Jazz / Free Jazz
Drone / Ambient
Outsider / Art Brut
Sound Art / Spoken Word
Indie / Rock
Folk / Song
Books and Magazines
Our new in house label, releasing music recorded in lockdown.
A feature length film, directed by Tori Kudo (Mahar Shalal Hash Baz)
This film is made by digital images from the early 00s to 2019, when I started taking pictures with cellular phones. You can see that upgrades in resolution have drastically changed "l'imaginaire" , as we move to smartphones. Most of the images are taken by myself, but my portraits are taken by others. I can't name all of them exactly. But if I had to name who, among them, are working as photographers in their honor, it would be Seiichi Sugita and Maki Abe.- Tori Kudo
The cover of this release was selected from one of six images sent to us by Tori of a sculpture incorporating layered photographs made by his mother. Tori wrote to us saying:
"These six photographs are almost like my mother’s posthumous work. The photographs show a Mobius ring of sheet iron onto which she sticked old photographs on top of each other. My mother’s father, my grandfather, was a painter who lived in Paris before the war. His style of painting was that he would layer paint very thickly. Georges Rouault scraped off layers of paint so he could create flat paintings. My grandfather’s paintings have 1cm thickness but they seemed more like 3D works rather than the perspective paintings. My mother piles up photographs on top of each other. So in a way her style resembles my grandfather’s technique from that point of view. It is quite interesting that I was doing something similar to my mother with the film I made for TakuRoku during lockdown. However in my case I displayed my photos side by side not on top of each other. All is shown, no layering, nothing hidden underneath. It may mean that I still have an attachment to this life. Archiving seems to be a theme of this time. The thing is what do we archive from history. “You could see the movement of power in the erased history “- I think Jacques Derrida was talking about something like that… Freud on the other hand, hated the idea of archiving…he said “it’s the end of one’s life once one started making their own autobiographical anthology.. that kind of wrapping up one’s life while you are still alive.” Yet recently I had an idea of looking into archiving from the perspective of a dead person looking back at their life. And this could fit into this time of pandemic as everyone is facing more or less this issue so I made this film. The first half of this year since the lock down I had done nothing as I received a state grant but the offer from TakuRoku label encouraged me to finish this work. It has been a good practice for me." --
Tori Kudo - film & direction
-- Kota Takeuchi - Font for the title at the endhttp://kota-takeuchi.net/
Tori Kudo - The song "archive" that plays in the end roll. Recorded in March 2020. Oliver Barrett - artwork design
Archive – Tori Kudo
Italian duo Rosso Polare treat us to their 2nd album, following the wonderful 'Lettere Animali' album, which was one of our highlights of 2020.
Cani Lenti is a collection of duels, some may say. As the two minds of Cesare Lopopolo and Annna Vezzosi converge, a dichotomy of harmonious and contrasting sounds ebb, swirl and clatter in and amongst themselves. Using techniques from call and response improvisation, tape manipulation, experimental music and free-form folk, their approach to music making feels both atypical and familiar, organised and free-flowing, rooted and landless. Like the films of fellow Italian film-maker Alice Rohrwacher, Rosso Polare's music feels grounded in the earth, but sprouts and spreads in strange and often anachronistic ways.
The duo describe this album as it’s a struggle – a skirmish – that strives to resemble filmic sonorisations and forgotten sounds. Together they lead us on a journey into the depths of Chthonian Music. Fans of the likes of Sun Araw, The Art Ensemble of Chicago and General Strike - dive in!
Written and performed by Cesare Lopopolo & Anna Vezzosi
Recorded between Milan and Brescia in 2020-2021
Mixed and produced by Cesare Lopopolo
Mastered by Alexander Pustynsky
Album art by Anna Vezzosi
Rosso Polare – Cani Lenti
"Having brought together two entirely independent solo improvisations like this, one from near the start of the lockdown and the other very recent, and finding that they fit together so well that I must have been following the same pattern albeit on two very different instruments, what does that tell me? Have I merely folded time on itself without any corresponding fold in space and thereby gone precisely nowhere? Have those intervening months vanished in the attempt?
