Loads of great stuff in this week! And so I won’t keep ya. Read on, click some links, buy some hot wax.
With the success and easy of August’s RSD Drop, we’ll be operating much the same next Saturday. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll start adding the incoming stock to the site. Remember 1pm things go live.
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…..picks of the week…..
Musica Transonic: s/t (Black Editions) LP
Black Editions present a reissue of Musica Transonic’s self-titled release, originally released in 1995. Musica Transonic was comprised of three of the most crucial artists to emerge from the 1990s Japanese underground: Nanjo Asahito of High Rise, Makoto Kawabata of Acid Mothers Temple and Tatsuya Yoshida of Ruins. The group’s music was a supercharged combination of complex rhythms, blistering guitar attacks, and enormously deep bass momentum. Pushing the rock power trio to its miasmic, overdriven limits, Musica Transonic’s sound retains the ability to shock even now, 25 years later. Remastered, Musica Transonic’s self-titled debut is now available for the first time on LP and includes previously unheard material. Pressed to high quality vinyl at RTI. Gatefold, heavy tip-on jackets; includes download. “In 1986, Tokyo’s PSF Records released the second album by High Rise, simply titled II, and it immediately became one of those legendary albums that hipsters worldwide whispered about, because hardly anyone had it to listen to . . . High Rise wasn’t nearly enough to occupy the busiest guy in Tokyo’s underground, though, and by the mid-90s Nanjo had enough bands going that nobody could really keep track anymore. PSF’s legendary high-quality standards recognized a couple of them, however, with releases in 1995, including the enigmatic Musica Transonic. This was an unhinged band that on first hearing seemed to check many of the same boxes as High Rise, including the trademark redlined sonics. But those who cranked it up and really listened realized it was actually a very different beast, a sort of musical manticore assembled from a variety of monstrous parts . . . Guitarist Makoto Kawabata would achieve renown the following year as the leader of Acid Mothers Temple, also appearing as the guitarist in Mainliner, another High Rise-adjacent project with Nanjo. While by 1995 he and Nanjo had been playing together in other projects for several years, on this album Kawabata brought a chaotic, free-flowing guitar aptitude that painted a stranger spectrum than the laser-focused rock of High Rise. In concert with the brilliant drummer Tatsuya Yoshida — well-known in the scene from his long-running duo Ruins — the results are entirely unpredictable, and joyously so. After focusing for some time on repetition, Nanjo struck off down a new road with Musica Transonic. The better-known High Rise is a straight-ahead blast, minimalist in its approach as they drive right at your gut. With Musica Transonic, the combination of Yoshida’s complex rhythms and Kawabata’s ability to find unexpected angles for his guitar attack recalibrated the rock trio, with magnificent results that retain their ability to shock even now, 25 years later…” –Mason Jones, San Francisco, CA, 2020
File Under: Japan, Psych
Toho Sara: s/t (Black Editions) LP
Black Editions present a reissue of Toho Sara’s self-titled album, originally released in 1995. A mystifying work of Japanese avant-garde shamanism, Toho Sara’s 1995 debut introduced a radical new sound from Asahito Nanjo (High Rise), Makoto Kawabata (Acid Mothers Temple), and Hisashi Yasuda — playing an array of ancient instruments including tabla, piri, harmonium, biwa, shakujo, and hansho the group evokes an otherworldly ritual music, meditative and haunting. Originally released on CD by P.S.F. Japan, newly epanded, remastered and available for the first time ever on vinyl. Pressed to high quality vinyl at RTI. Gatefold, tip-on jacket; Includes insert and download. “In 1995, Tokyo’s legendary label P.S.F. Records released two very different albums, connected by the shadowy personality behind them: Nanjo Asahito, well known by music fanatics acquainted with his band High Rise. The pair of 1995 releases, though, were quite different from the brain-scrambling, fuzz-driven, motor-psycho sounds of High Rise. One, by the mysterious Musica Transonic, refracted that distorted rock through a prism that broke it into abstract, free-form shapes. We’re here, though, with regard to the other album, the self-titled debut by 東方沙羅, Toho Sara . . . From the first of the simply numbered songs (no titles here) it’s clear that Nanjo, Kawabata Makoto, and Yasuda Hisashi have something special in mind: the delicate percussion and woodwinds are quickly joined by a much more ominous drone, and they combine brightness with murk throughout the album . . . Nanjo and Kawabata had played together for some time before this album, including a band called Johari, which brought together ethnic and contemporary music. They formed Toho Sara to revisit the idea, focusing on Asian spirituality while experimenting with acoustic instruments. Yasuda joined them after playing in Nanjo’s avant-garde outfit Group Musica, and later played in the early Acid Mothers Temple with Kawabata. Toho Sara translates to Eastern Most, which follows the idea behind the group. Fascinated by shamanism, Nanjo wanted to create an avant-garde musical embodiment of ideas like kagura, ancient ritual theater, and bring it to album and stage . . .The fourth track, the album’s eleven-minute centerpiece, bursts open in a chaotic clatter that barely disperses as mysterious scrapings and bowings come and go, a bewitching accretion of brain-scrambling sounds. It’s a dramatic, eerie, and anarchic passage that would undeniably suit a summoning ritual for Moorcock’s chaos-god Arioch. Some of the tracks are calmer, even peaceful if you don’t mind a bit of ambient dread seeping into your peacetime. Slow drumbeats and gentle gongs are layered with not-quite-atonal woodwinds, intermittent clacks of wooden percussion accent some variety of buzzing woodwind, and droning harmonium underlies clarinet-like slow melodies…” –Mason Jones, San Francisco, CA, 2020
File Under: Ambient, Experimental, Japan, Drone
Blod: Livets Ord (Aguirre) LP
Low-key synth and keyboard studio album by Swedish all-rounder Gustaf Dicksson. From the early days of the found-sounds recordings — like the downright scary Unga Röster album (2015) and the hilarious “Mandys Bil” 7″ (2016) — the homespun kitchen recordings/tape collages of the still-going Idiotmusik series to the more carefully elaborated and precise Leendet Från Helvetet (2017) and Knutna Nävar (2018) albums, the massive Livets Ord dropped like a bomb when it originally surfaced as a self-released cassette in 2018. Heavily based on synths and keyboards and clocking in on no less than close 70 minutes over four LP-sides, this is arguably the epic album from the cluster around the Förlag För Fri Musik empire. Gustaf Dickssons’s fascination for Christianity/religious assemblies shines through once again, the title Livets Ord (“The word of life”) derived from the Swedish free church/sect with the same name that was based in Uppsala between 1983-2013 and casting a pastoral shadow over the ambient music of the album. While dabbling with a long tradition of kosmische musik and private-pressed new age wonders, Blod’s now-patented sound of a Björn Isfält-gone-sour still lingers throughout the entire recording. A cornerstone in contemporary Gothenburg underground music. Featuring guest appearances by Emelie Thulin and Jerker Jarold. Includes insert; edition of 300.
