated to both unrequited and strained relationships and knockabout love.

As with the previous album, a familiar soundtrack and language, lyricism is used to convey the contemporary: something of the moment. The bell tolls and tremolo rattle snake sets of Ennio Morricone and untold Western themes rub up against Nashville, the Carter Family, Lee Hazelwood, Mariachi brass, Willie Nelson and the psalms songs of America’s Methodist Church, yet this is an unmistakably modern record. Timeless feelings, subjects nonetheless, but with a slight updated twist. 

An extended guest list joins the band’s principles, the June BridesFrank Sweeney and Annie And The AeroplanesAnnie Holder. Most notably the Nashville virtuoso John Heinrich, who lends that irresistible steel pedal quiver and upward bend to the Sweetheart Of The Rodeo if covered by Teenage Fanclub, with Orbison and The Carters in tow, ‘Our Life In Chains’, and the Red Rhodes-esque accompanied Gram and Bonnie Raitt in heartache duet ‘She Left Without A Warning’. “Record breaking” (for what I’m not sure) banjo player Johnny Button meanwhile adds his Appalachian hoedown spring to ‘The Final Day On Earth’ tale of woe and alarm. Also on that same lamentable group effort, Primal Scream’s Andrew Innes offers up bird sounds, flutes and mellotron. He’s back, playing both electric and acoustic guitars, on the Muscle Shoals Stones like, touching ‘You’re My Best Friend’ – which actually could be a Primal Scream attempt to once more ape the Stones’ spiritual washed-up tides.

Frank, when not carrying a tone and timbre that evokes both Richard Hawley and Mick Harvey, and Annie, vocally a mix of Kirsty MacColl and a rustic Marianne Faithfull, share an array of twanged, bowed and stirring and washboard scratched instruments with Jeff Mead, Matt Lloyd, Larry Saltzman, Dave Howell and others: a full panoply of the country sound.

Amongst the self-penned declarations, hungdog lovelorn regrets and outlaws-on-the-run sense of rebellious romance, the band cover the theme from the archetypal thrown-together-in-desperate-circumstances Western ‘3:10 To Yuma’ (great movie, both the original and remake) and the Wesleyan Methodist church hymn, ‘And Am I Born To Die’. The first of which, originally penned by Frankie Laine, keeps a sense of the matinee drama and atmosphere but now sounds a bit like later Crime And The City Solution bounded together with Scott Walker (At The Movies) on a heavenly aria touched dusty trail. The latter, is every bit as reverent and elegiac, conjuring up the “trembling spirit” and quivering to the sounds of timpani and the bells of judgment. It did remind me however of Rick Danko; more lovely than stoic serious damnation.

Amerikana Arkina once more sets the mood, a complimentary partner to their more moody, plaintive 2018 songbook. Souls are bared; heartache delivered with a cinematic panache, and the Americana cannon once more successfully invoked. 

Leverton Fox ‘In The Flicker’
(Not Applicable)

The gentle breeze rustling through the leaves and the sound of bracken and broken sticks underfoot in a less circumspect Sussex woodland has seldom sounded more alien, inter-dimensional and mysterious. Yet the Leverton Fox trio of Alex Bonney, Tim Giles and Isambard Khroustaliov has transmogrified the environment/atmosphere of their site-specific improvisation to beam out towards altogether more imaginative realms.

Intensified, if that’s the word, the trio of noted musicians/composers/artists in their own right attempt to sonically sculpt a 3D world with the added use of Dolby Atmos, a ‘surround’ format. Immersive being the key word, they draw the listener into lost worlds, primal soups and a more eerie lunar looming, time-travelling spheres.

Širom set-up in the undergrowth with Miles Davis at his most transient and wafting, Autechre, Tangerine Dream and Jon Hassell as ghostly traces of hidden sources merge with various aerial squiggles, zip-lines, machine purrs, occult sounds beamed from the Fortean Times transmitter, whipped up winds, clapped beats, crackles, raps, propeller and exotic sounding wildlife. A fully improvised soundscape that crosses mystical terra firma and unearthly corridors, In The Flicker takes in the most far-out, minimalist touches of jazz, electronica, dub, the dark arts, industrial, kosmische and Foley to create a certain mystique. The Leverton Fox(es) skilfully, intuitively explore and push a concept, conjuring up portals to more abstract planes; the familiar woodland site a mere jumping point for misty and bubbling invocations of an entirely different nature. 

Dead Horses ‘Sunny Days’
(Maple Death Records) 14th November 2022

Jangling to a soft-stomping flange-induced country, rock ‘n’ roll bluesy acid dirge the Dead Horses esoteric sense of despair rings loud with slackened melodrama and scuzzy, dirty wiles. Whether it’s uprooting Spaghetti Western sets or up amongst the Andean condor nests looking down on the Nazca Lines, or, wading through swamps and thumbing a bum ride to a less idealized Laurel Canyon, the shared male/female vocal Italian group add a chthonian mystique and a touch of the Gothic to their brand of wrangled malcontent and doomed romantic aloofness. 

A fair share of the new album, Sunny Days (released on the always intriguing and quality-delivered Maple Death Records label), rattles, spooks and melodically inhabits a reverberated atmosphere of Appalachian mountain songs and both languid and more heightened hysterics. A rewired Grace Slick, early Bad Seeds, Gun Club, Wall Of Voodoo and ‘Up The Hill Backwards’ Bowie flail about The Blood Meridian on the album’s opening song, ‘Can’t Talk, Can’t Sleep’, and Bosco DelRey mixes it up with the Velvets, Rey Crayola on ‘Hobo Talks’. The more mournful ‘The Cross’ has both an hallucinatory and The Kills vibe about it.

One of the standout songs however, takes a different direction. ‘Macabro’ still has that acid-folk country kick but also summons up a Latin drama, with a stirring vocal performance and Italo-Iberian stamp of bolero. Apparently this is the band’s first ever song in their native Italian tongue, and it’s all the better for it: more mysterious and hot-bloodily intense. No wonder it has become a sort of live anthem for the band.

It’s a long stretch from the Po Valley of antiquity to the Death Valley of inspired, mirage shimmered Western blues, but the Dead Horses as our guides navigate it with a flourish and macabre curiosity. If Crime And The City Solution buddying up with Aguaturbia and The Vaselines sounds like a desirable description then the rather ironically entitled Sunny Days stunt ‘n’ stomper is for you.

Biensüre ‘S-T’
(WEWANTSOUNDS)

Bringing together a mixed Mediterranean and Middle Eastern diaspora of musicians with a collective sense of belonging and yearn for their homelands, Biensüre transduces various cultural threads into a sophisticated and cool production of electro-pop, disco and sorrow.

Crossing paths in the cosmopolitan port city of Marseille, a refuge for centuries of émigrés and exiles, the group’s ranks include Kurdish, Turkish, Italian and Armenian lineages: The latter as a consequence of the early 20th century genocide. Within that gathering of cultural affiliations, and using the repurposed French expression for “of course”, Biensüre rally around the experiences of their poetically and longing yearned vocalist and saz player Haken Toprak. By the sounds of it that includes not just pining aches for his Kurdish-Turkish roots but declarations of unattainable love and serenaded exotic fantasies.

Already well into a contemporary revival of Anatolian and Middle Eastern synthesized pop, electro and disco (see groups such as Altin Gün and the Şatellites) Biensüre evoke such original trailblazers and icons as Erin Koray, Baris Manco, Moğollar and Kamuran Akkur. They augment those influences with subtle hints of Moroder, Vangelis, a throb of EDM and an unlikely bit of Nu Shooz on the drum-pad sizzled new waver Çawa’.  

Electrified misty veils hug the dancefloor, seductive movers are made, and swooned wanton vocals ache for what’s been lost on a unhurried smooth production that is simultaneously Turkish, Kurdish, Greek and Arabian in nature.  

As funky as it is clean and lush, the Biensüre LP soaks up the great Marseille exile community and comes up with the goods. Breathlessly groovy yet casting back to the language (‘Zivistan’ the Northern-Kurdish word for “winter”) and memories of their ancestral homes, a nice balance is struck emotionally and musically between the modern and tradition. In all, a great pop record of Med flavours, with a soul and purpose.

Trans Zimmer & The DJs ‘S-T’
(Artetetra)

Launched into the most bonkers MIDI sound collage of platform hopping video game music, Esperanto era Sakamoto experimentation, slacker American dialogue, kooky fantasy and cartoon classical movements, the collective Trans Zimmer & The DJs (surely a play on the notable German film composer Hans) reimagine a Ritalin-starved Wendy Carlos running amok on Candy Crush.

Within the walls of a Taito/Capcom 80s arcade a loony tunes of polyphonic pre-set symphonies and chaotic snatches of gameplay chat trample over the course of a most silly bubblegum opera. It’s Baroque on speed; the Flaming Lips colouring in classical music scores; a grand misadventure of super hyped-up fanfares and cute vocoder J-Pop, hip-hop, electronica and lemon meringue pie snacks. Even aboard the S.S. Romulus the waters are choppy, tossing us around in a strange voyage of cult library music and late 90s American psych. I haven’t a clue what’s going on: not that it matters. The whole manic, yet always melodious and fun, experience seemingly a run through of the kitsch, crazy, miss-matched playful minds of those who created it. Skidding and scrabbling on a quest inside a 32-bit fantasy, Zimmer and friends level up across a most confusing, colourful whistle and skipped aural sinfonietta.   

FOR THE FUNS

Casta ‘The Temple Of Doom’
(Bandcamp)

I suppose it was inevitable that at some point someone from the extensive late metal face villain and underground hip-hop genius MF Doom fandom would play on the Indiana Jones franchise – Indy literally escaping death in an airplane crush only to fall into the clutches of the Thuggee cult. I even named my playlist homage to the former Kausing Much Damage founder and prolific name riffing soloist, collaborator after the second Jones cinematic adventure myself. And I’m not alone on that score.

Released a year to the day of Daniel Dumile nee DOOM, Viktor Vaughn, Zev Love X’s death, the enterprising Portland producer Casta has merged the score from the Temple Of Doom with both samples and interview snippets from the MF Doom cannon: though it could have done with more Short Round quips in the mix.

In the spirit of such hip-hop mashups, with even Doom himself not adverse to sampling some cult, obscure and leftfield scores, Casta has some fun in paying tribute to a much-missed artist. From the Monsta Island Czars all-stars team-up to his work with a new breed of rap stars, such as Bishop Nehru, he leaves behind one of the greatest legacies in Hip-Hop: though his influence, creativeness, wordplay, pop culture, visuals and artwork reaches far beyond rap music, as this project proves.

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

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Dominic Valvona’s ALBUM Reviews Roundup

Various ‘Pierre Barouh And The Saravah Sound: Jazz, Samba And Other Hallucinatory Grooves’
(WEWANTSOUNDS) 22nd July 2022

The story of Saravah Records in sixteen showcase tracks, this latest well-planned compilation from the vinyl specialists WEWANTSOUNDS (more or less a regular in this column over the past few years), in conjunction with the label’s guardian/historian Benjamin Barouh, builds a tale of cinematic, progressive, jazz accompanied escapism and exploration.

A haven for the founder Pierre Barouh’s love of Latin American and African grooves, the Parisian imprint, which triggered of a fecund of inspired, imbued or tempted jazz-rich artists, enjoyed a ten-year period in the sun; releasing records from a myriad of cult genuine one-offs, never to be repeated team-ups and journeymen and women between the mid 60s and 70s.

A fair share of that roster arrived from the stage and screen. Pierre, via his more musical talents, not only contributed lyrics and singing to Francis Lai’s score but also starred in Claude Lelouch’s feted A Man And A Woman. From this connection he was able to rub shoulders with a host of hot French new talent, including the legendary Brigitte Fontaine, Jacques Higelin and Béatrice Arnac. Fontaine, who’s been performing and making radical music for near on eighty years, has pretty much, occupied every square inch of the avant-garde. A novelist, poet, musician and of course actress polymath, she infamously performed and recorded with her equally renowned partner, the Berber-descended singer, multi-instrumentalist, comedian and composer Areski Belkacem.

Fontaine appears twice on this vinyl compilation, whilst Areski just the once. Of her two cuts there’s the inclusion of ‘Comme À La Radio’, taken from the eponymously entitled ’69 LP she recorded for Saravah. It features, unbelievably, the freeform jazz envelope-pushers The Art Ensemble Of Chicago, who appear to have hung around long enough to become an unofficial house-band, providing a barely contained avant-garde explosion to at least three of the artists on this collection. They traverse an organic Don Cherry mood; a simmered woodwind and soothed Afrocentric be-bop meander to Fontaine’s arty chanson cooed and spoken word vocals.

Completely in a different vogue, Fontaine’s ‘Cet Enfant Que Je Távais’ duet with the French pop-actor star turn radical activist Jacques Higelin, is a romantically serenaded affair-of-the-heart. Quite dreamy, without a care in the world, almost sympathetic, it does however show signs of ore existential aloofness. Higelin precedes this inclusion with the more jazzy, eastern psych limbering ‘Je Jovais Le Piano’. Hawk and untethered sax meets a semblance of the exotic and a R&B like flavour of guitar on this both sung and expressively descriptive cut from his hippie days. (Nothing to do with the album or choice of his tracks, but as a trivial bonus it was Higelin’s French-Vietnamese girlfriend, Kuelan Nguyen, who was chatted up by Iggy Pop – she brushed him off of course. This in turn inspired David Bowie’s own, if geographically wrong-footed, ‘China Girl’.) A big star with a legacy to prove it, Higelin’s music for Saravah proved experimental and beautifully executed.

Back to those other Art Ensemble-backed inclusions I mentioned a paragraph or two back. The compilation opener ‘Mystifying Mama’ finds the exploratory jazz doyens polishing off Muscle Shoals R&B with some Chicago soul-jazz. The ‘mysterious’ Marva Broome fronts this clavichord rich blast of horn-heralded funk. Later on they back the French-African actor Alfred Panou (notably in Jean-Luc Goddard’s ensemble) on his jungle-beat polemic freestyle rumble ‘Je Suis Un Sauvage’. Literally rolling in from the pub on a promise, with the Chicago troupe already set-up from a previous recording, Panou struts and trills his grievances to an elephant bellow of brass and swaying West African grooves. Fellow African traveller, the Gabonese artist Pierre Akendenge, released two albums for the label in the 70s. Arriving at the end of Saravah’s tenure, a cut from his ’76 LP Africa Obota appears now on this four-sided vinyl revue. ‘Orema Ka Ka Ka’ is an Afro-Cuban, with a South African and Congo lilt, fusion of spiritual warm 70s soul; a delightful, almost swaddled oasis of relaxed roots that represents another side to the Saravah Records story.

Back in the jazz mode there’s a number of tracks from the Paris label’s Piano Puzzle series of collaborations. Those with impressive, lengthy CVs need only apply, for this series featured such players as the keyboardist maestro Maurice Vander, who worked with such luminaries as Django Reinhardt and Chet Baker, and appeared in many sessions for the Fontana label. Here we’re treated to his folksy reminisce ‘Siciliene’, a subtle yearn for a picturesque if travailed slice of Southern Italy. We also have, from that same series, the French be-bop pianist – impressively playing with Miles Davis and Lester YoungRené Urtregar and his real cool Stax-like rolling ‘Tchac Poum Poum’, plus the pianist/organist and sideman to such notables as Dexter Gordon, Yusef Lateef and Manu Dibango, Georges Arvanitas, whose Coltrane-inspired, Savoy Jazz licked ‘Tane’s Call’ gets picked up for the compilation.

Aside from the jazz, briefly mentioned in the opening paragraph, another main driver of Pierre’s label was Latin America: especially Brazil. So taken with that exotic beauty, visiting in the late 50s, Pierre would return to Paris with his foil in such enterprises Baden Powell and record a version of the ‘Samba de Bêncão’ standard, renaming it ‘Samba Saravah’. He’d later make a special Rio music documentary with Powell, Maria Bethania, Paulinho da Viola and Pixinguinha. Although it doesn’t appear on this compilation, from that same Samba session in the mid 60s, this collection’s farewell ends on the rather less exotic and Latin storyteller romantic yearn ‘Saudade (Un Manque Habité)’. Still, more in the groove as it were, there is the inclusion of Michel Roques’ active samba swanning and tropicalia “soufflé” ‘Monsieur Chimpanzé’, which positively sails into the Rio harbor, blown by the increasingly hot-aired excitements of the vocalist and rattled percussion. Roques’ CV, in case you were wondering, includes a saxophone-fronted trio, a period on Fontana and one LP, Saravah Chorus, for (as the title would obviously indicate) Pierre’s label.

The reminder of this spread falls with the already mentioned fields of influence, genres; although the French actress, singer and composer Béatrice Arnac, with the jazzy cocktail come dramatically staged if lucid ‘Le Bruit Et Le Bruit’ slips into French Ye-Ye and new wave French cinema.

I’m pleased to be introduced to the likes of the relatively obscure Baroque Jazz Trio, E.D.F. and Cohelmee Ensemble; all three of which I will be trying to uncover and find out more about. But as an encapsulation of a period in independent French label history, this entire compilation is an illuminating, often dynamic, and always curious hotbed of actors, mavericks and jazz aficionados coming together to create an astonishing musical catalogue.

Various ‘Spirit of France’
(Spiritmuse Records) 8th July 2022

Another wisely considered release from the Spiritmuse jazz label, Spirit of France announces a new anthology style series of previously obscure ethnographical jazz peregrinations from a period of world music and new age exploration in the 70s and 80s.

Deliberating deeply on their catalogue the label in recent years has acted as a kind of promoter/custodian of the incredible healing prowess of Chicago jazz legend Kahil El’ Zabar (in his many set-ups) and also released spiritual imbued albums from David Ornate Cherry, Abdullah Sami and Mark de Clive Lowe and The Cosmic Vibrations. It’s at this point that I must declare I provided the liner notes to Kahil and his Quartet’s most recent album, A Time For Healing; going from fan to paid-up commission. But I’m donning my non-partisan critic’s hat for this latest compilation of rare experiments from the fringes of jazz, folk and psych.

Chosen by the label’s own Mark Gallagher and Theo Ioannou with the help of French crate-digger Tom Val, the inaugural collection’s standout inclusion is that of late genius Jef Gilson. Still, even after producing a litany of French greats and arguably the country’s leading explorative jazz guide, very much under-valued, Gilson somehow remains a cult figure. The Jazzman label went to great lengths to remedy that, with umpteen reissues, collections of his work. From furors into Malagasy culture to the concrete and freeform, Gilson’s legacy is both extraordinary and varied. Appearing on one such anthology showcase from years back, the changing compressed sulk and exotic swinging ‘Love Always’ now graces this compilation. Notable for featuring, amongst others, Byard ‘Dogtown’ Lancaster this concentrated lengthy flex moodily plows through Latin-American Bernstein, African facemask cubism and drunken motioned rolls.

A strong theme, suffusion of India and its neighbours’ runs throughout a number of other selected tracks; most obviously on the rather rare Adjenas Sidhar Khan’s album finale, ‘Mahabaratha Kali’ (taken from his Musique D’Adjenas LP that just scrapes into the 70s), but also with music by hurdy-gurdy man Rémy Couvez, the versatile Sylvain Kassap and short-lived Pân-Râ. The first of that quartet of artists casts a mini-meditative opus of brassy sitar, buoyant tablas and mantric “ahhhs”, but increasingly turns towards both hypnotising ritual and the psychedelic. “Vielle” maestro Couvez opens this collection with a ‘travel dream’ fluted aria churned transcendental traverse, in the fashion of Ariel Karma’s ‘Almora Sunrise’. From the more prolific Kassap and his 1983 LP Musiques Pour La Tortue Magique, with both the noted Jean-Michel Ponty and Pablo Cueco, there’s the Finis Africae, Jon Hassell and Eno-esque spiritual Southeast Asian jazz yin epic ‘Le Dessous Des Barges’ (“below the banks”).And, lastly, the Pân-Râ duo of Hungarian musician “Chobo” Casba Koncz and guitarist Michel Poiteau furnish the anthology with the acid-psych Eastern stirred and diaphanous apparitional voiced fantasy ‘Lorely’ – taken from the 1978 LP Music From Atlantis

To Arabia, the Middle East, the Aegean where sun worshipping and vernal equinox performances see the most obscure Dynamo evoke Agitation Free and a more congruous Soft Machine on a progressive jazz fusion in Arabia’s honour, and the guitarist/keyboardist André Fertier (under his Clivage group title) softly patters the spindly gilded strings and dulcimer-esque hammers on the krautrock-prog-jazz ‘Moving Waves’ – a touch of Lloyd Clifton Miller, Amon Düüi II and Embryo. 

Outside the areas of the mentioned geographical musicology, L’ Empire des Sons chosen track could be classed in the “primitive” mode; the octet’s ‘Quand Nos Pères Étaient Des Poissons’ a sort of jug poured Don Cherry-esque stripped and dusted reedy blown and bowed African invocation. The sibling and married conjunction of Parisian “musical revolutionaries”, as Finders Keepers called them (that crate-diggers label issuing a collection of their avant-garde futurism back in 2018), Structures Sonores Lasry-Baschot conjure up ambiguous Min Bul-like elasticated music that has a vague semblance of Japan (the country not the brooding synth doyens). 

Something very different indeed, cult favourite, the French-speaking Swiss singer-songwriter Catherine Derain talks, taunts, goads and wraps the listener around her finger on the dizzy avant-garde chanson and pop aloof ‘Les Crocodiles’. Of course certain arty cliques have already been evangelizing such outsider artists for a while, but I can’t say I’ve ever come across Derain in all my years of eclectic digging. So thank you for the Spiritmuse and Mr. Val.

You’d expect this to be a far more challenging, out-there compilation considering the inclusion of outsider artists, mavericks, yet the Spirit Of France is actually quite a transcendental, worldly collection of musical journeys, rituals and performances that take in jazz, pysch, prog and ethno-folk. You can hear just some of the seeds that were sown for future fusions, seamless border crossings. But rather than a note from history, an education this new anthology is filled with some cracking great music, very much alive. I look forward to hearing more of this series.

Nwando Ebizie ‘The Swan’
(Accidental Records) 22nd July 2022

After a number of feted singles from the Afro-futurist polymath Nwando Ebizie in 2021 a much-anticipated debut album extension of the British-Nigerian artist’s rich, lucid and multi-disciplinary cosmology is about to drop. The Swan arrives just in time for her invited curated The Black Fabulous weekender at the Southbank Centre this summer; part of a larger multi-event celebration of black arts and popular culture under The Black Fantastic season banner.

Scaled-up with room to fully develop a part dreamy, part yelped trauma of life experiences, the heavily-loaded Swan entitled journey seems to merge and weave Hellenic/Western deities with those of Africa and the Hispaniola. From out of the mouths of the black diaspora, largely uprooted and forced to comply with the rules of their colonial masters, Ebizie reclaims a fertile heritage to create an alternative pathway, life force and platform to unravel suppression and stigma.

Just one of the many rhythmic threads that runs throughout this highly percussive album, the latest single to be taken from The Swan, the Greek mythological woe that is ‘Myrrha’, features the Haitian Vodou Yanvalouu dance beat. Originally from the rich musical melting pot of Benin, this rhythmic supplication was performed as a welcoming ritual for the ancestors, with dancers working themselves into a trance. Any mention of Vodou and we’re into the dark arts stereotypes, but this atavistic rites, belief system grew into a resistance movement against slavery. Only in more recent times, even post-colonial, has this system and musical form escaped the chains of censorship, degradation and ignorance, with various artists drawn to its appeal, and various revitalisations. In this form, on this plaintive song of sufferance and metamorphosis (the fated poor Myrrha, mother of Adonis, turned into a tree for her incestuous relationship with her own father I believe), Ebizie channels it alongside contemporary soulful and even no wave sounds, dynamics.

Pumped, hollered when needs be, the album is a mostly fluid parade of Mardi Gras, modern Afro-beats, Afro-jazz (touch of Manu Dibango and some spiritual gazing from synth, saxophonist and co-producer Hugh Jones), post-punk and the bombarded beat production and excitement of M.I.A. and Santigold. Lamentable but diaphanous pains and yearns build up to shorter bursts of syllable whooping and near hyperventilating displays of expressive empowerment across a highly percussive balance of African elementals, spirits and the march of contemporary sonic forces. And that means an amorphous blurring of sources, as Lagos mixes it up with New Orleans, a black diaspora London with Port-Au-Prince.

Dreamy, hallucinogenic and magical yet feverish with protestation, Ebizie conjures up an equally bombastic and longing, quitter cosmology of her own making. Those waiting with bated breath for such a rich, stimulating tapestry won’t be disappointed. The Swan is a most deeply felt and multifaceted debut.          

Healing Force Project ‘Drifted Entities (Vol. 1)’
(Beat Machine Records)

Sent out reverberating into an infinite expanse, the spiritual contorted raps and strains of Albert Ayler’s Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe source material, the echoed dub washes of the On-U-Sound label and elements of Basic Channel, Luke Vibert, The Mosquitoes, Plug and Gescom drift towards the cosmos.

A continuously resonating ‘spiritual music mission’ the ghostly freefalling influences of jazz, dub, trip-hop, jungle, breakbeat and the strung-out move in layered circles that build-up an echo chamber of the otherworldly, space and at times the supernatural.

A decade in with the Healing Force Project moniker, Italian musician/producer Antonio Marini creates a universal soundtrack of ‘drifted entities’ that evoke transformed, stripped and lingered traces of both circular-breathing reeds, rim-shot and ricocheting drums, amorphous Eastern oboes and rumbling bass lines.

The vague sound of 80s soundtrack Miles Davis, Irreversible Entanglements and Black Dog circulate with short stubs and stunts of gospel style organ (threatening to open up the valves but falling short), wanes and a Lynchian atmosphere of the hallowed and esoteric gumshoe noir on the opening ‘Tiny Germs’ universal microcosm. Pulled By Magnets, Massive Attack and removed Jon Hassell prowl and linger on ‘Upbeat Damage’, whilst ‘Everything Is Frequency’ tunnels towards a hallucinogenic and skittle-skidded state.

There’s a jungle, or drum and bass beat on the shattering kosmische splash ‘Double Orbit’ and hinge-like trumpet gasped jazzy ‘Diorama Obscura’. When it comes it adds a new intensity and drive to the dissipation of resonated drifts – think Wagon Christ, or even Squarepusher meeting Binker And Moses in space. The ashes of a sonic harvest are scattered on the solar winds, those drifting entities set to resonate in a spooked and venerable cosmos well after the needle is lifted from the record, or curser comes down on a digital stop icon.       

Toni Tubna w/ the Stockholm Tuba Sect  ‘When The Magic Went Wrong’
(Gare du Nord) 29th July 2022

Another pseudonym for the Kentish and London estuary maverick Ian Button – he of the Gare du Nord label, session musician, producer and bandleader of Papernut Cambridge –, the fantasied anagram Toni Tubna guise is just the latest vehicle for his quintessentially English storytelling style of nostalgia.

Going the whole hog, Button has put together a multimedia package of songs, illustrations and, most importantly – the catalyst for this whole wheeze –, a book of short anecdotes from the life of a hapless, but spawny at times, cabaret magician on the English seaside circuit.

As with so many of his musical furors, the scent of nostalgia is heavy but fragrant. I don’t think it would be a criticism to suggest the puns, gags and wordplay resonates with those of a certain age – that includes me by the way. And so from the music hall to soft 70s rock, and from boarding house skits to saucy picture postcard humour the life of the likable, if always by the seat-of-his-pants, Toni Tubna regales his misadventures across ten mini-chapters.

