Mister Poppy – Jelly

“Jelly is like time. Jelly fits any mould. It resists the sentimentality of form. Jelly is a state of putrefaction before dust…” – Andrew Poppy

Jelly is the follow-up to Andrew Poppy’s Hoarse Songs from 2021, and finds the composer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist exploring harsh electronic tonalities that emerge from the shadows of our collective imaginations.

Consisting of five long pieces, Jelly is accompanied by a libretto that shows Poppy the lyricist to be one part Beat stream of consciousness poet, one part experimental philosopher and one part languid observer. Mostly delivered as spoken word verse, Poppy’s words come across as a sort of voyeuristic sequence of clipped words, half-formed sentiments and hyper-visual word patterns. Dramatic, dirty and laced with a Lynchian notion of the fixated gaze, Poppy’s words alight upon grim notions with microscopic detail. Opening track ‘Tattoo / Copy Something That You Love’ might be about the processes involved with getting a tattoo, but it’s delivered with a nightmarish visceral streak that’s as unflinching as the Velvets’ ‘Heroin’ – a different needle, but the same sting.

According to Poppy, these pieces were at least partly inspired by Robert Rauschenberg. That would certainly explain the abrupt edges, collaged approach and his insouciant approach to subtle appropriation. Each piece here hovers round the twelve-minute mark without ever feeling like they have no sense of direction. Each builds slowly and often imperceptibly from base elements – a sonorous bass pulse, a fleeting, fluttering tone – toward some dramatic conclusion, without losing sight of an essential minimalistic ethos that allows empty spaces to be just as prominently featured as Poppy’s finely-crafted loops and dense blocks of electronic sound.

This is an often uncomfortable listen (which I intend as a compliment). There are many times on pieces like the haunting, hyper-sensual ‘Mister Post-Man / No More Fumbling’ where I’m reminded of Coil, especially when a flurry of strings drift into view on top of Poppy’s wiry, undulating electronic sequences. That’s not to suggest that these pieces deal with some sort of dark, brooding, shadowy occultist magick. It’s more the case that they contain a sense of tantalising, enveloping danger, acting like a portal to somewhere other than here, where every moral sensibility is inverted.

If that all seems to jar with a title that feels playful and ridiculous, therein lies Poppy’s compositional sleight of hand – an ability to take something quotidian, atomise it, play with the mess it produces and reassemble it with only the briefest sense of where it came from. A beautifully challenging and intensely-detailed album.

Jelly by Mister Poppy was released October 1 2022 by fieldRadio. Thanks to Philip.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2022 Further.

John Derek Bishop / Inge Weatherhead Breistein – Ro

Ro pairs electronic experimenter John Derek Bishop (Tortusa) with tenor saxophonist Inge Weatherhead Breistein. The album captures the duo performing in five churches along the western coast of their Norwegian homeland, with Bishop manipulating Breistein’s sax in real time using live sampling techniques.

The first thing that grabs you on the opening track, ‘Spurv’, is the rich tendrils of reverb that surround Breistein’s horn. This give his playing a stately and atmospheric quality, even when he launches into a run of more forceful notes instead of the more delicate passages elsewhere. Those sections are at once soothing but also inquisitive, as if he was seeking answers from the furthest corners of the room, his circular breathing technique seeming to gently lift you up out of your most contemplative thoughts.

Bishop’s processing similarly alternates between extremes. At its most subtle, his looping technique creates a chorus of Breisteins, a many-layered orchestra of saxophones, giving a sense of depth and perspective to his playing. Sometimes his contributions exist solely in the background as a microcosm of tiny sounds freighted with almost percussive textures, or as fleeting constructs of dissonant drones; elsewhere, as on the seven-minute title track, his involvement becomes increasingly prominent, especially in the second half, where he contrives to convert Breistein’s playing into a swooning, cinematic piece full of drama and tension. For the most part, at least in the first few pieces, Bishop occupies a terrain of considerable restraint and a generally respectful approach to his manipulations.

