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It might just be the biggest success in Brian Shimkovitz’ quest for musical gold: more than twelve years after buying his copy of the original cassette in Cape Coast, Ghana, he finally managed to track down Ata Kak, the very Ghanaian musician whose “Obaa Sima” he dedicated his first Awesome Tapes From Africa blog post to in 2006. Because the master tapes had already disintegrated, Shimkovitz used his personal copy of the tape, as the source for the much demanded reissue. Ata Kak, real name Yaw Atta-Owusu, recorded the album in Toronto in 1994, after living for a while in Germany playing in reggae cover bands, and sent the album to get manufactured in Ghana creating around 50 cassettes of Obaa Sima. This incredible recording traces his global experience, combining his Ghanaian roots in the form of highlife with techno beats and funk guitars, creating a timeless release that sounds as extraordinary and as it did over 20 years ago.
Seminal Muslimgauze experimentations in jungle available for the first time on vinyl. Recorded completely on DAT, this 1996 LP from Muslimgauze was a masterclass in the world of ethnic and worldly electronica that Bryn Jones occupied. Uzbekistani Bizzare and Souk is a jewel in the vast discography of Jones' extensive catalogue and takes elements of drum & bass and mixes them with elements of classic Muslimgauze to devastating effect. The almost hymnal opening of Abdul’s Halal is then uprooted by a murky breakbeat workout matched only by the chaotic bass-weight intensity of Cafkir Wa Hig which comes after it. The staggering aquatic trip hop of The Iranian Who Found Allah further demonstrates the versatility of Muslimgauze production. The corporeal and the spiritual set against a backdrop of forward-thinking production. Considering that Jones often stated that he rarely listened to any other music than his own, it's startling how easily these productions could of fitted with the drum & bass/jungle sounds around in 96'. Like a scratched Juice Box B-Side or a 20-years-before dubstep Shackleton rinsing the amen breaks this is sublime music and the work of a true visionary of experimental underground sounds.
Returning after a two year absence, this LP saw a new sound for the band and a new line up of just Keenan and James Cargill. Stripped down to these essential components, they sought inspiration from minimalist post-punk outfits like Young Marble Giants and created a record of pop melodies that maintained the signature Broadcast feeling of melodrama and despondency. Having lost a third member in the run-up to this album, track 11 is entitled Minus 3 and further demonstrates Broadcast’s ability to bring real life experiences to record in inventive and effective ways. The stark minimalism of Tender Buttons was a first for Broadcast but their enduring melodies triumphed once again.
Or buy as part of the Six Album Broadcast Vinyl Bundle <a href="https://bleep.com/release/56930-broadcast-broadcast-vinyl-albums-bundle">Here</a>.
Manbait is the culmination of the work from the figurehead in the central shadows of the caustic world of gothic high rise blocks and techno-rooted post-punk apartments built up around the Blackest Ever Black label over the past five years. That figurehead is none other than the near-mythical producer Karl O'Connor aka Regis. Having left his fingerprints all over the label's identity from his debut on the label's second release, the bar-raising 'version' of Raime's This Foundry which took the original's bone dry drums and the track's tense chilling spine and updated it with a subtle nod to the soon-to-be departed Sandwell District's pension for towering atmospherics and 7 am warehouse reduction. On Manbait we find the various incarnations of the Regis project and its umbrella reach of different guises, here we find the Regis that remodelled Ike Yard's no-wave track 'Loss' moving it from NYC's first and only Factory Record to downtown Berlin Factory minimalism, his lovesick grandeur of Dalhous and an alternative mix from the debut LP recordings from death-disco post-punk group Tropic Of Cancer. Topped off with the highly sought after remix of Vatican Shadow (which was a pivotal moment in the post-techno / techn-oise vanguard) and previously unreleased mixes of tracks from O'Conor's personal vaults 'Manbait (Regis Version)' and an array of visions of the breakbeat led Blood Witness this compilation flows remarkably well as a stand alone piece of music from the originator of post-punk techno. Manbait is a celebration of this most singular of artists, constantly evolving and refining his art, truly blood into gold.
Clone continue their extensive research into the deep underwater world of Drexciya and their various shadowy transformations with this timely reissue of the classic and long out of print Der Zyklus LP Biometry produced by Heinrich Mueller. Moving away from the more dancefloor-focused tracks of previous Der Zyklus releases, Biometry finds Mueller in a contemplative mood, crafting more abstract and industrial rooted electro pieces that focus more on the mind than the floor. There is an ever-growing feeling throughout that things could dive into darker waters at any second as found on Polar Coordinates which could be lifted from AFX's Analord series which started life a few months after the release of Biometry leaving us to wonder if the two were in communication around this time or if they both came to produce similar strains of innovative moody and despondent material via different unconnected means. There are all the trademarks of the classic Drexciyan sound throughout as with the under sea disturbances found within Iris/Retinal Scanning or Eigenface (Facial Asymetry) which could be easily be a dub mix of Wavejumper as reissued in the Aqualung series. Biometry is the nighttime soundtrack to follow days spent lounging in the Laptop Café and is another unforgettable piece in the Drexciya puzzle that upon hearing will leave you gasping for air and a little closer to uncovering the secrets deep within the mysterious aquatic world of Drexciya.
