featured: Oksun Ox “I Don’t Care I Already Told You”

Standard

First of all, that title… great, isn’t it? Like an emphatic excerpt of an overheard argument, or a quick dismissal of something we’ll never know the other half of. I appreciate Raymond Carver-esque conversational fragments like that. There’s a story there. It doesn’t matter that we know any more of the story than that, just that we’re aware of a story out there somewhere.

Oksun Ox is one-man-band Ben Holmes, and his debut album (preceded only by an 8″ lathe cut record called Dreamboat Screams Up the River of Blood, courtesy of Stabbies and the Rocket) is a jolt of peculiar energy that I heartily recommend diving into. Consider: the particular broken-down aesthetic of a certain subsection of the New Zealand underground (think of Armpit, Sandoz Lab Technicians, The Dew Line-era Gate, GFrenzy… and non-NZer People Skills, of Philadelphia) tends to evoke intimacy, fragility, weariness or resignation. There’s a certain mood that music conjures, a hard-to-peg blanket of melancholy, abject and deflated. You’re apt to hear artifacts of home recording, noisy accidents of busted gear and intentionally imperfect virtuosity… Oksun Ox has all of those signifiers and yet he sounds like a party band. Imagine if Alastair Galbraith played R&B, or if Matt Middleton did Prince covers. Round Bale Recordings‘ David Perron remarked to me that he’s been describing this record as being like an imaginary Pumice/Mr. Quintron collaboration, which is hilariously accurate.

But all these comparisons don’t do Oksun Ox justice for what it isI Don’t Care I Already Told You is furiously enjoyable, garbled electronic party music. When Holmes lets loose and croons like James Brown or David Yow fronting an orchestra of tiny robots, it’s both thrilling and jarring in its naked display of raw emotion. Where Michael Morley might mutter his songs dejectedly from behind a wall of hiss, Holmes belts out his songs, imagining himself to be on a stage in front a packed house full of screaming fans… though he’s probably just in his living room. Instead of a 20-piece orchestra, he’s got a rickety drum box, a couple of dilapidated keyboards and a filthy microphone that distorts and obscures his words. It’s only on “Strollin”, near the end of the album, that a fuzzy wall of decrepit noise takes a dour turn, but it’s a quick detour before Holmes returns with the swampy swagger of “Battle of the Stations”. Highest recommendation.

featured: six compilations inspired by Covid-19

Standard

As the novel coronavirus forces most of the planet to stay at home and avoid other people, we find ourselves in a weird situation… a common anxiety, but also a common experience of remaining indoors or otherwise isolated while everyone simply waits. The mass illness and death is horrifying. The confusion and chaos instilled by some nations’ leaders is infuriating. And yet, artists need to create. When we suddenly have lots of time on our hands, we feel compelled to devote more of that time to positive ends, creating art and expressing our thoughts and ideas to share with others; a show of solidarity that’s sincrerely touching and rare.

Something about this global pandemic is inspiring people to create and/or curate art on a massive scale…. and this compilation, being offered for free/name-yr-price, is indeed M A S S I V E. Psi-Solation: A Global Compilation of Music Made in Lockdown ought to keep all of you busy for at least the next couple of months. Collected in once place are 119 tracks by equally as many artists, including me, 1/3 Octave Band, Peter Wright, Mike Bullock, Lasse Marhaug, Brendan Murray, Indira Neville, Astro, Edward Sol, Insect Factory, Thaniel Ion Lee, Seht, RST, Richard Francis, Pumice, Ducklingmonster, Mr. Sterile Assembly, Amon Dude and many many MANY more… including a band called Cats Are Arseholes, who I’ve never heard of but that’s just a terrific name, isn’t it? This behemoth was dreamed up and stapled together by my old pal Campbell Kneale (aka Our Love Will Destroy the World, Birchville Cat Motel, etc), who released it on his Celebrate Psi Phenomenon imprint. If you choose to pay for the comp, all the money goes to help Campbell run his art gallery space in Featherston, New Zealand… a worthy thing to support, for sure. We’re all stuck inside, art can help us process these insane times and make them somewhat more bearable. Ice cream helps too, but you can’t get that from Bandcamp, so…