What started as a correspondence between his band mates from another project entirely (The Catenary Wires) developed, riffing originally on a long-running joke/myth that some when in the fogs of time Button had worked as a magician.         

Now not only drawing in a myriad of brass and string players under the factitious Stockholm Tuba Sect moniker, but also the talents of Fay Hallem (contributing illustrations) and art historian, writing, lyricist collaborator Scott Thomas Buckle, the whole throwback ballooned into a sort of knockabout autobiography of a life un-lived, but conjured up as mere amusement.  

In a nutshell, each story, episode on the road to rack-and-ruin, with short bursts of the big time just out of his grasp, corresponds to one of the album’s songs. But in the true spirit of such concepted works we have a bookended intro and sort of curtain call finale reprise revue.

Our bearings, musical journey is mapped out on the opening ‘When The Magic Went Wrong’, a sort of continuation of Button’s 70s imbued Papernut house band with shades of a oompah brass band accompanied Mott The Hopple and David Essex. It also includes the first reveal of a lamented and repeated magical “disappearing” metaphor. The first actual gag, set-up is with ‘The Mayor Of Bridlington, whichintroduces us to a character straight out of a Carry On film, to the woozy dreamy longing tones of a enervated Beach Boys, Bad Finger and Bread – the long and short of it is a convoluted trapdoor joke that backfires on a jealous husband.

A “new assistant” serves as a sort of tug-of-love tale of woe, set to the strains of a faux-Tango and softened, concertinaed mirage of the Parisian Left Bank – the aromatic signatures of the amorous Dolores Mondo. A, rightly so, creepy vessel, ‘The Dummy’ tells the tale of Tubna’s fall from grace, suspended by the Magic Circle and forced to take a punt at ventriloquism: of which he’s utterly useless. A chance meeting with Barry – sound engineer to the Shaman (just credible and devoid of status as ring with the truth) and Howard Jones – and we’re suddenly thrust into the world of mediums before a major falling out that brings the house down. The music is part Alex Harvey, part The Kinks.

In a change from the Button-led songs of the first half of this album, the cursed ‘Talismano’ figurines story features a poetic, supernatural and creepy narration from Angela Loughran; unaccompanied except for an esoteric wind and dramatic touch of organ.

It’s artistic allusions that inspire both the Jeff Lynn, if he was into Britpop, ‘The Triennial’ and more wistful ‘The Painting’. The latter provides the cover illustration diorama of a lifted curse and the overall mists of time atmosphere for this book of British humoured yesteryear fun and mystery.

In what could be an episode straight out of Matt Berry’s Toast Of London there’s a shrinking “clash of minds” dual of egos with Tubna’s smug arch-nemesis Barrington Small that proves to be one of the album’s most mesmerist draws.

The Idle Race and Bonzos share the stage with Squeeze and Cockney Rebel on these magical shaggy dog tales made for a generation or two brought up on the idiosyncratic humour of an underwhelming cabaret act, episodes of Paul Daniel’s Magic Show and TV shows in the 80s (Bergerac for one). Fondly remembered, nostalgic pleasures prove fertile ground for vaguely reminiscent tunes and conceptual work of fun.

Anelli Beauchamp Cauduro  ‘Sometimes Someone Watches’
(CÆR)

Conjuring up all manner of occult and otherworldly mystery, the collaborative trio of Michele Anelli, Paul Beauchamp and Andrea Cauduro drag open the doors and portals to disturbing sonic voyeuristic realms.

Their latest series of improvised esoteric-laced, alien, often chthonian soundtracks for the Turin-based label of such curiosities, CÆR (a ‘dark psych branch’ of the underground zine collective Chierichetti Æditore) uses atonal guitar sculpting, field recordings, various textures and a surprisingly melodic sensibility that rises out of the motor and propeller generated industrial and cavernous atmospherics: those touches of the melodic not so much a reprieve from the unhurried hum and crackled drones as brief touch of humanity.

‘The last time the door was open’, as the first track is entitled, the mood was ominous and the soundtrack a mix of Jóhann Jóhannsson horror, kosmische music for the damned, distant bit-crushed quells and haunted cowboy tremolo; all of it channeled through the Fortean Times paranormal radio set. A bended spooked transmogrification of a lunar Western, dissonant swells emerge alongside echoes of Popol Vuh’s seagull-like twangs.

‘One Dwells There Within Who Talks To The Morning Mists’ sounds like a sagacious line from some mystic but once again lurks in the occult. Early Popol Vuh (them again), Kluster, Lucrecia Dalt and the avant-garde can be detected on this cosmic hell of slow-burning centrifugal magnetic forces, deep bassy drones, early analogue and dark material manifestations.   

‘A Sort Of Foreknowledge Of The Coming Series Of Events’ unfolds unrushed across a shadowy expanse in which planetary leviathans loom large. Like something from the 1970s crackling, brewing and rippling to early hints of Cluster (both albums I and II) and the Tangerine Dream, there’s a certain awe, a sense of those both unearthly and supernatural bodies in movement.

If you are already well versed with such occult experiments, maybe a Crow Versus Crow label regular, then both this label and trio collaboration are worth the immersive dread and time to devour.

The Dark Jazz Project ‘ST’
(Irregular Frequencies) 15th July 2022

A new regeneration is on the cards as the art-house electronic music maverick Andrew Spackman hangs up his longest running alias, the SAD MAN, and dons the ominous mantle of The Dark Jazz Project.

From the Duchampian-favoured Nimzo-Indian chess move moniker of a decade ago, and through various other guises including his own name, Andrew has been on a fidgety, restless progressive momentum; eking out a idiosyncratic pathway in the electronic music spectrum in the process. Pretty much obscure to the point that only the Monolith Cocktail would dare shout about this one-off talent, he’s come along way, and gained encouraging reviews and praise from an ever-larger cable of clique-y named publications and blogs: although only our opinion counts!

The SAD MAN has proven to be Andrew’s most prolific guise yet, with countless spasmodic, bewildering and madly engineered outpourings of techno and all its sub genre releases; culminating in that appellations most ambitious swan song, the Sad Stories multimedia collaboration with a number of music critics and fellow artists – though kindly asked to take part last year, time, personal crisis got in the way and I’m now pretty disappointed with myself for not contributing.

At the same time Andrew’s branched out both musically and art wise with moves into soundtracks and performances (see for example his score for Menilmontant).

A very busy man, but not too busy to once more reinvent himself with another project, in another form, along comes a taster of what’s to come. The inaugural preview release-style showcase of The Dark Jazz Project is a three-track affair of moody jarred spikes and alien landscapes. Like a moon-guided abstract fear; a ghostly voyage aboard a Kubrickian, Lovecraftian and Tarkovskyian space freighter this new vision scopes lunar caverns and the deep cosmos.

Plaintive and evocative strings stir up semi-classical filmic scores before galvanized ripples, shredded metallic components, gargled, burbled bestial signs of the Other emerge to conjure up all manner of galactic mystery, the paranormal and flippery. Detuned stars bend as bass-y dark matter merges with a Mogadon Jeff Mills and Phylps; a miserable Tangerine Dream out on the precipice. And that all happens within the perimeters of the first suite ‘The Forest’.

The second cosmic friction, ‘Eyes In The Trees’ features vague traces of hardcore and drum & bass; leaping into spasmodic action before summing up a sort of foreboding 2001: A Space Odyssey style symphony.

The “jazz” part of the name – albeit a transmogrified “jazzcore” and very removed version of John Zorn and his ilk – doesn’t really kick in until the final third section of ‘Fire Dance’: the EP’s finale as it were. A staccato breakbeat drum drills and twitches; rolls and bombards like a Wagon Christ (almighty) turn inside an epileptic triggering video arcade machine from the early 80s. It gets there however after first navigating passages of Warp Records’ Artificial Intelligence series, Autechre and Shepard Stevenson (yeah, there’s an obscure one for you).

More dark arts sci-fi cinema with bursts of generated techno and breaks than avant-garde noise jazz, Andrew’s latest incarnation is a welcome development. Wiser and without any limitations he’s, dare I say, taken his feet off the hadron collider accelerator for explorations with more depth and gravity.

A full album has been promised for later this year. Expect to see a review in a future revue.    

Delmore FX ‘Scompaio’
(Das Andere Selbst, Communion, Artetetra) 7th July 2022

Across three labels of various experimental peculiarities no less, the founder of one of those imprints (the limited tape numbered Das Andere Selbst) Elia Buletti unveils a unique, lopsided treatment of electroacoustic ethno-music. Under the Delmore FX alias the poet/artist creates a whole new avant-garde vision of West African music: at times almost in the realms of musique concète.

The jug-poured and twanged tines sounds of the kalimba and mbira, and bobbled woody bounce of the gourd-resonated balafon xylophone are transformed into a serial mirages, bended and beaded percussive suites. Carrying an essence of those original forms and evoking the West African scenery, the Scompaio album (a title that translates into the very existential “I disappear”) gives a tangible, thick and heavy metallic texture and more concertinaed lunar effect to the source instrumental patterns and rhythms. At times this amounts to (dripping) tap dances in the sink to the twitters and data roving calculus of a computer language.

Percussive bubbled bulbs, wind chimes stirrings, twinkles, tinkles and chinks both flow and get caught in gamelan-like garbles as trippy effects distort parped and skewered rhythms; that is until ‘Sailor’s Delight’ arrives with a beat that gets going in an elliptical fashion – like a ritual, seasick Aphex Twin and Prefuse 73.

Almost cartoonish in places with wild and more fun runs and dribbles, below the surface there’s a highly sophisticated skill in these layered, re-contextualized pieces that reconfigure, play with ethno musical sources. In the process a whole strange new sonic world of avant-garde experimentation, primitivism electronica and library music is opened up.

Runningonair ‘B.A.U.’
8th July 2022

With a semi-nostalgic arc of synthesized evocations, the four-decade spanning electronic composer Joe Evans traverses and electro glides through an array of tutorial sessions turn grand explorations, and perimeter-set exercises in minimal apparatus use.

By day, stuck in the monotony of an IT call centre, by night, both navel and stargazing; daring to dream of quantum leaps and the faraway prospects of travelling to the stars, Evans lets his imagination project across nine varied suites of mood music.

Under the Runningonair umbrella – a moniker that includes a label and Youtube channel of technical music lessons, music videos and Vlogs – a choice line-up of sound modules, software and synths is used to score and explore such themes as futurology, climate change and the human condition. B.A.U., which I take it is the acronym for “business as usual”, begins with one such crisis. ‘If Not Now’, with shades of Orbital, Vangelis and Jarre, moves from new age trance to melodious techno; ending up above the clouds with climbing harmonic notes that avoid, we’re told in the accompanying notes, the standard chords. With a heavy use of the ‘Air hybrid 3 synth’ this verbalized protestation has the climate emergency in its sights. An artificial female voice posits the rhetorical line on that one, but also appears later on the dreamy piano tinkled, airy and spacey swooned ‘As Far As You Can’. This is actually built-on a remix Evans made of a track by the artist Suborno; a transformation of that original project cast into an entirely different direction.

Out into the cosmos, the celestial-toned, aerial bending trance and techno ‘Lunar Lander’ features both adult and child-like promises of intergalactic progress. Mind you, after reading Michio Kaku’s wondrous The Future Of Humanity it looks like our poor enfeebled current forms won’t make the interstellar travel that’s needed, nor stand up to the conditions on those future planets we colonize – In all likelihood our consciousness will have to be uploaded to some distant avatar, purposely built on those distant stars by robots.

Elsewhere Evans is inspired by the classic synthwave catalyst score for the cult Hotline Miami computer game; tuning into the original game’s Russian mafia antagonists whilst alluding to some environmental disaster with an almost clandestine piece of broody EDM and dreamwave.

Whilst ‘showcasing’ the CZ1 synth, Evans musters up a quirks and quarks lunar spell of Vangelis (again) space hymn, X-Files paranormal activity and the original Air on the coded password-like ‘CeZ1um’. But the multiuse QY10 sound module and Alesis Microverb exercise of ‘Q4’ moves in a more cinematic mode of retro-futurism. In fact this whole album sent me back to a late 80s and early 90s period of electronic experiment – in a good way I might add. I found myself easing back, drifting but immersed on wave after wave of melodious, vapoured and synthesised EDM, techno, trance and electronic-classicism. Beyond just application, Evans transports us with his digital and analogue skills to new worlds.

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

Reviews
Dominic Valvona





Reaching a grand eightieth edition of my eclectic roundup, the Tickling My Fancy column continues to highlight the curious and recommended from across the globe. With no agenda, no demarcation of any kind, you can expect to find spiritual jazz alongside dream pop, space rock doom alongside desert blues.

My latest edition includes the long awaited new LP of timeless hushed reverence from Boa Morte, phobia-themed withering contorted progressive industrial jazz from the Russian band Rootea, the latest tactile album of dance music from the Shanghai Restoration Project, a new EP from the maverick lo fi dreamer Origami Repetika, the new aria space apocalypse augur of beauty and supernatural doom from Elizabeth Joan Kelly, and a double bill of cult excavations, the heavy metal prog Lucifer Was and more genteel short-lived soul-psych-folk-beat-group The Fox, from the Guerssen label hub.

Leading the charge though is the upcoming compilation of Somali funk, disco and Afro-Caribbean nuggets, Mogadisco, from Analog Africa.


Various ‘Mogadisco – Dancing Mogadishu (Somali 1972-1991)’

(Analog Africa) LP/ 13th December 2019



In the making since a security nightmare of a trip in 2016, Analog Africa’s chief instigator, Samy Ben Redjeb, finally releases a treasure trove of previously unreleased and passed-over nuggets from the vaults of Radio Mogadishu.

Researched and compiled on that same crate and archive-digging excursion, Analog Africa put out a celebratory compilation of the first two albums by Mogadishu’s legends-in-exile the Dur-Dur Band in 2018; the first bonafide release of the group’s tape cassette ‘volume’ albums. The infectious loose-limbed funk and fuzz pop group provide a trio of sweetly laced movers and serenades for this showcase of Somali wonders. All recorded in 1991, the last year this compilation covers, whilst exiled abroad, the Dur-Dur Band offer a stick-rattling feverish Indian summer love paean (‘Daradara Muxibo’), slicker dabbing mid-tempo funk workout (‘Shaleedayaa’) and oriental dappled-organ swoon (‘Ladaa’).

Covering a generational period arc, from the burgeoning optimistic dawn of Somali under the dictatorial leadership of Siad Barre to that same leader’s fateful swan song in 1991, as a once more liberal regime in just twenty years lurched towards the repressive, Mogadisco reflects the changes in a fractious state. Barre of course took power in a coup (though with an emphasis on the peaceful), yet the arts and music scenes flourished, with an explosion in both state-sanctioned and private bands. Many of the acts on this collection were hot-housed in the various ministerial department affiliated show bands or in the theatre (notably the Dur-Durs), and were open to outside influences, from Flea Kuti’s Afrobeat sensation – brought back, we’re told, to Somalia by the Mogadishu featured Iftin Band, after representing the country at the Festac Festival in Lagos in 1977 – to Bob Marley’s global-conquering brand of reggae, and later on, a moonwalking Michael Jackson. One of the most obvious of these, and continuing to influence Somalia’s finest in the second half of the 80s, Omar Shooli’s spiritually voiced ‘Hob Isii’ languorously sways to a proto-Wailers rock steady beat. Equally the influence of Motown, Stax, and as the compilation’s title makes apparent, disco can be heard ringing loudly throughout this mixed bag that Samy himself describes as music that “swam against the tide”.

Before Somalia imploded in the 90s and descended into a near anarchic state, the capital enjoyed a tourist boom; the Mogadishu boulevards loaded with ever-luxurious hotels, all playing host to the country’s best and most popular groups. Mogadisco however, selects previously dormant and forgotten recordings from the city’s top broadcaster, Radio Mogadishu. Filed away under ‘mainly instrumental and strange music’, an assortment of discarded jingles, background music, interludes, TV show tunes and theatre numbers now finally see daylight on an eye-opening collection of exotic funk-fried shufflers and sashaying Afro-Caribbean swoons.

Notable mentions should go to the Iftin Band for their Ethno-jazz dreamy shimmer ‘Ii Ouy Aniga’, both the Bakaka Band’s uptown rankin’ slinky ‘Gobonimada Jira’ – think the Lijadu Sisters meet Althea & Donna – and their swimmingly spy-thriller like transformation of a warrior’s song, the tropical Highlife tingle ‘Geesiyada Halgamayow’, and the southern ‘Orleans flavoured raunchy disco turn, ‘Baayo’, by Mukhtar Ramadan Iidi – a slicker 80s Arthur Conley if you will.

As always, the usual due diligence and insights into each and every artist/band and label on this latest brilliant compilation are chronicled in the accompanying booklet; a purview of Somalia’s musical legacy set within a tumultuous historical setting. Analog Africa are the first label to actually set foot in the country in years; the capital especially immortalized for a generation or more as one of the most dangerous places on Earth, synonymous for fractions-at-war and pirates. Progress has been made in recent years, hence Samy gaining permission to visit, albeit under heavy protection. For once though, here’s a celebration of the country’s music; a fit and proper essential joyful showcase of disco and funk inspired dynamism.






Shanghai Restoration Project ‘Flashbacks In A Crystal Ball’

(Undercover Culture Music) LP/ 8th November 2019



If brooding synth poets Japan had taken more stimulating drugs and been dragged onto the dancefloor they may very well have sounded a little like this colourful arpeggiator-cascading duo, the Shanghai Restoration Project. Though based in Brooklyn, the electro-symphonic duo transport the listener to an exotic Orient and beyond on a magical, ruminating flight of fantasy.

As the name suggests, on previous recordings the former Bad Boy label songwriter and producer Dave Laing and his foil Sun Yunfan have transduced the jazz and showtime music of a pre-WWII Shanghai; aligning it with, and filtering it through, nuanced electro pop, techno and hip-hop. The results of which have furnished a myriad of adverts, soundtracks, and even the Beijing Olympics.

SRP’s latest neon-lit dreamy dance album is framed as a reaction to “the increasingly fragmented and mindless soundbite culture we live in”. Softening the edges and lightening the tensions, the crystal ball flashbacks on this serene trip err towards elegance and the sophisticated rippling tactile.

This is a landscape of chopstick percussion, pagoda shaded water gardens, undulating marimba vibes, vocoder chanson, mirage-y waveforms, classical Chinese instrumentation and biplane rotor drones. Futuristically motoring and bobbing along, there are shades of Air, Moroder, Mark Ronson, Cuushe and Cornelius on a cosmic soundtrack of avant-garde Tango dalliances, retro-fit rapping R&B, 2-Step jazz, super-charged Tron video arcades and sweetened elegies.

Flashbacks In A Crystal Ball is a pliable dance album full of bright and magical lilted brilliance and fun; slow building dance music of the highest and smartest caliber.



Boa Morte ‘Before There Was Air’
(Gare du Nord) LP/ 29th November 2019


The understated majestic swells of the Irish band Boa Morte don’t come easy, or arrive regularly. Only the band’s third album proper in twenty years, the misty expansive mini-opuses found on the long awaited Before There Was Air are like gentle but deeply resonating ripples from a distant timeless shore.

Slow, methodical, every second of these air-y hushed suites moves at a stately pace: in no hurry to arrive, with many of the beautifully purposeful songs disappearing into the ether, out of earshot but somewhere carrying on forever.

Signing to Ian button’s one-man cottage industry Gare du Nord label this year, the Cork dreamers’ first complete work in nigh on a decade is worth the wait. Maturing in all that time, the peaceable sagacious results are augmented with subtle synthesized tones and stirring ambient atmospherics; building vague landscapes of longing; a constant ebbing tide lapping on the cerebral.

This is a classy magical music that doesn’t make allowances: the equivalent of slow food culture.

Elegantly unfurled, the burnished and brushed soundtrack moves between entrancing folk and the classical, between the choral and yearned. Songs such as the tenderly rendered ‘Cans’ evoke a more soulful Mogwai and, musically, Robert Wyatt, whilst the pastoral dainty ‘The Garden’ transports the listener to an Elizabethan Hampden Court. The pinning guitar-voiced ‘Sea Creatures’ has an air of Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks score.

Lonely pianos, romantic prose, shimmered cymbals and sighed strings reverberate on metaphorical nautical terms of lovelorn detachment and the dangers of an emotional landslide. A finely crafted sweeping album Before There Was Air exudes a timeless quality; one that by all accounts has been well worth the wait.





The Fox ‘For Fox Sake’
Lucifer Was ‘Underground And Beyond’
(Sommer/ Guerssen) LP/ 13th November 2019




Churning out untold forgotten and cult missives and classics alike, the Guerssen umbrella of reissue imprints knocks out albums and compilations at a fair old rate. It’s often easy to miss the odd trio of same date releases from this hub of specialist labels: such is the turnover. One strand of this operation in digging up everything from 80s Spanish political underground cassette tape culture to 70s Turkish kitsch pop, is the 60s/70s garage band, psych, prog and heavy rock leaning Sommor, who retrieve and facilitate first-time vinyl reissues of albums by the blue-eyed soulful psych outfit The Fox and proto-metal theatrical troupe Lucifer Was.

The former of these has been a much sought-after album from a band of also-rans who’s sound harks back to the fag-end of the Mod boom; when beat group combos graduated to more psychedelic and progressive, heavier heights. Recorded a couple years after inception in the Mod haven of Brighton, The Fox released their debut and only LP proper, For Fox Sake, on the cusp of a new and changing decade. Though not entirely past-the-sell-by-date and removed from those shifts, the able-enough group could have been contenders (to a point).

With a dazzle of classical psych-baroque and faux-gospel church organ ala Procol Harum, softened fuzz guitar and swooning soulful vocals this fleeting South Coast combo recorded some glorious, if redolent, halcyon pop paeans and psychedelic shakers. Trouble is, Love Sculpture, Spooky Tooth, The Moody Blues, The Gods, Marmalade, Bread and Chris Farlowe had pretty much already covered this ground already rather well. Outside of those influences The Fox played with a Get Back/White Album honky-tonk McCartney (‘Goodtime Music’), Bacharach (‘As She Walks By’) and the Jimi Hendrix Experience (in fairground waltzing mode on ‘Madame Magical’).

Notable for supporting the Orpheus imbued Herd and opening for a burgeoning Bowie, The Fox’s brief fandango came to an end a year later; the only fruits of their labour being this album and a single. Still, in certain collectors’ circles this is a cult classic. For Fox Sake has its endearing charms and a couple of fuzz-thrilled love potion hits to make it worth the entry price.





A far heavier, and just as rare, prospect is the album-that-never-was from the Nordic psych-metal marauders Lucifer Was. Despite that satanic moniker (the group wore a number of macabre cloaks, such as Empty Coffin/Autumn Serenade and Erza West, before sticking with the daemonic Lucifer Was) the group’s debut dramatic opus is influenced as much by the flighty flute-playing prog of Jethro Tull as by the scuzzed leaden menace of Black Sabbath.

The first incarnation formed in Oslo in 1969 and lasted until ’75. Though they built a reputation and fanbase on the strength of their performances, this bewitched coven never actually recorded an album in that entire period. Songs were written and played live, yet lay dormant until more than two decades later, when a middle-aged version of the band picked-up from where they left off, entering a studio and finally recording that debut showcase. And so with music from another age now propelled into the late 90s, Underground And Beyond is a strange missive of fighting fantasy Tolkienism and River Styx schlock dark arts preening – all brooding romantic warrior troubadour, yearning for his muse whilst skulking by mythological waterways.

If you dig your Edgar Allen Poe, baroque metal, fairytale tangos and doomed tormented love lost suites then get a load of this. Josefus, Steppenwolf, Deep Purple and Ipsissimus hatched by proto-metal Vikings: what’s not to love?!

An album no one asked for, but buy it anyway.





Origami Repetika ‘Night Of The Jaguar’
EP




None the wiser after receiving the second CD of maverick chiming psychedelic pop from Adam Sigmund (otherwise known as Origami Repetika), I’m going blind with this recommendation. With scant information at hand, Sigmund’s drifty hallucinating-like music can be summed up as a stained glass lo fi union of Brian Wilson and Gary Wilson.

Following on from a recent radiant and glorious album, Singing Gulls, the four-track Night Of The Jaguar EP offers something slightly more dreamy and moody. Named not in homage to any literary title, the Jaguar of the title refers to the iconic electric guitar; a birthday present that’s put to good experimental use over a quartet of mellow vibrato and gauze-y alternative melodramas.

Romantic driftwood at its most idiosyncratic; a diy Beach Boys if they signed to Anticon; there’s a certain oddness lyrically. The naivety of the melting candy maudlin ‘Meet Me At The Peppermint’ belies a slight whimsical jar in its finale wafts: “It’s the way you smile, before you lost your teeth”.

This is cozy surf-psych pop and lo fi ambition at its finest. Disarming yet attuned to the ways of the world. Seek out this maverick pop excellence immediately.



Rootea ‘Phobias’
LP




I’m not sure if there’s such a thing as a collective noun for phobias but the strung-out Russian prog-jazz and industrial post-punk band Rootea attempts a reification of thirteen such debilitating fears on this untethered freeform therapy session. An often caustic, sometimes haunted travail, Phobias moves in an unshapely form. The vaporous soundtrack even threatens to drift off and escape from its performers: both riled and wafting into the ether, or down ambiguous passages and the dark recesses of the mind.

Emanating from east of the Urals, from Russia’s “third” city of Yekaterinburg (or Ekaterinburg), Rootea might very well be tapping into not only this Tsarina-christened (named in honour of the first Catherine, Tsar Peter The Great’s wife) city’s historical vantage but its more troubled psychodramas too. This is after all the fatal site of the Romanovs’ horrific, and botched, execution.

Anguish, paranoia, fear but also dream-like slumbers are triggered across a spectrum of air-y pondered phobias; from ‘Autophobia’ (that’s a fear of being alone or lonely) to the oddest, ‘Hellophobia’ (fear of Greeks; perhaps a hangover of that old adage, beware of Greeks bearing gifts). Thirteen tracks long, with a finale of post-industrial withering in its name, sufferers of ‘Triskaidekaphobia’ may want to avoid this album. But for the rest of us, this record (if over long) is a wrangling, caustic hallucinating avant-garde therapy session of apparitional narrators, strangulated guitars, sonorous trickles, Gothic throbs, gangly buzzing resonance and hi-pitched pecked saxophone. Permutations of dank lo-fi, Einstürzende Neubauten, A Happy Kitchen Is A Clean Kitchen, Faust, Cabaret Voltaire and 39 Clocks revolve like a languid carousel.

Untied to a particular location or time, Rootea amorphously linger in both the cerebral and visceral as they transcribe the untranscribable on an ambitious work. A difficult, often overlong, experience Phobias should be prescribed in small doses.





Elizabeth Joan Kelly ‘Farwell, Doomed Planet!’
LP/ 25th October 2019




Into the great expanse of a universe as ominous as it is magically mysterious, New Orleans-based composer Elizabeth Joan Kelly ventures far on her latest electronic suite. From the enormity of space the Cassandra of imperiled doom gazes back at Earth from advantageous lofty heights: a siren voice of lyrically cryptic lament and woe, strung-out aboard some sort of Kubrickian mission to gather research.

Equally deft at composing contemporary symphonies as she is Warp label imbued kinetic and industrial electronica, Kelly coos and soundscapes a lamentable vision of the apocalypse that combines aria-like space operatics with tubular metallic breakdowns, stirring ambient swells and darker twists of contorting nuanced sonics. Kelly even transduces the afflatus classical hymnal music of Bach on the swooned and serene ‘Trinity Quadrant Cantata’.

