Rum Music For January Reviewed By Jennifer Lucy Allan

Jennifer Lucy Allan enjoys extended versions of Don Cherry tracks, architectural ambience from Romania, French bagpipes, gnarly dancehall and Welsh dub this January

Alina Kalancea

This month I’ve got a lot of music to catch up on, so there’s as much in my intro as there is in the actual reviews. Since Christmas and New Year is the only time I step off the new release train, I spend a month listening to music without a care for when it came out. I stockpiled for a cancelled Christmas by buying all three volumes of Jamaican doo-wop from Death Is Not The End, and a hand stamped paper bag containing five CD-Rs by Tuluum Shimmering, which was the best £10 I’ve spent in a very long time – their latest is my first entry for this month’s column.

I also did a big shop at Honest Jons (“for work”) and nabbed some reissues put out by Electric Knife of Japanese harsh noise royalty, and spent too much at new favourite record shop All Night Flights in Stockport. All Night Flights is the inheritor of my feelings for Low Company (RIP), in that it’s as much a shop as a discovery portal. Its sections include both “Welsh” and “Fluxus” and the fairly new in-house label is great, too. Browsing led me to this sold out Welsh dub 12” which seems almost impossible to find, and an incredible (but beyond my budget) digidub version of a Congos classic by Jah Dave. If like me, you can’t afford that, you can at least listen here.

This month’s column is also still picking up releases from the end of 2020, and so contains a couple of December releases. The LPs of the music of Takashi Inagaki for the experimental films of Takashi Ito have also finally arrived, and it’s the best looking record on the shelf. Soundohm has copies. While I’m talking about tactile sleeve design and Japanese experimental music, a note that the latest An’Archives is a physical-only 2LP set of Japanese saxophonist Masayoshi Urabe, with a screenprinted heart on the cover, you can hear samples of his “murky eroticism” here. I’m waiting for the full version to arrive.

In other important news, Bow Gamelan Ensemble also have a proper website, crammed with archival material. (Having once been required to write a full-page risk assessment for a single cable taped around the edge of a classroom, I am deeply envious of these explosive, cathartic performances.) I am also sad to report that in UK improv stalwart John Russell passed away a couple of weeks ago, a hub for the scene who made connections and brought many musicians together. Read Evan Parker’s tribute to him here.

Tuluum Shimmering – Brown Rice
(Tuluum Shimmering)

Brown Rice by Don Cherry is a spiritual jazz classic I would not let most people fuck about with. However, with a proven track record of doing just this, via psychedelic extended versions of tracks such as America’s ‘A Horse With No Name’, Pink Floyd’s ‘Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun’ and Miles Davis’ ‘Black Satin’, I’m more than happy for Tuluum Shimmering (aka Jake Webster from somewhere up north) to meditate on the ‘Brown Rice’ motif for a full hour, in spirograph loops for transcendence.

Senyawa – Alkisah

(Phantom Limb)

There was a time when the year in experimental music would be punctuated by a (relatively) big budget, fairly out-there album by treasures like Scott Walker, PJ Harvey, Robert Wyatt. Those sort of ‘event’ releases have been largely absent lately, now we’re all in our personalised silos, but the pure class of this new Senyawa album brought back that feeling of something really important dropping. Wukir Suryadi beats his home-made instruments as if to force a fissure in the earth itself; twangs outsized strings as if to raise the dead. Rully Shabara (singing in a mix of Indonesian languages) and can turn his voice from polyphonic layers of sacred, monk-like chanting to a classic death metal growl. Like an album of massive tunes for thirsty Sunn O))) fans, Alkisah is brutally doomy, and vividly apocalyptic. It’s absolutely brilliant.

Alina Kalancea – Impedance


Alina Kalancea is a Romanian sound artist and composer based in Modena, Italy, and Impedance appears to be her second full length, her first on the impeccable Important records. ‘Deranged Souls’ has airs of Jean Claude Eloy’s pachinko parlour piece ‘Gaku No Michi’, whereas at other times there’s the leaden weight and fizz of classic Touch releases. Rippling synthesizers, bubbles and plinks, along with gothic vocal lines, rove between the electroacoustic tape hiss, and what might be best described as a more cyber-electronic backdrop. It’s been compared to Eleh because it’s on Important, but it is less about pure tone drones and more about a textural type of storytelling, not just because of the vocals, but because of Kalancea’s architectural feel for sonic construction – I couldn’t shake visions of tracks like ‘Master Of Discipline’ being staircases and plinths, crenelations and finials.

RDL – Streets

(Duppy Gun)

A shot of fried and puckered dancehall incoming on 7” by vocalist RDL on the mic, from Portmore, Jamaica, and Mexican producer Smurphy on the buttons. Smurphy is one I picked up on late last year, her productions are proper gnarly neon hardcore shockers (see last year’s EP Spheres Of Conciousness), and she’s affiliated with the NAAFI crew (who Gaika also recently worked with). ‘Streets’ includes the acid fried single, the swampy dub of her riddim track, and the Vanta Black bass of a club mix version – the latter is made for a proper PA and is so heavy my fancy wi-fi speaker couldn’t lift it. (At time of writing Duppy Gun had their entire catalogue on PWYW to raise money for a new studio – I highly recommend grabbing those early 12”s.)

