Sound Art / Spoken Word
Indie / Rock
Folk / Song
A label run by Daryl Worthington (Beachers) and Tristan Bath (Spool's Out / Missing Organs). Splitting its existence between London and Vienna.
Perfectal Bum is a pop record, but one which gleefully messes with the form; zooming in, zooming out, deconstructing and reconstructing to engineer something uniquely surreal. It engages with conflict and resolution, experimental synthesis alongside deceptively catchy melodies. The tracks range from eccentric sound experimentation in the vain of The Residents or Snakefinger to italo disco, surreal spoken word to B-movie influenced synth pop. Alternate versions of songs from "Live On Your Yard" (Alter Records 2011) are included - original solo takes rather than full band interpretations.
The tracks that make up Perfectal Bum were recorded in 2007. This isn't some thrown together compilation of old demos and rarities though, but a carefully crafted album. Both sides are intricately sequenced, each track flowing into the next, pushing the album format to the extreme.
Tom Hirst, aka Design A Wave, explains: "Perfectal Bum was always intended to be an expression of something but what that was was always changing. Every song needed to some how mix into the other but also encapsulate it's own little world. The track order is also pretty much the chronological order that the songs were recorded in."
"I've never really thought "I'm going to make playful music" but that does seem to be what happens. I think it comes down to valuing the way that musical forms and gestures play with your perception. I think this sensibility stems from really getting into music in the 90s when things like IDM and post-rock were happening - really enjoying the way a novel rhythm/harmony/melody can confuse your brain - I guess that's psychedelic?"
Design A Wave – Perfectal Bum
Derichan sees London based Lafidki, aka Saphy Vong, exploring the rituals and traditions of his Cambodian heritage while protesting the repression increasingly prevalent in the country.
Vong was born to Cambodian parents in a Thai refugee camp. He has lived in cities across Europe and Asia, from Paris to Phnom Penh to Riga. These experiences have seeped into his music – a vivid, high energy collision of synths, samples and off-kilter polyrhythms.
A key inspiration for Derichan is the more than 20 ethnic groups residing in Cambodia’s uplands and mountains whose unique cultures, languages and histories are at risk.
“Historically, these peoples have been referred to as ethnic minorities, hill tribes, and other, more dehumanising terms associated with wildness, primitivity, savagery. ‘Derichan’ means bestial,” Vong explains.
“I wanted to give a voice to ethnic minorities, indigenous people, environmental activists who’ve been killed or jailed in Cambodia. I used samples from field recordings of Cambodian tribes, made in 2015 with the help of ethnomusicologist Julien Hairon.”
Alongside these field recordings, the record’s high energy electronics imagine a world where the stories passed down through Cambodia’s history collide with a dystopian present.
“The song Poan Pasda is about the story of the banana tree ghost, but with deforestation, there is no more place for this ghost.”
Ceremony of the Drowned covers similar ground, as Vong explains: “The souls of the drowned become water ghosts, causing shipwrecks and pulling swimmers under by their legs. The Ceremony of the Drowned coaxes the spirits out of the water so that they may find their way to the next life or proceed to the heavenly plane. But drought is touching Cambodia because of dam construction so these ghosts are also homeless now.”
Ghosts from Cambodia’s more recent history are also addressed, The Death of Chut Wutty acting as a tribute to an environmental activist killed in 2015.
Like previous Lafidki releases, Derichan is a record of bombastic, widescreen synthesis. But it weaves itself into a broader narrative of preserving identity in the face of oppression and homogenisation.
“I want to allow myself to embody the past, present, and future all at once so I created this album that explores sound with traditions and technologies. Cambodia is growing fast but not everyone is ready, so a parallel world inspired me.” Vong concludes.
Co-released by Bezirk and Chinabot
Derichan – Lafidki
Gareth JS Thomas is a London based musician and composer, a guitarist in USA Nails and Mayors of Miyazaki, and drummer for Silent Front (and previously Sly & The Family Drone). Cruising Hits is his latest solo release, a churning, crushing slab of minimalism, unnerving ambience and cracked pop music. It's a record rooted in cold, hard reality; evoking the faded greys and sharp edges of post-industrial Britain.
