PREMIERE SPECIAL/Dominic Valvona

In partnership with our Italian pen pals at Kalporz, both our sites have been chosen to simultaneously premiere the opening peregrination from the new collaboration between Antonio Raia & Renato Fiorito: the Thin Reactions album.

Eighteen minutes long, and taking up the entire A-side of that upcoming album ‘Too Many Reasons’ sees the amorphous saxophonist improviser and sound artist join together to capture the abstract atmospheres of cerebral reconnection; a sonic field in which to escape the stresses and weight of the pandemic.

Produced in lockdown, in the partnership’s native Napoli, this imagined space, in which a faded, fuzzy pining and wandering saxophone wafts around a rotated motorised humming and propeller purred windy and airy isolated soundtrack, brings together two experimental composers looking to create an ‘intimate and visceral experience’.

Although crossing paths years ago on site-specific performances and movie soundtracks, this traverse in tonal soundscapes marks the duo’s first fully released album together. They’ve chosen to deliver it on the new Italian label Non Sempre nuoce; the focus of which is on the burgeoning Neapolitan underground scene, covering, as the PR notes state, the city’s ‘post-clubbing music’, ‘Mediterranean retro sonorities’ and everything in-between.

Almost haunting in places, with field recordings that sound like a mysterious cyclonic desert, hinged fuzzes, vapours, fluted ambiguous regional sax and subtle little bursts of fizzled sonics are the only interruptions in this secluded landscape.

This is how the duo themselves describe this album venture: ‘Thin Reactions is an album consisting of sounds coming from invisible cities and intimate landscapes. It is a sonic trip you can take through a sensory experience. It is music that allows you to take a deep breath.’

You can now experience that immersive soundtrack below.

The Thin Reactions album will be released on the 29th October via the Non Sempre nuove imprint.

Premiere/Dominic Valvona

Abir Patwary ‘Atmosphere’
15th October 2021

Regular readers and followers alike will know that the Monolith Cocktail takes pride in showcasing burgeoning new artists. And so with today’s premiere/track-by-track preview we’re delighted to exclusively present the new EP by the Oxford-based Spanish/Bangladeshi singer Abir Patwary, who combines his South Asian and European roots with modern electronic R&B, soul and emotive swelled pop.  

With production shared (almost) between the L.A. producer/songwriter Nick Nittoli and the ever reliable Oxford producer/musician Mike Bannard, Patwary’s five-track Atmosphere EP crisscrosses the Atlantic with a sound that’s further expanded by the talents of viola player Joshua Piero, vocalist Mel Austin and rapper André Jahnoi.

Driven by themes of isolation, belonging and connection, Patwary lyrically fluctuates between storytelling and an expressive pull of emotions: “music has been a way for me to express the truest version of myself. I have a deep connection with storytelling, and stories have always made me feel like I belonged and that I wasn’t alone.”  

PHOTO CREDIT: OLIVER HOLMS

Here’s a track-by-track breakdown of that EP:

Never Do’ – Opening with this summer’s single, the slow-paced and purposeful, tune features the soft harmonies of Mel Austin, who shadows Patwary’s “laconic”, slightly warble effected lead. Inspired by the war themed, and revisionist fantasies, of The Man In The High Castle and Broken Sky trilogy, Patwary yearns whilst the music dips and sways.

And exclusive ‘extended’ version, with added Ghost Poet via toasting raga lines from the British/Jamaican artist André Jahnoi, is also included on the EP.

‘Avalon’ – No not a cover of Brian Ferry’s slow dance but a slice of “crisp” brooding R&B with South Asian melodies style single, produced by L.A. producer of note, Nick Nittoli. Lyrically longing for that magical destiny, ‘Avalon’ feature’s the artist’s recurring theme of belonging: finding one’s tribe. It’s also another song that includes Patwary’s storytelling mix of the mythical and earthy.

‘Heir’ showcases Patwary’s love for cinematic and orchestral music, featuring, as it does, the light but emotive chamber pop viola tones of Joshua Piero. Once more imbued with the lyrics of mythology and also referencing the “tribe”, he soulfully aches with a certain defiance over subtle, but deeply felt, electronic beats and a romantic(ish) filmic soundtrack.

‘Mun’: An “arresting song of redemption” that features a zombified metaphor, aimed at all our most cruel, mindless failings, ‘Mun’ incorporates both that cool L.A. vibe of giddy sped up effects, bump and thud bass, and the march of more militaristic drummed snare.