Once you’ve absorbed all eight+ hours of that, here’s one more virally-inspired monster: High Risk of Hair Ribbons and Rainbows (I Got the Corona 19 Blues) is close to 100 more tracks of noise and “experimental”-type weirdness, this one curated by Chris Phinney (aka Mental Anguish) for his legendary Harsh Reality Music label, which has been releasing music out of Memphis TN since 1982. This comp skews towards industrial noise and cassette-network weirdo types, including GX Jupitter-Larsen, Minoy (something from the late artist’s archives), PBK, Konstruktivists, Al Margolis, {An} Eel, Sean Derrick Cooper Marquardt, Don Campau, Attrition, Swinebolt 45 and so many more that I’m not gonna bother typing out here ‘cuz you can so check it out for yourself. I have a track on this one also.

The next two albums are released from the same label, which seems to have sprung up as a direct response to Covid 19. Social Isolation Records, based in India, has mad two volumes of music available, both featuring artists I’ve not heard of until now: Aeon Waves, Corridors, philterSoup, IP, Nishi, lots of others. Most of the artists are from India, which is also interesting as I don’t think I’ve head much Indian electronic music until now.

From there, we move from India to Indiana and the wonderful ambient label Past Inside the Present. If you’re familiar with PITP, you know that they curate a specific sound… ethereal and generally positive atmospheres and light electronic bloop, nothing too brooding or noisy. Healing Sounds II: A Compilation For Those In Need is a 4xCD set or a $1 download (you may pay more if you choose to), with all proceeds going to Feeding America, a fantastic organization that helps families provide food to low-income families. This is another big album, plenty to color your day with sonic pastels… music from r beny, Awakened Souls, Moss Covered Technology, Dreamgazer, Ludvig Cimbrellus, Chrisina Giannone etc etc.

Finally, we have Pandemic Response Division, compiled by Michael Esposito‘s Spectral Electric label. Here’s his explanation: “Based on EVPs and Field recordings taken from a variety of pandemic related sites. Contributions from artists will be uploaded to album as they come available. When album is finished they will be released on a limited edition fully printed USB card. All contributions will be collected and sent to a COVID – 19 relief effort.” That means the comp could very well grow in scale, so download now and continue to check back for more music! Right now, it includes source sounds provided by Esposito (whose interest in EVP seems to be the main feature of his work) composed by Francisco Lopez, CM von Hauswolff, Vanessa Sinclair, Schneider TM, Edward Quist, Andy Ortmann, Leif Elggren, Eraldo Bernocchi, France Jobin and the ubiquitous “more”.

If you know of other compilations being put together as a response to the novel coronavirus, please send me a message and let me know… I’ll feature it on this site! Everyone stay safe, stay at home, wash your hands and for godsakes wear a mask when you have to go out.

featured: Michiru Aoyama

Standard

I’ve been working on my own music every single day since the pandemic began. I start at 5:30am (after I walk the dog, feed the rabbits, make some tea) and compose until 11am. It’s been ultra-productive and feels great… I’m making music that I’m genuinely excited about (mostly collaborative, but also a solo thing that I’m slowly chipping away at). The schedule keeps me feeling grounded and (relatively) normal. But making music is also wicked intense and sometimes I just need to turn my stupid brain off for awhile… so today, I’m listening to Michiru Aoyama. He’s more productive than I’ll ever be in my life… more than I’d ever want to be, honestly, since it seems like he just hits ‘record’ and lets the ambient zones fly… and then puts the results onto his Bandcamp soon thereafter. I’m enjoying most of Aoyama‘s tranquil synth/guitar drone bloops and I’m gonna keep on letting them seep into my home’s locked-down airspace like some audio Glade Plug-In, ambient music in the classic “Music For Airports” vein.

