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Compilations - Issue 590

Angels Never Expire 001

Various

Angels Never Expire 001

Angels Never Expire
8.0
‘Ascension through nihilism’ may sound a particularly bleak moto, but new label Angels Never Expire launches with a compilation that seeks to discover what potential utopia lies beyond established ideas and boundaries. An offshoot of Bristol via London label Super Kitchen, what this means is eight tracks of club music with the club all but extracted. It’s an intriguing journey through samples and field recordings, cavernous ambience and explosions of colour. True North’s ‘REZ’ sets the pace with a haze of gossamer melodies, a delicateness echoed in ‘Forgiveness Is A Pearl In Hand’ from the much hyped Object Blue. Nicky Soft Touch’s ‘It’s Real Irritating, I Can’t Take It’ strips things even further to just a skeletal groove and sampled vocal set amongst dubbed out metallics crashes. If this is heaven’s more introspective side, De Grandi’s ‘Vacuum’ is the flip, an ecstatic kaleidoscope of joyous arps, while Lemonick’s ‘Stratos Space Dub’ has the buzzing energy of a 3am breakdown drawn out so that it never drops. Nara’s closer, ‘Tea Pot’ sets off with similarly welcoming Eastern vibes, but takes a sudden turn into dark discordance. It’s ambient music for our unsettling times, completing Angels Never Expire’s mission to let go of past form and so a new expression can be heard.
Joe Roberts
Cipher

Various

Cipher

C.A.N.V.A.S.

Smart sonics
8.0
The diverse cast of artists on C.A.N.V..A.S.’s fourth release were given a choice of three very specific tasks to respond to when making music for this compilation. “Cipher re-evaluates the graphic score and other means by which music has been codified,” says the label, while tasks ranged from matching or scoring Ryōan-ji’s kare-sansui garden, considering whether music is made in the image of how you conceive it in your mind, or reacting to an audio fragment sent by one of the other artists. Fascinating as that is, what really matters are the results. Happily, artists like Object Blue, Flora Yin Wong and Ashley Paul all come through with various forms of experimental ambient, melodic drone and intriguing sound art that is crisp and brain cleansing even when made from whirring machine loops and paranoid pads. Beautifully beguilingly.
Kristan J Caryl
Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990

Various

Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990

Light In The Attic

Everyday sounds
8.0
Light In The Attic’s stunning Japan Archival Series continues with this bewitching look into minimalist, ambient and avant-garde music or ‘Kankyo ongaku’ – “environmental music”. Populated with a mix of leading-lights (Haruomi Hosono, Ryuichi Sakamoto) and lesser-known avatars (Satoshi Ashikawa, Yoshio Ojima) it’s a fascinating glimpse back into a period where Japanese experimental composers were creating work influenced by similar manoeuvres in Europe and the US, but touched with a uniquely Nippon-Koku sense of space, light and shadow. This is music designed to co-exist with the place it’s played, whether that’s a concert-hall, shopping centre or TV advert. What you won’t find here is music that will ‘challenge’ – rather these are sounds designed to blend in with everyday life, offering relief or simply creating a sparsely-populated sonic wilderness to rest your head within. Listen, drift, and feel somewhere between human and replicant. Utterly fascinating.
Neil Kulkarni