Private Energy is the fifth album from Roberto Carlos Lange a.k.a. Helado Negro. Written and produced by Lange, Private Energy is an interpersonal communication of sounds about his surroundings past, present, and future. In fourteen tracks, Private Energy coalesces into a truly established musical voice.
For the past thirteen years, Lange has created music under a variety of monikers that have allowed him to express and explore experimentation in sound, performance, and music. When he moved to New York City in the mid-2000s, Lange became Helado Negro. It was here where Lange began to sing for the first time — at age 28. The development of his voice is chronicled through each Helado Negro release, an evolving collection of delicate pop songs punctuated by his singular style of singing in both English and Spanish.
Private Energy, which follows 2013’s Invisible Life and 2014’s tour de force Double Youth, continues the work Lange has done as an artist, culminating in the most captivating artistic statement of his career. The music draws from his expansive knowledge of sampling, sound synthesis, recording and history of references, and the album was created as a performance piece in tandem with his Tinsel Mammal dancers. Present at each Helado Negro show, the Tinsel Mammal dancers, costumed head-to-toe in silver strands, are a visual representation of sound and a sensual gateway to profoundly personal lyrics. The Tinsel Mammals are not representative of any human form. They work as a shimmering objects that represent the ideas of genderless and raceless beings and Private Energy’s themes of self-love, pride, and the embrace of constant change.
Synthesist is the debut album by Harald Grosskopf, the enigmatic percussionist behind Ash Ra Tempel, Klaus Schulze, and Cosmic Jokers. Originally released by Sky Records in 1980, RVNG Intl. celebrates the 30th year anniversary with this newly mastered and packaged reissue.
Berlin, Germany, summer of 1979, Harald Grosskopf, then 30 years old, was at a personal and creative crossroads. His girlfriend just left him, and Ashra (Manuel Göttsching’s “solo” project) was on temporary hiatus. Harald always considered himself a rhythmic accomplice to his numerous collaborators’ lead, until prompted by some fellow musician friends to pursue a singular creative vision.
Armed with a MiniMoog and Revox reel-to-reel, Grosskopf set off for the West German countryside that fall and isolated himself in a home studio for almost two months to record Synthesist. The temperamental analog synthesizer and sequencing technology created a long learning curve eventually resulting in a harmonious union of man and machine.
The human response undeniably colors the eight songs of Synthesist and aligns the album with some of the more melodic output of the Berlin School of Electronic Music. The title track and “Transcendental Overdrive” almost take on pop qualities. Harald’s live percussion opens up tracks like “So Weit, So Gut” and “Emphasis” for jammed out exploration. Where the album veers into the ambient space clusters of “B. Aldrian” or “Trauma”, it’s hard not to consider Synthesist the nexus of Krautrock, Kosmische, and New Age.
Re-Synthesist, the companion compilation to Synthesist, is an assemblage of reinterpretations of Grosskopf’s work by a new vanguard of electronic and experimental artists including Oneohtrix Point Never, Blondes, Arp, Stellar Om Source, CFCF, James Ferraro, and many others.
Although Synthesist has been unavailable on vinyl for almost three decades, it doesn’t fetch unfathomable collector fees. Selecting Synthesist as our first reissue is more about the connectivity to a new audience than the scarcity fetish for a select few. It’s about sharing Harald’s story and celebrating an album musically accomplished and compelling from start to end.
Created on a laptop computer using Ableton Live software to control and mix VST plugins as well as manipulations of audio recordings. Plugins used for sound generation include Omnisphere, Kontakt, Dexed and Arturia V Collection.
The remains of the vessel weren’t removed for several days. I walked down with my father to peer inside the boat cabin. Maps, coffee cups and clothing were strewn around inside. “I remember looking only briefly, wilted by the feeling that I was violating some remnant of this man’s presence by witnessing the evidence of its failure. Later I read a story about him in the paper. It was impossible to know what had happened. The boat had never crashed or capsized. He had simply slipped off somehow, and the boat, like a riderless horse, eventually came back home.” The narrative somehow enhances the songs – an achingly beautiful combination of forlorn, reverb-drenched lullabies draped in a veil of isolation reminding us of a more damaged Mark Kozelek, and indeed the classic 4AD sound with which Grouper has been compared so many times in the past.
By the time you reach the closing track ‘Living Room’, however, you come to the realisation that despite her best efforts to obscure her songs, Harris might just be one of the most gifted songwriters of her generation. An incredible album – possibly her finest yet.