As much as anything, Cruising Hits was shaped by Gareth's interest in photography. "I take a lot of photographs, I have a bit of a thing for old cameras and crapped out underexposed images. The photowork on the cover is my work, I work in black and white a lot, and kind of thought of this project as being in black and white. I don't have synæsthesia though."
Opening track ‘Sons, Love Your Mothers’ twists and contorts Gareth's voice over muffled percussive loops and metallic drones. An epic piece of minimal composition designed to viciously confront rather than serenely lull. It's the start of an album that twists, bends and evolves in unexpected ways.
"All the vocals apart from those on ‘Pekeng Pagkain’ are me. That track is an edit of a set of found recordings that are (allegedly) from a factory in China, where counterfeit rice is manufactured from plastic. I got interested in the story after hearing one of my (Filipino) aunts talk about it, and found a bunch of rushes on the internet that were said to be recordings from said factory (‘Pekeng Pagkain’ is Filipino for ‘Fake Food’)."
Cruising Hits is the culmination of a decade collecting field recordings and sonic detritus, composition and collage mixed with the "why not" attitude of DIY hardcore shows. "I've been collecting samples and field recordings for over a decade. A bunch of stuff was sourced when I lived in Cardiff, some from a factory in China, a bunch done in my living room. Some moments were carefully calculated, others were experiments that just came off."
Gareth JS Thomas – Cruising Hits
On their debut album, 'once upon a time there was a mountain', Oishi use warped tape loops, field recordings and digital manipulation to explore how everyday sounds can carry unexpected paths of expression and meaning. Evoking fictional vocabularies and car radios via motorbike rides down imagined mountains.
Zheng Hao and Ren Shang are two artists from China, currently-based in London, UK. Their music as Oishi is a playful, joyful, and at points absurdist exploration through musique concrete, diaristic field recordings and digitally augmented realities.
once upon a time there was a mountain documents several facets of Oishi’s shifting interactions. For the a-side, Hao plays laptop, while Shang is on cassette player, the duo switching roles on the b-side. The raw material of the a-side is a field recording of Hao walking a friend’s dog in Urbana, Illinois. Effects both analogue (changing the speed of the tape) and digital are applied to shift a potentially familiar sound world into something concretely unfamiliar. The b-side poetically simulates the sound of a motorcycle engine, and is also inspired by the instability of car radio. Illuminating the collision between frenzied activity and apparent serenity involved in a vehicle’s movement, it also toys with the affect these sounds can carry, and how it can be captured or altered.
The duo explain that the album is partly driven by a desire to explore what an ‘Oishi-style’ blues would be. Hao: “the idea is for us to be the neighbours that live in the mountain - or farmer - people that would use their own original language to express their feelings, less compositional concepts, more direct, romantic expressions. therefore, using the word blues could probably be the simplest way for the audience to understand the feeling, and oishi-style means we are trying to deliver the bluesy feeling for you in our own musical way.”
Hinting at how the tape could be experienced, and the fact both sides are simply title ‘a side’, Hao explains: “If a mountain has two sides, then either side of the mountain can be the front, the back, or ‘one of the sides’ – a side. Therefore the mountain’s sound can be heard going up, but also going down.”
Oishi – once upon a time there was a mountain
Kib Elektra is the solo project from London-based producer and multi-instrumentalist Abi Bailey.
Her debut EP, 'Blemishes', is a glitch pop tour de force, soaring its way through a deluge of melodic vocal work, percussive grooves, and heavy synth bass. Bailey’s toured and worked with the likes of Emiliana Torrini, Brian Eno, M.I.A, , and Sylver Tongue - but Blemishes is her first completely solo body of work since the age of 16.
