The end is where we start from. Echoing Elliot’s timely vision is a sound place to begin this next instalment of compositions designed explicitly by Steve Miller aka Afterlife. Four equally seductive numbers quench the thirst for all things musical beginning with the sublime title track: Burning Man. Probing at thoughts of environmentally sustainability, which fit into the jigsaw of chaos engulfing the planet at this very moment, the music offers some form of resolution as blistering chords are shallowed by a chorus of Dub inflections and driving drums. Followed by the enviable low-slung chug of Dub Baby, space is employed allowing for contemplation via a swirl of heart-strings plucked, translating a world of emotions. The beautifully haunting strains of the exquisite Konishi then contrast vibrantly with evocative keys striking at the world on fire. While, Jupiter Rising ends the journey on a high as carefully crafted notes collide over taught beats amid the euphoric warmth of 1980’s keys.
Now appearing digitally after last year’s vinyl release the EP has the added bonus of a rather beautiful Hermanito remix of one of the key tracks: Heart Strings. I used to live at the central Manchester location back in the early to mid-nineties and thoughts of sunshine streaming through the balcony window is a warm reminder of bygone times. This remix touches upon those sentiments as shuffling drum breaks, amid a heady swirl of keys, plus all sorted funkiness in the form of smooth percussion and bass sequence a taste of summer bliss. Feeling more relaxed and spacious than the original let’s hope you can enjoy this outside sooner rather than later…
Release: March 27
Katmandu plays like a positive feast of musical delights. Irresistibly rhythmic, emotive and all the while perfectly pitched music to ignite your mind and soul. Not surprisingly the drums feature centre stage as they groove, offsetting the other percussion with punctuating excellence, while chanting voices and rugged bass dig further. Try the Original version, produced by Daniel Maunick, for this touch of magic from Azymuth’s legendary drummer. Or, any one of the three superlative remixes on offer: Jazzanova, Pablo Valentino, and Eddy Ramich feat. Jan Kinčl & Regis Kattie. Each shines beautifully in their own right accentuating the various aspects that the true nature of drumming, amid soulfully rich music, represents.
Release: March 27
Expect the unexpected. Repopulate Mars weren’t supposed to drop chopped-up, slung low music like this oozing more than vibrant, summertime relief. But then again who cares about rules as addictive melodies such as these drift across guitars which sing and sting, and all the while this downtempo treat fizzes with a gentle excitement that positively ripples. Rawthentic co-owner Nathan Barato then delivers upon the promise with a beefed-up remix lifting up the tempo while injecting a robust energy into its driving grooves, this time shimmering via heady, synthesized motifs.
Release: March 27
It feels increasingly hard to tune in right now. Perhaps that’s why Felony seems fresh in uncertain times. Under usual circumstances this might effortlessly breeze by, referencing the soulfulness of past glories, sounding like a cruise on a hot summer’s day – windows down, roof off. But as good music translates, traversing timelines this combination of Northern reflections alongside shuffling, funky drums plus uplifting horn strikes and piano does it just right. Flipped by the poppier sounds of Rile Em Up (feat. Andy Cooper & Marietta Smith) an albums worth in the shape of Say The Word will also be with you soon.
Release: March 27
Where does John Cage exist? Begin and end? The answer to that question lies somewhere.
“If my work is accepted, I must move on to the point where it is not.”
“Without John Cage, much of what happens in modern music and art would not be possible.” Frank Zappa
When you think about the way a lot of music conforms to strict guidelines, following rules, seeking approval it perhaps says a lot that you have to go backwards to find an artists of John Cage’s stature.
The edges are folded into popular culture, adopted, softened and made more palatable.
Finely tuned disturbance.
This compilation includes the 25-Year Retrospective Concert performed at the New York Town Hall on May 15, 1958 and was recorded live. Indeterminacy: New Aspect of Form in Instrumental and Electronic Music alongside long-time musical collaborator, David Tudor, along with the original tape realisation of the Fontana Mix sound collage, assembled by the composer in Italy. Plus, Double Music which explores the percussive qualities of metal; and Cartridge Music, a manipulation of phonograph cartridges, where, Cage warns, “all sounds, even those ordinarily thought to be undesirable, are accepted.” If that sounds dangerous. It is.