File Under: Experimental, Electronic
David Bowie: Young Americans (Parlophone) LP
1975’s Young Americans spent almost a year on the U.S. charts, peaking at No. 9 on Billboard’s Albums chart, while its single “Fame” hit No. 1 on the Pop Singles chart. Bowie’s Diamond Dogs had cracked the U.S. Top 5 the previous year, so while Young Americans was not the album that initially broke Bowie in America, it was certainly the one that aligned him with Rod Stewart and Elton John in the top ranks of the decade’s Stateside superstars. Young Americans, representing the zenith of Bowie’s influential soul period, contributed in no small measure to breaking white soul music into the mainstream. The album was, in theory, about “emotional drive,” but came to represent much more than that, both upon its release and over time. Young Americans is Bowie’s vision of and reply to a wide swath of above-board and underground musical and socio-political influences, including soul music, politics, sex, drugs, dancing, and the cultural scenes of downtown New York and uptown Philadelphia. A No. 2 U.K. chart peak made it Bowie’s first studio album in three years not to reach the top spot. Nonetheless, the album’s legacy would be profound, as a new movement of U.K. soul drew inspiration from Bowie’s cool version of Americana and revolutionized British pop in the process. Bowie’s soul boy look and haircut, later to be known as ‘the wedge,’ became the hallmarks of classic clubland cool, not just for the soul boys themselves but across the greater New Romantic era, as well. It is not often that an album makes such a sweeping musical, cultural and subcultural impact. David Bowie’s Young Americans is one of the rare, era-defining records that altered the course of both popular music and modern style.
File Under: Rock
John Coltrane: Giant Steps: 60th Anniversary Edition (Atlantic) LP
While John Coltrane first gained attention for his revolutionary ‘sheets of sound’ technique, it was the deep spirituality of his music that really made his recordings as a bandleader such classics. The albums Coltrane recorded for Atlantic in 1959 and 1960 represent the heart of his unparalleled legacy. Released in 1960, Giant Steps may have been Coltrane’s fifth album as leader, but it was the first one that really made an impact within the jazz community. It was also his first album for Atlantic and the fact that it was released on a major label rather than Prestige, which was known almost entirely as a jazz label, didn’t hurt its chances at being heard by a larger audience either. There’s also big names all over the credits on Giant Steps: the album was produced by Nesuhi Ertegun, engineered by Tom Dowd, features piano work from Tommy Flanagan and Wynton Kelly, drums by Art Taylor and Jimmy Cobb, and bass by Paul Chambers. In addition to the title track, which has come to be recognized as a jazz classic (like basically every song on the album), there was also a hint of jazz to come with the track “Naima,” which featured Kelly and Cobb, who – along with Chambers – were the predominant players on his next album, Coltrane Jazz. Even if you’re not a jazz fan, this is one of those albums that practically transcends the genre, so if you’ve ever felt like you should at least have a token entry in the “jazz” section of your collection, this is a perfect way to take care of that omission. 60th Anniversary Deluxe 180g vinyl 2LP reissue with new 2020 remaster of original album plus a bonus disc of alternate takes and versions – including rehearsal and incomplete tracks, as well as false starts – only previously included in The Heavyweight Champion: The Complete Atlantic Recordings of John Coltrane boxed set. This 2LP configuration also features a 12″ x 12″ 12-page booklet and comes packaged in a replica of the original 1960 stereo pressing, with a 12″ x 12″ album cover insert included.
File Under: Jazz
Rudy De Anda: Tender Epoch (Karma Chief) LP
Conceived in the 1980s in Mexico and brought to California through the border inside of his 6-month-pregnant mother, Rudy de Anda’s debut solo record is a love letter to the long historical lineage of rock ‘n’ roll music as interpreted through his multicultural lens. “I write my own story, I don’t want to be defined by any scene” de Anda proclaims of his personal journey, and his ability to adapt and flit between cities and cultures is part of why L.A. Record has called his sound “deliberately difficult to classify, familiar but novel at the same time.” Since 2005, De Anda has played thousands of shows in various musical projects, but with Tender Epoch, tellingly the first recorded under his own name, he has clearly found his own voice with a wealth of stories to spotlight. It’s exquisitely crafted pop, with universal messages of heartbreak and loss that still feel appropriate played speeding windows-down on the highway in the coastal sunshine. Above all, De Anda likes to keep people guessing: from the album artwork to the multi-faceted textures of sound, Tender Epoch feels ambiguous to any era, a perfect collusion of old and new that showcases a music historian’s knowledge of both past greats and influential peers. Sculpting his own path through a wild ride that feels unlikely to let up, De Anda refuses to settle down or get comfortable, instead carving out a classic record that is sure to set a standard for songwriting to come.
File Under: Soft Rock, Latin
Martin Denny: Hypnotique (Jackpot) LP
“Martin Denny Hypnotique originally released in 1959. A fan favorite from the father of the ‘exotica’ movement. Stunning original cover artwork. 9/10 All Music Guide review.” Color vinyl.
File Under: Exotica
Martin Denny: Exotica (Jackpot) LP
“Martin Denny’s debut #1 album originally released in 1957. Original mono recording preferred by Martin Denny and featuring Arthur Lyman and Augie Colon. Exotica spawned an entire genre and the birth of the tiki/cocktail movement starts here.” Color vinyl.
File Under: Exotica
Martin Denny: Quiet Village (Jackpot) LP
“Martin Denny Quiet Village originally released in 1959. Iconic album artwork reflected the fantasy of Denny’s Influential fusion of tropical moods. 9/10 All Music Guide review.” Color vinyl.