Most of Aoyama‘s albums are fairly similar to one another. I don’t have any problem with that. It’s a fairly uniform catalog, so you know what to expect when you sample any spoonful at random. The covers (at least, for the titles he’s self-released) are similar, too: a charmingly ordinary, unprocessed snapshot with a charmingly direct title printed in some cheerful color and banal font. Here are some of his titles: “Breakfast”, “Shrimp”, “Peach Scent”, “Cherry Blossom Viewing”, “Tunnel”, “Beautiful City”, “Hope”… yeah, in the wrong hands, this’d be insipid new age bullshit, and for sure Aoyama treads close to that line on occasion… close… but for meandering drone jams while the planet falls apart outside my window, this stuff is doing me right. Here are a few titles to check out, including some on labels other than his own:

featured: AMPLIFY 2020: Quarantine & Non-Event At Home

Standard

It’s hard right now to think about anything positive that could come out of this insane worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. Mass sickness and death with more on the way (especially in the US, whose “leadership” still doesn’t seem to understand what a big deal this is), slow-motion economic/educational collapse that we’ll no doubt experience ripples of for decades, seismic shifts in the way we all live and interact… it’s a horror show. And yet, from within the comfort (is that the right word?) of our stay-at-home isolation, sound artists are using free time they’ve suddenly had forced upon them to come up with new music. In many cases, people are making their output available for free/pay-what-you-want on Bandcamp as a way to share the immediacy of the work (see my previous entry for a few directions to explore). Two entities in particular are taking a different approach: Bandcamp-only music events!

Jon Abbey, the guy behind the Erstwhile label and AMPLIFY series of music festivals, started an online version of his festival, which he’s calling AMPLIFY 2020: Quarantine. The festival started roughly simultaneously with the metastasizing crisis a few weeks ago, as schools were shutting down indefinitely and the gravity of the pandemic rapidly became clear for most of us in the States. From his home in Jersey City, Abbey invited artists from around the world to create new music made during the crisis… nothing from the archives, all music created quickly and under the influence of the shut down. The plan is to add new entries to the page for as long as the crisis lasts… which, um, could be awhile. Until we all can walk outside and hug each other again, dive in to the exponentially increasing number of exclusive recordings by such folks as Id M Theft Able, Theresa Smith, Fergus Kelly, Radio Cegeste, David Grubbs and probably tons more by the time you read these words. Oh, and I did one too. Here’s some places to begin exploring:

If you live in or near Boston and you’re interested in experimental-type music, you’ve gone to an event hosted by Non-Event. Operating since 2001 and still going strong, Non-Event has presented concerts in the greater Boston area by folks like Felix Kubin, Lasse Marhaug, Wendy Eisenberg, Eva-Marie Houben, G*Park, Christoph Heemann, Pita, France Jobin and too many more to name. The group is currently hosting Non-Event At Home, a series of free live recordings or other recently-composed music at their Bandcamp page (which also hosts their year-end podcast compilations, all worthwhile summations of the sort of art they curate). Here are some of the programs available for at-home listening, with more on the way.

In addition to Bandcamp audio, some Non-Event at Home presentations are live-streamed concerts (like a recent one by Joseph Allred) and/or video contributions such as this one by Mary Staubitz and Russ Waterhouse:

In these dark times, as we are all experiencing aloneness together, it’s heartening to be part of this sort of artistic communication. Stay safe, everybody. Keep six feet away from people. Wash your damn hands.

featured: Hair Stylistics

Standard

Masaya Nakahara‘s work is hard to describe, which is generally one of the traits I look for in an artist. As Violent Onsen Geisha, Nakahara was part of the first wave of noise artists in Japan. But while he produced several albums of excoriating noise (in particular, the out-of-print Excrete Music is worth tracking down), he never quite fit into that genre. In fact, he might be better known to people in Japan as a novelist, actor or a visual artist. He also experimented with instrumental hip-hop (check Dynamic Hate for my favorite album of his in that style) and sound collage that’s abstract but not necessarily harsh in the Merzbow sense. In the late 1990s, Nakahara changed his band name to Hair Stylistics and has been hyper-productive ever since. Discogs lists 187 Hair Stylistics albums as I type these words, most of them released as CDRs and so not accessible to those of us who don’t live in Tokyo.

