Best of 2020
Now this really is something else. Vertical Jamming, the somewhat improvisary set issued by Disciples on tape ahead of the release of Vertigo KO, suggested Hiromi Moritani was inspired as ever, but i wasn't quite prepared for such a treasure trove. Composed of unreleased material recorded during both the Light Sleep and Voice Hardcore sessions from a few years back, Vertigo KO plays like anything but a set of offcuts. It feels almost disingenous to provide the correct context of its provenance, since these seven cuts sit as cohesively and coherently together as you'd expect any purposefully constructed album to. Hearing Moritami's voice atop a caccophony of industrial rhythms, factory noise, post-punk deconstruction and still that same mutated kraut vision first touched upon nearly forty years ago, is as fierce and challenging as ever. The cover of The Raincoats' The Void is near-recognisable, shifted into some liminal space beyond any previous logical understanding of the song, and positons itself perfectly alongside Moritami's own compositions, which flit between metallic drone (Midnight Awakening), multi-layered vocal incantations (Let's Dance Let's Go - Bjork, are you listening?) and dystopian abstraction (The Very Ears of Dusk). As hardcore and uncomprising and utterly singular as ever. The best is noise.
"A compilation of unreleased material from the Light Sleep and Voice Hardcore sessions alongside specially recorded new material, including a cover of “The Void” by The Raincoats. Both formats include a 20 page zine designed by Studio Tape Echo featuring photography from Masayuki Shioda and writing from both Disciples and Phew. It follows on from a limited edition cassette and digital release of Phew’s music on Disicples called Vertical Jamming, which compiled some of the cult Japanese artist’s longform drone works.
“This album is an unconscious sound sketch. It was recorded in Japan from 2017 to 2019, a closed and obstructive time. It is not a presentation of a worldview, but a personal documentary music of the late 2010s. The hidden message of this album is: What a terrible world we live in, but let's survive.” - Phew
Phew is a legendary figure in Japanese underground music. Starting out in 1978 fronting one of Osaka's earliest punk groups, Aunt Sally, and going on to collaborate with a whole host of notable names as a solo artist in the 80s, including Ryuichi Sakamoto, Conny Plank, Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit of Can, Alex Hacke of Einstürzende Neubauten, and Chrislo Haas of DAF. In recent years she's made music on record or live with Ana da Silva of The Raincoats, Jim O'Rourke, Oren Ambarchi, Ikue Mori, and Yoshimi of OOIOO / Boredoms / Saicobab. For Disciples however, the most interesting aspect of Phew's work is the fact she has made her strongest musical work in the last few years, working entirely on her own. There's a lot of interest from crate-digger type labels in her early 80s new wave oriented work, and the names she's worked with are impressive, but there's no doubt in our minds that her two most recent records, Light Sleep and Voice Hardcore, are modern classics. It’s this period of her work that we were keen to explore with these releases, a contemporary archive of incredible and unique music". - Disciples