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Various – Ende Vom Lied: East German Underground Sound 1979-1990

Play Loud!

Various - Ende Vom LiedIt’s a miracle that any of this happened at all, given the claustrophobic nature of the (can’t believe it called itself Democratic) DDR/GDR. If you’ve ever seen The Lives of Others, you’ll get a good idea of level of repression and fear the folks behind the wall were bombarded with on a daily basis.

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Docetism / Ghosts of Breslau / Ixora – Circuit Intégré Volume 2: A Compilation Of Contemporary Electronics

Zoharum

Circuit Intégré Volume 2: A Compilation Of Contemporary ElectronicsThe second instalment in Zoharum’s Circuit Intégré series brings together a trio of electronic artists from the Polish musical underground, each providing three pieces in turn for the compilation.

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Various Artists – Underground French Pop: The Sound of Freaksville 2006-2016

Freaksville

Underground French Pop: The Sound of Freaksville 2006-2016This comes from a world that feels very familiar to being a teenager listening to indie radio, but also not. There was a lot of this kind of stuff around — retro-ish fetishists for ersatz ’70s string arrangements and Rhodes pianos

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Various – I’m A Freak, Baby: A Journey Through The British Heavy Psych and Hard Rock Underground Scene 1968-72

Cherry Red

Various - I'm A Freak, BabyEarly on in Give the Anarchist a Cigarette, Mick Farren’s majestic – and comic – memoir (its early years set against the growing pains of British youth culture), he relates an incident that took place whilst visiting his friends Paul and Beryl in Brighton one grey bank holiday weekend in the mid-Sixties.

Sitting on a wall outside the Metropole Hotel, amidst the hand-to-hand combat and full-on deckchairs, chains and bottles carnage of mods versus rockers apocalypse, the trio were approached all day by roving bands of bloodied and beleaguered participants from both factions

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Various Artists – Brown Acid: The First Trip

Riding Easy

Brown Acid - The First TripIf this album were attending high school, right now it would be on its way to the principal’s office, about to be expelled for having been caught selling cheap speed to the younger kids at the school gates.

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Various Artists – Strange-Eyed Constellations

Disco Gecko

Various Artists – Strange-Eyed ConstellationsI’m a sucker for this kind of thing. I totally bought into the Planet Dog/Shamanarchy angle as a teenager and still buy in now. This compilation has been put together by Toby Marks AKA Banca de Gaia, one of the heads of the scene in the ’90s, a guy who used to be everywhere, whose music was played at and defined by West Country beach parties and forest raves, who always seemed to be spinning.

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Various ‎Artists – Drone-Mind // Mind-Drone Volume 4

Drone

Various ‎Artists – Drone-Mind / Mind-Drone Volume 4Pressed on four different mixtures of coloured vinyl and its sleeeve graced by vibrantly lysergic geometrical paintings by Pete Greening, Drone-Mind//Mind-Drone 4 is another landmark release from the label whose very name defines their purpose more than most others. The fourth instalment of Drone Records‘ LP-length explorations of meditative instrumentals of all sorts from across the globe brings to light six new pieces by a quartet of composers from far-flung — but no longer necessarily musically distant — corners of the Earth.

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Various Artists – Eurovision 2015: Building Bridges

Universal Music

Eurovision 2015 - Building BridgesHas it been twelve months already? Twelve months since Conchita Wurst swooped into our hearts and planted a big blue, pink and white flag in the heart of Europe for the second time in Eurovision‘s history. I realise that for a lot of people Eurovision is some chintzy, end-of-the-pier nonsense, but when you can have someone advocating trans* politics in front of millions of people across the world, that is quite literally a big fucking deal.

Eurovision has a reputation for being ‘camp’ but I think it’s pretty important to emphasise that it’s not a camp that’s worthy of humiliation and denigration – Conchita Wurst in 2014 meant a lot for LGBTQIA politics the world over and was a beacon of “FUCK YEAH”. There wasn’t any global gender revolution and trans* folk still have it astonishingly

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Various Artists – God Unknown Singles Club Vol. 1

God Unknown

God Unknown Singles Club vol 1This review is based on seven of the first 7″s released in the God Unknown Singles Club Volume 1, of a total of 10. What is most apparent is the variety musical output on these tracks. No specific genre is represented, rather it seems like a selection of artists from some underground, more than half of whom I had never even heard of. They vary very much, not only in style or attitude, but there is also a bit of variety in the quality of the recordings. As a compilation, the collection of artists and tracks works quite well together, but mainly I will say something about each single individually.

