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: 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: During the recording of One Hundred Billion Sparks, his first album for two years, Max Cooper did a lot of thinking. Developed concurrently with a new live show, he says every track on the 12-track set was written "as a score to a virtual story stemming from this system of one-hundred billion sparking neurons which create us". The resultant music is naturally widescreen and epic in tone, with early electronic "movements" - think neo-classical minded ambient soundscapes - slowly making way for more immersive, beat-driven dancefloor fare as the album progresses. It's an approach that pays dividends time and again, whether on the delicately spacey and cinematic beauty of standout ambient cut "Reciprocity", or the more rhythmic pulse of "Emptyset" and the shuffling IDM bliss of "Platonic".
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: 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".