Recorded between her own studio and engineer Sam Norland’s studio, Bailey built upon Ableton sketches, adding guitar, bass, drum programming, Moog voyager and Prophet synths, vocals, and soundscapes recorded on travels in West Africa and Brazil.
“The title is taken from the most delicate of the five tracks. It just made sense to use this as the title. I don't use autotune for my vocals, so the EP is full of blemishes. I actually like adding glitches and warbles to roughen the vocals up. The texture can be really interesting.”
Reviews:"A fascinating, hugely promising debut that tickles the ears pleasantly from start to finish." - Echoes and Dust
"an excellent release, full of promise and of a well-tuned sensibility in need of more airtime in pop’s saturated world." - Foreign Accents
Kib Elektra – Blemishes
Schoolhouse is the solo electronica project of Manchester based composer Peter J. Taylor.
"Fade" was recorded entirely 'within' a laptop, yet the almost modern classical approach to composition and the ambiguity around the source of the sounds make it unique. Computer processed tones have been painstakingly arranged into the ominous swarming of 'What Was Said...', and the wandering interwoven melodies of 'Gran (D)'. It is at times crushingly claustrophobic, and others surreally optimistic. "I don't want to make happy songs or sad songs. I want to make music that demands you to feel conflicted by its tone", Taylor explains.
Fade – Schoolhouse
"On "Le Fruit De Mes Songes" Delphine Dora delivers a different, perhaps darker, shade of the unknown. Sixties psyche folk, Christian hymns and nursery songs - styles regularly deployed in horror films to deepen the mystery - seem syncretically blended here. Such is the uniqueness of her possessed, child-like song, the brain immediately grasps for such reference points lending these eight new pieces a haunted air.
Alternating between piano, harpsichord and what sounds like a church organ, the traditional accompaniment reinforces the eerieness. 'Harp-psi-chord' has Dora playing daintily on baroque keys to form a stately, old courtyard over which her wordless, tentative plainsong evokes a ghostly dance. On the following track, 'Oraculum', her calling voice becomes layered, the untranscribable lyrics translate as a channeling over which a church organ seeps in like ground fog. Elsewhere, small bells, a harp and whispers suitably gild the sung séance.
The compositions remain remarkably in flux between harmony and atonality yet somehow retain a classical elegance throughout. This leads to suspicions that their intent was not to spook, but to transgressively experiment to forge new forms from ancient modes, forms so new they unwittingly inspire misdirected associations. But, come the end of the album, when dogs are howling into the wind and Dora accompanies them so effectively as to believe both woman and beast are singing the same language, the occult theories seem undeniable." – The Quietus
Delphine Dora / music, recording, mixingGilles Deles / mastering
Released October 3, 2016
Delphine Dora – le fruit de mes songes
Steps on the Turning Year marks the second release from Nottingham, UK based artist, composer and musician Bredbeddle, aka, Rebecca Lee.
The four long form tracks here form a scrapbook built with snippets from Lee’s music collection from found sounds, amateur viol consorts and more. Drawing connections between different sounds creates odd narratives as loops mingle and glitch against each other. Although vinyl, CDs and turntables are part at the heart of the Bredbeddle process, Lee sees herself as a collagist, not a DJ or turntablist.
“I’m interested in mixing pre-existing recordings, and their cultural worlds together to suggest new types of song or story,” says Lee. “I have a stack of records with post-it-notes on them, to remind me of the sounds I want to use.” The quirks of her set up: laptop, turntable, and CD player end up shaping the sound. “While it’s possible to play loops on a turntable, it’s harder on a CD. With my old CD player, all I can do is keep skipping back to the start of the track, but that limitation becomes an effect in itself.”
The four pieces have been assembled with a delicate attention to detail. There are echoes of Christian Marclay or Joseph Hammer in the process, but the sheer breadth of materials Lee uses, from early music to BBC sound effects records and recycled recordings from her previous musical projects, makes Steps on the Turning Year a uniquely rich tapestry.
