Blackest Ever Black and Klanggalerie present the first ever vinyl reissue of Caroline K’s outstanding 1985 album, Now Wait For Last Year. This haunting and deeply narcotic work of post-industrial synthesizer music – the late Nocturnal Emissions co-founder’s only published solo record – has accrued a fervent cult following over the past 30 years, and copies of the original pressing are today extremely rare and sought-after. Appropriately enough for an album concerned with the disruption of linear time, the music seems to exist firmly outside of it. Caroline Kaye Walters formed Nocturnal Emissions in 1980 with Nigel Ayers, contributing voice, synthesizer, bass and drum programming to the group’s early releases. She and Ayers also co-founded Sterile Records (1979-1986), one of the key underground imprints of its time, home to music from the likes of SPK, Lustmord and Maurizio Bianchi. In later life Walters retreated from the public eye, and in 2001 married Daniel Ayers (Nigel’s brother, also of Nocturnal Emissions, and her collaborator in The Pump), moving to Garfagnana, Italy, where she resided until her death from leukaemia on July 12, 2008. Existing at some remove to the more abrasive textures of Walters’ collaborative work, there is an underlying sadness to Now Wait For Last Year; a wistful, autumnal atmosphere that feels quintessentially British. But the album is singular in concept, structure and tone, and it transcends genre: tags like industrial, minimal synth or proto-techno help place it in a broad context, but they can’t do real justice to the understated yet richly cinematic sound-world that Walters describes. She took the title of the album from a 1966 SF novel by Philip K. Dick, whose plot revolves around a pill-based hallucinogenic drug, JJ-180, which proves to be highly toxic and addictive – causing intense paranoia and the kind of intense withdrawal effects one would normally associate with heroin. Over the course of the book, it emerges that JJ-180 induces time travel for those who take it. But the effect is different for each user, no two trips the same: some users are sent to the past, others to the future, and each trip constitutes an alternate universe, meaning no one can effectively change their future or their past. Walters captures beautifully the temporal distortions and existential malaise brought on by JJ-180. Side-long opener ‘The Happening World’ – twenty minutes of dread oscillations, distant howls and mystic glass-tones, all smothered in reverb – is a breathtaking exercise in sustained tension, and a vortical portal into Now Wait For Last Year’s uncanny domain. The wordless vocalisations and woodwind of ‘Animal Lattice’ sound like field recordings from the dawn of man, while stately piano lines evoke something more akin to Fin de siècle romanticism; ‘Chearth’, ‘Tracking With Close-Ups’ and ‘Leaving’ are poised between the dystopian and the beatific, their elegant, deep-frozen synthesizer melodies and crisp drum machine loops appearing to embrace the future, but struggling to conceal an intractable melancholy. It’s a remarkable sound from a remarkable artist: falling somewhere between Wendy Carlos’s A Clockwork Orange, Chris Carter’s The Space Between, and early Detroit techno. Given the glut of reissues and archival presentations of 1970s and ‘80s synth, industrial and DIY music that we’ve enjoyed (and occasionally suffered) in the present decade, it’s astonishing that Now Wait For Last Year has remained, until now, largely out of reach. Were it not for Klanggalerie’s 2010 CD reissue of the album, we might never have encountered it at all (or featured 'Animal Lattice' on the very first Blackest Ever Black mixtape, The Scold's Bridle), and so we’re delighted to be joining forces with that label in order to bring you the vinyl edition that so many of us have been waiting for.
Quarter Turns Over A Living Line is the debut album by Raime. It follows the duo's self-titled 2010 EP and two subsequent 12" singles, 'If Anywhere was here we would know where we are' and 'Hennail'. Moving away from the sample-based strategies that characterised their early work, Joe Andrews and Tom Halstead have looked increasingly to live instrumentation for their first full-length, mounting intensive recording sessions for percussion, guitar and strings before painstakingly piecing the album together at their home studio. The gothic and industrial signifiers in their music remain, but more submerged and oblique than ever - no more pronounced as influences than jungle's rhythmic dynamism and doom metal's oppressive weight, or aspects of techno, modern composition and dub. The cover art is derived from an original photograph by William Oliver, produced in collaboration with Raime and featuring dancer Rosie Terry.
2xLP pressed on heavyweight 180g vinyl and housed in matte laminated gatefold sleeve with spot-gloss detail and two printed inners. Mastering and half-speed cut by Matt Colton at Alchemy. Download code included (MP3/FLAC). Raime’s second album, Tooth, arrives June 10, 2016 on 2xLP, CD and digital formats. The widescreen melancholia of their 2012 debut, Quarter Turns Over A Living Line, gives way to an urgent and focussed futurism, in the shape of eight fiercely uptempo, minimal, meticulously crafted electro-acoustic rhythm tracks. The DNA of dub-techno, garage/grime and post-hardcore rock music spliced into sleek and predatory new forms. No let-up, no hesitation. Needlepoint guitar, deftly junglist drum programming, brooding synths and lethal sub-bass drive the engine. The production is immaculate, high definition. No hiss, no obscuring drones or extraneous noise: the music of Tooth is wide-open and exposed. The seeds of its supple dancehall biomechanics can be found in the self-titled 2013 EP by Raime side-project Moin, an ahead-of-its-time synthesis of art-rock and soundsystem sensibilities, but Tooth pushes the template further, binding the disparate elements together so tightly that they become indistinguishable from one another. If Quarter Turns was an album that confronted total loss and self-destruction, even longed for it, then Tooth is the sound of resistance and counter-attack: cunning, quick, resolute; calling upon stealth as much as brute-force. At a time when so many pay lip service to experimentation without ever fully committing themselves or their work to it, Raime return from three years of deep, dedicated studio research with a bold and original new music: staunch, rude, and way out in front.
