- Ivan “Mamão” Conti | Poison Fruit (Far Out Recordings, CD/LP)
- Orpheón Gagarin | self-titled (Verlag System, LP/DL)
- Saba Alizadeh | Scattered Memories (Karl, LP/DL)
Kuhzunft | Slotmachine (Gruenrekorder, 10″/DL)
This month has been embedded with so many strange surprises including these four brand-new selections from various corners of the world expounding upon and stretching traditions to the hilt, including works from: Brazil, Iran, The Netherlands and Spain. These couldn’t be more vastly different, but as a foursome, they would transform any typical environment in which they were spun independently, or on continuous shuffle, into a real party for modern ears.
Ivan “Mamão” Conti | Poison Fruit
Far Out Recordings (CD/LP)
Holy percussionistas Batman! Hold on to your seat people, because it will be shaking every which way on the bright, warm drum-centric rhythms from Brazil’s consummate player behind the kit, Ivan “Mamão” Conti. This record is bursting with eleven upbeat tracks (and five additional explosive remixes) that are in so many ways this century’s answer to what Esquivel left behind in the 50s and 60s. The title track dips back into acid house vs Herbie Hancock while easily maintaining its wayward place on the record. There’s a definitive South American tropicalia sound, a touch of jazz-funk salsa, but for a gent in his 70s this thing comes off fresh, almost a meta collage of so many regional genres, with twists at every turn. This is a neon party record but refrains from being egotistical or too flashy. Wild birds and psychedelic rhythmic colors, spilling into your ears and engaging your every pore. There is a slipstream marching band ala Carnivale running through this, and a full grasp of fusing the Brazilian beat with abstract electronica. Stay for the remixes where things get real loose.
Orpheón Gagarin | self-titled
Verlag System (LP/DL)
Miguel Ángel Ruíz (aka Orpheón Gagarin) is having a remastered revival of his self-titled sequenced and synthesized recording from 1986 (previously only out as a cassette back in the day). As this sees itself for the first time on two different vinyl variations it also offers bonus tracks heard here for the first time. Thirty-three years on you witness the bleary Korg that has some in common with the era, and with the added computer-voice it’s a retro dive into sounds these ears are both unfamiliar with, but have been long-linked into the contemporary electronic music universe. This oddly reminds me of the first time I heard Elektroworld (1995, Warp), and/or Uwe Schmidt’s Pop Artificielle (1998, KK) and of course plays with the origins from Kraftwerk’s opus Computerwelt (1981, Kling Klang Studio). Though Orpheón Gagarin may fit right in the center of this ever morphing era towards A/I, his take is as distinct and cosmic, as peculiar and plugged-in. The mostly short pieces range from funky to obligatory bubbly blips + bleeps though these are far from pop songs, all of which the previous could have dipped in and out of quite easily. Instead this is a record of great emotional modulation, where the voice of technology, its noises and non-human-ness comes through, yet it plays to the light and dark sides of its experiments and outcomes. I could imagine the likes of Meat Beat Manifesto having taken queues from what unfolds here, the way in which the voice treatments are folded into the contorted subterranean textures. It’s a striking underground record that I’m personally thrilled that Verlag System unearthed for the rest of us to experience for the first time.
Saba Alizadeh | Scattered Memories
Honestly, with all the kooky conflict in the world, I’ve personally only been exposed to certain regions of the Middle East a few times in my entire lifetime, and I an a constant arbiter of any noise I can finger. So, that is only a part of what makes this a true indulgence, sounds that break through barriers are always welcome, and Saba Alizadeh has treated us to a stunning, melancholic masterpiece. From the opening passages of the moody Blood City, to the travelogue of time via Fluid, this record is a conscious effort to break free from convention, while harnessing the true spirit of the place, Tehran. While I’ve never set foot on these ancient lands myself, the composer helps ease you into it mysticisms through his impassioned work by incorporating field recordings and kamancheh (Iranian spike fiddle). The sound is transformative and bit, dare I say, dreamy. His focused cycles of patterned downbeat rhythms are haunting at times, meditative elsewhere – but they weave a stories like secrets on the indellable whispery music box feel of Would You Remember Me. There’s moments of painful conflict here, drifting elegies, and plenty of striking effects that could, in a blink, spin-up into a churning techno record, but Alizdeh has the savvy to harness our expectations.
Kuhzunft | Slotmachine
With thirty tracks all under a minute each you’d think this might be one of those typical sound sample cut-up records, but I assure you Achim Zepezauer and friends have much more in store on this release. Slotmachine takes the form of a 10″ vinyl and includes an assortment of fourteen or so musicians and improvisors, folks like Jaap Blonk, Jérôme Noetinger, Simon Whetham and so many more amazing sound makers. This runs the gamut from impending doom surf party to a fusion of smouldering field recordings to discordant percussive rummaging. The springs are loose here, and that’s the core of its charm. At one moment you are in an old-fashioned bar with a player piano, next you are doing headspins on cardboard in boogie down Brooklyn. These vignettes could easily be inserted into a range of cinematic material, from the distraught A/I re-starts via HBO’s Westworld to a poker-faced SNL commercial for hipster catnip. This is the monkey and the organ grinder in one (Werid Ptk Machines) and it’s brazen lustre of burps, broken glass, fluttering wind instruments, and sassy reversals (Long Hoghorn Commercials) doesn’t wear thin for a split second.
Every member of the cast/crew plays an integral part to making this such a launchpad of wonder (aside from the above): John Chantler (modular synth) / Serge Corteyn (guitar) / Rhodri Davies (harp) / Gailė Griciūtė (prepared piano) / Sean Mac Erlaine (woodwinds) / Pablo Paredes (keyboards) / Richard Lerman (piezo & hydrophone) / Michael Vatcher (drums) / Marta Zapparoli (radio waves) / Guida Ribeiro (web developing)
File Under: Wacky, Weird + Wonderful!