…..news letter #620 – normal days…..

Happy New Year to all you record buying junkies reading this out there! Hopefully you had a wonderful and fun filled holiday season. Maybe you got a new turntable, or a nice stack of wax for Christmas. Maybe you got cross-country skis. Maybe your back went out and you were laid out on the couch for 7 days. Anyway, as much fun as the holidays are, I’m crave routine, and I’m very glad to be sitting here toiling away at this weekly update for your reading pleasure. Even though there hasn’t been much coming out, a few boxes trickled in this week. Some of this stuff has been in transit for over a month. Some was in just before Christmas, so I’ve included it too. But enough rambling….

…..pick of the week…..

de meester

Louis De Meester: Alpha Recordings (Dead-Cert) LP
Dead Cert collect three unique and chilling electro-acoustic compositions by the pioneering head of Belgium’s Institute of Psychoacoustic and Electronic Music, dating between 1958-1971. Born in 1904, in Roeselare, Belgium, Louis De Meester was a self-taught musician who, after travelling widely as a professional player, professed himself an autodidactic composer by 1945 and proceeded to become “Music Modulator” at The BRT (Belgian Radio and TV broadcasting company) and later head producer and artistic director at IPEM in Ghent between 1962-1969. His work, covering chamber music, lieder, cantatas, and concertantes has been subject of renewed focus recently, thanks to reissues such as Metaphon’s 50-year anniversary compilation of IPEM recordings, and now thanks to the efforts of Andy Votel and Demdike Stare’s Dead-Cert imprint, we’re presented with three of his finest pieces plucked from the archive of Alpha Brussels and carefully transferred from tape with little to no further processing by Andy Popplewell. They include “Incantations” (1958) and the string-heavy “Spielerei” (1970), plus a very necessary reissue of the outstanding “Mimodrama” (1971), which was also reissued by Keith Fullerton Whitman’s Creel Pone in 2008 and was last available on vinyl in 1974. “Mimodrama” is the record’s biggest attraction; a 26-minute composition for magnetophone, patching elements of previous works into a sort of biographical account, travelling from oneiric electronics to more defined concrète shapes and textures to almost arcane Mittel European folk melodies and rhythms. Remastered by Gareth Mallinson and Matt Colton. Limited edition pressing of 500 copies.

File Under: Avant Garde, Tape Music, Musique Concrete
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…..new arrivals…..

alessandroniAlessandro Alessandroni: Inchiesta (Sonar Music Editions) LP
Seriously wicked and really hard to find in its original edition, this superb sound-library bears the mark of the great, eclectic maestro Alessandro Alessandroni. The songs on this LP were originally composed for the broadcast of eight episodes made by RAI Italian TV called “Open Window.” Many mid-’70s jazz-funk/scat themes full of samples, breaks and funky tunes. Merged in this record you’ll find heavy funk-drama tracks devoted to 1970s poliziottesco’s grooves interfering with slow lounge-funk arrangements featuring sweet scat vocals. Great brass, a sure winner. Originally issued in a limited edition series for collectors, this gem has been repressed on HQ 180 gram vinyl with improved sound quality for the joy of audiophiles. Originally released in 1970, and reissued under license by Cometa Edizioni Musicali. Edition of 500 copies.

File Under: Library, Italian, Funk, Lounge
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Assault on Precinct 13 OST (Death Waltz) LP/CD/CS
Death Waltz Recording Company are very proud to be releasing one of the most seminal electronic scores in film history. Recorded in just one day, this minimal electro masterpiece by Director/Composer John Carpenter has been sampled by Afrika Bammbaataa and Tricky and covered countless times. This newly remastered version has been approved by director John Carpenter himself who has also supplied brand new and exclusive sleevenotes.  

File Under: OST, Carpenter, Death Waltz
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johnbarry-beatgirlJohn Barry: Beat Girl (Poppydisc) LP
Another in Poppydisc’s series of superb film soundtracks on the original Hi Fi Mono VINYL… Legendary film composer John Barry (James Bond series, Midnight Cowboy and so many others of course as we all know!) was in 1960 providing fantastic backing and production for the until then frankly anaemic world of British pop…and dreaming of a chance to work in film music… The casting of his hit production client Adam Faith in Beat Girl, early rather sleazy Brit exploitation par excellance as parodied so accurately in Expresso Bongo, gave him his chance…the wild sound of The John Barry Seven is at the centre of an amazingly accomplished soundtrack, laying out JB’s stall for an astonishing and innovative career in film and TV…which would literally change the world of film music forever! As out there and Soho sleazy as can be…as far as the times allowed.. without the wry tongue in cheek-ness of the likes of Expresso Bongo, Beat Girl captures a slightly skewed B-movie exploitation version of early 1960s ‘cool’ London like no other movie… Starring the likes of future yeye girl Gillian Hills, a beatnik-tastic Oliver Reed, Christopher Lee (as a sinister young strip club owner!), and David Farrar, best known for his startling short-shorts and open shirt turn in the classic ‘Black Narcissus’ as the somewhat puzzled father of the Beat Girl herself, it is a classic snapshot of its time and place…best of all, the casting of handsome young pop star/actor Adam Faith gave his producer John Barry his first chance at creating a film soundtrack…in which he showed the musicality and sheer panache which would become a legend. A classic of its time, Beat Girl kicked off a film the TV career of a maestro. Here again on vinyl, Beat Girl is a must for everyone…the shrill sound of early 1960s Soho captured for all time..