From pollution on land and in the seas to inner existential angst, the protagonist cosmonaut at the centre of this bleak analysis mourns amongst heavenly bodies in the celestial.

An album of both impending doom, yet filled with wondrous pulchritude, Farwell is a haunting enough score with evident supernatural atmospherics on tracks such as the reversal ethereal elegy ‘Harm’ – echoes of a spooked Broadcast and Quimper – and the ghostly nuclear landscape desolation ‘Exclusion Zone Earth (Or, All Hail Chernobyl Wolves)’.

Present vocally on a majority of the album’s tracks, Kelly’s voice is often veiled and gauze-y: so much so that you can barely hear a trace of it. Even in full song that voice is obscured; sounding like either a spirit from beyond the ether or, a distant broadcast from deepest space and time.

Cinematic in places, setting an astral mirage of dreamy and bestial proportions, Farewell is a beautifully scary drama that evokes touches of Bowie, Tangerine Dream, Bernard Szajner, Diva Dompe, Moroder and Vangelis. Kelly does wonderful things amongst the stars; the apocalypse has seldom sounded so celestially operatic and electronically choral.





Album Reviews
Words: Dominic Valvona
Photo Credit: Aziza Brahim taken by Ana Valiño






This week’s recommendations and reviews (for the most part) share a musical hunger for the polygenesis; combining and merging a cornucopia of international sounds and cultures to spread a message of universal suffrage. A case in point, the ever-evolving North-of-England assemblage of migrants and refugees, Rafiki Jazz feature voices and musicians from all over the globe: from Arabia to India. Their fourth and upcoming captivating album, Saraba Sufiyana, is featured in this roundup. Channeling a mystical Maghreb, the French trio of Karkara goes heavy and transcendent on their new acid-doom-rock epic, Crystal Gazer. The Belgium outfit Compro Oro manages to circumnavigate a myriad of international destinations without leaving the suburbs of their native home on the new dance jazz LP Suburban Exotica, and UK producer Dan Harper, under the Invisible System title, once more transforms the traditional and courtly music of Mali, on the new album Dance To The Full Moon. Closer to European shores, Xylouris White, the Hellenic framed project of Dirty Three drummer Jim White and Greek lute player Giorgos Xylouris, release a fourth installment of their Cretan soundscapes, The Sisypheans.

Leading the charge this week though is the encapsulating soulful Aziza Brahim with her upcoming new album, Sahari. Born in the hardened landscape of a Saharawi refugee camp on the border of Algeria and the Western Sahara, the beguiled vocalist now lives in a state of exile in Spain. Her latest album continues to draw attention to not only that plight but also that of all refugees on an album that tries some a little bit different musically.

Something a little different, and away from this general thread of global initiatives, Belgium composer Alex Stordiau releases his inaugural album of Kosmische imbued neo-classical visions, Poking Your Imagination, for Pure Spark Records.

Preview/Feature




Aziza Brahim ‘Sahari’
(Glitterbeat Records) Album/ 15th November 2019


Bringing the message of the displaced Saharawi people to the world stage, Western Saharan musician/activist Aziza Brahim follows up both her critically rewarded 2014 album Soutak, and the no less brilliant 2016 serene protest of poetic defiance Abbar el Hamada album with her third for Glitterbeat Records, Sahari.

Born in the hardened landscape of a Saharawi refugee camp on the border of Algeria and the Western Sahara, beguiled vocalist Aziza embodies the wandering spirit of her people; their settled, though often borderless and disputed lands, previously claimed by Spain, were invaded in 1975 by Morocco. Though made up of many tribes with many different goals the Saharawi people mounted a fight back. It was in this climate that Brahim was hewed. Exiled in effect, her travails have extended to Cuba, where she was educated as a teenager, and Barcelona, where she now resides and makes music.

Imbued as ever with the desert soul of that disputed region, the latest record, with its visual metaphor of optimism in even the most desperate of backdrops and times – dreams of growing up to be a ballerina proving universal – attempts to marry the beautifully longing and heartache yearns of Brahim’s voice to a number of different styles and rhythms: A subtle change towards the experimental.

Previous encounters have channeled the poetic roots of that heritage and merged it with both Arabian Spain and the lilted buoyancy of the Balearics. Working with the Spanish artist Amparo Sánchez of the band Amparanoia, Brahim has chosen to add a congruous subtle bed of synthesized effects to the recording process: before performing live in the studio, but now recording in various places, the results collected together and pieced together in post-production. This methodology and sound furnishes Brahim’s longing traditional voice with certain freshness and, sometimes, shuffled energy. Songs such as the loose and free ‘Hada Jil’ lay a two-step dance beat underneath a desert song drift. Later on there are dub-y rim-shot echoes and undulating waves of atmospheric tonal synthesizer underpinning that blues-y startling timbre. However, the most surprising fusions to be found on Sahari are the Compass Point reggae-gait ‘Las Huellas’ and the Arabian soul channeling Fado ‘Lmanfra’. There’s even room for a piano on the balladry ‘Ardel el Hub’; a song that plaintively conveys the “impossibility of returning home”, a sentiment the activist Brahim is only too familiar with – denied entry or the right of return, effectively in exile.

The sound of the Sahrawi is never far off, despite the technological upgrade. That most traditional of handed-down instruments, the “tabal drum”, can be heard guiding the rhythm throughout; rattling away and tapping out a beat that changes from the threadbare to the clattering. Brahim’s vocals are as ever effortlessly enriching, captivating and trilling. I dare say even veracious.

Articulating a broader message of global suffrage, Brahim once more encapsulates the sorrows of the exiled and stateless on a sumptuous album, The wanderer and Saharan siren invites new dynamics without changing the intrinsic character and message of her craft, yet ventures beyond those roots to embrace bold new sounds. A most fantastic, poetic songbook that will further cement Brahim’s deserved reputation as one of the deserts most serene artists.






Reviews

Compro Oro ‘Suburban Exotica’
(Sdban Ultra) Album/ 18th October 2019





Illuminating Belgium suburbia with a cornucopia of entrancing and limbering sounds and rhythms from across the world, Compro Oro transport the listener to imaginative vistas on their latest album of jazz imbued exotics. Making waves as part of a loose jazzy Benelux scene, the troupe have even managed to rope in the help of Ry Cooder’s accomplished scion, the multi-instrumentalist talent Joachim Cooder, who adds an “effects-laden” mbira and percussion to a trio of imaginative tracks.

Like their comrades on that scene, Black Flower, the Compro sail into various melting-pot rich harbors, soaking up the atmosphere and embracing what they found, weaving the multilingual sounds into a vibrant soundtrack of tropical new wave pop, dance music, alt rock ‘n’ roll, Turkish-psych and Ethno-jazz fantasy. Cal Tjader, Mulatu Astatke and Marc Ribot are all cited as inspirations, their indelible mark suffused throughout this LP. Add to that trio a strange interpretation of Herbie Hancock (on the Somalia ease-up ‘Mogadishu’; imagine the Dur-Dur Band floating on a kooky jazz cloud above the tumultuous city), Soulwax (on the palm tree Latin dance funk ‘Miami New Wave’) and a rewired Modern Jazz Quartet (that will be the often twinkly and trickling use of vibraphone, but also the marimba too). The curtain call thriller ‘Kruidvat’ even evokes the darker stirrings of later period Can, and the wafting ambiguous snuffles of Jon Hassell.

For the most part dreamy and under a gauze-y veil, Suburban Exotica sashays and drifts across a musical landscape of Arabia, Anatolia, Eastern Africa, The Caribbean and Hispaniola without setting foot outside of their Belgium front door. The more you listen the more you discover and get out of this brilliant dance album of borderless jazz. What a treat to the ears and feet.





Invisible System ‘Dance To The Full Moon’
(ARC Music) Album/ 25th October 2019





An apt hand in transforming the traditional sounds of Mali, the British producer Dan Harper’s experiment in this field stretches back two decades; set in motion by the rudimental laptop-produced Acid Mali project he created whilst working as a Capacity Builder for a local Malian environmental NGO. So taken was Harper with the country, he ended up not only meeting his future wife there but setting up home and a studio in the capital, Bamako. His wife, Hawa, would introduce Dan to childhood friend and renowned guitarist Bandjougou, who in turn would bring in tow the dusty soulful rich vocalist Sambou koyaté to sing for him. Both artists appear on this new album alongside the griot siren Astou Niamé Diabaté, who as it turns out sang at Dan and Hawa’s wedding.

Taken from the same recording sessions as Dan’s previous album, Bamako Sessions, his latest transportive exploration under the nom de plume of Invisible System, once more lends an electrified and synthesized pulse to the spiritual soul of Malian music. Originally put together in a more languorous fashion with a variety of musicians coming and going, jamming in a mattress proofed room in a rented house in the capital, Dance To The Full Moon took shape at the end of a tumultuous and violent period in Mali’s history. Experiencing firsthand (literally on Dan’s own doorstep) the terrorist attacks that followed in the wake of a, finally curtailed, Islamist insurrection and the ongoing war between Mali’s government in the West and the Tuaregs of the North and Eastern desert borders, fighting to set-up an autonomous region, known as the Azawad. Though a certain stability has returned in part to Mali, attacks still occur sporadically; the effects of which permeate throughout the work of the country’s artists, the majority offering a conciliatory tone with the emphasis on unity and understanding. With that in mind, Dan’s album is rich with passionate expressive longing and intensity; the varied juxtapositions of the griot tradition and less rural, more urban vocals combine to deliver some startling performances.

The gently resonate accents and fanned waft of the Malian guitarist’s Kalifa Koné and Sidi Touré accentuate the brilliant vocal parts; a gathering of powerful griot acolytes, singers and even a rapper (Mali rap star Penzy) that includes the already mentioned trio of Bandjougou, Koyaté and Diabaté spiral between the sweetened and intense, the hymnal and physical. Dan boosts and filters those strong performances with a production of techno, modern R&B, dub and futuristic post-punk that sonically weaves in echoes of Massive Attack, Daniel Lanois, King Ayisoba and Dennis Bovell.

Nothing can ever truly improve upon the roots and soul of the traditional courtly music of Mali, its desert blues and Bamako rock of course, but you can push it into exciting directions. Dan’s rewired buzz and pulse does just that, giving a kick and lending an attuned production to the Mali soundscape.



Alex Stordiau ‘Poking Your Imagination’
(Pure Spark) Album/ 30th September 2019





Enticing former label mates from Edinburgh’s Bearsuit Records to his burgeoning venture Pure Spark, Tokyo electronic wizkid Ippu Mitsui welcomes the Brussels based composer Alex Stordiau to the ranks. Featuring alongside House Of Tapes Yuuya Kuno, Stordiau also previously appeared on the Mid Lothian Bearsuit roster – mentioned on this very blog for his standout Vangelis-style voyager waltz into the cosmos ‘Fulfilling Eclipse’, from the label’s The Invisible And Divided Sea compilation.

Like a missing neoclassical Kosmische suite from the Sky Records vault, Stordiau’s inaugural album for Mitsui’s imprint is a serene, though often dramatically stirring, exercise in sculpting retro-electronic soundtracks.

With a classical background, studying at various Belgium conservators, Stordiau combines elements of cascading, romantically accentuated piano and suffused strings with synthesized and computer programmed sine waves, glassy tubular glistened percussion and vaporous sweeps.

The Belgium visionary often works with Bristol musician Lee Williams, who plays, among other things, both electric guitar and bass, and sometimes drums. It sounds as if Williams is present once more, on hand with warm ponderous bass and the odd bit of wilder kooky lead guitar.

Track titles on Poking Your Imagination only go so far in describing each composition’s route on an album of undulating mood pieces. The opening descriptive ‘In The Tepid Shine’ is pure escapist air-bending; crafting vague echoes of Jean Michel Jarre with Roedelius’ more beautifully spherical elevations. Most of these tracks waver over the course of duration; changing or pausing between parts, starting off like the Blade Runner neon skyline lighted ‘Tree Healing’ with a darker, theatrical classical grandeur but suddenly joined by drums and a touch of Vangelis sci-fi. Elsewhere you’re bound to identify the space peril looming shadow of Tangerine Dream and the more popcorn kookiness of Cluster amongst the Baroque cathedral and gravity arcing visions.

A panoramic, mostly cosmic soundtrack of classical Kosmische and humanized electronica, Poking Your Imagination is an assiduous suite of the mysterious, scientific and dreamy.





The Mining Co. ‘Frontier’
Album/ 25th October 2019





Not that you can detect it from his lilted peaceable, if hearty, Americana burr, or the Western-alluded nom de plume that he goes under, but singer/songwriter Michael Gallagher was born in Ireland. Obvious now you’ve read his actual name I know, but just sound wise, it is difficult to hear that Irish bent. In a similar vein to such luminaries as Simon Bonney, the County Donegal troubadour subtly channels a timeless vision of the lyrical, pioneering old West (and South for that matter) on his new LP, Frontier.

Via a Nashville, Texas and New Mexico panorama, Gallagher tailors personal anxieties of disconnection, dislocation and growing pains with familiar old tropes on a songbook of “hangdog” country fare. A romantic album at that, with shades of a pining Josh T. Pearson, The Thrills, Lee Hazlewood, Tom Petty and the Eels, Frontier showcases the artist’s most tender swoons and yearnings. This is a soundtrack of purposeful blues, skiffles and mellow gospel, all softly laced with a subtle echo of Mariachi horns and tremolo twang.

Various memories of a childhood back in Ireland (the night Elvis died sounding a special resonance on the lilted lap-steel rich ‘The Promised Line’) and phobias (a rational fear in my book of flying inspiring the country-prayer ‘Empty Row’) are transported to wistfully articulate American musical settings; a landscape and sound it seems Gallagher belongs.

The third such album from his The Mining Co. alter ego, Frontier is full of romantic intent and stirring candid cathartic heartache; a shuffling songbook handled with care and tenderness that will unfurl its charms over time.




Xylouris White ‘The Sisypheans’
(Drag City) Album/ 8th November 2019





Less a Greek tragedy, more a kind of acceptance of one’s fate (or, play the hand you’re dealt and make the best of it), the Hellenic inspired collaboration project of Giorgos Xylouris and Jim White take their lead on the purgatory fate of boulder carrier Sisyphean from Albert Camus: to a point.

The absurdist doyen once wrote a famous tract on that Greek fella’s predicament: Punished by Zeus to roll a large boulder up a mountainside in Hades, each time he reached the top the boulder would roll right back down to the start. And so the process began all over again: An endless, thankless trudge and metaphor for all the all too real daily grind of life outside the mythological imagination. Or so you’d think. Camus however saw it not has a pointless waste of effort and slow punishing meaningless task but as a challenge: noble even. That Sisypheans’ repeated burden should be seen as an achievement, that the struggle should be enough to “fill a man’s heart”. Sisyphean has accepted his it and so should you, or, words and sentiment to that effect.

Of course, even deeper contentions can be found in Camus’ essay; how our tragic figure confined to a limited limbo landscape created in his mind a whole universe from it. Xylouris and White themselves pondered how he might experiment with carrying that burdensome rock; alternating hands, carrying behind his back and so on. Essentially though, this is about experiencing, seeing and discovering anew each day with a concentrated mind the things you take for granted: especially your surroundings. The duo initially turn to the atavistic in conveying these ideas and sentiments; using the suffused blown stirrings of the Greek flute (Aulos) and vibrato resonating spindly fanning tones of the laouto (a long-necked fretted scion of the lute family). In addition to these two lead instruments, the scene is set with shrouded misty and soulfully yearned voices, Giorgos’ son Nick on cello and on the serialism waning moodscape second track a ‘Goat Hair Bowed’ instrument. And so a sweeping, mournful at times, traverse that takes in dancing Grecian figures, wedding celebrations, bewailed lament and travels to the furthest reaches of the Greek borders: sailing at one point into the tumultuous mysterious vision of the much-disputed and fought over ‘Black Sea’.

However, the both taught and freeform, skittish experimental percussion and breaks of Dirty Three drummer White adds another dimension to the rootsy and earthy feel. Always tactile and congruous, White lifts or underpins certain tracks with avant-garde taps, clutters, rim rattles and jazzy frills and crescendos. A touch of progressive jazz, even Krautrock, that sends this project into more contemporary climes.

Between the chthonian and ethereal, the philosophical and viscerally dreamy, The Sisypheans minor epic is an extraordinary musical peregrination worth exploring: Music for the cerebral and the senses.




Rafiki Jazz  ‘Saraba Sufiyana’
(Konimusic) Album/ October 2019





It’s no idle boast to suggest that the North of England based Rafiki Jazz could be one of the most diverse groups on the world stage. Testament of this can be heard on the troupe’s previous trio of polygenesis albums: an untethered sound that simultaneously evokes Arabia, the Indian Subcontinent, Northern African, the Caribbean, South America and Balkans.

With representatives from nearly every continent, many of which have escaped from their homelands to find sanctuary in the UK, Rafiki Jazz is an ever-evolving ensemble of migrants and refugees alike coming together to produce sweeping divine borderless music.

Their latest visionary songbook is a filmic panoramic beauty, no less worldly and stirring. The opening diaphanous spun ‘Su Jamfata’ encapsulates that perfectly; mirroring the group’s musical freedom and spiritual connection; lilting between a myriad of regions with stunning vocals that evoke both Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The following floaty and ethereal well-of-sorrows ‘Azadi’ even features a Celtic and folksy air (one that is repeated later on). This is in part due of course to the guest performances of both the English fiddle extraordinaire and songwriter Nancy Kerr and traditional Gaelic singer Kaitlin Ross. A third vocal addition, Juan Gabriel, can be heard lending a guttural throated underbelly to an already eclectic chorus of singers.

Buoyant tablas and spindled kora sit in perfect harmony with Arabian oud, tropical steel drums, the Brazilian berimbau and the varied voices of Sufi, Hebrew, Hindu, Egyptian-Coptic and Islamic, without ever feeling crowded or strained.

Saraba Sufiyana translates as “mystic utopia”, a title that epitomizes the group’s curiosity and respect for other culture as they build a brave new sonic world of possibility. One that takes in all the dramas and woes of the current international crisis and the lamenting poetry of venerable hardship – the final quartet cycle of prayer and spiritual yearning, ‘My Heart My Home’, beautifully conveys a multitude of gospel and traditional religious plaint, ending on the stirring Hebrew field song ‘Shedemati’. Twenty years in and still improving on that global remit, Rafiki Jazz delivers a magical and rich fourth LP. Devotional music at its most captivating and entrancing.



Karkara ‘Crystal Gazer’
(Stolen Body Records) Album/ 25th October 2019





There’s a hell of a lot wind blowing throughout the mystical and spiritually Toulouse trio of Karkara’s Crystal Gazer epic. North African wind that is; the exotic charms and mystery of the Maghreb on a swirling breeze, flows through and introduces each incantation heavy communal transcendence.

The mirage-shimmery title-track vignette even features a sirocco echo of ghostly enervated Tuareg desert guitars, whilst the electrified speed freak ‘Zarathoustra’ doesn’t just allude to Nietzsche’s infamous Thus Spoke but astrally heads back to the founding father of that mystical Persian faith via an eastern Link Wray and Gothic soup of Krautrock jazz and acid rock.

The counter flow breathes of another desert also permeate this LP, the sound of a veiled didgeridoo constantly present in building atmosphere and mysticism. Loud and physical, though not without some sensitivity, the trio chant, howl and pray their way through a vortex of flange and fuzz as they soar over a fantastical landscape that takes in the southern constellation star of “proxima centauri” and the gates of the Tunisian Medina, ‘Jedid’.

Allusions to seers, mystics and Gothic romantics abound, whilst the musical inspirations fluctuate between heavy space rock (Hawkwind) and Krautrock (Xhol Caravan, Embryo), post-punk (Killing Joke) and baggy (Stone Roses on a bum ride), and spooked, sleazy rock’ n ’roll (Alan Vega).

Transcended Tangier trips, Karkara aren’t exactly the first group to occupy this space, but they do it with volume and dreamy élan.




A (near) 150 albums survey of the year, with choice eclectic albums chosen by the Monolith Cocktail Team.

Well was I wrong last year when I called 2021 the annus horribilis of all years. It has been soundly beaten by the shit-show that is 2022. The invasion of the Ukraine, cost of living crisis, another hideous wave of Covid – which even if the jabs are being rolled out, and the deaths rate, hospitalisations is nothing like the first wave back in 2020, is still causing major illness, absences and disruptions to a society already facing a heap of doomsday scenarios -, strikes, activism, fuel poverty, Iranian protests, and the continuing horror show of a zombie government being just some examples. Yes 2022 qualifies as one of the most incomprehensible years on record of any epoch; an ungovernable country in the grip of austerity point 2.0, and greater world untethered and at the mercy of the harridans on either side of the extreme political divide, the billionaire corporates and narcissist puritans.

And yet, it has been another great year for music. Despite the myriad of problems that face artists and bands in the industry, from a lack of general interest to the increasingly punitive costs of touring and playing live, and the ever encroaching problems of streaming against physical sales and exposure, people just can’t quit making music. And for that we, as critics – though most of us have either been musicians or still are – really appreciate what you guys do. In fact, as we have always tried to convey, we celebrate you all. And so, instead of those silly, factious and plain dumb numerical charts that our peers and rivals insist on continuing to print – how can you really suggest one album deserves their place above or below another (why does one entry get the 23rd spot and another the 22nd; unless it is a vote count) –, the Monolith Cocktail has always chosen a much more diplomatic, democratic alphabetical order – something we more or less started in the first place. We also throw every genre, nationality together in a serious of eclectic lists: no demarcation involved.

The lists include those albums we reviewed, featured on the site in some capacity, and those we just didn’t get the time to include. All entries are displayed thus: Artist in alphabetical order, then the album title, label, who chose it, a review link where applicable, and finally a link to the album itself.  

Because of the sheer number of entries, we’ve split that list in to two parts: Part One (A – L) starts with Anthéne & Simon McCorry and finishes with Lyrics Born; Part Two (M-Z) begins with Machine Girl and finishes with The Zew.

This year’s picks have been chosen by (Dominic Valvona), Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea, Matt Oliver, Andrew C. Kidd and Graham Domain.

A.

Anthéne & Simon McCorry  ‘Mind Of Winter’  (Hidden Vibes)  Dominic Valvona
Review

Seigo Aoyama  ‘Prelude For The Spring’  (Audiobulb)  DV
Review

Armstrong ‘Happy Graffiti’  Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea
Review

Yara Asmar  ‘Home Recordings 2018-2021’  (Hive Mind)  DV
Review

Avalanche Kaito  ‘S-T’  (Glitterbeat)  DV
Review

Avantdale Bowling Club  ‘TREES’  Andrew C. Kidd

B.

Caterina Barbieri  ‘Spirit Exit’  (Warp Records)  ACK
Review

Jam Baxter  ‘Fetch the Poison’  (Blah)  Matt Oliver

Oliver Birch  ‘Burning Daylight’  BBS
Review

Black Mesa ‘Research Facility’  (猫 シ Corp. ‘Selected Works’)  ACK

Brigitte Beraha  ‘Blink’  DV
Review

Brian Bordello  ‘Cardboard Box Beatles’  (Metal Postcard Records)  DV
Review

The Bordellos ‘Ronco Revival Sound’ (Metal Postcard Records)  Graham Domain
Review

Boycalledcrow  ‘Wizards Castle’  (Waxing Crescent Records)  BBS
Review

Broadcast  ‘The Maida Vale Sessions’ (Warp Records)  GD

Apollo Brown & Philmore Greene  ‘Cost of Living’  (Mello Music Group)  MO

Brown Calvin  ‘dimension//perspective’  (AKP Recordings)  DV
Review

C.

Loyle Carner  ‘Hugo’ (EMI)  MO

Tom Caruana  ‘Strange Planet’  (Tea Sea Records)  MO

Cities Aviv  ‘Man Plays The Horn’  (D.O.T.) DV

Claude  ‘A Lot’s Gonna Change’  (American Dreams)  DV
Review

Clouds in a Headlock  ‘Breakfast in Phantasia’  (Offkiltr/Fat Beats)  MO

Julian Cope  ‘England Expectorates’  BBS
Link

D.

The Dark Jazz Project  ‘S-T’ (Irregular Frequencies)  DV
Review

Aftab Darvishi  ‘A Thousand Butterflies’  ACK
Review

The Difference Machine  ‘Unmasking the Spirit Fakers’  (Full Plate)  MO
Review

Ferry Djimmy  ‘Rhythm Revolution’  (Acid Jazz) DV

Matt Donovan  ‘Habit Formation’  DV
Review

The Doomed Bird Of Providence  ‘A Flight Across Arnham Land’  DV/BBS
Review

Dubbledge  ‘Ten Toes Down’  (Potent Funk)  MO
Review

E.

Eamon The Destroyer  ‘A Small Blue Car – Re-made/Re-modelled’  (Bearsuit Records)  BBS
Review

El Khat  ‘Albat Alawi Op​.​99’  (Glitterbeat)  DV
Review

Kahil El’Zabar Quartet  ‘A Time For Healing’  (Spiritmuse)  DV

Roger Eno ‘The Turning Year’ (Deutsche Grammophon)  GD
Review

Eerie Wanda  ‘Internal Radio’  (Joyful Noise Recordings)  DV

Exociety  ‘Deception Falls’  (Exociety)  MO

F.

Fera  ‘Corpo Senza Carne’  (Maple Death Records)  DV

Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita  ‘Echo’  (bendigedig)  DV
Review

Flat Worms  ‘Live In Los Angeles’  (Frontier Records)  DV
Review

Forest Robots  ‘Supermoon Moonlight Part Two’  (Subexotic)  DV
Review

Nick Frater  ‘Aerodrome Motel’  (Big Stir Records)  BBS
Review

Future Kult  ‘S-T’  (Action Wolf/AWAL)  DV
Review

G.

Mike Gale  ‘Mañana Man’  DV
Premiere

Dana Gavanski ‘When it Comes’ (Full Time Hobby / Flemish Eye)  GD
Review

Gold Panda  ‘The Work’  (City Slang)  ACK

The Good Ones  ‘Rwanda…You See Ghosts I See Sky’  (Six Degrees)  DV
Review

Goon  ‘Hour of Green Evening’ (Demode Recordings)  Graham Domain
Review

Guillotine Crowns  ‘Hills to Die On’  (Uncommon Records)  MO
Review

Gwenno ‘Tresor’ (Heavenly Recordings)  GD

H.

Aldous Harding  ‘Warm Chris’ (4AD)  GD

Healing Force Project  ‘Drifted Entities Vol. 1’  (Beat Machine Records)  DV
Review

Sven Helbig  ‘Skills’  (Modern Recordings)  DV
Review

Bruno Hibombo  ‘Parting Words’  DV

Houseplants  ‘II’  (Win Big Records)  DV
Review

John Howard  ‘From The Far Side Of A Miss’  (Kool Kat)  DV
Review

I.

IBERI  ‘Supra’  (Naxos World Music)  DV

J.

Juga-Naut  ‘Time & Place’ (Juga-Naut)  MO

JPEGMAFIA  ‘OFFLINE!’  ACK

K.

Kamikaze Palm Tree ‘Mint Chip’  (Drag City)  BBS
Review

Kick  ‘Light Figures’  (Anomic Records/Dischi Sottoernnei/Sour Grapes)  DV
Review

King Kashmere  ‘Woof’  (High Focus)  MO

Evan Kertman ‘Rancho Shalom’  (Perpetual Doom)  BBS
Review

KMRU  ‘Temporary Stored’  ACK

L.

