Reviews 2023

As always, please note that we are ‘old school’ and only review releases sent on physical formats. Downloads and streaming links tend to get lost due to the amount of emails received daily not only due to Adverse Effect, but also because of Fourth Dimension Records and its associated labels, plus the book publishing wing. We fully understand and appreciate the additional costs involved in sending vinyl, CDs and cassettes, etc., but we do at least get to everything sent in due course. We also inform you directly once a review is uploaded.

If interested in a review, please send material to the usual address:

Adverse Effect c/o Richo

Winnicka 57B

32-020 Wieliczka



To get an idea of where our interests are, check out the other reviews pages on the site.

NB: 2023 reviews are by Richard Johnson and Steve Pescott


And Also The Trees The Bone Carver CD (AATT, 2022)

Amazingly, The Bone Carver is And Also The Trees’ fourteenth album in just over forty years. During this time, and since their 1982 debut cassette album From Under the Hill (now to be found accompanying 2020’s remastered reissue of the eponymous 1984 debut LP), itself partly co-produced by The Cure’s Robert Smith and Mike Hedges, the group has danced along a trajectory of its own making that’s unfortunately never seen it gain the wider recognition it deserves. Having initially bubbled up from the vibrant post-punk quagmire of the time, AATT soon shed more direct references to this as they perfected a sound which whilst still sometimes affectionately nodding back to earlier times actually embraced a maturity which went beyond their years. Combining a romantic, poetic and literary stance with songwriting which could confidently sway from sombre ballads to music of a more dramatic or even ravaged nature, there was always a keen cinematic quality attached to this perfect backdrop to vocalist Simon Jones’ figural lyrics and often moody delivery. Only Tindersticks appear like contemporaries, but even then any such (loose) reference falters at various junctures along the way, thus rendering it even harder to understand how AATT never broke far beyond the appeal of a limited but thankfully diehard and fervent audience.

The Bone Carver is no different with respect to the group’s apparently indelible craftsmanship, either. The album’s opener, ‘In a Bed in Yugoslavia’, tends to set the tone for the remainder with majestic guitar work from Simon’s brother and co-founder Justin, a powerful and energetic rhythm section courtesy of Paul Hill (drums) and Grant Gordon (bass), plus a tempered yet melancholic clarinet refrain by Colin Ozanne. The latter makes several more appearances throughout the album and although a largely subtle and unobtrusive presence is all the more effective for it. On the redolent ‘The Book Burners’, we are treated to Justin’s trademark mandolin-inspired guitar sound while the title track once again utilises this for one of the most glorious exercises in jazz-tinged sonic vistas the group offers here. As always, every song both complements the setting of its bedfellows and appears like the result of a mastery that’s lost a lot of blood, sweat and tears along the way.

Everything adds up to an album that might not necessarily mark it out from a number of others in AATT’s vast, rich and beautiful catalogue, but still stands like a giant in a sea of music that can only at best be described as ordinary. A triumph in and of itself. (RJ)

Christoph Heemann End of an Era LP (Ferns Recordings, France, 2023)

My first encounter with Christoph Heemann’s work was via 1986’s Melchior (Aufmarsch Der Schlampen) LP on United Dairies by the duo he co-founded known as H.N.A.S. Since the more generally haphazard and sometimes absurdist approach adopted by them, however, he has collaborated with the likes of Masami Akita, Jim O’Rourke, Andrew Chalk, Steven Stapleton, Limpe Fuchs, Edward Ka-Spel and many others, plus released a number of solo albums which tend to operate in those murky worlds where ambient music meets abstract electronics and electroacoustic works. All of it is high calibre and comes from an understanding, doubtlessly rooted in his earlier works, of music of this nature needing to be organic and expansive in order to thrive. The two 20-odd minute pieces which constitute End of an Era are from recordings initially made between 1999 and 2021, and while side one’s ‘Time and Again… and Again’ was remixed in 2022 there’s something in this alone concerning Heemann being an especially attentive sonic craftsman not given to simply churning stuff out. Both pieces are bathed in an electronic afterglow already subjected to oscillating banks of digital hiss, shimmering noise, immersive patterns of indiscernible chuff and a rhythmic undertow which assumes all manner of guises. Powerful, evocative and constantly shifting gears, this not only commands repeated listens but reveals something new each time. Utterly compelling. (RJ)