File Under: OST, Cool Jazz
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birgeJean-Jacques Birge/ Francis Gorge/Shiroc: Defense de (Fauni Gena) LP+DVD
First ever vinyl reissue of this cult album from 1975. Défense de was the first album of Jean-Jacques Birgé and Francis Gorgé, before founding Un Drame Musical Instantane with Bernard Vitet in 1976. They had started to play together while at high school, and on their debut LP they were joined by percussionist Shiroc (who also played in Speed Limit). The album’s four tracks were recorded in the family apartment of free jazz producer Sebastien Bernard, who had several nice instruments belonging to his father, like a pipe organ, an electric piano, a xylophone and a cello, a.o. The songs were taped on an 8-track recorder and also feature Antoine Duvernet from Urban Sax, who added tenor sax. Shiroc and pianist Jean-Louis Bucchi (also from Speed Limit) joined the duo some months later and the songs they feature in were recorded live in studio. Birgé and Gorgé gigged as a trio with Shiroc, sometimes with the addition of Gilles Rollet on further percussion. The resulting sounds were released on the ‘June Sessions’ DVD (included as a free bonus on this LP). The DVD includes the experimental movie La Nuit Du Phoque made by Jean-Jacques Birge and Bernard Mollerat in 1974. The movie is a mix between avant-garde French movie and experimental ambience which takes the viewer back in time to 1974. The second part of the DVD will include ‘June Sessions’ which are very long pieces made by the trio (or quartet at times). Total of about 6 hours of music and 40 minutes movie in a LP & DVD set.

File Under: Electronic, Jazz, Avant Garde

dead meadowDead Meadow: Warble Womb (Xemu) LP
Warble Womb – “where it’s warm a shelter from the storm” – is the first release from Dead Meadow in three years and their first full-length of all-new tunes since 2008. Self-produced by the band and mixed by long-time collaborator Dave Shiffman (BRMC, Red Hot Chili Peppers) and mastered by the legendary Howie Weinber (Nirvana, Gorillaz), Warble Womb is the mighty return of the all original line-up in recorded form. Consisting of newly-returned founding drummer Mark Laughlin and on-going members Jason Simon and Steve Kille, this 15 song, hour plus release is a return of the “self-titled” and “Howls from the Hills” early days which many reviewers are hailing as the best the band has ever made. Written and recorded over three years, starting from the very first rehearsal with Mark rejoining the band, they explored the depths of their influences and experimentation. In their off-time Dead Meadow toured the world multiple times, worked with legendary artists like Dave Davies (Kinks) and Kim Deal (Breeders/Pixies), made solo records, and ran a record label. All their experiences past and present come together to help color the all-encompassing sounds of the Warble Womb.

File Under: Stoner, Psych, Rock
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grailsGrails: Black Tar Prophecy 4, 5 & 6 (Temporary Residence) LP
Following the release of their most acclaimed album of their decade long career, Deep Politics (2011), Grails revisited Black Tar Prophecies, their ever-expanding, enigmatic tapestry of eclectic experiments released in scarce limited editions that often disappear before most fans discover their existence. Black Tar Prophecies Vol’s 4, 5 & 6 collects the last three volumes in the Black Tar series, originally released as a limited-edition 12″, and a split LP with Finish psych-rock phenoms, Pharaoh Overlord. Exclusive to this collection is Volume 6, three previously unreleased tracks that run the gamut from found-sound collage to moody, piano-driven soundtracks to obscure erotic horror films that never existed (but should have). Available on deluxe gatefold 2LP with four mind-blowing laser etchings – one on each side of the record, beginning where the grooves of the music end. It’s pretty, and pretty unbelievable. Vinyl format also includes free MP3 download coupon.