Well, that just changed! There are now two Hair Stylistics Bandcamp pages. One of them just has two album on it, both of them previously available as CDRs. The other puts a new CDR title up seemingly every week, and they’re all pretty great! Hair Inferno (which you can hear below) starts as a blur of vinyl blorp, but becomes hard techno by the end.

The Peak of Casanova Style is more straightforward loopy noise, sounding like a melting television broadcasting from the TARDIS’ flight deck.

Another great one is N.I.I.M. (Not Interesting Industrial Music), which is a monotonous synthesizer workout of rhythmic splat and pulsing fuzz.

… and Bounder Bum (gotta love his titles!) is a techno stomper.

featured: Covid 19 edition!

Standard

Well…. this sure is weird, eh?

The entire planet is stuck inside for awhile. On the other side of this (duration unknown/unknowable), many aspects of civilization will be quite different. For now, though, we’ve got each other… and we’ve got music.

Today, March 20th, Bandcamp is not taking their usual fee from digital sales. That means that all money from Bandcamp purchases will go directly to the creators. Now that people who generate income from things like touring cannot do that for the foreseeable future, it’s my hope that we can buy albums today and help folks who’ve suddenly found themselves without income.

Karl Schmidt Verlag, the largest imprint in the world to refer to itself as a “micro-label”, has made all of its 400+ albums available for free/pay-what-you-want. KSV is run by one of my favorite artists, Tom Smith, and most of the music is by Smith (in various pseudonymous guises) and his groups To Live and Shave in L.A. & Merkwürdig Riechnerv. He’s also got a few archival releases from his 1980s bands Boat Of and Peach of Immortality and some by aesthetically empathetic friends like Aaron Moore, Anla Courtis, Siggtrygur Berg Siggmarsson, Aaron Dilloway, Kevin Drumm, Sudden Infant etc etc. There’s also a compilation that I have a track on. If you need someplace to jump in to KSV’s overwhelmingly vast catalog, start here:

Melbourne, Australia’s Eamon Sprod has likewise made his Bandcamp pages as Tarab and the Sonic Rubbish label free/pay-what-you-want and you can’t go wrong here. I reviewed his most recent Tarab album for Vital Weekly and had this to say:

… never mind the suggestive litany of source sounds provided by the artist: bicarb soda, air conditioning units, escalators, floorboards and so on. Instead, let’s talk about the industrial immensity and finely controlled drama of the piece. The music seems endlessly detailed, both legible and obscured at the same time, with a stellar control of tension. Not a second seems to be on autopilot.

Here’s the album I was talking about, and then another one that’s also gonna spin yr brain around for awhile:

Johannes Garbe makes ugly punk noise as [licht-ung] and mainly releases his work in small-edition vinyl or tapes. Luckily for those who miss out on the physical editions, he also keeps a Bandcamp page and is offering his complete discography for 85% off today. You can grab [licht-ung] stuff and/or albums he’s released by Government Alpha, Id M Theft Able, Toshiji Mikawa, Ditterich von Euler-Donnersperg and lots of others. Here are a couple to consider:

Greg Davis makes music guaranteed to calm minds agitated by global uncertainty. His albums (solo, with Sun Circle, or with collaborators Keith Fullerton Whitman, Jeph Jerman etc) of meditative ambience, pastoral field recordings, sonic installations or pop-leaning cosmic abstraction are all worth your time and they’re all free/pay-what-you-want today. Start with these:

And speaking of lost income, the magnificent Ende Tymes Festival, run annually by Bob Bellerue in New York City, had to cancel its three-day event due to this viral pandemic. All of the artists who were planning to travel to perform are, like the rest of us, socially distancing at home. Bellerue has compiled a help list of Bandcamp links and artist pages here so that people can still listen and support these folks directly. There are far too many to list individually, so just check that page and investigate on yr own. Here are just a couple:

Finally, the prolific No Rent Recordings label has paused shipping physical cassettes in order to reduce having to go to the post office. In the meantime, they’ve made their entire catalog free/pay-what-you-want and it’s a wonderful way to spend a year+ indoors. They’ve got albums by well-known folks (like Paranoid Time, FFH, Boy Dirt Car, Thirdorgan) and obscure newcomers alike. Here are some ideas for starting points:

Stay safe, everyone! And one more thing…. if you’d like any music of mine, just visit my own Bandcamp page and use the code indoors for 95% off everything, including the complete catalog. I like these very much:

featured: Use No Hooks “The Job (Lost Recordings 1979-1983)”

Standard

WOW, folks. Just plain WOW WOW WOW. Here’s an album I never thought would appear, music that I figured I’d never get to hear. And yet: Chapter Music surprised me today and I’m so happy about it. The label responsible for reissuing Australian post-punk obscurities by Essendon Airport, Asphixiation and the brutally feral Primitive Calculators have cheered up my day, which had been otherwise grim in the face of this damn global pandemic of Covid-19. Want some good news today? THIS IS IT.

Use No Hooks were an Australian disco/funk/post-punk band from the early 80s. They had one song, “Do the Job”, on vol 2 of the “Can’t Stop It!” compilation and for awhile that was (pretty much) the only evidence that they ever existed… the song is so damn good that I often play it on repeat, just as excited about it every time. Once, when I went searching for more info, I came across a 2016 interview with the band about a reunion gig they’d planned. The article teasingly included a passing mention of a reel-to-reel tape containing old recordings they did decades ago, which remained unheard and unreleased. I figured that I’d never get a chance to hear those… maybe no one who isn’t already a friend of the band has heard them, or would even care to hear them now. Turns out, THIS ALBUM CONTAINS THAT REEL! Not only are the band’s old studio recordings here, but also additional live and rehearsal recordings… and it’s ALL AWESOME!

The label compares Use No Hooks to Chic and Talking Heads, and that seems appropriate. If you need something groovy to listen to today, a soundtrack to help you dance around while disinfecting every surface and washing your hands ’til your skin bleeds, this’ll do it. Guaranteed to make you smile and take your mind off the inevitable oncoming viral zombie apocalypse. Besides, dancing is way more fun than watching the news.

featured: Kommissar Hjuler und Frau “Spongebob Duell”

Standard

I remember when I first encountered Kommissar Detlev Hjuler & Mama Bar… I was visiting the Netherlands, and either Roel Meelkop or Freek Kinkelaar (I don’t remember which) gave me a stack of KH/MB CDRs and said something like “You’ve GOT to hear this stuff…” It led to my contacting the artists and eventually compiling a sorta “best of” their early recordings onto a CD for my own Intransitive label (RIP), but Hjuler & Bar never stopped making… uh, “music”? Suburban horror, banal daily life through a lens of trash, television, profane magazine cut-ups, self-aware art screaming and cassette distortion… and they release every sound they make, every breath captured onto tape and made public via edition-of-9 CDRs and vinyl covered in junk collage and good-natured Fluxus-flavored filth. Here’s an album about Spongebob Squarepants, because why the hell not.

featured: Walter Wright “Improvised Sessions”

Standard

Solo cassette by strangely under-documented Lowell, Massachusetts, legend Walter Wright. As a former member of noise band Due Process, Wright first came to my attention as a visual artist who projected live images onto RRRon Lessard during concerts but did not play sounds. However, Wright is primarily a percussionist and I didn’t get to hear that side of him until relatively recently. That might be because his percussing has been confined to live performances and just a handful of low-visibility tapes/CDRs in collaboration with folks like Jack Wright (no relation), Stephanie Germaine (aka Lak), the inimitable Andrea Pensado and few others. This changed when I moved to Lowell and had more opportunity to see Wright in his natural environment: making a big clatter behind a kit or playing nasty-looking electronic gizmos in a distinctly percussionist sort of way.