Labelle  ‘Éclat’  (Infiné)  DV
Review

The Legless Crabs ‘Always Your Boy’  (Metal Postcard Records)  BBS
Review

The Legless Trials ‘Cheese Sandwich’  (Metal Postcard Records)  BBS

Kristine Leschper  ‘The Opening Or Closing Of A Door’  (Anti-)  DV
Review

Liraz  ‘Roya’  (Glitterbeat)  DV
Review

Francesco Lurgo  ‘Sleep Together Folded Like Origami’  (Bosco Records)  DV
Review

Lyrics Born  ‘Mobile Homies’  (Mobile Home Recordings)  MO
Review

Keep an eye out later this week for Part Two.

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

CHOICE MUSIC FROM THE LAST MONTH
CURATED BY DOMINIC VALVONA

The very last monthly playlist of 2022 is a bumper edition of eclectic choice music from the last month, with a smattering of tracks from upcoming December releases too.

This month’s picks have been collected from Dominic Valvona, Matt Oliver, Brian ‘Shea’ Bordello and Graham Domain. The full track list can be found below the Spotify link.

The monthly will be back in the New Year. Until then absorb this behemoth of a selection, and next month, ponder and peruse the blog’s 140 plus albums of 2022 features.

TRACK LIST IN FULL

Black Market Karma/Tess Parks  ‘The Sky Was All Diseased’
Enter Laughing  ‘Met Me When I landed’
Salem Trials  ‘Man From Atlantis Is Dead’
Humour  ‘Jeans’
Cities Aviv  ‘Funktion’
Vlimmer  ‘Mathematik’
Gabrielle Ornate  ‘Phantasm’
Dead Horses  ‘Can’t Talk, Can’t Sleep’
Lunar Bird  ‘Driven By The Light’
Mui Zyu  ‘Rotten Bun’
Thank You Lord For Satan  ‘When We Dance’
Pozi  ‘Slightly Shaking Cells’
My Friend Peter  ‘When I Was’
U.S. Girls  ‘Bless This Mess’
Sofie Royer  ‘Feeling Bad Forsyth Street’
Surya Botofasina  ‘Beloved California Temple’
Edrix Puzzle  ‘Shadow of Phobe’
Let Spin  ‘Waveform Guru’
Etceteral  ‘Gologlavka’
Juga-Naut  ‘Camel Walk’
The Pyramids  ‘Queens Of The Spirits Part 1’
Illogic  ‘Nowhere Fast’
Planet Asia/Snowgoons/Flash  ‘Metabolism’
Dabbla/alone  ‘Adept’
Karu  ‘Spears Of Leaves’
Neon Kittens  ‘Nil By Vein’
Renelle 893/King Kashmere  ‘My Demons’
Mount Kimbie/Don Maker/Kai Campos Ft. Slowthai  ‘Kissing’
Homeboy Sandman/Deca  ‘Satellite’
Uusi Aika  ‘S-T’
Gillian Stone  ‘The Throne’
Raw Poetic/Damu The Fudgemunk  ‘A Mile In My Head’
Boldy James/Futurewave  ‘Mortemir Milestone’
Arthur King  ‘Dig Precious Things’
Tom Skinner  ‘Voices (Of The Past)’
Trans Zimmer & The DJs  ‘Wind Quintet No. 3 In E Major, Second Movement’
George T  ‘Dub On, King’s Cross’
The Dark Jazz Project  ‘Great Skies’
Noémi Büchi  ‘Measuring All Possibilities’
Russ Spence  ‘Spectrum’
Seez Mics/Aupheus  ‘Cancel The Guillotine’
Dezron Douglas  ‘J Bird’
Fliptrix/Illinformed  ‘Eden’
Apollo Brown/Philmore Greene  ‘This Is Me’
Illogic  ‘She Didn’t Write’
Milc/Televangel Ft. AJ Suede  ‘Ronald Reagan’
Vincent/The Owl/Nick Catchdubs  ‘Fade 2 Black’
Shirt/Jack Splash  ‘Cancel Culture’
Clouds In A Headlock/ASM/Daylight Robbery  ‘3D Maze’
The Strange Neighbour/Leolex/Bobby Slice Ft. DJ Sixkay  ‘Keep Your Head Straight’
Kormac  Ft. Loah & Jafaris  ‘Bottom Of The Ocean’
A. O. Gerber  ‘Walk In The Dark’
Ben Pagano  ‘Hot Capital’
Hög Sjö  ‘Love Is A Gamble’
Kinked  ‘Introduzione Alla Fabula’
Årabrot  ‘Going Up’
Old Fire Ft. Julia Holter  ‘Window Without A World’
Meg Baird  ‘Star Hill Song’
Susanna/Stina Stjern/Delphine Dora  ‘Elevation’
Rita Braga  ‘Nothing Came From Nowhere’
Orchid Mantis  ‘Endless Life’
The Zew  ‘Come On Down’
Ocelot  ‘Santa Ana’
LINN  ‘Okay, Sister’
Sanfeliu  ‘Grassy Patch’
Young Ritual  ‘Ages’
Yermot  ‘Leaning To Lie’


Posts 2021/2022

October 1, 2021

All the posts from this year and the last.

JANUARY 2022

Our Daily Bread 485: Omega Institute ‘Panic Mount’ (Graham Domain)

Monolith Cocktail Social #62: Fake Fruit, Large Plants, Jeff Parker, Family Portrait… (Dominic Valvona)

ODB 486: Labelle ‘Eclat‘ (DV)

ODB 487: The NoMen, The Jazz Butcher, Salem Trials, Colonial Skyline… (Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea)

The Perusal #24: Spaceface, Mainstream Funk, Roedelius & Story, Cephas Teom… (DV)

ODB 488: Acid Mother Reynols ‘Volume 2’ (DV)

Kalporz X Monolith Cocktail: Interview With Rival Consoles (Paolo Bardelli)

ODB 489: Trupa Trupa ‘B Flat A’ (DV)

Monthly Choice Music Playlist: Binker & Moses, RULES, Selci, Nelson Dialect & Mr Slipz… (Team)

FEBRUARY

ODB 490: Silverbacks ‘Archive Material’ (GD)

ODB 491: Provincials ‘Heaven Protect Us’ (DV)

ODB 492: Mermaid Avenue, Armstrong, Pulco, Ghosts Of Torrez… (BBS)

The Perusal #25: Ilmiliekki Quartet, Daisy Glaze, Wovenhand, T.E. Yates… (DV)

Monolith Cocktail Social #63: BDP, Bad Brains, Lata Mangeshkar, Ronnie Spector… (DV)

ODB 493: Brian Bordello ‘Cardboard Box Beatles’ (DV)

ODB 494: Marsiglia Records Special (GD)

ODB 495: Dubbledge & Forest DLG ‘Ten Toes Down’ (Matt Oliver)

ODB 496: Future Kult ‘S-T’ (DV)

ODB 497: The White Russian, Goa Express, Red Pants, Legless Trials… (BBS)

ODB 498: Carl Schilde ‘Europop’ (GD)

Premiere (Video): Ben Osborn ‘Are We The Flood?’ (DV)

The Perusal #26: Jane Inc., Nova Charm, Širom, Houseplants… (DV)

Monthly Choice Music Playlist: Animal Collective, Lucidvox, Your Old Droog, Gabrielle Ornate… (Team)

MARCH

Kalporz X MC: Big Thief ‘Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You’ (SAMUELE CONFICONI)

ODB 499: Simon Grab And Francesco Giudici ‘[No] Surrender’ (Graham Domain)

MC Social Playlist #64: National Choir Of The Ukraine, Your Old Droog, Oleska Suyhodolyak, Faust… (DV)

ODB 500: John Howard ‘LOOK! The Unknown Story Of Danielle Du Bois’ (DV)

ODB 501: Sweeney ‘Stay For the Sorrow’ (GD)

The Perusal #27: El Khat Aalbat Alawi Op. 99’, Tone Of Voice Orchestra ‘S-T’, Kristine Leschper ‘The Opening Or Closing Of A Door’, The Lancashire Hustlers ‘Big Ask’, Koma Saxo w/ Sofia Jernberg ‘Koma West’, Kick ‘Light Figures’, Pjusk ‘Sentrifuge’, Anthéne & Simon McCorry ‘Mind Of Winter’, Various ‘I Won’t Give Up’, Escupemetralla ‘Maldacena Duality’, Solidarity ‘Blue And Yellow’ & “Yellow And Blue’, The Post-Everything Collective & Friends Present: ‘Ukrainian Relief Compilation’, Various ‘Music For Ukraine’, Various Artists ‘Pacification’ (DV)

ODB 502: Papercuts ‘Lodger’, Adam Walton ‘Cloudburst EP’, Pit Pony ‘Black Tar’, Crows ‘Garden Of England’, The Monochrome Set ‘Allhallowtide’, Shelterheart ‘Shelterheart’, Chlorinefields ‘Reclaim Your Brain’, Plastic Candles ‘Dust’ (BBS)

ODB 503: Bleak Soul ‘Shouting With Nothing To Say’ (DV)

Premiere: Mai Mai Mai Ft. Vera di Lecce ‘Fimmene Fimmene’ (DV)

ODB 504: Stepbrothers featuring The Honourable Ted ‘EP’ (GD)

The Perusal #28: Amine Mesnaoui & Labelle ‘African Prayers’, Nicolas Zullo ‘Credendoti Montagna’, Bart Davenport ‘Episodes’, Harry Christelis & Pedro Velasco ‘Scribbling’,
Yamash’ta & The Horizon ‘Sunrise From West Sea Live’, Ben Vida And Lea Bertucci ‘Murmurations’, Kumo ‘Three Tigers’, Adams, Dunn & Haas ‘Future Moons (DV)

Monthly Playlist: El Khat, Koma Saxo, Big Thief, Sweeney, ASSASSUN, Crows, Alice Dreamt, Terakaft… (TEAM)

ODB 505: Sis ‘Gnani’ (GD)


APRIL

ODB 506: David J ‘What the Patrons Heard’ (GD)

ODB 507: Violet Nox ‘Eris Wakes’ (DV)

K X MC: Celebrating The Legacy Of Pat Fish (Matteo Maioli)

ODB 508: Matt Donovan ‘Habit Formations’ (DV)

ODB 509: The Good Ones ‘Rwanda…You See Ghosts, I See Sky’. (DV)

Monolith Cocktail Social #65: Mira Calix, Taylor Hawkins, Big Star, Bruiser Wolf… (DV)

ODB 510: Papercuts ‘Palm Sunday’, Crystal Eyes ‘Like A Movie’, Otoboke Beaver ‘Pardon’, YOVA ‘Make It Better’, East Portal ‘Untitled #3’, Evan Kertman ‘Rancho Shalom’, The Legless Crabs ‘Always Your Boy’, Mercvrial ‘Brief Algorithms’ (BBS)

The Perusal #29: IFRIQIYYA ELECTRIQUE ‘Nafta Naghara’, Jane Inc. ‘Faster Than I Can Take’, Birds In The Brickwork ‘Recovery’, Kota Motomura ‘Pay It Forward’, OK:KO ‘Liesu’, Kloot Per W ‘Arbre A Filles’, Jörg Thomasius ‘Acht Gesänge der Schwarzen Hunde (Experimenteller Elektronik-Underground DDR 1989)’ , Qrauer ‘Heeded’, Astrel K ‘Flickering I’, Sinnen ‘Hawk Moth Man’. (DV)

Premiere: (Video) Mike Gale ‘I’m Really Gone’. (DV)

ODB 511: Anton Barbeau ‘Power Pop’. (GD)

ODB 512: Brainwaltzera ‘ITSAME’ (Mikey McDonald)

Premiere: (Track) Luke Mawdsley ‘Higher Plains Suffering’. (DV)

ODB 513: Lyrics Born ‘Mobile Homies Season 1’. (MO)

ODB 514: Roger Eno ‘The Turning Year’, Dana Gavanski ‘When It Comes’, Ignacio Simon ‘Old Friends’, Bambara  ‘Love On My Mind’. (GD)

Monthly Playlist Revue: Şatellites, África Negra, Lunar C, Circe… (TEAM)

MAY 2022

ODB 515: Pussy Riot And Slayyyter ‘Hate Fuck’, Boycalledcrow ‘Wizards Castle’, Amoeba Teen ‘S-T’
The Walker Brigade ‘If Only’, Bithammer ‘Minimum Style, Maximum Effort!’, Ralph Of London ‘Yellow Sky Highway’, Cryptic Commands ‘Long Distance Call’, Salem Trials ‘Love Joan Jett’ & ‘Vegaland’, Adam Walton ‘Afal’, Sophie Sleigh-Johnson  ‘Nuncio Ref!’ (BBS)

K X MC: [Scoutcloud] Leoni Leoni. (Monica Mazzoli)

The Perusal #30: Stephanie Santiago ‘Activa Tu Cuerpo’, Celestial North ‘When The Gods Dance’, Orryx ‘Ifera’, Black Mango ‘Quicksand’, Private Agenda ‘A Mannequin’, Saturno 2000: La Rebajada de Los Sonideros 1962 – 1983, Ethan Woods ‘Burnout’, Misha Sultan ‘Roots’, Gustavo Yashimura ‘Living Legend Of The Ayacucho Guitar’, Ghost Power ‘S-T’, Exterior ‘Umbilical Digital’,
The Staple Jr. Singers ‘When Do We Get Paid’. (DV)

ODB 516: SAULT ‘AIR’. (ACK)

ODB 517: Ali Murray ‘Wilderness of Life’. (GD)

ODB 518: Guillotine Crowns ‘Hills to Die On’. (MO)

The Social #66: Ornette Coleman, Stereolab, Sinead O Brien, Clap! Clap!, PENDANT, Modern Studies, Nathan Francis, Farhot and Rancho Relaxo. (DV)

The Perusal #31: The Master Musicians Of Jajouka ‘Dancing Under The Moon’, Avalanche Kaito ‘ST’, Jimi Tenor ‘Multiversum’, Lucrecia Dalt ‘The Seed’, Brigitte Beraha ‘Blink’, Various ‘Sharayet El Disco: Egyptian Disco & Boogie Cassettes 1982-1992’, Sebastian Reynolds ‘Athletics EP’, Flat Worms ‘Live in Los Angeles’, Francesco Lurgo ‘Sleep Together Folded Like Origami’ (DV)

ODB 519: Schizo Fun Addict ‘Fate Chaser’, bigflower ‘The Pill’, Borben Dallas & His Filipino Cupids ‘Too Convenient’, Martha and the Muffins ‘Save It For Later’, James Howard ‘Baloo’, Fast De ‘Miss Trutti Finally Found Her Gem’, Pineapple ‘Trials’, Linn ‘Happiness is Real’, Faust ‘Punkt’, Jelly Crystall ‘ILY’, Alas The Sun ‘Wild Honey Inn’, Black Monitor  ‘Snake Of My Heart’, Super Hit ‘Pocket Rock EP’, Spiral Of Silence ‘Landmark’ (BBS)

The Monthly Playlist: Deca, Masai Bey, Ramson Badbonez, Vera Di Lecce… (DV)

JUNE 2022

ODB 520: Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita ‘Echo’. (DV)

ODB 521: Jacek Doroszenko ft. Ewa Doroszenko ‘Bodyfulness’. (ACK)

K X MC: (Essay) Bob Dylan. The Mask And The Songwriter. (Samuele Conficoni)

ODB 522: Cumgirl8 ‘Dumb Bitch’, Lucigenic ‘Joy’, Woog Riots ‘Beatnik’, Legless Trials ‘Dirt Bike/Failed Words’, Wolf Vanwymeersch ‘The Early Years’, Team Play ‘Wishes And Desires’, Spygenius ‘Jobbernowl’, Ghost Woman ‘Ghost Woman’, Rogers and Butler ‘Brighter Day’. (BBS)

Social Playlist #67: Julee Cruise, Cathal Coughlan, Party Dozen, Rachel Eckroth, Matthew Dear… (DV)

ODB 523: Vukovar ‘The Body Abdicator’. (DV)

The Perusal #32: Claude ‘Twenty Something’, La Chinaca ‘Juegos Malosos’, Gabrielle Ornate ‘Free Falling’, Tess Tyler (Ft. Barney Sage) ‘Sell The Sky’, The Paxton/Spangler Septet ‘Ugquozi’, Ghost Horse ‘Il Bene Comune’, Farmer ‘Things Do Things Without Thinking’, Omertà ‘Collection Particulière’, Xqui ‘Pieces Part 2’, The Mining Co. ‘Acoustic Phenomenology’, Loris Cericola ‘Metaphysical Graffiti’, Flying Moon In Space ‘Zwei’ (DV)

ODB 524: Angel Olsen  ‘Big Time’. (MM)

Monthly Playlist: Santigold, Taraka, Dungen, Pan Amsterdam & Damu The Fudgemunk, Bishop Nehru… (TEAM)

JULY 2022

ODB 525: Gillian Stone ‘Amends’, Hal Cannon  ‘Thirty-Six Miles’, The Legless Crabs ‘I Wanna Be A Cult Musician’, Beija Flo  ‘Waiting For The Sun’, A.D Luck ‘WORMWOOD’, The Doomed Bird of Providence  ‘A Flight Across Arnhem Land’, The Meltdown ‘Its A Long Road’, The Burning Hell ‘Garbage Island’. (BBS)

The Perusal #33: Various ‘Pierre Barouh And The Saravah Sound: Jazz, Samba And Other Hallucinatory Grooves’, Various ‘Spirit of France’, Nwando Ebizie ‘The Swan’, Healing Force Project ‘Drifted Entities (Vol. 1)’, Toni Tubna w/ the Stockholm Tuba Sect  ‘When The Magic Went Wrong’, Anelli Beauchamp Cauduro  ‘Sometimes Someone Watches’, The Dark Jazz Project ‘ST’, Delmore FX ‘Scompaio’, Runningonair ‘B.A.U.’ (DV)

ODB 526: Jill Richards/Kevin Volans  ‘Études’. (ACK)

ODB 527: The Difference Machine  ‘Unmasking The Spirit Fakers’. (MO)

MC Social #68:  Amon Düül II’, Curtis Mayfield, Wu-Lu, Horsegirl, Cities Aviv, Eerie Wanda, Basia Bulet… (DV)

ODB 528: Dreamworld Or: the fabulous life of Dan Treacy and his band The Television Personalities’ by Benjamin Berton. (Rick ACV)

ODB 529: Various ‘Live At WOMAD 1982’. (DV)

ODB 530: Aftab Darvishi  ‘A Thousand Butterflies’. (ACK)

ODB 531: Brona McVittie ‘The Woman in The Moon’ (Single), Panjoma ‘Sun and Moon’, Jose Medeles ‘Railroad, Cadences and Melancholic Anthems’, Hari Sima ‘Solo en Occidente’. (GD)

KXMC: (LIVE) Amyl And The Sniffers June 16 2022. (MM)

ODB 532: Catarina Barbieri ‘Spirit Exit’. (ACK)

Monthly Playlist: U.S. Girls, The Difference Machine, Archers Of Loaf, The Korea Town Oddity (Ft. Kahil Sadiq), BKO, Hatis Noit  (TEAM)

AUGUST 2022

ODB 533: Andrés Alcover ‘Where Did We Go Wrong?’, Mike Badger ‘Beatin’ A Path (To Your Door)’, Salem Trials ‘Another Fripp World’, Lucy And The Drill Holes ‘It’s Not My War’, Imaad Wasif  ‘Fader’, Oliver Birch ‘Burning Daylight’, Nick Frater ‘Aerodrome Motel’, Kamikaze Palm Tree ‘Mint Chip’,
Legless Trials ‘Cheese Sandwich’ (BBS)

ODB 534: Goon ‘Hour of Green Evening’, Revelators ‘Revelators Sound System’, Diamanda La Berge Dramm ‘Chimp’, Julian Tenembaum ‘Fragmentos’, Social Union ‘Fall into Me’ EP. (GD)

The Perusal #34: The Movers ‘Vol 1 – 1970 – 1976’, Claude ‘A Lot’s Gonna Change’, Staraya Derevnya ‘Boulder Blues’, Li Yilei ‘Secondary Self’, Foch/Delplanque ‘Live Au GRM’, Shepherd Stevenson ‘Man Down’, THLTTLDBB ‘SeeUSearching’, Brown Calvin ‘dimension//perspective’, Die Welttraumforscher ‘Liederbuch’. (DV)

ODB 535: Helena Celle ‘Music For Counterflows’. (ACK)

ODB 536: John Howard ‘In The Eyeline Of Furtherance’. (DV)

ODB 537: Yanna Momina ‘Afar Ways’. (DV)

ODB 538: Ali Murray ‘Passing Through the Void EP’. (GD)

NOVEL SERIALISATION: Astral Deaths & Astral Lights (Parts One & Two) by Rick ACV.

Singles Night At Monolith Cocktail HQ: Montparnasse Musique ‘Bonjour’, Future Kult ‘We’, Lunar Bird ‘Venilia’, Celestial North ‘Yarrow’, Violet Nox ‘Magnetar’, Gabrielle Ornate ‘The Undying Sleep, Barrio Lindo ‘Espuma de Mar. (DV)

NOVEL SERIALISATION: Astral Deaths & Astral Lights (Part Three) by Rick ACV

Monthly Playlist: Grooto Terazza, Your Old Droog & Madlib, Dearly Beloved, Vieux Farka Toure & Khruangbin, Lucy & The Drill Holes, Verbz & Mr Slipz… (TEAM)

SEPTEMBER 2022

ODB 539: Tess Tyler ‘Fractals Vols. 1 & 2’. (GD)

ODB 540: Alexander Stordiau ‘Nothings Ever Required’, It’s Karma It’s Cool ‘A Gentle Reminder’, Anxiolytics ‘S​{​R​}​[​C​]​O​[​{​T​}​[​R​]​CHED EARTH’, Floorbrothers ‘Drive’, Bigflower ‘Tried To Care’, Rob Clarke And The Woolltones ‘Rubber Chicken B-Sides’, The Pixies ‘Doggeral’, Keiron Phelan & The Peace Signs ‘Bubblegum Boogie’, Grave Goods ‘Tursday. Nothing Exists’, The Legless Crabs ‘And If You Change Your Mind About Rock ‘n’ Roll’, Salem Trials  ‘Postcards From The Other Side Of The Sun’, Andrei Rikichi ‘Caged Birds Think Flying Is A Sickness’. (BBS)

The Perusal #35: Al-Qasar ‘Who Are We?’, Clear Path Ensemble ‘Solar Eclipse’, Forest Robots ‘Supermoon Moonlight Part Two’, Machine ‘S-T’, Noah ‘Noire’, Lampen ‘S-T’, Qrauer ‘Odd Fazes’, Simon McCorry ‘Scenes From The Sixth Floor’, REZO ‘Sew Change’, John Howard ‘From The Far Side Of A Far Miss’, Yara Asmar ‘Home Recordings 2018-2021’, Valentina Magaletti & Yves Chaudouët ‘Batterire Fragile’. (DV)

ODB 541: No Age ‘People Helping People’. (DV)

NOVEL SERIALISATION: Astral Deaths & Astral Lights (Part Four) by Rick ACV

Social Playlist #69: Ramsey Lewis, Hubble Bubble, Anquette, Horseface, Poets Of Elan, Paul Misraki... (DV)

ODB 542: Christina Vantzou, Michael Harrison and John Also Bennett ‘Self-Tilted’. (ACK)

ODB 543: The Bordellos ‘Ronco Revival Sound’ (GD)

Monthly Playlist: Al-Qasar Ft. Jello Biafra, Antonis Antoniou, The Beach Boys, Sonnyjim/The Purist Ft. MF DOOM & Jay Electronica, Conformist X H O R S E S  (TEAM)

OCTOBER 2022

ODB 544: Brona McVittie ‘The Woman in The Moon’. (GD)

Serialisation: ‘Astral Deaths & Astral Lights’ By Rick ACV (Part Five). (RACV)

The Perusal #36: Liraz ‘Roya’, Tau & The Drones Of Praise ‘Misneach’, Carl Stone ‘We Jazz Reworks Vol.2’, Say What ‘S-T’, Aucoin ‘Synthetic: A Synth Odyssey Season 1’, Montparnasse Musique ‘Archeology’, CAN ‘Live In Cuxhaven, 1976’, Puppies In The Sun ‘Light Became Light’, Spelterini ‘Paréidolie’, No Base Trio ‘II’. (DV)

Kalporz X Monolith Cocktail: (Review) ÉLIANE RADIGUE ‘Occam XXV’ (Edoardo Maggiolo)

ODB 545: Clark ‘Body Riddle & 05-10’ (ACK)

The Social Playlist #70: Pharoah Sanders, Ros Serey Sothea, R.E.M., J Scienide, Genesis, Nicolini…. (DV)

ODB 546: Blue Violet ‘Favourite Jeans’, Psychotic Monks ‘Post-Post-’, Una Rose ‘Resolutions’, Carla Dal Forno ‘Side By Side’, Super Hit ‘Get It Together’, Derrero ‘Curvy Lines’, Tuomo & Markus ‘Game Changing’, David Westlake ‘My Beautiful England’, Jd Meatyard ‘Live The Life’, Librarians With Hickeys ‘Handclaps And Tambourines’. (BBS)

Serialisation: ‘Astral Deaths & Astral Lights’ By Rick ACV (Part Six). (RACV)

Monthly Playlist Revue: Muramuke, Marlowe, Voice Actor, Lira, Underground Canopy, Keep Shelly In Athens…. (TEAM)

NOVEMBER 2022

ODB 547: Old Fire ‘Voids’, FaltyDL ‘A Nurse to my Patience’, A O Gerber ‘Meet Me at the Gloaming’, Modern Stars ‘Space Trips for the Masses’, Ben Pagano ‘Exploring Dreams’, I Work in Communications ‘Kiss My Emoji Ring’, Tigercub ‘The Perfume of Decay’, Gillian Stone ‘Ravens Song’. (GD)

The Perusal #37: Edrix Puzzle ‘Coming Of The Moon Dogs’, Surya Botofasina ‘Everyone’s Children’, Etceteral ‘Rhizome’, Karu ‘An Imaginary Journey’, The Dark Jazz Project ‘S-T’, Yemrot ‘The Sunken Garden’, The Magic City Trio ‘Amerikana Arkana’, Leverton Fox ‘In The Flicker’, Dead Horses ‘Sunny Days’, Biensüre ‘S-T’, Trans Zimmer & The DJs ‘S-T’, Casta ‘The Temple Of Doom’. (DV)

The Social Playlist #71: Tame One, Aphex Twin, Orange Juice, CAN, Ryo Fukui, Bnny…. (DV)

ODB 548: Cormac O Caoimh ‘Didn’t We’, Schizo Fun Addict ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’, Salem Trials ‘Zipporah’, bigflower ‘Magic Beans’, Mark Hegan ‘Rearrange Me’, Thank You Lord For Satan, THE Zew ‘IFI1IFO’, Neon Kittens ‘S-T’, Russ Spence ‘Attempted Soundscapes EP’, Cream Gorilla ‘S-T’, Bigfatbig ‘Rockin’ And Rollin’ and Whatnot’, Dot Dash  ‘Madman In The Rain’, Vlimmer ‘Menschenleere’ (BBS)

ODB 549: Gillian Stone ‘Spirit Photographs’. (DV)

ODB 550: Mauricio Takara and Carla Boregas  ‘Grande Massa D’Agua’ (DV)

ODB 551: ENTER LAUGHING  ‘Met Me When I Landed’, KROOKED TONGUE  ‘Lupines’, UNWAVERING  ‘Ley lines in the Forth’ (four track EP), YOUNG RITUAL  ‘Ages’, OTHER LANDS  ‘Archipelagos’, LET SPIN  ‘Thick As Thieves’, SLIM WRIST  ‘Closer For Comforting’, OCELOT  ‘Auringon Puutarha’, VENN  ‘Identity Crisis’. (GD)

Monthly Playlist: Cities Aviv, Mui Zyu, Edrix Puzzle, Juga-Naut, Illogic, Arthur King…. (TEAM)

DECEMBER 2022

Kalporz X Monolith Cocktail: (Review) Weyes Blood ‘And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow’ (Paolo Bardelli)

The Perusal #38: David Lance Callahan  ‘English Primitive II’, Noémi Büchi  ‘Matter’, Björn Magnusson  ‘Nightclub Music & Ethereal Faith’, Orchid Mantis ‘How long Will It Take’, Designers ‘S-T’, Greg Nieuwsma & Antonello Perfetto  ‘Chase ritual’, Anton Barbeau  ‘Stranger’, Kinked And Señor Service ‘Reincanto/Real Bwoy’, Various  ‘Perú Selvático – Sonic Expedition Into The Peruvian Amazon 1972 – 1986’  (DV)

ODB 552: John Howard  ‘Christmas Was Made For The Children’, LINN  ‘Okay, Sister’, Humour  ‘Jeans’, Dead Patrons  ‘Nothing’, Kevin Robertson ‘Why/D.C.B.A 25’, Sanfeliu  ‘To Absent Friends’, Richard Öhrn  ‘Sounds In English’, Eamon The Destroyer  ‘A Small Blue Car -Re-made/Re-modelled’, Scott Robertson  ‘Footprints In The Butter’. (BBS)

Choice Albums of 2022: Part One: A to L: Anthéne & Simon McCorry to Lyrics Born. (TEAM)

Choice Albums of 2022: Part Two: M to Z: Machine Girl to THE Zew. (TEAM)

JANUARY 2021

Tribute: Temple Of (MF) Doom Playlist And Feature. (Dominic Valvona)

Our Daily Bread 416: Conny Frischauf ‘Die Drift’. (DV)

ODB 417: Verses Bang ‘The New Normal’. (DV)

ODB 418: University Challenged ‘Oh Temple!’. (DV)

Premiere: (Video) HESS ‘Substituer Un Traumatisme Imaginaire A Un Veritable Chagrin’. (DV)

Tickling Our Fancy 096: White Ring ‘Light Hours Linger’. Mazeppa ‘Roses’, Azmari ‘Samas’, Myles Cochran ‘Unsung’, Seb Reynolds ‘Nihilism Is Pointless’, RVDS ‘Moods & Dances 2021’, Anaximander Fragment ‘Wagon Down Horse’, SAD MAN ‘Music Of Dreams And Panic’. (DV)

ODB 419: Wedding Present ‘We Should Be Together’, Falcon Jane ‘Heaven’, bigflower ‘Medicine’, Black Twig ‘Devils Please Be Gone’, Cromwell ‘My Darkest Hour’, The Stan Laurels ‘There Is No Light Without The Dark’, Vapour Trails ‘Underneath Tomorrow’. (Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea)

Kalporz X Monolith Cocktail: Kalporz teams albums of 2020.

