Quick post to share the embedded player for the new release. Open up Bandcamp for the full release details (but stay here to listen to the release in full during the pre-order period).
With Secrets of the Pedal Bone, I intentionally made a track that indulged all of my block-y early ’90s house influences (in terms of rigid eight bar structure), imposed upon a techno track. I am undecided if that worked, but what we have here is an intentional diversion from that mode, and also hopefully something novel.
This is likely to form a part of HC004 (HC002 has already been pressed and HC003 has just one track with a question mark), so it will be a while before you can have this properly, but I wanted to share it now anyway.
Horse Time is the first release on Phonopsia’s new label – Horse Category. As a statement of intent for the sounds to come, this debut record shows the breadth of Phonopsia’s craft in the studio looking to not be limited by genre or tempo. Across the EP he delivers a slow techno track with housey leanings, a room shaking minimal techno track, up-tempo electro wigged out with oddball elements, and a down-tempo finale that abuses time.
The first and last tracks on Horse Time are siblings, products of Covid, and homages to our new post-temporal existence. Trace Signals from a Temporal Dimension and Memories of Time are connected by a shared twinkling melody line – one has all the house music feels of dancing in the day time and the latter offers up a more quirky and playful take on the hook.
Deadline: Gala was recorded as a production demonstration for the Georgetown Film Festival gala in Washington, D.C. in 2002. It was created live with an audience in a two hour window – start to finish. It’s a track that people have enjoyed in his sets now 18 years later will be released on vinyl.
Nuba Tuba was made in 2009, and while it is a bonafide electro track it also brings in influences of early Hemlock/Hessle influence on the large tuba-like bass.
Phonopsia has been making and playing music for a good number of years and was Süd Electronic resident from 2007-2009 and regular guest for Bleep43 from 2002-2010.
The Soundcloud link here includes clips of all four tracks. The Bandcamp link below that offers full streaming of Nuba Tuba , and is the first place where Horse Time can be ordered.
New track. First track with the CAT and Tanzbär. Heavy use of MS-1.
2020 (among many much more important things) was the year when Bandcamp became a lifestyle, and a focal point for distinguishing algorithmic pacification from active patronage. It was a safety net for artists whose last remaining stream of funding had been cancelled. It is an exemplar of how art can operate in future, for those who hope to subsist by their passion, and those who simply want to share their art with the world in a way that puts the art first. Although my list here is not “about” Bandcamp, I want to encourage everyone to think about their role in music, since the algorithmic subscriber has effectively become the source of income for the exploiters. I have been harping on about this all year, and will continue to use this harsh rhetoric to try to get the point across. A passive consumer of the algorithm is actively feeding exploitation. Establish a connection with the art you love. Nurture and explore. Purchase what you enjoy, because it will make a difference to the future of the artist who made it. The only subscription model that supports art today is direct patronage (like Patreon and Bandcamp subscriptions). If subscription “works for you”, then subscribe to artists rather than those who exploit artists. And if that all seems too weird, then just buy some good music.
That said, on to the list.
Likwid Continual Space Motion – Earthbound
One hour and forty seven minutes of monument to broken beats and much that informed the divergence of this strain from all that proceeded it. There is no other word for it than “monumental”. The most important broken beat album since 4 Hero’s Creating Patterns, 19 years later. It really doesn’t lend itself to words, as words always fall short of something it is doing well. I can’t offer any higher praise. Best album of the year, and possibly of the decade or century. Masterpiece #1 of 2020.
Rian Treanor – File Under UK Metaplasm
Given the height of praise for LCSM, it must be hard to follow, right? Well, for many of the same reasons, this is right up in that same praise bracket. Although the end results diverge, they are both amalgamations that bring together strains in the best completely novel ways. Once you’ve heard this, it becomes a new reference for everything that is happening. Especially if you are paying any attention to what is happening in Africa and the UK, and reflect a bit on the influences from Chicago and Detroit, this is clearly global music. Where LCSM unifies past and present, Rian Treanor unifies space. Masterpiece #2 of 2020.