File Under: Exotica
GA-20: Live Vol 1 (Karma Chief) 7″
The way the blues was meant to be: LIVE! This four track EP is the first of many live efforts from GA-20 to come. These four tunes show the wide range of the group, ranging from mellow in the world of groups like The Wood Brothers to raw, electric blues more kin to early Black Keys LP’s.
File Under: Funk, Soul, RnB
Herbie Hancock: Flood (Get on Down) LP
Red vinyl. “This double live outing from Herbie Hancock was recorded in Tokyo in July of 1975. Backed up by The Headhunters, Hancock runs through selections from his albums Head Hunters, Thrust and Man-Child — that last project still being months away from release at the time of this recording. Get On Down’s reissue of the vinyl will be the first US release for the double LP, ever.”
File Under: Jazz, Funk
Kazuo Imai: Far and Wee (Black Editions) LP
Black Editions present a reissue of Kazuo Imai’s far and wee, originally released in 2004. Kazuo Imai is one of the few artists to traverse both Japan’s early avant-garde and free jazz movements. Though he began performing in the 1970s, his 2004 P.S.F. album far and wee was only the second under his name. In a series of thrilling acoustic guitar improvisations — Imai’s playing crackles with dynamic tension and physicality as well as a subtlety and nuance that reveals him as one of the instrument’s true masters and innovators. In 2004, Kazuo Imai (Marginal Consort, East Bionic Symphonia) recorded a series of nylon-string classical guitar improvisations at the request of P.S.F. founder Hideo Ikeezumi. far and wee, the resulting album, vibrates with the inherent duality of nylon: the strings stretch and snap back like rubber tautened and released, and paint the softest of caresses in silky washes. Imai was a student of two of the foundational artists of the Japanese avant-garde: Masayuki Takayanagi, the pioneering free-improvising guitarist and Takehisa Kosugi, the visionary Fluxus composer also known for his work with Group Ongaku and the Taj Mahal Travelers. A sense of inquisitiveness about how far he can push himself and every part of the guitar pervades these performances as Imai makes everything from the pegs to the bridge to the strap pin explode with resonate. For over 20 years, Imai has been a driving force behind Marginal Consort a collective of Japanese avant-garde musicians devoted to collective improvisation, known for their incredibly layered and varied annual performances that last for three continuous hours. Using a blend of homemade and traditional instruments, electronics, and sculptural and natural forms, they create auditory experiences of exceptionally unique color and vibration. The same dedication to vitality and variety is found in Imai’s guitar music, and it is via the guitar that his vast studies in philosophy and music come together in extreme focus, allowing him to tease and extend the history of the instrument while interrogating the limits of its edge. far and wee continues the tradition of the Soloworks concerts that Imai has been giving for several decades, and allows the listener to breathe in the unique space of Imai’s thought processes. He attacks the instrument: the nylon strings explode against the guitar. And he caresses it, soothing each centimeter of string with delicate force and concentration. Pressed to high quality vinyl at RTI. Heavy tip-on jackets; includes download.
File Under: Japan, Avant Garde, Improv
Jay Glass Dubs: Soma (Berceuse Heroique) LP
“Imagine the opposite of a snake shedding its skin: a body slithering among the debris of 21st-century music; a porous, viscid body, its skin an adhesive, lodging onto itself bits and pieces along the way. Some are scraps, rusted, discarded parts. Some are the jewels of crowns, unglued and fallen from grace, now re-attached on this makeshift contraption. Where does a body end? Does it end where these prostheses begin? Jay Glass Dubs’ Soma (‘body’ in Greek) is a palimpsest. Look closely and you can find all sorts of DNA microarrays on the body’s skin — Bristol voices, Detroit electro hums, the amen break, the all-encompassing dub haze — but, as with all palimpsests, they are simultaneously one and a multitude. The body lives, its prostheses live. The body moves.”
File Under: Electronic
Kassel Jaeger: Swamp/Things (Shelter Press) LP
Over the last decade, Kassel Jaeger, the moniker of the Paris-based composer, writer/theorist, producer, and director of the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM), François Bonnet, has meticulously sculpted a body of multidisciplinary work that rests at the forefront contemporary electronic and electroacoustic practice. Jaeger’s work across numerous fields, be it in text, action, or sound presents a crucial bridge between the optimistic, philosophical origins of electronic and electroacoustic music, the present and where they have yet to delve. With his first solo LP with Shelter Press, Swamps / Things, Kassel Jaeger wades into this foggy, conceptual realm. From memory and metaphor — sliding fluidly through the imagistic and emotive — emerges an immersive, cavernous world that rethinks electroacoustic music on organic terms. Swamps / Things was conceived as an opera without distinct characters or text. It draws Kassel Jaeger into his own history, experiences, and the unlikely double of the swamp, a landscape that has held literal and metaphorical sway over him since childhood. Merging eight works as a total environment, abstaining from distinct shape or discrete articulation, across the album’s breadth, sound becomes a shifting mirror for the bubbling, ordered chaos of organic life. Resting at the junction of concept, emotion, and phenomena, Swamps / Things encounters an artist of remarkable craft, delving toward the unknown, deploying organized sonority as object and environment, as much as action, movement, passage, and arc. Seemingly possessed by an entropy entirely its own, the temporal gives way to the poetics of space, while the density of an endlessly evolving climate, laden with cacophonous happenings, renders itself still. Flickering images of the natural world — memory and the imagined reformed as sound – present an operatic double for human action and thought. From deep, fog like banks of minimalist long tone, to industrial clamors left as tracks in the mud, or the collisions of shifting pulses, overtones, and textures — captured from across the murky, drone laden waters between the acoustic and synthetic realms — moody, howling cries and tense meditations merge in ambient sheets, capturing a fleeting image of where decomposition gives way to new growth. Swamp / Things features contributions from Jim O’Rourke and Lucy Railton. Jaeger has previously collaborated with Stephen O’Malley, Stephan Mathieu, Akira Rabelais, Oren Ambarchi, James Rushford, and others. Mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi, cut at Dubplates & Mastering. Printed artwork by Cameron Jamie on inner and outer reverse-board jackets.
