Episode 7

From medieval-inspired sounds out of Ukraine to hypermodern dance music from Taipei


Matthias Hacksteiner - This Sound I Ride Jingle


Hello everybody and welcome to the seventh episode of "This sound I ride" – an adventurous and inspiring global journey for music lovers. My name is Martin Bleicher, I am an Austrian music lover, DJ and concert promoter, and for the next two hours, it is my absolute pleasure to share some of my favourite new music with you.

This monthly podcast is a celebration of the beauty of diverse, passionate and contrary musical styles in their often unforeseeable and enthusiastic ways of expression.

You will hear mainly new inspiring music that stimulates your imagination and curiosity in a way like on a surreal train ride to foreign countries or a trip to new, unknown cultures.

This adventurous approach excites me. I melt together different influences and musical languages and create an exciting and at the same time, unsettling mix.

I have been digging deep to find genre defying music and sounds for you, the podcast´s listeners. I hope you enjoy the show, which starts this time somewhere unknown at a lovely seaside. We come to enjoy the first light of the day and get to listen to the lovely and melancholic music produced by James Johnston and Steve Gullick. This album is one the first positive things that Covid brought us. Due to the amount of time both guys had on their hands they found the space and time to create this wonderful music. Enjoy.


James Johnston & Steve Gullick - First Light (We Travel Time - God Unknown Records)


El Khat - Balagh Al Achbaab (Saadia Jefferson - Batov Records)


James Johnston & Steve Gullick´s track "First Light" was the starting point into this months show. Whilst James Johnston is well known for his work with his band Gallon Drunk or his collaborations with PJ Harvey or as a member of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Steve Gullick is a renowned music photographer who has published his images in every major music magazine from the 90s onwards. He found a band called Bender with Johnston already in 2004 and toured also as a guitarist for Mark Lanegan & Soulsavers. The duo released an album called "We Travel Time" on the the wonderful "God Unknown Records" label recently.

As the sound on this album has a wonderful mystic and cinematic touch to me I decided to start and finish this month´s episode with their gorgeous music. "First Light" gives me the feeling how it must be to stand by the sea and watch the sun rise in the cold light of morning. Fragile, spacey instrumentation, sparse sound cracks everywhere, field recordings of seagulls fit into the picture very well. I love the atmosphere they create with this song. It feels also as if something new is ready to start, like a first light out of a dark period - in whatever context that may be.


The second track took from the UK to Tel Aviv, Israel, where we visited El Khat, the band led by musician, composer and visionary Eyal El Wahab. The song "Balagh Al Achbaab" is a fantastic example of the passionate music you can find on the album "Saadia Jefferson", released already in 2019. I just stumbled across El Khat´s music recently and was absolutely blown away by the power this music creates. Actually, Eyal took lyrics, melodies and compositions from Yemeni folk songs, extracted the main parts and reformed them into his own songs. Very often they use found objects like aluminium tins, wooden boxes or plastic containers as drums and percussion elements. This lively and fresh approach gives the music an exciting taste, that I haven't heard before. You can also see the album as a personal mission of band leader Eyal to discover his own Yemeni roots.

What I have learned when i discovered this music is that Yemen was and still is a cultural crossroad due to its position in the South-West of the Arab Peninsula. Many influences like the global reach of Hadrahmout, East African migration or the rhythmic influence of the Swahili coast. A very diverse and interesting mix of different cultures and musical styles that got melted into Yemeni folk music. And Eyal took these songs one step further with his interpretations of them. Eye-opening and absolutely beautiful.


From ancient Yemeni traditions I would love to invite you to meet Sonia Calico, a DJ/Producer born in Taipei but now at the forefront of Taiwan´s dance music scene. Unique beats, grooves and sounds influenced by various genres like kuduro, dancehall, trance or gqom can be found on her new album "Simulation Of An Overloaded World". Let´s give Sonia the stage with her explosive banger "Division By Zero" featuring Air Max 97. Booom


Sonia Calico feat. Air Max 97 - Division By Zero (Simulation Of An Overloaded World - More Time Records)


Tomaga feat. Cathy Lucas - Very Never (My Mind Extends) (Intimate Immensity - Hands In The Dark)


Aukai feat. Anne Müller - Soplo del Sueno (Game Trails - Aukai Music)


Hyper-modern beats, cracking killer sound design, a very lively and hard-hitting track by Sonia Calico from Taipei was the first track in this sound triple. Sonia mixes her various different electronic sound influences in a very distinct way on her new album and she explains the following about this album: "This album is an attempt to simulate the world of the future, to create the vision of a post-human scenario, to imagine the next life form that might arise into the world. In order to reflect the world, we are in at this moment, the unstoppable progression of technology, over-expanded desires from men and overloaded information to process. Interesting artistic vision I think and the sound itself is just fantastic. Killer Track.


