Review: In 1979, Cabaret Voltaire - then consisting of all three founder members, Richard H. Kirk, Stephen Mallinder and Chris Watson - recorded a soundtrack for an experimental film "for two projectors" by Babeth Mondini. 40 years on, that soundtrack has finally been given a release. It's similar in tone to some of the Sheffield experimentalists' other soundtrack work from the period, offering discordant, unsettling and otherworldly sound collages that fuse heavily modified and processed instrumental parts (guitar, bass, drums, clarinet, saxophone) with tape loops, sampled dialogue and the band's ever-present electronic tones. Whether you're an obsessive Cabs fan or not, it's well worth a listen. This is, after all, a slice of previously hidden musical history.
Review: As the Houndstooth roster becomes increasingly diversified with age, so Call Super remains the label's brightest star. Responsible for inaugurating the Fabric-housed operation, J R Seaton has subsequently gone on to deliver some of their best 12" offerings and the time feels right for the Berlin-based producer to show his hand at full length albums. In contrast to the techno-focused approach of his Call Super 12"s, Suzi Ecto finds Seaton expanding on his palette with 11 tracks that veer wonderfully between moments of electronic poignancy and more thrusting fare. Spend some time with Suzi Ecto and you'll find it to be one of this year's most rewarding listens with new favourites emerging with each cycle - "Raindance" is the current fave here at Juno HQ.
Review: Saxophonist and keyboardist Jorja Chalmers has accomplished much over the course of her career - she's toured and recorded extensively with Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music - but debut album "Human Again" marks the first time she's stood centre stage as a solo artist. She has all the ingredients to succeed on her own, though: a bold look, a supportive label in Italians Do It Better and a signature style that's in turns creepy, claustrophobic, cinematic, atmospheric and seductive. More importantly, "Human Again" is superb, offering a synthesizer-powered mix of dark ambient instrumentals, David Lynch style soundtrack pieces, drowsy and clandestine sounding songs and cuts that wrap her distinctive saxophone solos around the most evocative of electronic soundscapes.
Review: For the uninitiated, Maria Chavez is a "New York-based abstract turntablist" whose work often revolves around creating intricate electro-acoustic collages out of heavily processed snippets of vinyl noise. She's therefore the perfect artist to interpret Stefan Goldmann's "Ghost Hemiola", a double-pack of silent locked grooves whose only sound is whatever surface noise is audible on the records themselves. It's high concept stuff, but actually quite an interesting and absorbing listen, thanks largely to the way Chavez has processed, mangled and manipulated the barely audible noises found within Goldmann's locked grooves. Think bleeps, drones, hisses, echoing crackles and all manner of other weird, mind-altering noises, all arranged into one continuous, music concrete style "DJ mix".
Review: When she first emerged in the 1970s, Italian-American composer Suzanna Ciani was one of a new breed of musicians experimenting with electronic instruments and the potential of synthesizers. Her commercial debut, 1982's Seven Waves, has long been considered something of a synth-wave classic; a delightfully melodic take on synth-wave that, 30 years on, has lost none of its charm or quality. This 30th anniversary remaster presents the essential original album in all its faux new-age glory, alongside all 13 tracks from Voices of Packaged Souls, Ciani's near-legendary private-press debut from 1970. Altogether sparser and more intense than Seven Waves, it pushes the boundaries of composition and experimentation, sitting somewhere between Stockhausen and the Radiophonic Workshop.
A Caged Bird/Imitations Of Life (feat Roots Manuva)
Wait For Now/Leave The World (feat Tawiah)
The Workers Of Art
Zero One/This Fantasy (feat Grey Reverend)
A Promise (feat Heidi Vogel)
Review: Given the rise in popularity in new school jazz in recent years, it seems a fitting time to welcome back Ninja Tune stalwarts The Cinematic Orchestra. "To Believe" is not only their first album in some seven years, but also one of their strongest releases to date. Opening with the poignant neo-classical/soul fusion "To Believe", the set sees Jason Swinscoe and company attractively saunter between jazz-electronica fusion (Roots Manuva collaboration ("A Caged Bird/Imitations Of Life"), pastoral jazz epics (the sunset ready epic that is "Lessons"), gentle downtempo songs ("Wait For Now/Leave The World"), ambient jazz ("The Workers Of Art") and slowly unfurling dancefloor workouts (killer closing cut "A Promise"). In a word: stunning.
