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Jan. 30th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Dravier - Parasail

Caleb Draves, or Dravier, runs Jungle Gym records and makes exotica-soaked and lush ambient electronic minimalism. Parasail comes from his 2018 release Spirit Channels, a constantly tumbling modal improvisation that has a vapourwave-like take on appropriation, but uses as its sources the more marginal synth experiments of acts like Edgar Froese and Tangerine Dream. Needs a wider audience, that's for sure.

Dravier - Parasail
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Jan. 29th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Vessel - Fantasma (for Jasmine)

Vessel is the work of Seb Gainsborough whose 2018 album Queen of Golden Dogs is a stylistically unique fusion of techno and baroque chamber music. It's a better fit than it might at first appear: both forms are based around mathematical rigour. Where Fantasma (for Jasmine) deviates from both forms though, that's where it becomes special. It's got taut, overdriven intensity. It's got gritty harmonic filters that play with flamboyant discords. It's got North African rhythms, crowd noise, electric noise, sandblasted noise and free noise. It's got all of the noise. Wild and adventurous stuff, you want this.

Vessel - Fantasma (for Jasmine)
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Jan. 28th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Alvarius B. - The Reason

Alvarius B. is Alan Bishop, formerly of the Sun City Girls, and The Reason comes from his mammoth 35-song set With a Beaker on the Burner and an Otter in the Oven (2017). For someone who claims not to be a real songwriter, he writes good songs. Mind you, if you can get Sam Shalabi to play guitar on your records they could be perfectly average songs and I'd still love them. His intro to The Reason sounds like an extended John Cale viola scraping session, and that's a really good thing you guys. It leads into a song which is slow, deceptively simple, and depressing as all fuck. But it's depressing in an exhausted, cathartic sort of way. I think that makes it better. Not okay; nothing's ever going to be okay. But better.

Alvarius B. - The Reason
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Jan. 27th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Kali Malone - Arched in Hysteria

If you like your drones stripped back so far they're just an electric hum, Kali Malone's work might just be your sort of thing. She's an American living in Sweden who mixes Buchla synth with wind instruments to make emotive, minimal dirges. Arched in Hysteria comes from her 2018 album Cast of Mind, and it makes for rather uncomfortable listening. Her Buchla pulses come just a little too fast, too urgent and too eager, starting over the previous iteration and not listening to what was being said. Can music this slow be properly described as manic, because that what it feels like here?

Kali Malone - Arched in Hysteria
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Jan. 26th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Normil Hawaiians - British Warm

What a strange band Normil Hawaiians were. Born towards the end of the first post-punk era they pursued an experimental path that perhaps owed more to RIO than punk. Deeply unfashionable for their era, full of strange prog, acid, folk and industrial edges, they were a band who were all over the place and comfortable with it. British Warm is a sprawling epic from their 1982 album More Wealth Than Money. It's loose and free and while parts owe a clear debt to producer Dave Anderson's time in Amon Düül II, others scrawl all over the psychedelic past with permanent markers.

Normil Hawaiians - British Warm
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Jan. 25th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Shriekback - Faded Flowers

Oil and Gold was one of the greatest albums of the mid 1980s. You won't see it on many lists; history hasn't yet colonised that part of the past to claim it for the ages, but it's the truth. Ask anyone who has heard it: 10 songs (well, 9 songs and one instrumental) that run the gamut from bombast to brooding, but all done with impeccable intensity. It's an tremendously sexual pop record, full of bass and edging, experimental and literate (/pretentious by turns).

Faded Flowers falls firmly in the brooding end of the Oil and Gold spectrum. A celestial synth, the world's most choked drum programming, subterranean bass and backing vocals right on the edge of hysteria. Absolutely compelling, the slight surface tremors forever hinting at the massive forces at play underneath. The whole record is great, and there are at least two classic bangers on there, but Faded Flowers

Shriekback - Faded Flowers
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Jan. 24th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Banana - Banana C

If anyone were to suggest that I'd enjoy an album featuring a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I'd have gone straight to Twitter to start a campaign the ruin their life. Under normal circumstances I'd advise you to do the same, but Banana are not normal circumstances. The sextet includes Cate Le Bon, one member each from RHCP and Warpaint, and three Welsh musicians and they play improvised minimalism with plenty of mallet instruments.

Their album Live was released in 2017, and from it here is Banana C (you should be able to deduce the titles of the other 3 tracks). I really like the gamelan-like overtones that appear and the raucous honk of Stephen Black's sax. It's all instantly familiar and over far too soon.