Bruno Duplant Zone Habitale CD (Ferns Recordings, France, 2022)

Zone Habitale is a recent addition to a huge canon of work that goes back around twelve years by this prolific French artist whose background seeps into dronescaping, modern classical, electronic music and field recording-orientated composition. Comprising a piece that lasts almost 50 minutes, this album is a fairly meditative exercise in shimmering and oscillating electronics, subtly woven location recordings, low tide organ murmur and, courtesy of Pedro Chambel, carefully placed sax. Everything slides together in a flow that’s both so natural and all-encompassing it breezes by far quicker than most such music does. Nothing feels laboured or dry. I’ve revisited this many times and always feel exhilarated every listen. Pretty magical, really. Only 100 discs pressed, though, so act fast if interested. (RJ)

Hinode Tapes eponymous CD (Instant Classic, Poland, 2022)

Debut album from a Polish trio of drums, guitar and sax whose own respective histories draw from punk to jazz and modern classical music, thus underlining precisely why the five lengthy instrumental pieces here are so wonderfully alchemical and possessed of depth. Astonishing interplay that’s simultaneously measured, focussed and intuitive guides each eponymously titled composition through an array of alluring shimmers and cosmic gush pinned into place by stealthily worked slo-mo rhythms. Subtle jazzy undercurrents blend in well but ultimately everything points to a kinda music ripe for soundtracking a late night drive through a near-deserted city centre where neon lights are obscured by a light drizzle. I’m reminded somewhat of fellow Polish group Lotto and, at times, the first Tortoise album, yet there’s definitely a heavy pronouncement of Hinode Tapes’ own voice suggesting even greater things to come. Let’s hope they do.

Kranemann + Pharmakustik Electric Fluxus LP (Verlag System, Spain, 2022)

As the title of this album suggests, this collaboration between two German exponents of contemporary electroacoustic and kosmische music presents two side-long pieces that keep evolving as they reach for the mind’s furthest recesses. Utilising guitar feedback, a cello and what seems like sounds sourced from distant planets, both sides of this incredible album never once fall short of being captivating. Woven from a rich array of oscillations, spectral hum, wavering tones and hypnotic churn, Electric Fluxus lives up to its own bold promise. Given that the artists behind this between them have a history which includes having worked with Kraftwerk, Neu!, Le Syndicat, MB and others besides several decades’ worth of experience in musique concrete and avant-garde music, however, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that this is so delectable. The only real surprise is that only150 were pressed. (RJ)

Little Skull eponymous LP (Horn of Plenty <O, 2022)

Nifty reissue of the debut album by New Zealand’s Dean Brown, first caught on a limited run CDr in 2009. I have no idea how this compares to subsequent work, unfortunately, but the twelve cuts proffered here deliver like pure sonic balm of the variety primed to keep your brain jittery. Roughly hewn segments of demented yet melodic enough folk are strained through a low-slung mesh of shredded electronics, violin scrapes, gentle plucks, twilight haze and primal pounding from Mo Tucker’s training camp before coagulating to form the same bleeding scab the likes of Sir Richard Bishop, The Shadow Ring, Smog and Richard Youngs reside under. Relatively simplistic and alluring on the surface, this makes for a thoroughly intoxicating blend at once both vaguely menacing and bound for the centre of the sun. I definitely need to fix myself some more of this. (RJ)

Loscil/Lawrence English Colours of Air CD (Kranky, USA, 2023)