Gnod / Eternal Tapestry

Gnod / Eternal Tapestry split 7″

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Various Artists – Science Fiction Park Bundesrepublik

Cache Cache

Various Artists – Science Fiction Park BundesrepublikIf I ever got my hands on a time machine I’d make ‘8os Germany my first destination. The cassette culture back then was rich and varied, a future that even today seems beamed in from a different planet. Enviously, Felix Kubin was lucky enough to be right in the thick of it at the time, a teenager both consumer and participant. The self-penned liner notes to an album subtitled German Home Recording Tape Music of the 1980s lovingly describing him lighting up with possibilities after a chance watching of Der Plan on TV. This was the music he had waited years for, go the notes, music that would set off a catalytic spark for him and his brother to experiment

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Various Artists – Fractal Meat Cuts Volume 1

Adaadat

Various Artists - Fractal Meat Cuts Volume 1The Fractal Meat on a Spongy Bone show has been running on NTS for around three years now; a platform for the musical outer limits run by artist and musician Graham Dunning. The show is fortnightly and is basically the breakfast show for every other Friday (noise in your cornflakes?).

Dunning is a sound artist who is gaining a lot of recognition of late. His exploration of the turntable-as-instrument involves solo gigs, where he creates techno from a layered cake of record players, contact mics and an array of clamps that would not be out of place in a science lab, or in collaboration with others, such as his excellent improv work with saxophonist Colin Webster, where they emit restless

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Various Artists – Eurovision Song Contest Copenhagen 2014: Official Album

With the annual festival of all things Europop upon the screens of a continent and beyond, Kev Nickells runs through the entries.

Eurovision Song Contest Copenhagen 2014 - Official AlbumEurovision – a cherished institution. Writing this has been a bit of a nightmare, to be honest, because Europe’s a lot bigger than you think it is. Spreads all the way over to Azerbaijan. And for all the tack/awesome stage-setting, it’s a timely reminder that Europe, as a concept, is a weird thing. And a thing in which popular culture is, y’know, pretty indistinguishable.

I’ve mentioned the ‘world music’ caveat before, where it’s easy to write yourself into knots talking about unfamiliar traditions, but that’s not really the problem with Eurovision. The problem with Eurovision is that

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Various Artists – Mountains of Tongues: Musical Dialects of The Caucasus, 2012-2013

LM Duplication

Mountains Of Tongues - Musical Dialects of The CaucasusThis music is presented to the world via the extremely productive LM Duplication label, the LM standing for ‘Living Music’, which couldn’t be a more appropriate association for the music recorded here. Life is full of grit and dirt, no matter how much we in the west try and get away from and sanitise it. Some of this mess is captured on the album with tracks fading in and out only after a few seconds. Other tracks contain brief talking or a knock of the microphone, but all this only adds to the listener’s journey and reminds us of its living content, for it’s important to note that these recordings aren’t some obscure Alan Lomax recording made in

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International Rhythm Stars – Add Rhythm Sampler

Iotacism

International Rhythm Stars - Add Rhythm SamplerBack in the day, there was tape-trading. Conducted by post, y’know, when there was a postal service rather than a mausoleum of “a good idea we used to have”. I used to do a fair amount of it. It was a great way to find out about stuff you didn’t know about. Someone would put together a selection of stuff they liked, and you’d do one in exchange. There was also the thing of finding out about a load of the weirder side of things — it’s how I found folk like Merzbow and Masonna, but (perhaps more crucially), all those groups no-one remembers (Botanaphobia, anyone?). Then the internet came along and it was much less of a pain in the

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Various Artists – The Outer Church

Front & Follow

The Outer ChurchYou enter a dark theater. Yr not entirely sure where you are, or how you got there. You don’t know what’s going on. You walk into the flickering shadows, the interior of a theater swims into halflight, shadowy patrons whispering, pockets of activity in the corner. A young man beats a bone drum in a ceremonial dirge in the corner, a woman in blood is speaking Baudelaire on a raised platform. Over the loudspeakers, the textured rub of raw granite, snippets of sing-song, recordings of the London Tube. A car chase flickers to life on the vellum canvas of an enormous movie screen; the music rises to a fever pitch. A detuned fiddler arises from nowhere, adds her discordant bow to

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