Banana - Banana C
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Jan. 23rd, 2019

cyberinsekt

Sex Positions - Worse Than The Plague

You won't often find me listening to hardcore, but the more experimental side of things sometimes produced surprising results. Case in point: the Boston band Sex Positions, whose debt to vintage metal was more than repaid by their disorienting soundscapes. It was like listening to 3D music without the special ear goggles. Revel in the layers of Worse Than The Plague from their 2003 self-titled album.

Sex Positions - Worse Than The Plague
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Jan. 22nd, 2019

cyberinsekt

Jean C. Roché - Gran Sabana

Jean-Claude Roché is a French ornithologist whose field recordings force us to re-evaluate what might otherwise think of as the most familiar of sounds. When we hear birdsong, we hear it as a distant thing. It may be plaintive, it may be raucous, but it is almost always attenuated. Roché's recordings are anything but. He used parabolic reflector mics to get absolutely up close and personal with his subjects, and the sounds are a revelation.

Gran Sabana comes from what is often considered his classic, the 1973 release Birds of Venezuela. Much of the song here is piercing and oversaturated, full of harmonic overtones, and sounding like the early experiments in electronic music that came out places like Philips in the 1950s. That raw primal sound would be shocking enough on its own, but then comes an electroacoustic gale as the wind catches his dish. Amazing sounds.

Jean C. Roché - Gran Sabana
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Jan. 21st, 2019

cyberinsekt

48 Chairs - Psycle Sluts

Psycle Sluts was the b-side of John Cooper Clarke's first single. It's a spectacularly incorrect number in which Clarke speaks with... admiration for women bikers, set to an eccentric electropunk backing. The music definitely takes a back seat to Clarke's poetry though, and frankly suffers for it. John Scott, the composer, certainly seemed to think so, because when it came time for him and his band to make the b-side to their own first single, they re-recorded an instrumental version of Psycle Sluts.

And it's amazing. Much more upfront than the original, it's fast and tight with echoing atonal saxophone caterwauling and horrorshow madman wordless vocalising. It manages to be super intense while obviously not taking itself in the slightest bit seriously. The a-side was one of Frank Zappa's favourite singles; while its mutant pop/punk/prog intricacy has its charms Psycle Sluts will always be Doklands choice.

48 Chairs - Psycle Sluts
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Jan. 20th, 2019

cyberinsekt

The Mummies - Test Drive

I've never written these words before, but now's the time: don't you wish you could live in San Bruno, California? That's the home of The Mummies, a band who travel in a vintage ambulance, wrap bandages around themselves from head to toe, and then go on stage to play garage punk. You can't tell me that's not a great night out. Test Drive is an EP track from 1990 that was later found on their 2003 compilation Death By Unga Bunga. In a more honest world it would be heralded as an instrumental surf classic. The Mummies: not just for Hallowe'en.

The Mummies - Test Drive
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Jan. 19th, 2019

cyberinsekt

The Farmingdale Sound Machine - Sampling is Satanic

A rummage down near the bottom of my music collection finds us Sampling is Satanic by The Farmingdale Sound Machine. Looks like it was downloaded from mp3.com 20 years ago, and unsurprisingly there's absolutely no reference to it anywhere that I can find. If you like bizarro Residents/Negativland style nerdtronics, why not download and listen. Even if you don't, help keep it alive in the name of digital archeology.

The Farmingdale Sound Machine - Sampling is Satanic
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Jan. 18th, 2019

cyberinsekt

NBGI - Katamari On The Swing (Sexy-Synthesizer All About Namco Mix)

The best commercial videogame soundtrack of all time belongs to Space Channel 5. It was released for the Dreamcast in 1999 and is based around the track Mexican Flyer, a stupendous library music burner by Ken Goodman and his Piccadilly Brass. A close second though?: Katamari Damacy.

Have you ever played one of those games where you're a small fish, and you get to eat even smaller fish, growing with every bite until you can chow down on sharks and the like? In essence, that's the Katamari series of games except that in them you're playing in the first person perspective of Prince of All The Cosmos, and instead of eating fish you're rolling up ever larger elements into your sticky ball. You start with drawing pins and finish with galaxies, and an air of sinister whimsy is present throughout.

A lot of that comes from the music. The game's main theme is hopelessly uncool and effortlessly memorable, and occurs throughout the series under many guises. Not enough though, as the 2009 album Katamari Takeshi added over 2 1/2 hours of further reworkings. A lot of them are... not good. In fact, in almost every case where someone from outside the original creative team attempts to reinterpret the music, there's a huge stylistic failure. The best material comes from NBGI, Namco's in house team, and the best of those is the astounding Katamari On The Swing (Sexy-Synthesizer All About Namco Mix).

