Review: The judicious Minimal Wave clan deliver another brilliant compilation of rare and wonderful music from the 1980's, this time an anthology of the best work from Japanese artiste Tomo Akikawabaya. Sourcing these songs in their original format has become harder and harder over the years, so they've really done us a favour with this effort. The double LP is made up of loneseom drones, lo-fi drum machine grooves and gorgeous synth work, all coated in Akikawabaya's wonderful vocal stance. The Japanese artiste has a unique style that borders on the melancholic, yet her music is always charged by a driving, proto techno feel. This is one to check if you weren't in the know.
Review: There's a delightfully celebratory feel about this debut volume of Cititrax Tracks, a new 12" series from Minimal Wave offshoot Cititrax. As beautifully presented as we've come to expect, Tracks Volume 1 boasts a quartet of dancefloor-ready smashers from a blend of new faces and label stalwarts. Amato (aka The Hacker) kicks things off with the glistening EBM funk of "Physique" - all restless synth refrains and pounding bottom end - before LIES affiliate Tsuzing go all dark, psychedelic and twisted on the thrillingly intense, acid-flecked "King of System". An-I go all DAF (with a touch of Front 242) on the fuzzy and dystopian stomper "Mutter", before Cititrax regulars Broken English Club delivers a storming chunk of industrial-tinged analogue funk ("Glass"). Bravo!
Review: A much needed repress for one of Minimal Wave's best and most impressive looking archival releases here. Originally issued four years ago, Synthesize pulled together some nine tracks from the archives of Autumn, aka Belgian duo Peter Bonne and Geert Coppens whose musical experiments together began in the 1970s and took full flight the next decade. This collection's inspiration comes from the 1981 &" of the same name that Autumn laid to tape in under seven hours, with both tracks featured and complemented by a further array of primitive electronics and supple synth experiments. It's worth it alone for the nervous energy of "Night In June" and "Laughter Of A Madman".
Review: It's been a delight to see Oliver Ho's Broken English Club project develop artistically over recent times, with some fine records for Jealous God and Veronica Vasicka's Cititrax label along the way. Suburban Hunting sees Ho deliver his debut Broken English Club album, featuring some 11 tracks of primitive electronics and cinematic pseudo techno cuts. Tunes like "Vacant", "Derelict", or "Scum" all share a loose techno framework, but the real aesthetic is much vaster than that, verging on remnants of post-punk, industrial and all that goodness and hybrid class that came out of the late 1980's. It's another fine addition to the sublime Cititrax discography, and we recommended it just as much as the previous numbers.
Review: Minimal Wave have done the right thing here and repressed HSTA by Das Ding, undoubtedly one of the most popular heavyweight reissues of their reign thus far. Das Ding is of course Dutchman Danny Bosten, active in the mid 1980s from his Southern Holland base releasing his pioneering brand of electro as well as his friends' music via his own Tear Apart Tapes cassette label. HSTA refers to the Highly Sophisticated Technological Achievement tape Bosten released on the STUM label from which Minimal Wave also took several tracks including the title jam, which you're likely to hear Funkineven dropping these days. It's worth investing in this for "Take Me Away" alone, which sounds likes its been beamed down from the future despite its three decade vintage (Weatherall's a big fan of this one) and the remaining six tracks are just as thrilling.
Review: With Minimal Wave at their current celebrated level, it's nice of them to occasionally dig into their archives and reissue some of their earliest releases for those Johnny Come Lately's who might have missed out first time around. Having done the right thing with an all too timely reissue of Das Ding's HSTA late last year, Veronica Vasicka's label now turn their attentions to Blackpool and revisit Spy Thriller by Das Kabinette. Originally released back in 2008, this eight track collection brings together material the trio of Michael Hall, David Bracher and Craig Hemmings recorded in the early 80s including the cult hits "The Cabinet" and "Fudge It" which appeared on a 1983 7". Fans of Silent Servant mixtapes will probably be familiar with these tracks whilst the remaining six tracks are typically unreleased studio productions that paint a fascinating picture of primitive synth music that's subtley touched by the death throes of New Romanticism.
