World of Echo is 2. All of that amateur and non-amateur music ever since 2018 (all the way back then). The ongoing events/circumstances of this year inevitably lead to a little sentimentality, but i'll refrain mostly from the Yeezy-collecting-a-Grammy histrionics. Just to say: two years, both something like forever and no time at all. I've heard it claimed that most businesses don't make it past the twelve months. But this ain't no business, honey. This is a lifestyle (is how i justify my choices). And there aint much style in life without this music, for which we are nothing more than a door opening to.
Needless to say, fingers crossed for the future. I'm sorry it has to be this way. We'll see you all in it when we can open again. In the meantime the internet/mailing list never sleeps. Eternal thanks for the ongoing support & encouragement. And speaking of which, that poster up there, as ever, was crafted by spirit guide & dream brother, Matthew Walkerdine. A better man than me.
Joyeux anniversaire nous!!
Tibor Szemzö - Snapshot from the Island
Fodderbasis, 2020 (orig. 1987)
Reissue of the Hungarian composer's debut solo outing, originally released in 1987 via the astonishing Leo imprint (Sun Ra, Anthony Braxton et al). Divided into three long form pieces and built around a tableaux of flute, drum machines, vocal samples, bird sound and electronics (grandly labeled 'sound installation'), Szemzö reveals himself a master of the slow and studious - pay close attention; the devil is in the detail here. The monumental, 24min+ opening title track is a hell of a way for any record to start, beginning with an almost Reichian show of tension and release that borders on the ecstatic (perhaps a trick learned from their previous collaboration?) before pausing halfway in to explore more impressionistic, near-cosmic territory defined by a deepy sonorous ambience, and then shifting into a neo-industrial/classical coda that revisits those same Reichian motifs to more intense effect. It's a trip! Nonetheless, it's closer 'Let's Go Out and Dance' that steals the show for me, a deeply transportative flute-driven elegy that's bordering on epiphanous. Am i suddenly levitating? I reference their work a lot (and not without good reason), but i would not be surprised if O Yuki Conjugate were listening to Szemzö. Both are possessed of that same fourth world drift, that sense of music above the clouds, or below the water, or simply parallel. Other. I can't overstate the brilliance of this record. An absolute 10/10 must have.
M. Takara & Carla Boregas - Linha D'Água
Bokeh Versions, 2020
Tricky to pigeonhole debut collab under their own names from the duo who also twin as the rhythm section in excellent Brazilian post-punk red-liners, Rakta. The occasional free-form moments of their parent band, who themselves are hardly straight ahead, provide a little precedent to Linha D'Água, which adopts a fairly loose attitude to genre, skating wildly between free jazz, krautrock, noise and ambient aesthetics without standing still long enough to get a full grip on. Takara has drummed with/for Pharoah Sanders, Yusef Lateef & Damo Suzuki, so there's an obvious jazz instinct in his restless playing, though it's the latter who mostly provides the appropriate context. Elements of the outer-reaches of Can, Neu, Cluster, those early Roedelius album, and even a little Ash-Ra feel like the foundational texts being drawn upon, something in the shared deconstructed, iconoclastic approach to form, the atmospheric electronics, the off-kilter rhythmic sidesteps... In some ways, that also aligns it with certain early iterations of post-rock, though their Rakta past keeps it rich with the punk spirit for the most part. More bold stuff coming out of Brazil and perfect for those longing for a bit of outer-body head-bending escapism.
Peel Dream Magazine - Moral Panics EP
Tough Love, 2020
Peel Dream Magazine have been struck with the bad luck of having not one, but two records come out in 2020 during periods of national lockdown - the first back in April with the release of their much-loved second album, and now with the Moral Panics EP out this week. Don't let that lose sight of what is, musically-speaking at least, a perfect book-end to the year for the band, Moral Panics every bit the equal to Agitprop Alterna. Mostly recorded during the same sessions, the vinyl pressing collects together eight tracks (two of which are exclusive to the format and as of right now, unavailable anywhere else) that do exactly what an EP should do - ie allow the artist to roam around their sound, follow odd threads of inspiration and walk down previously closed pathways. As such, you get a few different versions of PDM here: the C86 buzzsaw of New Culture, the space age minimalist pop of Life at the Movies, the cosmic kraut-y touch of The Furthest Nearby Place, and in nine minute long centrepiece of Geodesic Dome, a new iteration of the band that's part Stereolab's Blue Milk and part New Age mind's eye self-exploration. Feels almost a disservice to call this an EP, such is the scope. On limited yellow vinyl, that looks pretty sharp against that beautiful lilac sleeve.