“I find connections between textures or moments in different pieces of music. Sometimes it’ll be similar chords, or a quality to the voice, the beginning of a phrase, or even the broken down and looped vowels of a spoken-word record. It means that early music gets combined with something much more contemporary, found and noisy sounds with studio albums.”
The result is an album of looping, meandering constructions, as sounds overlap before fluttering away from each other. “It’s not about deconstruction, but trying to assemble something new from these different recordings,” Lee explains. “I don’t think too much about whether a sound is particularly uncool, or fits a grid. It’s about letting them evolve and interact with each other.”
The artwork for the tape comes from conversations between Lee and designer Anna Peaker. "I really liked Anna’s use of icons and images in her work - the way she brings a variety of materials together into one space - it connected to the way the tracks are formed," Lee explains.
"So I tried to map out references for each piece drawing on sounds in the tracks, or the art work from the source music I used. Together we found and made materials that could be used and Anna worked with this collection to develop the design. The tape sleeves have become kind of weird landscapes and the O sleeve is (as you’d hope), a loop of its own." Released June 11, 2021
Bredbeddle – Steps on the Turning Year
The Incredible Years is the new solo album from London based musician and composer Gareth JS Thomas (guitarist in USA Nails, and formerly of Silent Front and Sly and the Family Drone).
Contrasting intimate recordings on an old family piano with pounding drums tracked on a digital recorder in a London practice room, the record exists between the comfort of home and a frustration at lost momentum.
“Around Christmas 2017 I started tracking the piano parts at my mum's old house down on the south coast,” explains Gareth. “This is the same piano that I used to noodle on as a little kid, it's maybe the first instrument I ever touched.”
“I'd intended to finish the tracks off at home in the following weeks but in January 2018 I was in a serious road accident while on tour with my old band (Silent Front), which meant I ended up housebound for a few months. I continued to work on them while I was stuck at home recovering, as I had little else to do, I added the drums in London the summer of 2018.”
The grey metallic hues of Gareth’s previous Bezirk release, Cruising Hits, remain – yet the synthetic palette of that album has been switched for a mix of organic, acoustic instruments. The result is five tracks that switch between smothering claustrophobia and minimalist ecstasy.
“I added big live drums partly to celebrate the freedom I felt when I was able to finally leave the house and use my body again post-accident” he reveals. “The making of this record spanned a very significant period in my life, where I was processing a lot of trauma but also learning to cherish a lot of the things I'd previously taken for granted. I guess it's only natural that that has been reflected in it.”
The album is accompanied by a video for Hyphen British. Made by Gareth, its source material is CT scans and X-rays that were taken just after the road accident. “They show me at my most unglamorously vulnerable,” he explains. “You can see all the broken bones, it might be more than some people want to see, but it felt appropriate.” Released January 24, 2020
The Incredible Years – Gareth JS Thomas
The debut release from Taw, Truce Terms is an uncanny mix of discrete cacophonies and Fisher Price musique concrete, using nothing but the contents of a child’s toy box for instruments.
Taw (pronunciation – rhymes with plough Welsh for the imperative form of 'quiet', as in 'shush!), is the duo of Simon Proffitt (The Master Musicians of Dyffryn Moor, Exotic Spresm) and Owen Martell. The five tracks, recorded by the pair over a single evening in 2017, playfully float from super slow toy xylophone fragments into rattled percussion and whistle melodies.
“My son was 18 months old at the time, and we'd accumulated quite a few toys that make various sounds - as one does with toddlers,” says Proffitt.
“It occurred to me that it'd be a fun experiment to see whether we could improvise interesting and credible music using only these toys, so I collected together all the toys in the house that made any sort of sound. We put everything in a big pile on the living room floor, set the portable recorder going, played for an hour or so and then pressed stop.”
The five pieces skim around solid forms and instead seem to tap into the fundamentals of our relationship with sound generating tools. Creating something that at points sounds like it could be field recordings from an isolated rainforest community.