File Under: Electronic, Experimental
KTL: VII (Editions Mego) LP
A new timely studio album from the duo of Peter Rehberg and Stephen O’Malley. Recorded and mixed during an unexpected extended stay in Berlin when the borders of the world suddenly closed. The claustrophobic urgency of this scenario is seared into the colossal vibrations set into this vinyl release. Unlike many of their releases this is a studio record made unto itself as opposed to the many soundtracks they have made for theater works and the like. It also stands as one of their most fully realized releases to date. Proceedings are launched with “The Director”. Sitting somewhere between contemporary classical and doom this is a sliding and menacing mass of sound, more Masque of the Red Death than The Decameron. Silver lining is an alarming swooping buzzing track, looming and lowering only to rise and descend again. A delicate play with the Shepard-Risset glissando manifesting a delirious swarm of sound. Lee’s garlic orbits into a short, fragmented zone with bursts of harsh feedback and crashing fx, all manner of audio enters and is discarded with an underlying sense of despair and frustration. Proceedings continue on Side B with “Tea With Kali” where a calmer plateau is embedded with oscillating guitar and fluttering electronics. Beating sine waves envelop the listener in a meditative thought piece of sound. Frostless concludes this epic dispatch as a subtle and gentle foray into twitching electronics as a light buzzsaw drone swirls as around your mind. The interplay of sources — guitar, electronic equipment (hardware, software, speakers) — is so entwined it’s often difficult to discern who is doing what amongst the broad sound field. KTL’s VII is instrumental music as visual narrative resulting in an exquisitely crafted release full of sophisticated and sublime illusory effects. Berlin, Spring 2020; Written and produced by KTL, Stephen O’Malley and Peter Rehberg; Recorded and mixed at MOM Paraverse Studios, Berlin, March and May 2020; Engineer: Andi Toma (mix), 2nd Engineer: Constantin Carstens (recording); Mastered at Zino Mikorey Mastering, Berlin, May 2020; Cut by Andreas Kauffelt at Schnitstelle, Berlin, June 2020.
File Under: Metal, Drone, Sunn o)))
Bettye LaVette: Blackbirds (Verve) LP
Blackbirds, whose release will coincide with Bettye LaVette’s induction into the Blues Music Hall of Fame, represents another step in the 5x Grammy-nominated vocalist’s artistic evolution. Working again with Things Have Changed producer Steve Jordan, who also plays drums, and a group of celebrated musicians (Smokey Hormel on guitar, Monty Croft on vibes, bassist Tom Barney and veteran keyboardist Leon Pendarvis), LaVette delivers impassioned readings of songs associated with African American female vocalists of the 1950s. Nina Simone’s “I Hold No Grudge,” which was suggested for LaVette by the original writer, Angelo Badalamenti, captures the defiance we associate with Simone while adding warmth and hopefulness. “Save Your Love for Me,” popularized by Nancy Wilson, reflects LaVette’s development as a vocal stylist who, through the warmth and precision with which she caresses each lyric, creates the kind of intimate mood once associated with smoky nightclubs and after-hours spots. Meanwhile, “Strange Fruit,” first performed by Billie Holiday, is a harrowing critique of American racism that still says much about the country today. “I didn’t want to do it in any way that had been done before,” LaVette says of “Strange Fruit” – an explanation that speaks to her process for the album as a whole – “but I wanted it to be dramatic.” The ideal, she adds, is for “your interpretation to be as interesting as that original one.” To that end, LaVette chose songs that she could personalize into reflections of her own experience. Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird,” while anomalous in that it isn’t connected with a particular female vocalist, nonetheless fits into the project’s scope because it speaks for the struggles faced by these women – LaVette’s musical forebears – as they worked to build and maintain their careers. “All my life,” LaVette sings, shifting McCartney’s original lyrics into the first person, “I have waited for this moment to arrive.” In curating the songs for Blackbirds, LaVette has established a dialogue with the great women who preceded her while reaffirming herself as a vital, living presence.
File Under: Soul, RnB
Lesser Glow: Nullity (Pelagic) LP
Lesser Glow was born from an ever- growing sea of noise, swirling together the sounds of humanity into a churning vat of anonymity, in which as individuals, sometimes we are drowning. The Boston five-piece’s debut album Ruined made waves in 2018: a “felicitous nihilistic debut coup” (Metal Hammer) containing “the best doom single of the year” (Visions), making “the excitement of what they might come up with on their sophomore release nearly unbearable upon first listen” (Ghost Cult). Well, here it is: Nullity brings an undeniable heaviness, with lyrics and music coexisting in the same beautiful, dynamic and volatile space. Heavy but not excessive. Massive yet not gratuitous. Meticulous. Focused. Direct. “We wanted to make the record sound more forward and driving, while implementing a lot more movement into the sounds and mixes. Pull the drums forward. Up the grit a bit more. Give the record more teeth in the heavier moments and more lush space in the melodic and ambient passages. We gave ourselves a lot more time in the studio to track this one over all, diving deeper into tones and choices along the way and leaving time for plenty of experimentation and improvisational passages written in the studio. Overall our approach was consciously much more immersive this time around,” comments guitarist Andrew Nault. Nullity is based around the concept of human beings existing on earth as parasites. The scope both widens and focuses throughout the course of the record, touching on creation myths, existence within nature, interpersonal and internal struggles, and finishing out with the mass extinction/cleansing of mankind. The idea of Lesser Glow grew as a response to the unrealistic progression of heavy music in recent years… generally feeling over-technical, over-produced and sometimes entirely fake. “I was caught in a major 90s binge, listening to a bunch of stuff like Unsane and Failure, and feeling like that raw, palpable energy and songwriting was slipping away from modern heavy records,” comments Nault. “I was tired of genre-choked bands, and missed hearing songs instead of riff parades.” The lineup of the band came together organically, “though now the combination of individuals feels incredibly fortunate,” notes Nault. Alec is the sound engineer of Chelsea Wolfe, Ben is the manager of Cambridge, MA’s finest live venue Sinclair, Seth is a session drummer and music teacher and Andrew is not only the guitarist in Lesser Glow, but also session drummer for electro-post-hiphop outfit Arms And Sleepers. The fact that all members are experienced professionals is a restraining factor (when it comes to aligning schedules), but it has also helped the band stay focused on the essentials. With Nullity, Lesser Glow rips open a massively wide and confident blend of traditional doom meets melodic metal, paired with the likes of hardcore, post hardcore, noise rock, post rock and beyond. Molding all these into one cohesive mix, Lesser Glow stand out as a refreshing and unapologetically brutal take on heavy music.
