Imagine Andrew Weatherall producing Pere Ubu. The 7” Taki Chrome / Strummer Maxxx single by Pink Skull released on Höga Nord Rekords give a hint of how such a collaboration would sound. Mid seventies kraut rock á la “Neu 75” meet leftfield and sophisticated punk. The record has an organic warmth to it yet the excessive use of electronics: most instruments on the tracks are synthesizers and drum machines – all Moog, Korg and whatnot. In the warmth of the Pink Skull-sound you suddenly get a wash of cold, hard rain from all directions. These elements of surprise create edges in the round soundscape and brings chaos to the mix. This is of course all part of Julian Grefes (founder of Pink Skull) plan. Pink Skull propels you out of the quarantine like a shiny metal free bird released from its rusty cage.
What better way to celebrate 100 releases than with a handmade box containing soul expanding music!? Höga Nord Rekords have reached an important goal and releases a rare box set containing all 12” from the HNRUK-series plus a new record from Birds, unique for this box. Except Birds, this compilation includes Dark Strands, High Boys, Vox Low, Timothy J. Fairplay, Fontän, Bird Of Paradise, Mythologen, Jamie Paton and Frak. This exclusive handmade box made in Norrmalms kartongfabrik in Stockholm, is a celebration to the Scandinavian Bronze age. You’ll find rock carvings like those on the artwork scattered over the land but mostly near Gothenburg, home of Höga Nord Rekords on the Swedish west coast. Archaeological evidence proves similarities in ornaments and pictures between the Nordic and European Bronze age, just like you find common features in the music released on our label. Though the acts in this compilation box come from all over Europe and beyond, they stem from an obscured and mysterious common source of escapism, purity and creativity.
With an Arturo Micro brute synthesizer put through psychedelic effects, Modern Ruin keeps the flame of Andrew Weatherall and Suicide burning through times of isolation and disarray. This Synth Wave/New Wave experience of an album, released on LP on Höga Nord Rekords, sums up 2020 with its dark and cold sound. The title speaks for itself: “Unemployment Disco Line” reflects the desperation in the sound and the reverb-drenched vocals in the back of the soundscape comes from deep within the Covid hole. Drawing influences from masters like the legends above, Rowland S. Howard, Johan Balance + Peter Christopherson et cetera, this debut album by Modern Ruin sums up four decades of underground club music and no matter how long this pandemic goes on we are in “Nothing Blues” until the dance floors open again.
Timothy J Fairplay is back on the label with a 7” single containing two tracks cut from a rock of uranium. “Pathfinder Theme” and “UFO’s Over China” might differ in sound and tempo but are connected by a radiant feeling. The two tracks bathes in a greenish/yellow bright toxic aura.
The Mothership has come! It has arrived in the form of the strictly limited collection box “Upwards at 33 1/3 Degrees” (50 copies), containing all singles released on the label between 2017 and 2020. The Höga Nord – galaxy resounds of all good between strict electro and loose jams, fluffy krautrock and moist world music to underwater techno and space funk. Although, what it is that defines the Höga Nord sound is not genres, instead it is, to cite Mathias Nilsson, founder of and boss for the label, music “strongly connected to fantasy, to the creative world.” The collection is an overview on Gothenburg’s underground music and on an international scene that breathes similar air as the local Swedish acts that Höga Nord Rekords has chosen to highlight.
The psychedelia of Purple Desert Rain God is playful and innovative in a way that brings early Pink Floyd to mind, where classic blues elements were mixed with tape loops and tremolo/feedback guitars. But more than 50 years has passed since Barret’s trip through universe was caught on tape and the comparison stops there: Purple Desert Rain God is a new take on acid rock. Purple Desert Rain God is nature music and transcendental dance music and they overlap between genuine psychedelia and electronic music with filter sweeps on guitars and drums. Sudden bursts of drum fills brakes the monotonous groove and amplifies the feeling of lost control and the band often balances on what is considered a beat that is on time. However, they keep momentum and hammers the pulse on your eardrums, into your mind.
Höga Nord Rekords presents Birds from London. Birds or Katie Wilkinson is relatively new as a producer but has been DJ-ing and playing in bands for the last nine years, marinating herself in interesting underground music. This 7”, Transcendental Phases / Tunnel Vision is her first release on Höga Nord Rekords. Birds is a declaration of love to electronic music and psychedelia.
