Review: When Marie Davidson announced last year that she would be, "retiring from club music", many wondered what she'd do next. Renegade Breakdown, her first album recorded with a full band (L'Oeuil Nu), answers that question. It sees the Canadian artist and her new collaborators deliver suitably arresting, personal and ear-catching songs built on mixing and matching a surprisingly wide variety of musical inspirations, from Blondie, classic disco and mutilated heavy metal guitars, to Kraftwerk, Billie Holliday, Fleetwood Mac and Daft Punk. It's a big shift for the previously highly experimental artist, but thanks to her skill as both a a producer and performer, one that works magnificently well.
Review: In October 1987, just after releasing their now legendary Opus Dei album on Daniel Miller's Mute label, post-industrial rockers Laibach performed live at Schlachthof in Bremen, Germany. That set was recorded for a radio broadcast, and 33 years on has now been available on CD for the very first time. The Slovenian band spent months earlier this year editing the recordings and re-mastering them, and as a result Bremenmarsch sounds terrific. When we listened on headphones, we actually felt like we were amongst the audience as the performance - a mixture of raw and weighty versions of early Laibach classics, doom-laden workouts and more experimental excursions - angrily unfolded in front of us.
Review: Four years have passed since Jessy Lanza last offered-up an album, the Jeremy Greenspan co-produced leftfield space-pop masterpiece that was "Oh No". While plenty has changed in Lanza's working life since then - she now lives in New York and improvises more with "modular and semi-modular" synthesizers - her commitment to delivering a genuinely unique take on 21st century synth-pop remains. Those versed in the work of the Junior Boys will hear the hand of regular collaborator Jeremy Greenspan in the chords, melodies and synthesizer settings, but "All The Time" is undoubtedly Lanza's vision. Combining her usual glassy-eyed vocals and ear-pleasing, often melancholic synth-pop sounds with the colourful vibrancy of future R&B and grooves that subtly reference all manner of styles (dubstep included), it's most perfect underground pop album you'll hear all year.
Review: Since the release of Laraaji's fine career retrospective, Celestial Music 1978-2011, in 2013, there's been renewed interest in the work of the autoharp-playing ambient spirtualist. It's perhaps surprising, then, that it has taken this long for someone to reissue his Vision Songs Volume 1, the former Brian Eno collaborator's first self-released cassette album. In many ways, it's atypical of his work, featuring as it does "devotional and inspirational songs", rather than new age instrumentals. It was recorded in 1984 and sees the one-time actor combining lo-fi Casio synthesizer chords and melodies with his own soulful, life-affirming lyrics and copious amounts of tape delay. It remains a fine work, with the constant warmth of original tape his offering a reminder of the set's decidedly lo-fi roots.
Review: It's been a couple of years since we last heard from Greta Cottage Workshop's experimental offshoot, Greta Cottage Woodpile. We'll forgive their inactivity, though, because this belated return to action is very good. Minden Nap Vasarnap is the work of little-known Hungarian artist Laslo, a producer who utilizes all manner of outboard hardware and effects units to create atmospheric and densely textured tracks that defy easy categorization. At times, his manipulations of tape hiss, reverberating samples, delay-laden bass pulses and trippy electronic motifs sound like some mutant form of dub techno; at others, these evocative and otherworldly soundscapes inch further towards becalmed electronica. Throughout, Laslo's compositions are never less than strangely alluring.
Review: Back in 2014, RVNG Intl. released "Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Volume 1", a compilation of pioneering early 1980s electronic music by composer and producer Craig Leon. Five years on, they're finally releasing a follow up - and this time the music is brand spanking new. Leon, with assistance from vocalist Cassell Webb, recorded the showcased music between 2015 and 2018. It explores similar sonic territory to the artist's celebrated early work, offering up an atmospheric, synthesizer-driven fusion of ambient, modern classical, New York minimalism, Radio Workshop style electronic experimentalism and new age soundscapes. The set more than lives up to its grandiose title, offering up atmospheric, extra-terrestrial musical movements that sound like they've been beamed down from a galaxy far, far away.
Review: "Sonic Citadel" marks Brians Gibson and Chippendale's seventh studio album and it is one that finds them revealing a little more of themselves than before. "Blow To The Head" is an intense opener with caustic texture, dense layers and scuzzy noise that soundtracks a manic episode, while elsewhere there are much more angular and punk influenced rhythm tracks with deathly vocals mired in gauzy riffs engulfed in dirt, grit and sandpaper sonics. Standout track "Halloween 3" is a suitably horror fuelled track of high energy, lo fi fuzz that will keep any demons away.
Review: Second time around for Scott Morgan AKA Loscil's seventh album, Coast/range/arc, which first hit record stores way back in 2011. It's an album worth revisiting - or checking for the first time, for that matter - since it offers a near perfect distillation of the ambient producer and sound artist's now trademark sound. Full of beautiful, icy and slowly unfurling compositions that tend towards the meditative, the set is notable for Morgan's seemingly innate ability to craft immersive soundscapes out of a mixture of hazy drone textures, gaseous electronic chords, soft-touch melodies, atmospheric field recordings and simmer, near cinematic musical movements. This reissue also includes the previously unheard 'Black Tusk (Descent)', a deliciously woozy piece of Biosphere-esque arctic ambience.
Review: Sound designer turned ambient explorer Scott Morgan is one of Kranky's longest-serving artists. He first appeared on the American label under his now familiar Loscil alias way back in 2001. Monument Builders is his eleventh solo full-length, and sees him effortlessly flitting between icy, slow-burning ambience, analogue soundtrack salvos (see the John Carpenter-ish "Red Tide", a bubbly blast of Cold War paranoia), cinematic tension-builders ("Straw Dogs"), throbbing, post-drone soundscapes ("Anthropocene"), and bittersweet mood pieces (the melancholic brilliance of "Weeds"). As you'd perhaps expect from a man whose day job involves scoring computer games, the album is hugely atmospheric and immersive.