Hems / Merkaba Macabre / Pagan Red / Sybil – IKLECTIC, London 11.06.2022

New label Titrate took over South London’s IKLECTIK for a night of modular electronic adventures interspersed with a drones ‘n’ tones DJ set from Sybil.

Pagan Red

Pagan Red’s set, featuring material that will form an upcoming release on Titrate, was all about that bass. After beginning with ghostly voices that are possibly about physics, a pulse emerges like a heartbeat rendered like a dub riddim, eventually replaced by quickening pattern that approximates rave or techno. The unbroken composition features undulating bass tones that fuck with your sense of perception, being focused and resolute yet open-minded enough to permit gentle, almost imperceptible changes to appear.

Merkaba Macabre

The last time I came upon Steven McInerney was with his film ‘A Creak In Time’, featuring a soundtrack from Howlround. ‘Trilateral Descent’, his performance as Merkaba Macabre, combines 16mm projections and modular synth patterns, in part triggered by three light sensors affixed to the wall of the performance space. The result is a suite of rapid fluctuations and intense, bass-heavy pulses gathering pace, while the imagery alternates between shots of woodland and twisting, mind-melting geometric lines. Imagine Disney’s Fantasia hacked by Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable set to a vibrant modular score and you’ll be somewhere close.

Hems

The headline from Hems set begins with a conversation, about what or who I can’t tell, before evolving into a shadowy, indeterminate soundfield. White noise and gradually intensifying sound waves give way to a soft whooshing, a singular crash providing a precursor to a rhythm that only arrives much later. From where I stand at the sound desk someone bites into a crisp; someone’s wristwatch advises that it’s 2300; a person orders a drink at the bar outside. These sounds are somehow integral, though accidental. An intensifying crackle, like a transmission from elsewhere, is sparse and spooky. A nascent kick drum reaches rave-y intensity before falling back into nothingness, replaced by a snarling, intense pattern that seems to appear out of nowhere, set to a recurrence of that solitary kick drum. In contrast to his debut release for Titrate, Chaotic Affair, Henrique Matias’ set is unnervingly brutal yet intensely subtle.

Based on the performances tonight, Titrate is definitely a label to watch.

Words and bad photography: Mat Smith

(c) 2022 Further.

The Tapeworm: Alex The Fairy / The Howling / Blood Music

Three new ferric masterpieces from the endlessly-uncoiling Tapeworm imprint.

Can I Hear The Sound Of A Falling Branch is the latest missive from Alex The Fairy (Alexander Catlin Freytag), who manages to sidestep the expected norms of minimal electronic music by offering a series of mostly canapé-sized pieces. ‘Waking Up In Your Bed’ is a fast-paced electro cut whose crisp and frenetic rhythm is offset by murmuring synths and drones that recall the fogginess of a gap-filled night.

The brilliantly-titled ‘There’s A Cashier On The Beach They’re Scanning Pebbles Very Quickly’ is full of layers of crisscrossing bleeps that sound like saxophone blurts over a beat that lurches along like a sunbather with heatstroke, while ‘Green White’ offers woodblock percussion, a low-slung bassline and wobbly, indecipherable vocal interjections. Final track ‘User Sale’ is the Double Big Mac to the sliders elsewhere, a hypnotic, eleven-minute, restless banger built from a relentless, sinewy synth sequence and crisp, resolute techno beat.

The second cassette comes from The Howling – broadcaster and writer Ken Hollings and Robin The Fog’s Howlround project. Both sides feature a short snippet of narrated text from Hollings looped, processed and manipulated in real-time using to reel-to-reel tape machines. The result is like an updated take on Alvin Lucier’s ‘I Am Sitting In A Room’, except that Hollings wasn’t at home but at the Wimpy Bar on Streatham High Street. After listening to approximately 360 brilliantly evolving iterations of the b-side’s single enquiry – “Are you man enough for Mega Force?” – pushed through Howlround’s macho manipulations, I can confirm, regrettably, that I’m probably not.