“Thinking about it afterwards, and especially when listening back to the recording, it became clear that the whole thing is about play, but serious play. As adults, I think we all too often confuse play with silliness, but they can be very different things.”
pronunciation/translation notes:A1: pronounced 'jex' - the truce term I used at primary school (although to be effective it had to be said while tapping your chest. It only provided short-lived immunity, so for a longer truce you had to say 'jecs-all-my-life' instead of just jecs)A2: pronounced 'dye' - Welsh for 'two'.A4: hehb thim (voiced th) uhn yown - 'and nothing right'B1: KUH-mod - 'reconciliation'
Please note that the track order on tape and digital is slightly different
Released July 31, 2020
Truce Terms – Taw
Good Diz, Bad Bird is the new album from enigmatic British experimental musician Me, Claudius.
Opening with Me, Claudius playing mournful piano chords, something of a curveball for those familiar with her earlier work, the machine soon begins to stutter. The notes skip out of place, before totally tumbling down the stairs into a twisted, stuttering beat.
Field recording, found instruments and sampling are key in Me, Claudius’ process, a strive to capture the musical and rhythmic events that exist in the most unexpected places in our environment. In turn, this perverse sense of chaos in order seeps into the dynamic shifts and structures of her music.
Throughout the three tracks, Me, Claudius distinct sense for placement and alien groove is felt more concretely than before. Her percussion is sounds just on the edge of familiarity, the creaks, buzzes and whirs that infiltrate our subconscious. But from the murk they congeal again and again into glitched out, dub affected rhythms. The key is that the music should always be playful.
“Loops going on for far more than is comfortable is intentional,” she explains.
“It's another recurring theme. I find slight glee that it is jarring. Despite the serious themes and nature of some of the stuff I do... I hope the prevailing silliness is always apparent."
Me, Claudius is an experimental musician living in a village in Southern England. Good Diz, Bad Bird follows Back to the Sweat-Out Tower (2018 Linear Obsessional) and Reasons for Balloons (2017 Dinzu Artefacts).
The cassette edition of Good Diz, Bad Bird comes with handmade artwork, printed on a 1960s Farley 24a proofing press on Takeo Yomushi paper by Me, Claudius herself.
Released December 7, 2018
Me, Claudius – Good Diz, Bad Bird
“I wanted to make neopagan folk songs that would imitate the local muiñeiros, taking the interlacing lines of the landscape as harmonic progressions. And this is what came out,” says Greek sound artist Daphne X, about her new album, The Plumb Sutra.
The seven tracks here take in everything from the synthetic chirps and splashes of ‘Irimia’s Bones Crackle’ through spooky piano laments on ‘Eliseo’s Teeth Chatter’. While ‘Halo Dragon’ is a rabble rousing electro-acoustic folk dance of bounding percussion and polyphonic vocal lines. Mostly, the eight tracks are a beautiful document of Daphne X’s playful openness to the sounds and stories around her.
The Plumb Sutra was recorded in an isolated rural house in a semi-abandoned region of Galicia. Specifically, along the banks of the Miño, a river which, according to Galician folklore, was home to witches, animals and amphibian human in peaceful coexistence. The site is now threatened by pollution from a major landfill in nearby Eiroás.
“There we spent our days with the only other neighbour, Otilia, an 85-year-old farmer, who had never left the place,” explains Daphne X. “Her presence and the stories we heard from her, the soft rain that would fall continuously, the absolute serenity of the place, the fog that would cover everything in the absence of sun, the distant moans of the cows, the little squeals of the mink that would nest in our walls, the hooting of the owl in the attic, the purring of our shared cat, the sole company of the birds, the frogs, the crickets, the apparent discretion of human intervention in this vast area that sheltered us in those 6 months made us turn inward and grow like Otilia´s giant zucchinis.”
From collages of rain drops to diaristic travelogues with her friends, Daphne X’s recordings are dominated by moments and settings seeping into her music. No doubt the magic and history of Miño and its colourful inhabitants permeate every sound in Plumb Sutra’s fantastic sonic world.
