Staff Picks - February

Staff Picks - February

February 28, 2018

Written by:

Dragoș Rusu

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February is done. In order to keep up with what's new, what's good, what's hot or not, what's obscure or under the radar, in terms of music, here's what drew our attention during the month of February 2018. If you think that we've missed something or you wish to send us a tip, please let us know.

From Basa Basa to Dabrye

CLNK – Thrak (listen2me)
CLNK – Thrak (listen2me)
Arte Moderno - Musica Cabeza (Domestica)
Arte Moderno was a project running in parallel lines to the overriding trends in early 80s Spanish music. Short-lived as it was (active between 1981 and 1982) its musical output has continued to amaze the connoisseur ever since. Their only release was a 7” single called Ninette en New York (Ja Ja Records,1982). The band hailed from the Canary Islands in late 1981, being its nucleus Javier Segura, seriously prolific musician active since the 70s, and Juan Belda, who had worked together previously. As Javier Segura himself states in his notes: “The tracks were created with a TR-808, harmonised with textures and guitar screaming, and the rich Belda keyboards plus choruses effects and noises I recorded on a separate tape.” Mandi Capote at drums and Javier Cabrera at bass guitar joined later on. Arte Moderno recorded a grand total of 8 tracks, of which only 2 were released at the time.

Basa Basa ‎- Homowo (High Life Music)
"Here are the twins from Ghana" announced the guards, as they escorted Joe and John Nyaku, the 22-year-old founders of Basa Basa into Fela Kuti's living room. Fela was seated, surrounded by his entourage of female dancers, band members and followers. Upon seeing the brothers, Fela rose to his feet, bowed theatrically and exclaimed, "Dear twins! We are honoured to welcome you."
Having thrilled music aficionados since 2006, Bombay Connection's new born sublabel Vintage Voudou (also a fine store of the same name in Amsterdam), does a perfect job reissuing one of Ghana's holy grail records from the '70s. It was recorded in 1979 under the name of Basabasa Experience - Together We Win on the Nigerian label Take Your Choice Records because back home in Accra, the studio's equipments weren't suitable for the recording sessions. Mysteriously, in 1983 the LP was released in the Netherlands too with this different yellow cover and was renamed Homowo, which is the yearly festival celebrated by the Ga people of Ghana. Recording "Together We Win" took part at the Decca studios in Lagos, a multi-track facility, and Basa Basa laid down the backing tracks over two days, playing the songs live. In the evenings they would eventually return to the studio to record overdubs of vocals, flute, percussion, the Mini Korg synthesizer with its distinct sound and other keyboards, including piano and a string synth along multi-talented instrumentalist Themba "T-fire" Matebese. "African soul power, disco music / African soul power, has the feeling" are the main lyrics on the top track of this album and they're pretty much overwhelming as the twins simply say after, "Making music music for the people" - all these backed by a monster soul / afro-rock instrumental. In fact the whole album is amazing, inspired by Ghanaian traditional music, making it their most innovative work to date. The music was carefully remastered, extensive liner notes are found inside, as well as a 60 x 60 fold-out poster of the front cover, so a very welcoming release for the year 2018. Hoping for many more to come! Picked by Alexandru Drăgănescu / JB

CLNK – Thrak (listen2me)
listen2me is a fresh collective of Romanian artists and electronic music producers, operating under a Bucharest based record label and a series of club nights. Thrak is CLNK’s second album to date, an intriguing journey through dark evocative soundscapes. Call it techno, house or whatsoever, but if you’re digging for rough electronics to melt your brains and dry your muscles, you’ve come to the right place.

Dabrye – Three/Three (Ghostly International)
When Ann Arbor's Tadd Mullinix began exploring hip-hop under the name Dabrye 20 years ago, he soon honed in on a startling vision of what the genre could be: ingenious, refined, daring. The blend of American and British dance music, hip-hop sampling, and Jamaican sound clash energy that underpinned Two/Three remains a quiet, guiding principle. At the same time Mullinix rejoices in a refreshed perspective, having had time to incubate ideas and find clarity in the distance between albums and the evolution of scenes.

VA - Dub Affairs Vol.III (rohs! Records)
The third installment of Dub Affairs released by the Independent Berlin based record label rohs! Records, offers a nice insight into the more electronic corner of Dub music and for me even the strongest part of the series.