Perhaps the most surprising moments come with ‘Lag’ and ‘Stim’, where Bishop feels emboldened to add in a consistent rhythm alongside his partner’s sax. After a number of quiet, softly undulating pieces, those pieces have a crushing, disruptive edge, their rattling textures seeming to shake the pews and foundations out of their holy slumber. ‘Trekk’ begins with a passage of what could be echoing birdsong and clattering percussion, but might well be re-pitched and reassembled sections of Breistein building his horn and warming up. Whatever the source, as the piece progresses it evokes the feel of a slow riverboat cruise through some exotic jungle rather than trawling the cooler waters of Norway’s coastline, acting as a perfect example of this duo at their most inspiring.

Ro by John Derek Bishop and Inge Weatherhead Breistein was released by Punkt Editions / Jazzland on October 21 2022. Thanks to Jim.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2022 Further.

Various Artists – Fictions

The latest release from Crammed Discs’ reinvigorated Made To Measure series is described as a compendium of ‘wordless fiction’. Curated by Crammed Discs co-founder Marc Hollander (Aksak Maboul), the album compiles eight tailor-made pieces that navigate a path between ambient, soundscapes, adventurous electronics and modern classical stylings.

While the pieces here are new, there is a sense of reverence through the inclusion of a track by Benjamin Lew and Tuxedomoon’s Steven Brown. The pair originally worked together during Made To Measure’s initial years, releasing Douzième Journée: Le Verbe, La Parure, L’Amour in 1982 and its follow-up A Propos D’Un Paysage in 1985, creating mesmerising and innovative clashes between tapes of African music and electronics. After hooking up again at a Made To Measure event in 2019, they found themselves rekindling a creative partnership, and their track – ‘A.D. Sur La Carte’ – is a haunting stew of inquisitive synths and mournful trumpet that together feel amorphous and ephemeral.

Another Made To Measure alumnus is Pascal Gabriel, here appearing in his Stubbleman alias. Gabriel released his critically-acclaimed Mountains And Plains audio travelogue for the label in 2019 and has collaborated with Crammed Discs and Aksak Maboul in the past. His piece finds him working with Norweigian trumpet player Nils Petter Molvær. ‘Ne Pas Se Pencher Au Dehors’ has definite soundtrack credentials, the melodic synth refrain and more direct trumpet playing that comes in after two minutes sounding (to me) like the perfect accompaniment to Michael J. Fox’s final scene in Bright Lights, Big City as he watches the sun rise over Manhattan’s East River and contemplates starting his life afresh.

Elsewhere, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith delivers a cascade of burbling synths on ‘Waterways’, managing to enrich analogue sounds with an aquatic sense of motion, over which floats a pretty xylophone motif. LA’s Mary Lattimore is an artist that has truly redefined approaches to playing the venerable harp, and her ‘Bird’ offers up a sweet, heart-wrenching duet with electronics that is simultaneously hopeful yet thwarted, as if gazing wistfully on the fleeting nature of existence.

Not that these are all delicate, gentle sonic experiments. French composer and sound artist Félicia Atkinson’s ‘The Sun, Perhaps Three Of Them’ bristles with wild energy, a central white noise drone and what could be a voice is nothing short of chilling, while Christina Vantzou’s tone poem ‘Museum Critic’ use of out-of-place found sound to catch you off guard and knock you out of the meditative state provided by other tracks here.

Taken as a whole, Fictions represents an absorbing, inspiring collection onto which you can write your own personal narrative.

Fictions was released October 14 2022 by Crammed Discs / Made To Measure

Thanks to Jim at Ampersand and PG.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2022 Further.

Rupert Lally – Forgotten Futures

I recently found myself watching a National Geographic documentary about the 1986 Challenger disaster. I was nine years old when that tragedy unfolded over Florida. I remember vividly watching it on Newsround when I got home from school and again on the evening news with my father. I hadn’t realised until I watched the film, but that was probably the first time I became aware of death. It also seemed to end my fascination with all things space and science fiction, which had been an obsession thanks to growing up with the Star Wars movies.