Loscil is a Canadian ambient artist whose work I’m otherwise unfamiliar with, but on this collaborative album with Australia’s own soundshifter Lawrence English we are treated to eight incredible compositions using recordings of a vintage organ as their source. Individually named after a colour, the pieces embrace a palette of moods between them vacillating between the stark and sombre to the stunningly beautiful. While a wide array of carefully crafted timbres gently roll over and into each other to set a largely melancholic mood, occasional pulses or even beats, as deployed so well on ‘Violet’, are utilised alongside rhythmic swells to add a dynamism which remains invigorating from beginning to end. Lawrence English has long established himself as something of a master of such music anyway but, clearly, he’s on an even plane with Loscil here and at once proving that there are still plenty of places to map in this area of music. Absolutely breathtaking. (RJ)

John McCowen Models of Duration LP (Astral Spirits/Dinzu Artefacts, USA, 2022)

Operating solo for several years now and with a string of releases already behind him, New York’s John McCowen utilises a clarinet to emulate the kinda sounds one would expect from a faulty radiator fighting to be heard over a generator situated near the cracks and hisses of a pylon. I went into this album (several times over at that thus far) partly expecting it to fuse ear channels similarly to Martin Kuchen’s work, but the series of undulating tones, pulses and whirring metallic rings constituting the four pieces on Models of Duration are rather more akin to Roland Kayn or even some of Thomas Koner’s most glacial ventures. Accordingly, it is an album that may not appear especially warm immediately but is no less inviting for that. Incredible stuff. (RJ)

Maninkari Un Phenomene de Reliance LP (Zoharum, Poland, 2022)

It’s always nice when a record arrives that surpasses all expectations. Un Phenomene de Reliance is one such album. Representing something like the fourteenth (physically released) album by this French duo since their formation in 2006, the four pieces here combine an improvisational approach to the exact kinda cosmic churn I’m a sucker for. Utilising sparse and minimal mantric drums, a cimbalon, viola and a dulcimer-like instrument known as a psaltery, each of the tracks ebbs and oozes into a floating mesh of psychedelic gush that apparently sets out to send the listener falling backwards into the deepest regions of one’s subconsciousness. Everything gels perfectly and especially makes more sense when cranked high enough to catch the nuances. An absolutely perfect bedfellow to the work of Hungary’s mighty Zsolt Sores, and on that count alone I need to dig further. There’s no way this LP by Maninkari is going to sit alone in my collection. (RJ)

Manuel Mota Via CD (Headlights, Portugal, 2022)

Active since the mid-1990s, this Portugese guitarist, improviser and sound artist has collaborated with a diverse selection of players, from Toshimaru Nakamura and Jason Kahn to David Grubbs, and had many albums released. On Via, however, there are eleven cuts featuring Mota and only a guitar on his own Headlights imprint. Each piece perfectly illustrates an exercise in restraint as minimal plucks, twangs and signatures are set in a space both rich in mind-absorbing atmosphere and impressionistic stature. Certain tracks, such as the simply titled ‘VII’, work their way through subtle effects to create a more straightforward ambient setting, but this is executed well and only complements all else, ultimately adding up to an album that’s as commanding as it comfortable. Limited to 100 and probably long gone now. (RJ)


Are Mundal ‘Kreis e.p.’ 12″ (Telesterion Records, Norway, 2023)

The latest from Norway’s Are Mundal brings two pieces spanning around 11 minutes each that once again lock onto the murky paths initially traversed by 2020’s Nocturnal Perambulation LP. Crepuscular timbres embrace indiscernible electronic fragments, metallic clangs and other random sounds while dialogue samples and rhythms claw their way through to break things up. While the snatches of dialogue tend towards the predictable, I really enjoy where Are is going with the music itself. Its melding of a dark soundtrack-ish approach to more abstract sounds still points to something yet to come that will be deeply fulfilling. Limited to 100 in partly hand-assembled sleeves, just as it should be. Perfect. (RJ)