The Transcendence Orchestra – Feeling The Spirit
Not sure this is a masterpiece per se, but it is an absolutely wonderful album, and I will be listening to it for a very long time. It has earned itself a place beside the best ambient albums in my collection. While I have followed everything The Transcendence Orchestra have done quite closely, this is the peak of what they’ve achieved so far. And while it is its own whole, it hints at new directions. Some of this picks up where Coil’s ambience left off, but with a unique flavour, and that is probably the best stretch of a comparison I could make, as it does so many other things as well. One thing I notice when I listen to this album is that the tracks are distinct, but they work so well together that I scarcely realise the first one has finished when I reach the end of the album.
Pole – Fading
I believe I have all of Pole’s albums, and am certainly not one to see the first two or three as the canon and everything else as the rest (as I think may be common), but in any case I see this as the best album he’s created since the first two, and perhaps even better than them. It is brilliant. Everything you know about Pole is here, but it’s all under new direction. It’s not really different, but it is impeccable Pole. This is one that will stay in “rotation” for years.
LEYA – Flood Dream
With many thanks to Actress for the tip, this album opened up a world of music from LEYA and Eartheater to me, which has drifted rapidly from discovery to immersion. The remixers alone may add some weight to the recommendation, with both Actress and Drew McDowall (formerly of Coil) adding their interpretations. But the originals stand their ground, and if there is any criticism to be found of this album it’s that the best tracks are so outstanding that some of the others become less memorable. Nevertheless, the whole album is what you will probably choose to listen to once you make this connection. Detuned harp wasn’t really on my radar for 2020, but I will have an emptier 2021 if it transpires without it.
Bass Clef – Maze Greys
I couldn’t say it better my friend Brendan, “Like your brain just found a previously unknown room in its house which is vast, well-lit, and contains a massive chaise longue.” A completely novel thing that demands and rewards immersion.
Legowelt – Pancakes With Mist
Danny Wolfers released so many good albums this year, you would think it would be hard to pick one. I must have bought at least 100 of his new tracks, which is incomprehensible, but probably accurate. However, this is the clear album choice among these, if you must pick only one (I would encourage you to do more). There is scarcely a duff moment in all that work, but this album is so great. I only included one track here as reference because there was no way I could single out two or three from the rest. My kids once mistook this track for Drecxiya, which I think says it all.
Gan Gan Garmana Kacapi Suling – Javasounds Vol. 7
I have had a peripheral interest in Gamalan since I first learned about Reich’s early influences 20ish years ago, but it is fair to say that I never pursued it until now, and that recent interest was largely pushed along after hearing the Gamalan Degung track that featured in the Netflix short film, “John was trying to contact aliens”.
So I went on a bit of Gamalan binge. It is one of the most pure forms of music, wearing its connections to the trance-like states it can inspire on its sleeve. And this is the best new Gamalan I’ve found in 2020.
Linkwood & Other Lands – Face the Facts
Other Lands and associated acts have been a major musical presence this year, so picking one album is difficult, but this collaboration with Linkwood really stands out. It sounds like itself but still covers a fairly wide range, and some of the tracks boil over with sincerity and funk.
His Name Is Alive – Return To Never (Home Recordings 1979 – 1986 Vol 2) and Ghost Tape EXP
The second and prelude-to-third volumes of Warren Defever’s tape archive releases – some made when he was as young as ten, but largely his high school years before His Name Is Alive arrived on 4AD. Beautiful droney effected guitar on tape. Unfathomable that he made all of this at such a young age, and that they were made before most of the things they remind us of today. The Ghost Tape EXP cassette is still available, so act fast if you want this music for tape on tape.
Five honourable mentions
Reggie Dokes‘ Deep House Remix of Teyana Taylor-Still, which is probably my favourite house track of the year.
Polypores, who had many great albums this year, including the recent WF 11 – Tempus album.
