November 3, 2014
Liz Harris’ output as Grouper is often cast between states and temporality, with a trove of past recordings unreleased and left to mature before being considered for an album. Emotional spectres and embryonic ideas are given new resonance in her present gaze and Ruins, with recordings from 2004 and 2011- is very much within this mould. Piano oriented with a couple of lengthy excursions, it may seem a different beast to her widely heralded Dragging a Dead Deer Up A Hill but it’s still instilled with the same nuanced and subtle sense of melancholy that Harris conjures regardless of the instrument or song form she’s exploring. As beautiful as anything else from her back-catalogue, and wholly fitting to the current season.
Jaz-Z had one. Metallica, too. This is Dean Blunt’s black album. Spoiler: there’s no Black Metal on it. Blunt’s return to the album lark (after The Redeemer, a year’s best for 2013) sees him finding a home on Rough Trade, and the iconic indie label might seem like a strange choice for the electronic deviant, despite its punk and industrial history. While the once Hype Williams guy is more guitar focussed than ever on his second full-length, he’s still a bit of a seminar-worthy challenge, especially once the indie concessions drop away into tracks like ‘X’ and ‘Mersh’ – lo-fi quasi-dance somewhere on the hardcore continuum, pocked with conceptual dents, propelled by bass and fuzz.
Gregor Curten And Anselm Rogmans
(Wah Wah Records)
Once again, the ever reliable Wah Wah Records do their homework, dig deep and pull out another reissue gem. Here it’s in the shape of Curten and Anselm’s seminal Planes, a long player of just two tracks (one either side) both built with wordless vocals, electronic drones, crackling ambience and a dark menace. Limited to 500 copies only so be quick.
Heliocentrics ft. Melvin Van Peebles
The Last Transmission
(Now Again Records)
The Heliocentrics sure know how to pick their collaborators. Joining Mulatu Astatke, Lloyd Miller and Orlando Julius to work with Malcolm Catto’s London-based outfit in the last few years is the legend of American cinema Melvin Van Peebles. Now in his 80s, the baadassss god father of Blaxploitation has lost none of that electric ability to engage, channeling the spoken word of Gil Scott-Heron and The Last Poets and the inter-planetary mysticism of Sun Ra on a remarkable record that, released earlier this month, hasn’t yet got the shine it deserves. Six years in the making (and nine since he appeared alongside Madlib as the third member of Quasimoto on The Further Adventure of Lord Quas), it hinges on twelve chapters of a Van Peebles poem, weaving in and out of metaphysical themes, avant garde jazz and deep in the pocket psychedelic grooves.
The story goes that Shinichi Atobe’s 2001 release on Chain Reaction was one of the records which brought Sean and Miles together in the nascent days of Demdike Stare. Now, thanks to the resources available to a pair of technoise pioneers at the top of their game, the boys have tracked down their adolescent hero and coaxed out of him this gorgeous collection of archival and contemporary material. The limited eight tracker sees the Japanese producer create a dreamworld of atmospheric techno, melancholic house and hazy drone which drifts out the leftfield to delight and surprise you in equal measure.