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Kemper Norton – Toll

Textural drone and dark ambient collage meet contextual storytelling that resonates through every note of this emotively charged, beautiful and illuminating record. Norman Records

What Toll ultimately conveys, by oblique means, is a sense of the intrinsic nature the relationship between human geography and physical geography, community and place. History is every inch as integral to the shaping of a location and those who reside there as geography: past events etch themselves into the landscape and the collective conscious, however discreetly, and similarly legends are imprinted in the backdrop of local life. Toll is not an easy or immediate work, but it is one which is deeply evocative and highly thought-provoking. Aural Aggravation

Through the sheer restraint and musicality of his work he evokes contaminated shores and abandoned villages, the rusting hulks of commercial progress and a largely forgotten future submerged by the past. The Wire

Kemper Norton’s “Toll” feels like a waking dream with elements familiar and unfamiliar interacting in unexpected deeply satisfying ways. Beach Sloth

It’s hard not to think of it as an Another Green World for the 21st century. Dusted

Toll shows Norton is surely becoming a master of music that, alongside other modern outlier visionaries such as Daniel Patrick Quinn, is not concerned with purity and nostalgia, but instead pieces itself together from the flotsam and jetsam of sounds and tales that collect all around us. The fact that with Toll he creates a folklore where ancient tales of Breton Princess riding the seas atop a fearsome horse (‘Dahut’) and characters from the PC MMORPG game Dark Age of Camelot (‘Danaoin’) are given equal weight and importance bear this out. The music meanwhile may seem at times poised and controlled – a staple of electronic music created through laptop means – but bubbling underneath is a teeming mass of sadness and loss that evokes the mutable mess of history, myth, and duration. The Quietus

The Blow Series

It’s a strange, psychedelic and most richly detailed cocktail, which is also imaginative… Brilliant music of the highest quality. De Subjectivisten (on Volume 1)

In tandem, especially on The Ploughs & Machines, the marriage of clank and beep to something more abstract and haunting, works like a dream. Narc (on Volume 1)

Both as a precedent for the The Blow (next up: the grand sounding teaming of Time Attendant and Robin The Fog’s Howlround) and as a wider indicator of Front & Follow’s ever-impressive catalogue, this is a high watermark and a riveting, esoteric dip into the near unknown. The Quietus (on Volume 1)

Its groovy surreality lends it a cult science fiction angle and, somehow Sapphire & Steel came to mind casting Cooper and Bradley as the agents exploring the temporal dimension. With a palpable wooziness pitched somewhere between love and madness they serve up a satisfying avant-psyche adventure. The Quietus (on Volume 3)

Seriously delightful, yet quivering with restraint.  Sort of like sweeping an experienced hand over the powerful flanks of a gelding. Radio Free Midwich (on Volume 3)

Laura Cannell – Beneath Swooping Talons

bracing and uncompromising … fearsome and fearless Shindig

utterly beguiling, bleak and beautiful NARC

profoundly beautiful… another triumphant album. Folk Radio UK

an essential work of modern British folk and avant-garde composition. The Quietus

the kind of artistry that pays back the courageous listener in spades The Skinny

At once uncanny and serene Uncut

Laura Cannell might be a magician Mojo

A beautiful and haunting thing Tom Ravenscroft, BBC 6 Music

‘Beneath Swooping Talons’ demonstrates how much sound can come from a solitary player Norman Records

A stunning, heavy listen Slate the Disco

Kemper Norton – Loor

Using such minimal instrumentation as a laptop, harmonium and Casio keyboard, together with various low budget recording equipment, Norton seems to have an extra sensory knack of creating something moving, eerie and somewhat chilling out of almost nothing. The Wire

Loor (the Cornish word for moon) pulls off the same spiritual trick that Aphex Twin sometimes used to employ in the 90s during more reflective moments, which is to use electronic equipment and modern production methods to capture something of the ancient character of the British Isles without this seeming in any way incongruous. Anyway this is brilliant. And uncanny. Vice Magazine

Don’t approach this record expecting the craggy coves and bracing seas of romantic cliché. Instead, imagine a cold wet night in a St Austell municipal car park, the car radio scanning channels in search of an appropriate post-industrial soundtrack for the poorest county in England. Record Collector

Moments of rare beauty transmogrify into agitation. The transitions are effortless and difficult to pin down, making this an album worthy of allowing into your headspace Whisperin’ & Hollerin’

‘Loor’ is mad as the night, as a metaphysical oceanographer pulls on the blue anchor, setting sail for the quiet waves, exploring the world through a turquoise-coloured window. Dukla Prague Away Kit