The idea of combining electronics with the human voice is now commonplace but back in the 50’s, and before, it was much more revolutionary, certainly defying convention. The idea of purely electronic waves of unstructured sounds still reverberates across its own unique time and space. Cartridge Music (1960) is a radical, challenging testament to commitment. I suppose you could describe listening to these pieces as an experience. Certainly one you will not forget in a hurry. Lollipops is an important document about the exploration of sound, its innate qualities, the reaction of emotion: ‘the purpose of this purposeless music would be achieved if people learned to listen, that when they listened that they might discover they preferred the sounds of everyday life….’
I don’t really know where to begin. It’s more often than not with a particular sound, or atmosphere, or even melody. But feeling slightly stuck it is perhaps best to let go of convention and soak up the free flow of information. That impending sense of distraction is always present as this collaboration between cellist Sara Oswald, alongside the hot-wired electronic improvisation of Feldermelder, is a necessary reflection of the uncertain times we find ourselves in.
Hidden in Kaoris Castle is their debut album and was commissioned by the Cantonal University Library of Fribourg, recorded live at Belluard Festival in Fribourg, Switzerland. I guess depending on your sense of self you will either find this unnerving or re-assuring, or maybe both at the same time. However, once you dig below the surface qualities reveal themselves, fracturing in ways not obvious at first, and yet subtleties are found. These improvisations crystallise as moments in time, dissipate and then transport you somewhere else. Like ripped pages, beauty escapes from the cracks in-between the grainy resolution, distilling base emotional content.
At certain times the music pulses via an identifiable structure such as the repeating rhythms of Front Door Gator Encounters, while at others that is not necessarily so. Try the low-end theory generated by Folding Deltas and its assortment of crazed ambience cumulating in an unsuspecting sense of blissful relief. Plus the concluding warmth of Red And Yellow Prisms as positive charges are laid bare. Hidden, will always capture and hold your attention.
Release: March 27
Mixing metaphors, like mixing colours, conjures up all sorts of meaning. Roger and Brian Eno’s first album together is another world to lose yourself in. Which given the situation we now find ourselves may sound like a salvation. Blissful tones, resonating with emotional turmoil of both plus/ negative all escape into the ether. And just as you might imagine the experience captures our relationship between sound, the art of transference and its consequent meaning. Touching upon the memory the past is fused with a sense of now and there is a heightened belief in something more expansive then ourselves playing out. There is an orthodoxy on occasion that refreshes a church-like reassurance on Blonde (below) reminding you of the simple, eloquent power of music to transform. The piano playing is often exquisite, highlighting the spectrum, such as on the beautifully poignant Snow.
As the music unfolds your mind wonders, thinking out loud, like you have plugged directly into the livewire of the albums notation. Not so much chancing upon dark corners as there is a celebratory, though sometimes melancholy, longing which the music often reaches for that is resolutely rewarding. Sculpting sound is what these artists are most renowned for. They succeed in abundance. Listen to Celeste below and discover all of this and more as seven of the eighteen tracks have accompanying films. A further, stunning collaboration with musician/software designer Peter Chilvers proving beauty is more than just commodity.
Release: March 20
This next communication from Wonderful Beasts expands the velocity of meaning as their debut album seeks out fresh pasture. Wonderful Beasts are of course the gathered creative thoughts of boycalledcrow and Xqui. They produce music that combines a diverse range of feelings that sometimes escapes into the beyond, while at others aim straight for the heart. Employing words such as ambience is redundant here as the sounds collate in live, organic ways brushing the airwaves with meaningful expression. Unlike many of their contemporaries each of the pieces explores new avenues with notes and atmospheres not relying on easy options. Occasionally using drum beats such as on the pounding She is The melody Man, then grainy industrial landscapes shape Into the Emerald Eye, contrasting ideas defy expectations and that’s what is most intriguing about it all. There is an experimental element very much at play here just as there are moments of contemplative reassurance escaping the boundaries of other forms of electronic music. But enough words for now. Seek this out and experience the art of the possible.
Release: March 20
Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Josh. Let’s start with the launch of your label: Love Child (along with Jacob Husley). How would you describe the process of setting up and then running a record label in 2020? Have the results been what you hoped for?
Setting up Love Child was challenging and still is in some ways. Finding the right space, working with the right security etc. We initially wanted to do a a queer Sunday tea dance but this changed slightly for various reasons. People don’t go out the way they used to in London and also there’s so much more queer parties during the weekend. By the time you get to Sunday you’re probably broke or in recovery mode. We wanted to collaborate with other queer nights as well so this was an organic thing that followed. It’s important that we support each other in the LGBTQ+ community especially in night life as scenes can tend to separate quite easily. Setting up the label was a natural progression for us this year. With Love Child we always want to keep supporting and showcasing all the amazing talent we have. Whether it be musicians, artists whatever through our parties or panel discussions. The feedback and support from press and dj’s has been amazing so far. As soon as we put out our first release, a lot of great demos gravitated towards us and it seemed shocking they hadn’t been signed yet. I’m happy we can give them a home. The label is also about giving back to our community and we donate a percentage of the sales to a different LGBTQ+ charity with each release.