File Under: Metal
Alvin Lucier: Vespers (Blume) LP
“This is the fulfillment of a dream for a new kind of music. There is nothing like Vespers in the literature of music. It is a completely new way of defining what music is, and the definition is given to us in a purely realized form.” –Robert Ashley. Alvin Lucier is among the most important, influential, and radical of the second generation of the post-war avant-garde composers. First released as Lucier’s contribution to the Sonic Arts Union’s lone LP, Electronic Sound (1972), Vespers is a work generated by two equal actors: the performers and the space that they occupy. Conceived following a chance encounter with hand-held echolocation technology “the Sondol”, a pulse oscillator that emits short, sharp pulses at variable repetition speeds, producing echoes from the reflecting walls of a space to register relative location and orientation. Written as a poetic “prose score”, for the realization of Vespers, each performer is equipped with a “Sondol” and asked to move blindfolded within a defined space, moving from one point to the next using only echolocation, taking what Lucier describes as “sound photographs” that reveal discrete details of the given area. Despite the radical leap it presented within the history of the sonic arts, Vespers was not the first of Lucier’s works that began to specifically address the relation between sound, perception, and space. Chambers, composed the year before in 1968 and embedded with the wry humor which lingers below much of the composer’s output, explored the theme on a brilliantly miniature scale. As a total work, Chambers contends with the relationship between the knowing and understanding of what we hear, our perception of the source of a sound, and its relation to space. When viewed in the immediate context of Vespers, it presents as an unexpected inversion of what was to come. While it plays on the relation of sight and the sonic actor, what is seen and unseen takes on a dynamically different role. For the realization of Chambers, battery-operated radios, tape recorders, and various kinds of electric toys are hidden in paper bags, shoes, kettles, a suitcase, and other small resonant spaces, which not only limit the perception of these object to their sounds alone, but take on the role of acoustic actors on the sounds within, each space becoming as individual and distinct as the object it contains. Newly designed obi-strip/insert with an introduction by Robert Ashley, liner notes by Bradford Bailey and Gaia Martino. 160 gram, dark blue vinyl; edition of 300.
File Under: Avant Garde
Macintosh Plus: Sick & Panic (Chronos & Vermillion) LP
Where have the alienated masses gone after vaporwave? Producer Ramona Andra Xavier, aka Vektroid, Macintosh Plus, Laserdisc Visions, New Dreams Ltd., and a few others, is a good resource, being a reliable through line from the genre’s peak to the current moment. Since her most recent studio album Floral Shoppe in 2011, Xavier has traveled further and further away from slowed-down R&B samples, challenging and complicating her own production style. But “Sick & Panic (First Mix)” is her first return to the Macintosh Plus name since 2011, and it sounds almost entirely unlike the curious complacency of Floral Shoppe. This new twelve-minute track breaks apart a few key components of vaporwave, but more readily takes influences from glitch music and the freeform design of a DJ set. But by calling this a Macintosh Plus record, you’re forced to see it with a strangely human face. Between the hundreds of interrupted thoughts and microscopic silences, something organic is growing. This is the sort of music nobody is really built for, but that one learns out of idle curiosity. While we may not be androids for a few more years, this compact, biting music speaks to some metaphysical data analysis we’re hardwired to be fascinated by. In a twelve-minute span, it has more than exhausted every notion and idea. It’s a tactical deployment of thoughts too scattered to fit into their own slots. Which is where it wraps around again to vaporwave, because nothing ever changes. All music and art by Macintosh Plus, aka Vektroid. Deluxe hi-fidelity vinyl picture disc; Limited edition; includes digital download.
File Under: Electronic
Baris Manco: Dunden Bugune (Guerssen) LP
Barış Manço was one of the leading, most influential and most beloved Turkish rock musicians, along with Erkin Koray, Edip Akbayram and Cem Karaca, and this is his first long-player, released in 1971 by Sayan Productions. It’s a compilation of tracks taken from previously-released 45s, plus the track “Lory” that only appears on this album. Killer psych-rock with a strong Turkish flavor, this features Baris’ all-time classics like “Derule” and “Dağlar Dağlar I,” as well as the brutal, wah-wah flooded “Küçük Bir Gece Müzigi,” with its infectious drumming that drives anyone searching for sampling stuff mad. Not to be confused with two different releases with the same name that actually have different tracklistings and artwork, this is the real album as it was originally released. Reissued on vinyl for the first time, and including an insert with great photos of Barış as well as detailed liner notes.
File Under: Turkey, Psych
Jean-Marie Mercimek: La Flourenn en Mars (Aguirre) LP
Wonderful lo-fi synthpop/collage LP by Marseillaise duo Jean-Marie Mercimek. Something has been brewing in France in recent years. Underground record shops, small venues, micro labels, and young musicians are creating a new vibe in various parts of the country. A broad range of styles and genres get randomly mixed into a melting pot with refreshing results. Jean Marie-Mercimek is one of those projects coming out of this new scene. The duo of Marion Molle and Ronan Riou revisits French lo-fi synth pop in a fairytale-like way, utilizing their collection of rare automatic Casio keyboards, frequency modulation chanson, and tape collages towards a multi-layered comic book journey in form of a concert. As if there was an animated wax brush painted cartoon version of Elli & Jacno. Includes insert; edition of 250.
File Under: Electronic, Lo-Fi, Synth Pop
Ayalew Mesfin: Good Aderegechegn (Blindsided By Love) (Now Again) LP
“Ayalew Mesfin stands aside the likes of Mulatu Astake, Mahmoud Ahmed, Hailu Mergia and Alemayehu Eshete as a legend of 1970s Ethiopia. Mesfin’s music is some of the funkiest to arise from this unconquerable East African nation. Mesfin’s recording career, captured in nearly two dozen 7″ singles and numerous reel-to-reel tapes, shows the strata of the most fertile decade in Ethiopia’s 20th century recording industry, when records were pressed constantly by both independent upstarts and corporate behemoths, even if they were only distributed within the confines of this East African nation. Though Mesfin was forced underground by the Derg regime that took control of Ethiopia in 1974, he has returned almost 50 years later with this triumphant set albums — the first time that his music has been presented in this form. These albums give us a chance to discover a rare and beautiful moment in music history, in anthologies built from Mesfin’s uber-rare 7″ single releases and from previously unreleased recordings taken from master tapes. Good Aderegechegn gives us a chance to discover a rare & beautiful moment in music history, in an anthology built from his uber-rare 7″ single releases.”