After this trip to South-East Asia, we moved back to London, UK to enjoy the sublime sounds of Tom Relleen and Valentina Magaletti aka Tomaga. On the track "Very Never (My Mind Extends)" they also feature Cathy Lucas on vocals. The hypnotic and pulsating track shows Tomaga in great form. Driving drum, percussion and xylophone sounds are mixed eerie synth and bass sounds and when the exciting voice of Cathy Lucas comes into the track, I must say that to me this is one of the most interesting track in recent times. Playful and dedicated at the same time. It sounds somehow complicated on one hand but extremely light-weighted on the other.
The sad story behind their new album "Intimate Immensity" is that Tom Relleen - one half of the group passed away in the summer last year and therefore this will be their final musical output in this constellation. Unfortunately, I got to discover their music only last year, but I can imagine what kind of a great pleasure it would have been to see these two sound architects in one of their famous live shows. Many of their fans speak about them as being of the best live acts in recent years. What I love about their final album is also the mix of various sound types, the unpredictability from one song to the next, the adventurous and unforeseeable approach to the whole thing. It is a great rollercoaster ride to explore and discover great new sounds or variations in their music. Wonderful stuff.


From the UK we travelled to Germany to meet up with composer and musician Markus Sieber aka Aukai. On the beautiful track "Soplo del Sueno" which means "Breath Of Sleep" he is joined by the very talented German cello player Anne Müller, who gives the track this cool neo-classic feeling. Whilst Sieber plays his arpeggios on the ronroco, which is the favourite string instrument used by film composer Gustavo Santaolalla, Müller leads the track with her signature cello arcs against additional keyboard accents. The playful modern ambient-neoclassic music produced mainly with acoustic instruments has such a calm and quiet character, that it is a pure joy to listen to and reflect on things that happened recently. I love this track because the combination of the chosen instruments seems just perfect to me and the whole flow is just gorgeous. Again, if you liked this sort of music, check out the whole album "Game Trails" which was released last year. I´m sure you will find some really lovely ambient music pearls there.


Next up we take the train from Germany to Kyiv, Ukraine and meet up with our featured artist of the month - Oleg Shpudeiko aka Heinali and his magnificent track "Beatrice". Take a deep breath and enjoy Oleg´s recreation of medieval harmonies. Great stuff.


Heinali - Beatrice (Madrigals - Injazero Records)


Brendan Perry - In The City´s Hammam (Songs Of Disenchantment: Music From The Greek Underground - Holy Tongue Records)


Heinali´s floating track "Beatrice" was the name of the first track you heard in this sound section. He is a composer and sound artist from Kyiv, Ukraine and with his latest album "Madrigals" he creates four long mesmerizing tracks which are inspired by Renaissance/late Medieval polyphony and produced with generative modular synthesis and historical instrumentation like the brilliantly intuitive baroque viola played by Igor Zavgorodnii on "Beatrice". It took me a couple of listens but I can only recommend you to take your time and enjoy this transcendental music on a good pair of headphones. It is such an immersive and evocative experience to dive into Heinali´s very well balanced sound world. With each listen you discover different sounds or layers in this very complex floating music.

I love the instrumentation as well as the harmonic approach and I really want to hear this music on a live pa in the near future. Oleg was kind enough to take his time and answer a couple of questions and send us some nice images so that you can check out our feature about his distinctive sound on our website


From transcendental medieval soundworlds out of Ukraine, we moved into the Greek Underground. Brendan Perry, who is famous for being one half of the highly influential Dead Can Dance recorded ten English versions of Rebetiko music and released them on a staggeringly beautiful album called "Songs Of Disenchantment - Music From The Greek Underground. Perry, himself a migrant from the UK to Australia years ago first discovered Rebetiko music played in and around Greek tavernas of suburban Melbourne in the late 70s.