Manbait is a survey of Regis’s 2010-15 productions and remixes for Blackest Ever Black. As well as three originals (in several different versions) and his celebrated remixes of Raime, Vatican Shadow, Ike Yard and Dalhous, it features three previously unreleased tracks: a brand new Regis take on a lost song by his own teenage synth-punk group Family Sex, an alternate mix of Tropic of Cancer’s ‘Plant Lilies At My Head’, and a new edit of his own ‘Blinding Horses’ Regis - real name Karl O’Connor - requires little in the way of introduction. Founder of the Downwards label, lynchpin of the late Sandwell District collective, one half of British Murder Boys (with Surgeon), and instigator of numerous other solo and collaborative projects (among them Ugandan Methods, Concrete Fence, Kalon and Sandra Electronics), the eternally shape-shifting O’Connor is one of techno’s last true visionaries. We’d also say he’s one of the most important and galvanising figures in the past 25 years of underground music, but of course he’d scoff at that: “Just as Lead is a parody of Gold and Coitus is a parody of Crime - Regis is a parody of Underground." O’Connor’s arrival on Blackest Ever Black in 2010 coincided with a radical recalibration, and heightening, of his production work, and the tracks collected on Manbait document nothing less than an imperial phase - an artist at the peak of his powers, drawing deftly on various strands of his musical history, and owning the future. Across Manbait’s duration you can hear elements of Sandwell District’s Berlin-incubated warehouse minimalism, the brutish dancefloor provocations of Regis’s ’90s Downwards material (what will always be known, against his wishes, as “The Birmingham Sound”), the DIY drone-pop and darkwave of Sandra Electronics, the high-torque breakbeat experiments of British Murder Boys. Throughout we’re treated to some of the most morbidly atmospheric sound design in all electronic music (the shadowplay of ‘80s goth and industrial made thrillingly contemporary), and to urgent, cyclical, ruthlessly avant-garde drum programming informed by jungle, dubstep and grime…but always unmistakably, irreducibly Regis.
It’s the first music to emerge from Camella Lobo’s project since the 2013 debut album, Restless Idylls, and features three new songs - ‘Stop Suffering’, ‘I Woke Up And The Storm Was Over’ and ‘When The Dog Bites’ – written and recorded by Lobo in LA, with additional production and mixing from Joshua Eustis (Sons of Magdalene, Telefon Tel Aviv). Lobo’s deeply romantic, fatalistic music has always luxuriated in sadness, and that isn’t about to change: themes addressed on Stop Suffering include, she tells us, “disappointing yourself and others…burning your own house down...temporary feelings with permanent consequences.” It is music steeped in pain and regret, certainly, but unlike TOC music of old, these new songs feel less about surrender: even if the title track does seem to address the S-M dynamic at the heart of any meaningful relationship (“For you the world feels so brand new / When you cut me like you do”). On the contrary, they are self-possessed and constructive, even confrontational, embodying the stark command of the EP's title. This is not a record about loss, but about what comes after: and it is mature enough to know that what comes after is no walk in the park. Lobo identifies the idea of “self-help” as being particularly pertinent to these songs, and this comes across: rebirth, redefining the borders of the self, learning to be happy again. Gone, or at least receding, is that decadent, fin-de-siècle preoccupation with decay, with the end. Stop Suffering is a new beginning. The towering, time-stopping title track is the culmination of Tropic of Cancer’s work to date, and sets the tone for the entire EP. This is music at once intimate and immense. Rarely does an arrangement so sparse exhibit such grandeur: Joshua Eustis's bravura mixing wrings spine-melting effect out of each component, and the dubwise harnessing of space and bass pressure first showcased on Restless Idylls is now a core, defining feature of the band. Lobo's melodic gift has always been strong, but the hypnotic, monochord intensity that characterised TOC’s previous records gives way here to a more concrete song-narrative - which serves only to heighten the sensation of drowned-world psychedelia. Her divine alto still swims in reverb, but the words are clearer, there’s a resolve to communicate through the aqueous haze: “I hope you’ll forgive me…” ‘I Woke Up And The Storm Was Over’, which appears here in a slightly different mix to that which opens the vinyl-only Blackest Ever Black compilation I Can’t Give You The Life You Want, is no less mesmerising, further highlighting Lobo's ever more sophisticated, painterly use of synth textures, not to mention her unmistakably plangent, otherworldly guitar work. She has spent a considerable amount of time crafting these songs, and it shows: for all that we cherish her earlier work, never has Tropic of Cancer sounded so poised, so assured, or so moving as it does today. The EP concludes with the elegiac, frozen-space ambience of ‘When The Dog Bites’; Lobo’s vocal is a radiant blur, consoling across a void of lonesome string-pads, vaporous noise and distant, tranquilized bass-drum detonations. "I've searched all the world," Lobo sings on 'I Woke Up...', "And it turns out I want all the world." With Tropic of Cancer it always comes back to longing: for the impossible, the irretrievable, the unrequitable.