Originally released back in 2004, Fatima Yamaha’s ‘What’s A Girl To Do’ built up a cult following over the years, becoming an anthem amongst certain DJs and partygoers in the know – notably the Numbers crew in Glasgow, who never really stopped playing it. Dekmantel’s reissue appears at an opportune time, as the growing obsession with the tune came to a head in 2015: it became a summer festival anthem, DJs across the world used it to close their sets, and Hudson Mohawke sampled it on his Jhené Aiko-featuring ‘Resistance’. All with good reason, too, as it has to be one of the most evocative, emotionally-resonating, and instantly-memorable dance tracks ever made. The 12” is complemented with several tracks cherry-picked from the original (‘Plum Jelly’, ‘Half Moon Rising’, and ‘Between Worlds’), but none quite reach the alluring heights of ‘What’s A Girl To Do’.
Bill Kouligas’ crucial PAN imprint lovingly reissues and reappropriates the legendary underground hip-hop mixtape Ruff Kutz from the archives of WordSound don Skiz Fernando Jr. aka Spectre. Recorded through a series of late night, haze-coated sessions in Brooklyn and dropped in ’98, Ruff Kutz is a testimony of the emerging abstract and experimental beats scene of the time, taking influence from Jamaican dub and the earlier harder-edged Bronx gangsta sound then graduating it to smeared, lo-fi, ambient-laced fusion that would eventually be coined ‘illbient’ by Williamsburg local DJ Olive. Running through the near 80-minute gauntlet of obscure unsigned material from the likes of Dubadelic, Kevin ‘The Bug’ Martin’s Techno Animal project and Doc Israel, we’re dragged through a sound college of coarse drum work, scattershot dub effects and rough, improvised basslines interspliced with strung-out spoken word intros and scene setting sample cut ups. Most importantly it sounds like nothing else and stiffens the appeal of a scene that has left its smudged fingerprints in many of today’s scenes.
Every gameboy's dream comes true courtesy of Ghostly International, the eternally memorised in anyone who has played its mind soundtrack to cult indie game Minecraft arrives in a radiant vinyl and CD pressing. We don't need to tell you about the game as its legendary status far outweighs anything we could ever say that has not been said before, but! the soundtrack composed by C418 in a fitting attribute is also a limitless world of pre-composed ambient new age and modern classical atmospheres. All with an endless reach of serenity where perfectly crafted blocks of sound delicately form beside each other creating vast backdrops onto which all manner of instruments are absorbed. Piano keys lightly fall like raindrops while stringed arrangements ripple underneath and 8-bit melodies glide throughout. C418 has created one of the true pinnacles of what Eno described as 'ambient music' where the soundtrack truly has a real unobtrusive feeling to it, and to the music it does not matter if you listen to it or not as it does its own thing and plays lightly in the background regardless. But at the same time it works remarkably well as a standalone piece of music and dissected from the game within it will forever be joined, it is an LP of sparkling flexibility that will appeal to admirers of everyone from Bruce Brubaker & Oneohtrix Point Never to Caustic Window.
Long-time appreciator David Byrne solidifies his interest in West Coast funk eccentric Doug Hream Blunt with the stunning retrospective My Name Is Doug Hream Blunt via his Luaka Bob imprint. Following a series of evening music classes undertaken in San Francisco, Blunt took his lo-fi funk sound out to local elderly peoples homes and community centres in the Bay Area, eventually culminating to his self-produced Gentle Persuasion debut – a release that largely sat unnoticed until a rival in interests from artist such as Byrne himself, Ariel Pink and no more so than Hype Williams initiator Dean Blunt. It's easy to see the appeal; Blunt’s lack of conformity to music industry norms is evident throughout this compilation, leading off with the catchy, oddball strut of ‘Fly Guy’ and the groovy, velvet-laced vocals of ‘Gentle Persuasion’. The raw, fuzzy feel throughout the album only adds to the album’s outsider aesthetic, such as the rough, wheezing guitar lines that cut through ‘Big Top’ or the crumbling, calypso vibes of ‘Caribeen Queen’, and despite not getting the respect it deserved at the time of recording, Blunt’s true musical self-sufficiency and DIY oeuvre feels more relevant in 2015 than ever.
In celebration of Björk’s mid-career retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and just in time for the release of her excellent album Vulnicura, One Little Indian are treating her back catalogue with well-deserved vinyl reissues: this version of Björk’s second solo album Debut, originally released in 1993, comes in a special limited edition, coloured to the hue that personifies that album character, “shy beginner humility virgin virgin beige silver mohair the messenger”. With five tracks co-written by producer Nellee Hooper, Debut marked a departure from the rockier style of her previous work with The Sugarcubes, juxtaposing jazz percussion and saxophones with dreamy string arrangements, house beats and folk guitar – most importantly, it shaped her unique vocal style – which is still one of a kind today.