Egyptology - Sur Les Autres Mondes (Hands In The Dark)
The Parisian duo of Egyptology is made up of Stéphane Laporte (Domotic) and Olivier Lamm, two musicians who have been active since the late 90’s in the French post-electronica/avant-pop scene. Sur Les Autres Mondes finds its title and a fitting visual inspiration in a publication by French astronomer Lucien Rudaux (1937, Larousse) in which he imagined the landscapes of other planets in our solar system through scientific descriptions. Partly composed for a performance at the prestigious Louvre museum in Paris, the album is the band’s first full length output since 2012. The duo is bringing the 70’s kosmiche genre back to life in a very fresh, bold way, offering a strong shot of pure analogue sound and a fantastic, melodic approach to synth-based ambient music.
Jonny Nash & Lindsay Todd - Fauna Mapping (Island of the Gods)
Jonny Nash & Lindsay Todd - Fauna Mapping (Island of the Gods)

From Sahel to Iannis Xenakis

Field Recordings from the Sahel (Sahel Sounds)
Ambient field recordings collected across the Western Sahel. Sounds of desert oases, late night radio broadcasts, village calls to prayer, and riverboats drifting down the Niger river. A nice companion piece to the musical work from the blog, this an hommage to the sounds that don't always find their way onto records.

HAU - Brilliant Gospel Alibi (DVNTT)
Tribal/Experimental duo HAU has released their brand new album "Brillian Gospel Alibi" via Bulgarian record label DVNTT. Created in 2012 the project has been incorporating industrial, techno, analog sound, and noise improvisation since they began.

Iannis Xenakis - Persepolis (Karl Records)
Persepolis is the longest electroacoustic composition by Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001) who ranks among the most influential 20th century avantgarde composers. Commissioned by the Persian Shah, the piece was part of a multimedia performance – XENAKIS’ so-called “polytopes” – which premiered in 1971 in Shiraz-Persepolis (Iran) as a performance including light-tracks, laser beams, groups of children walking around with torches and 59 loudspeakers to project the music in an open-air situation. Out of print for decades now, the LP became – especially the Japanese edition from 1974 – one of the most expensive collector’s item of electroacoustic music.

Jonny Nash & Lindsay Todd - Fauna Mapping (Island of the Gods)
Jonny Nash (Melody is Truth) and Firecracker's Lindsay Todd are in charge of the second addition of Island Of The Gods 'Island Explorer Series'. Over the course of twelve compositions we find the pair utilising their recordings in a whole host of ways, avoiding the well-trodden cliches of the “exotic” and instead attempting to achieve a personal interpretation of the flora, fauna and climate of the island. Spending time amidst the insects, rice fields and scorching sun, the pair gathered a library of found sounds which were then taken back to a studio space to be stretched, mangled and manipulated alongside a variety of electronic and acoustic instruments. The outdoor studio itself became a living instrument, with the duo setting up multiple microphones for durations of up to 12 hours around the space, layering and processing the results in tracks such as “Fauna Mapping” and “A Series Of Small Frogs”.
L'Ocelle Mare - Temps En Terre (Kythibong)
L'Ocelle Mare - Temps En Terre (Kythibong)

From Palmbomen II to Rodrigo Tavares

L'Ocelle Mare - Temps En Terre (Kythibong)
Thomas Bonvalet has evolved his solitary project since 2005, searching relentlessly through sound, in between great constraints and beautiful escapes. Guitarist in the duo Cheval de Frise until 2004, he began his solo project by dissecting this instrument, then moved away from it, widening his horizons, gradually developing an instrumentarium meeting the demanding requirements of his sound research. His brand new album, Temps En Terre, is released on vinyl by Kythibong and cd by Murailles Music.

Mårble – Diego (Not Not Fun Records)
Fourth world fusion voyager Anton Glebov’s latest full-length of chimeric environmental music, Diego, emerged from field recordings he conducted on a recent trek through Georgia: gurgling waters of Narzan springs in the Caucasus Mountains, serenading frogs late at night by a lake in Batumi, crickets and cicadas hissing in the fields. Returning home to St. Petersburg he layered them with meditations and melodies using balafon, flute, percussion, saxophone, and synths to create surreal, shape-shifting habitats. Though Mårble began in Siberia the project has always been rootless, a mercurial melting pot of scrambled electronics, tribalist rhythm, prismatic jazz and ethnographic ambience, evoking illusions more than identities.

