Saturday, February 27, 2021


remiss have I been in not remarking upon recent releases that are remarkable

first-most would be the now six-weeks-out new album from Insides - Soft Bonds

usually when a favorite band reactivates after a long silence the chances are pretty good that the results will underwhelm

this is a rare example of being fully whelmed - 

it's every bit as good as the classic-for-those-who-know Euphoria

incidentally, the album and single by Insides precursor group Earwig were quietly made available again, in remastered form, a few years ago, and are well worth investigating. 


more culpable remissitude: also a month-and-a-half young now is Cosmorama by Beautify Junkyards - the Lisbon band's second album for Ghost Box (and fourth overall). Lovely dreamy stuff, you can get a taster here. "We need to bring colors to face these grey times!" says the groop, and it's too true. 


here's an interview with groop leader João Branco Kyron  - by Bob Fischer (originally published in Electronic Sound).  Among other things João explains where the name Cosmorama comes from: "it was Victorian entertainment, where people would go to see magnified images of exotic landscapes or far-away monuments."

coming soon (next month in fact) is a 7-inch single collaboration between Beautify Junkyards and Belbury Poly in the form of a cover version of The Incredible String Band's "Painting Box." (Perhaps they should also have done Pink Floyd's "Paintbox" for the B-side?)


less culpably remiss - lukewarm off the press news, a mere three weeks behind release day - here's another waft of ethereal evanescence from  Lo Five, whose run of releases of the last couple of years have been favorites moods into which to sink and trance out. 

"We need to bring greys to efface these garish times!" says the groop, and it's too true

release rationale: 

waiting to return to a life that no longer exists. A prosaic acceptance of living in slow motion. Waving from a distance as familiarity sails into the mist. A world of possibilities slowly folding back in on itself. Looking out of the window listening to a muffled storm. Trapped on an island that's far from paradise. Gazing over the water and contemplating the tranquility of the other side.

God's Waiting Room represents a creative detour for Lo Five, who has temporarily given leave of his senses and usual production methodology in order to explore a sensation that had become more apparent in recent months - a serene ennui, patient acceptance and mild disillusionment. This is perhaps representative of our collective consciousness, particularly for those trapped in the British Isles.

assembled from tape manipulated 78rpm record loops, field recordings, acoustic and synthetic melodies, God's Waiting Room is an experiment in contrasting sounds and an exercise in restraint.




finally, what a relief, no remissness required here at all, I'm several weeks early in fact - a new EP by an artist whose 2018 album on Hyperdub I really liked: Proc Fiskal. It's called Lothian Buses (a tiny taste is available here)  and extends the sound and approach of Insula, which I earlier described as "a frisky, fidgety weave of grime / Eski / 2step rhythms with glinting splinters of melody and calligraphic tone-smears that seem to come out of the Sakamoto / "Bamboo Music" / B-2 Unit realm... with  snippets of everyday speech and outdoors atmosphere, seemingly captured on the eavesdropping sly, woven into the fabric"  

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

 Here's my paean to "Digital Love" and Discovery, part of a terrific NPR Music multi-authored tribute to Daft Punk.

My #2 favorite Daft Punk tune: 

                             Before I ever heard their records, I saw them live - at their US debut. 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Experimental Jetset - Superstructures

I was really excited to participate in a project created by Dutch artist collective Experimental Jetset, in which they invited a bunch of critics and theorists - including Owen Hatherley, McKenzie Wark, Ian F. Svenonius and many others - to write annotations to a text of their own. These annotations are mostly more like mini-essays than footnotes, so the size of the accumulated supplementary text far surpasses the original document. The resulting compendium Superstructures is a  visually and typographically exquisite volume dense with stimulating writing addressing four zones of 20th Century utopian urbanism:  The Constructivist City, The Situationist City, The Provotarian City, The Post-Punk City

(If you are thinking my footnotes would be restricted to the part on post-punk, actually no, I had some things to say about Situationism and even Provo, via a certain favorite psychedelic song). 

The book can be ordered directly from Roma Publications in Amsterdam, but is also widely available in art bookshops and museums etc through Idea Books distribution. 

Here is the official release rationale: 

"Superstructures (Notes on EJ, Vol. 2) is an inquiry into the role of the city as an infrastructure for language (and simultaneously, into the role of language as an infrastructure for the city), as seen through the lens of four historical movements: Constructivism, the Situationist International, Provo, and the Post-Punk explosion. Based on a research project (and accompanying exhibition) by Experimental Jetset, the publication features footnotes written by 20 guest-authors – including Linda van Deursen, Owen Hatherley, Dirk van den Heuvel, Tom McDonough, Adam Pendleton, Simon Reynolds, McKenzie Wark, Lori Waxman, Mimi Zeiger, and many others. The 420-page paperback comes with a 26-page zine, zooming in on the design typology of the original exhibition."