You can now hear the full Atmosphere EP for a limited time before its official release on Friday 15th October below:

Violet Nox  ‘Haumea Video’
Taken From The Whispering Galaxy EP (Infinity Vine Records)

Pretty much encapsulated in the title of the Boston-based synth collective’s fourth and most recent EP, Whispering Galaxy proved to be just that: a dreamy, ethereal chorus of hushed, diaphanous whispery voices, emanating from and sending out a siren’s choral voice across an expansive galaxy.

Whilst previous releases have been slightly disorientating with ominous visions of futurism and unearthly cybernetics, the encouraging Whispering Galaxy featured glimpses of mid-90s Bowie, Brian Reitzell and countless dreamy, synth-pop inspirations, and the cooed promise of sweet ‘somethings’ to the awe, mystique and trepidation of a space beyond our reach. From that EP’s wispy, airy depths, the mythical and planetary inspired ‘Haumea’ is given a reactive display of liquid, wavy and vibrating synthetic abstract visuals by the artistChris Konopka.

On the almost spiritually voiced ‘Haumea’, Violet Nox’s spacecraft hurtles through a trippy, warped sonic vortex of echoed industrial gnarled guitar, various fusions, generator knocks, bauble tight delayed bounces and ticks towards a dwarf planet, located just beyond Neptune’s orbit. Named after the Hawaiian goddess of childbirth, and only discovered in 2004, Haumea inspires a suitable enough galaxy quest soundscape; one in which the Nox seem to turn off the engines and just drift towards in a suspended state of aria vocalized homage aboard the Tangerine Dream spaceship; a craft that’s also shared by Orbital and the Future Sound Of London.

Collective instigator, guitarist, sonic effects manipulator, synth player, lyricist and vocalist on a number of the EP’s tracks, Dez DeCarlo worked and reworked over and over ‘Haumea’ with fellow Violet Nox members Andrew Abrahamson (credited with playing a majority of the instruments alongside Dez, but under the mysterious, ambiguous description of ‘synthesis and clocked machines’ provider) and Fen Rotstein (vocals, turntables, Synth-Traktor, Native Instruments S4 Mk II on three of the EP’s tracks). Contributing remotely, were organ/synth player and siren Karen Zanes, and Noell Dorsey, of the band Major Stars fame, who provided the lead vocals.

Dez DeCarlo: ‘Haumea went through many formats to become the final song. It took months to write during the pandemic. I was definitely influenced by the magical energy of the goddess Haumea and it’s also a dwarf planet. I love astronomy!’

Premiered today by the Monolith Cocktail, you can experience it below:

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.

Everest Magma ‘Nues’
Taken from the upcoming album Nuova Abduzione, released by Maple Death Records, 18th June 2021

Creating off-world experiments and visitations by ambiguous life forms, the underground Italian electronic composer Everest Magma takes a ‘small leap’ into the void on his new upcoming album for the Maple Death Records label this month. 

After various cross-fertilizations of hypnotic tape beats, digital wonk, psych folk tropicalia and kinetic dub for the obscure but esteemed Italian Boring Machines imprint (created both under the Magma Everest and Rella The Woodcutter monikers), the exploratory artist is now mining an uncharted cosmos of repetitive minimalism, alien tonal ambience and blissful abyss on the latest album of incipient and astral uncertainties, Nuova Abduzione: or, ‘new abductions’.

Like some vision of Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama, the imaginative soundscapes on this kosmische imbued metallic machine resonating album suggests contact with extraterrestrials; meetings aboard beaming cylindrical orbiting space crafts on other planets; whole worlds in fact. Those mysterious entities either loom, hover, slither or bobble up to the surface of a liquid primal soup: on the opening alien ghost ship communication ‘Yloth’, tentacles thrash out along a whispered twittering corridor on some UFO cylinder.   

Magma pushes the envelope, searching in the pursuit of widening his own knowledge so that the knowable and familiar becomes…well, not so knowable and familiar. Broadening horizons, circumnavigating the expanses of deep space with only his trusty Roland Sp-404 sampler workstation, he magic’s up mirror-y and chrome mirage visions, evaporating atmospheres, crystallizations and majestic drifts. Ahead of that album’s release on the 18th June this year, the Monolith Cocktail has been specially chosen to premiere the untethered cosmic courier flight ‘Nues’. With generator melodic vaporous hints of prime Tangerine Dream, subtle reverberating and Geiger counter knocks and light warped staggers this refined but melodious swelling example of astral-minimalism is a perfect encapsulation of the artist’s craft: the enormity of space made simultaneously ominous and majestic.