Completing May’s wormy triptych is Blood Music’s For The Vagus Nerve. The project of London’s Simon Pomery, here we find Blood Music offering two weighty dronescapes, each laden with weighty power electronics and tense guitar distortion. Like all the best drones, there’s two games being played here – the intense fluctuations occupying the foreground and the more delicate, overlapping microtonal oscillations off in the background. Less music to relax meditate to and more music to dissect and dismember to, For The Vagus Nerve is a brutal, all-encompassing listen best played extremely, nay offensively, loud, ideally when your neighbours are having a garden party next door and the smoke from their barbecue is making your freshly-washed smalls smell like burning flesh. Uncompromising, violent and beautiful, replete with a macabre narrative from Pomery not unlike a philosophical Patrick Bateman delivered while draped in a victim’s entrails.

Can I Hear The Sound Of A Falling Branch by Alex The Fairy, All Hail Mega Force by The Howling and For The Vagus Nerve by Blood Music were released May 20 2022 by The Tapeworm: www.thetapeworm.org.uk

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2022 Further.

Shots: Jay Glass Dubs x Laura Agnusdei / Mücha / Jess Brett / Dan Berkson / Carbon Fields / frostlake / Sofia Kirwan-Baez

JAY GLASS DUBS x LAURA AGNUSDEI – JUNGLE SHUFFLE (The Wormhole)

Released across three highly limited coloured white label 12-inch singles, each one emblazoned with a different slogan, here we find Jay Glass Dubs tackling ‘Jungle Shuffle’ from Laura Agnusdei’s 2019 album Laurisilva. Two versions are presented – one with beats and one without. The original track was one of the many highlights on Laurisilva, finding Agnusdei taking traditional jazz reference points set to razor-sharp found rhythms. In Jay Glass Dubs’ hands, the assembled horns swirl and cascade like spiralling wraiths, a thick, omniscient drone occupying an earthy lower layer though which the horns are threaded like organic, unpredictable sonic foliage. Released November 19 2021.

https://the-tapeworm.bandcamp.com/album/jungle-shuffle

MÜCHA – FALL (Frequency Domain)

Mücha is the alias of producer / DJ Amanda Butterworth. The seven tracks on latest album Fall unfold upon spindly, fragile electronics, over which Butterworth’s voice textures, occupying a territory somewhere between melancholy reflection and languid warmth. On the title track, Butterworth reprises Photek’s scissor-sharp approach to deconstructed drum ‘n’ bass, with splintered high-octane rhythms held in check by a slow-motion jazz keyboard riff. The album was inspired by a certain British monochromatic stereotype; in my head I think Burton grey suits, grey Autumn days, greying British Rail seat fabric, but I can also imagine this being how Martin Hannett might have embraced skeletal electronics if he’d still been alive today. Released November 5 2021.

https://moocha1.bandcamp.com/album/fall

JESS BRETT – EYELINE

Eyeline is the debut EP from Kidderminster’s Jess Brett. Possessing a voice of rare and arresting, earthy power, the lyrics here address everything from outdated perceptions of women, to cynicism about police power, to sexual dominance, while always retaining a healthy, impenetrable ambiguity. Brett’s five track release is carried forward on musical frameworks that nod to post-punk, with jangly guitars, inchoate synth structures and tentative melodies. The title track imagines The Smiths with keyboards, while the mournful ‘Ceiling And Freezer’ is a grim story of love and admiration for what appears to be a serial killer, its fixations glued in place by a mesmerising suite of slowly-evolving keyboard layers. Closing track ‘Xenomorph’ is like a personal, confidence-boosting mantra delivered over a turgid bed of prowling synths and whistling melodies that remains unresolved as the track winds down toward a tentative silence. Undoubtedly one to watch. Released October 14 2021.