File Under: Post Rock, Ambient, Metal, Horror
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touch of evil

Henry Mancini: Touch of Evil (Poppydisc) LP
Here’s an interesting film score from all the way back in 1958; Henry Mancini’s soundtrack to Orson Welles’s film noir ‘Touch of Evil’. As the back of the sleeve explains, “‘Touch of Evil’ is unique among motion picture scores. In the parlance of the film it is called ‘source music’, which means that the music comes from a visible source such as a juke-box, orchestra, radio, or in some cases, a player piano.” In order to create the feeling of a modern Mexican border town, Welles instructed Mancini to score the film with a mixture of rock’n’roll and Latin jazz, which is mixed in with splashes of Bernard Herrmann-esque chills like ‘Flashing Nuisance’. A colleague who shall remain nameless just complained “I feel like I’m working in the ‘50s!” I’m not sure if that really counts as criticism when you’re listening to music from the ‘50s, though. I think it’s great fun, and I just spotted Phil grabbing himself a copy too. Very much worth picking up if you’re a soundtrack enthusiast.

File Under: Avant Garde, Early Electronic
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mirkwoodMirkwood: s/t (Machu Picchu) LP
“Mirkwood’s lone self-titled album was originally issued in 1973, in an edition of just 99 copies. Coming out of the port town of Dover, with each of the group members having honed their moves in various outfits for years (including the original Rolling Stones from 1957 – no relation to the Glimmer Twins). This album’s fantastic mix of precise hard rock and mysterious ballads has had many a private press enthusiast by the hair over the years. Crashing out of the gates with the one-two knockout combination of the fuzz shuffle of ‘Take My Love’ and the epic 11-minute centerpiece of ‘Love’s Glass of Sunshine,’ this record is a classic deep listen, revealing great moments with each new spin. Killer harmonies and lots of twin-guitar lead action, tough and tender, this record is pure autumnal magic.”

File Under: Psych, Private Press, Fuzz
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Musiccargo: Harmonie (Emotional Response) LP
Emotional Response return with the new LP from Dusseldorf’s finest modern Krautrock band. The duo takes the blueprint of Neu!, Cluster, and Harmonia and welds it into a modern cohesive piece over 6 movements. Limited edition of 500, with stunning silver inner and outer sleeves. Highly recommended.

File Under: Electronic, Krautrock, Ambient
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Popol Vuh: Affestunde (Wah Wah) LP
Remastered from the master tapes. Originally released in 1970. “Affenstunde” is the debut recording by composer and multi-instrumentalist Florian Fricke’s Popol Vuh, named for the sacred Mayan text. It was issued on the Liberty label in Germany in 1970 and has been in print, off and on, in Europe, Japan, and even in the United States sporadically since that time. For those completely dislocated by Tangerine Dream’s early experiments in sonic terror and dynamics, “Affenstunde” is somehow akin yet very different. Fricke’s synthesizers are more interested in pulse and circularity, not utter dislocation and shock. The music here all seems of a piece, despite the different selection titles and the single percussion piece on the set, “Dream, Pt. 5” — primitive hand drums run through the middle of the mix. Other than this selection, the entire album would have made a fantastic soundtrack for Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Solaris. The sheer momentum of the title cut, which closes the album and integrates spacious electronic soundscapes, ever deepening tonalities, found taped choral vocals whispering in the background, and percussion is one of the most provocative pieces to come from the Krautrock generation. This is an auspicious debut, which holds up wonderfully in the 21st century. — AMG. Bonus track: “Bettina”.

File Under: Krautrock, Ambient, Minimal
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pv2Popol Vuh: In Den Garten Pharaos (Wah Wah) LP
1971 album. Remastered from the master tapes. “In Pharaoh’s Garden” was the first true work of “sacred music” by Florian Fricke, guiding light of the mythical group Popol Vuh. Consisting of two extended works, his mixture of electronics and church organ with assorted winds and percussives, conjures up visions of the celestial light. Deeply emotional and filled with mysticism, this album marked the dawning of new age music, and still today is a wonder to behold” — All Music Guide.

File Under: Krautrock, Ambient, Electronic
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Popol Vuh: Hosianna Mantra (Wah Wah) LP
Originally released in 1972. “Forian Fricke pioneered the use of synthesizers in German rock, but by the time of “Hosianna Mantra” he had abandoned them (eventually selling his famous Moog to Klaus Schulze). While “In den Gärten Pharaos” had blended synths with piano and African and Turkish percussion, “Hosianna Mantra” focuses on organic instrumentation. Conny Veit contributes electric guitar, but other than that, Fricke pulls the plug and builds the album around violin, tamboura, piano, oboe, cembalo, and Veit’s 12-string, often with Korean soprano Djong Yun’s haunting voice hovering above the arrangements. As the album’s title suggests, Fricke conceived of “Hosianna Mantra” as a musical reconciliation of East and West, a harmonization of seemingly opposed terms, combining two devotional music traditions. That notion of cultural hybridity resonates throughout. Julian Cope has said that Hosianna Mantra sounds like it was made in a “cosmic convalescent home” — an excellent description underscoring the timeless, healing quality of this music, which is far removed from the everyday world and yet at one with it.” — All Music Guide.