Rupert Lally’s Forgotten Futures reminded me of that day and that life pivot. The premise of Lally’s album, originally recorded for Lost Futures magazine, was to look back on his own childhood in the late 1970s and early 1980s. As he acknowledges, memory is a troublesome companion – whereas, at the time, we might have been filled with hope, optimism and the dreams of a thousand possible futures, with the benefit of hindsight we often see things differently. So it was for Lally while recording Forgotten Futures. On the title track we find him running through a list of futuristic visions that all seemed possible back then, but which now seem fanciful and a long way out of reach – except for TVs in kitchens and slightly limited approximations of smart homes – brings to mind how utterly disappointing those exciting versions of the future actually were. (Growing up, my vision of the future was basically informed by the Smash mashed potato adverts. The future has definitely not lived up to those expectations.)

This is undoubtedly one of Lally’s most introspective albums. Not dark, per se, but certainly more questioning and reflective than some of his other material. Pieces like ‘Everything We Leave Behind’ and ‘Kaleidoscope’ have an unresolved, restless and often thwarted dimension to them. Central to those tracks, and in fact every track on the album, is an undulating, queasy edge to the sounds as if each one has had its pitch changed in real-time. A a plot device, that technique is a useful way of evoking how memories become less certain over time, how they change, and how we question their accuracy through the lens of contemporaneity. For me, that sound nostalgically reminds me of buying a battered 7-inch of ‘(Keep Feeling) Fascination’ by Human League. The electronic horn melody on that song sounds a little out-of-tune at the best of times, but when your copy of the single is warped so badly that the vinyl looks like a circular walk through hills and valleys, any sense of euphoria in that riff is brutally suppressed. It remains one of my most disappointing charity shop purchases.

‘The Lost Places’ finds Lally recounting a dream where he revisits the town of his childhood – the architecture, the restaurant he’d visit with his father, the supermarket he frequented with his mother and the basement carpark beneath that still fills him with fear. His delivery is detached and uncertain, reflecting that recurring idea of a disappointed nostalgia and how our memories deal with joy and trauma over time. It is a deeply personal – yet completely relatable – moment, and one that seems to unlock the critical sentiment of this ruminative album.

Forgotten Futures by Rupert Lally was released May 6 2022.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2022 Further.

The Eternal Chord – Bis dat

Bis dat (Give more) is the latest release from the long-running Spire project, which celebrates the venerable organ and the long shadow cast over the development of contemporary music, from its Roman origins to its divisive association with the architecture of Christian churches. This collection is the second to feature various artists creating new pieces using The Eternal Chord ensemble’s Semper Liber (Always Free) album from 2018 as their source material, and finds artists as diverse as Faith Coloccia, BJ Nilsen and Zachary Paul offering tracks that further invert any commonly held misconceptions about the organ.

The Eternal Chord is curated by Touch’s Mike Harding and consists of Marcus Davidson, Hildur Gudnadottir, Charles Matthews, Clare M. Singer, Maia Urstad, Anna Von Hausswolff and others. Live performance is a critical aspect of The Eternal Chord, and Semper Liber was compiled and edited from various Spire events that have taken place around the world since 2009. Generally being custom-built for the specific location into which they were going to be installed, the players are just one aspect of Semper Liber – the other is the distinct sonic personality of the organ which is being played, whether that be the 1877 ‘Father’ Henry Willis organ at London’s Union Chapel or the comparatively modern 1967 Karl Ludwig Schuke instrument at Berlin’s Passionskirche.

Very often, it’s not really possible to identify anything resembling an organ on these pieces. Even allowing for aggressive processing and atypical performance, the instrument has a distinctive character which manages to cut through any alteration process. Brief moments of that character emerge in Faith Coloccia’s ‘Voice IV Sarcode’ or in the frozen stillness in the background of strom|morts’ ‘Absolute Magnitude Hermetism’, but for the most part what the organ provides to these pieces is a suggestion of its tonal familiarity.

