The jungle music virus strikes again tonight – after some lovely experimental pop & indie, and other experimental types of electronica.
Lee Ranaldo & Raül Refree - Alice, Etc. [Mute]Richard Youngs & Raül Refree - Nil By Mind [Soft Abuse/Bandcamp]Lee Ranaldo & Raül Refree - Humps (Espriu Mix) [Mute]
Late last year the legendary outer-limits experimental musician and free folk singer Richard Youngs released an extraordinary 4-track album with Barcelona producer & multi-instrumentalist Raül Refree. The wonderful arrangements, featuring piano, guitar, cello and/or double bass and some interesting studio effects, supported Youngs’ freewheeling melodic sensibility at least as well as his solo work or any other combos he’s been involved with over the years, but this was my first introduction to Refree’s work. If I’d been paying more attention to the archipelago of Sonic Youth side projects, I would have known that Refree produced the last solo album from Lee Ranaldo, but at least I noticed their new album Names of North End Women, on which they are given equal billing. Ranaldo’s songwriting is a revelation, and even his singing voice is touching and expressive. The two use the studio and its contents without fear or favour – tuned percussion, piano, acoustic guitar and strings coexist with tape loops, cut-ups, drum machines and digital effects, and songs venture easily between subdued spoken word, indiepunk expressionism and surprisingly catchy melodic pop. A strange & excellent beast.
A Country Practice - The Inundation into Our Room (aheadphonehome remix) [A Country Practice Bandcamp]
Brisbane band A Country Practice have precious few recorded releases as yet, but position themselves as indietronica, basically. Their first single has now been mixed by a couple of Brisbane cross-genre alumni – Andrew Tuttle’s is equally recommended, but tonight we heard the crunchy beats & shoegaze/glitchscape of Phillip Laidlaw’s aheadphonehome, a project which I hope might be resurfacing soon!
Vladislav Delay - Rakkine [Cosmo Rhythmatic/Vladislav Delay Bandcamp]Vladislav Delay - #22 [Ripatti]Vladislav Delay - Rasite [Cosmo Rhythmatic/Vladislav Delay Bandcamp]
Finnish producer Sasu Ripatti is legendary among experimental electronic circles, going back to early days in the late 1990s creating extraordinary minimal techno hybridized with dub in league with the Berlin-based Chain Reaction collective among others. As Vladislav Delay, longform minimal dub releases followed, and then various excursions in glitchy soundscaping and electro-acoustic techniques, while under various other guises such as Luomo, Uusitalo, Sistol and others he explored variants of house, deep house, techno etc. He’s also worked extensively with his partner Antye Greie-Fuchs with AGF/Delay and other projects.
It's been over 5 years since the last Vladislav Delay album, which itself followed a series of amazing 12”s under the Ripatti imprint which took him into glitchy footwork and jungle territory – I played one track tonight as our flashback because the new album heads into industrial, skittery territory, at times echoing grindcore & black metal’s blast beats as much as anything from electronica. It’s perfectly suited to Shapednoise’s Cosmo Rhythmatic label and a welcome return from an inspiring producer.
Aaron Spectre - Inmyeyeees [Jahmoni/Aaron Spectre Bandcamp]Aaron Spectre - Computorr [Jahmoni/Aaron Spectre Bandcamp]
From jungle-adjacent to one of the original & dedicated jungle revivalists, Aaron Spectre, who’s been pumping out ragga jungle tunes since the mid-2000s, and with his drumcorps alias also niftily combined grindcore/speedcore metal with jungle – something which reappears on the first, short, sharp track lifted tonight from his new EP for German label Jahmoni (it's a "remix" of Minor Threat by the way). The insanely accelerated breaks and samples push it into breakcore territory probably, but whatever, it’s suitably fun and as technically impressive as ever.
Babylon Timewarp - Durban Poison [Soul Jazz]Rhythm for Reasons - The Smokers Rhythm [Soul Jazz]
Aaron Spectre’s EP conveniently comes out the same week as Soul Jazz’s latest compilation to explore the origins of jungle – Black Riot: Early Jungle, Rave and Hardcore goes back to at least 1992, with the first track we heard here, Babylon Timewarp’s “Durban Poison”. This would be right where hardcore techno’s speedy beats and sampled breaks got hybridized with dancehall’s syncopations and the nascent jungle genre came into being. It’s still astounding and dizzying stuff (Babylon Timewarp is an alias of drum'n'bass legends Intense). Much of the material on this compilation is incredibly raw, and you can hear them pushing their AKAI samplers to the max. Another legendary tune, “The Smokers Rhythm” from Rhythm for Reasons (probably best known as DJ SS), comes from 1994, when beat juggling was still going strong…
Dom & Roland - Trauma [Renegade Hardware/Dom & Roland Bandcamp]
Strangely enough, here’s another drum’n’bass re-release that came out this week! Dominic Angas (his partner Roland was the S760 sampler) was dropping 12”s in 1994, but really came to the fore a few years later as jungle became drum’n’bass and then the darker, heavier tech step style became the mode. And while a lot of it became oversimplified and too macho, Dom & Roland was always beautifully atmospheric and head-nodding. The Trauma / Transmissions EP came out around the time of his great first album Industry, and I caned those tracks so much that I can still follow along with every change in both tracks. Dom has remastered them for this digital re-release on his Bandcamp, so I hope you find “Trauma” as evocative as I always did.
A2A - Lilac [Local Action]
We're not quite done with the jungle connection yet. A2A is a new collaboration between two contemporary artists who both draw a lot from the UK hardcore continuum. Manchester’s AYA (fka LOFT) makes messed-up club music and loves dropping mangled jungle breaks over her own tracks and others’, while London-based Air Max ’97 makes dancefloor-ready music drawing on idm, grime, techno and rave styles. The third track on their debut EP, released this week by Local Action, is the one for the junglist connections.
.Calum Gunn - Moebu [Central Processing Unit]
Thus far, the solo music of Calum Gunn has tended towards the more abstract end of electronic music. He’s known for live programming and generative music (although as a member of Dananananaykroyd he’s known for indie & punk), but this new EP on Central Processing Unit suits that label to a tee – idm, electro, grime as the main touchpoints. I decided to play this 5/4 piece of loveliness because the track that follows also has a leaning into the melodic end of electronica. For the 'ardkore continuum styles we could instead have heard “Ternenmarz”, which has a kind of grime swagger to it. Recommended EP.
Laurin Huber - Hostage to History [Hallow Ground]
Finishing up with melodic synths juxtaposed with complex rhythms from Swiss underground fixture Laurin Huber, released on Swiss label Hallow Ground, known for experimental electronic and industrial releases. Huber here investigates ways to escape dualistic thinking, and we find various styles and musical approaches juxtaposed. On this long track we have skittering electronic electronic hi-hats in a slow 3/4 over which other rhythms move in 4/4 (perhaps is 12 vs 8), and various melodic elements and chords flit in and out dubwise. It could almost be a strangely alien reference back to the dub techno of Vladislav Delay, although these are not sounds that Delay would ever have produced. The four tracks on this EP dark & light, melodic and mechanical, not really pigeonholeable – just how we like it on Utility Fog.
This is an Australian track.