You can pre-order Nuova Abduzione on the label’s site now.    

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.

Première/Dominic Valvona
Photo Credit: Helen Messenger

Kid Kin ‘Under A Cloud Of Fret’

Making good on his previous, eponymously entitled, EP from 2018, the Oxfordshire based producer and multi-instrumentalist Peter Lloyd now spans ever widening cinematic quality skylines and emotions on his forthcoming Discompose release. From that Kid Kin ascribed EP of new suites the considered composer has already showcased the airy and blissful slowly released ‘Control’, featuring the lulled almost breathless vocals of guest artist The Bobo: A diaphanous vaporous highlight with wisped veils of both the Chromatics and Cocteau Twins.

Following in that single’s vapour trail (released just last week) is the EP’s opener and second single, the gorgeous climbing piano patter and chimed dreamwave meets a far less earnest post-rock swelled, ‘A Cloud Of Feet’. Accompanying that filmic quality emphatic track is today’s premiere video; beautifully crafted by Sarah Hoyle, who with tactile skill and subtle sensibilities captures the anxious and fretting themes and sincerity perfectly and imaginatively: from a scrabbled clouded fog of anxiety and the feelings of isolation to finding relief on calmer seas, navigated into a safe harbor towards less burdensome mental fatigue. 

As Hoyle explains: “The initial concept came from the song title, thinking about someone who’s clouded by anxiety and isolation. But to show how making a human connection to someone who’s able to relate can bring some relief and strength to weather the storms. I wanted the animation to be hand-drawn with texture and movement to give those feeling as well.”

The Discompose, which means to disturb or agitate someone, is nothing of the like musically; as the two remaining slowly revealed suites will testify. Under a ‘Heron Sky’ the Kid plays subtly with classical tones and synthesized threads and undulating and bobbed electronic toms on a track that evokes both a certain majesty and gravitas. ‘Last Dance At The Nave’ suggests the ecclesial and an air of the romantic, but moves gracefully across a similar build up of strings and held but skittish synthesized kinetics until reaching a final static override. 

Ambitious scale electronica with a small ‘a’, Kid Kin’s latest grand work is highly sophisticated, deep and beautifully composed, with each track reaching for the slow release of light.

Discompose is due out later this month on the 24th June. The ‘Under A Cloud Of Fret’ single was released on the 27th May.

About today’s premiered artist:

Kid Kin has released a string of acclaimed singles, remixes and EPs. He has toured the UK and supported luminaries such as Public Service Broadcasting and Haikut Salut and appeared at UK festivals such as Are You Listening? (Reading), Audioscope (Oxford), Threshold Festival (Liverpool) and A Carefully Planned Festival (Manchester).

Crab Costume ‘Disaster’
One half of the double-A-side single ‘Betterer/Disaster’ (Boo Boo Love Records) 14th Mat 2021

Cupid strikes a bum note on today’s premiere; offering not affections, love, but a cold shrug of incredulity. As the resigned soul singer, and one half of the Crab Costume collaboration, Asher Dust plaints: “Just found out that cupid’s a liar”.

A slice of trip-y electronic neo-soul, the second part of a split single from the transatlantic duo of Oxford-based Asher and the British-born, now based in NYC, producer, beat maker Mars Kestrel, ‘Disaster’ is a doleful sore account of broken down love: “What’s the point, this love is done”.

Sitting alongside the more neon R&B and down low bass wobbled ‘Betterer’, this moody piece of subtly placed beats, plucked vague exoticism and rock music resonance is a mix of Massive Attack, a winding TV On The Radio and Tricky; with vocals that swing between Lee Fields, Bobby Womack and Finley Quaye.

Both partners in this fruitful enterprise were previously members of the ‘legendary’ hip-hop outfit Big Speakers, so have form. On this idiosyncratic venture they interlace trip-hop, leftfield rap with soul, down beats, electronica and the sometimes psychedelic.