And what can I call the fruits of that attempt? An imaginary duo between present me and early-lockdown me, made real by a stray thought taken too far (because I hadn't intended to put the two together when I recorded them). Have I learned nothing?
By themselves, each is both an attempt to reach beyond time in itself, by touching the infinite variability of the reality beyond illusion and, by that very variability (and unpredictability) a blow struck against the homogenising forces of consumerism, a wrench thrown in the gears of the satanic mill. But when combined, then, the variability is multiplied. Not by dialogue (since each was blind to the other) but the stark fact of their separation in time and the events that they book-end. 50,000 dead, give or take. Have we learned nothing?
Must the same battles be fought over and over again every single time?
Will we still follow the same pattern, when this is all over?"
- Massimo Magee, London, 11 May 2020
Cover image: '144 Pills' by MiHee Kim Magee
Massimo Magee – Wormhole to Nowhere
Dusting off the earthy sounds of American old-timers Hobart Smith, Dock Boggs and Dink Roberts, as well as Irish singer Margaret Barry, London-based Jacken Elswyth lets their influence flood their consciousness and weave itself into 7 stirring tracks. Side-stepping any revivalism, Jacken allows each track the space to trail its own path, letting the spindling strings of their banjo knot their own patterns and colours. With occasional accompaniment by shruti box and melodeon, there's a trance like nature to each proceeding, situating Jacken's work firmly in the tradition of the "avant-folk" (see Henry Flynt's experiments in country music), but very much tempered to their own voice, as if the listener is being given an intimate private view to Jacken's memories: both past and present.
Jacken Elswyth / banjo
Recorded and mixed by Jacken Elswyth. Mastered by Oli Barrett.
Cover design by Oli Barrett from a photo by Molly Budd.
Jacken Elswyth – Six Static Scenes
"Drum improv: polyrhythms, Bonham and Roach and Graves and Art and Bacon and blastbeats and that voice in the fire escape and nowhere and potatoes and the earth and chickens and greeness and moon observance, solos for solo and duo dancing. We all miss being with people. We’re all doing things to keep going, knowing how much worse the experience of the Other could be. One day maybe we’ll play music with other people in a room."
Blood Music - Drums & electronics
Recorded live at The Park Studios rehearsal room, September-October 2020.
The cover is a sketch of Dogen with stuff coming out of and into his eyes.
Go off, M8 – Blood Music
Whipped up live and onto tape in Brussell's experimental music mecca Les Atelier Claus last summer, 'Dork Star' is a gloriously breezy suite of weightless psychedelia and blues. Guitar, bass and drums weave in and out of one another seemlessly, drifting across an open plain and reaching towards ecstatic heights. If you love those early Träd Gräs Och Stenar records, you're in for a real treat here.
"In the past 15 or so years Ignatz has explored all visible cracks and overlapping layers between (or underneath) folk music, blues, singer- songwriter and psychedelia. De Stervende Honden (Dying Dogs in Dutch) know their place more than well, sending the anxious listener with endless psych bass and primitive percussion into a kennel where after a few bites dream state replaces sense of direction." - Dennis Tyfus
Bram Devens - Vocals, GuitarsTommy De Nys - BassErik Heestermans - Drums
All tracks recorded at Les Ateliers Claus, summer 2020 mixed by Erik Heestermans, mastered by Tommy De Nys
Ignatz and De Stervende Honden – Dork Star
The debut release by Slovenian musical polymath Iztok Koren, best known for his work in avantefolk outfits Širom, Škm banda and Hexenbrutal. Made in the heat of 2020’s lockdown, Iztok transmutes the intensity of the period into 6 pieces that sensitively unfurl over time. With various stringed instruments and field recordings in hand, he weaves his interests in Slovenian mysticism, ancient Chinese divination texts, his family and his new found love of nature, revealing an intimate snapshot of life up-close.
All compositions by Iztok Koren: banjo, prepared 3-string banjo, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, field recordings
Recorded and mixed by Chris Eckman, 15th august 2020Mastered by Dejan Lapanja
Cover art by Tina KonecDesign Oli BarrettNovember, 2020
Lonely Hymns and Pillars of Emptiness – Iztok Koren
Dan Haywood's practice exists in the liminal space between folk, pop and outer-musics. Indebted to troubadour cultures as much as natural history, psychogeography and centuries of British poetry and prose, his work takes singer-songwriter culture to the edge of the cliff, tip-toeing off the precipice, occasionally flying freely over uncharted territory.
