Now that we're almost exactly halfway through the year I thought I'd present a quick rundown of my favourite releases of the past six months.
Anna Holmer and Steve Moshier – Breadwoman & Other Tales (RVNG INTL)
RVNG INTL reaches into the depths of 1980s cassette culture and pulls out a gorgeous ambient record of chanting and odd noises made by a woman who just wanted to wear bread.
Bill Converse – Meditations/Industry (Dark Entries)
Don't know too much about this one but Dark Entries put it out and I can only say it has everything about Aphex Twin in it – acidy squiggles combined with beautiful ambient pads.
Carla Dal Forno – Fast Moving Cars (Blackest Ever Black)
In a parallel universe this is at the top of the charts. F Ingers and Tar Car member puts out an emotive, aching pop 7” on Blackest Ever Black.
David Bowie – Blackstar (Columbia)
Need I say more?
Floorplan – Victorious (M-Plant)
Robert Hood returns as Floorplan, this time with his daughter in tow, for a set of ecstatic (and to Hood, religious) disco/house/techno hybrids.
Fox/Soper Duo – Magenta Line (NNA Tapes)
Liturgy Member and Ben Frost collaborator Grex Fox continues drumming the fuck out of everything he comes across, this time with accompaniment from a screeching modular. Not one for the faint hearted.
JK Flesh – Rise Above/Nothing Is Free (Electric Deluxe/Downwards)
Nothing is Free stamps to wax a barreling earlier digital release on Downwards with a Surgeon remix on the flipside and Rise Above gives us a full length's worth of noisy workouts for Speedy J's Electric Deluxe.
John Roberts – Six (Brunette Editions)
Beautiful little 7” flexi influenced equally by post-dubstep club music and Japanese sounds. Bodes well for the album to come.
Joseph Quimby Jr – Court (Tombed Visions)
Ambient strings, ambient strings and more ambient strings from a little-known artist on Manchester's Tombed Visions tape label.
The Lines – Hull Down (Acute Records)
Whilst it contained one fantastic song (“The Landing”) The Line's best known album Therapy doesn't touch anything on here, a 90 degree left turn of a record bought up from the vaults of the band's unreleased third album. Rock but the danceable kind.
Moderat – III (Monkeytown)
More soulful electronic pop gems from the boys from Berlin. The arenas they're now playing applaud.
Ólafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm – Trance Frendz (Erased Tapes)
Those who have heard Nils Frahm's Late Night Tales mix will know that he's nocturnal. This set of improvisations with his Erased Tapes labelmate were recorded over the course of one late night and an early morning, surprising no-one. Previously released in DVD Video form.
Omar-S – The Best! (FXHE)
He's not modest but why should he be when he puts out glorious house/techno records like this that DJs will rinse for years to come. Not sure the wax version justifies the asking price though!
Regis - “The Boys Are Here” (Blackest Ever Black)
Birmingham's greatest/most terrifying musical export throws together techno, industrial and cabaret on this tape recorded live at Berghain, confusing everyone by including several artists with questionable/terrifying political views.
Robert Aiki Aubrey Low – Cognition/Observation (DDS)
A pair of bizarre and beguiling modular workouts on Demdike Stare's label.
Silent Servant – EGR45-00003 (Elektron Grammofon)
A typically solid pair of EBM-techno workouts from Juan Mendez on the a-side but the real draw here is the sinister, pummelling live excerpt on the b-side.
Surgeon – From Farthest Known Objects (Dynamic Tension Records)
Surgeon confounds expectations by putting out something viciously batshit enough that it could probably never be played in the club.
There's only so much I can say about soothing ambience. And it's not much.
Various Artists – So-Low (The Vinyl Factory)
JD Twitch compiles the bizarre, the banging and the beatless on this compendium of 80s minimal synth and wave that has rocked his Glasgow night of the same name.
Vatican Shadow – Media In The Service Of Terror (Hospital Productions)
Dominic Fernow with more of the same, only better. Only Through The Window as Prurient from 2013 matches it to my knowledge. This one comes with a 100 page fake newspaper related to the Vatican Shadow project.