One of the organ’s technical innovations was the ability to create infinitely held tones, and these pieces are filled with such drones – static, immovable blocks of texture that are anything but still. In the hands of Rhodri Davies’ ‘HAARP’, he deploys his e-bow to his harp to create layers of squalling, overlapping drones over the course of his 31-minute contribution. His piece is, at first, aggressive and uncomfortable, but listen to the delicate microtonal shifts sitting just on the edges, and what emerges is strangely hypnotic and uplifting. Something similar happens on Zachary Paul’s visceral ‘Sunken Cathedral’, where his scratchy violin rests on top of a a shimmering, impenetrable blur of rapid oscillations and drones so ephemeral that they could be sonic approximations of heat haze.

The Eternal Chord is a collaborative project in its own right, and Bis dat is broad minded enough to accommodate collaborations within that collaboration. Alcibiades is a pairing of the elusive radio static-manipulating venoztks and Jay Glass Dubs. Their ominous ‘Omicronology’ exists as a combination of skipping, hopping waves of intrafrequency growling and unfathomable vocal bursts, over which an inquisitive gamelan-style melody is interwoven. We hear echoes of the piece’s background radiation in a concluding piece from The Eternal Chord – ‘Omnia transeunt’ – which is many steps removed from anything resembling an organ, a ringing synth pulse and whistling sound approximating an unpredictable melody.

We all have a perception of what organ music sounds like. With Bis dat, and indeed all the various Spire activities, we are encouraged – forcibly, noisily and occasionally uncomfortably – to rethink that perception.

Bis dat was released May 6 2022 by Spire / Touch.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2022 Further.

Arun Sood – Searching Erskine

In the last few years, the music that’s resonated with me the most has tended to have a connection to Scotland: Andrew Wasylyk’s Eastern Scotland trilogy, Erland Cooper’s Orkney triptych, Letters From Mouse’s Tarbolton Bachelors Club, Emeka Ogboh’s Song Of The Union and Simon Kirby / Tommy Perman / Rob St. John’s Concrete Antenna.

Scotland is in my blood and an important facet of my everyday life. My mother was both in Stirling’s Royal Infirmary and lived in Scotland until she was twenty-five years old. Every year of my childhood we’d travel up to see relatives near Falkirk. I was aware, appreciative and proud of my family tree and my connection to Scotland. Great aunts, cousins, friends of the family that were positioned as relatives yet weren’t – all of these figures, and their myriad accents and pasts appeared prominently in my childhood and left me with an unbreakable fondness for a country that, though I have never lived there, feels like where I am from. We took our two teenage daughters to Scotland for the first time in 2020, during a period of heightened awareness of mortality and the value of family bonds, and I attribute the way I have gravitated to these Scottish-related releases above others, in part, to that.

Unquestionably, to this can be added Arun Sood’s stirring Searching Erskine.

Sood is a Scottish-Indian academic and artist operating in the disciplines of sound art, music and writing. While Sood is currently based in Devon, the focus of Searching Erskine is some 700 miles away, namely the uninhabited small island of Vallay, just over a strand from North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. For Sood, this is not a romantic far-flung location upon which to base a project; this is where the Scottish side of his family’s history lies, and it has proven to be a source of creative inspiration for him since 2011.

Sood’s grandmother, Katie Maclellan, worked as a housekeeper on the island until she left in 1944. Her employer was one Erskine Beveridge, a wealthy linen manufacturer and archaeological historian who had erected a grand house, Taigh Mòr, on the island in 1905. Sood made field recordings while camping on Vallay in 2019, some of which were recorded in the ruins of Beveridge’s crumbling house. In his introductory essay to a book accompanying the twelve musical pieces, Sood recounts the moment he became very aware of the sounds of the island. “The geese, the gull shrieks, the grassy whispers,” he muses. “I began to wonder if my grandmother might have heard similar sonic tapestries to the ones I was hearing, only in a different time.” This question prompted Sood to explore the idea of sounds “triggering memories and re-imaginings of the past.”