ODB 420: The Telescopes ‘Song Of Love And Revolution’. (DV)

ODB 421: Disco Zombies ‘South London Stinks’. (DV)

Prem: (Video) Balkan Taksim ‘Anadolka’. (DV)

Monthly Playlist: Melt Yourself Down, Madlib, Farhot, Paul McCartney, Jane Inc., Steve Swell… (Matt Oliver/DV/BBS)

FEBUARY

Kalporz X MC: IT. Alien Column Playlist. (Claudia Calabresi)

TOF 097: Altin Gun ‘Yol’, Lion’s Drum ‘Kagabas’, Meril Wubslin ‘Alors Quoi’, KYSE ‘Ayuno’, Chuck Johnson ‘The Cinder Grove’, Simon McCorry ‘Nature Is Nature’, Luke Brennan ‘The Rush To The Sky’. (DV)

ODB 422: Kipper Gillespie ‘No Sunshine’, Wedding Present ‘Locked Down And Stripped Back’, Fat Francis ‘Breakfasts For Losers’, The Legless Crabs ‘Onions’, Orphelia Bruuce ‘Psychodelia Vol.1’, LVDS ‘S/T’, Dolph Chaney ‘This Is Dolph Chaney’, Luke Russell ‘Upbeat Downbeat’, The Crushing Velvets ‘a Dream Without Colour’, Ocelot ‘Unelmoi‘. (BBS)

ODB 423: Mazeppa ‘S/T’. (DV)

Monolith Cocktail Social Playlist #52: Grazia, Slyvain Slyvain, Prince Lasha, Blade, Trees, Sven Wunder, Jody Grind… (DV)

ODB 424: Alesund ‘Lightning’, Hooveriii ‘Control’, Spam Javelin ‘Three Chords Of The Apocalyptic Cherry Fez…And Other Stories’, BOYA ‘Momentary Moments’, Seth Martin & The Dash Boys ‘The golden Book Of Favourite Songs’, Air Hunger ‘F-I-X-E-R’. (BBS)

ODB 425: White Ring ‘Show Me Heaven’. (DV)

TOF 098: The Invisible Sessions ‘Echoes Of Africa’, Don Cherry ‘Cherry Jam’, Omar Khorshid ‘With Love’, His Name Is Alive ‘Hope Is A Candle: Home Recordings Vol. 3’, Camera ‘Prousthuman’, Mapstation ‘My Frequencies, When We’, Julia Meijer ‘The Place Where You Are’, Obay Alsharani ‘Sandbox’. (DV)

ODB 426: Illman ‘Ugly Days’. (MO)

ODB 427: Anansy Cisse ‘Anoura’. (DV)

Monthly Playlist: Byard Lancaster, Samba Toure, Strange U, The Crushing Velvets, Dom La Nena… (DV/MO/BBS)

MARCH

ODB 428: Various ‘La Ola Interior: Spanish Ambient & Acid Exoticism 1983-1990‘. (DV)

Kalporz X MC: A Minor Place ‘It’ll End In Smile’. (Nicola Guerra)

ODB 429: Bloom De Wilde ‘Flying Carpenters’, New America ‘Hong Kong Free Pass’, Various ‘The Sound Of Northern Star’, A Clean Kitchen Is A Happy Kitchen ‘2 PCs Chicken – Live In Staines’, The Salem Trials ‘No Waving/File Under Concrete’, Armstrong ‘Beechwood Park’, Dare Above Nemo ‘Mimic EP’, Chris Church ‘Game Dirt’, Futurafter ‘Ep A’, Fatherfigures ‘Any Time Now…And High Time Too’. (BBS)

ODB 430: Witch Camp: I’ve Forgotten Now Who I Used To Be. (DV)

TOF 099: Jane Inc. ‘Number One’, Various ‘Edo Funk Explosion Vol. 1’, Cory Hanson ‘Pale Horse Rider’, Ensemble Da Cadavres Exquis ‘The Warlock Tapes’, Mosquitoes ‘S/T’, Petrolio ‘Club Athletico’, Cementation Anxiety ‘In Continual’, Mecanica Clasica ‘Mar Interior’, Timo Lassy & Teppo Makynen ‘Live Recordings 2019-2020’. (DV)

ODB 431: Forest Robots ‘Amongst A landscape Of Spiritual Reckoning’. (DV)

MC Social #53: R.E.M., Amon Duul II, Poison Girls, Oblivians, Lejuan Love, Falle Nioke, Freur… (DV)

ODB 432: Rafiki Jazz ‘NDUGGU’. (DV)

ODB 433: Chinese American Bear ‘Dumpling’, Opus Kink ‘Wild Bill’, Abacaxi ‘Mainstream Desire’, Kaleidoscope/Fairfield Parlour ‘Sky Children’, Ex Norwegian And Friends ‘Sing Jimmy Campbell’, The Dials ‘And Another Thing…B sides and Asides’, Oliver Rocabois ‘Goes Too Far’. (BBS)

ODB 434: viA fAntAsticA ‘2 Any 1’. (DV)

ODB 435: Samba Toure ‘Binga’. (DV)

Kalporz X MC: Tim Cohen ‘You Are Still Here’. (NG)

Monthly Playlist: Floating Points & Pharaoh Sanders, Andrew Hung, Electric Jalaba, Chris Church… (DV/MO/BBS)

APRIL

TOF 100: Amanda Whiting ‘After Dark’, Der Plan ‘Save Your Software’, IOKOI ‘Tales Of another Felt Sense Of Self’, Conrad Schnitzler ‘Paracon’, Kirk Barley/Church Andrews ‘Parallels’, Violet Nox ‘Whispering Galaxy’, Federico Balduccli/Fourthousandblackbirds ‘Anta Odeli Uta’, Sone Institute ‘New Vermin Replace Old’, Matt Donovan ‘Underwater Swimming’. (DV)

ODB 436: The Flying Chaucers ‘Down The Creeps’, Joy Formidable ‘Into The Blue’, Vicky Gray ‘Atlaness’, James PM Philips ‘Bones’, Temple Garden Red ‘Shift’, The Armories ‘Incognito’, Nick Waterhouse ‘Promenade Blue’, Patto ‘And That’s Jazz: Live 1971-1973’, Ollie Halsall ‘Lovers Leaping’. (BBS)

MC Social Playlist #54: Erkin Koray, The Croissants, Gary Tucker, Demon Boyz, dogfeet... (DV)

ODB 437: Khalab & M’berra Ensemble ‘M’Berra’. (DV)

ODB 438: Various ‘Bongo Joe 5th Anniversary: Futur Anterieur’. (DV)

ODB 439: Occult Character ‘The Song Remains The Same’, BMX Bandits ‘Star Wars (30th anniversary)’, Salem Trials ‘Refuse To Die’, Toxic Chicken ‘Gamelan(d) 2’, Various ‘Big Stir Singles: The Ninth Waves’, The Forty Nineteens ‘The New Roaring Twenties’, Special Interest ‘Trust No Wave’, Mark E Moon ‘Old Blood’, Lark ‘The Last Woman’, Flowertown ‘S/T’. (BBS)

ODB 440: Vukovar ‘The Great Immurement’. (DV)

ODB 441: Polyphonic Spree ‘Afflatus’. (BBS)

PREM: (Track) John Duncan & Stefano Pilia ‘Fare Forward’. (DV)

TOF 101 (Last Ever): Lisa Gerrard & Jules Maxwell ‘Burn’, Comorian We Are An Island, But We’re Not Alone’, Koma Saxo ‘Live’, Nous Alpha ‘A Walk In The Woods’, IKLAN ‘Album Number 2’, Bagaski ‘Final’, Ocra, Attack! ‘C.M.S.O.’, Federico Balducci ‘And Watch The Earth Below’, David Newlyn ‘Tapes And Ghosts’, Daughters Of The Desert ‘Sorrow Soothe’. (DV)

Kalporz X MC: Minor Moon ‘Tethers’. (Paolo Bardelli)

Monthly Playlist: Flying Lotus, Racquel jones, Adult Books, Nick Waterhouse, Verses Bang… (DV/MO/BBS)

MAY

ODB 442: Can ‘Live In Stuttgart 1975’. (DV)

ODB 443: Antonis Antoniou ‘Kkismettin’. (DV)

PREM: (Video) Field Kit ‘Don’t‘. (DV)

PREM: (Single/Track) Crab Costume ‘Disaster’. (DV)

ODB 444: Dez Dare ‘Conspiracy O’ Conspiracy’, Big Flower ‘Wicked’, Holiday Ghosts ‘North Street Air’, Salem Trials ‘A Difference Of Living’, Satch Karens ‘Snake Eyez’, Suzi Moon ‘Call The Shots’, Draaier ‘The Town That Was Murdered’, Jude Cowen Montague & Bettina Schroeder ‘Versus’, TVForDogs ‘I Only Wanted To Make You Cry’. (BBS)

ODB 445: John Howard ‘The Best Of…’. (DV)

ODB 446: Rezo ‘Travalog’. (DV)

ODB 447: BLK JKS ‘Abantu/Before Humans’. (DV)

MC Social Playlist #55: Paul McCartney, Poets Of Elan, Digital Underground, Grace Jones, Joan Of Arc, Cassie… (DV)

The Perusal #13: Andres Vargas Pinedo ‘The Fab Sound Of Andres Vargas Pinedo’, Lunar Bird ‘S/T’, Khasi-Cymru Collective ‘Sai-thain ki Sar’, Rachael Langlais ‘Dothe’, Wladtslaw Trejo ‘Nuestra Voz’, Versylen ‘Radiance‘. (DV)

ODB 448: Spindle Ensemble ‘Inkling’. (DV)

ODB 449: ODB 449: Gruff Rhys ‘Mausoleum Of My Former Self’, Nicholsan Heal ‘Apophenia’, Island ‘Do You Remember The Times’, The Pink Chameleons ‘Peace & Love’, Amy Cutler ‘The End (Also ends) Of (The) Earth And Variants’, Brendan Byrnes ‘2227’, Mekong ‘End Of The World’, The Bablers ‘Psychadilly Circus’. (BBS)

ODB 450: Acid Reich ‘Mistress Of The Perpetual’. (DV)

Monthly Playlist: Los Kings, PS5, L’Orange & Namir Blade, Pony Hunt, Liars, Sarah Neufeld… (DV/MO/BBS)

JUNE

PREM: (Video) Kid Kin ‘Under A Cloud Of Fret’. (DV)

The Perusal #14: Pons ‘Leland’, Kety Fusco ‘Ma Gnossienne’, Meggie Lemon ‘Night Shift’, Modern Blonde ‘Candyland’, Clamb ‘Earth Mother Grapefruit’, Mike Gale ‘Twin Spirit’, Palais Schaumberg ‘S/T’. (DV)

MC Social Playlist #56: Joni Mitchell, Radiohead, Art d’Ecco, Low Cut Connie, Wicked Lady… (DV)

PREM: (Track) Everest Magma ‘Nues‘. (DV)

Kalporz X MC: Bob Dylan At 80: Interview With Prof. Richard F. Thomas. (Samuele Conficoni)

ODB 451: James Henry ‘Pluck’, Simon Waldram ‘So It Goes’, Sid Bradley ‘Child of The Sea’, Big Stir Singles ‘The Tenth Wave’, Occult Character ‘Bluzzed‘. (BBS)

The Perusal #15: Rules ‘Say It Ain’t So/Florence’, Violet Nox ‘Cosmic Bits (J. Bagist Remix)’, Whispering Sons ‘Several Others’, Black Tempel Pyramid ‘The Hierophant’, Sara Oswald & Feldermelder ‘Drawn’, Night Sky Pulse ‘These Possible Lives’, Heiko Miale ‘Demo Tapes 1984-86’. (DV)

ODB 452: Andrew Hung ‘Devastations’. (DV)

ODB 453: Dal:um ‘Similar & Different’. (DV)

ODB 454: Namgar ‘Nayan Navaa’. (DV)

ODB 455: Paragon Cause ‘Disconnected’, Salem Trials ‘Headful Of Stinging Bees’, Mega Bog ‘Weight Of The Earth, On Paper’, Synthetic Villains ‘Obstacle Navigation’, Foreign Age ‘Understanding Animals’, The Early Mornings ‘Unnecessary Creation’, Cathal Coughlan ‘Song Of Aklan’. (BBS)

Monthly Playlist: Squid, Pons, Edna Frau, dwi, Shannon And The Clams, Skyzoo, Tyler The Creator... (DV/MO/BBS)

JULY

Kalporz X MC: Le Marige Collectif. (Monica Mazzoli)

The Perusal #16: Raf And O ‘Thomas Newton’, Jason Nazary ‘Spring Collection’, Chris Sharkey ‘Presets’, Passepartout Duo ‘Daylighting’, The Corrupting Sea ‘Chamber Music For The Dead’, Manzanita ‘Trujillo, Peru 1971-1974’, Karen Zane ‘Cloaked’. (DV)

MC Social Playlist #57: Sparks, Guru Guru, Super Fury Animals, Trader Horne, King Just, CV Vision... (DV)

ODB 456: A Journey Of Giraffes ‘Spool’. (DV)

Prem: (Video) Violet Nox ‘Haumea‘. (DV)

ODB 457: Ed Scissors + Lamplighter ‘Joysville’. (DV)

ODB 458: Lauran Hibberd ‘Bleugh’, Yammerer ‘Tell Me What The Ancient Astronaut Theorists Believe’, Bigflower ‘Hanging On’, Brian ‘Cycle Super Highway’, Anton Barbeau ‘Oh The Joys We Live For’, The Poppermost ‘Hits To Spare’, Daniel Vujanic ‘Paramnesia’, Rob Majchrowski ‘Summer 2021’, The Telephone Numbers ‘The Ballad Of Doug’. (BBS)

The Perusal #17: Motorists ‘Through To You’, PTC ‘Papagaj Ft. Vazz’, Kaukolampi ‘We Jazz Reworks Vol. 1’, Requiem & Simon McCorry ‘Critical; Mass’, Taras Bulba ‘Sometimes The Night’, The Tape Recorders ‘Wire’, Antonello Perfetto & Greg Nieuwsma ‘Aquarium’, Rhombus Index ‘Planar EP’. (DV)

ODB 459: Heyme ‘Moving On‘. (DV)

ODB 460: Xhosa Cole ‘K(no)w Them, K(no)w Us’. (DV)

Monthly Playlist: The Beach Boys, Pozi, Native Souls, Joe Blow, Regressive Left, CIX… (DV/MO/BBS)

AUGUST

ODB 461: Uncommon Nasa ‘Only Child’. (DV)

ODB 462: Seaside Witch Coven ‘A.E.O’, Bloom De Wilde ‘Garden Of The Sun’, Emily Isherwood ‘See you go’, Various ‘The Rough Guide To The Best Country Blues you’ve Never Heard Vol.2’, Graham Domain ‘without The Darkness…The Stars Could Not Shine’, Corduroy Institute ‘Eight/Chance/Meetings’, Snowcrushed ‘A Frightened Man’, Various ‘Summer Sampler #8’, William Carlos Whitten ‘My Life In Cinema’, Girl No. III ‘High-Five For Five/Four’, Sorrows ‘Love Too Late’. (BBS)

MC Social Playlist #58: Shriekback, MF Grimm, Hus KingPin, Lotus Eaters, DMZ, Cypress Hill… (DV)

The Perusal #18: Pons ‘The Pons Estate’, Seb Reynolds ‘Crows EP’, Paxton Spangler Septet ‘Anthem For The New Nation’, Giacomelli ‘Interplanetary Thoughts’, Solyst ‘Spring’, Xqui X SEODAH ‘Sufficiently Disconcerting’, Viktor Timofeev ‘Palace Of Peace & Reconciliation’, D:Rom/Shreddies ‘Sucker’, Ester Poly ‘Wet’. (DV)

Prem: (Single) Julia Meijer ‘Borta Fran Allt‘. (DV)

ODB 463: Makoto Kubota & The Sunset Gang ‘Hawaii Champroo’. (DV)

ODB 464: Forest Robots ‘Horst & Graben’. (DV)

Kalporz X MC: When Helmet Was The Symbol For The Conquest Of The Majors. (PB)

Monthly Playlist: Liz Cooper, Homeboy Sandman, Ephat Mujuru, Brandee-Younger, Pons… (DV/MO/BBS)

ODB 465: The August List ‘Wax Cat’. (DV)

September

ODB 466: Iron Maiden ‘Stratego’, Santa Sprees ‘Run Wild When I’m Gone’, Ex Norwegian ‘Thot Patrol’, Birthday Cake! ‘Methods Of Madness’, Flowertown ‘time Trials’, The Legless Crabs ‘Reno’, Speed Of Sound ‘Museum Of Tomorrow’, Salem Trials ‘Something Beginning With’. (BBS)

MC Social #59: Lee Scratch Perry, Naughty By Nature, Ernst Ranglan, Bang, L’Rain, Wu-Lu & Lex Amor... (DV)

The Perusal #19: Motorists ‘Surrounded’, Timo Lassy ‘Trio’, Various ‘Cameroon Garage Funk’, Various ‘Peru: The Land Of Echo’, Variat ‘I Can See Everything From Here’, Andrew Wasylak ‘Bulgay Hills: Morning In Magnolia’, Steve Hadfield ‘See The World Anew Vol.1’, Simon McCorry ‘Flow’, Sone Institute ‘After The Glitter Before The Decay’, Blue Mysteries ‘Dislocated’. (DV)

ODB 467: Monsieur Doumani ‘Pissourin’. (DV)

ODB 468: Santa Sprees ‘Fanfare For Tonsils’. (BBS)

ODB 469: Esbe ‘UNDER COVER’. (DV)

ODB 470: Dead Rituals & Francis Moon ‘Tangled Up’, Hits ‘Cielo Nublado’, ONETWOTHREE ‘S/T’, Equinox X Xqui ‘External Combustion Tension’, Hanrath & Way ‘Prismatic Illusions’, Sun Atoms ‘Let There Be Light’, Will Feral ‘Hellweb’. (BBS)

The Perusal #20: Dr. Joy ‘S/T’, The Mining Co. ‘Phenomenolgy’, Catherine Graindorge ‘Eldorado’, Andrew Heath ‘New Eden’, Headboggle ‘Digital Digital Analog’, Niklas Wandt ‘Solar Musil’, Ulrich Schnauss & Mark Peters ‘Destiny Waiving’, Psycho & Plastic ‘Soundtrack 2: Pappel’. (DV)

ODB 471: (Track-by-Track) Bordello & Clarke ‘Atlantic Crossings’. (DV)

Monthly Playlist: The Felice Brothers, Blu, Jazzmeia Horn, Crystal Casino Band, Kondi Band, Timo Lassy… (DV/MO/BBS)

October

ODB 472: David Ornette Cherry’s Organic Nation Listening Club ‘The Continual‘. (DV)

Kalporz X MC: (Cover World): This Strange Effect’. (PB)

MC Social #61: The UMCs, Human League, Richard H. Kirk, Sakamoto, Lael Neal… (DV)

The Perusal #21: Lexagon ‘Feminine Care’, SAD MAN ‘5 Years Of Being SAD’, Dan Hayward ‘Country Dustbin’, King Champion Sounds ‘Between Two Worlds’, David Lance Callahan ‘English Primitive I’, Angelo Bignamini ‘8 Doublings’, Miguel A. Garcia ‘Artie’, Vapors Of Morphine ‘Fear & Fantasy’. (DV)

Premiere: (EP) Abir Patwary ‘Atmosphere’. (DV)

ODB 473: Xenia Rubinos ‘Una Rosa’. (DV)

ODB 474: Japan Review ‘Kvetch Sounds’, Aliens ‘Liberation Road’, They Might Be Giants ‘Part Of You Want To Believe Me’, bigflower ‘It Won’t Be Alright’, Good Morning ‘Barn Yard’, Swansea Sound ‘Live At The Rum Puncheon’, This Heel ‘Invisible Space’, Various ‘V4 Velindre’. Bunny & The Invalid Singers ‘Flight Of The Certainty Kids’, Legless Crabs & Salem Trials ‘Legless Trails’. (BBS)

Premiere: (Track) Antonio Raia & Renato Fiorito ‘Too Many Reasons‘. (DV)

ODB 475: Kuunatic ‘Gate Of Kluna’. (DV)

ODB 476: Violet Nox ‘Super Fan (J. Bagist Remix)‘. (DV)

Halloween Special Part One: Playlist: The Halo Benders, Sam Gopal, Gloria, Drab City, Last Exit… (DV)

Halloween Special Part Two: Itchy-O ‘Sypherlot/Hallowmass’. (DV)

Monthly Playlist: Atmosphere, The Beatles, Benny Diction, Jamael Dean, Monocled Man, Astrid Swan… (DV/MO/BBS)

November

ODB 477: Jamael Dean ‘Primordial Waters’. (DV)

Premiere: (Single/Remix) Cephas Teom ‘Tomorrow’s World’. (DV)

The Perusal #22: Jaguwar ‘Gold’, Boom. Diwan Ft. Nduduzo Makhathini ‘Minarets EP’, Noah ‘Etoile’, Dear Laika ‘Pluperfect Mind’, Charlotte Greve/Wood River/Cantus Domus ‘Sediments We Move’, Lisa Butel & Brent Cross ‘A Low Lament For Love And Loss/ The Feeling Of Walking’, Hellenica ‘Blood Meridian: An Imagined Soundtrack’, Spacelab ‘Dead Dimension’, Almeeva ‘To All My Friends’, Stereo Total ‘Chanson Hysterique 1995-2005’. (DV)

Kalporz X MC: [Scoutcloud] “Drommon”, Smote’s Acid-Folk Horror Spell. (MM)

ODB 478: Blush Club ‘A Hill To Die On’, Fran Ashcroft ‘A Tour Of British Duck Ponds’, Pepe Deluxe ‘Phantom Cabinet Vol.1’, YOL ‘Viral Dogs And Cats’, Nick Frater ‘Earworms’, Die Zimmermanner ‘golden Stunde (Alle Hits 1980-2017)’, Spring ’68 ‘Sightseeing Through Music’, Dub Chieftain ‘Homeworld’, Aliens ’30Ilbs Of Air’, Legless Trials ‘What We Did During The Fall’. (BBS)

MC Social Playlist #61: Bush Tetras, The Kinks, Stone The Crows, Atlas Sound, Teenage Fanclub, Japan, Sly & The Family Stone… (DV)

ODB 479: WEWANTSOUNDS Reissue Special: Ryuichi Sakamoto ‘Esperanto’, Omar Khorshid ‘Giant + Guitar’. (DV)

ODB 480: Toumastine ‘Assouf‘. (DV)

The Perusal #23: Meskerem Mees ‘Julius’, V/A ‘Nahma: A Gulf Polyphony’, Batila ‘Tatamana’, Wet Tuna ‘Eau’d To A Fake Bookie Vol 1 & 2’, Color Dolor ‘Blurry Things’, Jack Ellister ‘Lichtpyramide II’, Simon McCorry ‘The Illusion Of Beginning And Endings’, Kensho Nakamura ‘Llamhigyn Y Dwr’, Oliver Earnest ‘The Water Goes The Other Way’, Josh Semans ‘Winter Gesture’. (DV)

ODB 481: Hackedepiccioto ‘The Silver Threshold‘. (DV)

ODB 482: Can ‘Live In Brighton 1975’. (DV)
Premiere: (Track) Theoreme ‘Les Grifles Du Partietal’. (DV)

Monthly Playlist: Circe, Kosmovoid, Park Jiha, Pave The Jungle, Ash The Author, DJ Abilities, Dr. Syntax… (DV/MO/BBS)

December

ODB 483: Placebo ‘Surrounded By Spies’, Magon ‘Egyptian Music’, bigflower ‘Supersad’, Pulco ‘Stirred Beyond Surrender’, Modesty Blaise ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’, Craig Fortnam ‘Lunar One-November 21’, The Hawks ‘Obviously 5 Believers’, Goodparley X Ioan Morris ‘Surroundings’, McCookerybook & Rotfier ‘Equal Parts 2’, Legless Trials ‘Hotwire An Ambulance’. (BBS)

ODB 485: Various ‘Essiebons Special 1973-1984//Ghana Music Power House’. (DV)

Choice Albums of 2021: Part One: A Journey Of Giraffes to Kuunatic. (DV/MO/BBS)

Choice Albums of 2021: Part Two: L’ Orange to Your Old Droog. (DV/MO/BBS)

Kalporz X Monolith Cocktail: Kalporz Album Awards 2021: Damon Albarn, Snail Mail, Helado Negro, Low… (Kalporz Editorial Team)

Dominic Valvona’s Monthly Eclectic Tastes
Album Reviews

Phil Ranelin And Wendell Harrison  ‘JID016’
(Jazz Is Dead)  27th January 2023

Old partners brought back together under the Jazz Is Dead banner, trombonist Phil Ranelin and clarinet/tenor saxophonist Wendell Harrison revive the tribe vibe of their iconic partnership from the 70s. Albeit through a modern lens, revitalized with the production and addition of the label’s instigators Adrian Younge and Ali Shaeed Muhammad.

