GAS – Narkopop [Kompakt]
Our record of the week is one that needs little introduction. Seventeen years after Wolfgang Voigt’s last release under his GAS moniker comes a fifth record: Narkopop. Such a period of inactivity more often than not preludes disappointment, an artist either failing at trying new things or exposing weaknesses in a sound that used to work for them. Voigt surpasses both of these problems – Narkopop not only maintains the unique, dark sound associated with previous records, it does so in a way that sounds not nostalgic, but fresh and relevant in 2017. The combination of a deep, suffocated beat drowned in layer upon layer of acquatic, swirling synth pads is as beautiful as ever to behold.
Hisato Higuchi – Kietsuzukeru Echo [Root Strata]
The latest release to come out via Root Strata is Hisato Higuchi’s Kietsuzukeru Echo – following up from a feature on the label’s 2011 series Tsuki No Seika. The LP harks back to the Tokyo-native’s early live sets from the mid-1990s, which themselves were documented in the 2012 P.S.F record Early Works. Combining noodly, reverb heavy guitar chords and melodies with soft vocal tones, the record is reminiscent of the Velvet Underground’s more sombre, sobering moments and is a great tribute to Higuchi’s creativity.
Biosphere – Black Mesa [Biophone]
Titan of ambient music Geir Jenssen a.k.a. Biosphere returns for his first release of 2017: Black Mesa. A two track single, the release serves as a preview of what to expect from next month’s full length LP The Petrified Forest. Both ‘Black Mesa’ and ‘Turned To Stone’ sample soundbites of actress Joan Lorring – the dreamy refrain of “in the desert it’s the same thing over and over again” beautifully punctuating the 7”s title track. Both tracks are fashioned in a downtempo style – classy, relaxing music for dark nights and hazy mornings.
Helm – World In Action [The Trilogy Tapes]
Luke Younger, a.k.a. Helm, follows up 2015’s Olympic Mess LP with a new four-track EP on The Trilogy Tapes. A collaboration between label and producer both seemingly at the height of their powers, World In Action veers away slightly from Younger’s more experimental previous efforts, adding a more obvious sense of rhythm to the droney hysteria. Opening track ‘Blue Scene’ is awash searing woodwind and floaty pads – a bewildering sound, conceived by Younger within the turbulent confusion of a post-Brexit Britain.
Yaleesa Hall – Woodall (Remixes) [Will & Ink]
The latest release on Will & Ink see’s Bambounou and Simo Cell combining for a collaborative remix project. Taking four tracks from Yaleesa Hall’s Woodall, released last November, the pair alternate responsibility on the first two tracks, before teaming up on the final two. The end result is a frenetic, spaced out collection of music – the dubbed out textures and berserk percussion reminiscent of previous work for Livity Sound and 50 Weapons. A deep and dark experience, these remixes give a club-ready edge to Hall’s more sparse, experimental original incarnations.