Review: UK experimentalist Chris Clark presents his tenth long-player, and the first not to be released by the mighty Warp. Across the album's 14 tracks he explores a range of downtempo territories, from neo-classical pieces like 'Simple Homecoming Loop' to brooding electro-folk ('Coffin Knocker') to straight-up ambience ('Banished Hymnal'). It's fair to say Clark's work is something of an acquired taste, being much more about sound (and sound design) than it is about rhythm or melody, but a discography as long as his doesn't lie and existing fans will lap this up, even if it's unlikely to convert many new ones.
Alternative Theme From Gay Man's Guide To Safer Sex
Nasa Arab 2
Theme From The Gay Mans Guide To Safer Sex
Review: Here's something to set the pulse racing: the first ever release of Coil's 1992 soundtrack to the VHS-only sex-ed documentary "The Gay Man's Guide To Safer Sex". It's always been something of an in-demand curio, primarily because it sees John Balance, Peter Christopherson and Danny Hyde not in industrial or experimental mode, but rather exploring the dreamy chord sequences and warming horizontal of ambient house (albeit with occasional nods towards acid jazz/proto trip-hop and what Hyde describes as "sort of progressive house"). It's very good, though, and comes with two tasty bonus cuts, "Nasa Arab" and "Omlagus Garfungiloops", which are vastly different versions of other soundtrack cuts. These were originally featured on a CD-only release in 1992.
Review: The opening track on this album consists of a rough-edged descending synth stab that repeats over and over for a full two minutes. That, plus the lack of track titles, tells you right away that there are no artistic or commercial concessions being made here whatsoever: imagine Swans and Cradle Of Filth getting together in Squarepusher's studio to create a tribute to 'Metal Machine Music', and you're getting close to just how dark and deranged a collection this is. Don't expect: to hear any of these tracks on drivetime radio. Do expect: the 199 limited-edition copies to sell out quickly, mostly to folks who dress in black and own multiple Diamanda Galas albums.
Review: Eric Copeland's first album for DFA, 2013's Joke In The Hole, was something of a breakthrough for the eccentric artist. Since then, he's released two albums for L.I.E.S, both of which were notably obtuse in comparison. Black Bubblegum, his second full-length DFA outing, is an altogether cheerier proposition, with Copeland combining his usual abstract, experimental beat-making approach with skewed guitars, quirky instrumentation, wild pop sensibilities and more than a touch of wayward '60s psychedelia. As you'd expect, this kind of zany, lo-fi fusion makes for enjoyable and hugely entertaining listening, with the New York producer seemingly throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the project.
Review: Disco producer, synthesizer pioneer and Hi-NRG originator Patrick Cowley made a lot of highly sexual music. In fact, his muscular synth-disco productions were, for years, the soundtrack of choice in San Francisco's notorious bathhouse scene. It doesn't stop there, though. Unbeknownst to most disco aficionados, Cowley also provided experimental synthesizer tracks to soundtrack gay porn films between 1973 and 1981. Initially released on vinyl last year, School Daze has now been granted a CD edition by Dark Entries and gathers together the best of those productions. Arguably, the material here is amongst his best work. Free of the constraints of the dancefloor, Cowley let himself go, delivering avant garde synthesizer compositions that ranged from spaciously psychedelic ("Out of Body", like some lost Confused House record) and decidedly cosmic (the chugging "Journey Home"), to otherworldly and outlandish ("Zygote"). Recommended.
Review: On his second album titled Siku, Ecuadorian producer Nicola Cruz continues his exploration into ancestral Latin American cosmology, as well as expanding his vision towards new stories and other cultures as sources of inspiration. The title is named after a wind instrument of Andean origin, highly symbolic in ancestral rituals. Cruz merges electronic and organic elements with symbolic/spiritual connotations, plus studies of the samba, cumbia and rhythms of African, Andean and Hindu origin. Hypnotic electronica merges with the folkloric on the title track and "Senor De Las Piedras", traditional music is respectfully explored on charming vocal-led tracks like "Hacia Delante" (with Chato) and he goes deep into the jungle on exotic journeys like "Obsidiana".