It places Katamari Damacy squarely in the lineage of video game music. It's filled with the sort of instantly familiar bleeps and bloops that only an officially licensed product can get away with. It's a hallucinatory mashup of Pac-Man and the original samba, and it's completely fucking nuts. Absolute perfection, I am in awe.

NBGI - Katamari On The Swing (Sexy-Synthesizer All About Namco Mix)
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Jan. 17th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Ben LaMar Gay - Music for 18 Hairdressers: Braids & Fractals

I've been listening to a lot of Ben LaMar Gay's 2018 album Grapes of late, and I don't really get it. I can admire its maximalist avant-r&b, but no matter how satisfying it is to dig deep for the rhythms it's never really going to be my thing. But his tribute to Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians? Count me in.

Music for 18 Hairdressers: Braids & Fractals is a compelling lo-fi elastic buzz, that rattles, clatters and honks in absolutely perfect time. It's a brilliant take on the mathematical rigour of Reich's original, and if it gets you interested comparing that to modern takes on traditional braiding patterns then even better.

Ben LaMar Gay - Music for 18 Hairdressers: Braids & Fractals
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Jan. 16th, 2019

cyberinsekt

DJ Khalab - Yaka Muziek

DJ Khalab is Raffaele Costantino, an Afro-Italian producer and visionary. I'm late to his 2018 album Black Noise 2084, and it's something quite extraordinary. It mixes African musical forms and sources with uncompromisingly modern electronics. On Yaka Muziek that means some familiar balafon patterns rub shoulders with dense, fizzing production that leaves rhythmic elements on the margins of hearing. It's a hallucinatory and trancelike synthesis of old and new. All too often this is a genre that can be accused of musical tourism, but this is the real deal.

DJ Khalab - Yaka Muziek
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Jan. 15th, 2019

cyberinsekt

D&V - Step Inside

D&V were teenage punks from Sheffield who released their debut on Crass Records. The Nearest Door (1983) was a 7 track EP that ran less than 10 minutes, and every track consisted solely of (D)rums and (V)ocals. There's no point in pretending that it was great art, and at times it does leave the listener rolling their eyes at the youthworker worthiness of the lyrics. That said, you've got to give credit to a band that left its performers absolutely nowhere to hide. Here's the sparse and spiky Step Inside, it's pretty much anarcho-punk distilled into its purest form.

D&V - Step Inside
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Jan. 14th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Kamasi Washington - Street Fighter Mas

Can't say I'm often in the mood for Big Jazz with lush choral arrangements and all that. Don't suppose you are much either. But that doesn't mean you should dismiss Kamasi Washington entirely; however focussed on the mainstream he might be he can still pen tight vamps like Street Fighter Mas. It is, of course, from his mammoth 2018 release Heaven and Earth .

Kamasi Washington - Street Fighter Mas
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Jan. 13th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Meatraffle - Aurora

There are not many bands who want to pull down music and start again. There are not many bands who show such little interest in the standard rock musical palette. There are not many bands like Meatraffle. The South London quartet might loosely be described as psychedelic post-punks, but breaking down the elements of their music doesn't tell the story. You can isolate the dub basslines, the drifting trumpet, the detuned instrumentation, the disassociated vocals but none of those will tell you what listening to Meatraffle is like. Aurora is from their 2015 debut, HiFi Classics, and it's at once shambolic and hypnotic. There's no getting away from the despair, and nor should there. It's what binds everything and everyone together, and the music is only weird because of the absurdity of the world.

Meatraffle - Aurora
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Jan. 12th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Max Richter - Sarajevo

Max Richter was one of the co-founders of Piano Circus, the 6-piece piano ensemble created to play (amongst other things) Steve Reich's Six Pianos. I have a memory of seeing them play it live, but honestly could not swear to it. Since then Richter's gone on to far more acclaim as a composer. Sarajevo is one of his earlier works from the 2002 release Memoryhouse. The soprano Sarah Leonard sings wordlessly over the BBC Philharmomic. It's sad and quiet and the thunder is distant but worryingly omnipresent; absolutely the psychic soundtrack to the late 1990s.

Max Richter - Sarajevo
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Jan. 11th, 2019

cyberinsekt

Gitkin - Canción del Rey

If you believe the story, Brian Gitkin's uncle was a travelling guitar salesman. He would travel the world selling fake Gibson guitars to immigrants to the US so that when they got there they'd be able to make a living playing music. Somehow the spirit of those guitars has been combined in the the nephew, who now makes music that's equal parts surf, cumbia and Ethiopian jazz.

We're not even going to pretend to believe any of that. Instead here's Canción del Rey, which allegedly has a strong Peruvian influence, and sounds for all the world like a drunken marching interpretation of It Don't Mean A Thing. It's from the 2018 album 5 Star Motel.

Gitkin - Canción del Rey
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