https://jessbrett.bandcamp.com/album/eyeline

DAN BERKSON – DIALOGUES (Freestyle)

Dialogues is an unashamedly classic jazz album, centred on a trio of Dan Berkson (piano), Andrea di Biase (bass) and Jon Scott (drums). Now based in California, Berkson is an emigré from London’s house music scene, and it’s rare to find someone so adept at switching freely between the regimentation of dance music’s grid and the complete freedom of jazz. For the most part, this is an energetic, effervescent collection, with ‘Unity’ carrying a firm expressiveness thanks to the addition of Magnus Pickering (trumpet, flugelhorn), Alan Nathoo (tenor sax) and Daniel Sadownick (percussion). ‘Sketches’ is the album’s contemplative, questing number, Berkson’s emotive piano lines resting atop a languid, casual rhythm from di Biase and Scott. With these impressive Dialogues, Berkson shows his detailed knowledge of jazz from 1950s cool tropes through to 1970s fusion. Released September 17 2021.

https://danberkson.bandcamp.com/album/dialogues

CARBON FIELDS – PETRICHOR (HIRU)

Carbon Fields is the alias of multi-instrumentalist Arran Poole. Petrichor, named after the smell that occurs after rainfall, finds Poole layering his post-rock guitar, bass, drums and an instrument called the bow chime over field recordings made in Saffron Walden, Falmouth and North Norfolk. The instrumentation is blurred and smudged while the background recordings, tape static and all manner of sounds rarely reveal their provenance. This is music of a quiet and considered power, perfectly evoking the complexities of nature and an inquisitive optimism reflecting back the rainfall so essential for renewal. Understated and outstanding. Released September 10 2021.

https://hiru.uk/album/petrichor

FROSTLAKE – THE WEIGHT OF CLOUDS (Discus Music)

frostlake is the project of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jan Todd. For her third album The Weight Of Clouds, Todd constructed sixteen pieces using percussion, guitars and electronics, each one freighted with a sheen of ice-covered mystery and a folky naturalism. The key to tracks like ‘Always There’ and ‘Blue Into Gold’ is Todd’s vocal, operating with a stirring capacity to move you without ever rising above quiet and reflective ruminations, seamlessly augmented by tightly-packed sonic layers drenched in obfuscating, mist-like reverb. ‘Moth People’ is the album’s oblique highlight, finding Todd reflecting on human mistakes and failures over a fragile backdrop of wobbly synths and string sounds. Music for cold mornings and contemplation. Released August 22 2021.

https://discusmusic.bandcamp.com/album/the-weight-of-clouds-121cd-2021

SOFIA KIRWAN-BAEZ – TAKE ONE AND A HALF (Autana Art)

Sofia Kirwan-Baez is a London-based opera student and talented lounge singer, often to be found hosting evenings at Barnes’s OSO Arts Centre. Her debut album was released in February and finds Kirwan-Baez at the piano, delivering eight original songs showcasing a singular approach to lyric writing that is refreshingly complex, reflecting back modern concerns and the fallibility of people and relationships. Jazz and blues influences colour songs like ‘Guess Who’, dealing with an inscrutable man who refuses to betray his true thoughts and feelings, and ‘Only If I Want To’ takes a deft and necessary swipe at male dominance. ‘Old Song’ has the feel of an unearthed standard, simultaneously heart-wrenching, humour-inflected and self-deprecating, while ‘Wasting Time’ describes a parting of ways with a sense of realism and hope. Music for low lights, late nights and a healthy pour of vintage single malt. Released February 7 2021.

https://sofiakirwanbaez.bandcamp.com/album/take-one-and-a-half-2

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2021 Further.

Take Five: Rupert Lally

“I find lists like this extremely difficult,” says prolific Brighton-born, Switzerland-based electronic musician Rupert Lally. “Somehow the first couple of choices are always simple but then the last one or two, inevitably, end up being a compromise as to which albums make the cut and which don’t.” 