Betterer/Disaster’ is released through the duo’s own imprint, Boo Boo Records, on the 14th May 2021. You can now hear the latter premiere ahead of that date below:

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.

Field Kit ‘Don’t’
(Nonostar Records)

Cinematic electro-acoustic music with a small ‘c’, filled with gravitas and a hunger to stir the emotions, the Field Kit collective pairing of its central force and instigator, the Berlin-based composer-musician Hannah von Hübbenet, and her collaborative foil, the pianist-producer John Gürther, create mini filmic scenes and atmospheres together on the group’s eponymous debut album for Alex Stolze’s burgeoning imprint Nonostar.

Possibly the first album on the celebrated polymath’s label that doesn’t include Stolze’s magnetic tender collaborative skills (previous releases on the roster include the violinist, composer, songwriter and producer’s own solo work alongside his collaborative efforts with Anne Müller and Sebastian Reynolds on the Solo Collective, and with repeated foil Ben Osborn), Field Kit are nevertheless in a similar sort of neo-classical orbit to their label partner’s merger of strings imbued by centuries of swelling heartache and travail, voices and synthesised instrumentation effects.

Former students of both the Universität der Künst in Berlin and the Filmakademie Baden-Württemburg, violinist Hannah and pianist John now draw on that study for their inaugural adroitly blended album of ‘warm acoustic(s)’ and more ominous, incipient ‘cold mechanical’ movements and shadows: A sound that is described as ‘cyber-noir’.

Those cinematic qualities are in evidence throughout, with hints of Scott Walker’s late soundtrack work and also Johann Johansson’s on the almost bestial, caged and chained combative subterranean, hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck-raiser, ‘Human Behavior’. You can hear a touch of both Mica Levi and Jed Kurzel on the heightened mourned strings yearn ‘String Adrift’. There’s a sense that unforeseen forces are ready to emerge from the duo’s conjured atmospherics; perhaps something otherworldly or horrifying, or something from another age, coming out of the mists – I thought for some reason of a Viking longship on the solemn opening crackled piece ‘Distant Approach’.  Haunted coos, the vibrating resonance of finger bowls and a semblance of a removed Orientalism meanwhile permeate the plucked, dust trickled ‘Counterfeit’, whilst ‘Motorized Piano’ opens up the instrument’s inner workings and the movement of time for an almost clandestine thriller – the slow release UNCLE like drums roll in to set the pace; a race across a metro platform.

The single track we’re concentrating on however, and premiering the video of ahead of the album’s release next month, is the ethereal but fragile finale ‘Don’t’. Affected sighs, and sometimes heart aching strings, lunar synth and a gauze of electro-pop plaint form a bed for the manipulated vulnerable repeated vocals on a filmic score that borders on both trip-hop and the classical. Go now and immerse yourselves in this magical diaphanous suite from the collective.

Field Kits debut album is due out on the 4th June 2021 through Nonostar Records. You can order it now through the label’s Bandcamp page. You can now buy and download the single ‘Don’t’ from today.

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.

Words: Dominic Valvona
Photos: Miluţă Flueraş

Atavistic yet contemporary in its merging of Balkan traditions and psychedelics with broken-beats, synth-electronica, dub and global bass the Sașa-Liviu Stoianovici and Alin Zăbrăuțeanu duo of Balkan Taksim inject a respective new dynamism and energy into the music of their Romanian roots. They’ve expanded that to a wider exposure and education of Slavic cultures throughout the Balkans region, congruously working with local singers and musicians to record the songs, tunes of their heritage. Reworking this source material in the studio, they’ve added an air of modernity with an array of sophisticated and articulate (rather than “banging IDM”) style electronica sounds, atmospherics, heavy bass and powerful beats. But don’t call it a “fusion”: it goes deeper than that, with many of the sounds being sampled direct from original traditional Balkan instruments, both musical worlds existing on equal terms.

It’s a magical, transportive futurist vision that’s attracting a lot of acclaim and attention.

The duo, having just signed to the Parisian label Buda Musique, are readying themselves to release a debut album this Spring. Ahead of that, the Monolith Cocktail is premiering the brand new video for the “journey into a maelstrom of memory” imbued ‘Anadolka’. The duos take on a Balkan classic merges Yugoslav pop-rock with the sound of the long-necked Ottoman tanbur and electric saz and the plaintive lyrical poetry of Bosnia’s Serbo-Croatian dialect to produce an almost shivery, frayed and haunting malady.