Opening track ‘Disengaged’ offers a segue from the cloudy, amorphous Grouper output of old and this current strain of more easily deciphered writing: it’s a mass of mesmerising magnetic hiss and soft noise, with a voice cloaked in lo-fi haze somewhere at the back. Soon after, Harris’ guitar and voice emerge, reverberant and phantom-like, and yet comprehensible.
If previously you’ve struggled to make out Grouper lyrics, and wondered what’s going on beneath that veneer of musty, degraded audio, ‘Heavy Water/I’d Rather Be Sleeping’ offers you a way in. Those dense recording techniques have become a unique production signature and it’s virtually impossible to separate Liz Harris’ creative identity from that uniquely ghostly sound of hers, but now it feels like a conduit to her songs rather than a barrier. There are echoes of her earliest work on the album too, as on the wordless, partially acappella atmospherics of ‘Wind & Snow’, but the overall impression left by this album is one of inspired creative renewal, and the unveiling of a songwriting talent that’s previously been content to dwell in shadows and deflect attention with smoke and mirrors.
A real milestone release for Harris, and a definite high point for the rejuvenated Type label, we’ve been unable to stop listening to this incredible album for weeks – it’s an absolute must.
A2 Dot In The Sky
A3 39 By Design
A4 Not Just A Name
A5 Hath No Form
B1 Too Soon To Tell
B2 Cold Souls
B3 Kissing The Ground
B4 Behind The Wall
Northern California electronic producer Fred Welton Warmsley III’s solo work as Dedekind Cut (pronounced “dead-da-ken cut”) has evolved from fractured industrial design into increasingly subdued and sublime ambient meditations across two years of dedicated activity. His second full-length collection, Tahoe—so named after the mountain lake town he now calls home—swells with widescreen grandeur, evoking vistas both inner and outer. There are echoes of his earlier, more tempestuous mode in tracks like “MMXIX” and “Spiral” but overall the album skews panoramic and pensive, muted synthetic mists contoured with choral melody, field recordings, and radiant drone. His compositional instincts feel alternately classical, contemporary, and conflicted, befitting an artist whose discography spans labels as divergent as Hospital Productions, Ninja Tune, and NON.
Warmsley characterizes Tahoe as a “time peace,” sifting through “the past, the present, future, and fantasy.” Recorded primarily in New York, with additional sessions sourced from Berlin, Cambridge, and Placer County, California.
Started in 2014 as a collaboration between visual artist HEATHER GABEL and percussionist SETH SHER, the Chicago based industrial duo known simply as HIDE was formed. The following three years have seen HIDE crash through with a number of aggressively rendered singles and EP’s while quietly collecting the shattered pieces that would form their debut full length album on Dais, Castration Anxiety. Those familiar with HIDE’s provocative live performances will already be accustomed to the hypnotic low-end and sinister vocal delivery that has become the band’s signature. The opening track, “Fall Down,” sets an eerie tone that permeates Castration Anxiety until the end. Throbbing pulses swirling around Gabel’s death laden mantras succumb to themes harvesting power from desperation and hopelessness. Castration Anxiety was recorded by engineer JOE CARDAMONE at Valley Recording Co, who contributed additional instrumentation and arrangements, with additional recording and mixing by ADAM STILSON at Decade Music Studios. Edition of 400 copies on black vinyl.
Received an 8.2 Best New Music rating from Pitchfork. ARIEL PINK’s new album, Dedicated to Bobby Jameson is his first solo album since his highly acclaimed 2014 prog-pop opus pom pom, and first full-length release on Mexican Summer. The new release’s title makes a direct and heartfelt reference to a real-life Los Angeles musician, long presumed dead, who resurfaced online in 2007 after 35 reclusive years to pen his autobiography and tragic life story.
October Language is the debut album by New Orleans based duo Belong, comprised of Turk Dietrich and Mike Jones. Since its release in early 2006, Belongs debut masterpiece has accumulated a dedicated cult following, with comparisons to the work of Christian Fennesz and Gas, with some claims that it plays like My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless (1991) sans the songs. While these comparisons are useful for filing this album into a particular bin in the record shop, time has proven that October Language is a unique album which remains unmatched by its contemporaries. Despite the warm and welcome accolades of the albums arrival, there was no vinyl pressing until 2009, of which a limited one-time pressing vanished immediately. Spectrum Spools present a pristine vinyl cut to go with reimagined album art for the definitive edition of this legendary classic. Includes download card with three extra tracks from the impossibly rare Tour EP from the same era (2006). These tracks are exclusive to the vinyl purchase and are not available through digital outlets.