Genevieve Murphy I Don’t Want To Be An Individual All On My Own CD (Sounds of the Young Avant-Garde, The Netherlands, 2021)

Looks like this CD got snagged at the bottom of the review stack for over a year, so here’s a long overdue redressing of the balance. Genevieve Murphy is a Scottish composer given to combining her works with performance art and visuals when playing live. On this thus far only album of hers, however, there are eighteen pieces informed by a narrative arc that takes us from a young girl’s birthday party held in a garden to an array of family member guests who apparently do little but add tension to the proceedings. Each of the characters, ranging from an overbearing mother to a drunken grandmother, is performed by Genevieve. Accordingly, the pieces are formed around spoken word sometimes accompanied by soundscapes and playful noises presumably intended to evoke the party atmosphere. Other musicians help to flesh everything out, but while I Don’t Want to Be an Individual All On My Own is designed as a story to be listened to from beginning to end I actually prefer the skewed synth pop-inspired interludes which seem to take us on a deeper voyage of the main character’s (Genevieve herself) innermost workings. These are offset by even a hint of free jazz bubbling under the surface elsewhere, but certainly illustrate a powerful grasp of an inventive pop album waiting to happen. Coupled to evident willingness to traverse all kinds of music beyond, I’d like to hear that. (RJ)

Muziekkamer I – Kamermuziek CD (Korm Plastics, The Netherlands, 2023)

Since receiving this from Korm Plastics’ head honcho Frans de Waard in January I have returned to it many times. Not only that but I have also picked up the other two albums that can still (just about) be found as reissues, 1982’s Op Zee and the one that followed I – Kamermuziek, similarly called II – Popmuziek. There is a fourth album as well, but for now it is consigned to its impossible-to-find original format and has not yet been subjected to the treatment of a well-deserved reissue. All of these albums were originally self-released on cassette around the same period as Op Zee and each of them was realised by a Dutch trio who appear to have done nothing much since. Each of the albums so far reissued takes a slightly different approach musically but bears a resemblance in that they are minimal and tend towards the understated whilst evoking a magical yet reflective atmosphere. IKamermuziek works itself around four lengthy pieces softly woven from tiny melodic motifs, extremely subtle rhythmic undertow and snatches of electronics that assume a rather ghostly presence. Everything hangs together brilliantly and even though the simplistic refrains might at first seem repetitive every listen reveals a carefully nuanced musicality with far more going on than perhaps imagined the first time round. Third track, ‘Herinneren’, sounds somewhat like the organ sequence underpinning The Cure’s ‘Cold’ after having been eviscerated and whittled into a beautiful and moody piece absolutely perfect for a film soundtrack. This alone captures the overall tone of this album, although it is countered by an addictive melodic slant which strays into the kinda territory Robert Turman’s wonderful Flux album was sculpted from. Given that Flux is a favourite album of mine, this is far from a bad thing. Anybody with a penchant for gentle and dusky atmospheric music which resonates with worlds way beyond should find much to savour here. I really hope somebody reissues that fourth album now. I need it. (RJ)

The Orphanage Committee A Significant Change LP (EE Tapes, Belgium, 2022)

Following a CD debut released near the start of 2022, this is the second album by Belgium resident Orphan S. C. Wallace’s endeavour, The Orphanage Committee. Consisting of ten tracks hewn from location recordings, electronics, stray flotsam and the kinda rhythms that recall Cabaret Voltaire’s earlier ventures to the dancefloor or the likes of Rapoon and Muslimgauze, there’s much to be said for how sprightly everything sounds despite the navigation of darker and more troubled channels. If anything holds it all back, it’s Orphan’s being so inspired by certain post-industrial artists he’ll occasionally deploy the same type of cheesy dialogue samples which have invariably dated the work of the original practitioners of such music. Otherwise, A Significant Change makes for an album that may not heavily expand on the promise of the pool it draws from but at least adds enough to it to render it worth investigating. Definitely curious to hear what’s next, anyway. Meantime, there are only 200 of these so get in fast if interested. (RJ)