Vallay’s remote location puts it on a direct collision course with climate change. It is already changed from when Sood’s grandmother walked across the strand at low tide to North Uist for the last time, and in truth it had already changed through successive ice ages, evidence of which was uncovered by Erskine Beveridge’s archaeological excavations. The fading island topography and the ruin of Beveridge’s house is an allegory for Sood’s personal history, and all of our personal histories. Disney’s Coco reminds us that departed people only live in so long as our memory preserves them. In this way, Searching Erskine can be viewed and heard as a poignant document of his own family lineage, made immortal so long as digital and physical media endure.

Searching Erskine begins with ‘Katie’, setting a verse delivered by Sood to a backdrop of delicate synths, sprinkles of piano and cello from Alice Allen, suffused with field recordings of his 2019 camping trip. His words are, in part, recollections from his grandmother, but also questions about whether the sounds surrounding him in 2019 might in fact be the long-range echoes of what his grandmother herself had heard. On ‘Land Seeps’, Sood recorded inside the remains of her cottage, setting his words to a bed of intense accordion drones, while Alice Allen’s cello gives the many-layered ‘Taigh Mòr’, prompted by recordings inside the sad ruin of the Beveridge house, a mournful, wistful tone.

This is not just Sood’s rumination on his own family connection to Vallay. His own ancestry is inextricably linked to the Beveridges, and their own histories appear vividly in some of the pieces here. ‘He Was Drowned’ and ‘The Cairn’ are responses to the story of George Beveridge, Erskine’s son, who drowned crossing the strand to North Uist, while ‘Vasa’ features spoken extracts from Erskine’s book North Uist: Its Archaeology And Topography read by his grand-nephew.

Crucial to the emotional impact that these pieces possess are Sood’s wonderful and evocative arrangements. In addition to his many field recordings and captured conversations with his family, these pieces are filled with strings, chanter, organs, guitars and delicate synths from his friend and collaborator Alastair Smith. Identifying individual instruments – with the possible exception of Allen’s austere cello – is virtually impossible thanks to looping and processing, all of which deliver the gauzy, sepia-tinged sonic personality that gives this body of work its personal and emotional impact.

Though it is possible to listen to Searching Erskine and get a measure of the narrative, the accompanying book is essential for unlocking its secrets. Alongside Sood’s wonderful, evocative introductory essay are visual responses to Vallay by photographer Emile Kees, artist and academic Rosalind Blake and Outer Hebrides-based visual artist Meg Rodger. Each of these artists draws something unique from the idea of Vallay. For Kees, his approach was to digitally process old photographs, including one of Sood’s great-grandfather, leaving visual ghosts and intentional obfuscation. Blake centred her attention on the the various impressions of the island’s tidal geography through vibrant colour schemes and repeated lines. For Rodger, the idea was to use abstract skyscapes to evoke the gulf between art (imagination) and archaeology (facts).

Most crucial are Sood’s own notes for the musical pieces, revealing the inspiration, intention and story behind each. It is always intriguing to peek inside an artist’s motivations, and Sood leaves no detail hidden. Through these descriptions we alight upon the intense personal connection he has to his family history, and to Vallay, including in the naming of his daughter, Vallya. “Our children are ancestors too,” he explains of ‘Crossing’. “They bind our future with what came before us.” Vallya’s heartbeat, recorded while still in the womb, is just audible in this piece, beneath a stirring translated version of the Gaelic song ‘Cailin Mo Ruinsa’, something that Sood’s uncle Colin – possibly the last to be born on Vallay – was to be heard singing after a wee drop of firewater every night.

Searching Erskine might be deeply, intentionally personal in nature, but its ultimate conceit is to make such a personal story relatable to anyone aware and appreciative of their own history. Our lineage may not be as interesting or storied as Sood’s, but his sensitive recognition of the importance of how we got here – and the legacy we bequeath to those who come after us – is what makes this release resonate so strongly, and Sood’s understated technique so powerful.