First conceived back in Detroit after crossing paths earlier in New York, Ranelin and Harrison set up the dedicated Black consciousness imbued Tribe hub (a label, recording ensemble, community project and magazine) in the early 70s. Much of that fertile ground is trodden once more across a recording of live sounding roots music, spirituality, creation story stirrings, Afro-jazz and starry cosmology. Legacies are bound musically and business wise: that Tribe ideal and action plan outright revolutionary for the times as an example of independently owned community enterprise and spirit. And an impressive, enviable CV is channeled: Ranelin a session player on various Motown recordings, side man for Freddie Hubbard in the late 70s and early 80s, going on to record with the hard-bop pianist Freddie Redd in the 90s – not forgetting that surprising appearance on the Red Hot Chilli Peppers self-titled album in the mid 80s – but also as an artist in his own right, and Harrison, with his part in backing Marvin Gaye in the 60s as a member of Charles Campbell’s band, stints in New York with such acolytes as Grant Green, Big Maybelle and Sun Ra, a tour with Hank Crawford and also for his own solo work – most notably the iconic An Evening With The Devil LP.

Less of a weight, both participants on this new batch of recordings (laid down at Linear Lab Studios in Highland Park) freely call upon that heritage yet sound very much in the moment; bursting into life yet also reflective as they open up the valves and blow such sagacious breaths. With Younge and Muhammad playing a number of instruments (from a B3 organ to electric bass) and Greg Paul on drums the long and short woodwind and brass is filled out to the tune of funk, inner city blues, tribal percussion, contemporary breaks and some Latin-American flavours.

It begins, well…. in the very beginning with ‘Genesis’. A fecund of stirrings, growth as Eden begets the Fertile Crescent. The ancestry is all there on display; the mood an enlightened but fiery one riled by electric bass scrunches and tenor squawks. Shaken serpent percussion rattles in the Biblical waters of a more tuneful 80s Art Ensemble Of Chicago and Marcus Belgrave vibe.

Funk in the presence of esoteric learning, ‘Open Eye’ has a quickened pace. Harrison and Ranelin squeeze the air and perform downward spirals across an African shimmer. To the temple next on ‘Running With The Tribe’ before hotfooting across the grasslands to the soulful, El Michels Affair tinged and dreamy ‘Fire In Detroit’ and the stargazing ‘Ursa Major’: the bulb like reverberating organ notes of which reminding me of sci-fi aura Greg Foat.

This free-spirited partnership proves energised throughout; riffing off the heritage but also in congruous union with their younger foils. Jazz is dead yet reborn with the sound of Black consciousness. Both pioneers of their trades deliver another rich lesson in articulating independence and free thought, whilst evoking the Tribe back catalogue; a look back but in the process of moving ever forward. Class all the way!      

Refree  ‘El Espacio Entre’
(tak:til/Glitterbeat Records)  20th January 2023

Coming on like an Iberian vision of the Neel Murgai Ensemble and Hackedepicciotto trapped with Nacho Mendez (I’m thinking of the Ángeles y Querubines album) in an undefined, veiled timeline and atmosphere, the follow up sketchbook album of Raul Refree’s imagination is yet again a unique, “seamless”, amalgamation of reflective enquiry, soundtracks, semi-classical etudes and the visceral.

Four years after the noted producer and foil’s first album for Glitterbeat’s instrumental-led imprint tak:til, La Otra Mited, and his successful collaboration with the incredibly-voiced Fado interpreter Lina, El Espacio Entre is both of those musical worlds combined, yet also something different.

In calling it a sketchbook I may have rendered this album a disservice. All fourteen tracks, no matter how short, in vignette forms at times like momentary breaths of emotion or parts of a bigger story, couldn’t be more finished or improved upon. Once more playing with and entwining a Spanish heritage that stretches back to the age of courtly sonnets, medieval period church services and the traditions of pastoral Spain during the time of Goya, through to Franco, Refree creates a very moving portrait of lamentable and dramatic mood pieces. Some of which are so gently played as to be almost ghostly, a reverberation of something more concrete lost through the process of time and history.

Consumed almost by the vapours, it begins with the sorrowful aria-like voiced and darkened atmospheres of the opening lowly-bowed ‘Lamentos De Un Rescate’. There’s a beauty in pain it seems, as Refree sensually balances an ethereal gauze with a growing unease and familiar echoes of the classical with more mysterious electronic, synthesised elements: a vocoder-like wobble on that female vocal line almost gives it a strange modern R&B feel for the shortest of moments.

Refree weaves the concertinaed, bellowed and spindled into a stirring score. The avant-garde runs with lovely mirages of melody, some both carefully and freer guitar parts, the resonance of hidden metal and tin tools, deeper thumps and stamps of bass and brief choral male voices – which could be from anywhere on mainland Europe. A piano’s inner workings can be used like a spidery creep down the side of a frame drum; an innocuous radio in the kitchen can be retuned to pick up a Mediterranean mandolin-like and vibraphone buzzed broadcast into Bowie and Eno’s studio; and a psych-folk fairytale can be created from harmonic-pinged acoustics, cautionary echoes and the mystical. The grand finale, ‘Una Nueva Religión’, seems to layer the reverent with a near-distorted blast of No Age drums and a toy-bellowed breathy piped organ.

Heightened emotional swirls and plaint exist alongside quieter pitched sensibilities and the gossamer. Esoteric Meta goes hand-in-hand with tradition and the classical.

Not so much an album of performances as a quality production of fleeting descriptions, of moments captured in poignant scenery, Refree’s second such album of scores and sound pieces is an incredible, immersive mood board of magical and often plaintive thoughts, feelings, processes and films yet to be made. I’ve been sitting on this album for months and it never loses its initial pull, gut feeling, and yet I can also hear new things on every listen. Raul Refree is a great talent indeed. And this is already high on my list of choice albums form the year.   

Hög Sjö  ‘S-T’
(Smuggler Music)  27th January 2023

Away from the hit-making machine of popular music as a producer/musician/songwriter with such notable stars as Robyn, Charli XCX, Taylor Swift, Dian Ross and Santigold, Patrick Berger can be found nurturing a magical realm of instrumental reminisces, landscapes and imaginary soundtracks under the Hög Sjö title. 

The Swedish dreamer, accompanied by a Scandinavian-sounding sextet of musicians, scores a kind of Peter Doig seeped cloth-canvas tapestry of cultish European composers, library music, the bucolic and perfumed garden psych-folk on a generous self-titled album of fourteen tracks.

Sophisticated with a mostly languid, hazy and gentle nature, touches of soft Polish jazz scores can be detected sharing room with Hampshire & Foat, The Soundcarriers, Mellow Candle, The Apples In Stereo, Bruno Nicolai and Paolo Ferrara. And yet there’s a relaxed air of the El Michels Affair and Broadcast on the swimmingly soulful, fuzztone ‘Overswum’, and both Omer Khorshid and Baba Zula on the souk-rock tremolo desert thrill, ‘Raki’.

Meanwhile, the opener, released in the run-up to the album a few months back, ‘Gnosienne no. 6’, is actually a dreamy magical Air-like vision of Erik Satie’s inventive and self-coined dance-like compositional melodies of the same name – a novel title probably derived from “gnosis” and the gnostic sects the iconic composer was ingratiated with at the time, or, adopted from Greek myth. A nod to the classical, its been given a little more oomph, crowned in modernity and floated into a softly quilted musical world.

Offering little in the way of true originality, with the sound of very familiar melodies and influences, Berger has absorbed a great record collection and through the dewy haze, the sun-dappled rays and lunar bends, cast a mysterious and often reflective mirage of traverses, wanderings, scenes and settings. Some of which is quite beautiful and enchanting.

Seljuk Rustum  ‘Cardboard Castles’
(Hive Mind Records)  3rd February 2023

Imbued by a rich history of place and time, and the trading winds that brought so many atavistic and less ancient civilizations to its natural harbor hub, Seljuk Rustum’s Kochi-base of creative activity is a city steeped in polygenesis sounds and ideas.

The major hive of commerce in the coastal southwestern Indian region of Kerala, crowned the “Queen of the Arabian Sea”, Kochi played host to the Greeks, Romans, Jews, pro-Islamic and post Arabs, Portuguese, Dutch and British. And was once allied to the Ming Dynasty during one such golden apex of renown and power. This ebbing and flowing tide of different cultures is, to a degree, channeled on the polymath artist’s first album for the most brilliant and eclectic UK label Hive Mind (a regular feature on the blog since the imprint’s original conception six years ago).

Building up a congruous musical picture of quality worldly classicism, ambient and trance electronics and the exotically dreamy, the all-round creative Rustum (from painting to recording engineer; musician of repute to director of the Forplay Society space) has woven together ten separately improvised peregrinations and performances, made during a five-year period from 2016 to 2021. And for the most part these tracks are collaborative, created with a myriad of local-ish and international travellers, stepping over the threshold of Rustum’s studio.

Although certainly Indian in reference and sound, with brassy resonance, subtle oboe and horns produced mizzle drones and a pattering of rapid and buoyant tablas, the musical mood palette spreads much further afield: to the Mongolian Steppes, the mysticism of the Orient and even out onto cosmic, astral planes.

But it’s the local Cochin String Orchestra that helps with opening this album of movements; furnishing the poetically painted ‘Body Of A Dolphin, Breasts Of A Cloud’ (a strange hybrid) enchantment of the classical, folksy and reversed – it actually reminded me of this month’s bedfellow, see above, Refree in part. Later on there are references to what’s become a rather lazy, sometimes derogatory shorthand term for the Indian (but also Asian-wide) diaspora or immigration abroad, “desi”, and a sample borrowed from the Alan Lomax ethnographic archives of indigenous Malayam speakers on the Daniel Lanois and Emtidi Indian-kosmische stirred ‘Desi Bunny’. For anyone curious, Malayam is a branch of the Dravidan family of languages found across wide swathes of southern India, northeastern Sri Lanka and southwestern Pakistan, and is related to Tamil. It’s also been designated a “classical language of India” no less.

Elsewhere on this suffusion of mirage and hallucinatory perceptions, arppegiator bulbs of light delicately bobble as staccato melodica and sympathetic and wept violin (both played by the multitasking and recurring foil Sekhar Sudhir) evoke the exotic and scenic, the spiritual and mysterious. The mystical valley awakened ‘Fallen Sky’ sounds, in part, like Popol Vuh or Syrinx, whilst the “100 years ago…” sampled wondrous time capsule title-track reminded me of Hive Mind labelmates University Challenged putting out cosmic-trance feelers to Amorphous Androgynous.

Exquisitely layered and softened for the most part, enervating any ideas of unease, there are nonetheless certain veiled passages of uncertainty, even something troubling. The album’s oddest leftfield play, ‘The Happiest Country Has No History’, which features Akshay Ashokan on electric guitar and Sudhir on acoustic, features a voiced delivery of accumulated lyrics and lines. An undercurrent of something disturbing is apparent when the “sweet sixteen”, “so pristine” lines are followed up by some inappropriate touching by “uncle”. To be honest I’m not sure what’s going on with this track, except it does have a disturbing dimension to it. But for the most part the musical mind of Seljuk Rustum and his partners on this magical, entrancing and dreamy journey, reveals a great sonic knowledge, both a part of, yet also in some ways, escaping history. A great start to the year for the Hive Mind, and welcoming addition to their roster; an album I can see making this year’s choice lists.       

Galactapus  ‘The Rainbow Of Wrong’
13th January 2023

In what could be the year’s boldest bonkers move, and the most playful, Galactapus’ second album is pure mayhem and creeping wildness.

Totally shrouded in mystery, this “faceless” rambunctious five-piece hailing from Minneapolis feast on, and orgasm, to an omnivorous hallucinating rainbow of the occult, psych, prog, Westerns (think more Jodorowsky and Cormac McCarthy than Ford), post-punk, krautrock, kosmische, doom and, well…. a whole lot more of the unexpected.

This eclectic long list of musical points can all happen in the same track too. Take the epic ‘Radio Kolossos’, which retunes the Fortean Times transistor to bursts of toybox Zappa, the chaotic amp whistles and blow-outs and wire-y guitar mania of the Red Crayola, the dramatic prog rock indie swells of Crack Cloud and Babylon Zoo, and a surprising dose of the B-52s. But then, nearly out of nowhere, the action dials up Can’s Monster Movie. It’s a constantly evolving, often rotating, trip in which the course of direction remains anyone’s guess.    

They plunge the listener into the esoteric one minute with cult-like GOAT and Itchy-O vibes, incantations and ritualistic invocations of 70s horror soundtracks (‘Your Face Is inside Out And Your Wig Is On Fire’), and into a mushroom induced commune rave-up of Syd Barrett, Ozzy Osbourne, Steve Hillage and the Olivia Tremor Control the next (‘Giftworn’). Later on this both silly and bestial gaggle trample over Joe Meek (as transmogrified by Matmos and Charlie Megira), The Residents, The Electric Eels, Sun City Girls, Cramps, Acid Mothers Temple, The Strokes and Ariel Pink. Strangely, the final ritual, ‘It’s Over When We Say It’s Over’, has room for a brief respite of cosmic transcendence in the style of Ariel Kalma and other such kosmische divine stylers.   

There’s so much to unpick, decipher and entangle from this madcap laughs bizarre chemistry. A demonic Sabbath turns into a peyote Spaghetti Western on an album that exists in its very own cosmology and manic obscurity. Untethered magik, over-sexed hormones and fun reign supreme on a fantastic psychedelic work of art. 

George Winstone w/ Ben Monder  ‘Odysseus’
20th January 2022

Perhaps too close to the tragic cliché of the struggling jazz musician, George Winstone’s personal life has been riven with strife. Despite the notable rep as a rising star, a role as a leading light in the in-crowd London scene, and an enviable CV, Winstone has had to bounce back from rotten odds to break through as a jazz acolyte.

Dropping out if school, homeless for a time, the saxophonist bandleader was forced to sleep on buses and at Heathrow Airport. A necessity no doubt, the real low point must have been when he had to sell his prized saxophones. But after becoming a father, the stakes were upped and mind concentrated. And it seems the creative spirit lit. A move to the jazz mecca of New York and a nation steeped in jazz lore marked a new chapter.

Now fully integrated into that thriving community, Winstone, bolstered by the encouragement of such luminaries as Chuck Correa and Jacob Collier, has found room to grow. And despite a, if you believe the hyped-up press, burgeoning British jazz scene, it was the allurement of America with all its history and legacy, the freedom, that won out. I imagine it also poses more of a challenge, more competition too. But to make it there is to truly make it.

Rubbing shoulders with an explorative group of players, Winstone found a place amongst such notable company as Aaron Burnett and Jon Elbaz, and later on, with his willing foil on this recording, the guitarist Ben Monder. They actually crossed paths at one of Monder’s gigs in the West Village; Winstone impressed enough to ask for guitar lessons from his future collaborative partner.

Pretty much hitting it off from the outset, the pair accelerated their creative bond with an improvised, unprepared performance at the popular Ornithology spot in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It must have been some show, as the audience encouraged them to make a recording together. And so was “born”, in part, the Odysseus entitled peregrination; a reference to shared travails no doubt, an odyssey in which Winstone’s own search for home mirrors that of the Greek mythical hero immortalized by Homer.

Although there’s no actual reference to that decade-long adventure, that struggle to make it home to Penelope after finally defeating the Trojans by guile, I can’t help but imagine some Hellenic voyage of tumults, setbacks and beauty across the Aegean Sea. You can’t help but pick up on the atmosphere of what is essentially another unprepared adventure, Winstone and Monder responding and sculpting tones, melodies and displays of evocation off of each other’s explorative craft and sense of navigational draw.

Meaning to avoid any demarcation of style, any labels, this performance, split into nine parts, assails jazz, classicism, fusion and even droning doom. Because whilst Winstone’s drifting, wafting fluted and spiraled saxophone melodies and freeform lines channel Coltrane, Coleman and Anthony Braxton (at their most tussled and wildest), Monder’s buzzed and fuzzed electric guitar vapours and bedding drones are more in the mode of Sunn O))) and Boris: even Scott Walker when he picked up a guitar for the Tilt album. It adds a touch of darkness, gristle and a bit of mysterious industrial dissonance to these sonic manifestations, but never quite lurches over into the truly harrowing.

At other times the drama dissipates to reveal the light, as Monder’s playing evokes the dreamy, the rhythmic (when also simultaneously thumbing those bass-y sounding notes) and untethered.

Moments of heavy Meta(l) on an ancient seas turns into fog-lifted spells of avian flight, as both musicians drift towards stirring places, sail through storms and River Styx like mirages.

Winstone and Monder combine forces for a successful soundtrack exploration that both transcends jazz and surprises with unexpected sonic distortions into darker, mysterious climes. A road less travelled you could say.

Beats & Pieces Big Band  ‘Good Days’
(Efpi Records) 27th January 2022

A big band jazz swell and swing fused with Radiohead’s progressive cannon of intelligent brooding and mathematics, the Beats & Pieces ensemble bounce, chime and lift horns to a score of untold influences and inspirations. In fact, this latest considered, yet also dramatic album (the troupe’s third studio album proper) reminded me in parts of the highly acclaimed NDR Big Band’s concert with Wayne Shorter, but also Woody Herman, Bill Evans and a rewired Mouse Bonato Sextet.

It goes without saying that you could also add Mingus, Tippett and Coltrane to that mix, and also a whole slew of 90s and noughties sounds too, including the introduction of a laidback Latin-jazz club beat and subtle dance music bass on the smoky, changing vibrato and crooned saxophone featured ‘Cminriff’.   

With fourteen musicians in the lineup, all vying for attention and space in this big band sound reimagined, the Good Days (ahead rather than behind us we hope) entitled album begins on a more idyllic note. ‘Wait’ gently conjures up a bird tweeting countryside ambience of filed (literally) recordings and reflective bulb-twinkled notes. This is followed by a proper workout, a lying of the land, mood piece called ‘Op’. Progressive elements merge with the trippy, with clarinet and horns, the classical and subtle electronic undulations. Later on the Radiohead-esque piano cuts through with run after run and spells of loose freeform jazz.

As the title suggests, ‘Elegy’ marks a plaintive change of mood, and feels like some contemplative 60s jazz classic with its cupped trumpet nuzzles, resonating and swanning saxophone, romanticized swirls and emotional pull. But, especially at the start, it evoked in me suggestions of a Floydian haze; sending Coltrane lament out onto very different waters indeed. By contrast, the shorter ‘Db’ seems to echo from a NYC subway platform; suddenly bursting into a heavy tumult of accelerated entangled horns.

‘(blues for) Linu’ is both an illusionary and hallucinogenic off-kilter score of L.A. shoegum, swing and Lalo Schifrin, whilst ‘Woody’ progresses from disjointed big band and jive to Brian Wilson’s ‘Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow’ from the SMiLE album, to a final reverberating sign-off of The Beatles final ‘A Day In The Life’ piano chord. The final track, a reprise of the opening bucolic meditation, finishes things of with serenaded horns and the feel of an old movie score.

It all feels like a complete work, an encapsulation of the moments it was recorded in, the moods and places it is meant to arouse and evoke. With no jostling for room, despite the numbers of those taking part, every instrument is heard, every performance an intrinsic part of the whole. Visceral, intense and yet also calculated, skilfully played, it takes some beating to package such a big sound so it can at one moment burst forth in a rush, and in another, sound somehow intimate and personal. “Good Days” indeed for this big band.

Esbe  ‘Blow The Wind Southerly’
(New Cat Music)  27th January 2022

Stripped almost entirely of everything but the siren’s voice, Esbe’s latest songbook fills the space with just the use of effected vocals and a number of scene-setting sounds mostly recorded from nature.

The sometime Daughter Of The Desert and Egyptology imbued artist once more takes a well-worn historical cannon of standards, following up on last year’s Under Cover album. Whilst that collection featured a swelled, but also articulate, accompaniment of strings and synthesized augmentation, Blow The Wind Southerly builds an atmospheric world out of Esbe’s range of vocal utterances, tones and harmonies; layered or looped at times to evoke instruments or a rhythm.

This showcase in vocal manipulation can’t however take away the beauty of Esbe’s voice, which invokes a timeless quality throughout a selection of nursery rhymes, rounds, traditional ballads and folk songs. Reinterpreting works with a providence that remains often lost in the mists of time, there’s a passage linked back all the way to the Medieval epoch on the opening idyllic farmyard chorused cuckoo song, ‘Summer Is Icumen In’. Off to a diaphanous start, Esbe interprets an incipit text from England’s 13th century summer cannon. Esbe being Esbe though manages to also, rather congruously, waft in lyrics from Gershwin’s famous ‘Summertime’ spiritual jazz standard; this sends the English pastoral off into a languid deep southern American direction.

Leaping forward a century or two, from the time of the Tudor court and Henry VIII, the City of London church bells nursery rhyme ‘Oranges And Lemons’ finds the original pulled deftly into the contemporary, merging the sacrosanct with an air of the arty and also uneasy. It’s a strange feeling, with all the original elements, the London sites (modified or interchangeable depending on which version, and for what audience) suddenly more dreamy and alluding lyrically to something slightly ominous: mysterious is a better word perhaps.

It’s been said, by me especially, that Esbe brings a sense of otherworldliness to her music. This is none more so then with her increasingly disturbing take on ‘Three Blind Mice’. A song, admittedly, full of charming animal cruelty, this age-old familiar takes another ‘round’ into the supernatural, or at least alien.

Biblically harrowing, an interpretation of the 18th century English ‘Coventry Carol’ – so called because this is where it was traditionally performed – is rightfully mournful, yet also has a cryptic Gothic-like quality too. Part of The Pageant Of The Shearman And Tailors mystery play, this Nativity set performance takes its cue from Herod’s Massacre Of The Innocents, as laid out in chapter two of Matthew’s Gospels. The part of a mother soothing her soon-to-be murdered child with a final lullaby is lamented in an intimate requiem of Middle Eastern grief, as distant muffled bells signal the impending doom.

Plaints from Northumbria and folksy spells from Scotland share space with the Lomax almanac on an incredibly voiced songbook. The first of those and the album’s title-track sounds like the Cocteau Twins in a venerable state of longing, on a nautical yearn for a returning lover. The latter, ‘Go Tell Aunt Nancy’, has rarely been recorded, but it’s known by many generations as a sort of folksy comforter despite the dead goose in the room theme: “who died in the mill pond from standing on her head”. A lulling “la la” and airy appearance can’t help but turn into an avian eulogy.

Artfully composed with a balance of the esoteric, the traditional and the experimental, Esbe’s latest collection of conceptual reinterpretations showcases an impressive talent. Above all, Esbe breathes new life, a new experience into the familiar without losing each song’s charm, impact or grace.; the atmosphere remaining as timeless as ever.

Flexagon  ‘The Towers I: Inaccessible’
(Disco Gecko)  3rd February 2023

Through a near domination of the high seas, a skill in winning wars, a Norman lineage and generally to annoy the French, the Channel Islands have been a British dependency for centuries. During that time a whole lot of history has passed under the bridge; the last 200 years of which are channeled by the Guernsey native, artist and environmental, site-specific composer Flexagon.

The second largest of those islands, Guernsey lies off the Normandy coast. A vital strategic – in defensive and military terms – outlier that’s been fortified numerous times during various crisis of invasion. Guernsey’s landscape is dotted with both leftover relics and modified remnants from the Napoleonic, Second World War and Cold War eras. Many of which now form the backdrop for the first in a proposed trilogy of such works from Flexagon, who blends field recordings, spoken word, touches of the neoclassical and trance with a three of four decade span of analogue and digital electronica, downtempo ambient music, soundtracks and controlled techno.

In practice this translates into the vaporous stirrings of Vangelis and Jarre on the album’s opening dissipating misty and mysterious dreamy ‘Gazing At The Tower’; the early trance-y techno of Autechre and Seefeel with shades of Banco De Gaia on ‘Le Mont Saint Windmill’; and both the kinetic lattice of 80s Sakamoto, futurism and Cliff Martinez with the more natural trudge across grassy fields ‘Fort Saumarez: MP2’. The last of those being a defensive fort built in 1804, and named after Sir James Saumarez, then commanding the British Royal Navy in the area, was much later commandeered by the occupying German forces during WWII (the only part of the British Isles to be occupied). Two war periods cross over into this piece of psychogeography, the ghosts of the past traced through sonic atmospherics that dwell and yet move on. Of course it may project a whole different feel and environment to someone unfamiliar with the Guernsey landscape of towers, follies and more practical useful infrastructure: such as that already mentioned windmill and a water tower.

Thanks to the Island’s National Trust page I was able to explore and get a sense of these structures. As it happens, the head of that organization on Guernsey’s family is represented on the ‘Ozanne Tower: The Folly’. Built by one of Island’s oldest families (dating back to the reign of Edward III), the Ozanne coat-of-arms is still visible above the doorway of that stout two-floor turreted castle-like jolly. In conveying this piece of history, Flexagon (who tramples across the grass to reach it) introduces us to the dreamy “cor anglais” – a sort of double-reed woodwind instrument, a member of the oboe family – playing of Nerine Ozanne, and a gentle but deeply felt bow of emotion from the cellist John Surcombe. A haze can be felt around this mystical bucolic scene; the sort of thing artists like From Mouse and Alexander Wasylyk do so very well.

Fortifications, called Loophole Towers, built during a year of hostilities with a post revolutionary France in the late 1700s, are given an ominous and haunting soundtrack and a crackly whispered narration – from a script written by Shaun Shackleton. This adds to a sense of past trauma and forbade, especially with a curse from the narrator James Le Page, “dragged” off by the “bloody militia”. I would suggest all is not well with this restless spirit.

More obvious soundtracks of course encapsulate such structures as a communications tower with a constantly moving retuning background fizzle and buzz of various transmissions. A slow introduction of early Warp and Massive Attack electronica keeps this radio display company. And as you might expect, ‘Water Tower’ is, well…. wet. But in a surprising way that uses the interior – or so it sounds – like a slow moistened but warm rhythmic effect.

A work of site-specific atmospheric stirrings and timelessness, The Towers I: Inaccessible album translates the off-limits sites of Guernsey into a multi-layered sonic map for inquiring minds. An Island life, history and shared trauma is transduced across a mix of styles and delivery methods as both repurposed and more derelict out of bounds architecture is allowed to breath and to tell stories of the history that’s passed through its doors. Even with the all too awful reminders of Guernsey’s occupation (finally liberated in the May of 1945 after nearly five years of German authoritarian rule; at least a thousand of its people deported to camps in Southern Germany) these towers transmit plenty of arresting Meta and fertile research, which Flexagon and his foils have turned into a lush, dreamy and mysterious veiled journey.  