Colin Andrew Sheffield Don’t Ever Let Me Know LP (Auf Abwegen, Germany, 2023)

For well over twenty years now, Colin Andrew Sheffield, already known for operating the Elevator Bath imprint, has been creating his own music from commercially available sound sources. These are then, I gather, manipulated and beaten into shapes informed by electroacoustic and ambient music. Don’t Ever Let Me Know comprises two side-long pieces spanning 23:23 minutes each that, like the best of such music, maintain a rich, organic and constantly shifting presence undulating between more intense passages, rumbling loops and moments of disquiet not unlike Autechre getting warmed up. It’s a nice, absorbing, listen apparently not content to settle too comfortably, or at least seems intent on getting the listener not to. I could easily take more of this. (RJ)

Small Cruel Party Do You Believe in a Pencil? CD (Ferns Recordings, France, 2022)

William Key Ransone’s Small Cruel Party has been going since around the mid-’80s, beginning in the cassette scene dominated by extremely low-key abstract electronics, junk-noise and avant-weirdness labels and artists whose ambitions were no loftier than simply selling a handful of any given release on said medium. Of course, this tiny world has never gone away and anybody who has been paying close enough attention would know there are still countless artists and labels around now who are operating similarly. Then there are artists, such as Small Cruel Party, who doggedly continue yet transcend such confines through having had many vinyl and CD releases out or, as in the case of Do You Believe in a Pencil?, have even had albums reissued. This album was first self-released in 1991 and consists of one lengthy piece spanning over 73 minutes in total that uses a series of grizzled electronics, metallic scrapes, random knocking sounds, running water, rumbles and something that makes me think of a huge steel vault door contorting under extreme pressure serving as the overall soundbed. It is very effective despite perhaps being slightly too long and its rudimentary premise being one of unease and disquiet. All the same, it is not entirely impenetrable and rather more atmospheric than one might expect. Only 200 produced and in nice gatefold die-cut sleeve package with a suitably handmade feel which serves everything well. Happy to add this to my small but steadily expanding SMC collection. (RJ)

Strafe F.R. Octagon Sphere LP (Auf Abwegen, Germany, 2023)

Since their formation as Strafe Für Rebellion in 1979, this German duo have released many albums and moved from the more direct post-industrial leanings of yore into a navigation of electronic sounds that suck on the darkening teats of all from techno to musique concrete. The four pieces forming Octagon Sphere are no different with respect to a continued interest in bridging muscular textures to perfectly manicured motorik rhythms while abstract squelch, cosmic noodling and gutteral chirps occasionally enter the fray. Mercurial yet never losing sight of a deeply hypnotic underpinning, everything’s elevated even further when Moira Kirsten Boyd’s vocal swirls make an appearance on half the album and ram things completely into another realm. No lie, but this is compelling on every level. (RJ)

Thorsten Soltau Gewächse Im Zwielicht CD (Drone Records, Germany, 2022)

The very latest album by this prolific German sound artist who has been operating for over fifteen years now and has many releases out under his own name. He has also collaborated with artists mostly of a similar sonic disposition such as Emerge, Pharmakustik, RLW, J. Adolphe and others, giving one reasonable insight into where his own sensibilities lay. Using musique concrete techniques, he melds various electronic sources together that are at once rich and atmospheric yet erratic and occasionally wedded to rhythms apparently sculpted from patterns of soft clay . Each of the five pieces constituting this album sound purposeful and like they needed to happen. Fourth cut ‘Die Sonne Verdampft’ is especially triumphant as it starts out sounding like Contrastate before evolving into an electroacoustic drone piece built around a minimal refrain generated by what sounds like a violin but might be a cello. Once in while, voices drift into the fray very effectively, too. While this stands as the highlight for me, it sits perfectly with everything else. A great album from a name to look out for. (RJ)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s