Can you talk us through how you produced one of the tacks from Box Of Talk, including any go to software/ hardware you always like to use?
I worked on the EP with Quinn Whalley and used Ableton. When we made Box of Talk (track) we started off with an 808 bass, high hat and kick. Quinn played around on the keys and came up with a slightly off beat pattern which worked well against the track. It was sounding pretty good as a striped back track but I felt it needed a little lift.. We added a breakbeat underneath and another key pattern and it really transformed together with the lyrics.
Where do you take your inspiration from: A single sound or a series of ideas?
It’s usually a series of ideas. Could be film, a piece of art, my personal experiences. Recently I watched Mandy which is a totally messed up, twisted film but I bloody loved it. The cinematography, music and plot is disturbingly good. It gave me something to think about musically.
How do you feel about the overall strength of song writing in 2020? Are songs as important today as they were, say in the Disco era of 1970’s?
For me it really depends on the genre. I would love to see more vocalists in dance albums, there’s so many amazing people out there. With the 70’s & 80’s there was a lot to say through lyrics/music especially in house and disco. Race, sexuality, political environment, AIDS crisis all played a huge part. Fast forward to now and we’re still dealing with these issues, in some cases even more so. It’s great to see artists still channelling this through their music, especially in dance music and making songs still as important today.
I think with neo soul/RnB, songwriting is going from strength to strength. Artists like Celeste, Steve Lacy, Syd, Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar have really upped the ante with lyrics and productions and I’m so happy to see them get the recognition they deserve for it.
Is there too much emphasis on nostalgia in Dance Music? Does it stifle creativity, and how do you see music moving forwards in terms of what says and how it functions in culture?
Nostalgia is needed. Even when someone is doing something new and groundbreaking, let’s be honest there will still be elements from the past that would have inspired them even if they didn’t realise it. It encourages creativity, and to do it in your own way. Personally I like to look back at things because that’s inspired my sound, vocals and that’s the kind of music I want to make. Early house, techno and acid is timeless. Don’t get me wrong though, there will always be artists who want to push boundaries of music and do something that’s never been done, music will continue to evolve.
Your series of discussions: Love Child Talks form an invaluable conversation. What are the most significant things you have learned from them so far? And tell us about the forthcoming event: Queer Women In Music?
People in the queer community really want to talk to the sources and do want they can to initiate change. All in a very positive and constructive way. Whether it’s how we support and nurture our own or how we are seen in the world in general. They want to take action.
The talk we did on celebrating queer women in music was so moving, inspiring and profound. But honestly I get this from all the previous talks. Women in music have faced so many challenges being in a traditionally male dominated field but also factor in a queer woman in music, who is also a POC or Trans, the experiences are heightened. We also wanted to celebrate our queer women too as their work and positive experiences really do inspire people and should be spoken about more publicly in the mainstream.
Outside of the world of electronic music which writers, artists, thinkers etc are your most important influences?
God too many to mention. Toni Morrison, Wong Ping, Faith Ringgold, Malcolm x, Marsha P. Johnson. Also my dad. He was vice president and minister of Defence of Uganda at a difficult time in the country’s history, from 1985 to 1986. Before that he was general manager of Uganda Airlines, director general of East African Airways and commander of the Uganda Air Force. He was exiled to the UK in 1983. He served Uganda and East Africa honestly and selflessly and was someone who wanted to bring peace to a country that was fighting internally. After he passed away in 2002 he was often overlooked for the hard work that he did and honestly I felt the same way with being in music especially being a black queer artist. He inspires me daily.
And finally. Can you tell us about your forthcoming plans for working with Paranoid London, Love Child, life in general?
With Paranoid London, we’re back on the road doing live shows so come and catch us somewhere along the way. Maybe a new free track download at some point this year…
With Love Child, we want to keep growing the club night and we have a couple of special collaborations coming up. The talks will continue and hopefully the label will grow and people will keep supporting our releases. I have new music coming out with Honey Dijon, Baldo and Lupe so I’m pretty psyched about that.
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