Plant43‘s Storm Control includes two of his best tracks – the title track which is what we expect of him but definitely one of his best, and the surprising downtempo Sparks in the Grey Light, which I absolutely adore.
Eartheater‘s Phoenix: Flames Are Dew Upon My Skin. Probably lacking the highs or Trinity, but making up for that with consistency and breadth.
Jordan JCZ‘s jams on Patreon.
The second of the recent resurrections, this track was originally “finished” the day before my older son was born in 2010. Unfortunately I rushed the arrangement and there were a couple of parts I wasn’t happy with, and this was when I working entirely outboard. Last month I managed to re-create the stems and got back to work on it.
Lots of digital synths on this one. Supernova II, Nord, MS2000R, Microwave XT. I love the synths of the late ’90s, and spent months on the synthesis for this track. This track probably represents my interest in synthesis better than anything else I’ve done. Also a bit of last minute Pro-1 thrown in for balance.
Originally recorded with the entirely outboard setup in 2008. This is fairly synth-heavy, with a lot of Waldorf Q, Micowave XT, Nord and MS2000R. The original mixdown was severely lacking low end, aside from the occasional boom, which was fairly overwhelming and chewed up all space for the main kick. Now fixed up with a functional kick and some changes to the hats.
Zero tracks in nearly ten years, then two within a month. It’s like London buses here!
This track started as a variant of Memories of Time, but it was always my intent to take the bits wherever they wanted to go at a higher tempo. And so we have here a track that includes one or two bits that are time-stretched or just sped up MIDI from the original recordings, some bits that have been slightly re-written, and more than half net new parts (although some of those parts use the same sounds from Memories of Time). Is it a reprise? It’s definitely not a remix. I reckon it’s a new track with some common bits. It really doesn’t matter, but having finished another thing does, and hopefully the name establishes sufficient commonality. In any case I hope it is well received.
For the first time in nearly a decade, I’ve found my feet in the studio, and have actually managed to finish a track (embedded below). There are so many contributing changes, including:
- Removal of the massive 32-channel Soundcraft mixing desk.
- Replacement with a set of sound interfaces that can meet my needs digitally and the right control surfaces to retain tactile control.
- Acceptance that I work better with a screen, even if I don’t want making music to be fully synonymous with looking at a screen.
- Adding some simpler analog synths to complement the more complex digital synths that have been my primary focus forever. I’ve discovered that the immediacy the analog synths afford is incomparable, even if I don’t subscribe to digital vs. analog sound quality dogma. The TD-3, MS-1 and Pro-1 work for me because the sounds they make work, always have worked, and are incredibly effective for creating a foundation. They are lovely machines. I probably should have embraced this sooner, but the raft of cheaper clones has finally made this more possible without so much risk, and I really love them.
- The time spent late last year with MidiQuest to gain control of the external kit was an essential foundation I’d discarded for far too long. Particularly, the time spent working with them to create a Jomox AirBase 99 module was critical, as a mechanism for engaging with the instrument and learning how to manage it, but also MidiQuest taught me how to use the Jomox, even if that eventually made me less reliant on MidiQuest.
- I’m old enough to be pretty comfortable with my own creative idiosyncrasies.
Ultimately, I finally have a way of working that allows me to start and stop without so much fear of volatility, I have the sound quality I need, I have the inputs I need, I have learned how to handle this complex arrangement of disparate things, and I feel like the things I’m making are of a quality that doesn’t make me feel like I’m trading on past glories.
Hope you enjoy this.
A few years ago, before things went quiet here, I uploaded an older track (2001 IIRC) to Soundcloud, because I’ve always liked it and I’ve unfortunately lost the parts. I was pretty meticulous about saving/backing stuff up at the time, but this was a casualty of some mistake or another. I still have a .WAV of the track in its final state, which I like, but a lot of people have told me they’re not massively in to the distorted 909 kick (there are two 909s – one of which seems to be a bit on the Lenny D side of things for some people). Anyway… this song did a lot of things I was happy with at the time, and if the kick is a blemish today, so be it. Track now removed. May re-emerge at some point.