Since 2012, Croydon’s finest Dale Cornish has been issuing a “sequence of albums focusing on a/rhythm, space, silence and pulse” via the Entr’acte imprint. He’s described the series as his most personal work, which might come as a surprise considering the cold, emotionless, almost mathematical nature of the compositions. Kick drum pulses, lonely 808 hi-hats and claps, mournful echo licks, and a heap of space — such is the entirety of 'Enhex' and the four albums that precede it. Life in London prices silence and control at such a premium, that producing 'Enhex' is perhaps Cornish’s own private utopia.
Tomaga & Pierre Bastien
'Bandiera Di Carta'
London duo Tomaga team up here with French experimentalist and instrument builder Pierre Bastien for a percussive outing into the heart of darkness. Bastien is known to craft miniature musical automatons, turning Meccano, tiny motors, nails in wood, elastic bands, sheets of paper, and whatever else into toy orchestras. Here, Tomaga’s drums and drones spar with Bastien’s tiny rhythms, surprisingly resembling doom-laden gamelan more than any flea circus.
Beijing-based audio-visual group Zaliva-D channel the darkness and shuddering rhythms of South African gqom music on ‘Calling’, ricocheting snappy hi-hats and snares atop tectonic bass shudders. Fractured vocal samples lend the EP a ceremonial quality, particularly on the maddened and trippy ‘Groan’. A trio of remixes are included too, Durban-based gqom stalwart Citizen Boy effortlessly rejigging Zaliva-D’s weirdo production into an outright banger with his remix of ‘Groan’.
Purple Tape Pedigree
Multidisciplinary Sierra Leonean-American artist YATTA is attempting to capture the black-trans experience inside of their suitably chaotic productions. ‘Cowboys’ builds walls of synthetic tension behind YATTA’s overlapping cyborg chants. The piece features some of YATTA’s more memorable lyrics — "Cowboys are black, and techno is too / Artsy black girls are like Pokémon, gotta catch ‘em all" — before climaxing with a roar of screams and laughter.
'I'm A Switch'
While the intense and precise details of Chicago-based Mike Meegan’s productions provide brain food aplenty, the sheer impact of a track like the frenetic ‘I’m A Switch’ has little to do with its expert sculpting. Ultra-heavy drum and synth note stabs tap out a little tune on your brain, while Meegan drops in snare rolls, unrecognisable voice snippets and bit-crushed bass throbs. Hard and heavy barely covers it.
Machine learning sits at the heart of Emptyset’s newest music, stemming from a process of supplying software with audio material from the duo, and generating the machine’s idea of music based on the input — an “emergent non-human musicality”, as they put it. The result certainly resembles the minimal thuds and noise of the duo’s previous work, albeit mired in a heap of alien pixellation and digital chaos.
'Raise Yourself Up/Backbone Once More/How Bright They Shine'
A mashed together edit of three tracks gives us a taste of what’s to come in the fourth chapter of Matana Roberts’ ongoing ethnographic musical exploration of African-American history, 'COIN COIN'. From the sounds of this wild track, this next part (subtitled ‘Memphis’) is perhaps the broadest yet in terms of timbre. Rocking drum rolls and distorted licks underpin spiritual chants and some of Roberts’ most emotionally explosive sax blasts yet.
Grup Ses & Elektro Hafız
Istanbul’s answer to J Dilla, producer Grup Ses is peerless when it comes to crafting rich hip-hop from vintage Anatolian samples. This collaboration with Cologne-based electric saz player Elektro Hafız is especially easy to flip and re-spin though, with Grup Ses filling out the low-end, while Elektro Hafız flings spiralling saz licks overhead. Grooves don’t come much deeper than the ones in this psychedelic set.