Review: When he first emerged in the 1990s, Damon Baxter AKA Deadly Avenger was best known for laying down breakbeat-driven club cuts heavily influenced by funk, soul and hip-hop. He's completely flipped the script in recent years by variously turning his hand to chillwave, darkwave and John Carpenter style soundtrack fare. His latest album continues on this theme, offering a range of bold, synthesizer and drum machine heavy tracks that veer from bouncy and floor-friendly ("Your God Is Too Small" and the EBM-influenced "Destroy All Humans"), to slow and creepy ("A Promise For Kumiko", "The Mysterions"), deliciously glassy-eyed (the sunrise rush of "Gunman Omega" and "Tokyo SOS") and intoxicatingly chugging ("Myuki My Love").
Review: Veteran house oddball Matthew Herbert has been dormant on the dancefloor front since 2006's Scale LP, but recent times have seen him pick the mantle back up with a series of killer 12"s. The approach continues here with The Shakes, a twelve-track demonstration of just how finely tuned this man's production skills really are. The opener "Battle", much like "Stop", are prime examples of the album's versatility and conceptuality. By that, we mean that this LP makes sense as a whole unit and it's certainly not merely a collection of tunes. In fact, each song sounds like it's talking to the next, joining its soundscapes to reach the inevitable "Peak"...an aptly named final piece to this wonderful amalgamation of samples, vocals, electronics and experimentation. Lush.
Review: It's the 30th Anniversary of the Castlevania franchise and Austin, Texas based cinema retroverts Mondo are proud to celebrate with a premiere vinyl release of the original soundtrack to the 1986 Nintendo Entertainment System classic that started it all. Featuring all 12 BMG tracks from the video game by Konami Kukeiha Club (a collective name for the Konami sound production staff) and original artwork by Becky Cloonan. The first of a five-album campaign dedicated to the video game franchise, so get in on it!
Review: It would be fair to say that this release is fairly significant. It showcases material recorded - but never released - by former Tangerine Dream and Iggy Pop drummer Klaus Kruger throughout the 1980s. Variously inspired by kosmiche, Berlin School ambient, the cyclical movements of avant-garde American minimalism, the polyrhythms of Africa and contemporaneous electronic music movements - think EBM and European new age electronica, for starters - Advanced Dance contains some startling and hugely enjoyable material. The album's genius lies primarily in Kruger's ability to not only balance acoustic and electronic instrumentation, but also experimental instincts and melodious intent. Remarkably, some of the material even sounds like modern modular techno. In other words, it's one album of previously unreleased material that you really need in your life.
Review: Back in 1996, Richard D. James and Planet Mu boss Mike Paradinas collaborated on a bizarre self-titled album under the name Mike & Rich. A cult addition to their respective highly-regarded canons that saw the pair applying their braindance template to easy listening and funk, the album soon came to be known as Expert Knob Twiddlers thanks to the excellent cover art. Newly reissued on Planet Mu, the album has been "carefully cleaned up, re-edited and remastered from the original DAT tape [and] put into a more fitting order." Some twenty years on the album remains a playful listen made all the more compelling by the addition of seven previously unheard tracks. A must for any fans of Aphex Twin and u-ZIQ.
Review: For fans of minimal wave and DIY electronic pop, Oppenheimer Analysis's self-released 1982 debut cassette, New Mexico - little more than an extended demo cassette - has become something of a collector's item. While it has been reissued digitally since, it never received a vinyl release. In tribute to Martin Lloyd (the other half of the duo, alongside Andy Oppenheimer), who passed away recently, Minimal Wave has decided to make New Mexico available on wax for the first time. While the sound quality is appropriately dusty (it was badly recorded in the first place, of course), the music remains magical - bubbling, evocative, left-of-centre leftfield pop created with home-made synthesizers, modular hardware and little else. It's no wonder many consider it a classic album (even if was never officially released first time round).
Review: Despite now being 25 years into their career, Plaid duo Ed Handley and Andy Turner show no signs of showing up. If The Digging Remedy - their 11th studio set - is anything to go by, their instincts remain as sharp as ever. They've always been capable of creating magical music that contrasts experimental electronic rhythms with picturesque melodies and mood-enhancing sounds, and The Digging Remedy is full of the stuff. Intriguingly, many of the tracks seem deeper and more subdued than previous explorations, with clear ambient and neo-classical influences amongst the classic electro and IDM flavours you'll find on the album's more up-tempo moments.