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

Dominic Valvona’s Album Roundup

A final roundup of eclectic and interesting new albums released at the end of last month and in December.

David Lance Callahan  ‘English Primitive II’
(Tiny Global Productions)

As the current political shit show moves on at a rapid pace, with even 24 hours now seeming such a ‘long time in politics’, music makers can quickly seem out of step with the changing circumstances, upheavals and latest outrage. Unfortunately the climate in the UK has been bleak for a good many years, and so when David Lance Callahan originally set out on his address to the nation last year the despondency mixed with anger held: and still holds today, even if it has got a lot worse.

The former mover of both The Wolfhounds and Moonshake bands, Callahan wears his own name whilst retreading and reflecting the psychogeography and rich maverick history of England; the positives of which (social experiments and Bevin’s state institutions) are balanced against the overwhelming negatives. 

Mostly recorded during the same sessions as English Primitive I, which felt like a modern lens angled at an eclectic Commonwealth style soundtrack, set to Punch and A Rake’s Progress. In the same vein round II in this repurposed folk mode uses a similar dirt music, African, Arabian, psych and Southern swamp boogie sound and that (for most of the album) winning male/female vocal delivery: a disarming it must be said, often harmonic, union that articulates tragedy, alarm, plague and even murder.

It begins with the pent-up grievances of a “regular person” played out to rusty Benin guitar fuzz and facemask shaking Mummers, ‘Invisible Man’. It’s as if The Pop Group shared bread with Francis Bebey on a churned kick of primitivism, on this load-bearing opener.

Hanif Kureishi’s iconic ‘Beautiful Launderette’ is repurposed as a metaphor for the sleazy enterprise of laundering ill-gotten gains and the proceeds of crime (from Russian oligarchs to financial rip-offs, the drug’s trade and kleptomaniac tyrants, civil servants and politicians). London being the leading epicenter of such a rotten trade comes in for a kicking to the music of Afro-post-punk and a stoner Doors. A ‘rant at the government’, ‘The Parrot’ uses various avian Scarfe-like sharpened ink pen cuts at the enablers that fail to be held to account. Musically its swamp boogie, a hint of Rhyton, Mick Harvey, David Cronenberg’s Wife and Canned Heat moving to a menacing backbeat and scuzz of tangled whining guitar.

A darkly disturbing prowl down memory lane, ‘Bear Factory’ is the album’s most serious drama. Back to the 1970s, in a world that’s described with the miasma of a David Peace novel, and the events that led to and around the murder of one of Callahan’s primary school mates is played out to plaintive melodramatic strings.

He who walked with astral beings and angels, William Blake and his famous London poem forms the literary food for the album’s finale, ‘London By Blakelight’; a walk across a manacled meta-layered city to a fuzzed drum beat and touch of John Johanna psych-blues-African-buzz. 

Callahan’s worldly sound threads converge with a more idiosyncratic leftfield English (un)civil war commentary on a society gone to rack and ruin: one that’s mostly been fucked-up and over through self-sabotage. Part II of this rewired English, Gilbert & George- like stained glass-anointed gumbo extends on that ‘primitive’ vibe, the use of the word being a positive one, finding a familiar sense of the roots that bind us all.   

Noémi Büchi  ‘Matter’
(-OUS)

Exploding with a beautiful dramatic form of broken glass symmetry, the burgeoning composer and sound artist Noémi Büchi cerebrally and stunningly transforms the musical hallucinations of György Liget and the classical romanticism of the last century on the debut album suite, Matter.

Taking such symphonic inspirations as a starting point, Büchi thrusts this material into the contemporary and future with a centrifugal rotation of various electronic, metallic affects, sound waves and rhythms.

Mirrored and reflected back from states of stirring emotional intense gravitas and catharsis, the “matter” at hand is transformed out of the abstract into something more solid: a reification of feelings, anxieties and stresses you could say. Using an often-dramatic maximalist method in processing these moods, a perfect balance is struck between the harsher, granular and deep, even seismic, use of techno and the magical swells and pulls of pioneering classical music. But, as Büchi states in the accompanying press notes, this album is also a playful exploration of counterbalances and opposing forces too: like decay and growth; consonance and dissonance; the physical and ephemeral.

In pure sonic spectacle this translates into revolving suites of heavy Meta, more brutalistic scrunched and sharper focused intensity, and soundtrack sorcery – both the fantastical, kinetic Basic Channel like static-pelted ball-bearing beat driven ‘Measuring All Possibilities’, and Vangelis future world hallucination of unease, travail and alien mystique ‘Uncertainty Of An Undefined Interpendence’ would make great scores.

At times these tracks evoke illusions of chimed timepiece Baroque, set in some sci-fi environment, and at others, Jeff Mills conducting and warping the works of Igor Stravinsky. ‘Taking The Train With Mr. Shark’ travels down the stargate rails in the company of Mira Calix and Kraftwerk’s ‘Europe Endless’. ‘Screaming At Brutism’, as the title shouts, pounds away at the granite edifice of violence like the Pyrolator and Emptyset.

There is however as much beauty, light and hymnal stark release as there is the mysterious, the churned and weighted on an album that pulls together opposing forces to create a truly out-of-time, out-of-frame electronic symphony. Matter is a startling, intense and machine-sculpted debut.

Björn Magnusson  ‘Nightclub Music & Ethereal Faith’
(Specter Fix Press)  16th December 2022

From an alpine location looking back at the mood music, emotional pulling atmospheres and moments caught in a reminiscing wooziness the Zurich-based artist Björn Magnusson seems to have encompassed a particular amalgamation of New York City arty aloofness and streetwise existential pain on his new album. For this is a songbook suffused by two factories of influence: Warhol’s and Tony Conrad’s. Lou Reed’s Transformer (a little throwback to the Velvets as well) and Conrad’s Theater Of Eternal Music circle and his drone conjuncture Four Violins come together, or threaten to come unstuck, on a both loosened and more intensified dissonant album that hoovers up the psychogeography of the city.

But within that framework lies a sort of no wave, Hansa Studio and jazz vibe, with both Nikki Sudden and Kid Congo Power’s Danny Hole (amongst a rafter of other instruments played) and the Swiss-Zimbabwean free jazz musician Tapiwa Svosve both on saxophone duties throughout. Never forceful or overriding the rest of the musical circle (which also includes Dean & Britta and Luna foil Sean Eden on guitar and of course Björn) those sax sounds offer both an atonal mizzle and freeform breathes and parped wails, strains and contortions.

When pulled together with Björn voice and songwriting this all sounds like a brilliant, sophisticated mismatch of Arto Lindsay, Hunky Dory and Heroes Bowie, England’s Glory, Chris Spedding, Low Cut Connie, Ariel Pink and John Cale in a well-worn city, gathered around a rolling barrel organ in some lower Manhattan bar, washed up and out, yet still capable of producing pop, rock and jazz with a certain off-kilter spirit of wistfulness, despondency and romantic disconnection. Something like that anyway.

As the RP blurb usefully summarizes, Björn’s almost final lyric, on the album’s swansong ‘Everybody’s Got Something’, says it all: “Sometimes the world is an oyster, sometimes an ashtray”.No better line is needed for an album that sits on the blues junction between a rambunctious and artsy NYC. There’s even a dreamily strung-out loosened piano with brassy resonance vision of the city’s leftfield auteurs Suicide and their own take on “America eats its young”, sleaze in leather and haunting polemic, ‘Ghost Rider’. You can’t get much more underground New York than that. And this tribune repurposes that cult jukebox turn for a wistful splice of hallucinogenic bar room philosophizing.

Five years on from Björn’s Almost Transparent Blues debut and the wait has been worthwhile, with an album of lived-in dreams and momentary abstract feelings captured for posterity on a sort of new wave suite composed for the iconic meeting spots and streets of an almost romanticised New York boardwalk. A great album to finish the year off on.   

Orchid Mantis ‘How long Will It Take’

Bleached by the sun over time and through various hazy sepia lenses, the placable recordings of the Atlanta artist Thomas Howard languidly bleed into a number of musical genres. Dream pop, lo fi, the psychedelic, surf and indie all merge with the field recordings of subway and airport lobby limbos to construct an attenuate-layered soundtrack to a world of wistful plaint, transient yearns and drowsy, if deeply felt, romantic sentiment: “You have my soul forever, and always.”

Under the Orchid Mantis moniker, Howard has been somnolently and dreamily applying that method since 2014, releasing six albums and a number of EPs in that period. How Long will It Take – a generous fifteen-track offering – marks his seventh expanded release of sun bendy enervated, affected and mirage trippy pop songs that embrace a certain lucidity and disarming quality of nostalgia for the early noughties wave of lo fi washed-out warmth.

On each wave, both brushed and mono-tunneled drum beat, and evaporated effect Howard seems to go with a very nice bendy flow. That’s not to say there’s a lack of direction or focus. Oh no. Just a more veiled and dappled intimate softened sharing of waking moment’s anxieties, the nature of our world and declarations of love.

If phases and flanged blurred suffusions of Cass McCombs, Yoni Wolf, epic45, Summer Heat, The Drums and laidback later 70s California ocean view singer/songwriter material grabs you, then Howard’s Orchid Mantis alias will snuggly wrap its arms around your lugholes and work its inquiring magic. 

Designers ‘S-T’
(We Jazz Records)

Another month and another freshly assembled addition to the leading Scandinavian-based label We Jazz. This time it’s in the shape of the impressive geometric and architectural imbued/inspired Designers trio.

An international hailed group based in Nantes, the trio’s Belgium composer and double-bassist (also a very dab hand at the piano) Joachim Florent is joined by the Finnish pianist Aki Rissanen and Australian drummer Will Guthrie on a debut album suite of both patterned and freer empirical mod pieces.

Florent’s accompanying quotes set the scene and theme for this eight-track work of various jazz and semi-classical styles. The defacto instigator, leader found that his piano studies back in 2019 were, happily, but unintentionally resembling what he called a “pretty” geometry. Further on, Florent chanced upon the often surreal, imaginative architectural photography of Filip Dujardin. Rather than building blocks though, the Designers turn clever forms into feelings, reflections and melodic atmospheric journeys to vaguely geographic locations, landscapes: The opening, stirring and subtly Middle Eastern/Arabian ‘Lebanon’ being one such example; a camel motioned caravan through a soft Yusef Lateef, Tarek Yamani and Ahmed Jamel Trio scored trinket percussive and trickled piano notation market place. I’ve no idea what or where ‘Moulindjek’ is but it sounds very mysterious with its dabbed and busier plinks and plonks, country-bowed graceful evocations, glissando and fluctuations.  

Elsewhere there is a reference to the iconic Estonian minimalist composer Arvo Pärt’s “tintinnabules” compositional process and writing technique. Translating as “bells” more or less, and borrowed from the Catholic liturgy, it also translates as “crosstalk”, when two voices come together to form something inseparable, or, when pairs of notes are constructed one against the other. In this capacity the trio invoke the technique on the reflective, spiritual jazz hinted and serious minded ‘Tintinabulisme’ piece.

Touches of 60s period Blue Note, the Bad Plus, Keith Jarrett and the Neil Cowley Trio can be picked up across an album of poised thoughtfulness and more playful freeform musicianship. He geometric waters are both choppy, heightened and yet equally in a legato style throughout. Florent uses every inch of the double-bass to offer a foundation, a rhythm, a droning or sonorous bed, but also springs into action on occasion and quickens into a blur during one particular near solo act. His foil Rissanen’s piano seems to overlay itself, yet also displays more singular accentuations, descriptive patterns or trickles. And Guthrie’s drums seem to sizzle and simmer beneath the surface, yet also dish out tumbles, tight breaks and more loose percussive displays of skill.

A sophisticated, movable synthesis of balanced geometry awaits on an album of fluctuating tides, climbs, spiralled descents and even a little positivity – see the ‘White Keys’ finale, a dash and simmering charge in the right direction. The Designers set down quite the marker in that European semi-classical jazz vogue.

Greg Nieuwsma & Antonello Perfetto  ‘Chase ritual’
(Cruel Nature Records)

Connecting in Krakow as members of the progressively experimental Sawark before an eventual disbandment, the Midwest American and Neapolitan bred musicians Gerg Nieuwsma and Antonello Perfetto formed the Corticem partnership before sporting their own birth names in a new avant-garde chapter.

Last year’s Aquarium album cemented a reputation for both playful and strange experimentation and exploration. The latest, Chase Ritual, strays into ever more expansive realms, with an entrancing (for the most part) long form trio of cosmic-reflective and krautrock/kosmische imbued ethnographic journeys.

‘Star Birthmark’ sets things in motion with a near twenty-minute warm revolving Cluster-like peregrination. Roedelius and Florian Fricke sit at the piano as waves of flange guitar drones and fairground synth rotate around them. There are stopovers in North Africa (by the sounds of it) with vague echoes of scrappy-tinny Gnawa percussion (that will be the krakebs), some Egyptian flute or oboe, and spiritual paean of worldly voices. Half mirage, half prog-jazz suite, this side one spanning track builds towards a final squall of noise, haphazard piano and tumbled drums.

As a comedown, of a kind, the lengthy entitled ‘Supernatural Ears Hear The Call Of Faraway Mountains’ – half a haiku in its own right – floats off into the celestial. Spherical galactic rotations, serenading prog guitar and relaxed splashy and rattled drums drift around the outer reaches like a Tangerine Dream score.

The final track, ‘Ovine Wheel’, is all cathedral harmonia reverberated Popol Vuh, with spells of holy swoons, hints of a more traversing later Guru Guru and an ongoing, sometimes looped, analogue phone call between two European characters. Extra voices are added to the swell from what could be (again) Africa, but also Arabia and further afield.

Chase Ritual is an album to plug straight into; headphones on, ready to be immersed in globe-spanning and cosmic listening adventures.

Anton Barbeau  ‘Stranger’
(Gare Du Nord)  9th December 2022

An omnivorous child of Ian Hunter, Lawrence Haywood, Kim Fowley and David Bowie, the both playful and broody artist Anton Barbeau is at it again with his myriad of influences, taking the familiar and bending it to his own ends.

Psychedelia, glam, new wave (that’s the German, American and Australian kinds), pop, scuzz rock and noughties indie gel together on a lamentable yet also romantically gestured catchy songbook; one that finds Barbeau “bumped” back to his wife’s farmstead in small town California from his Berlin sojourn. We have the pandemic to thank for that move, as Barbeau struggles to adjust to life back in the States, a “stranger” as it were to a culture and environment he left behind for Europe. As a Yellow Brick Elton once despondently sang, “I’m going back to my farm”. And it does seem there is a theme of shunning one life of endless pro-Covid tours and artistic pressures for a rustic idyll, isolated yet finding eventual content and purpose settling down with his wife Julia in domestic bliss.

Even his worldly band of contributors added their parts remotely; tuning in from Chesterfield, Lille, Detroit, Hastings and elsewhere. It doesn’t show for a minute, as everything seems to gel together so well.

Inner and outer turmoil, the turning over of thoughts and a sense of detachment are the main drivers on what most be Barbeau’s 30th, or something like that, album – so prolific that near enough everyone at the blog has had a go at reviewing one of his untold many albums, now coming full circle back to me. It starts with, I think, one of the album’s best tracks, a self-titled kind of gently brooding Heyme, Eno and Bowie-esque laced longing, searching plaint about being a stranger in a strange land. That disconnection bleeds over into the transatlantic version of Kraftwerk, via DAF, Der Plan and the new romantics, ‘Ant Lion’.

Barbeau’s musical allies are 2000s Bowie (Reality and Heathen especially), later 70s Roxy, the female harmony backed Kevin Ayers of Bananamour, Bolan, Ty Segall and Beck, but that extends, expands to so much more. At times I can hear (intentionally or not) an air of Neil Finn (admittedly arm-in-arm once more with Bowie) on the new wave-ish ‘Sugarcube City’ – a good line of which, as the song disappears into the ether, being, “You’re only as beautiful as your mirror.” And many of the album’s shorter, vignettes evoke all sorts of musical inspirations; from a drip reverbed, female cooed listing of ‘Favourite Items’ to the dreamy vapoured, soft dalek-like ‘Out Of Sight’.

To more romantic settings and the declaration of wedding vowels, the Stranger album pays a serious noted tribute to Barbeau’s wife, who may just have saved him from himself. Dedicated to his better half then, the Casio preset, nutritious-kissed ‘Farm Wife’ slips into the more Lennon-esque soppy “I owe you everything” sentiment of ‘Slight Chance’. It means all the insecurities and wantonness of many of the previous songs finds a balance and that sense of comfort, ending on a note of marital contentment.   Barbeau bounces, trips and moodily sulks his way around a psychedelic ‘microdosed’ cannon of the fuzzed, serenaded, backbeat sprung and pop powered-up. The returning stranger may just have found his place for now, conjuring up a familiar sounding songbook of ideas and poignancy. As my colleague Mr. Domain has already written, when reviewing what is meant to be Stranger’s sister album, Power Pop!!! earlier this year, there’s nothing highly original here. Yet it is still a cracking album nonetheless, an idiosyncratic offering from a constantly evolving and changing artist.

Kinked And Señor Service ‘Reincanto/Real Bwoy’
(Artetetra)

From the bonkers symphony of experimental and playful electronic music label that last month brought us the insane sinfonetta that was Trans Zimmer & The DJs a split showcase of liquid, bubbled kooky arcade music and imaginative alien soundscaping. Sharing, in a most congruous fashion, the bill is the interchangeable Lapo Sorride/Don Sorride alter ego Kinked, and Umberto Pasinetti solo project Señor Service.

Sorride, whose music is described as a ‘leftfield-ritualism of vocal gestures and granular realities’, appears in various forms as a ‘visual and text researcher’ and ‘tenco-grime lyricist’ (whatever that is). In the Kinked guise we find Sorride running back and forth across a digital audio workstation, a Roland VT3 and Yamaha PSR E363 keyboard. Landing on everything but only holding onto any specific micro-sound for a few seconds, the action is constantly moving. Singular drum hits with some occasional rolls of a kind and even melodic, ambient waves emerge from out of a pneumatic soundtrack of power-ups, high-pitched frequencies, moistened effects, burbles and a strange version of computer game primitivism.

It’s as if µ-Ziq had created the early evolving forms of new life, a whole contained world; growing and learning to communicate with life outside a virtual biosphere. An improvisation with some very interesting, playful, on occasion, fun but also touching on quieter more serious tones, Reincanto, through chance, conjures up an alien and haphazard world of skittish soundscaping.

In a similar, if more realized and slightly more settled, mode, Señor Service sounds like Sakamoto’s floppy disks in the hands of the Aphex Twin. Quirks, looms and concertinaed MIDI-like sounds emanate from Pasinetti’s omnivorous feasting soundboard of quarks and cutesy dialogue samples.

At times this sounds like a marimba-twinkled score to some fantasy island level on a Japanese computer game of the nighties, at others, like the light flash patterned communications between the aliens of Close Encounters and the imagined inner worlds of a microchip. Cartoon arias and 64-bit scales combine with pleasing melodies, melodica-like waves and furry creatures on a synthesized, programmed collage of constantly evolving and progressive play. This is what happens when no one tells you to stop messing around in your bedroom with all those electronic music making devices. A free reign that magic’s up the goods.

It seems that to qualify for the Artetetra label nod of approval you need to be drinking from a whole other, fun and mad source than the rest of the electronic music fraternity. Always on a leftfield bent, and entertaining to boot, the Milan-based collective imprint once again delights as much as it does amuse in the pursuit of pushing at the fun buttons and outer limits of electronic and avant-garde music. A great split coupling of intriguing artists that demand further investigation.

Various  ‘Perú Selvático – Sonic Expedition Into The Peruvian Amazon 1972 – 1986’ 
(Analog Africa) 16th December 2022

Sometimes as a critic you just want something fun and playful to listen to. To escape the lectures, the woes. And with Analog Africa’s latest visit to the cumbia mecca of Perú, you’re suddenly whisked away to the beach side parties and jungle shindigs of South America.

Released in conjunction with a rarefied collection of dance tunes from Sonido Verde de Moyobamba by the label’s Limited Dance Editions imprint, the Perú Selvático compilation draws together a survey of Amazon style cumbia movers and shakers from the early 1970s to the mid 80s. Sonido make a couple of appearances on this selection, so you can pretty much test whether you want to shell out for both albums in this two-pronged Perúvian showcase.

But before all that, just a little context and information is needed first. If you’re just a cursory listener or newcomer to the phenomenon of cumbia music then in short it can be described loosely as a Latin-wide style that swaps or picks up changes wherever it falls within the South and Central American regions. Originally starting off in Colombia as a merger of African, indigenous and European styles of music, cumbia spread like wildfire to most communities; adopted, adapted and again melded with even more sounds as it travelled. That underlying saunter cannot be mistaken however, nor the courtship for that matter.

The main European element, the accordion, would later be replaced by the electric guitar as electricity reached even the most densely covered areas of the Amazon; once more changing the sound in the process. Just to confuse matters, a sub-genre called “chichi” was to emerge specifically from inland Perú. This was a kind of Andean music that became popular in the country’s coastal cities, especially in Lima. Named after the favoured Inca corn-based liquor, chichi’s roots began in the oil boomtowns and interchanges of the Amazon. Speaking totally as a mere student of ethnography, I’m sure the music on this compilation is either part of it or at least a close relative. They both share the same penchant for surf guitar and rudimental synthesised sounds if this compilation is anything to go by. Add to that the party spirit – an itch to join a long conga line -, the use of Bill Justus-like raunchy licks, tropical hints of the Caribbean and a suffusion of bandy organ.

Behind the pin-up cover lies a less seedy, a bit sensual, collection of rare hits mostly confined, success wise, to the Amazon. Highly popular locally, it would take time to make it to the Lima airwaves. A smattering of producers took to the road, helping to spread that sound to cities like Tarapoto, Moyobamba and Pucallpa – only reachable by air or boat that last one. There’s a god showing of groups (I presume) from those mentioned regions, with The Ventures and Shadows twing-twang, scuffed percussion and playful spirit of the already mentioned Sonido Verde de Moyobamba, to the opening swimmingly wavy beachside Latin, low-volt amped guitar buzz of Pucallpa’s Los Royals, and the Meek-like echo-y reverb of Fresa Juvenil De Tarapoto. Talking of popularity, or just more prolific if you like, Los Zheros get three bites of the cherry. They saunter to congas and spindly percussion on ‘Selva Virgen’, stir up slightly more exotic sandy relaxed vibes on ‘Alibaba’ – some Arabian night fantasy perhaps -, and magic up seductive move on ‘La Uñita’. Likewise Los Cisnes get an equal three-way selection, with the Brazilian-flavoured ‘La Hamaca’, bendy and fuzz guitar surfing ‘Safari En La Selva’, and the held-organ, soft drum rolling ‘Rio Mar’

Elsewhere there’s a balance of the laidback and racing, and a number of attempts to electrify cumbia with some synthesized technology; some zaps and wobbles and bobbed liquid bendy bits here and there, which mostly lean towards the lo fi and kitsch.

Intentional or not, some tracks veer over the borders, picking up sounds, grooves, rhythms from the East Coast of South America, Sun Records America and Mexico: or so it sounds. It’s a party whatever way you choose to look at it.

Analog Africa lift some sweet, cool tunes from out of obscurity, or at least highlight a cult sound to a wider audience. So give Christmas a more infectious Latin feel and joy this year, you won’t regret it.

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

DOMINIC VALVONA’S ECLETIC REVUE

Al-Qasar ‘Who Are We?’
(Glitterbeat Records) 16th September 2022

Bubbling up from the Barbès Algerian enclave of Paris (the 18th Arrondissment boulevard that’s home to the yet to be gentrified and tourist-friendly passed Little Algeria community) and crisscrossing continents, the Al-Qasar group fuzz-up and electrify the sound of Arabia and its diaspora.

Helmed by instigator-in-chief Thomas Attar Bellier that neighborhood bustle is elevated and blasted back out into the world at large, absorbing and picking up sonic waves, spikes from Northeast Africa to a hardcore California and a rich tasting Sublime Porte.

It all helps of course that Attar Bellier is a global nomad, having lived in New York, Lisbon and Paris, but also having worked in the recording studios of L.A. during that circumnavigation of multicultural living he produced enough tracks of his own, releasing the well-received Miraj EP.

I get the impression that this is a fluid project, but at the time of this, the debut longplayer, Attar Bellier has opened up the ranks to include Jaouad El Garouge on vocals and a number of instruments synonymous with Moroccan Gnwa and North African traditions, Guillaume Théoden on bass and sub-bass duties, Nicolas Derolin on a myriad of percussive and hand drum instruments and Paul Void on drums. That seems the core anyway, but in this electric saz tangling and psychedelic post-punk rich sound there’s a cast of guest pioneering musicians to add yet another layer, another sonic perspective.

From the start there’s Sonic Youth’s guitar-sculptor Lee Ranaldo providing multi-layers of sustain, whines and abrasions to both the opening Swans meet Faust squall turn spindled and more familiar Middle Eastern electric fez intro ‘Awtar Al Sharq’, and the second, dervish-spun spirited and phlegm-voiced tour of Anatolia, The Balkans and Arabia, ‘Awal’.

That legend of the California punk scene, miscreant Dead Kennedys founder Jello Biafra goes free-radical on the staccato jangling ‘Ya Malak’. In a kind of John Sinclair mode, he reads out a poignant translation of a poem by the famous Egyptian revolutionary poet Ahmed Fouad Negam, updated for the cataclysmic state of the world in 2022, and the crumbled, violently oppressed post Arab Spring. This is where, despite the Cairo-futurism, the rattled and slapped hand drum energy, that the political motivations, the despair and anger comes to the fore; all that history, the post-colonial tumult and also fall-out from an Arabian-wide protest movement seeking modernization, the right to earn and end to greed. Read through a tiny transistor style radio Biafra’s agitator spirit turns this into a sort of Arabian Fugazi.

Moving on, but just as political, the New York-based Sudanese vocal doyen Alsarah (of Alsarah & The Nubatones renown) brings her impressive expressive outpourings and trill to the rattlesnake desert song ‘Hobek Thawrat’. In that soulful, rising loved-yearned voice there’s a protest against the coup on her homeland, the chorus itself repeating a slogan from the recent demonstrations. A sound of the Sahel, the women folk of Tinariwen and a little Bab L’Bluz Gnawa hover over this beautifully delivered protestation.

It runs throughout, this sound’s birthplace, but Al-Qasar pay a special homage on the (so good they name it twice) ‘Barbès Barbès’, which also features the electric oud pioneer Mehdi Haddab (of Speed Caravan note). Metal work drums, a nice rolling groove and souk candour prove a friendly hustled soundtrack for a meander in the heavily African outpost. Haddab gets a solo of a kind, providing a romanticized, poetic and folksy oud, with bursts of blurred quickened neat fretwork that borders on Baba ZuLu style psychedelic rock.

The finale, ‘Mal Wa Jamal’, features the longing ached vocals of the Egyptian singer Hend Elrawy soaring over an inspirial organ and almost post-punk push. Elraway’s beautiful wails prove disarming as the song’s lyrics concern a female-centric outlook on prostitution and its consequences. There’s attitude certainly, but it’s all wrapped up in a fizzled, fuzzy and mystical film of Arabian dance and fantasy. No surprise that they’ve been added to the Glitterbeat Records label roster, an imprint for just this sort of fusion; one in which you’ll hear an Arabic Muscle Shoals merging with Anatolian psych, a touch of Electric Jalaba and Şatellites if remixed by Khalab. A brilliant package of transformed traditions wrapped up in electrifying futurism; the sounds of Arabia, North Africa and beyond are thrust into a dynamic, unifying and eclectic direction. 

