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Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard – Sound X Sound: Music For 9 Pianos

 

Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard - Sound X Sound Music For 9 PianosNiels Lyhne Løkkegaard has been busily investigating the particular qualities that can come from quantity on his Sound X Sound series of seven 7” vinyl releases. In this third instance, he has nine pianists playing two very different pieces in a veritable fall and resurgence along the keyboard, descending and rising up from the depths with results that are on occasion remarkably similar to some of the impossible to play black MIDI tunes that were all the rage for a while.

As ever, Løkkegaard’s compositions are more about the properties of the sounds that each instrument generates rather than having a specific musical character. This is of course what some sections of the avant-garde have

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Ipek Gorgun – Aphelion

(Self-released)

Ipek Gorgun - AphelionAphelion unfolds with the chirruping scratchiness of a host of slothful machines awakening and dozing, dreaming fitfully or snoozing comfortably in the electro-acoustic bath that Ipek Gorgun has prepared for them. Listened to in a state of semi-willing wakefulness in the imminent expectation of the arrival of hypnotised, tired-out dozing that movement through a landscape can engender, Aphelion matches those moods and the state of hovering just between consciousness and collapse.

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Nisennenmondai – #N/A

On-U Sound

NisennenmondaiNisennenmondai - #N/A have turned their exploration of the extremes of guitar, bass and drum repetition into something of an artform, as well as seeming to find new and ever-inventive ways to continuously revisit and repurpose the same basic sound and tracks which first appeared on their now-classic N LP in 2013. With the superb live in the Clouds Hill studio version of N (and more) bringing the engrossing immediacy of their stage presence to both disc and video

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The Body – No One Deserves Happiness / The Body and Full Of Hell – One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache

No One Deserves Happiness Thrill Jockey

The Body - No One Deserves HappinessHere’s a concept to consider: The Body have dubbed their latest misanthropic missive No One Deserves Happiness as “the grossest pop album of all time”, and they may just be right. Roping in Chrissy Wolpert and Maralie Armstrong from the Assembly of Light Choir to provide a more melodic vocal counterpoint to Chip King‘s enthusiastically atavistic yelping, the duo also utilise a range of drum machinery to underpin their visceral grind of guitar, bass and even cello and trombone with a relentless churn of rhythm and distended groove.

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Mugstar – Magnetic Seasons

Rock Action

Mugstar - Magnetic SeasonsMugstar have been at the vanguard of the British space rock revival (though perhaps it never really ever went away) for a good decade and more now, and everything about their music can certainly be assessed in terms as broad and well-trodden as spacious, cosmic and psychedelic, and it conjures up all of the tropes — long hair, biker chic, salad lights, heavy wafts of fragrant weed smoke — that accompany that simple act of genre-assignment along the way.

Thankfully, save for the stupendously good live collaboration with Damo Suzuki on Start From Zero in 2015, Mugstar generally eschew vocals, and quite frankly work all the better for their absence. Space rock as a form doesn’t often really need or benefit from them (unless they’re

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Vainio and Vigroux – Peau Froide, Lèger Soleil / Franck Vigroux and Matthew Bourne – Radioland: Radio-Activity Revisited

Cosmo Rhythmatic

Vainio & Vigroux - Peau Froide, Lèger SoleilIt really makes a huge amount of sense for Mika Vainio and Franck Vigroux to have made Peau Froide, Lèger Soleil together, especially considering the latter’s storming Centaure 12″ of a year or so ago. There, Vigroux mashed up the hardest of beats in a welter of analogue electronics that bore easy and justifiable comparison to Vainio’s former outfit Pan Sonic; together they make a heavily textural collaboration which unfolds with a wheezing, shuffling sense of palpable heaviness and weighty atmospherics.

Replete with all manner of weighty analogue oscillator drones and the crunchiest of crunchy rhythms, the album unfolds in a gathering swarm of delayed hissing snippets, sliding bass tones, cinematic dynamics and an ever-present sense of

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OZmotic and Fennesz – AirEffect

S Object/Folk Wisdom

OZmotic and Fennesz – AirEffectInspired by Chris Marker’s fragmentary post-apocalyptic time travel film La Jetée and purporting to involve a mysterious black box dating from the Anthropocene era, AirEffect seems at once an imaginary soundtrack and the illusory object of its own investigations.

Stanislao Lesnoj‘s haunting saxophone circles SmZ‘s shuffling drums and other percussion while Christian Fennesz‘s guitar and electronics scrape and shimmer. All the time a plethora of broken, cut and pasted voices and environmental sounds ebb and flicker across the soundscape, their processed jitters and occasionally eerie whispers creeping and crawling into the listener’s perceptions in a dreamlike nagging at the unfamiliar.

The dynamics that the trio deploy are often highly effective and immersively engaging. Like tuning into overlapped, glitching

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Hypnodrone Ensemble – The Shape of Space

Calostro Recordings (LP) / Little Crack’d Rabbit (CD)

Hypnodrone Ensemble - The Shape of SpaceFollowing up on the success of Aidan Baker and Eric Quach (thisquietarmy)’s 2014’s début live album of the same name, the now-expanded Hypnodrone Ensemble is now a band in its own right and presents here a set of four new studio recordings laid down in Berlin. Judging from the album and track titles, the group seem intent on seeing just how much further they can warp the fabric of the universe through the power of psychedelic music.