Searching Erskine by Arun Sood was released March 4 2000 by Blackford Hill.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2022 Further.

Shots: Strategic Tape Reserve – The Center For Understanding New Trigonometries / Chorchill

THE CENTER FOR UNDERSTANDING NEW TRIGONOMETRIES – Shapes, For Experts (Strategic Tape Reserve)

More bonkers electronic music from Cologne’s Strategic Tape Reserve and their Learning By Listening series. Shapes, For Experts by the mysterious Center For Understanding New Trigonometries* purports to be an academic study of the humble shape and its hidden dimensions. Using spoken word segments delivered by a pair of professorial types, as well as bursts of rapturous – if slightly uncomfortable – vocals, all set to fizzing, science documentary electronics that remind me of soundtracks in the Epcot pavilions. Even if shapes like the tolstoyanmetaphoria, hemi-helix or appalonian gasket don’t actually exist – though who can honestly say that they don’t? – the presentation here is convincing, tapping into themes of conspiracies and wonky YouTube-delivered science theories. The Center are keen to offer shape assistance to anyone looking for it – however, as they readily admit, their website doesn’t work. Released March 18 2022. * Not to be turned into an acronym.

CHORCHILL & APEL OKUYAN – Modern Tavla (Strategic Tape Reserve)

In a moment of genius, the seventh volume in the Learning By Listening series turns out to be about something that actually exists! Whereas previous releases have traded in the vague, fantastical and simply outlandish, Modern Tavla by Germany’s Chorchill places its attention on an actual Turkish board game. Tavla is a slight variation on backgammon and Chorchill’s cassette is neatly split between one side focussed on the traditional form of the game, and another focussed on its modern modifications. These ruminations on the board game are delivered through narrations by Apel Okuyan, also known as Nachtfisch, a figure – unlike tavla – who probably doesn’t exist outside of Chorchill’s imagination. The musical accompaniment is delicate, inquisitive and full of wonder, comprised of sprinkles of electronic melody and sparse sound design that evoke the notion of a sedate, leisurely game played outside Turkish pavement cafes. Released April 1 2022.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2022 Further.

Shots: superpolar Taïps – Therapeutische Hörgruppe / Orca, Attack!

THERAPEUTISCHE HÖRGRUPPE – DANCE TILT / TRANCE TILT (superpolar Taïps)

A new cassette single release by the ever-inventive superpolar Taïps comes from Cologne-based Therapeutische Hörgruppe, a group active in the fields of sound art and electroacoustic exploration for over ten years. Information about the group’s membership is scarce, but it apparently consists of four individuals today. ‘Dance Tilt’ feels like there are four individual inputs going on at once, assembled without much heed to whether they neatly integrate with the others – a monotone voice, a wraith-like howl, a crunchy 8-bit rhythm, a faltering arpeggio – making for a wonderfully chaotic two-minute sprawl of a track. ‘Trance Tilt’ is no less messy, but places its attention on a loop of hand percussion, providing a calm centre offsetting the seemingly random sounds that ebb and flow around it. Released March 4 2022.

ORCA, ATTACK! – YOU WON’T REMEMBER THIS (superpolar Taïps)

Another fine release in the superpolar Taïps cassette single series, this time from Orca, Attack!, the New Orleans duo of Elizabeth Joan Kelly and David Rodriguez. Their first release since last year’s C.M.S.O. – the debut album in Strategic Tape Reserve’s highly recommended, educational Learning By Listening series – the two-track single finds two distinct faces of Orca, Attack! ‘You Won’t Remember Me’ sounds like it should belong on a Dirty Projectors or Fleet Foxes album, all languid acoustic guitars, yearning vocals from Rodriguez and haunting, elegiac harmonies from Kelly. Around the halfway mark the track suddenly pivots into a cloud of exultant wordless vocals, a jubilant beat and sounds that seem to soar gracefully skyward. On the flip, the instrumental ‘World Map’ is all low-slung bass, wonky melodies and unfathomable rhythms. Eclecticism rules. Released April 1 2022.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2022 Further.

