As escapism from corporate banality turned the corner in the ‘90s, a new generation of vibrant, software generated soundscapes emerged. Communal access to the internet propagated the new hive mind of ideas online, giving way to smoother, stress-free textures. The PC revolution opened the gateway to ray-traced playgrounds of color and light, allowing for visions of utopic proportions to manifest themselves on screensavers far and wide. Boot up your machine, load the software on this floppy diskette, and drop out of a reality bounded by the physical laws of the universe.
Numero 95 is the soundtrack to the screen saver fever dream we’re all trying to climb back into. Eight droplets of proto-vaporwave, synthesized in vinyl (or digital) form, fresh from Numero’s archive of forgotten sounds. Are you looking for that half way point between smooth jazz and new age? Mac and PC? Quantum Leap and the X-Files? This software is for you.
Housed in a replica floppy diskette, Numero 95 explores an early computer music unbound by scene or region. Eight solo pioneers vibing out at home in their headphones, traveling as far as the sound card would allow. This is music that barely escaped the hard drive and yet percolates at the edges of the algorithm 30 years later.
Welcome to Numero 95.
Few groups in recent history forged as confounding and alchemical a body of work as Coil, the partnership of Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson and John Balance. From album to album and phase to phase their recordings spelunk perplexing depths of esoteric industrial, occult electronics, and drugged poetry, both embodying and alienating parallel currents of their peers. The late 1990's in particular were a fertile era for the duo, embracing chance, chaos, and collaboration, enhanced by recent advancements in synthesis and sampling. Fittingly, at the summit of the decade's long, intoxicated arc, their divergent strains of interstitial ritual congealed into one of Coil's most celebrated and hallucinatory creations: Musick To Play In The Dark.
Convening at Balance and Christopherson's vast Victorian house / studio in the coastal town of Weston-super-Mare, they began a series of ambitious sessions aided by inner circle associates Thighpaulsandra and Drew McDowall. Although the creative process was admittedly “iterative” and “a bit of a drug blur,” the results are astoundingly inventive and well realized, winding through shades of divination dirge, wormhole kosmische, noir lounge, ominous humor, and black mass downtempo, guided by Balance's cryptic lunar muse, which he announces on the opening track: “This is moon musick / in the light of the moon.”
What's most remarkable about the album 20 years after its release is how brazen, insular, and unpredictable it still feels. The songs follow an allusive, altered state logic all their own, warping from microscopic ripples of glitch and breath to widescreen warlock psychedelia and back again, as much hyper-sensory as inter-dimensional. Even within a catalog as eclectic as Coil's, Musick is a mystifying collection, oneiric evocations of desire, decadence, dinner jazz, and dietary advice, far beyond the pale of whatever gothic industrial ambiguity birthed such a journey.
The record closes with a slow, starlit shuffle, bathed in seething sweeps of spectral texture and high cathedral keys, like approaching the altar of some arcane temple. As the trance thickens Balance's voice rises, processed into an increasingly eerie, gaseous haze, but he resists these unseen forces, intent on delivering a final sermon: “Through hissy mists of history / the dreamer is still dreaming / the dreamer is still dreaming.”
Reissued for the first time in over 20 years, now on double vinyl LP with the complete, unedited versions of each song and an exclusive "D-side" vinyl art etching. Packaged in a sturdy matte jacket with embossed lettering and spot-gloss design elements. The compact disc version mirrors this design, and comes housed in thick tip-on "LP style" packaging. Both formats are completely remastered by engineer Josh Bonati with restored artwork and layout by Nathaniel Young - all under the project supervision of Drew McDowall and Thighpaulsandra.
Dominique Lawalrée (b. 1954) is a composer born and based in Brussels. First Meeting is Lawalrée's first archival release to date. Culled from four different albums originally self-published on his private label Editions Walrus, circa 1978-1982, this compilation highlights the composer's unique sense of ambient and minimal composition. Originally considered for release on Brian Eno's Obscure Records, Lawalrée's music is now no longer hidden.
In this collection the listener finds the sounds of piano, synthesizers, percussion, wurlitzer, organ, and voice, all performed by Lawalrée. Using these tools Dominique creates miniature themes that gallop across the speakers in slow motion, stretching our normal sense of dynamics and color, effortlessly widening the stereo plane. On “Musique Satieerique,” Dominique pays homage to the influence of Satie with simple repeated piano figures and a lush field of organs and flutes. And on other selections, like “Le Maison Des 5 Elements,” he takes a more wistful, ambient approach, layering keyboard lines, and invoking found/tape sounds to create a hypnogogic world of his own. Childlike in its playfulness and surreal to the bone, the music spins like a carrousel placed inside the Rothko Chapel. Lawalrée’s sense of timbre, tone, and overarching composition is like an impression of a home movie whose charm lies in its knowledge of intimacy, shared by few. An incantation of innocence.
"a quiet, understated music that is both touching and elegant" - Gavin Bryars
reversals and slippage toward glass, reconfigured
smasht past it
smeared the oil cross currents
plant rotting its container, or, grains lovingly
no warm water to spit back
no cloth to tie
i glance back
refractions stack right.
a kiss that will stew until it evaporates
scuffed across my feet, feet crossed
bubbled trash that spilt intermittently,
who cleaned the air with a smudgey for you.
Huerco S’ West Mineral label follow Pendant’s sublime 'Make Me Know You Sweet' album with uon’s wholly absorbing study in brownian motion and isolation tank ambience; a hypnotically lush exploration of underwater romance. If you're into the impeccable run of Vainqueur releases on Chain Reaction, this one's for you.
It’s the 2nd release from the enigmatic project, whose debut 12”s in 2017 was among the year’s standout ambient and dub-related releases. On this new one uon poetically describes three different behaviours of water and its amorphous states through a gently elemental push and pull of forces best considered in the vein of Basic Channel, Wolfgang Voigt’s Gas or the shimmering convections of Ross 154.
Beautifully elusive but crucially watermarked with a sense of originality in personalized style, Solaris opens the set with a 17 minute cut - a seemingly infinite journey through swells of diffracted chords and silty filters, simultaneously connoting sensations of opiated amniotic safety and oceanic infinity.
Where the A-side feels like floating in a lush mass, the bass-heavy articulation of his B-side’s J may well urge listeners onto the ‘floor with the same, inexorable traction of classic Vainqueur records, and in a way smartly reflects uon’s mutable DJ style, before the aqueous qualities of his final track Bus soothes to a deeper blue state of loved-up introspection which, like Solaris, could have have easily taken up a side to itself.