For this new one-track album Dan uses the aesthetic language of American music (the cyclical dirge of blues and rock'n'roll, the organ funk of r'n'b, the rhythmic syntax of hip-hop) and folds them into a subjective template for his 'Country Dustbin': a song that attempts to come to terms with the clutter of a life in the 20th & 21st century. He utilises the Country Dustbin, in his own words, as “a bottomless pit when you need to dispose of a traumatic episode, a confession booth, a time capsule… an alembic to distil experience, a torch to illuminate a mystery, an arena for a reckoning.”
From Los Angeles to Peckham, from Armenia to Perry Barr, switching between autobiographical scenes and stolen observations of the lives of British people, Haywood conjures poetry that walks a tightrope across the joyful, the sad, the wondrous, the banal. Unburdened by dogmatism or linearity, there are glints of Ted Hughes, J.H. Prynne, Robert Burton and Bob Dylan, whipping his observations to allegorical and metaphysical heights. Each syllable is wedded to the band’s hypnotic beat as organic sounds unfurl throughout the 53-minute duration of the piece.Following a slew of ambitious projects, beginning in public with his star-gazing New Hawks triple LP in 2010, and more recently a series from his high gain outfit Pill Fangs, 'Country Dustbin' finds an uncompromising artist playfully pushing songcraft to new places.
“The best songwriter you’ve probably never heard of has delivered another diamond” Record Collector
“Very far out” David Berman
Dan Haywood – Country Dustbin
Deluxe version of the album now available to pre-order including bonus tracks and remixes from: https://pomeraniansnout.bandcamp.com
“Nostalgia (from nostos – return home, and algia – longing) is a longing for a home that no longer exists or has never existed. Nostalgia is a sentiment of loss and displacement, but it is also a romance with one’s own fantasy. Nostalgic love can only survive in a long-distance relationship. A cinematic image of nostalgia is a double exposure, or a superimposition of two images – of home and abroad, past and present, dream and everyday life. The moment we try to force it into a single image, it breaks the frame or burns the surface.”
- Svetlana Boym, “The Future of Nostalgia”
“I’m not deliberately out to antagonise an audience or spite them or anything like that, but if they adopt the attitude of ‘This isn’t what we expected’, then yippee, I’m gonna wallow in that, because you shouldn’t sit back and expect anything at all.”
- John Lydon, “Anger is an Energy”
Spring time. Three period instruments from the turn of the century: Yamaha CS1X, Korg MonoSynth 2000, MicroKorg Synth Vocoder. Fingers fumble, sounds happen - obnoxious, unapologetic, fragile like a wobbly cassette that you’ve listened to a million times on the Walkman you dropped before you could afford a Discman. I’m not playing the instruments, they are playing themselves, they are playing me and there is no forcing or fighting them. Faded-photograph sunshine sounds of ’90s electronica, caramelised sweetened condensed milk, the beach, rage, DIY chamber music for cats. Then, it stops: the end of nostalgia and the end of the world as you know it. We are getting old and the sounds have lost their innocence.
Thank you to Ed (Teddy) Bennett, Michael Keeney and Hannah Peel for the synth love.
Xenia Pestova Bennett - composition / performance / recording / mixing
Ed Bennett, production / creative & artistic concept
Antony Ryan (RedRedPaw), mastering
Oliver Barrett, cover design from a photo by Xenia Pestova Bennett
Xenia Pestova Bennett – Atonal Electronic Chamber Music For Cats
One way to spot a rip current in the ocean is to search for a rippled surface surrounded by still water. When many different currents are pulling in different directions, a rippling effect is created on the water's surface.
This piece is for 4 unamplified electric guitars. It’s in a 13-limit tuning that I've been exploring in various contexts recently.
Over the the piece's duration, the guitars are tuned up or down at specific points, so that they cross each other, moving from a close cluster to a spread voicing over three octaves.
