A wide ranging selection from relentless percussive powerplay to gorgeous, eruptive remix cataclysm…
Faugust – Devotions (1984 – 2006) (MIRA)
James Shaw or as his most notable pseudonym would have it, Sigha, emerged initially as an alumni of Hotflush. Like many of the more expansive producers lumped in with the ‘post-dubstep’ label, Shaw took that reductive assignation down far more interesting roads and recesses than the association suggests. He’s since all but abandoned the more comforting liquid sheen of his first feats for an entirely more unflinching, often blisteringly wracked form of techno, as if now fully industrialised or more appropriately, mobilised. Finding a home on Shifted’s Avian label with a hi-def assault of battering-ram percussion - the kind you’d hear if your door was being kicked in - and often diminutively condensed, jerking signals (in last year’s The Purification Loops and in the material of other alias, The Vision of Love) Shaw seems to have gradually indulged the hardier elements of his productions and thereby reached another calling. Despite the interesting course of his trajectory, this latest project represents one of his most intriguing and fully realised propositions to date. On ‘Penitence’ a sheet-metal graze and gnarl churns around a hollow bump not unlike the wounding pulses of his work for Avian (MIRA’s parent label) but here the former is put at the forefront and allowed to breathe more. ‘Persuasion’ has the dextrous bustle of a drum machine holding its increasingly pained strokes together whilst ‘Against The Sea’ takes as its emotional cue a much more muggy and morose atmosphere, though one that’s tempered by the divinity of organ-like tones. Despite those indications, the canvas here is a lot more appealingly blank and open ended. Hopefully Shaw will continue down this kind of path in the future, because the results have taken him to an unprecedented higher place.
Mark Ernestus presents Ndagga Rhythm Force – Yermande (Kick & Bass Mix) (Ndagga)
With the latest release from the manically percussive project compered by Ernestus – now with a new name and an apparent new evolvement - he bridges the infernal dub-chasms of Rhythm & Sound and the insistent and seemingly endless pulse of Basic Channel with the similarly hypnotic, stammering drum-talk of the Ndagga Rhythm Force (talk seems the right word as the Sabar drum - the initial source of exposure which sparked the Jeri Jeri project - was traditionally seen as a method of long distance communication across villages) Regular vocalist Mbene Diatta Seck’s efforts are set amongst astoundingly taut, almost machine-like feats of percussive pace and consistency, as if Tony Allen and Jaki Liebezeit are locked in some sacred bout of one-upsmanship. One spare, brooding coil of bass repeats taking it all to some night carnival, seen through inebriated but thrilled eyes. As with the other productions of Ernestus the attraction lies in its strict redaction of elements, its unassuming but stirring austerity, one which measuredly accents space and silence to the gain of its opposites. It casts an enduring spell. Remember that good humoured 10-hour loop of William Onyeabor? The same trick could be applied here. The difference being that instead of eventual cessation a loop of this would make for a sincerely entrancing long haul.
Yu Miyashita/Yaporigami – Grind Analysts // Fig.1 (Stray Landings)
The first vinyl outing for Stray Landings, a blog-come-label highlighting the less classifiable ends of techno and other strangely manipulated, niche variants of dance and electronics. There’s an expectation with infant ventures that its initial efforts might be steps to something greater rather than immediately surefooted propositions. But here Yu Miyashita – a Japanese sound artist who also trades as Yaporigami on two of the tracks – makes a strong case for the label’s bucking of the trend. ‘Lunar Steps’ is a clear highlight, a driving, blunt spill of splintered bass, both spasmodic and half-buried in iron-filing kicks. It’s preceded well by ‘Ashen Oblique’, an introduction which ratchets up the tension with a void-like mordancy. The roots of each them could be placed in the same sphere as Burial in that there’s a sense of urban claustrophobia/melancholia laced within their more rigid outlines. ‘The Silent Pulse’ proves (the track produced under Miyashita) with crystalline ambience, subtle tumblings of metal and static, and backwound operatics to be more in line with the dramatically downcast side of that division. Yet despite that loose overlapping of exploration, there’s a gloomy mischief and a thorough understanding of the smaller constituents of sound which enliven this and make it about much more than imitation. A great find by a young label.
Isorinne – 1980 (Mixed Up)
Michael Isorinne collaborates frequently with SFTOR favourite Varg in a group with a name far too long and Swedish for any of the uninitiated to attempt pronunciation (Dard Å Ranj Från Det Hebbershålska Samfundet) Despite such an intimidatingly and obscurely impractical name, the duo have arisen on respected outlets like Opal Tapes, Clan Destine and have an LP in the works for the Dutch label Field Records. Along with the currently spirited and relentless release schedule of Abdulla Rashim’s Northern Electronics imprint as well as the promising if not wholly convincing efforts of noise mainstays Posh Isolation, it all points to a Swedish scene that seems to be in rude health. 1980, a solo effort by Isorinne, has an element of nostalgic pensiveness about it, as perhaps suggested by its title. Panged reflection runs through much of it. ’21.11’ opens with modulated enchantment, a brief, glowing interlude as if representing a chronicle of a crucial moment of clarity. ‘Vacant House’ vapourizes things, accenting a low-rent rattling of hypnotic, sepulchral percussion and becoming more directly evocative of the attractively misted forest depicted on the artwork. ’07.07’ follows with an even greater sense of beatific stasis, as if the immersion in the mists of before have been replaced by the laps of a deserted lake. ‘Vacated’ edges wonderfully into more ominous territory, a simple hook of piano and a surrounding surface hiss that could work well as the faintly melancholic though mainly terrifying soundtrack to the approach of Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu. ’15.11’ then finishes it all, reverting back to the slow, soporific paces of ‘Vacant House’. As with ‘Vacated’, it’s simple with only a few spare notes furnishing the track, yet the level of detail that completes it belies a more complex layering, contributing to a fully detailed soundscape. A cassette release with only a 20 minute duration but one rife with quiet ambition, beautiful atmospherics and truly striking moments.
OOFJ – I Forgive You (Dean Blunt Sour mix) (RTA Music)
As attested by his performance at Bloc, Dean Blunt is at a high point. This remix for OOFJ, a duo comprised of Jenno Bjørnkjær and Katherine Mills-Rymer, continues the quality of form he’s recently displayed through more trademark anomalies of form and refutations of expectation. The residual jangle of Black Metal remains potent as does the lithe, spritely vocals often found with the likes of Inga Copeland and Joanne Robertson - though this time they come courtesy of Mills-Rymer. Accompanying them is a sublime orchestral sweep and a solitary procession of percussion. Combined and looped it elicits a vague similiarity with 60s girl group productions if its angelic stretches were slowed and isolated to the nth degree. So far, so lovely. But (un)predictably Blunt eventually enacts extreme measures treating it all to a brutal hiding of irritant noise at its midway point, as if sterilely peeling the features of what was laid before with the chemical subtlety of an arsonist. A gap of silence before the sound of a tape changing and a strangely processed vocal sample, as if someone swearing has been twisted into glossolalia, and then the orchestral charm is restored, and with it he’s conquered the remix too.