File Under: Africa, Ethiopiques
Ennio Morricone: Giallo Criminale
(Rust Blade) LP
Ennio Morricone’s work has always been distinguished by his original and well-defined footprint, influencing important cinema directors like Sergio Leone, Quentin Tarantino, Brian De Palma, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Umberto Lenzi and many more. This compilation wants to highlight the more dramatic, frenetic, criminal, tense and oneiric musical aspect that in many films and musical influences, has accompanied the characteristic cinematographic and literary genre called “GIALLO”. Fasten your seat belts and Enjoy the music! Contains famous song “here’s to you” with Joan Baez, “Rabbia Tarantella” (Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds), “Chi Mai”, “Ninna Nanna in Blu ( Dario Argento’ s The Cat o’ Nine Tails) and “Outsider” Limited Yellow Vinyl 499 copies Record store day 2020
File Under: OST
My Morning Jacket: The Waterfall II
Back in 2014, the members of My Morning Jacket spent time up in Stinson Beach, a tiny Northern California town set right on the ocean and near the majestic Muir Woods. Massively inspired by their idyllic surroundings, the Kentucky-bred five-piece ended up creating over two dozen songs at the mountaintop studio known as Panoramic House. Though they flirted with the idea of putting out a triple album, the band ultimately decided that less would be more and divided the project into two halves, releasing the first segment as The Waterfall: a 2015 full-length that earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Alternative Music Album. My Morning Jacket are now set to share the second half of the project as The Waterfall II, an unforeseen and timely continuation of a psychic and sonic journey begun long ago. As Jim James reveals, the decision to unearth The Waterfall II was sparked from a bit of serendipity in the early days of self-quarantine. While out on a walk, he placed his music library on shuffle and soon stumbled upon “Spinning My Wheels,” a tender rumination on the struggle for presence, its lyrics confessing to feeling “hypnotized from doing the same old thing.” Struck by the song’s enduring relevance, James revisited the other tracks reserved from the Panoramic House sessions and found that they invited a welcome moment of self-reflection – an outcome perhaps even more perfectly suited to the chaos of the current day than the circumstances of their recording. Like its predecessor, The Waterfall II mines its mood of dreamy contemplation from certain heartbreak James had recently experienced, including the demise of a monumental relationship. Unfolding in a loosely threaded narrative of loss and recovery, the album conjures an indelible pain but never drifts into despair, gracefully conveying James’s message that “there is hope beyond the pain and loss, if you learn to flow with life like water.” Opening with the profound reverie of “Spinning My Wheels,” The Waterfall II endlessly illuminates My Morning Jacket’s eclectic sensibilities, encompassing everything from lilting sunshine-pop to fantastically ramshackle rock and roll. While the album slips into heavenly psychedelia on tracks like “Feel You” (a mesmerizing epic James developed deep in the Muir Woods), a more ominous tone permeates “Magic Bullet” and its rattled response to gun violence. An intimate documenting of keeping an open heart in the face of devastation, The Waterfall II embodies a wistful longing on “Run It” (a song about “the desire to disappear and turn back into water,” according to James) and later gives way to overwhelming gratitude on “Welcome Home” (a portrait of “coming home from tour feeling so sad and defeated and lonely, but realizing how much love I was lucky to have in my friends and family”). And on “The First Time,” My Morning Jacket close out the album with a sweetly rambling meditation on the possibility of finding love again, channeling both ineffable sorrow and wide-eyed hope to incredibly glorious effect. Even in its most heavy-hearted moments, The Waterfall II radiates an undeniable sense of wonder, a testament to the wild-mindedness that’s long imbued the music of My Morning Jacket. With their unabashed curiosity infinitely stirred by their time at Stinson Beach, the band hopes that the album might lead others to look beyond what’s human-made in the search for solace and renewal. Deluxe edition colored 180g vinyl LP pressing with gatefold foil jacket packaging and animated zoetrope labels.
File Under: Rock
Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets: Live at the Roundhouse (Legacy) LP
Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets Live At The Roundhouse is an extraordinary all-new concert recording featuring an array of Pink Floyd classics rarely performed by the band during its lifetime. Mason – founding drummer and the only constant member of Pink Floyd since their 1965 formation – united Gary Kemp (guitar, vocals), Guy Pratt (bass, vocals), Lee Harris (guitar), and Dom Beken (keyboards) as Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets in 2018, fueled in part by the desire to perform the legendary band’s pre-Dark Side of the Moon material, timeless songs which had not been played on stage in decades. An invitation-only performance at London’s Dingwalls was met with rapturous acclaim and followed by a sold out theater tour of North America, Europe, and the United Kingdom. The band returned in 2019, including two sold out May shows at The Roundhouse – the historic Camden venue where Pink Floyd famously played on October 15, 1966, teaming with Soft Machine for an “All Night Rave” launching the famed underground newspaper, International Times. Live At The Roundhouse captures what has proven a remarkable band all its own, infusing archetypal Floyd favorites with infectious passion, great power, and subtle restraint. From the garage band attack of “Arnold Layne” and “Vegetable Man” to the psychedelic journeying of “Interstellar Overdrive” and the mellow expanse of “Atom Heart Mother,” “Fearless,” and “Green Is the Colour,” Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets Live At The Roundhouse brings to life music rarely heard onstage since Pink Floyd’s halcyon first era, thrillingly revived for a new generation. “A thrillingly raw 90-minute set of (Pink Floyd’s) early psychedelic rock…Notable highlights included a searing ‘Lucifer Sam’ and the visceral white noise rush of ‘Set The Controls For The Heart of the Sun,’ while early singles ‘See Emily Play’ and ‘Arnold Layne’ were reborn with a fresh intensity and power. There were also revivals of languid instrumental tracks and dazzling, semi-improvised psychedelic guitar wig-outs that harked back to the loose structures and unconventional time signatures changes of the Syd Barrett era.” – Billboard.