A year in the release schedule of Lally is an intense one. 2021 has been no different, his output culminating in the career high of Beyond The Night (SubExotic), a thrilling, noir journey into the shadows and fears of the night. Never one to rest on his laurels, Lally has no less than two albums scheduled for release on October 1, both imaginary soundtracks for Ray Bradbury novels – Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles – continuing an approach that has seen him produce scores for Frank Herbert’s Dune, J.G. Ballard’s High Rise and Lally’s own novella, Solid State Memories

rupertlally.bandcamp.com 

Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters 

I spent three years learning classical guitar making almost no progress whatsoever, with a teacher who refused to teach us chords. A friend encouraged me to switch to playing bass guitar around the same time as my musical interest began to shift from hard rock towards jazz and funk. More by accident than design I ended up playing bass in my school’s newly formed jazz band. One of the tunes we would regularly play was ‘Chameleon’ by Herbie Hancock and I became so synonymous with playing the (synth) bassline at school concerts that when I began playing the bass again after many years absence, a lot of school friends asked if I could still play the piece – I can!  

At the time the album was hard to obtain on any other format than CD, so it became the first ever CD that I bought, before I even owned a CD player, so I made a tape copy at my step sister’s house, which I played over and over. 

It’s difficult to overstate the effect that hearing this had on me. Not just the music itself but also the arrangements, the analogue synth sounds, Harvey Mason’s drum grooves, the cornucopia of percussion sounds and instruments used by Bill Summers on the album – many of which I needed to look up to find out what they were, thereby igniting my interest in percussion at the same time. 

A friend that I played the album to described it as sounding like the soundtrack to the 70s animations in episodes of Sesame Street. He didn’t mean as a compliment, but it’s actually a very apt comparison. Many years later, I realised how much those wonderful psychedelic cartoons affected me as a small child and it’s another reason why I felt immediately at home with this album. 

Peter Gabriel – Passion 

Peter Gabriel’s music from his early work with Genesis to his early solo albums, with their pioneering use of the Fairlight CMI, had already had a huge impact on me as a teenager, and I’ve already mentioned my burgeoning interest in percussion from around that time, so in retrospect it’s surprising that I didn’t listen to this, Gabriel’s soundtrack to Martin Scorcese’s The Last Temptation Of Christ, until I was in my first year at university.  

When I did, it blew my mind – the fusion of traditional rhythms and instrumentation from the Middle East with synths, samplers and David Rhodes’ understated guitar work was incredibly influential. For a while, I would listen to a cassette of this whilst I drifted off to sleep, with the music seeping into my dreams. 

DJ Shadow – Endtroducing…..

My introduction to DJ Shadow’s music was the inclusion of the track ‘Changeling’ on Bleeping With The NME, a free tape compilation given away with the NME in 1996. As fate would have it, another student in my university halls of residence was a massive Mo’ Wax fan and he kindly made me a tape of this album, plus Shadow’s early singles. I was completely hooked. Not just with the music itself but how it had been made using already outdated Akai samplers like the MPC-60 and S612 

A year or so later I would get hold of an old E-mu Emax sampler and discover first hand just how difficult it must have been to make tracks like these on old equipment with limited sampling time. Shadow’s drum programming continues to influence me today, not only how I program my own beats but also how I play drums live. 

Boards Of Canada – Music Has The Right To Children 

When I went to drama school after university, I had a lot friends, who were heavily into Warp Records stuff, so I’d already heard a lot of (and subsequently bought) quite a few Aphex Twin and Autechre records. Somehow, while I’d definitely heard both Boards Of Canada and Squarepusher’s music during that time, I didn’t start to listen to them properly until the publication of Rob Young’s book on the label in 2005.  