“Improvised Sessions” is, I believe, the only extant document of Wright on his own, which is especially surprising considering the amount of time he’s been active. There’s some audibly free-jazz-lineage improvisation here (as the title makes clear) with electric webbing threatening to short-circuit/overwhelm the drum solos. Sometimes, the drums take a back seat to angular bleeps and static alarms in a disorienting wash. It’s pretty great!

featured: Richard Skelton “Four”

Standard

Richard Skelton‘s “Four” is an album of four (duh) electronically treated variations of a piece for cello and viola, each one dedicated (“for”) a different city. Not sure I understand what each piece has to do with London, New York, Berlin or Los Angeles, but I do appreciate a good pun… or an attempt at a pun, anyway. I don’t suppose it matters. What you hear is, in effect, a lovely album of emotive, undulating slowed-strings drones and romantic fuzzy/noisy clusters, building in intensity and then ebbing away. If you like Brendan Murray, Peter Wright, Andrew Tasselmyer or 1/3 Octave Band, here’s something to check out. Released in mid-2019 by the Scottish label Aeolian.

featured: v/a “Homework Year 4”

Standard

Here’s a lovely Christmas gift, even if you don’t celebrate Christmas. Christmas is not my holiday, but I do enjoy and cheerfully accept gifts for any reason. Taâlem is a long-running, rather prolific Belgian label with a clear curatorial vision and a growing catalog of more than 130 titles. Most of what Taâlem publishes comes in the form of 3″CDRs, a really nice format for experimental/drone-type music. Twenty minutes of evocative ambience with a 3″ circle of art and not too much text: perfect, really. Every year, Taâlem releases an Advent calendar of one free/pay-what-you-want title from their impressive back catalog each day leading up to Christmas. And then, they assign Homework!

This here massive thing is the fourth volume of Homework, and it continues the label’s annual gift to us all: a free/pay-what-you-want international compilation featuring several hours (!!!) of music by some Taâlem regulars and others of similar demeanor. 59 tracks, many of them between 15 and 30 minutes long so it’s like a condensation of what the label is about in one nice, generous package. You get music by Vance Orchestra, Alan Jones, Rhucle, Jon Unger, Shinobu Nemoto, Fabio Orsi, Artificial Memory Trace, Strom Noir, Terje Paulsen, Simon Whetham, Koji Saito, Goose, Edward Ruchalski (wow, there’s a name I haven’t seen in awhile!), Andrea Marutti and tons more. Start listening now, get drawn into Taâlem‘s daunting back-catalog, and finish listening in time for the Year 5 installment in 2020.

featured: Saito Koji “Feel”

Standard

I dunno how the weather is where you’re reading this, but it’s winter here in New England and it’s horribly cold. Usually, it’s during these months that I question my decision to move to Massachusetts in the first place. Not only does it hurt to walk outside, but the sun goes down at 4:30pm so that by dinnertime it seems like midnight. So depressing.

Luckily, Saito Koji makes music that functions as a sonic SAD lamp. “Feel” is one of my favorite of his pieces, a great big fuzzy fuzzball of a drone album that sounds like what it feels like to be enveloped in a worn blanket for forty minutes. It’s lovely. Fans of Oliviaway, Rhucle, Forest Management or Ian Hawgood would dig this. The EP came out in 2013, published by a Swedish label called Median Recordings.