Yesterday we presented the preferences of our readers from last year, now this is a list of 20 albums from 2019 that made an impression on us.
We have three pure electro albums from E.R.P., Jeremiah R. and Plant43 and the new electro-synthy album of veteran David Carretta, his first solo album for ten years. On the darker side of the synth palette we have two EBM/synth-pop albums from Boy Harsher and Years Of Denial, the debut album of Kris Baha, the third album of Greek producer June, a new one from Jason Letkiewicz aka Steve Summers under his new moniker Opposing Currents and two more industrial albums from Autumns and Colombian Filmmaker.
On the other had we have two acid gems from DimDJ and Paranoid London, the first ever Gladio album, the second album from Mannequin boss Alessandro Adriani and an experimental/ambient album from veteran Function on Tresor.
So, here it is compiled in chronological order.
Continue reading “20 Albums from 2019”
Kanot is Jesper Jarold and Anton Kolbe. With the help of Lindha Kallerdahl’s expressive vocals, Jarold and Kolbe weave an eclectic yet durable sonic textile. Call it music for psychadelic hiking, primitive dance beats or speculative folk music – most of all, it is unrestrained music, for the smartest and the dumbest kid in the classroom. In the dense, and at the same time airy production, some drums anchor themselves steadily into the ground while others lash out like reverberating rhythmic gunshots. The tones from Jesper’s guitar and fretless bass float like leaves on the Drangme Chhu River, at times almost drowning in effects only to resurface in surprising and skillfully chiseled melodies that could play forever.
Producer, drummer and sound engineer in all forms Stiletti-Ana aka Ilari Larjosto is known for his wide output in the world of cosmic, techno, leftfield, disco and ambient music. Stiletti-Ana keeps the main focus rather on timeless quality releases than searching for the hype. His new solo album “Ab Ovo” is the first full length Stiletti-Ana LP and represents his discoveries in the world of heavenly cinematic arpeggios, conga driven ambient and physical 3D drone compositions.
Luca Venezia, aka Curses, has with his Carcassonne-Mini LP, written and produced a cold wave dream filtered through how all the sci-fi movie soundtracks of the eighties should have sounded like; picture The Cure on a study visit in John Carpenters studio in 1983. This six-track Mini LP is his first release on Hoga Nord Rekords and features eighties influenced dark and expensive sounding electronic music. Luca Venezia also solves the task of putting vocal elements in the tracks with sharpness and precision; the heavy processed reverberating overdubs float in and out on a tastefully low level in the mix.
Minami Deutsch crushes negativity, sorrow, and depressive energy on their new Hoga Nord Rekords release, ‘Can’t get there’, a five-track EP. The Japanese psych-scene is being kept vital by picking up all the best influences from all the best psychedelic music and mixing that with a delicate touch of Japanese music tradition. On this EP, you hear all that you love and miss from the 70’s krautrock bands plus a cover on cult band Index’s song ‘Israeli blues’ from 1968. Also on this record are two remixes of the title track by HNR household names Jamie Paton and Mythologen. Listening to this, you get the feeling of leaving half your brain in a Volkswagen down an endless Autobahn in 1972 and one-half lost in the astral plane as boundless light, above space and time.
Hoga Nord Rekords have had the opportunity to work with Al Lover twice before during the last four years and now it’s time for the next step in the relationship between them, this time with the 7” single ‘Dark Matter Discotheque / Mark E. Moon’. In these tracks, Lover’s influences mainly stems from a decadent eighties New York or Paris and you can almost smell the heavy perfume mixed with indoors smoking get the feeling of sitting in a room with mirror walls.
Pete ‘Bassman’ Bain, one of the founding members of the UK cult psych rock band Spacemen 3, formed Alpha Stone after Spacemen 3 and his other band The Darkside split up in the mid-nineties. In 1996 the band recorded the album ‘Stereophonic Pop Art Music’ and it was released on Bomp! Records on Compact Disc. The album hasn’t had a ‘proper’ vinyl release until now, 2018, when Hoga Nord Rekords continues their collaboration with Pete Bassman by releasing the album. You can clearly hear that Pete Bassman was the driving force behind Alpha Stone; fuzz, synthesiser -sweeps, programmed drums and processed vocals are the cornerstones in Alpha Stone’s sound. Raga-like mantras, heard in Farmer C, lies track to track with more percussion driven grooves and psychedelic pop oriented songs. The album’s sound has obviously survived the 20+ years shelved in obscurity and proves the ‘Drugby’ sound still vital! It’s always hard to sum up a bands particular sound in a few words, but you could say that if you put guitar and bass, synthesisers, a drum machine, and Julian Copes record collection in the hands of an alien, you’ve got Alpha Stone.