Boards Of Canada’s debut album, in particular, with its deliberate lo-fi sound quality that harked back to the public information films of my youth, struck a particular chord with me and would provide a massive amount of inspiration for my own solo work which I was then taking my first tentative steps towards. In many ways this album seemed to articulate a feeling that I had been groping towards for some time without really understanding what it was. I’d been using YouTube to research old TV shows and adverts that I remembered from childhood, to try to gain musical inspiration. 

A few months after I heard this album, The Wire magazine published an article about hauntology, mentioning Boards Of Canada. It was the first time I’d ever heard the term used. 

Imogen Heap – Speak For Yourself 

I first heard Imogen Heap’s music in the film, The Holiday and immediately bought both this and the album she did with Guy Sigsworth as Frou Frou. There’s so much I love about this album: her voice, the lyrics which often remind me more of poems put to music and, of course, her amazing arrangements, programming and sound design. While she’s done lots of interesting stuff since, somehow nothing else has come close to this record for me. It’s the perfect example of intelligent pop electronica and she doesn’t get nearly enough credit for it. 

Interview: Mat Smith 

(c) 2021 Further. 

Shots: Nova Materia, Dan Davies, Friends Of The Oval, Philip Jeck, Fading Tapes

NOVA MATERIA – XPUJIL (Crammed Discs / Made To Measure) 

Released through Crammed Discs’ rebooted Made To Measure series, Xpujil is the work of Paris-based Chilean duo Nova Materia (Caroline Chaspoul and Eduardo Henriquez). The album takes the form of a journey through the Mexican jungle to the ruined Mayan metropolis of Xpujil. Along the way, they made a series of field recordings, which were then processed back in Paris into a single 40-minute soundscape. Deeply ambient and full of inexplicable, ephemeral mystery, the overall impression left by Xpujil is one of absence – of people, of nature itself, of context, of explanation. Few recordings have managed to exhibit such an engaging sonic quality through layers of percussion, haunting wooden flutes and delicate electronic textures, while also remaining purposefully silent. The piece was rounded out by contributions from DNA’s venerable Ikue Mori and cellist Gaspar Claus. Released June 25 2021.

https://novamateria.bandcamp.com/album/xpujil

DAN DAVIES – TRUTH, BEAUTY AND GOODNESS 

Truth, Beauty And Goodness consists of 15 pieces created by sound and visual artist Dan Davies, each one a specific response to a space or piece of art in and around Milton Keynes’ Campbell Park. Taking the form of a soundwalk commissioned for the 2021 IF: Milton Keynes International Festival, Davies used a combination of field recordings, sounds produced by ‘playing’ the various sculptures, electromagnetic recordings and delicate composition to accompany each piece. The results range from thought-provoking explorations of memory to angry pulses of raw energy. Read more about Truth, Beauty And Goodness in my interview with Davies for Pooleyvile, available hereReleased July 10 2021. 

https://dandavies.bandcamp.com/album/soundscapes-complete-album

FRIENDS OF THE OVAL – ADVENTURER 

Friends Of The Oval is a New York trio of vocalist Julia Farhat, electronic musician David Mason (aka Listening Center) and film director Michael Idov, and the evocative, orchestral ‘Adventurer’ is taken from the soundtrack to Idov’s JETLAG. ‘Adventurer’ is an exercise in delicate subtlety, Farhat’s sensitive voice barely rising above an ephemeral whisper yet yielding an intense, surging emotional poignancy. The strings recall The Balanescu Quartet at their most stirring, while Mason’s production style restrains a haunting synth sequence to the role of a mere gesture, never once distracting from Ivan Abramov’s string arrangements. After a decade of sporadic film music projects together, a Friends Of The Oval album is being worked on; on the strength of ‘Adventurer’, expect it to leave an indelible mark on your soul. Released July 28 2021.

https://foto.bandcamp.com/track/adventurer

PHILIP JECK – THIS IS THE HOUR OF LEAD – (Touch) 

