Funky Alternatives / April 2020 

There a few things here that I’m into, that don’t necessarily go with a cocktail – unless it`s a Molotov – and might not grace a Mediterranean dance floor. Some of it rhythmic. Most of it electronic. None of it “straight forward”, and nearly all of it – due to the pandemic – ready but not yet released. 

Adam Oko Art

One thing that is in the shops is my old mate Adam Oko`s E.P. on Music From Memory – a vinyl pressing of 4 tracks picked from Adam`s 2015 cassette, Diet Of Germs. A fourth world created in his Stoke Newington bedroom. A silicon-chipped jungle of ambient techno tropes, psychedelic, stuttered vocals, and percussion being punished somewhere off in the distance. Human harmonies exploding above bell-like chimes –  reflecting, refracting one another in a dance of busy bumping molecules. B-lines bang around like a hobbled upright, and the title track is a jazz of syncopated loops and fuzzed-out lead – distorted to the point where I can’t tell if its strings or keys. 

 

dub mentor hysteria art

Also available now, but only digitally is Dub Mentor`s topical cover of Mark Stewart’s Hysteria, on EnT-T. 

Dub Mentor AKA Lior Suliman started the label in 2007, and if you’re not familiar with it, the whole catalogue is worth a scan – especially if you’re a fan of the classic Euro art pop of Les Disques Du Crepscule, or Japan’s stylish Dip In The Pool. Like a modern-day 4AD / This Mortal Coil, Suliman and his global roster of collaborators – which includes Anna Domino and Cabaret Voltaire’s Stephen Mallinder – perform haunting, pared-back electro-acoustic originals and re-imaginings of astutely selected covers. Classical / ambient works by Gavin Bryars, Harold Budd, John Cage, Philip Glass, Arvo Part, Steve Reich, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Eno. Pop by Findlay Brown, The Clash, The Human League, Robert Palmer, Miranda Sex Garden, Tanita Tikaram and Suzanne Vega. Chamber orchestra arrangements of drones, echo, poetry and ritual percussion. Zen finger cymbals and a bit of `50s rock n roll swagger. A standout for me is the Tal Weiss-voiced, hypnotic horns and vibes version of Chris & Cosey`s Synaesthesia. 

Due mid-May is Gordon Pohl`s V2A project on Laurent Richard`s Idle Press. Pohl being one of the people behind Musiccargo – who in my opinion produced a classic of modern kosmische in the form of Harmonie, back in 2013. An unsung musical hero who does the mastering for the likes of Black Merlin, Toulouse Low Trax, and Music From Memory’s Second Circle imprint, here – on his Rodarte E.P. –  he delivers 4 minimal missives of drone and static driven by sighs, clicks and big beats. Eins is full of subliminal sonics, twisted twitches. Electric sparks flying to a subterranean shuffle. Are we still allowed to say “Illbient”? Think Kid Koala on special K. The Invisibl Skratch Picklz, pickled. Anyone remember DJ Quest and Live Human? Drei is a dark dance of rubbery pulses, stepping in time to a measured metronome march. On Zwei singing sine waves sail above the high-hat tap, tap, tap of a broken Rhythm Devil. Like Neu!`s Hallogallo without Klaus Dinger`s double drum attack. Vier is a slow, viscous, gurgling, stream of metallic tongues tutting. 

V2A Idle Press Art

HPE Biologic Music Art

Coming about a week later is Hot Mule`s reissue of Heerlens Percussie Ensemble`s Biologic Music. Dan Snaith AKA Caribou discovered a copy in a 5 Euro-bin at the Utrecht Record Fair, and in 2011 released a slightly pitched-up edit of one of the tracks on his Resista imprint – which is how the rest of the world got to learn of HPE. Originally recorded in `85, pressed in a quantity of 500, and sold at concerts the following year, the album is the work of 6 Dutch drummers and percussionists – who`d been playing, performing, and studying together for nearly a decade. Improvisations for vibraphone, Tibetan prayer wheel, tumba, tom tom, snare, shekere, shaker, multiple marimbas (should that be marimbi?), conga, bells, balafon, and big bass drum. Stomping, stamping mid-tempo tribal grooves that pull on pentatonics, prog, fusion, and Ghanian tradition. Diskant-Like overdriven scream contests that also recall the music found on Ramuntcho Matta`s Écoute… It`s the big bass drum – keeping time – that kinda defines their sound. In places its boom`s a ringer for an 808. Back To Factory in particular could be an outtake from Bill Laswell`s mid-80s New Africa sessions. Celluloid-esque electro-voodoo. 