As these places were mainly social hubs of Greek migrants, you could find groups of old men playing backgammon and enjoying life during the day whilst listening to rebetiko music. As Perry developed a love to all things Greek and so far no recorded versions of rebetiko songs exist, he decided to take on the challenge and share these songs with an English speaking audience. The album is dedicated to all refugees - past, present and future. The chosen track is called "In The City´s Hammam" and it describes the sweet, decadent lifestyle and temptations of all the worlds pasha´s inside the local steam bath. Funny story which didn't probably change too much over the years.


To follow I would like to invite you to come with me to North Ghana and discover the raw and celebratory funeral music from the group Fra Fra, recorded 100% live and outdoors by Ian Brennan. What a delight.


fra fra - Naked (You Enter & Leave The World With Nothing (Funeral Songs – Glitterbeat Records)


Ichiko Aoba - Ohayashi (Windswept Adan – hermine)


Voces 8 - Pyramid Song (Arr. Lawson) (Enchanted Isle - Decca Music)


The rough, raw, maybe disturbing funeral song celebrated by the group fra fra is called "Naked (You Enter & Leave The World With Nothing)" and was released on a collection of funeral songs from North Ghana by the inspiring Glitterbeat Records last year. The group is led by Small, who played the two-string Kologo guitar with dog tags fastened at the head as rattles. The abrupt and harsh guitar playing in combination with the hypnotic choir excites me, as I understand this kind o funeral song more as a celebration of life and its meaning than anything else. It is always great for me to discover new music from different cultures and especially such circumstances - a funeral is always a very challenging and sad event but after listening to this great song I have a very positive feeling about funerals that I never had before. Inspiring.


From the dusty streets in North Ghana, we took a trip into a kind of fantasy world. That´s at least the feeling I get when I listen to the track "ohayashi" by the wonderful Japanese composer, musician Ichiko Aoba. Weightless, drifting away in a very lightweight state of mind. Just daydreaming and enjoying the moment. The 30-year-old Japanese has already released six albums. Whilst a lot of her music features her fine guitar playing and voice, on her latest album "Windswept Adan" you can hear more and more electronic and ambient sounds making their way into the gorgeous sound. I just love how the elements like the ambient sounds, the guitar, the simple percussion work together. A great jewel out of Japan, which lead us into the wonderful world of Voces8.


Voces 8 are an 8 piece vocal ensemble from the UK and the cover version of Radiohead´s "Pyramid Song" kept hanging in my ears for the last couple of months. Now I think I have found a good place for this wonderful song to shine. The complexity of the voices is fantastic, the simple music that comes with it just leaves enough space for the vocal power to take the main stage and convince me as a listener. I don't know much more about them, but that they are proud to inspire people through music and share the joy of singing. They seem to be quite successful as they are on global tours with leading orchestras, conductors and soloists. Goosebumps - wonderful voice arrangement of a great Radiohead song, which is 20 years old already.


And as contrast is the main ingredient to my show please welcome a German electronic music wizard and a Portuguese percussion guru. I´m talking about the fantastic collaboration between Burnt Friedman and Joao Pais. Take a seat and get blown away by nine minutes of blurry, minimal hypnotic deliciousness by these two masters of their trade. The track is called "Fibres Of P".


Burnt Friedman & Joao Pais - Fibres Of P (Eurydike – nonplace)


Here Lies Man - In These Dreams (Ritual Divination – RidingEasy Records)


Hypnotic percussion, gongs and bells perfection by Joao Pais combined with ecstatic and floating electronics by German sound wizard Burnt Friedman. This combination of odd rhythms and razor-sharp electronics creates a new kind of dance music for me. Driven, mesmerizing and enthusiastic is how I would best describe this killer track. And as will all of Joao Pais music to date, I just get lost in his sound world. It is so intriguing to let yourself fall into this evocative multi-layered masterpiece. The track was released on a 4-track EP called "Eurydike" in 2020 and features two-track by Friedman/Pais and two other wonderful tracks by Friedman and Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit, which are a great example of Liebezeit´s "Secret Rhythms" concept. The EP is highly recommended to any music lover who has an interest for unusual and a little awkward sound rhythmic expressions.