Isambard Khroustaliov – Shanzhai Acid

Upon initial examination, the latest album from Isambard Khroustaliov (Sam Britton) is a sprawling, incoherent, fundamentally unnavigable mess of wavering sounds, tense discordancy and angry pulses. 

Even after a few listens, Shanzhai Acid is nigh on impenetrable, enveloping you in a sticky latticework of cross-crossing sounds and faltering non-melodies that bounce, spin and agitate uncontrollably from ear to ear. I played this on a walk through London’s rush-hour streets and somehow the chaos of the ten pieces here felt like the perfect accompaniment to the rabid, focused, bloodthirsty commitment of thousands of commuters trying to get home. 

These observations are not criticisms. Shanzhai Acid is intentionally presented thus. Britton’s latest work takes two disparate inputs as the basis for what is essentially a conceptually auditory study: the inventive Chinese manufacture of cheaply-produced electronic devices, and the cultural hyper-legacy left behind by acid house music. 

Not that you will hear any metronomic beats or aggressively-filtered 303s here. What can be detected, on ‘The Hand Of Mutt’ or ‘Quixotic Algorithmic Hubris’, is a freneticism and restlessness, expressed through algorithms, homegrown artificial intelligence and overlapping parameters. If you squint, you can feel the loved-up embrace of late-80s club music atomised into splinters of uncompromising electronics, assembled together like a badly-soldered printed circuit board. Those sounds rapidly cluster like Instagram ‘likes’ on an advert for a piece of hotly-tipped electronic gadgetry from a brand that you’ve never heard of; they then fall away as quickly after said device arrives in the mail, doesn’t work, and is promptly discarded. Like, buy, receive, replace; like, buy, receive, replace. 

This is not an album for those with a nervous disposition. It is an intense listen from the opening gestures of ‘A History Of Cybernetics’ to the sudden stop of ‘Meanwhile Cephalopods’. It reflects back the manic world we live in, our increasing device dependency and the twitchy, restless state of mind that comes with pixelated overstimulation. Another fine release from Britton which casts electronic sound as the only obvious vehicle for his anthropological observations. 

Shanzhai Acid by Isambard Khroustaliov was released March 4 2022 by Not Applicable. 

Words: Mat Smith 

(c) 2022 Further. 

Shots: Sullow / The Silver Field / Johan Lindvall Trio / Bugge Wesseltoft / Eberson / The Night Monitor

SULLOW / THE SILVER FIELD – BETWIXT & BETWEEN 8 (Between & Betwixt)

A split cassette release from Sullow (Jacken Elswyth, Daniel S. Evans and Joshua Barfoot) and The Silver Field (Coral Rose and friends), each side dealing with the darker characteristics of folk music. Sullow’s seven banjo-led pieces are short and punchy improvisations full of fragile dissonance and stirring half-melodies, in thrall to a more complete form of traditional music that isn’t simply about pretty maidens running through fields clutching posies of wild flowers. The four Silver Field tracks continue Rose’s exploration of a unique sound world, fusing tapes, vocals and diverse instrumentation. ‘Godless/Doglegs’ begins with a squall of electronic noise before evolving into a rapturous, ritualistic piece full of euphoric vocals and bluesy cello melodies, while ’Chase’ is like a musique concrète interpretation of folk music for jaw’s harp and murky tape rhythms, alternating freely between the real and the ephemeral. Released January 28 2022.

https://betwixtbetweentapes.bandcamp.com/album/betwixt-between-8

JOHAN LINDVALL TRIO – THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU (Jazzland)

