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Sep. 26th, 2016

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Dntel - Puma

I've never been sold on Dntel. Jimmy Tamborello takes too many of his musical cues from American indie for my liking. But Puma is something else again. It's a pastiche, and a very successful one, recreating the heavy-handed seriousness of 1970's US minimalism. It then promptly subverts that with a squiggly bubbling synth line that runs underneath everything like a rat in a maze, looking for the gaps in the structure. A lovely little homage.

Dntel - Puma
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Sep. 25th, 2016

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Alessandro Cortini - La Sveglia (Drum Version)

More from Italian electronic musician Alessandro Cortini's 2015 release Risveglio. La Sveglia mixes up the distressed sounds of damaged magnetic tape with a satisfyingly metronomic percussive snap. The two should be mutually exclusive, but you'll be glad they're not. As things progress, whatever was attacking the tape seems to be having a go at Cortini's keyboards as well, adding spikes and fluctuations to the impressive sonic palette. All rather good.

Alessandro Cortini - La Sveglia (Drum Version)
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Sep. 24th, 2016

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Robert Alberg - I Been Single All My Life

We tend to romanticise musical outsiders. There's a great line in the film Frank, where Domhnall Gleeson is speaking to Frank's parents. He asks them what happened to Frank that inspired him to create, what trauma caused his musical genius. He was always musical, they reply. If anything, the illness slowed him down.

So think on that while you listen to I Been Single All My Life by the undoubtedly tormented (and probably severely autistic) Robert Alberg. It's arrhythmic, atonal, and painfully confessional as Alberg intones his tale of loneliness over single guitar notes. This isn't some sideshow act.

And yet it's hard to believe that pain isn't Alberg's primary creative impetus. Even more so after the events of 2004 when he was found trying to produce ricin in his flat. At his trial, the judge was lenient and gave him a suspended sentence, only for him to be found again in possession of castor bean seeds just one year later. The events of his life fit so many stories that its difficult to step back from them and hear the music. That at least is easier today than it has ever been: check out Alberg's YouTube channel.

Robert Alberg - I Been Single All My Life
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Sep. 23rd, 2016

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Michael Rother - Karussell

Here's a track from Michael Rother's first post-Neu! album, the 1977 release Flammende Herzen. If I'm to be totally honest with you, Karussell doesn't have the textural richness of Neu!, and it could be said that it keeps coming back to the main melodic line too often. But that's what carousels do, right? Plus it's a chance to hear Rother playing alongside Jaki Liebezeit, which is great.

Michael Rother - Karussell
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Sep. 22nd, 2016

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Bianca Casady and the C.i.A. - Roadkill

A lot of people can't deal with Bianca (Coco from CocoRosie) Casady's voice. She's got a host of little girl inflections that could be heard as offputting or downright creepy. And if she were doing that for some naff Lolita purpose, those people might have had a point. But no, what Casady sings is the blues.

Roadkill comes from her 2016 album Oscar Hocks. While the experimentation remains, gone are all the modern popular music references. Instead this ghostly shambling piece takes its cues from vintage jazz. It's very self-conscious, very stage-y, the sound of a lifetime of dressing up in clothes found in mystery boxes. And yet despite all this, it's a truly tender and emotional number.

Bianca Casady and the C.i.A. - Roadkill
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Sep. 21st, 2016

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Dans Dans - Zephyr

Blah blah challenging blah formidable blah difficult blah blah. If it's okay with you we're going to have a bit of comfort music today. Dans Dans are a Belgian trio led by guitarist Bert Dockx. Zephyr brings the sounds and logic of western desert blues to jazz. Gorgeous rich tones, an easy stride, and everything unfolds with a sense of perfect inevitability. Sometimes you want your hypothesis confirmed, right? Plenty going on under the surface too, this is very easy to like. From the 2014 album 3.

Dans Dans - Zephyr
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Sep. 20th, 2016

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%20 & Culturcide & Huey Lewis and the News - The Heart of Rock & Roll

If you were unlucky enough to have been alive in the USA in 1984, chances are you were exposed at some point to The Heart of Rock & Roll. It's part of a subgenre of songs about music; a potentially interesting field of meta-narratives were it not for the fact that they were written by the dumbest motherfuckers on the planet.* It is crass and self-aggrandising and utterly without reflection, and as such fits perfectly within the showbiz end of rock music.

In 1986 it was improved by Culturcide for their album Tacky Souvenirs of Pre-Revolutionary America. With a disdain for commercial culture matched only by their disregard for copyright law, they simply played the song in the background and sang on top of it. Only instead of some bullshit mythologising glory story, the lyrics now became "the heart of rock & roll is the profit". Much better.