Palmbomen II - Memories of Cindy (Beats In Space)
Cindy is the eulogized muse behind Palmbomen II’s newest collection of limitless dance music. Appearing anecdotally in a cable access talk show and a four part 12” EP series episodically scored by Palmbomen II’s patent melodic house and remote, otherworldly fidelity, her story takes stage once more in Memories of Cindy. Kai Hugo, the artist behind Palmbomen II (and its sister project, the traditionally “live” band Palmbomen), is an idiosyncratic producer that relies on spontaneity as much as structure. Almost identical to the process that prompted Palmbomen II’s self-titled debut (Beats In Space, 2015), Hugo worked through several iterations of each MOC track in a single day before using a comprehensive end edit to create a piece with an immediate, impossible feel.

Rodrigo Tavares - Congo (Hive Mind Records)
Congo is the debut album from Brazilian guitarist and composer Rodrigo Tavares, released by the London based imprint Hive Mind Records. Maintaining a meditative mood across its nine instrumental pieces, Congo blends composition and improvisation with subtly experimental yet sophisticated arrangements evoking the mood and rhythms of classic Brazilian artists such as João Gilberto, Dorival Caymmi, Tom Jobim, Milton Nascimento and Caetano Veloso.
Senyawa (+ Vincent Moon) - Calling The New Gods (Okraina Records)
Senyawa (+ Vincent Moon) - Calling The New Gods (Okraina Records)

From Senyawa to Thomas Poli

Senyawa (+ Vincent Moon) - Calling The New Gods (Okraina Records)
The film Calling The New Gods, by Vincent Moon, is the document of musicians Rully Shabara & Wukir Suryadi of the group Senyawa playing & being filmed on location, outside, tracing a path from the outskirts of Yogyakarta, Java (on the border of a rice field, on the edge of a garbage dump, etc.) until the center of the city (in the middle of a market, in a fair). In a sort of mandala, of centripetal spiral, during an entire day, from dawn until dusk, the film - with soundscapes shared between the music of Senyawa and field recordings - captures the powerful, unique and fascinating presence of the Indonesian duo in the middle of the physical landscapes and human mosaic that helped create it. Two and a half years after the first contact between our label and the musicians & filmmaker, the time has come to expose the work to a new audience via another inward spiral, that of seven songs from the film's soundtrack on a 10" vinyl, with an added etymological obviousness: that this recording is released on Okraina, which is Russian for the outskirts, the suburbs.

Severed+Said - Incorporeality (Not Not Fun Records)
The latest long-player by John Touchton’s eerie Everglades industrial enterprise Severed+Said is also his loftiest, equal parts synth-wave séance, abduction hallucination, and paranormal noir. In a more equipped North Florida garage studio, the pair routed an array of synthesizers, drum machines, and guitars through speaker cabinets to achieve an impressively tactile, spacious mix. The 13 tracks of Incorporeality alternate between rhythmic, ravaged, and reflective, psychic and sinister, beyond the swamps and behind the eye. Speaking of his process, Touchton touches on the music’s dimensional aura: “Something omnipresent filters through me, into the sound – I feel a somewhat transcendent state.” Incorporeality was tracked in a Jacksonville, FL home studio using carefully miked amplifiers to achieve a uniquely visceral, threatening sound. Synth-wave from midnight swamps.

Thomas POLI - Candor Chasma (Impersonal Freedom)
This is the first solo disc of the musician and producer from Rennais, Thomas Poli. Recognized so far as a luxury partner alongside E.S.B., Dominique A, Montgomery, Laetitia Sheriff, Psykick Lyrikah among others, he reveals on this album his more intimate and solitary side. Candor Chasma is a spatial, ambient and pulsatile piece entirely composed and played on a modular synth (Verbos system) recorded directly on tape without overdubbing.

Swarm Intelligence - Against The Dying Light (Voitax)
In “Against the Dying Light”, Swarm Intelligence embraces and wields fear, all the while breathing life into its rival: hope. To explore these concepts, Swarm Intelligence turned to horror films for inspiration – choosing dissonance and atonality to create sinister and unsettling melodies, as well as Foley techniques to produce disturbing, unnatural sounds. The results are at times vicious and abrasive, at others acquiescent and almost mournful. In addition to the sound aesthetics, Swarm Intelligence also drew inspiration from the narratives of these films – each track plays out as a scene in an overarching storyline.
About the Author

Dragoș Rusu

Co-founder and co-editor in chief of The Attic, sound researcher and allround music adventurer, with a keen interest in the anthropology of sound.

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