This Is The Hour Of Lead – is Liverpool sound artist Philip Jeck’s contribution to Touch’s second subscription service of the last two years. Inspired by Emily Dickinson’s pike ‘After Great Pain, A Formal Feeling Comes –‘. His piece is a thoughtful, reflective moment, using orchestral sounds and blocks of mournful texture to convey a sense of the weight of the world that we’ve felt bearing down in us. A noisy moment of clattering found sound at the midpoint jerks you forcibly out of your maudlin thoughts before plunging you straight back in. Released July 29 2021.  

https://touchdisplacing.bandcamp.com/track/this-is-the-hour-of-lead-2

FADING TAPES – CARTOGRAPHER (Panurus Productions) 

Fading Tapes is a Polish duo of Krzysztof Siwkowski (guitars, effects) and Marcin Lasek (percussion, radios). For the four long tracks that comprise latest album Cartographer, they are joined by vocalist Aleksandra, whose occasional vocals and chanting float, wraith-like above the symbiotic dynamic offered by Siwkowski and Lasek. Across the four pieces – ‘East Valley’, ‘Bones’, ‘Boats’, ‘Dry Red Land’ – there is an emphasis on dense layers of intense subtlety. Barrages of percussion dominate, but they are (until the second half of ‘Dry Red Land’) quietly restrained, occasionally heading in the direction of interlocking motorik grooves or wild gestures, but Lasek’s playing remains acutely delicate. Around his kit, Siwkowski floats ominous basslines and wiry, chiming guitars, but he again eschews histrionics in favour of something much more contemplative. And yet, in spite of their collective restraint, these four tracks each resolve themselves into a firm, transcendent, psychedelic euphoria. Truly immersive and ever-so-slightly mind-altering. Released August 4 2021.

https://panurusproductions.com/album/cartographer

Words: Mat Smith 

(c) 2021 Further. 

The Night Monitor – Perception Report 3

Conceived as an infrequent series of “borderland excursions into assorted strangeness”, Perception Report 3 continues The Night Monitor’s exploration of encounters and inexplicable events, presented as a sonic periodical of unfathomable Fortean mystery. The Night Monitor, one of several aliases employed by Blackpool electronic music Neil Scrivin, is here occupying territory that he has made entirely his own, featuring four tracks of spooky electronica that act as distressing anti-ambient music for unsettling phenomena.  

Previous issues of the Perception Report series have concerned themselves with tiny winged Martians and the idea of bent spoons being allegorical for twisted realities. The main feature of Perception Report 3 concerns itself with an alien encounter that took place on Ilkley Moor in Yorkshire in 1987, in which a photographer had a run-in with an archetypal green creature that later disappeared in a flying saucer. 

Scrivin has a way of presenting his pieces without hackneyed sci-fi or horror tropes. While it would be tempting to sculpt ‘An Alien On Ilkley Moor’ with brooding tones or wonky theremins, he instead imbues the track with something that falls between delicate edginess and wide-eyed curiosity. The piece opens with the sound of wind whistling across the moor, before pulses and shimmering, mystique-heavy tones take over, finally opening out into a stately, contemplative melody that feels like it belongs on Depeche Mode’s A Broken Frame

‘Raven In Tomb Land’ has a tidy jazzy swagger that slots in somewhere between fusion and wonky, while ‘The UFO And The Séance’ has a ethereal sparseness so gently terrifying that I found myself checking behind doors and generally getting freaked out by my several cats, who in turn were generally freaked out by me. ‘Pyramids Of The Year 3000’ delivers more of Scrivin’s slowly-building melodic sensibilities, affixing those to a stop-start rhythm that bristles with 1981-vintage electronic pop smarts. 

Whether you find Scrivin’s subject matter credible or think it complete bunkum is irrelevant: his music tangibly exists in its own unique dimension, one that’s well worth believing in. 

Perception Report 3 by The Night Monitor is released August 6 2021 by Fonolith. 

Words: Mat Smith 

(c) 2021 Further.   