Jazz curiosities from Oslo courtesy of Johan Lindvall (piano), Adrian Myhr (bass) and Andreas Skår Winther (drums). The group are more than able to offer a classic presentation of the trio form on pieces like ‘Getting Out’, but it’s moments like opener ‘Imagine Something Different’ – with its unusual rhythmic time signature – suggest an interest in pushing the form from the polite background of the café to somewhere more radical. ‘Give Up’ has a pretty, memorable melody which will happily lodge itself in your brain for weeks, and a cover of Karen O’s ‘Rapt’ manages to stay recognisable while also highlighting Lindvall’s interpretative nous. The album concludes with a brilliant live recording of ‘Break’ from Stockholm’s Glenn Miller Café which finds the group at their most persuasive, the tight, measured playing hinting at early rock ‘n’ more than the group’s normal jazz furrow. Released February 18 2022.

https://johanlindvalltrio.bandcamp.com/album/this-is-not-about-you

BUGGE WESSELTOFT – BE AM (Jazzland)

The new album from Jazzland Recordings founder Bugge Wesseltoft is probably what we should all be listening to at this time of geopolitical anxiety. A profound serenity and hopefulness can be found in Wesseltoft’s pretty musings, which force you into a deeply soothed and contemplative state. Eschewing his usual eclectic array of keyboards, it is the venerable piano that prevails here, only occasionally accompanied by a wider set of instrumentation. ‘Life’ is a duet for piano and kalimba, the interaction between which leads to one of the more uncertain moments on the whole album, while ‘Emerging’ and ‘Roads’ benefit from the gentle saxophone interjections of Håkon Kornstad. To me, pieces like ‘Sunbeams Through Leaves Softly Rustling’ and ‘Resonate’ are the sound of the horrors of the pandemic coming to an end, being both reflectively subdued by the toll it took on all of us, but optimistically placing their attention on the future. A listen to this might also quell your existential fears, even if for a moment. Released February 25 2022.

https://buggewesseltoft.bandcamp.com/album/be-am

EBERSON – BETWEEN TWO WORLDS (Jazzland)

Between Two Worlds is the second album from Norway’s Eberson, the pairing of guitarist Jon Eberson and his daughter Marte on keyboards. For their new album together, they are joined by Jo Berger Myhre (bass), Rune Arnesen (percussion) and Axel Skalstad (drums). ‘Strange Highway’ is the album’s dynamic highlight, a fast-paced rush through incisive guitar riffs that weave in and out of insistent keyboard motifs. ‘Dancing With The Big Fish’ swims forth on soft keys, melodic sprinkles and a churning, rich bassline, over which Eberson Sr. offers a warm and evocative guitar riff that belongs in an episode of Miami Vice before fragmenting into a series of dextrous solos. The album’s title track is principally a vehicle for Marte Eberson’s playing, opening with a flute-style riff offset by ripples and soothing pads over an irrepressibly smooth rhythm section that sounds like The Funk Brothers chilling in Norway. Released March 4 2022.

https://eberson.bandcamp.com/album/between-two-worlds

THE NIGHT MONITOR – THEIR DARK DOMINION (Fonolith)

Continuing his adventures through the world of the unexplained and paranormal, Their Dark Domininion finds Blackpool’s Neil Scrivin exploring the mystery of Clapham Wood in Sussex. The story goes that the area was home to a cult purportedly including elite members of society called The Dark Hectate, and the skies above the wood were known for their UFO sightings and other strange phenomena. As ever, the back story provides the ideal inspiration for Scrivin’s unique brand of electronic composition. Pads float up from the ground like fog, melodies present themselves with unresolved open-endedness, leaving more questions than answers, and the whole thing feels like its drenched with sinister inquisitiveness. ‘The Pit And The Pentagon’ stands out for its creepy hook and choir textures, while the title track hitches a chilling synth riff to a strident drum pattern bespeaking ominous foreboding. No one does brooding electronic music quite like Scrivin, and this is undoubtedly one of his best releases to date. Released March 4 2022.

https://thenightmonitor.bandcamp.com/album/their-dark-dominion

Words: Mat Smith

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