The more you listen to it the easier it is to get lost in to Awkward Movements

Loor is worth going back to and going with. It’s a calling and a call-out An Idiot’s Guide to Dreaming

Loor is a beautiful journey through a timeless county and the secret stories held along its coastline. It’s a curious journey, but never without charm and it’s an effortlessly unique one. 6 Days of Tomorrow

Lutine – White Flowers

The debut album by Lutine emerges, shimmering, through a rift in time: a grieving widow who wanders the English countryside in a cruel sunshine haze. In these songs of regret and melancholy, human fate is intertwined with the landscape… In answer to the “age-old question” Lutine’s music succeeds in existing in two places at the same time. Their transhistorical lyrics could be 300 years old, or from a science fiction television series. Their sound owes as much to synth pop, minimalism and acid folk as it does to the traditional or classical tradition. Autoharp glides effortlessly across electrified piano. Tales of life and death stretch backwards and forwards through the centuries. The Sallow Tree quivers outside your window. Unofficial Britain

Delicate, fragile and almost ghostly, the music of Lutine, mixes elements of folk, classical and minimalism into a gossamer whole, with sweet harmonies and sparse instrumentation drifting together to create ‘White Flowers’  a ten track collection that will enchant your cynical self and relax your very soul. Terrascope

Mostly, I’m a fan of excess; I like adding things, my favourite colour is rainbow-coloured (actually, I stole that line from my wife), my favourite sounds are the ones you didn’t hear the first time you listened. But this album shows the beauty in minimalism, in the same way Ricardo Villalobos shows the beautiful minimalist heart of techno. It’s minimal but it feels like it has to be. This isn’t a wistful conceit, it’s a complete package, exquisitely wrought. An Idiot’s Guide to Dreaming

Pye Corner Audio – The Black Mist EP

Pye Corner Audio expands on ‘Black Mist’, taken from ‘The Outer Church’ compilation released by Front & Follow, now backed with new track and a blown-out Old Apparatus remix. The dramatic original is given time and space to let that Dr. Who-style bass riff and soaring synth to take flight across the A-side, whilst the flip brings the funereal slow techno processional, ‘Bulk Erase’, into play beside a roiling, radiant render from Old Apparatus, who also fold in oriental field recordings to abstract and exotic effect. Boomkat

Perhaps this slight EP is meant to suggest witnessing a location’s entire, over thousands of years, with some kind of scanner, like the kind Starlord uses in Guardians Of The Galaxy. This is just one possible interpretation, in an infinity of eventualities, which is why I love music so much. It is open-ended, subjective and subject to interpretation. It occurs INSIDE of you. It can be a sci-fi soundtrack, or a chiller thriller horrorscore. Let it be your soundtrack for hovercraft bus rides, or dystopian sci-fi role playing campaigns. Or, of course, an addition to your club night, to play alongside library records and rugged drum’n’bass.

Everything Front & Follow produces is lovely beyond compare and tend to disappear rapidly, so act quickly to possess the luscious 12″ album art. And if you haven’t, make sure to grab The Outer Church compilation, in whatever format you can get it, if you really want to see where electronic music’s coming from — and where it’s heading. Freq

The title track opens the nineteen-minute release with a pulsating throb whose wobble—a bizarro amalgam of techno and drum’n’bass—swells in volume and agitation until the addition of warbling synth textures recasts the frenzied epic as a dark sci-fi dynamo that’s time-traveled from the ‘60s. Emerging from mist, “Bulk Erase” eases into position in a more leisurely fashion by comparison, its slow-motion shuffle making room for a melancholy array of analogue synth melodies to work their black magic. As shadowy a figure as the Head Technician is Old Apparatus (whose debut album, Compendium, appeared on Sullen Tone in 2013), which made the act a natural candidate as remixer for “Black Mist.” The diseased treatment Old Apparatus turns in certainly suggests that the two are kindred spirits, especially when the remix smothers the original’s rhythms in a blizzard of garbled voices and smoke. Textura

Kemper Norton – To Mahina EP

There’s a stark quality that goes beyond what we usually use music for, it’s where it crosses over towards art. Americana UK

‘To Mahina’ further cements Kemper Norton’s place at the forefront of some fascinating and unclassifiable music gathering around the Outer Church club night and Front & Follow label.” Sounds XP

Where The Doomed Bird of Providence can be harsh, almost unforgiving, Norton takes a more mournfully introspective approach, building a haunted dreamscape which soundtracks a notional movie unfurling in the abstract far more then placing definitive ideas front and centre” Freq