Stefan Goldmann & .es – At A Moment’s Notice

At A Moment’s Notice collects together three pieces by Berlin-based Stefan Goldmann, a peripatetic sonic auteur for whom the loose, oft-used handles of ‘producer’ and ‘DJ’ somehow no longer adequately fit his work. Goldmann may have come to prominence through techno, and its devices may still inform his creative methods, but At A Moment’s Notice bears no resemblance to music fixed to a grid. 

This new collection for The Wormhole, the always surprising, never predictable offshoot of The Tapeworm, finds Goldmann on location at Café Oto for a solo electronic performance in those heady, pre-pandemic days of 2019, a performance from some seven years before with .es (Takayuki Hashimoto on alto sax, shakuhachi, harmonica and guitar and Sara Dotes on piano and percussion), in between which is a solo Goldmann piece for electric guitar – the latter as clear a signifier as any that Goldmann won’t even be pigeonholed into the electronica genre. 

That central guitar piece, ‘Echoes Of An Era’, takes the form of a desert-washed blues loop. The guitar loop is layered and subjected to effects that lift it out of arid predictability into sonic vibrancy, while still sounding like the perfect soundtrack to standing beside your car on the side of an empty road waiting for a mechanic to arrive from the closest one-horse town with a can of gas. 

A semblance of that bluesy tonality appears with Hashimoto’s harmonica about twelve minutes in to the Goldmann & .es performance recorded at Osaka’s Nomart Gallery in July 2012. Hashimoto is omnipresent on the performance, but it’s when he puts down the sax and picks up the harmonica that things really start to fly; inchoate piano musing and quiet electronics are suddenly replaced by industrial-strength blocks of sound and rhythm, after which the re-emergence of howling sax feels more logical. By its denouement, ‘12.07.2012’ feels like a guided tour of an illegal Osakan sweat shop, its final bass pulse and wobbly piano suggestive of a getaway car speeding away from the heat and terror of a few minutes before. 

The Oto performance (‘29.09.2019’) is more assuredly electronic, but still refreshingly unpredictable. Here Goldmann runs through a cascading array of pulses, tones, sinewaves, drones and varispeed rhythms, skipping from idea to idea without ever languishing anywhere for long enough to get comfortable. At its most structured, ‘29.09.2019’ sounds like early Pan Sonic jamming with an 8-bit video game soundtrack to a game that no one remembers; at its most free, it’s like surfing on the aura of a self-generating fractal. 

At A Moment’s Notice by Stefan Goldmann is released August 6 2021 by The Wormhole / The Tapeworm. With thanks to Philip. (This is not a Mortality Tables Product, but we probably could make it one if we thought about it.) 

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2021 Further. 

Charlotte Keeffe – Right Here, Right Now

Right Here, Right Now collects together pieces by trumpet / flugelhorn player Charlotte Keeffe in various different formations – solo with electronics; in a duo with Diego Sampieri (guitar); in the Charlotte Keeffe quartet with Moss Freed (guitar), Ben Handysides (drums) and Ashley John Long (double bass). We also hear Keeffe’s work composing for the London Improvisers Orchestra on three adventurous and frequently unpredictable, playful pieces.

The result is a collection that draws out an immediacy of playing and an adaptable, varied tone. The pieces she conducted for the London Improvisers Orchestra veer from intricate, scratchy electronics, howling bells and ominous voices (‘Mysterious Breath / This One’s For The Bees…’) to the joyfully chaotic, cataclysmically euphoric nod to Orchestra stalwart and Flying Lizard par excellence Steve Beresford (‘To Steve Beresford’).

Quartet pieces like ‘Sweet, Corn’ are full of enticing energy, the interplay of the rhythm section and Keeffe’s wild, urgent playing reaching several crescendos before pivoting toward hook-y melodies and finally into squalling, beautiful noise. A more contemplative tone can be heard on the pretty ‘A Horse Named Melody’, even as Handysides’ drumming seems hellbent on upending the piece toward messier territory. Whether in her quartet or in a duo with Sampieri, you can hear a perfect unity between Keeffe and guitarists, leading to some genuinely breathtaking, intertwined melodic runs on the gentle, captivating ‘OM’ in particular.