Although Superstructures is Volume 2 in a trilogy of Notes on Experimental Jetset volumes, it's actually the last of the three to be published (yes, confusing, but apparently there's a logic to that). 

Here is Experimental Jetset's explanation of the entire project series: 

"The first one (‘Statement and Counter-Statement – Notes on EJ, Vol. 1’, from 2015) was basically a monograph, showing our work as a whole. We also asked some people (Linda van Deursen, Mark Owens, Ian Svenonius) to write essays about us, without mentioning us – so that was a nice twist.

"We’re very bad (extremely bad) in doing lectures – but we explain the paperback in full during this talk:

"The second one (‘Full Scale False Scale’ – Notes on EJ, Vol. 3’, from 2019) basically focused on one single project – the long-term installation we recently created at the MoMA in New York. It’s basically a reader, compiled of texts we read while working on that particular project – mostly texts that deal with the transition from European early-modernism to American late-/post-modernism.

"The third paperback (‘Superstructures – Notes on EJ, Vol. 2’, from 2020) is dealing mostly with our influences (Constructivism, the Situationist International, Provo, Post-Punk), exploring the ways in which these movements used the city as an infrastructure for language.

"In other words, the first book (Vol. 1) is about our work as a whole, the second book (which is actually Vol. 3) is about one specific project, while the third book (Vol. 2) is about our influences in general."

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

we'll be back after the ads

Observant readers of these blogs may have noticed my burgeoning interest in the adverts that punctuated the shows on hardcore jungle pirate radio stations. I've been combing through my own tapes (cursing the preponderance of recordings where I pressed pause when the ad break started) and  trawling through sets that are online. The best adverts are distilled slivers of vibe and scene-character, and contain genuine sociohistorical interest. But mostly their nutty nonsense and DIY charm gives me a delicious memory-rush. 

So I was well chuffed to come across a fellow obsessive in Luke Owen, the man behind the archival audio label Death Is Not The End. In the last month or so, Luke has put out London Pirate Radio Adverts, 1984-1993 Vol. 1 and the just-released London Pirate Radio Adverts, 1984-1993 Vol. 2 - both of which are available digitally at a name-your-price rate and for a modest amount as a limited-edition cassette or in CD form. 

Here is my piece for The Guardian  on the compilations, featuring quotes from Luke,  pirate radio historian Stephen Hebditch, and DJ/producer Nick Power who played on Pulse FM and other pirates, and who made one of my favorite ads for his own record store Music Power Records (it can be found on the Vol. 1 compilation).

In a week or so I'll run the full chat with Luke about his project, which I hope will continue. 

And do check out Luke's earlier collection from last year of sound snippets from the Bristol pirate radioscape of the late 90s. 

Three of my favorite pirate ads. 


The chap who voiced those Telepathy ads (there's a whole series of them running through the entire era) was called Sting and he was the founder of Club Telepathy and also owner-operator of Deja Vu FM. 

Back to Nick Power - as a producer, with DJ Ku - who worked as an assistant in Music Power Records -  he made these little beauties 


His label Ruff Tuff  & Wicked Stuff also put this minor classic out:

And this little piss-taker


In addition to his DJing and retail mini-empire (two records shops and store selling disco and sound system equipment), Power - being of Greek-Cypriot background - also pioneered clubbing in Ayia Napa, long before it became a UK Garage destination. 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

the game is up

 And the fourth + final installment of Kieran Press-Reynolds CTRL.ALT.REPEAT series on videogame musik for Repeater Radio - a terrific mix of games tunes and tunes influenced by games musik. 


Friday, February 05, 2021


And here's the final installment of Kieran Press-Reynolds's 3-part series on  videogame musik and how it's influenced pop and unpop, for his Repeater Radio show CTRL.ALT. REPEAT.

This episode is called "The Rise of Gamebient" and, says Kieran, concerns "how video game music is everywhere - on YouTube, on TikTok, nestled in our brains.... Chaotic game music has become a sort of study drug for hyperactive young teens... there's a new wave of artists (leon chang, galen tipton, Serlof, Lost Cascades, etc.) making soundtracks for games that don't exist.... these fake game OSTs are sometimes popular because they allow Twitch streamers/YouTubers to bypass copyright laws."

                                                  First episode here and second  here

Monday, February 01, 2021

games people play

Here, archived, is the next installment of Kieran Press-Reynolds show CTRL.ALT. REPEAT for Repeater Radio - part 2 in a 4-part series on the history of videogame musik and how it's influenced pop / unpop - this week heading into the 21st C with Dizzee Rascal, James Ferraro, Minecraft, Undertale and more.

The first installment in the series is here, and here also is Kieran chatting with Repeater man Carl Neville about online micro-genres etc etc.

Some rave-era intersections with videogame musik

The use of PlayStation as a music production tool is another story.