File Under: Rock, Pink Floyd
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross: Watchmen Volume 1 (Null) LP
Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross release their score for the new HBO drama, Watchmen, across three 180g vinyl LP albums. Created in collaboration with the show’s writers, each LP features the score from the Academy Award-winning composers plus artwork and packaging – exclusive to the vinyl release – that explores the culture of the show, revealing insights into the series’ mythology. The albums will be released throughout the duration of the first season of Watchmen in 2019, with Volume 1 arriving at the beginning of November, Volume 2 at the end of November and Volume 3 in mid-December. Set in an alternate history where masked vigilantes are treated as outlaws, Watchmen embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel of the same name while attempting to break new ground of its own. While a film adaptation of the novel was made back in 2009, the TV adaption helmed by Damon Lindelof (Lost, The Leftovers) offers a daring follow-up to the novel, set 30 years after Rorschach’s manifesto hits the media and imagines an alternate American reality, where costume-avengers square off against white supremacists.
File Under: OST, Nine Inch Nails
Rival Consoles: Articulation
(Erased Tapes) LP
London producer and electronic music humaniser Ryan Lee West aka Rival Consoles returns with his highly anticipated, compelling and cohesive new record Articulation, out July 31. Following 2018’s acclaimed double-album Persona, on which Ryan experimented with ambient soundscapes using an improvisational and spontaneous approach to his compositions that explored the extent to which electronic music can mimic our feelings and help better understand them, Articulation conversely was conceived using a very visual way of thinking. During the writing process Ryan drew structures, shapes and patterns by hand to try and find new ways of thinking about music and as a way to problem-solve away from the computer. The album title in fact references a piece by the avant-garde contemporary composer Györgi Ligeti, though not for its music, but the non-traditional graphic score that accompanied it. The idea of using analogue drawings and tools to bolster digital creations can be heard
File Under: Electronic
Run the Jewels: RTJ 4 (Mass Appeal) LP
Run The Jewels, the lauded duo of El-P and Killer Mike, return with their feverishly anticipated new album, Run The Jewels 4. The eleven song, 40 minute powerhouse is their most ferocious and focused effort to date, and sports a lineup of all-star guests including Pharrell Williams, Mavis Staples, 2 Chainz, Zack de la Rocha, Josh Homme, DJ Premier, and Greg Nice. Recorded primarily at Rick Rubin’s Shangri-La Studios and the iconic Electric Lady Studios in NYC, RTJ4 represents two years of intensive writing, recording, distilling, and amplifying the most potent elements of their music. The result is a collection of wall-to-wall bangers illuminating the group’s unique ability to straddle the worlds of pointed social commentary and raw, boisterous fun. The new album is preceded by two singles, both of which arrived to rapturous reception. The first, “Yankee and the Brave (Ep.4),” dropped during an impromptu Instagram Live session the duo held as shelter in place orders were starting to take hold. Days later, the second single “Ooh La La” (feat. DJ Premier & Greg Nice) made a surprise debut in the season finale of the hit Netflix series Ozark. The two explosive tracks brilliantly set the stage for the arrival of RTJ4!
File Under: Hip Hop
Masayuki Takayanagi New Direction Unit: Axis/Another Revolvable Thing 1 (Blank Forms) LP
Axis/Another Revolvable Thing 1 is released alongside Axis/Another Revolvable Thing 2 (BF 016LP). Axis/Another Revolvable Thing is the second installment of Blank Forms’ archival reissues of the music of Japan’s eternal revolutionary Masayuki Takayanagi, following April Is The Cruellest Month (BF 008CD/LP), a 1975 studio record by his New Direction Unit. Comprised of recordings of a September 5, 1975 concert by the New Direction Unit at Yasuda Seimei Hall in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, the two-part set showcases Takayanagi in deep pursuit of what he began calling “non-section music” after leaping beyond the confines of his prior descriptor “real jazz”. The quartet of Takayanagi (guitar), Kenji Mori (reeds), Nobuyoshi Ino (bass, cello), and Hiroshi Yamazaki (percussion) deftly explores the twin poles of Takayanagi’s spacious “gradually projection” and explosively virulent “mass projection” concepts across six pieces, titled “Fragments I-VI”. Includes original liner notes by Japanese free jazz critic Teruto Soejima (newly translated for this edition). Originally issued in two individual LP volumes in rearranged order; the two separate LP reissues, Axis/Another Revolvable Thing 1 (BF 015LP) and Axis/Another Revolvable Thing 2 (BF 016LP), keep this rearranged order. Masayuki “Jojo” Takayanagi (1932-1991) was a maverick Japanese guitarist, a revolutionary spirit whose oeuvre embodied the radical political movements of late ’60s Japan. Having cut his teeth as an accomplished Lennie Tristano disciple playing cool jazz in the late ’50s, Takayanagi had his mind blown by the Chicago Transit Authority’s “Free Form Guitar” in 1969 and promptly turned his back on the jazz scene. Takayanagi had found a new direction, an annihilation of jazz and its associated idolatry of hegemonic American culture. Aiming his virtuoso chops towards the stratosphere, Takayanagi dedicated himself to the art of the freakout, laying waste to tradition left and right, most notably via the all-out assault of his aptly-named New Direction for the Arts (later New Direction Unit) and collaborations with like-minded outsider saxophonist Kaoru Abe. His innovations on the instrument parallel those of Sonny Sharrock and Derek Bailey and paved the way for the Japanese necromancy of Keiji Haino and Otomo Yoshihide.