Martin Jenkins, aka “the artist’s artist”, explores emotive techno in “Resist” and “Northern Safety Route”, two tracks that coast through progressive arpeggios, slow pulsating beats, and soaring pads. Meanwhile, “Mainframe” and “Continental Drift” move through more ambient and melancholic terrains, two cinematic songs perhaps reminiscent of works by John Carpenter or Delia Derbyshire. This special release will also feature the collaboration of two of Spain’s most prestigious independent graphic artists, Alex Trochut and Basora, whose artwork for Where Things Are Hollow is sure to become a collector’s piece.
Lucy Railton is a prolific performer who has appeared on countless recordings and collaborations with many important figures in contemporary music over the last few years. Paradise 94 is, remarkably, her solo debut — featuring archival, location, and studio recordings which serve as a time capsule of all the myriad disciplines and influences that have brought her to this point in time. It both plays up to and shatters expectations of her music, which harnesses a duality of energies — acoustic/electronic, real/imagined, iconic/iconoclastic, pissed-off/romantic; out of place and androgynous — resulting in a visceral emotional insight and rare narrative grasp. Variegated, asymmetric, and located somewhere between her usual fields of exploration, Paradise 94 gives free reign to aspects of her creativity that have previously been subsumed into collaborative processes and interpretations of other composers’ work. Here, she’s free to probe, sculpt, and layer her sounds through a much broader range of techniques and strategies, placing particular focus on non-linear structural arrangements and exploring the way her cello becomes perceptibly synthetic through collaging, rather than FX. At every turn Paradise 94 is bewilderingly unique. The A-side unfolds an oneiric, inception-like sequence traversing temporalities, timbres, and tones from what sounds like a spectral ensemble playing on a traffic island in “Pinnevik”, to bursts of rabbit-in-headlights trance arps emerging from meticulously dissected musique concrète in “The Critical Rush”, and a collision of masked vocals, string eruptions, and a deeply moving, light-headed Bach rendition in “For J.R.” On the other hand, “Fortified Up” on side B tests out a far rawer approach, sampling herself playing the same glissandi over and again, which she layers into a sort of perpetual, sickly motion, the Shepard tone riffing on the listener’s psychoacoustic perceptions before calving off into a cathartic dissonant folk coda in its final throes. In the most classic sense, you can only properly begin to fuck with something from the inside once you truly know it. Railton’s dedicated years of service have more than equipped her with the nous and skill to do just that, gifting us with what will no doubt be looked back on as a raw, exposed and important solo debut in years to come. RIYL: Mark Leckey, Alvin Lucier, Beatrice Dillon, Nate Young, Valerio Tricoli, Popol Vuh.
Aimed as a snark at the middle class art gaze as much as a slippery engine for the ‘floor, Another Exhibition at the Modern Institute reels six mercurial fusions of scudding, techy rhythms and sheer electronic contours strewn with drily observant vocals describing hypersensual scenarios. It’s a sound perhaps purposefully located lightyears away from Golden Teacher’s charming retro-vintage styles, and effectively gives that group’s rhythmic engine of McMaster and Pitt a space to express their more contemporary concerns.
Forming the 2nd blow of a Glasgow-centred 1-2 after Russell Haswell and Sue Tompkins’ Respondent EP, The Modern Institute swarm in formation from a white-hot electro-stepper IV Cheeks to somewhere darker, almost paranoid by the close of Dozen Cocktails, taking in a sound like Errorsmith producing for MES in Limitless Light, or Hecker doing footwork on the new beta anthem Quicksilver Lips, whilst Unbreakable Pulse and the pinging ballistics of Molton Gold short circuit the deep rooted transatlantic connection between Glasgow art punks’ afterparties and Detroit ghetto styles with a deadly swagger.
It’s a must-have for fans of Chris Carter, DJ Stingray, Toresch, Dale Cornish, Cabaret Voltaire and, of course, Golden Teacher.
First making waves with the almost cult level ‘Hype Williams’ project, and then more recently solo and as part of the group Babyfather, the new 8 track LP sees Dean Blunt step back into the shadowy role of producer for a new band called Blue Iverson.
It’s a vibesey one, this; digging a vein of smoke-hazed living/bedroom feels in eight parts that could almost be passed off as a Dam-Funk jam. Well, almost, but there’s still something off kilter and economical about the fidelity and mixing of the recording that hints it’s from the UK, or is even made to sound like the private pressed soul obscurities picked out by PPU.
Hotep strongly reminds of those lush soul bits from Yves Tumor’s Serpent Music or even selected Letherette cuts released on Alex Nut’s namesake label. The image of Lauryn Hill on the sleeve is a cherry on the cake.