Another dimension to Keeffe’s all-encompassing approach can be heard on the two solo pieces. Here we find Keefe subjecting her trumpet and flugelhorn to a series of electronic processes, showcasing yet another side to her playing completely. ‘The Melody’s In The Post’ (inspired by a melody by Alicia Gardener-Trejo) finds her horns fading in and out over a bed of restless, itchy static that sounds like an after-hours Radiophonic Workshop for an astral jazz documentary that sadly never was. Something similar occurs on ‘Noizemaschin!!’, taken from Keeffe’s first live improvised solo set in 2017. Somewhat more restrained in its processing than ‘The Melody’s In The Post’, ‘Noizemaschin!!’ instead relies on washes of reverb and stuttering, chattering, inchoate passages interspersed with rapid note clusters, leading to a ghostly, atmospheric otherworldliness.

Right Here, Right Now by Charlotte Keeffe was released June 11 2021 by Discus Music.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2021 Further.

Fennesz – Szampler

Where is the best place to listen to Szampler, a collection of samples that Christian Fennesz put together between 1990 and 2000? 

I chose three settings.

The first was while I was making curry for dinner. After the first, chiming sound had dropped away into silence I thought my WiFi was playing up or I’d turned the volume down by mistake; a mistake I had indeed made when I was eventually confronted by a barrage of angry, metallic noise that near enough turned my remaining hair pure white.

The second was while I was in the supermarket early one Saturday morning, where it felt strangely anarchic to be listening to this while picking out vegetables and tomato purée.

The third time was while I was walking in the morning sunshine to our local high street, dodging joggers, dogwalkers and gleeful kids on bikes with stabilisers. 

In each setting, Szampler turned out to be a strangely fitting listen. All three places and actions had a certain familiarity – a recipe I’ve followed countless times before; a supermarket whose aisles I know like the back of my hand, with a shopping list that looks more or less the same as it did the week before; a walk that I’ve done so many times that I’m fairly certain you can see the residue of my slowly-dying Converse imprinted on the pavement if you look closely enough. 

In contrast, Fennesz’s hour-long sound library is wholly unfamiliar and unpredictable. It’s nigh-on impossible to guess what might come next. His sounds veer from angular noise, to amp static, to quiet not-quite-nothingness, to fierce distortion, to dub rhythms and 90s R&B beats, to preset patterns, to found sounds, to post-rock guitar passages, to plaintive piano, to snatches of overheard conversation, to outlines of melodies, to drones, to squealing electronic tones to… well, you get the gist.

There is no pattern here, yet it is not wholly random. The sounds are united by a sense of purpose – the planned use in compositions or live performance – and they’re not just sounds accumulated with a covetous desire to store and retain, yet hearing them back-to-back without context gives the collection a certain playfulness. You find yourself on the edge of your proverbial seat wondering what joys your ears might be subjected to next. In the wrong frame of mind, perhaps this would irritate; in the right frame of mind, it has a strangely soothing effect akin to equanimity – you can’t anticipate where he might go next, so why even try? 

Szampler was originally released as a limited edition (and much sought-after) cassette by The Tapeworm in 2010. The reissue as a digital file forms part of an initiative called The Digital Archive Of Tapeworm (or DAT), which label co-founder Philip Marshall hinted at when Further. interviewed him in 2019. Fennesz’s release joins a growing number of archive gems from The Pathfinders, Daniel Menche, Philip Jeck, Oren Ambarchi and others, operating in parallel to the label’s ongoing pursuit of cassette nirvana. 

Szampler by Fennesz was reissued by The Tapeworm / DAT on April 9 2021. 

Words: Mat Smith. 

(c) 2021 Further.