Ruby & Woo – Light of The World (Self-released)
According to brothers Mark & Clive Ives, Light of The World is the first of three albums recorded with vocalist Ruby, to be released themselves. Following a resurgence heralded by reissues compered by Emotional Rescue and Drag City – which brought some rejuvenated interest to their quietly revelatory music – the recovered finds continue with a collection similarly lithe and idyllic; new-age serenades that speak of cloistered, intimate spaces. Considering Woo’s links with Cherry Red – the label originally released their first LP – its perhaps unsurprising to hear similar levels of hush and whimsicality to that of Jane & Barton, who also released a record on the famed label in the early 80s. Although both gracefully unveil delicate traces of instrumentation, Woo’s sound, particularly here, is less sparse, more sun-dappled. And occasionally, as on ‘Om Hare Krisna Rama’, it recalls Roedelius’ pastoral futurism more than anything else. Meticulously layered, there are ripples of husky clarinet, flamenco guitar, warping electronic flourishes and Ruby’s spiritual lullabying all engaged in a tranquil swirl. It may indulge the blue-sky new-age fervency a bit too keenly for some sceptics but even for those turned off by that kind of thing, it’s very hard not to fall for.
DVA Damas – Wet Vision (Downwards)
The overdue return of Taylor Burch and Joseph Cocherell – one of the more enduringly distinctive acts on the Downwards roster – brings something more feature length than the blistering noir twang and stifling industrial ferment of their debut, Nightshade. It’s still the same baleful and lurid style, but feels more concerted and adrenalized, not just for the basic fact of its length but for the nature of the atmosphere fashioned. What maintained the form of Nightshade was its cohesive bleed; the smoke didn’t lift between each track. Here it’s as if they’ve condensed what would have been a slew of tracks before into one hulking stomp. Dank with whirling drone, drum machine punishment and a tempo suited more to some lightless warehouse lair, Burch adds to it all with a murderous blankness that sounds half snark-like and half like a rebuke. They’re edging further from the grave to the rave.
Various - Der Zeltweg: Italian Tapes Industrial Music 1982-1984 (Mannequin)
Not so much a compendium of neglected industrial music made in Italy in the early 80s as an examination of a select trio of groups operating during a seemingly fruitful two year period between ’82 and ’84. The execution is familiar – recontextualised cut-ups, machines emitting fizz and fuzz as if dredging up spittle, as much clarity as a pilfered car radio. Yet despite its relative uniformity with the expected formula, it’s always interesting to see how far-reaching the influence of industrial was, and how that influence manifested itself. It’s always been a troubling term, with the originators, Throbbing Gristle, reneging on its relevance as a term once it was widely applied. Whether this influence was directly felt (as in the case of Gasdehyde who cover ‘Subhuman’) or simply the result of the widespread use of synths and electronics after punk’s liberating ethos is unclear. Whatever the motivation it seems the results were just as exhilarating as the more famed forerunners of the scene, with haphazard recordings of reactive oozes of distortion, hissing drum machine blusters, and the hellish babble of buried vocals dominating. There’s often a pulse to cling to too, and a level of perverse fun to be had witnessing the strange lengths to which these variously begrimed signals are taken to.
Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe & Ariel Kalma – Mille Voix from FRKWYS Vol. 12 (RVNG INTL)
The series that’s brought the likes of Excepter and Chris & Cosey, Sun Araw and The Congos and Blues Control and Laraaji into interesting collaborations reveals its latest instalment. FRKWYS – a vowel redacted nod to the Harry Smith Folkways Anthology – and its appeal seems to stem from the fact that each project is a self-contained entity in its own right, rather than an excuse to rest on the laurels of bygone achievements. That quality is often reflected in the output, where the traits and marks of one artist don’t supersede another but blend equally, bringing something new and unexplored to the table. The sense of balanced, novel synthesis continues with the coming together of Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe and Ariel Kalma. Although Lowe may be unfamiliar to many, for anyone who heard Timon Irnok Manta, his release on Type in 2012, or Heptagramic Approximation / Alpha Crucis, a limited 7” release on Make Noise, his sound will be indisputable; a crystalline, systematic unravelling of machine hypnosis, often driven by an ambitious manipulation of modular synths. Kalma, on the other hand, is reflective of more cosmic concerns, as the recent RVNG reissue attested. Although Kalma’s work speaks expansively, often evoking some otherworldly plain, there does seem to be some crossover, both in the tools used and the kindred nature of their effects.
Saying that this still feels like a departure for both of them. From the off keening utterances and bracing ambience haunt like the mood music of some devastated outback. It sounds as if the location in which it was recorded - ‘a secluded part of Australia’ aka Kalma’s home – was a potent ingredient in how the material turned out, at least in terms of this first preview. The rest of what came to fruition can’t come soon enough.
Gondwana – Bootstrapping from AUM (Opal Tapes)
Opal Tapes have put out eight releases alone this month, churning them out like some quickfire assembly line in perpetual overdrive. The thrust of their output has always seemed to focus on a hybrid of strains synonymous with techno and experimental. The treatment of the former rests on a heavy realisation, often with a power to maim, with an introduction of the latter often bringing muddier and more uneven elements into play, and adding an invigorating series of derailing threats to any grid-like regularity (Check other releases this month, especially Basic House’s Visa Prick and BAT’s Form and Void for more in this vein) Gondwana aka Andrea Taeggi treads into more unchartered territory on AUM, with this standout trading glassy glisten with beats which falter and fall over one another in a purposeful inelegance. It’s not pretty and it’s likely to render any appreciative head-nods inept, as it barely stays together in its final stages. It’s perplexing in its form yet possessive of an absorbingly ungainly footwork.