Review: ** Repress ** If you've been keeping abreast of all things Minimal Wave this year, you'll probably have picked up on Veronica Vasicka hinting at a forthcoming split release from Silent Servant and Broken English Club, the new project from UK techno man Oliver Ho. We've certainly been eagerly awaiting it her at Juno HQ and it's great to see Violence And Divinity live up to and surpass these expectations! Silent Servant mans the A Side with two tracks that will be familiar to anyone that's been lucky enough to catch his live sets of late, indeed it's almost too easy to visualise the flashing strobes as the pummelling EBM lines of "Cut Unconscious" unravel and beat you down. The two accompanying productions from Ho's Broken English Club dovetail nicely, but veer off into more wave orientated territory, with "Divinity" sounding quite like some of the earlier material put out by In Aeternam Vale. In a word superb.
Review: Minimal Wave present their first double vinyl selection since their breakthrough Minimal Wave Tapes compilation released in conjunction with Stones Throw a few years back. This time Veronica Vasicka and company switch their focus to the cult mid 80s Swedish synth cassette compilation Orgelvark. The 23 tracks spread across the two heavy weight 160g slabs of vinyl give a newly remastered look at the multifaceted music which surfaced from the underground tape scene in Sweden, bridging the gaps between outright synth pop, industrial music and more. This vinyl edition includes five unreleased tracks, along with a rather enlightening letter from the compiler Tor Sigvardson as well as detailed band notes across the gatefold sleeve. It makes for an enlightening peak at the fledgling beginnings of Swedish synth based music, a genre which these days is stronger than ever.
Arvid Tuba - "The Seasons Are Sitting On Chairs" (3:43)
Subject - "Don't Be Blind" (2:56)
Denial - "California Dreaming" (3:10)
Unovidual - "Dit Is Pas Het Begin" (4:19)
Aural Indifference - "Park" (3:31)
Autumn - "You Are You Are" (1:30)
Review: Over the last two or three years, New York's Minimal Wave outpost has focussed on releasing plenty of new music that fits in line with their unashamedly 'cold-wave' approach, and this has opened them to a whole variety of listeners and DJs. However, in our opinion, where they truly shine is in providing the underground masses with compilations such as this latest The Bedroom Tapes: A Compilation Of Minimal Wave From Around The World 1980-1991, a glorious snapshot of all the very best slices of lo-fi that has largely gone unnoticed to the modern eye. Of course, the majority of these tunes are now expensive in their original formats, but we're taking about a small crew of Discogs sharks who are upping the prices. Here, you're able to properly - and peacefully - enjoy some of the very best minimal machine-drum soul from peeps like Karen Marks, Vorgruppe, Perfect Mother and Aural Indifference, among others. This truly is a feast for the modern digger. Excellent.
Review: There are plenty out there - the team behind Dark Entries Records included - who will happily tell you that that Time Actor is one of the finest and most overlooked albums of the 1970s. It was the debut full-length of Richard Wahnfried, an alter ego of pioneering German ambient don and electronic experimentalist Klaus Schulze preserved for collaborative projects. In the case of Time Actor, that collaborator was Arthur Brown (he of "The Crazy World Of..." fame), whose half spoken, half-sung vocals provide a focal point throughout. Musically, the album is deliciously trippy and other-worldly, with Schulze delivering a swathe of fine electronic grooves and bubbly Berlin School soundscapes. This edition also boasts a brilliant bonus track: a 12-minute, 1983 "Afro-cosmic" revision of the title track by Italian Maurizio Delvecchio.
Review: Way back in 1996, Rod Modell (he of Deepchord and Echospace fame) joined forces with Chris Troy as Waveform Transmission. They released one, CD-only album, V1.0-1.9, before going their separate ways. 21 years on, they've reunited for this superb follow-up on Astral Industries. While there are naturally plenty of nods towards Modell's usual densely layered, ultra-textured sound - think manipulated field recordings and lashings of outboard analogue effects - for the most part the set is far dreamier and more melodically precise than his ambient works; a testament, perhaps, to Troy's influence. Either way, the resultant tracks are, for the most part, breathtakingly good, sitting somewhere between gently drifting aural meditations and Pete Namlook style deep space soundscapes.