And then in 2003, like a second generation tape dub, %20 did the same thing to the Culturcide version. By then concepts of commerciality had become old hat, so as well as singing over the top it included a commentary on the merits of human cloning because why the hell not. Oh, and instead of actually singing, it's performed by vocal samples taken from the online Merriam Webster talking dictionary, Dictionaraoke represent. It's conceptually sublime nonsense from outer fringes of music and can be found as part of the collection Reinterpreting the Plunder Classics.

* See also We Built This City On Rock 'n' Roll

%20 & Culturcide & Huey Lewis and the News - The Heart of Rock & Roll
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Sep. 19th, 2016

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The Dwarfs of East Agouza - Clean Shahin

Dodgy band name, great sound: the Dwarfs of East Agouza are the international combo of Sam Shalabi (Shalabi Effect), Alan Bishop (Sun City Girls) and Maurice Louca. Clean Shahin is a cut from their 2016 album Bes. Louca provides some snappy hand drums, Bishop ties everyone down, but the star on this track is clearly Shalabi. He tears off on his guitar into a unsinkable solo that's clearly the result of several earfuls of the finest electro chaabi. This is the psychedelic alternative right here.

The Dwarfs of East Agouza - Clean Shahin
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Sep. 18th, 2016

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Blanche Blanche Blanche & Birds of Paradise - Press Dumps

Start as urgent minimal artpunk, then cut it up with scissors and glue it back together. I know nothing about this sinister and disorienting number, but it certainly grabbed my attention. And then shook it about like a dog with a rag toy. Dizzying.

Blanche Blanche Blanche & Birds of Paradise - Press Dumps
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Sep. 17th, 2016

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75 Dollar Bill - Cummins Falls

On their latest album Wood / Metal / Plastic / Pattern / Rhythm / Rock 75 Dollar Bill have started to move away from their economic start of wooden box percussion and quarter tone guitar. Sometimes there are strings in the mix, as well as some killer baritone sax. But none of that can be found on Cummins Falls. For this they go way back, all the way to the Bo Diddley beat, the rhythm that once it starts going seems like it can never stop. And do Rick Brown and Che Chen ever ride it, bringing proto artrock with magnificent cheapness and open-stringed reverberations. The whole thing crashes into what's almost certainly a field recording of the titular waterfall, and the song ends in organic white noise. Best rock band playing today? Just maybe.

75 Dollar Bill - Cummins Falls
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Sep. 16th, 2016

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Luke Abbott - 555Hz (excerpt)

555Hz is a sublime minimalist drone piece explicitly influenced by Terry Riley. It was released earlier this year paired with James Holden's Sublime Beauty of Fractals, both being pieces written for concerts to celebrate Riley's 80th birthday. At 33 minutes long you won't be getting the full thing, but this 5 minute excerpt sees the progression from the original drone to a place where Abbott is dredging up organ notes from the lower registers and into the light. The tonal depth here really needs to be heard to be believed: massive and somehow alive. Well worth forking out for the whole thing.

Luke Abbott - 555Hz (excerpt)
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Sep. 15th, 2016

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Bruce Haack - Party Machine

As far as I can tell, there are two eras of Bruce Haack music. The first is from the '60s and early '70s, when he recorded his pioneering electronica under the guise of educational songs for children. It's astonishingly inventive and experimental stuff, full of open-eyed wonder. The second was much shorter, and consists mostly of songs about sexy vampires. It's not for nothing that he is considered one of the great musical outsiders.

But there's also Party Machine, recorded in '82 or '83 with a very special collaborator, and featured on copies of the decidedly fangy Haackula when it finally saw release in 2008. It's no less full of bleeps and bloops than ever, except this time they're squelched out for a funky hip hop number with vocoder vocals. If you've ever found yourself wondering what Russell Simmons was doing before he founded Def Jam, you've now got your answer. Music doesn't get much more unlikely than this.

Bruce Haack - Party Machine
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Sep. 14th, 2016

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Hailu Mergia & Dahlak Band - Almaz Eyasebkush

Here's Ethiopian accordion and organ player Hailu Mergia in fine form on a recording from 1978. The brass is soulful and Mergia's organ slinky on this instrumental r&b workout. It's just a terrific bit of playing. What isn't so terrific unfortunately is the sound quality: this recording was remastered from the last known surviving cassette of the original and so everything sounds way too distant. Still, it's absolutely worth a listen for those sublime harmonies that only a slightly wonky organ can create. From the 2016 reissue Wede Harer Guzo.