As the frequencies push away or pull towards each other, the stillness is disrupted, sometimes only subtly, other times quite chaotically. At times many shifts happen at once, at other times the movement is against a backdrop of static pitches.
Julia Reidy - 4 unamplified guitars
Recorded in 2021
Mastered by Oliver Barrett
Album cover photo courtesy of Adam Pultz Melbye
How to spot a rip – Julia Reidy
When we asked Mariam Rezaei to submit a Takuroku release late in 2020 she responded by saying “I want to do something, but I want to make sure it's something special”. Almost a year later Mariam decided to team up with vocalist Alya Al-Sultani, presenting a first time duo on turntable and voice, sending lightning fast sonorisations bouncing off the walls of OTO.
Mariam and Alya come from different but overlapping disciplines. After growing up as a classically trained pianist, Mariam has built a reputation over time as a prolific turntablist, DJ and improvisor, never shying away from interdisciplinary and experimental projects. Alya meanwhile is a British-Iraqi soprano, but has spent the last few years integrating improvisational techniques, microtonal ideas and Eastern influences in her music. Together their dexterous lungs and nimble fingers birth forms that dance in and out of each other: shifting, soaring, dipping, diving, but never sitting still.Mariam takes Alya’s vocals as content to throw back into the mix, forming multiple layers of chops and edits that ricochet back and forth. Alya’s vocals move between tender refrains, textural flurries and righteous bursts of operatic expression, meeting Mariam digital fx, textural drones and sonic swells in ecstatic symbiosis.
Alya’s repeated aphorism “I want you, female,” throughout the start of the set spells it out. This is music about desire and liberation: fiery, sonically rambunctious and forever reaching for new heights.
Alya Al-Sultani - voice
Mariam Rezaei - turntables
Recorded in Cafe OTO by Shaun Crook on the 30th of June, 2021
Mixed & mastered by Oliver Barrett
Sister – Alya Al-Sultani & Mariam Rezaei
For Erika.In memoriam William Thomson, potman, pub pianist who died of TB at 39, the grandfather I never knew.
Text, 'Lessness' by Samuel BeckettMusic by John Tilbury
--John Tilbury: voice and clavichord
Recorded & mastered by Shaun Crook
Cover art by Billy Steiger
N.B. The play-back level should be quiet; the text should be comfortably intelligible.
John Tilbury – Metalessness
Wild Rani's music emerges from the sonic dirtbin of two different experimental traditions; the laconic and dry no-wave synth and tape work of late 70/80’s UK acts like Cabaret Voltaire, and the gooey dirge of Michigan noiseniks Wolf Eyes. Both approaches infuse her sound world with an eerie aura, filling the space with slime dripped synths, discombobulating drones and flurries of flute and rattle-snake percussion.
Becky’s words are pushed to the fore, spelling out her upheavals, desires and alienation in direct, matter of fact syntax. This is an incantation and excavation – dispelling the ghosts of 2020 and 2021 in aural form. Having this as part of our final set of releases is fitting: an ode to an extremely strange, dark time.
Wild Rani - synths, vocals & various instrumentation
Mastered by Oliver Barrett
Wild Rani – Ruminations Until All Done
Since 2006 the Portugese duo of Marta Ângela and João Artur (CALHAU!) have been quietly labouring away on their wonderfully tilted practice, embracing music, text, film, and visual arts on a path that has included performances, exhibition projects and several artistic residencies.
For this new release on Takuroku they take influence from medieval Galician-Portuguese songs/poetry of insult and mockery called cantigas d'escarnio e maldizert. A carnivalesque sense of play, pathos and absurdity haunts the 33 minutes run time as they shift between sung and spoken incantations, baroque organ dirges, junk-yard musique concrete, layers of tape mush and sonic trickery.
Although medievil in theme, there is a particular timelessness to proceedings. One of the main instruments CALHAU lists is "the ghosts of an old cassette re-recorded thousand times during the last 20 years" - with sounds fermented and rendered into beguiling forms. Another is "a crappy electric organ from 1980 called ORION", which dispels both baroque and twisted sonics from its tired engine.