At the end of May you’ll be able to purchase Kohib`s In Mountains from Norwegian imprint, Beatservice. The label, located in the country’s north, is the sometimes home of Kåre Frisvold, Rune Lindbæk, and Geir Jenssen`s ambient alias, Biosphere. The town of Tromsø itself was the birth place of Röyksopp. This is another album defined by its bass – in this case deep, resonating, clipped synthetic tones. The 9 songs and atmospheres representing an exercise in economy – constructed from a minimal array of analogue instrumentation and field recordings that capture the Tromsø coast and Lyngen Alps. In the main they are sad songs of winter – and aptly for these times, isolation. Angelic sighs and harmonies, that made me think of James Blake, Panda Bear and Kelly Lee Owens. A kind of R&B – with the blues to the fore, and the rhythm reduced, subtracted – more suggested by the space left behind. Hand drums are hushed. Whispers that are spun backwards. A broken house beat is built from the creak of feet dancing on old floorboards. Organ, sax tremolo twang – muted horns and sirens – act like sonic searchlights illuminating the season-long dark. On the closing Spaces a delicate melody plays, slightly wonky. Like an overwound musicbox, spring stretched, ballerina spinning a little off-centre. Imagine if Shine Like Stars were sung by London Grammar. 

kohib in mountains art

jura soundsystem with you art

All the way off to the start of June and there`s Jura Soundsystem`s With You, on Isle Of Jura. A 6-track mini-LP created with vintage Roland synths. Employing polyphonic, and monophonic voices, TR-generated rhythms – applying linear arithmetic synthesis. Coming up with a sort of slo-mo house, chopped and screwed through the filter of afro / cosmic. Dubby, downtempo electronics that update the aesthetic of Ingleton Falls` Champagne In Mozambique – the post-industrial rarity reissued by the label back in 2018. Chugging but chilled, like Mtume, or Wally Badarou`s electro-tropical, with digidub horns, Larry Heard b-lines, and Ben Liebrand`s timbales. The spectre of Soul II Soul`s strings. Blue Blue is a percolating counterpoint concoction of contrasting chimes. Tones that carry both the bottom-end and the hook. Wonder Drops sighs, all ethereal, holistic and healing. Karahi King features new wave guitars that wouldn’t be out of place on a Simple Minds record.

Another reissue, and another release not due now until June, is February Montaine`s Mount Nod, on Be With Records` off-shoot, Be Pop. Initially part of the digital album, As Late As The Light That Hides It, released in 2017, and subsequently put out as a cassette by Fantasy Fiction in 2019, Be Pop will now press the song onto 12” white vinyl, and flip the OG with an extended dub from Peaking Lights. Setting the “new age Peter Ivers meets Damon Albarn” of the original – melodica moments and all – prancing – slowly – to a serenely stoned, bass-heavy beat. Pitch-perfectly upping the Pablo on a Seahawks-esque sunset tune. 

Track-list

Kohib – Before Light – Beatservice

Adam Oko – The Burrow – Music From Memory

V2A – Zwei – Idle Press

Dub Mentor – Synaesthesia – EnTT

Heerlens Percussie Ensemble – Biologic Music – Hot Mule

Rheinzand – Porque – Music For Dreams

Adam Oko – Diet Of Germs – Music From Memory

Jura Soundsystem – Wonder Drops – Isle Of Jura

February Montaine – Mount Nod – Be Pop

Lilipulu – B1 – Growing Bin

Andrew Weatherall – Slap And Slide – Pamela

Number – Red Flag – Sunday Best

Reference Links

Musiccargo

Kid Koala

The Invisibl Skratch Picklz

Live Human

Hallogallo

Ramuntcho Matta

New Africa

James Blake

Panda Bear

Kelly Lee Owens

Shine Like Stars

London Grammar

Mtume

Wally Badarou

Larry Heard

Ben Liebrand

Soul II Soul

Simple Minds

Peter Ivers

Damon Albarn

Seahawks

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