Hailu Mergia & Dahlak Band - Almaz Eyasebkush
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Sep. 13th, 2016

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Eric Copeland - Land of Foot

Black Dice-r Eric Copeland's 2011 album Waco Taco Combo is just the sort of thing that goes down well at Doklands. Using pop history as his toybox, Copeland assembles new sounds out of old, changing lighting and perspective in radical plunderphonic remixes. Like making a stained glass window out of Quality Street wrappers: it's not trash, it's delicious. Here's the opening number. Land of Foot seems to take from both Louie Louie and the Lemon Pipers' bubblegum psyche classic Green Tambourine. Experimental cartoon genius.

Eric Copeland - Land of Foot
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Sep. 12th, 2016

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Dhafer Youssef - Un Soupir Eternel

Look, no-one wants this to be A Super Eternal as much as I do, but it's just not happening. The French language is not going to co-operate and give us a fly 1970s cartoon immortal. Just not happening. Instead, Un Soupir Eternel actually translates as An Eternal Sigh, which would normally have us all reaching for the switch marked "New Age - Emergency Shutdown".

But hang around for a bit first, okay?

Dhafer Youssef is a Tunisian oud player, and while it's true that today's track is at the, umm, introspective and contemplative end of things it's well worth your time. Part of that is his collaborators. He's joined by Arve Henriksen coaxing some amazingly breathy sounds out of his trumpet, and best of all the textural electronics of Eivind Aarset. When Youssef starts to sing you gradually realise that absolutely everything has started to sound like a voice. Absolutely not for everyone, but if you appreciate the ECM end of the jazz spectrum definitely give this one a listen. It's from the 2006 album Divine Shadows.

Dhafer Youssef - Un Soupir Eternel
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Sep. 11th, 2016

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B. Dolan - Which Side Are You On?

B. Dolan is a poet turned rapper. His spoken word piece The Skycycle Blues is one of the very finest things ever recorded. Here he adapts Florence Reece's old union song for the modern age, confronting the sexism, homophobia and crass abuses of power within the hip hop world. Throughout it run samples from a 1941 recording by the Almanac Singers, giving Dolan's Which Side Are You On? a strong historical presence, even if it takes some getting used to the fact that you're hearing a banjo. Remember, it's only political when you challenge the status quo, not when you acquiesce to it. From the 2012 release House Of Bees Vol.2.

B. Dolan - Which Side Are You On?
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Sep. 10th, 2016

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Roberto Musci & Giovanni Venosta - Tamatave

Roberto Musci is an Italian ethnomusicologist. Here he is with fellow composer Giovanni Venosta from their 1990 album Urban and Tribal Portraits. Tamatave has a dreamy obsession, mixing cannabinoid guitar, a distracted Malagasy vocal, field recordings and some surprisingly passionate flute. A gorgeous experimental soundscape.

Roberto Musci & Giovanni Venosta - Tamatave
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Sep. 9th, 2016

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Sudakistan - El Movimiento

The Latin American punk scene is something rather special, I'm sure you would agree. Sudakistan would. Although they're Swedish, the band have latino heritage. They've uprooted the exhilarating fuzz and howl of their chosen music and have planted it firmly in European soil, bongos and all. Wild and swirling with a touch of space rock echo, El Movimiento is a killer single that can be found on their 2015 album Caballo Negro.

Sudakistan - El Movimiento
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Sep. 8th, 2016

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Drinks - Eighteen Teenage Revenge Pair

Here to remind us of the dark psychedelic roots of twee indie music are Drinks, the pair of Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley. Eighteen Teenage Revenge Pair has the emotional flatness of one, and the sparse, Syd Barrett atonality of the other. Affected naivete becomes not some childish act but a protective barrier against psychic horror. Properly haunting stuff from the 2015 7" Hermits on Holiday.

Drinks - Eighteen Teenage Revenge Pair
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Sep. 7th, 2016

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Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra - Saturn Hoola Hoop

If you're like me you probably already love the Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra a little bit after merely reading their name. It's okay. You're allowed. For once, they're a band who call themselves an orchestra and they're really not kidding. They've got a string section, flutes, clarinets, saxes, keyboard, a smattering of brass, electric guitars and a proper drummer. They've got a harp. They've even got a bassoon, and believe me when I tell you I'm always glad to hear a bassoon in action.

And what action! Saturn Hoola Hoop begins as lonely melody lost in the swirl of the cosmic winds and turns into an incredible broken-legged roar of experimental hip hop. It's got cripplingly awkward alien swing rhythms, like some extra-dimensional space monster that keeps phasing into our reality. Completely essential listening from their 2012 album Bum Bum.

Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra - Saturn Hoola Hoop
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