When first listening to this it instantly brought to mind the late Ghédalia Tazartès, who sadly passed away this year. Similar to Ghédalia's work this is ageless, contradictory, old, new, sad, strange and often hilarious music. Music that fearlessly reveals its multiple facets to slowly unfurl its twisted, tender core.
CALHAU are Marta Ângela and João Artur
Mastered by Oliver Barrett
orioNoiro – CALHAU!
Patrick Ward’s performances are dynamic contractions of his gallery installations in which video sequences designed for multiple screens are 'stacked’ within a single frame. Following up his Retroversion/s performances at Cafe Oto Ward’s Video Evidence presents a collage of sounds sourced from old VHS tapes, incidental phone footage and barely viewed YouTubes.
Edited and mixed in Tottenham, September 2021
Mastered by Oliver Barrett
Patrick Ward – Video Evidence
Very pleased to digitally release this set of music and poetry from the polar circles from Himali Singh Soin & David Soin Tappeser. ‘we are opposite like that’ is a vast series of interdisciplinary artworks that comprises fictional mythologies for the poles, told from the non-human perspective of an elder that has witnessed deep time: the ice.
The release of ‘we are opposite like that’ nestles itself in the twilight of 2021, year of fires and floods, in mourning and as an attempt to remember the last vestiges of ice on Earth. The first part of the release features an original score for string quartet inspired by field recordings from the Arctic and Antarctic circle. The music recounts the tale of the omnipresent anxiety in Victorian England of an imminent glacial epoch. The disorienting fear of an invasive periphery sent shudders through the colonial enterprise, the tremors of which can be felt in contemporary times.
The 2nd part of the release, ‘Subcontinentment’, is a manifesto that posits a South Asian Futurism, anti-chronicling the geopoetic links between the poles and the Indian subcontinent. The extra-terrestrial echoes of stones skimming on frozen lakes sound like firecrackers, blackening the air. The soundscape is set against the image of an alien figure from the equator traversing the blank, oblivious whiteness, slowly transforming into glimmering ice.
The album will be released later this year on vinyl, and will include a limited edition print comprising imagery and poetry from the visual ‘we are opposite like that’.
Mastered by Oli Barrett
Himali Singh Soin & David Soin Tappeser – we are opposite like that
Pleased to reveal a new release from prolific experimentalist Mamer. "A natural born multi-instrumentalist blessed by a prodigious gift, an iconoclastic music author notorious for reticence and reclusiveness, and a profound contemplator about the contemporary conditions of Kazakh culture with an often dystopian vision." - Mabu Li, The Wire
The unbounded creativity and elasticity of Mamer's practice finds itself at home in this new release. Tying his fingers to the strings of his guitar, he engages with a wide array of acoustic and fx-driven approaches, exploding the melodic, rhythmic and textural possibilities of the instrument wide open. Winding pitch-shifted motifs unfurl themselves slowly before falling off-track and into unknown terrain. Elsewhere lightning fast runs and percussive attacks on the strings collide and soar towards maximalist flurries.
Mamer's approach to his instrument nestles itself closely to Kazuhisa Uchihashi's pliant guitar playing and Fred Frith's wiry explorations, but heralds its own incendiary potential. This is music that literally can and does go anywhere, gleefully subverting any improvised tropes and delving itself deep into a world of sonic oddness.
Mamer - guitar & fx--
Cover design by Oliver Barrett
Recorded & Mastered by Fan JunzheRecorded in December 2017
Freeze Wizard – Mamer
The Mermaid Cafe's music arrives at the curious intersection between British song-based experimentalist practices. Tipping towards the tender minimalism of Jane and Barton and Young Marble Giants, as well as the contemporary composition of Mica Levi and Neil Luck, the group explore the awkward space where melody, harmony, sound and outré weirdness meet in tryst.
In this debut release by them, moods and tone palettes blend and shift, taking clouds of synthesis, ruffled tape work, scrapes of guitar and field recordings along with them as they lead us inward. Like the music, spoken refrains and diaristic laments arrive and disappear, providing signposts to their maze: intersections that gradually lead way to a romantic, melancholic core.
A pleasure to put out a new release by this exciting young group who are bursting full of ideas.
An Impossible View – The Mermaid Café