Clear Path Ensemble ‘Solar Eclipse’
(Soundway Records)  9th September 2022

Out of the Wellington jamming session hothouse incubator and blossoming jazz scene in New Zealand Cory Champion rides the sun-birched rays and waves to cook-up a congruous album of many flavours. From a knowing position the jazz percussionist flows freely between a 70s ECM back catalogue of inspirations and the funk, fusion, spiritual and more freeform genres of his chosen art form.

Under the Clear Path Ensemble alias – his second such alias, also going under the Borrowed CS title when making leftfield deep house and techno cuts – Champion channels both Latin and Uniting Of Opposites style brassy Indian reverberations on the golden ‘Kihi’; offers up an acid jazz turn retro zippy-zappy late 70s disco funk fusion on ‘Drumatix’; and magic’s up a post-Bitches Brew Mile Davis band mystery of African-flavoured marimba and jug-poured, lava-lamp liquid cosmic spiritualism on ‘Revolutions’. But the mood, musicality changes again when we reach the jazzy-suspense score ‘Absolvo’: an early 70s cool cult vision of a Lalo Schifrin thriller.  

The finale, ‘Tennis Ball’, could be said to have taken Liquid Liquid’s percussion, beats and a bit of the Style Council’s laidback washy soul-funk. And the dreamy seasonal solstice ‘Sunrise Motif’ finds a blend of the Modern Jazz Quartet, the willowy fluted bucolic and Nate Morgan. All the while translucent bulb-like notes flow or float from the vibraphone as other light-footed percussive vibrations dance and softly quicken the pace.    

A harp run here and muffled, mizzle sax or trumpet there; a touch of electric piano and pining strings on anther track; all elements that come together across a changing groove.

Clive Zanda meets a less busy Michael Urbaniek on a minor jazz odyssey of nostalgic but very much alive and contemporary fusions, Champion’s second album in this role is a sophisticated, smooth but also freeform set of moods, visions and counterflows. It proves a perfect fit for the eclectic and much-praised Soundway label.

Forest Robots ‘Supermoon Moonlight Part Two’
(Subexotic)

After an initial redolent arpeggiator wave of Roedelius, a rainbow of trance, vapoured breathed coos and transience follows, marking what will be an entirely different kind of record for the Californian electronic artist and topographical trekker Fran Domingeuz.

Under the Forest Robots alias/umbrella, Fran has produced numerous adroit, studied and evocative ambient and neoclassical soundtracks to the myriad of landscapes and forest trials he’s traversed over the years. As the world dramatically succumbed to a global pandemic, and the chance to escape to the wilds became scarce, the signature form stayed but now the music was suddenly a therapy and a vehicle for channeling the anxiety, stresses of such uncertain times.

Now (thankfully) with the worse behind us, Fran emerges with the ‘long gestating’ follow-up to Part One of his Supermoon Moonlight suites from 2018. Although recording sessions for Part Two started back in 2019 it has taken a while to finally process the last couple of years and to finish and release this beautifully conceived album of suffused and uplifting hope.

The geography and National Geographic almanac proverb-like and Zen titles remain (‘All The Rivers Born In The Mountains’, ‘Wind Always Runs Wilder Along The River’s Current’) but the underlying theme has Fran exploring the complexities of parenthood and the ‘kind of spiritual and emotional legacy a father would wish to leave for his kids.’ A warming sentiment and inspired prompt makes for a very different kind of album though. From the same gifted mind and ear yet swimming in the sine waves of trance, synth-pop, 90s techno and dance music this is relatively a new but welcoming direction, expansion on his signature sound.

Upbeat as much as reflective, the feel is often dreamy; the gravity and awe of nature gently present; cut-out mountainsides, flowing connective rivers and a canopy of redwoods, the stage is set as stars shoot across the night skies and moonbeams illuminate.

In the slipstream and bubbled undulations The Beloved shares space with The Orb, Stereolab, 808 State, Sakamoto, Vince Clarke, Boards Of Canada, I.A.O., the Aphex Twin and Ulrich Schnauss. This is a beautiful combination that filters the aftermath of the rave culture, the burgeoning British minimal techno scene of the early 90s Warp label, 80s synth-pop and electronic body music. Yet there’s room for a certain crystallised chilled sparkle of the Chromatics and the Drive time moody, ruminated dry-ice scores of Cliff Martinez within that beat-driven glow. And the elements of charcoal fires crisply burning and flickering, and the poured waters have a certain Luc Ferrari influence – albeit far less avant-garde.

Playful and sophisticated with a surprising dance-y pulse and radiant outlook, Part Two should act as a testimony to an inspired and inspiring composer. I think his kids will be rightly proud of their dad and his musical legacy: electronic music with a soul and purpose.      

Machine ‘S-T’
(WEWANTSOUNDS)

Back again in The Perusal (becoming a 2022 regular) those vinyl specialists at WEWANTSOUNDS have remastered and pressed that rarest-of-rare conscious-soul-funk LPs, the obscure assembled Machine’s self-titled debut (and only) album from 1972.

The rumour-mill is strong on this one; the cause of its £500 plus price tag on Discogs believed to be a result of either a very limited release or no release at all – shelved as it were. It could be down to the sheer quality of the competition, arriving as it did in the wake of similar social-political soul as Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On and Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly (but also his albums previous to that). Both prove a massive influence on this smooth and funky eight-track showcase.  

What we do know however is that the make up of this group included a trio of well-rehearsed session players from the All Platinum Studios stable in New Jersey. That included main man Michael Watson on vocals and guitar, bass-player Curtis McTeer (also playing with labelmates The Rimshots) and drummer Donald McCoy, who were then fattened out with the organist/pianist Ray Jones, another bassist, Frank Prescod, and both Dee and Cordy Pridges on horns. On the same label and one of the most established, successful acts The Whatnauts lent both their backing vocalists and, rather oddly, their manager (credited on percussion) Bunch Herndon to this widening lineup. And on top of all that, the notable Sammy Lowe (arranging for such distinguished company as Nina Simone, Sam Cooke and James Brown) offers a subtle suite of strings to the mix, taking it down the Rotary Connection route.

The Whatnauts prove a pretty integral ingredient to the Machine track list, lending both the ‘Only People Can Save The World’ and ‘Why Can’t People (Be Color Too?)’ songs to the album. Machine keep the sentiment of both, but add both an almost bucolic and pastoral gospel-rayed yearn to the first, and up the Gator funk and Stevie Wonder boogie on the Sly Stone on-message second.

They open on the relaxed but simmered Southern-funk-hits-the-streets-of-NYC style ‘Time Is Running Out’. Fred Wesley & The J.B.’s buzzy licks meet Maxayn attitude sass, sweet sax and touch of ‘Brotherman’ The Final Solution on a conscious-political workout – the repeated vocal refrain apparently ad-libbed.

Very much of its time and again on-message, ‘World’ tunes into the Vietnam War and its impact on and confliction with the African-American community. The actual groove is quite percussive with a touch of The Temptations Psychedelic Shack, Mayfield and The Meters.

There’s a seagull hovering harbor scene, not a million miles away from Otis’ wistful gaze, on the gear-changing ‘Trails’. It starts with that atmospheric rumination, a hint of the Latin and some romantic allusions before quickening into a banjo-rhythmic strumming West coast jive. It then goes on to wail and cry with a sequel of electric guitar. ‘Lock Your Door’ however could be a lost Northern Soul dancer, and the balladry pined ‘Boots In The Snow’ is another of those Marvin Gaye try-outs, with a touch of 70s Motown.

An enervated Nat Turner, Undisputed Truth, Mary Jane Hooper, Johnny Pate with those Mayfield and Gaye inspirations, Machine stepped-out to lead their own socially conscious project. But whilst the elements are all present, the sound isn’t quite unique enough, overshadowed as they were by a multitude of bands/artists working in the same groove and message. Still, at least you can now own a real rarity without forgoing this month’s rent, gas or mortgage payment. And it’s well worth a spin at that.

Noah ‘Noire’
(Flau Records) 26th August 2022

Ever the diaphanous siren of soothed vaporous experiments and song, the Hokkaido-born artist Noah once more drifts and floats across a sophisticated combination of futuristic etudes and distilled electronica. Following on from the beautiful balletic-inspiredÉtoile (given a glowing review by my good self), this latest emanation of whispered and cooed translucence is just as lovely and swathed in dreamy effects.

A collection of tracks from between a pre-Covid era of 2015-2020, the Noire album is awash with studied yet effortless sounding sonic theme variations; a nine-track congruous suite that riffs on Noah’s signature of ghostly plinky-plonked semi-classical piano (occasionally an electronic one by the sounds of it) and minimal 808-style synthesized waves, percussion and bobbled beats.

Noah’s breathless vocals and atmospherics seem to be reaching us from the ether: often just the reverberations of some distant hazy whisper. The opening transparent slow spiral ‘Twirl’ could be a distant relation to Julee Cruise; an enchanted but haunted echo from a palatial ballroom, yet still highly intimate. ‘Odette’ oozes languorous modern soul and R&B, like Solange drifting over the Boards of Canada.

Undulated by softened kinetic ratchets, screws and turns there’s a coming together of purposeful techno and more rhythmic retro house beats, enervated as to never overpower the general woozy and beautifully longing mood. 

Shorter reflections, pieces are balanced by extended tracks and the heavenly, bobbing and echoed looped single ‘Gemini – Mysterious Lot’; the sound relaxing as it moves from transformed Sakamoto to cool dreamy pop.

Remaining something of an enigma Noah appears and then floats away, leaving a lingering presence with music created in a dream. Noire is another great, captivating showcase for that talent.

Lampen ‘S-T’
(We Jazz) 9th September 2022

A re-release of a kind, in case you both missed it the first time around or because of its limited run on CD, the free and post-jazz Finnish duo Lampen are now offering their 2020 self-titled album on vinyl for the first time – a very nice package it is too.

I would be one of those people that did miss it the first time around, and so I now find myself discovering its highly experimental, explorative qualities, imbued as they are by the Japanese art of “kintsugi” (or “golden joinery”), the repairing art of mending areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver and platinum. As much a philosophy as a method of repair, the breaks and cracks are treated and documented rather than disguised or thrown away.

The binding metal dust is like a woven vein and testament to that object’s knocks and history. With all its obvious metaphors the Lampen lads are less than careful, seeming to deconstruct and rebuild simultaneously in an act of free-spirited concentration: if that makes sense. For they break and stretch the performances yet, because their craft is obviously brilliant, they seem to always be in unison, synchronicity throughout.

Across five crawling and more crescendo splashed tracks, guitarist Kelle Kalima and percussionist/sampler Tatu Rönkkö rattle and wane; bend and set in motion a tumult of krautrock, progressive, industrial, post-punk, psychedelic and avant-garde workouts and soundtracks. In abandoned rusted turbine dominated factories, mysterious chambers but also hovering over lunar terrains Lampen evoke hints of Rhyton, Peter Giger, Krononaut, The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Orchestra, King Crimson, Faust and The Mosquitoes. All good and appealing to those like me longing to hear jazz pushed into such directions.

Rather surprisingly, amongst the sustained drones, harmonic pings and sculpting Kalima’s guitar bursts into acid-country indie-rock territory – think, of all people, John Squire on the Stone Roses second album. There’s even spots of no wave and dub to be found emerging from various tangents and untethered directions.

Impressive throughout, whether that’s in slow motion or more maelstrom driven bursts, Lampen’s debut album is a barely contained, unnerving in places, cranium-fuck of excellent moody jazz and industrial resonating experiment. Second time around then, the duo offer us another chance to indulge in their brand of unbridled post-jazz. I think you should take them up on the offer.

Qrauer ‘Odd Fazes’
(Nonostar) 22nd September

Following on from their debut Heeded showcase for Alex Stolze’s burgeoning Nonostar label back in April, arrives an extended debut album from the German electronic duo Qrauer, who transduce chamber music, the semi-classical and percussive into a sophisticated transformation of minimalist-techno and intelligent EDM suites.

The combined, refined but ever open skills of percussionist, producer and remixer Christian Grochau and his foil the pianist, multi-instrumentalist and composer Ludwig Bauer come together to fluidly remodel their chosen instruments into a both mindful and danceable work of electroacoustic moods and soundscape sonic worlds.

Instead of a pulled-together album of 12”’s and mixes and the like, Odd Fazes feels like a complete journey from beginning to end, with shorter more ambient gazing vignettes alongside longer more evolving pieces. And so you have the trance-y, droned and transformed glitch-y orchestral spell of the incipient stirring ‘Reg. Capture’ followed immediately by the polyrhythmic, clean percussive and galvanized EDM noirish ‘Drumthrives’. Or the Drukqs era Aphex Twin piano – played on a distant echo-y stage – beautifully, but slightly off-kilter, resonating ‘Fuq’ following on from the Artificial Intelligence series trance and suspense soundtrack ‘Cool Edit’. This offers a variation and nice set of breaks between the more techno pumped movers and sonic imaginations.

Later on, Nonostar labelmate Anne Müller adds her swoonstress cello to a couplet of evocative tracks. The first of which, ‘Rund’, has an air of the Aphex Twin (again) about it. Circling bowl rings, kinetic twists and percussive itches are woven into a mild tempo EDM pulse as Müller’s trembled and attentive cello saws and plucks are turned into repeating, recontextualized beats or motifs. On ‘Oval’ the adroit, experimental cellist seems to revive some of her stirring, pining gravitas from the Solo Collective project she shares with both Nonostar founder Stolze and, another labelmate, Sebastian Reynolds. There’s also a hint, I think, of fellow cellist and experimental artist Simon McCorry too on this deeply felt mournful piece.  

Multi-textured with a constant movement and undulated beat that builds and builds yet never settles for the predictable euphoric, anthem moment, there’s a lot of clever, purposeful work at play. I haven’t even mentioned the layers of satellite and moon-bending refractions, nor the cosmic flares, the droplets of notes, cooed waveforms, fizzes and experimental recondite sound sources that have been meticulously thought-out. Again, just like the Heeded EP, the debut album is another cerebral rework of electronic body music, techno, EDM and the classical; a complete dancefloor-ready and mindful journey. 

Simon McCorry ‘Scenes From The Sixth Floor’
(Shimmery Moods)

Turning the worries and mental strains of ill health into something creatively rewarding, the highly prolific cellist sound sculptor and composer Simon McCorry is thankfully back on the experimental electronic scene after a stay in hospital last Christmas. After a period of healing, recuperation, McCorry assembles a sort of soundtrack to that worrying, anxious period.

Following a loose ‘mental thread’ (as he puts it) Scenes From The Sixth Floor is an evocative and ruminating work of both studied ambient peregrinations and post-club techno comedowns; beginning with the cult kosmische drop through Tarkovsky’s glass portal, ‘Falling Through The Mirror Backwards’. Part illusion, part Moebius scores Hitchcock’s Spellbound, it’s the sound of our composer freefalling through a gauzy blanket, unable to latch onto the sides or gain traction as he spirals in sedated state to earth. Yet this there’s also no panic, rather a hallucinatory feel.

The next track, ‘Fragmentation’, is the first of two pieces developed from previous commissions/projects. Originally, albeit loosely, based on a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party dance piece, the landscape on this piece is less Lewis Carroll surrealism and more an evolving soundtrack that absorbs Bleiche Brunnen period Asmus Tietchens, Bernard Szajner sci-fi, Tangerine Dream, John Carpenter and Sven Vath.  From the primal liquid blobs to the supernatural and futuristic, McCorry creates a whole atmospheric world before building steadily towards a patter beat of early 90s set techno (R&S/Harthouse).

Another developed idea, ‘The Sea Of Stories’ takes its cue from Philip Ridley’s feted Moon Fleece book – an intense and thrilling exploration of memory and identity. One of the only tracks with which you can hear a mostly untreated, transformed as it is, cello, McCorry’s instrument of virtuoso choice aches and arches movingly whilst a constant arpeggiator waterfall cascades onto shimmered, light catching waves. Be careful, if you close your eyes you could just find yourself carried away on the tide.

Up above now to the skies and the stirring and soaring ‘The Secret Life Of Clouds’. A beautiful if almost little mysterious, unsure passage, I picked up Schulze, Frosse and even a touch of Air Liquide on this natural phenomenon. But it’s Roedelius’ fairground piped style of playfulness and new classical analogue electronica that’s felt on the arpeggiator-bounced ‘Surfacing’; although this mood changes with another of those post-club undulations, pitter-pattering way at the end.    

Tubular marimba and small thrusts of Kriedler and Pyrolator make up the mid-temp techno styled ‘Earth Best’, and the angrier entitled ‘Day Of Wrath’ has a certain European yearn and another echo of Roedelius’ whistled Bavarian fairground vibes. The cello, which remains pretty much hidden throughout the album, now starts to materialize, producing a weepy bowed melody and sense of purpose.  Constantly enriching the ambient genre and beyond McCorry has bounced back with a reflective and developed soundtrack of perfectly crafted and moving compositions, some of which contain a certain mystery, dreamy-realism that remains to be deciphered. Proving the cello still has some way to go as an imaginative and explorative tool, the gifted player finds new tones, textures and spells of magic to further that instrument’s sound, use and reach. It’s good to have him back is all I can say. And this album further cements an already impressive reputation as a true innovator and master of the form.  

REZO ‘Sew Change’
30th September 2022

Shy of just eighteen months the Irish duo of REZO follow up last year’s debut album Travalog with another relaxed, gentle-of-touch songbook, Sew Change. The seeds of this particular brand of disarming but deeply moving craft were sown from a distance, with both partners in this project recording their parts in separate locations on that debut. Nothing quite concentrates the mind as an epidemic and its confinement, and so the introspection flowed on that record, which despite the distance geld perfectly: in keeping with both musician’s Ireland and Med environments, the music effortlessly blended a touch of the Balearics with more soft-peddled Americana and singer-songwriter material.

As a sort of bridge back to Travalog, the spoken-word return down memory lane family themed ‘You Are What You Wear’ repurposes the sleepy, laidback rolled and Damon Alban-esque with a lick of Baxter Dury ‘Life During Lockdown’ backing. Only this time there’s an additional soulful female cooed chorus and the subject is Colm O’Connell’s family-run knitwear factory in the city centre of Dublin. Within that idyllic-natured return to a more carefree childhood, the whole gamut of life, death and remembrance is narrated both fondly and poignantly.

Concentrating on what’s most important, attempting to right some wrongs and holding one’s hands up to past mistakes, Colm and his foil Rory McDaid ease through some highly sensitive subjects to a musical accompaniment of Americana (once more), synthesized shading and gentle spacey takeoff sparkles, enervated bobbing dance music, piano-led balladry and wistful acoustics. However, within that scope they evoke a Muscle Shoals spiritual Rolling Stones, and a little Billy Preston, on the gospel organ sustained (with a cheeky hint of ‘Let It Be’ I might add) ‘I’m Not Enough’.      

Talking of the sensitive, and careful not to cancel themselves in the process, the duo filter their concerns on the increasingly problematic and volatile theme of cancel culture on the Med-twanged, gauzy ‘Erays’. Like passing through gargled spacy waters and a dry-ice machine they make sure to carefully word their take; misspelling “Erase” as a nod to rays of sunshine and hope in this struggle over censorship. They also seem to tackle teenage suicide and mental health issues on the iconic Dublin Nine Arches set drama ‘Boy On A Bridge’, and explore the grief of dementia by marrying solo McCartney to the Eels on the synth undulating ‘Sometimes’.

Already included on July’s monthly playlist, ‘Your Truth’ still stands out as one of the album’s best offerings. On a song about the cost of “freeing your mind”, or the indulgences of going too far, that Americana feel is taken in a novel direction with softly padded congas, a smooth bass and veil of psychedelic-indie ala later MGMT – I’m also positive I can also hear a touch of TV On The Radio.

In its entirety Sew Change is a completely realised album of reminisces, reflections and softly hushed reconciliations, set to a gentle wash of the spiritual, Irish snug and saloon bar piano, a lilted Dylan-esque lyrical cadence (see the nativity-evoked ‘Hiding In Plain View’) and hazy suffusion of synth. The duo expand the palette without upsetting the formula to produce a complimentary follow-up every bit as slowly captivating.  

John Howard ‘From The Far Side Of A Far Miss’
(Kool Kat)  9th September 2022

Following in the slipstream of his third and final volume of memoirs (In The Eyeline Of Furtherance) the singer-songwriter John Howard, with the wind in his sails, is back with yet another album. But instead of the usual songbook formula this is a continuous one-track work of disarming, gentle brilliance that runs to over thirty-five minutes.

You could say it was a return to Howard’s long form songwriting experiments of 2016 and the Across The Door Sill album, or perhaps even a reaction to (one of his heroes of the form) Bob Dylan and his Boomer odyssey ‘Across The Rubicon’, which more or less charts an entire epoch. Howard is a bit younger than Dylan of course, but both artists seem to be making some of their best work at this stage in their lives: uncompromising and unburdened by expectation or the need to suck up to fashions, labels, even the public they share an envious position. That Dylan mini-opus only lasted a mere seven-minutes in comparison, whilst Howard’s grand effort runs and runs, covering as it does a lifetime as a proxy soundtrack to his series of autobiographies.

Far more melodious than his hero’s reflections, this scrapbook photo album reminisce features Howard’s signature balladry-troubadour and stage musical verve of poetically candid prose, sung both wistfully and with a certain yearn.

Love is all though as Howard sets scene after scene, analogy after analogy; reconciling his past to a watery-mirrored piano-led score that’s constantly moving, picking up suffused strings, Dylan’s harmonica, a bucolic burnished harpsichord, a planetarium mood piece starry synth and light dabbing’s of congas and shaker. In what could be a reference to his own semi-cover version album Cut The Wire, there’s a hint of the Incredible String Band and also Roy Harper about this extended performance; especially Howard’s version of the former’s ‘In The Morning’. Later on it’s a lilt of The Beach Boys, bobbing on the “ripples of forever” line. Yet it’s unmistakably a John Howard sound, a lovingly executed piece of songwriting that more than holds its own across thirty-five minutes plus of ebbing drama.

But this is also a two-way conversation with Howard playing both sides of a long affair; the part of old lovers and new, friends, acquaintances and family, their words echoing now in the mists of the time that’s left. Dylan, that recurring idol, acts as a silent partner in one such discourse, as Howard sings about artistic integrity and his inspirations, a pantheon of uncompromising doyens. And in that same particular passage we also have Monroe and the Fab Four popping up; a Hard Days Night Beatles name-checked in what is both a celebrated yet fraught with delusion and remembrance chapter on this long winding road.

I particularly enjoyed the more salt-of-the-earth café scene diorama; Howard in voyeuristic mode describing a very unlikely cast, using both a kid who’s reading a Russian literary titan and a priest faraway in reflective thought (perhaps regret) as conduits for naming even more idols and favourites: “The kid who’s reading Tolstoy, listening to The Rolling Stones; I can hear old Jagger’s laughter floating from his phone.” Great lines by the way. The priest is “remembering Bowie’s Low”, which could of course be a reference to the same priest featured in the lyrics to ‘Five Years’ now contemplating a life that’s perhaps not all it seems.

Addressing, redressing whilst swanning through fantasies of a swish Ritz, 5th Avenue and Caesars Palace, imaging an alternative stratospheric career trajectory, headlining the Albert Hall, Howard takes us on a rolling, fluctuating journey through of his thoughts, dreams (realized and abandoned), regrets and hurt. By the end of this epic piece the final phrase, sung in a lasting glow, says it all: “It simply is what it always was”. Dylan couldn’t have put it much better.

An ambitious undertaking, From The Far Side Of A Far Miss is the work of an artist still willing to take chances and explore. Whilst his peers rely on the back catalogue, or drum out the same music they made over fifty plus years ago, Howard seems entirely comfortable in his own skin as a wiser yet still spritely young-at-heart artist composing music on his own terms. Fresh new introspections, concepts abound as he shows there’s still so much more to share and create.

Yara Asmar ‘Home Recordings 2018-2021’
(Hive Mind Records) 16th September 2022

The latest discovery on the Hive Mind radar emanates from Beirut, with the serialism and tonal atmospheres, ambient and minimal semi-classical melodies of Yara Asmar.

In a tumultuous climate, referenced in a sampled conversation piece on ‘Is An Okay Number’ and in the unsaid but moody reflections and vaporous drifts that push out into the unknown and untethered, the twenty-five year old multi-instrumentalist, video artist and puppeteer manages to often leave the earthly mess of a region in crisis and float out above the city.

From an airy viewing platform we can identify swirls, waves, gauzy veils and echoes of the concertinaed (courtesy of Asmar’s grandparents’ accordion), tubular metallic rings and tingles (that will be the metallophone), a serious but graceful piano, a music box, hinges and searing gleams and a beatified magical spell of Christian church liturgy. The latter source was recorded by Asmar from church hymnal services around the Lebanon; transduced into the hallowed yet otherworldly and mysterious, given a gentle waltz-like ghostly quality and only sense of a presence. A reference to country’s much troubled religious turmoil? The art of remembrance? Spiritualism? Or the familiar sounds of an upbringing? Whatever the reason it sounds both equally as ethereal, as it does supernatural: passages into other realms.

Tracks like ‘We Put Her In A Box And Never Spoke Of It Again’ are almost lunar in comparison to those hymns; lending a moon arc of Theremin-like UFO oscillations and cult library cosmic scores to this set of peregrinations and field-recordings. Yet for the most part this is a truly dreamy, translucent and amorphous album of delicate classicism, explorative percussion and ambient; an ebb and flow of reverberations and traces of moods, thoughts that literally floats above the clouds and out beyond the Lebanese borders. These home recordings recorded onto cassettes and a mobile phone capture something quite unique, in what are the most unique of times.   

Valentina Magaletti & Yves Chaudouët ‘Batterire Fragile’
(Un-Je-Ne-Sais-Quoi) 23rd September 2022

Is it performance art or just performance? Probably both as the lauded drummer extraordinaire Valentina Magaletti once more sits behind the artist Yves Chaudouët’s conceptualized porcelain drum kit.

If you follow either of these artists then you’ll know that this is the second installment of recordings to be taken from the original project back in 2017. Conceived by the painter turn multimedia artist Chaudouët as an exploration in texture and friction, wood, metal and rubber were all added to the porcelain kit; the effects of which, in the hands of such an accomplished musician traverse the concrete, avant-garde, art rock, breakbeat, the classical and freeform and dark jazz.

It’s been a couple of years since I last featured the highly prolific composer/producer and percussionist Magaletti, featuring her ‘tropical concrete’ communal with Marlene Riberio, Due Matte. In this space Magaletti continuously rattles, rolls, skids, skiffles, dusts and lays spidery tactile rhythms and strokes down as mooning, wailed and frayed bowed primal supernatural atmospherics stir.

We could be in Southeast Asia, Tibet or West Africa, even the Caribbean with passages that sound like steel drums bouncing away. We could also be in a subterranean chamber as resonating echoes of this tinny, metallic and deadened kit ricochet of the walls. Reductionist theatre, ceramic jazz, a paranormal drumming séance, the mood isn’t always easy to gauge. But as experimental as it is Magaletti is constantly rhythmic throughout; switching yet always hitting a beat, and even in some parts something that resembles a groove. An exercise on concept but also percussive, drumming performance, this collaboration straddles both the art and musical camps to bring us something quite different yet always engaging, interesting and virtuoso.  

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

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