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Opollo – Stone Tapes

New Nihilism

Opollo - Stone TapesJarosław Leśkiewicz‘s (AKA Naked On My Own) first CD as Opollo delivers ten tracks of wool-gathering shoegaze ambience which pulse, glide and drone at the listener, prompting the attainment of theta wave-heavy states of consciousness, or perhaps more simply nudging them towards a kind of wakeful sleep state.

As with the best of this kind of thing (Leśkiewicz is obviously a fan of both Brian Eno and Justin Broadrick in his smothering modes as Lull, Final et al, as well as Main), Stone Tapes – a title that could equally be a nod towards both the theory that ghosts are spirits encoded into places and to the British TV play of that name from the 1970s whose radiophonic soundtrack has long been the stuff of lo-fi electronic legend and inspiration – seizes control of the audio spectrum,

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Anthony Cedric Vuagniaux – Le Clan Des Guimauves

Plombage

Anthony Cedric Vuagniaux - Le Clan Des GuimauvesBursting with the same sort of demented energy which characterise much European music of the Seventies and Eighties, Anthony Cedric Vuagniaux‘s bizarre space opera Le Clan Des Guimauves (The Marshmallow Clan) tells the story of “the adventures of a gang of Alien Gypsies lost on our planet. Their physical feature is to have a big nose and seven fingers on their left foot.” Part pot-head pixies, part Magma-esque interstellar weirdos, the clan set forth on their musical peregrinations with the bubbling enthusiasm, highs, lows and far-out cosmic synth and electric piano vibes redolent of an era when all restriction seemed null and void.

This celebratory retro feeling is heightened upon learning that (of course) Vuagniaux records

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The Orb – History Of The Future Part 2

Malicious Damage

The Orb ready History Of The Future Part 2There’s something gratifying about the way that The Orb‘s music has both progressed (in all senses of the word) and stayed within its own vaguely-defined parameters over the last quarter century. Pick any one of the tracks on History of the Future Part 2 or set it to shuffle play, and a certain number of slightly off-kilter vocal samples, blips, bloops and chunky shuffling beats from the second chapter of their trip are likely to emerge from the speakers, the only imponderable being just how much bass pressure they’re going to bring to the party along the way.

From inner/outer space to the corners of a farmer’s field which be be forever raveland, The Orb are still ideally placed at the interface between ambient floating and festival-friendly dub techno as they’ve

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Jim Haynes – Scarlet

The Helen Scarsdale Agency

Jim Haynes – ScarletEver needed to block out the world beyond the ears with the application of sound, to soak and bleach away the intrusive noises of other human beings, their transport, the built environment, the elements themselves? Try Scarlet then, up loud and/or on headphones, and let Jim Haynes reorganise the sound world in rawer form.

Tired of melody, bored to tears by tunes and in need of something a little more intense than just simply entertaining? Get Scarlet for the saloon bar, and keep those pesky customers at bay, or at least those unhardy enough for the scatter of abstraction and the sputtering bursts of electrical noise which will instantly guarantee a nagging feeling of concern for the safety of the speakers, or possibly the proper functioning

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Klangwart – Transit

Staubgold

Klangwart - TransitNot so much glitching as rippling on a bed of deftly, deliberately placed samples organised by Timo Reuber and Staubgold label head Markus Detmer, Transit is also blessed with the production skills of Joseph Suchy, ensuring that everything unfolds with a suitably spacious, widescreen feel.

A constant sense of motion, of change and unfolding, of new vistas opening up as the album progresses, matches its title perfectly as the music moves across the stereo spectrum with occasionally delicate surefootedness. Transit demonstrates that computer music can sparkle with a human warmth, even if it has been built up in stages by a duo who describe themselves as technicians or “sound station attendants” who inject sequences of organised sound, rather than composers. This very Kraftwerkian

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Eleanora – EP

Consouling Sounds

Eleanora – EPTwo tracks; fifteen minutes of fearsome post-hardcore grunt, groan, riff and thrash from Eleanora splashes out of the speakers as if the very devil was grinding out the best tunes behind them, goading the band into producing yet more screamed crescendos.

Tight as the screws which surely must be holding down the drummer’s kit in case it should get beaten off the stage, “Mammon” shifts gears and swerves with the erratic control of a rally driver careering headlong into an ice-storm while their co-pilot yells out a constant stream of incoherent rage at the all-encompassing elements rather than anything resembling useful directions.

“Amenable” starts off in just that fashion, a pleasant churn of guitar soon joined by a frying-pan bass sprawl until the doomy whole coalesces into a dirgesome trudge

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Northumbria – Bring Down The Sky

Consouling Sounds

Northumbria – Bring Down The SkyUsing only bass, guitar and slew of effects, Dorian Williamson and Jim Field‘s second release as Northumbria starts as it intends to finish, declaring at the outset that it is time to soar and glide. It seems to be just about fuzz o’clock as far as the guitar is concerned, and while the bass is set to Northumbrian winter time, its low-end rumbles are equally content to give direction to the pedals which set its deep heart a-coruscating.

Textural more than tuneful for the most part, Bring Down The Sky sets out to cover its allotted ground with a comprehensive blanket of sound, sweeping across the frequency spectrum with an implacable determination to fill space and overcome time. While the bright chimes and searing, controlled feedback from

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