File Under: Jazz
Masayuki Takayanagi New Direction Unit: Axis/Another Revolvable Thing 2 (Blank Forms) LP
Axis/Another Revolvable Thing 2 is released alongside Axis/Another Revolvable Thing 1 (BF 015LP). Axis/Another Revolvable Thing is the second installment of Blank Forms’ archival reissues of the music of Japan’s eternal revolutionary Masayuki Takayanagi, following April Is The Cruellest Month (BF 008CD/LP), a 1975 studio record by his New Direction Unit. Comprised of recordings of a September 5, 1975 concert by the New Direction Unit at Yasuda Seimei Hall in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, the two-part set showcases Takayanagi in deep pursuit of what he began calling “non-section music” after leaping beyond the confines of his prior descriptor “real jazz”. The quartet of Takayanagi (guitar), Kenji Mori (reeds), Nobuyoshi Ino (bass, cello), and Hiroshi Yamazaki (percussion) deftly explores the twin poles of Takayanagi’s spacious “gradually projection” and explosively virulent “mass projection” concepts across six pieces, titled “Fragments I-VI”. Includes original liner notes by Japanese free jazz critic Teruto Soejima (newly translated for this edition). Originally issued in two individual LP volumes in rearranged order; the two separate LP reissues, Axis/Another Revolvable Thing 1 (BF 015LP) and Axis/Another Revolvable Thing 2 (BF 016LP), keep this rearranged order. Masayuki “Jojo” Takayanagi (1932-1991) was a maverick Japanese guitarist, a revolutionary spirit whose oeuvre embodied the radical political movements of late ’60s Japan. Having cut his teeth as an accomplished Lennie Tristano disciple playing cool jazz in the late ’50s, Takayanagi had his mind blown by the Chicago Transit Authority’s “Free Form Guitar” in 1969 and promptly turned his back on the jazz scene. Takayanagi had found a new direction, an annihilation of jazz and its associated idolatry of hegemonic American culture. Aiming his virtuoso chops towards the stratosphere, Takayanagi dedicated himself to the art of the freakout, laying waste to tradition left and right, most notably via the all-out assault of his aptly-named New Direction for the Arts (later New Direction Unit) and collaborations with like-minded outsider saxophonist Kaoru Abe. His innovations on the instrument parallel those of Sonny Sharrock and Derek Bailey and paved the way for the Japanese necromancy of Keiji Haino and Otomo Yoshihide.
File Under: Jazz
Transcendence Orchestra: Feeling the Spirit (Editions Mego) LP
Not approved by the FDA “Like La Monte Young and The Incredible String Band stuck in an elevator.” In the process of relocating to Den Bosch’s Willem Twee Studios, The Transcendence Orchestra let love slip deftly out of its gate and reverberate around the walls of the studio’s main hall, a high ceilinged former synagogue in the city’s old town. Working intensively to capture its echoes, they coaxed it to appear in pipes and strings, directed it through resonant circuits and shepherded it round the room with beaters, horns, and rattles. Having returned home with the recordings, a purpose began to emerge. Through a process of extensive reconfiguration and testing it became clear that the love contained within could transform perception. Under the right circumstances, and accompanied by appropriate technology, it could serve as a map for navigating beginnings and endings. Like some distant mesmerizing chant or a psychedelic folk song, it could connect us and reassure us that we can pass through the boundaries and survive. Perhaps not intact but at least whole. Here is that map, love soaked diligently into its lines, ready to guide those at a loss or reassure those willing to explore. Written and produced by Anthony Child and Daniel Bean. Mastered by Stephan Mathieu at Schwebung Mastering, January 2020. Cut by Andreas Kauffelt at Schnitstelle, Berlin, February 2020. Cover art: Vidya Gastaldon L’ange de l’apocalypse (d’après Danby), 2012 Acrylic and oil on canvas; Courtesy the artist and art: Concept, Paris, from the collection of Musée de L’abbaye Sainte-Croix.
File Under: Ambient, Drone
Luigi Zito: Miscellanea (Cometa Edizioni) LP
Clear vinyl; edition of 150. First ever reissue on vinyl. Miscellanea — originally released in 1969 on cult Italian label SR Records (home of famous composer such as Bruno Nicolai, Francesco De Masi, I Marc 4, and more) — is the debut of composer Luigi Zito, an in-demand session player and music director throughout all the ’70s. An extremely brilliant music library with lots of jazz licks, descriptive and improvisational themes composed with a multitude of instruments, including the famous whistle by the one-and-only Alessandro Alessandroni.
File Under: Library
Rashied Ali Quintet: First Time Out – Live at Slugs (Survival Research) LP
Dinosaur Jr.: Where You Been (Cherry Red) LP
Eric Dolphy: Out to Lunch (Blue Note) LP
Brian Eno: Another Green World (Astralwerks) LP
Bill Evans Trio: At Shelley’s Manne-Hole (OJC) LP
Far East Famly Band: Nipponjin – Join Our Mental Phase Sound (Aozora) LP
Fontaines D.C.: A Hero’s Death (Partisan) LP
Keiji Haino: Watashi Dake (Black Editions) LP
Motohiko Hamase: Anecdote (WRWTFWW) LP
Motohiko Hamase: Notes of Forestry (WRWTFWW) LP
Motohiko Hamase: Technodrone (WRWTFWW) LP
P.J. Harvey: Dry (Universal) LP
C.C. Hennix/Deontic Miracle: Selection From 100 Models of Hegikan Roku (Blank Forms) LP
Baby Huey: The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend (Curtom) LP
Charlie Munro: Eastern Horizons (Be Jazz) LP
Shuggie Otis: Inspiration Information (Music on Vinyl) LP
Parquet Courts: Sunbathing Animal (What’s Your Rupture) LP
Penderecki – Don Cherry: Actions (Our Swimmer) LP
Terry Riley: In C (Music on Vinyl) LP
Arthur Russell: World of Echo (Audika) LP
Ulrich Schnauss: Far Away Trains Passing By (Scripted Realities) LP
Slint: Spiderland (Touch & Go) LP
Throbbing Gristle: D.O.A. – The Third and Final Report (Mute) LP
Throbbing Gristle: Greatest Hits (Mute) LP
Robert Turman: Flux (Spectrum Spools) LP
Cosey Fanni Tutti: Time to Tell (CTI) LP
Marcos Valle: Garra (Elemental) LP
Caetano Veloso: s/t (Elemental) LP
Caetano Veloso: Qualquer Coisa (Elemental) LP
Ween: Quebec (Schnitzel) LP
Kamaal William: The Return (Black Focus) LP
Steven Wilson: Hand. Cannot. Erase (K Scope) LP
Steven Wilson: Insurgents (K Scope) LP
Wipers: Youth of America (Jackpot) LP
You Say Party We Say Die: XXXX (Paper Bag) LP
Zombies: Odessey & Oracle (Varese) LP