A totally different story was the second track "In These Dreams" by the superb LA-based rock band Here Lies Man. The track is taken from their new album "Ritual Divination" which was released earlier this year on RidingEasy Records. Whilst an initial reflex would compare them straight with Tony Iommi´s Black Sabbath riff worlds, the interesting aspect to me lies in the combination of the African influenced drum rhythms with psychedelic keyboard sounds and guitar and bass on top of it. Marcos Garcia, co-founder/vocalist/guitarist of the band explains their idea in the following way: "Iommi´s innovation was to make the riff the organizing principle of a song. We are taking that same approach but employing a different organizing principle: For Iommi, it was the blues, for us, it comes directly from Africa. On their first album 4 years ago their sound was often described - if Sabbath played Afrobeat, but on their new album, they are much more into traditional psychedelic rock elements. The guitars are heavier than before but the ancient rhythmic formula from Africa remains a constant on this sublime album.


After this trip to the USA, we stay in North America and visit Belle Orchestre, a six-piece ensemble in Sarah Neufeld´s multi-story rural Vermont house. They have just released a fantastic and challenging new album on the great Erased Tapes label called "House Music". They spend two weeks together in Neufeld's house, wired every corner of the house and focused on their improvisational sessions throughout their time there. The final result is spontaneous, genre-defying, gorgeous music. Enjoy the track "VI: All The Time".


Bell Orchestre - VI: All The Time (House Music – Erased Tapes Records)


Ustad Saami - True Notes ("Happy Morning") (Pakistan Is For The Peaceful – Glitterbeat Records)


DJ Danifox - Xupetilson (Lei Da Tia Maria - Principe Discos)


Call it a mix of Neo Classic, Free Jazz with African roots or avantgarde whatever. To me as it is often with really great music you can't really define clearly what you are listening to and it sounds just imperfect, which is great. As the whole album was created in improvising sessions by six highly talented musicians I just love the accidental sounding moments, the undefined and mysterious twists and turns this album takes. It is like a trip to open your perception for new and different approaches. Strange sounding combinations, warm sounding vocals and horns based on jazz groove can happen in one track whilst you move into a bit blurry sounding rhythmic explosion on the next one. The most satisfying element in this music to me is that you explore so many different sounds, elements and unheard things with every listen. So far it never sounded the same and it is a great reward that influential music gives me. It takes time and unfolds different perspectives with every listen. Highly recommended for any music lover who is up for a challenging and very rewarding trip through the spontaneous sound worlds of Bell Orchestre.


The follow-up track was called "True Notes (Happy Morning)" and took us from Canada to a rooftop in Karachi, Pakistan, where we witnessed the remarkable vocal performance by Ustad Saami and his four sons Rauf, Urooj, Ahmed and Azeem all on vocals and harmonium, tambura and tablas. Saami is the last living Surti master, a precursor of the ancient, Islamic devotional music of qawwali. Surti is a 49-note scale microtonal vocal system that has been passed on from generation to generation since the 13th century. Even under the threat of Islamic fundamentalists, the master has spent his life dedicated to this vanishing art. Even now at the age of 76 he practices from 4 am to noon most days of the week. I had the pleasure to see and hear Ustad and his sons before live in a church in Utrecht during the LGW Festival in 2019, which was a soulful, thrilling concert, in a way like nothing I have ever seen before. The sheer power and warmth of his voice and his way to conduct the ensemble of his sons with simple hand signs were outstanding. Still gives me goosebumps today, when I think back. Such a pure way of expression is distinctive and glorious. If the master will come for live shows again, i can just urge you to go and listen to him. It is a really unique experience. In case you are interested in his recorded music, please check out his latest album "Pakistan Is For The Peaceful which was released on the fabulous Glitterbeat Records.