… and if you like “Feel”, you also might want to visit Saito’s own Bandcamp page, where he’s posted a bunch more of his albums and EPs. Check them out here:

He also has some music on the Element Perspective label, like this one:

featured: “On Corrosion”

Standard

Hey now, hey now now… sing “On Corrosion” to me! I’m gonna review this massive bastard at length for Vital Weekly, but lemme trumpet th’ thing here first: a ten-cassette boxset from Jim Haynes’ Helen Scarsdale label, released in a handmade wooden box with Haynes’ art inside… and did I mention ten cassettes?! That’s ten full-length albums by artists such as Relay For Death (whose previous Helen album, “Natural Incapacity“, is one of the more staggering documents of anti-music yet produced), G*Park, pinkcourtesyphone, Kleistwahr, Alice Kemp, She Spread Sorrow, Himulkalt, Fossil Aerosol Mining Project, Neutral and Francisco Meirino. It’s a lot to take it…. and I can’t honestly say that I’ve digested the whole thing yet, or even most of it…. but I sure plan to spend some time with “On Corrosion” over the next several days/weeks. The physical box might be gone by the time you read this, but a Bandcamp version will live on.

featured: Neil Campbell “Cloud Drag 1979”

Standard

Neil Campbell seems to simply exhale music. The always-brilliant and improbably prolific composer has recorded more fabulous albums than seems possible, and here’s another one. Maybe you know his techno-adjacent work as Astral Social Club, his rock-esque group improvisations with Vibracathedral Orchestra, his goofball noise with Smell & Quim, or any of his roughly ten-billion collaborations with folks like Julian Bradley, Campbell Kneale, Robert Horton, Noel Meek, Richard Youngs, Ashtray Navigations and on and on and on… but his solo music is, for me, where it’s at. His latest album (or at least, his latest this week) is a darker, more abrasive slab than I expected. These two mantras seem to be comprised of guitar-screech shards, oscillator whine and “riffs” caked over beds of solid industrial electro-chug. I’ve no idea why it’s named for the year that “Number One in Heaven” came out.

featured: P. Hope/Exploding Mind “grǫftr”

Standard

I’ve been a fan of the many projects of Peter Hope since I first heard “Hoodoo Talk”, his collaborative album with Cabaret Voltaire‘s Richard H. Kirk, released back in 1987. Hope‘s voice was (and is) maniacal and unhinged yet deeply soulful with the unmistakable roar of blues… he probably gets tired of Beefheart comparisons, so I won’t make one now. The music struck a chord with me then and made me a fan-for-life. Subsequent digging taught me that Hope led an un-Googleable industrial/funk band called The Box in the early 80s (sorta a bluesier & less didactic Pop Group), where he was backed by folks who fled an early incarnation of Clock DVA. But Hope has never rested on his laurels, and he’s spent his career continually challenging himself to make whatever sort of music captures his restless interest: he’s made albums of low-fi blues (with The Bone Orchestra), psych-rock sludge (with Flex 13), sorta blues/techno hybrid (with Hoodoo, a collaboration with Dave Lloyd and DJ Parrot), and other strange things that you’ll just have to hear for yrself.

The idea for Hope’s new album “grǫftr” (no idea how one might pronounce that… I choose not to try), if I understand it correctly, was to record improvised new vocals, live in one take, to accompany previously-recorded instrumental tracks by unsuspecting collaborators who only found out about Hope’s involvement once he sent the finished tracks to them later. There’s a lot of variety here. My favorite is the distorted croon added to bedroom techno by Meagan Johnson, aka Mrs. Dink, which sounds as if Hope’s voice was always supposed to be there. On another track, his echo-addled growl is coupled with repetitive analogue bleep by Glenn Wallis/Konstruktivists for a rather on-the-nose tribute to Suicide. Farther afield is an extended instrumental drums/horns/bass free-improv session by Derek Saw and Charlie Collins (both of The Bone Orchestra, and individually with Bass Tone Trap, Clock DVA etc) & Anton Mobin, which sounds as if Hope’s fractured breathy loops were present in the room with the trio all along.