Jamie Paton makes music that could be described as ‘Leftfield techno’ or ‘Slowmotion house’. ‘Disk Memories’, his second release on Hoga Nord Rekords, is barren electronic music for the Brexit generation. Paton has established a dystopic electronic sound that aims straight at your frontal lobe, burns in your bones, and projects a lost Europe’s anxiety on the grey London skies. The music breathes of the cold 1980’s, a time of crisis in England’s history and a vibe to be recognize in today’s society: right-wing winds once again blows hard over the British Isles and Jamie Paton’s music catches the insecurity the wind carries with it.
Well renowned bass player extraordinaire, Osynlige Mann from Gothenburg releases long awaited new solo material on Hoga Nord Rekords. This 7inch contains high voltage material; ‘Airports’ and ‘Exodus’ brings tense seventies synth and early eighties electro to the table. The A-side ‘Airports’ is a Kraftwerk inspired elegy over the lumpenproletariat of the machines – aeroplanes. ‘No sleep for the big machines, no rest for the sad machines’. The B-side, ‘Exodus’ carries more obvious characteristics from Osynlige Mann’s other electronic projects.
Last years (2017) edition of Convenanza festival featured Swedish band Fontan, who have released material on Hoga Nord Rekords, and that set the ground for a collaboration between the record label and one of the most interesting festivals around. The joint forces has resulted in the compilation album ‘Convenanza 2018’ containing this years (2018) acts. The contributors are: electro oozing duo The Woodleigh Research Facility, consisting of Andrew Weatherall and Nina Walsh, etno-minimalists Komodo Kolektif from Glasgow with, among others, Gordon Mackinnon who’s running the top quality label Invisible Inc. The more rock oriented side of ‘Convenanza 2018’ contains Berlin based Die Wilde Jagd, whose sound can be defined as some sort of post punk where strong chorus drenched basslines float upon a smooth electronic soundscape with both live drums and drum machines as the back bone to the beat. Wild Woman & The Savages could best be described as the result of an orgy between PIL and The Birthday Party! The Liminanas, with special guest Anton Newcombe, contribute to the collection a garage psych rock track suited for long hot drives through the dessert.
On Ultra Satan’s second 7inch release on Höga Nord Rekords, the band is developing a new genre and concept. Ultra Satan is like a space being, living alone in an enormously big and empty space station, orbiting our planet. With mathematical precision this genius creates music that effects us earthlings on a transcendental plane and shakes the foundation we lead or lives upon.
Timothy J. Fairplay is revisiting Hoga Nord Rekords to release the 12inch EP Mindfighter: photosensitive electronic music from one of the pillars of the modern meaningful dance music scene. Together with Scott Frasier, T.J.F. is running the record label ‘Crimes Of The Future’ and he is also known as one half of The Asphodells together with Andrew Weatherall. This is his second release on Hoga Nord Rekords and his first EP on the label.
There are many ways for a band or an artist to compile an album: some make it in a week and some let the process go on longer. The latter approach does often mean that that the record will not be better than had it been recorded and mixed within a short amount of time, rather the contrary. However, there are those albums that just could not be made within in a week or a month, those compilation of songs that needed the time to melt together to form an album. Fontän’s third album titled ‘Fontän’, released on Hoga Nord Rekords is that kind of an album. Put the opening track ‘Mangsebung’ on, then stay with the record until the closer ‘Shadows’ rings out and you will go clear, sharp, and mildly messed up by the listening experience because this is an extremely well directed trip in mind-altering music! This album needed time to reach such heights. With Johan Melin’s and Jesper Jarold’s love for music and non-sentimental creative approach, this album proves that the band never gets hung up on trying to sound like the past masters, but to develop what they once started.