La Novia – Le soleil ni même la lune

(La Novia)

La Novia are a French collective who play various strains of traditional and experimental music. Their associated catalogue and various assemblages are a wormhole, and they’re also connected to one of my favourite bands, the chugging drums, hurdy-gurdy and bass trio France. This new release is a duo by Perrine Bourel on violin, and Jacques Puech on cabrette (a type of bagpipe) and singing. It contains waltzes, polkas, mazurkas and rigadons – the latter a French Baroque form with hopping steps, although don’t be fooled, none of these tracks are pretty dances. What I love about various La Novia-related releases is on evidence here: theirs is not polite folk music, never sweet and rarely soothing. It is, often, music that bares its teeth. I’ll admit I’m partial to any kind of bagpipe, but particularly love ones like this, that are sharp, insistent, and come with a loudness that has nothing to do with the volume knob.

Isak Hedtjärn, Katt Hernandez, Format – Cannibal Twin


Violinist Katt Hernandez is one I’m watching closely for new releases after loving some of her solo work I heard through a release from Sweden via Italy by the label side of a fanzine called Coda run by Eugenio Luciano. Luciano is one half of free improv/noise duo Format (with Ben Speth) and this cassette is a split release of sorts – three tracks of Format collaborating with saxophonist Isak Hedtjärn and three tracks with Hernandez. The three tracks with Hedtjärn are a push and pull of improvisatory saxophone and free playing on drums, with crackling electronics. It’s pleasingly not too neat and they know when to burn and when to breathe. Hernandez is listed as playing ‘maverick violin’ and her playing is a jagged line; a shriek; a squall. Apparently when they toured, one audience member in Malmo smashed a shovel on the venue floor to show appreciation, which I suppose means people must take shovels out-out in Sweden.

Kelly Jayne Jones – The Reed Flute Is Fire Not Wind


I think of Kelly Jayne Jones as being from the UK DIY underground, and while that is her background, this album has none of the sonic hallmarks you’d expect from that sphere. Instead it sounds like it comes from a 1970s electronic music studio embedded in a mystical forest. It is so crisp, and reveals itself further with each repeat listen. There is gorgeous delicacy here, whether from breathy, acoustic sources or electroacoustic glints and whirrs – fans of INA-GRM might hear similarities with Francois Bayle’s palette in ‘Love Fire Tangled In Reeds’. The 12-minute title track is my favourite thing Jones has ever released. Arranged as if a suite for the elements, the whole thing is a dream painted in ink; a landscape of lapping water and caverns, glistening rocks, whistling bamboo, spirit voices and electrified metals. I recommend eyes-closed listening, to properly enjoy the trip.

There’s a special version here that comes with a piece of obsidian, green fluorite, incense and a drawing, all wrapped in gold velvet. 

Mika Vainio – Last Live

(Editions Mego)

Mika Vainio – 25082016235210179: Live at Berlin Atonal
(Berlin Atonal)

Two Mika Vainio live albums arrived in my inbox over the festive and New Year period, claiming to be his last live recording, although Atonal now seems to have dropped this claim. Given that Vainio was not a sure thing live – his sets tended to either rewire you for life or completely flop – I was sceptical about posthumous live releases. The proceeds from the Berlin Atonal 2016 release go to charity and the LPs are just arriving, although the digital was out last year. It has an in the room feel, capturing Vainio’s ferocious sounds in the expanse of their industrial warehouse venue. The Mego release was worked on by many of his longest collaborators and friends. Titled Last Live (Fushitsusha reference there lads?) it is special.

It sounds like it’s pulled off the desk and opens with a pretty solid fuck off: five or so minutes of a pure tone to weed out any amateurs (I’m guessing a square wave but honestly not sure my ears are up to spotting the difference) that feels like it might turn your earholes inside out. After that it opens up. Vainio was never hysterical like harsh noise sometimes is, and his most affecting work instead seethed with frustration, or nursed catharsis. Here, that weight is present, in moments like the in-the-red distortion of ‘Movement 2’ or the piercing digital bosun’s whistle in the middle of ‘Movement 3’. Listening again to his music after a long time away – knowing that I have compared multiple people to him in the interim in print and in passing – has refreshed my appreciation of what he does that other analogue textural noise and electronic musicians do not. He pulled the very dirt from the air and pushed it out through the speakers; could flay reality with nothing but a fleshy finger on a quarter inch jack.

William Parker – Migration Of Silence Into And Out Of The Tone World
(AUM Fidelity)

My final entry this month is more of a news story than a review, because I’ve only had this 10CD box set of work by composer and double bass player William Parker in my inbox a week. So, in the spirit of this column keeping up with events, and because I’ve been excited about it since last year, you are hereby notified. It is properly epic in its scope, all pieces were recorded in the last two years, and have female voices at their core. I keep getting stuck on a disc called The Majesty Of Jah that contains a track called ‘Sun Song’, on which Ellen Christie’s voice, Jalalu-Kalvert Nelson’s trumpet and Parker’s own playing have moments where they are so swift and light it seems they weigh nothing at all. I hear there aren’t a huge number being pressed, so don’t sleep.


Heavy Metal and their albums are named precisely so people like me never find them, but I did. I’ve been waiting for Heavy Metal 5 from these punk-metal edgelords since November. The glue is going on my copy of Heavy Metal 4 and the grooves are wearing down on 3. Gi’s a fix lads!?

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