Electronics, strings, glitches, noises, pop songwriting and abstract sound-art... all of that.
Aphir - Your Heroine [Provenance/Aphir Bandcamp]
Melbourne’s Becki Whitton, now actively involved with co-running and promoting the Provenance label setup by FBi alumnus Stu Buchanan, likes to slip out EPs and singles of her off-beat electronic pop as Aphir – hence her latest 2-tracker, out next week just before the end-of-the-year shutdown. On the face of it, “Your Heroine” is one of her more pop-oriented tracks, with an emotional vocal about unrequited love – at least until the distorted beats come in halfway through. The song has an unusual history too, having originally been handed to her friend Tim Pearce, who recorded a garage rock-style version (under the title “Katie”) with his band The Wrst.
Aasthma - Army of Love (feat. Penelope Trappes) [Aasthma]Pär Grindvik and Peder Mannerfelt have been intrinsic members of the Swedish electronic music scene for the last decade or more – Grindvik runs the Stockholm LTD label, the latter his eponymous Peder Mannerfelt Produktion, as well as being part of the experimental duo Roll The Dice and a frequent collaborator with Fever Ray (Karin Dreijer Andersson of The Knife). This year they have released three 12”s under the name Aasthma, delving into club genres of various types and also ambient club-adjacent sounds. Earlier this year the duo also remixed London-resident Aussie Penelope Trappes for her remix album on Houndstooth, and she now returns the favour with some subtle vocals on the breaky, ravey A side of their new 12”.
Sig Nu Gris - Butter Soft [Spirit Level/Bandcamp]
After her October EP of “Fixations”, Melbourne producer Sig Nu Gris aka Erin Hyde returns with a two-track single of dense electronic productions. The sounds here are warped & mangled beyond recognition, with nice choppy drums and plenty of bottom end action. Oh, and Becki Whitton did the final mixes. Looking forward to more from her next year!
the little hand of the faithful - All the combs are standing on their teeth [Mound of Sound]the little hand of the faithful - And then [Mound of Sound]
Moving now from Melbourne to the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, where we join Mitch Jones, a stalwart of Sydney’s experimental music scene since the 1980s, when he was a central member of post-punk/proto-industrial band Scattered Order. It’s wrong to talk of them in the past – in fact, the aforementioned Provenance are releasing a new Scattered Order album next year! Meanwhile this is the second album (third if you count a split cassette release with his excellent partner Drusilla Jones) of his solo act the little hand of the faithful, named after his very faithful stuffed bear, who for this album Bears Gifts. The music, as ever, is built from manipulated samples, synths and deftly programmed beats. His musical history is evident, but this music – with frequent film samples and a hypnagogic quality – fits neatly into the post-vaporwave present.
Alva Noto & Anne-James Chaton - A-BU -> BUG -> BU-CR [Noton]Alva Noto & Anne-James Chaton - QU-SO [Noton]
Two minimalists come together for the first time as a duo. The surreal, disciplined poet Anne-James Chaton has worked closely with experimental guitarist Andy Moor for many years, releasing bizarre minimalist wonders of wordplay, cut-ups and rhythmic underpinnings. More recently, the duo also worked with Thurston Moore on a conceptual album about Heretics. Meanwhile, Chaton has also appeared on a number of releases from Carsten Nicolai aka Alva Noto, head honcho of the “Noton” half of Raster-Noton, these last few years split back into two labels – and Nicolai was involved in at least one of Chaton's solo albums. So here we have Chaton’s vision of words split from their meanings, lyrics reduced to 0s and 1s or numbers & letters, shorn of referents. Alva Noto’s pure electronic beats, bass and floating pads provide the perfect foundation for these dangling signifiers.
Croatian Amor & Varg2TM - Body of Carbon [Posh Isolation/Bandcamp]
Loke Rahbek aka Croatian Amor is a longtime part of the noise scene and also deeply involved in supporting the Danish experimental music scene through his Posh Isolation label. Even his more recent productions shy away from explicit beats & club references, but here with his second collaboration with Jonas Rönnberg aka Varg2TM (previously Varg until the metal band told him to stop) we have a selection of real club bangers – only now and then leaning on the “deconstructed” side even. It’s intense and really great rave material.
Roman Jungblut - Detox - Retox [Roman Jungblut Bandcamp]
We hear enormous amounts of music from Berlin these days – admittedly a lot of it not from German artists – but Cologne has for decades been a hotspot for techno & other adventurous music. Roman Jungblut has a history in bands and sound design for film, games and installations, so Back to where it never started is a sardonic name for his solo debut. It’s surprisingly varied, but the synth melody that grows out of the sparse bass thumps in this track creates a beautiful & eerie opening for this excellent work.
Oto Hiax - Overcurve [Editions Mego/Bandcamp]Oto Hiax - Plates [Editions Mego/Bandcamp]
The second release from Seefeel’s Mark Clifford and Loops Haunt’s Scott Gordon suits their home of Editions Mego – it’s got an alien nature which blends acoustic sounds with spectral synthesis, with an icy splendour when you open yourself to it.
Anne Müller - being anne [Erased Tapes/Bandcamp]Anne Müller - drifting circles [Erased Tapes/Bandcamp]
I first encountered Berlin cellist Anne Müller on her 2010 collaboration with Nils Frahm – one of his most electronic releases, combined with Müller’s gorgeous string arrangements. She has appeared on a number of his albums, and has contributed solo tracks to a few collaborative projects & compilations, but Heliopause is her first solo album proper, and it shows that her abilities as composer & producer are top notch too. Making use of the cello’s percussive qualities, and its lowest & highest tones, Müller creates a music which draws on classical heritage but also references contemporary electronica and composition.
Annelyse Gelman & Jason Grier - Maxes [Fonograf Editions]Annelyse Gelman & Jason Grier - Rain [Fonograf Editions]
The opening track of Annelyse Gelman & Jason Grier’s debut About Repulsion (a two-track 7” with 6 digital tracks) segues nicely from Anne Müller courtesy of the guest cello from Clare Monfredo – a creative arrangement with harmonics, a plucked ostinato and bowed countermelodies. Eventually Gelman’s vocals & the cello are subsumed & caught up in Grier’s electronic manipulations before breaking free. Gelman, a poet herself, has assembled samples from various contemporary poets on the record as well – Max Ritvo features on the “Maxes”. On “Rain”, multiple versions of Gelman’s singing competes with more & less recognizable field recordings. For all the alienating techniques, it’s incredibly emotive music.
Kirk Barley - Trickle [33-33/Bandcamp]Kirk Barley - Cradle [33-33/Bandcamp]
Yorkshire musician Kirk Barley has previously released music as Bambooman and Grouphums. This first release under his own name, Landscapes finds him released on Thirty Three Thirty Three for the first time, layering processed guitars, synths and sounds of nature, and joined by Matt Davies’ drums on a few tracks. It’s evocative and peaceful music for turbulent times.
This is an Australian track.
This is a local artist.