No Honey From These - The Twelve Secret Hometape Sessions
Top Tape, 2020 (orig. 1983)
Ridiculously (perhaps needlessly?) limited pressing of very early Dutch minimal wave originally recorded back in 1983 and thought lost to time until stumbled upon some 25 years later. No Honey From These were, as the genre often dictates, a duo who independently also popped up in other similar acts, most notably S.M. Nurse, and these twelve tracks will be manna to those interested in the cultural archaeology of minimal wave/DIY/tape music (which really should be everyone btw). Rudimentary, primitive even, and actually relatively experimental in their exploratory nature, Menko Konings and Robbie Horsfall are really testing their limits of both understanding and imagination here, seeing what they can coax out of these machines, fucking around until something clicks, which it quite often does. There's obviously nothing as rounded as Hot Night in Istanbul, but you can see its image, the same skeletal structures, hypnotic melodies, and occasional moments of obtuse abrasion. All the key signifiers, all that i've come to know and love. No honey perhaps, but a good few rough diamonds.150 made, snap them up while you can.
Various - From Brussels With Love
Les Disques du Crepuscule, 2020 (orig. 1980)
We've had the (fairly pricey) original in a few times the last two years, but finally LDdC have got around to reissuing this bonafide classic collection of post-punk austerity, which was originally released as a cassette in 1980 before eventually finding its way to vinyl with a slightly shuffled tracklisting a fews after that. The names featured here speak volumes. This is a landmark comp kissed with the high-minded experimentalism of Factory’s more outre players, a distinctly European elegance rubbing up against northern Britain industrialism, and charged by a DIY/can-do approach to the avant garde. Harold Budd, Durutti Column, Richard Jobson, Gavin Bryars, Dome, Thomas Dolby (doing his best Bobby Wyatt!), Eno +++ - count the ways they make you blush! Wide reaching, struck with possibles, suggesting new avenues of exploration we’re still walking down now. They were standing on the toes of a future here that i'm not entirely sure we've reached yet (or maybe we've been cheated out of?). I love a compilation don't I, but of all the compilations i love this is the one i love the best. Essential? You better believe it.
Pretty Sneaky - 6
What that otherwise literal name doesn't precisely tell you is that 6 is the sixth Pretty Sneaky 12" in three years, and alongside their best-of-2020 self-titled album from earlier this year, shows that this lot are both impressively prolific and remarkably consistent. The well doesn't seem to be running dry anytime soon. With this latest 12 we get five tracks that flex and rotate around the Pretty Sneaky MO of playful, wonky dubwise minimal electronics, all untitled (as per) and shrouded in a not a little purposeful mystery. Traces of that Perlon vibe here, ala Melchior, Villalobos, Laubner et al, but i wont do this the disservice of batting around a load of bigger names so as to validate what they're up to. Pretty Sneaky are making a solid fist at being nothing but themselves, and they're seemingly having a really fucking good time doing it. Like with the Gaia Tones 12s, there's the immediate desire to collect everything they do, so true are they to their own path. Gotta catch 'em all.
Velly Joonas - Stopp, Seisku Aeg!
Frotee, 2020 repress
It's back, the Estonian folk funk witch soul YouTube sensation we've all come to know & get the words wrong to. If you listen to music on YouTube, you're likely already very familiar with Velly Joonas and the title track in particular, since it seems to follow pretty much any video i watch. It's obvious why this became such a cratedigger hit (and why i'm happy to be served it again and again), but what's less clear is why and/or how it exists in the first place. A cover of a song Gerry Rafferty's brother wrote for one of them from ABBA, but with a different title and arrangement, recorded not-sure-when but released in 2015, and seemingly the only document of a music career that Wikipedia alleges is responsible for the writing of over 300 songs... ? Cool. We're all partial to a good story, but the song stands on its own as bigger and more interesting than the mythos that surrounds it. Nice to have it back in print and at a reasonable price.
[Cease & Desist] DIY: Cult Classics from the Post-Punk Era 1978-1982
Miracle Steps: Music from the Fourth World 1983-2017
WAREHOUSE FIND WK 2: fortunate to chance upon copies of these two peerless comps put together by Optimo a few years back, which i'd considered long sold out. Not sure I've heard better versions of this kind of thing. The DIY one skirts around all the backroads and hidden avenues of that killer period and uncovers the forever-ever classics by Fatal Microbes, Thomas Leer, Sara Goes Pop, Visitors et al, plus that Cro-Tones track that featured on the flip to the best 7" of all time. And then with Miracle Steps they were a few years ahead of the game by drawing together your Hassells and your Reyes and positioning them alongside an emergent set of artists exploring similar terrain, something that's increased ten-fold since 2017... So yeah, as always, vital points of discovery!