The final track in this sound triple brought us from Pakistan back to the South-West corner of Europe. For quite some time I follow the Principe label from Lisbon, Portugal. They release cutting-edge, contemporary dance music coming out of Lisbon, its suburbs, projects & slums. They have a really cool roster of various artists including DJ Lycox, Puto Marcio, DJ B. Boy or DJ Danifox, whom I chose to play you in this episode. The track "Xupetilson" is taken from an EP called "Lei Da Tia Maria" which was released at the end of last year. The standout track of the EP is a wonderful representation of the fresh take on dance music that this young collective is known far. Groovy, slick and driving beats combined with vocal layers and samples that are perfectly integrated into the rhythmic structure. Just a wonderful track that makes me think of live concerts and interaction with people on dancefloors... Also, a lovely track to introduce the warmer part of the year. Wonderful little sax note in the end.


After our stop in Lisbon, Portugal we take the flight back to Austin, Texas, USA to meet up with Thor Harris, the splendid and unique musician, who has been in Swans until 2015. After his exit from Swans, he founded the project Thor & Friends which is focused on American minimalism music and includes many different musicians mainly from Austin. On the following track "Mystery Train" which was released on Joyful Noise in late 2020 you can hear Low and Jolie Holland on vocals. Enjoy this mesmerizing and peaceful track.


Thor & Friends feat. Low & Jolie Holland - Mystery Train "Lower" Remix (4 - Joyful Noise Recordings)


Smurphy - Instinct (Spheres Of Consciousness – Bokeh Versions)


Thor & Friends take on classic American Minimalist music around a polyrhythmic core of instruments, primarily marimba, xylophone and vibraphone. Circling these core motifs are shifting streams of everything from processed pedal steel and analogue synthesizer to violin, viola, stand-up bass, clarinet, duduk and oboe. The ensemble has three core members, Thor, Peggy Ghorbani and Sarah “Goat” Gautier — with its line-up expanding and contracting with the flux of compositional and improvisational contexts. The whole album has a meditative and calm vibe which is fantastic. What I also love is the honesty of Thor in the liner notes to this album on Bandcamp. "We are a collective of musicians. Some are classically trained, others are punk musicians, with no reading skills, just spirit and will. We are trying to heal ourselves and hope you find our music mealing or in some way useful. Great.


From Austin, Texas, we travelled further south to Mexico City to meet up with Jessica Garcia aka Smurphy and her powerful and energetic killer track "Instinct". The noise sounds in the beginning, a weird rhythm pattern is added and then the track breaks into a 90´s inspired dance-floor masterpiece that literally takes the roof off the building. Powerful, awkward, but beautiful combination of these known elements creates fresh and innovative dance music. Whilst Jessica is normally affiliated with the wonderful NAAFI label this latest five-track EP called "Spheres Of Consciousness" was released on the UK based label Bokeh Versions. What I Love about her is that she takes the often avoided or reduced 90s sound motifs and reconstructs and rearranges them into something unsettling and new as an end result. Heavy bass, acid rave atmospheres all blended together into a ground-shaking cocktail that would rock any dancefloor on this planet. She calls her five tracks on this latest EP laser shots of ardkore hybrids. If you liked this sound check out this EP on Bandcamp and you can also find four great videos that fulfil the dream of any fan of 90´s visual aesthetics.


So, it seems that we have reached the end of the show again. I hope you liked the third episode of This Sound I Ride. I enjoyed it very much to put together an adventurous and inspiring global journey for you, the listeners of the show. If you did like it, it is, of course, a great help if you can share it with one friend. For more information, the full tracklist or other details, please visit our website or our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter sites. You can also find an extended article about the Icelandic musician Hekla who was featured in the show on our website.

I want to thank Marta Witkowska for the great images for our cover artwork and Matthias Hacksteiner for all his generous help and professional advice with regards to recording technics, the podcast jingle and basically everything how to set up a podcast.

Thanks again for listening and I wish you all the best and hope you also join next month. The new episode will be released on the third Sunday in January, but if you subscribe on your usual podcast platform, you can make sure that you don't miss a show.

As a final sound trip, I want to play you another track from the excellent new album by James Johnston & Steve Gullick. The title track "We Travel Time" is a great example of the open and vague music that you can find on this album. Lovely, simple guitar melodies, mystic vocals are stopped completely after approximately five minutes in order to let the rain pour into an eerie ending to the track and the record. Probably one of the strengths of this album is the uncertainty, the spontaneity and the diverse but simple sound approach. Please enjoy - thx for listening - until next month - all the best - cheers.


James Johnston & Steve Gullick - We Travel Time (We Travel Time - God Unknown Records)