The Romanian film director Andra Hera created the video for the reimagined ‘Anadolka’. She has this to say about the visual narrative:

“A contemporary poet is haunted by the spirit of a beautiful woman from the Balkans. He chases her shadow while visiting an old lonely house, by the side of a desolate lake. Wintertime brings memories of a past saturated with desire, with a guilty love that is on the edge of tearing apart an old friendship. A visual poem, in which the layers of time melt. In the end, the observer is the one who is observed.”

Balkan Taksim breath life into an ancient Balkan psychogeopgraphy, creating an often-entrancing atmosphere that weaves those Slavic traditions and yearnings with an amorphous soundtrack of electronica. Experience that mood music now with the première below.

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.

Words: Dominic Valvona

Ancient Plastix  ‘Late Summer Low’
Taken from the self-titled new album released via Maple Death Records on December 11th 2020

From the forthcoming self-titled debut album by the Liverpool producer and composer of labyrinth puzzled ambient soundscapes, Ancient Plastix, the scene-setting ‘Late Summer Low’.  We’re proud to be premiering this crispy static and fizzing fissures simulation suite of contemplated cosmic neoclassical note droplets and shooting star communications ahead of the album’s official release on the 11th December.

Under the Ancient Plastix alter ego, Paul Rafferty has set out to capture the feelings of discovery and adventure he first had as a teenager experimenting with a rudimental Tascam 414 four-track in the 90s. Using that bit of recording kit once again, Rafferty recorded his album of graceful imagined spaces and emotional pulls using a cheap Yamaha synth and small collection of guitar pedals; leaving in all the atmospheric grainy hiss and fuzz of a lo fi process. And so more analog than digital, without the interference and the “burden of screen squashed waveforms” these spontaneous and linear constructed tracks evoke the early synth work of Sky Records, Tangerine Dream and on the thoughtful but also playful, starry bass bending meander ‘The Yellowed Grass’, a hint of Roedelius.

Yet the delicate majestic and sophisticated work of more contemporary figures such as Marc Barreca, Yasuaki Shimizu and Hiroshi Yoshimura can also be heard permeating the descriptively entitled compositions, which glide and refract between space and inner cerebral explorations. There’s quite a variation too, with the heart beat pulsing synthesized bass drum Kosmische ‘Dead Body Drawing’ unfurling a helicopter rotor chopping vision of a supernatural Vietnam War soundtrack produced by John Carpenter, and the proto-Kraftwerk race and train track chuffing, bottle tapping and woody percussive ‘Endurance Dream’ imagining a peculiar upbeat dream state workout.

The Monolith Cocktail invites our followers to now experience the stirring, opening suite from Rafferty’s upcoming debut album for Maple Death Records, ‘Late Summer Low’, below.

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.

Premiere
Dominic Valvona
Photo Credit: Helen Messenger

Tiger Mendoza ‘Words (Featuring Kate Herridge)’
Taken from TMSK8: The Mixtape
6th November 2020 via bandcamp
20th November 2020 via all digital service platforms

Previously limited exclusively to Bandcamp, Oxford-based guitarist, producer and remixer Tiger Mendoza (the moniker of one Ian De Quadros) is sharing the slinking and sulking Trip-Hop ‘Words’ track from his new project, TMSK8: The Mixtape, with the Monolith Cocktail ahead of a general digital release on the 20th November 2020 (with a physical release in the pipeline). This no wave funk sass of soulful but haunting moody attitude features the vaporous sultry voice of Ocean RuinsKate Herridge sophisticatedly evoking a hint of SAULT and ESG, whilst Ian’s UNKLE and DJ Shadow influences provide the breaks. 

When asked about the roots of Tiger Mendoza, Ian says “having initially been more focused on song-writing on guitar from the age of 16, I fell in love with acts such as UNKLE and DJ Shadow and composers such as Clint Mansell and Vangelis, these artists lead me to start experimenting with making electronic music”. All of which you can expect to hear on the mixtape, alongside a haul of contemporary Hip-Hop, glitch electronica, Chemical Brothers style refashions and guest spot collaborations.

As well as keeping busy working on his own tracks, Ian has produced remixes for luminaries such as Public Enemy and DJ Shadow, and has supported AKDK and Sink Ya Teeth.

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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