The Doomed Bird of Providence – Will Ever Pray

Actually there is nothing in the press release that would actually make me want to listen to it, the second half of the album being based on the diaries of a woman who, after coughing up blood for a night, died of tuberculosis. But if you can get yourself into a bleak mood (it’s not that difficult for me) then they are some really good musical moments. ‘The Cave of the Doughboys’ churns around endlessly, the extended band (including Katie English of Isnaj Dui and Littlebow fame) often sounds like they are playing walking uphill tied to huge rocks. The music drags itself forward as if fighting against a huge weight, the aforementioned ‘The Cave of The Doughboys’ end with a great singalong while ‘Hang From Your Neck’ is a more minimal piece with thumping drums, reasonably tuneful until its wierd droney interlude. The strings towards the end are just gorgeous. Think Nick ‘Dick’ Cave, Matt Elliott’s solo work, or one of the Constellation droners singing dark folk songs of horror and misery from Australian history Norman Records

TDBoP are working on a broader canvas than most, they are boldly cinematic, think of John Hillcoat (the Proposition and the Road) the ground they make is scrapped for, hard won and they are wonderful in their head-on approach, in their sparseness and tortured beauty.

Uncompromising and at times uncomfortable, these songs remove the usual safety nets and aren’t afraid to change the rules. They are becoming one of the bands that you don’t want to miss. Americana UK

Harrowing doesn’t come close. By the end of the album you feel as thought you’ve lived through every one of the events depicted, in real time. Dark yet strangely beautiful and phenomenally powerful, ‘Blind Mouths Eat’ is an album to ponder, to agonise over and to clutch your plague-ridden guts to. Whisperin & Hollerin

Various Artists – The Outer Church

First and foremost is a sense of the uncanny, a suspicion that there are additional forces (physical, psychological, paranormal, lysergic) at work beyond our full comprehension – but across the compilation’s two-and-a-half hour length, what also emerges is a common mood of unfettered joy in exploration. The Quietus

Despite working within a number of different styles, the aesthetic remains torn, dark, and crisp in the context of a project that demonstrates both unification and collaboration across creative minds, of sharing an artistic phenomenon Stannard has done so well at presenting over the past four years — the perfect soundtrack for a sleepless night. Tiny Mix Tapes

Stannard suggests that taken as a whole these tracks “advance the argument that something weird is stirring in modern music which resists categorisation, manifesting itself in unsettling cadences and temporal distortions across a wide variety of occult strategies”, and we’re not inclined to disagree. Boomkat

Various Artists – Long Division with Remainders present Collision/Detection

The results are, in no particular order: frightening, amusing, exciting, and beautiful…  All these varied elements add up to a widely contrasting but oddly cohesive statement. The uniting factor being the inventiveness and genius of all involved… An extraordinary box of remarkable music, ‘Collection/Detection’ is a gift from Front & Follow records to those with curious ears and open minds. It is a rare achievement: an album as conceptually sound as it is entertaining, with little compromise in either direction. Sounds XP

It’s journeys end and this looks lush, bathed in desert khaki, the original arts postcarded and sandwiched between two discs. I’ve really enjoyed cataloguing these vibes, right from the offing it was clear it was going to be a formidable beast, eloquently everywhere with hints of beyond… full of spinning edges constantly losing the plot to rediscover new ones… those curious to know more should check the archives for more in-depth musings, but if like me you can’t stand endings there’s a surprise download code included with the package that grants you access to a further five unreleased explorations…Without doubt one of the best compilations of the year. Rottenmeats

Sone Institute – A Model Life

An intriguing and beguiling album, you could try it in the background at dinner parties but it would quickly muscle its way forward and disturb the entrées. Which is a sign of quality in itself. Another tiny triumph for the Manchester “cottage” label, Front & Follow, which is a seemingly bottomless treasure trove. Underground of Happiness

Such attention to detail is admirable, yet it makes much of A Model Life an uneasy listen: while some tracks cleverly emulate the pent-up energy and sense of awaiting a purpose that infuses the best library music, others are jittery and unfocused, undermining the smoothness of the details with abrupt cuts and time changes. The latter part of the album leaves more space for the songs to breathe: guest vocalists Gemma Tortella and Dale Grundle lend “Struck By A Rock” a refreshing sense of languid contentment; the bass flute and ambient sounds on “Cars And Rain” summon up some of mid-70s Eno’s freefloating ennui, while the title track touches upon the clockwork utopianism of Penguin Cafe Orchestra but thankfully avoids the temptation to turn it into holding music. The Wire