“During this time, I moved a few centimetres away from the computer and instead sat at the piano and by my typewriter, researching local folk stories, polyphonic singing traditions and byzantine music notation, and recovering minor Asian refugee songs from the back of my glottis.”Daphne X is a Greek sound artist, based between Barcelona and Linz. Equally infatuated with mundane and virtual objects, she uses collected, amplified, and synthesized sounds, and voice, to explore and expose chimeric and unconventional forms and textures. Her music has been broadcasted on BBC3 Radio, Noods, and Tuskio.se, and written about by publications such as A Closer Listen and the Quietus.
Her work discusses the relationships between human and non-human agencies, emerging technologies and spirituality, mundane life, and fiction. Through a variety of formats, she explores economies of collective composition, environmental listening, and communal healing.
She’ s currently hosting a show on movement_athens radio called Sonic Utopias, participates in the Linz-based label Wirtshaus Secret, co-running the curating platform Cachichi. Released October 22, 2021
Daphne X – The Plumb Sutra
Shadow of a Shadow is the debut release from London-based Taiwanese composer Cyanching, showcasing her unique approach to composition and production.
“I try to redefine sampling,” she explains. “If I like a sound, I don’t just record it, I try to recreate it. If I love a bassline on a track for example, I try to play it myself and capture the qualities that attract me. By doing that you create a new sound within an old pattern.”
“The biggest part of my process is researching sounds, to get the materials for my compositions,” Cyanching says. “I then try to put these together, almost like collages. To create something new, to express a different narrative.”
The title track, Shadow of a Shadow, is a twenty plus minute journey through rustling ambience, mournful synth patterns and a climax of ferocious guitar chug that aims to capture Taiwan’s diversity. On the b-side, Cyanching engages with the country’s tumultuous past. The track titles, Fermentation, Invasion and Elimination, strive to tell the story of the formation of a national identity against terror and suffering.
“Taiwan lives in the shadow of a shadow,” she explains. “A history of invasion and cultural combination. I deliberately used the widest mix of frequencies and textures I could, to reflect the different ideologies in Taiwan. The pulses that go in and out of phase in the album are meant to capture the hope that ultimately, we’re all eventually heading in the same direction, towards the same goal.”
Despite the 4 tracks being so directly tied to Taiwan, Cyanching was determined to avoid dwelling on the country’s traditional music to signpost her heritage.
“This music is all about present ideology, so why do I need to use ‘traditional’ Taiwanese sounds?” she asks. “I should embrace the fact that I live in the west. If the music used sounds that were obviously Taiwanese, it would seem like I was trying to label it as being ‘outsider’. But I’m more interested in making a distinct identity by fusing different elements,” she concludes.
Released August 10, 2019
Shadow of a Shadow – Cyanching
The Lounge Era is the debut release from Dutch Courage, the new duo of Andreas Klotz (Superskin) and Gabor Kovacs (Új Bála). It’s a work of organic collaboration between the two artists. Jams on synths and drum machines recorded live to an old school tape deck.
“A year ago, Andreas came up with the idea of this band. I liked it, so we arranged a weekend in Vienna, just to see what we could do together,” Kovacs explains.
“It went pretty well, we jammed out the whole record from scratch during that 2-day period. The process was kind of a 50-50 ping-pong with sounds, if one of us started to write a beat the other finished it.”The results are a deeply rhythmic set of tracks which are, according to Kovacs, more influenced by hip hop and dub than dance music. “I cannot imagine it in a club environment, maybe in an after party of an after party,” says Kovacs.
Each of the 8 pieces revels in happy accidents and absurd consequences. Underpinned by off-kilter beats, warped synthesis and a constant sense of sitting on the edge of collapse. This approach bleeds through to the artwork of the release.
“Like almost everything from this project, it came from the gut,” reveals Kovacs. “I was looking for an electric chair originally, as I connected to the word lounge in a twisted way. I found that other electric chair, for massages, instead.”Released March 22, 2019
The Lounge Era – Dutch Courage