File Under: Krautrock, Ambient, Electronic
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Popol Vuh: Seligpreisung (Wah Wah) LP
Remastered from the master tapes. Released in 1973, “Seligpreisung” was, if anything, a complete shock after the gorgeous “religious” rock of Hosianna Mantra. Gone are the hypnotic Gregorian chants and overtone layers of drone. In their place is a kind of shimmering, spacy jazz-rock where, despite a few instances of Florian Fricke chant-singing, the effect is one where his piano becomes the steadiest backdrop, playing hypnotic, repetitive chords and phrases while Conny Veit improvises with David Gilmour-like blues guitar phrases over the gently swirling music. Elsewhere, the rest of the group (the same cats who played on Hosianna Mantra) is heard in classically tinged miniatures that float through the mix with a kind of meandering insistence on instantly recognizable Western thematics and standard conceptions of beauty rather than confrontations — however subtle — with the East/West space-time continuum. This is not to say that Seligpreisung is a disappointment; rather, it is only a shock for its giant step backward into the realm of the conventional. Perhaps “Hosianna Mantra” presented an abyss, and as Fricke looked over it musically, he realized that its beauty was unbearable. For whatever the reason, “Seligpreisung” is a meditative, generally quiet, and lovely album, but it doesn’t go near the precipice. — All Music Guide.

File Under: Krautrock, Psychedelic, Prog
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Popol Vuh: Einsjager und Siebenjager (Wah Wah) LP
“Released in 1974, “Einsjäger & Siebenjäger” (Earth & Sky) is a further rock entrenchment for Popol Vuh. Florian Fricke’s piano is more percussively present with its runs and large chord voicings rippling throughout each composition. In addition, Daniel Fichelscher’s electric guitar picks up where Conny Veit’s left off, taking the bluesy space rock solo style into new territory by incorporating Eastern scales into the main body of his blues phrasing. There are five short compositions on the first side, which merely prepare the listener for the mind-blowing title cut, which takes up the entirety of side two. Here, in addition to the swirling organic percussion and pianism of Fricke and the loping, often singing guitar lines that repeat hypnotically with rock & roll tension, the vocals of the amazing Djong Yun become the catalyst for the other musicians to spiral off into extended improvisations. This is certainly one of the most beautiful albums Popol Vuh issued in the 1970s, and remains a watermark for their trademark of melding beauty and free-flowing composition.” — All Music Guide. Remastered from the master tapes.

File Under: Krautrock, Prog
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Igor Wakhevitch: Les Fous D’or (Fauni Gena) LP
Released by Pathe Marconi in 1975 and housed in a fantastic surrealist cover designed by his father, russian painter/art director Georges Wakhevitch, this album marks the debut of Wakhevitch’s long-standing collaboration with american dancer/choreographer Carolyn Carlson. It also shows the composer’s progression into a more esoteric and lyrical grounds: a departure from the violence of his first three albums into quieter yet equally dark and mysterious regions. Divided in two sides (called “CORNERSTONE”/”LES FOUS D’OR”) the whole record oozes a dreamy, mysterious, surrealist atmosphere enhaced by the spoken word introductions that open a series of mesmerising electronic pieces which range from the gentle to the hypnotic. Animal sounds, ritual horns, wordless vocals and assorted metal banging and scrapping add to the whole mix for a landmark sound that will evolve in future albums. Six different pieces that take off where Hathors’ ‘Aurore’ left before moving into a crazy and d! isjointed landscape that echoes the crazyness of Docteur Faust yet in a subtle, stranger, more warped way. 

File Under: Electronic, Rock, Avant Garde
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Igor Wakhevitch: Nagual (Fauni Gena) LP
Originally released in 1977, this was (once again) a product of the fruitful association between Wakhevitch and american dancer/choreographer Carolyn Carlson. Compiling some of the pieces specially written for Carlson’s “This, that and the other” (created for the Groupe de recherche Théâtrale de l’Opéra de Paris), the album follows the otherworldly steps of it’s predecessor (“Les Fous D’or”) in a more calm, relaxed, almost nocturnal way. Inspired by Carlos Castaneda’s writings, Nagual is another mysterious and intriguing statement of musical esoterica: a collection of twelve musical vignettes covering a whole range of styles, from majestic electronic pieces to echo-drenched concrete-like sketches via impressionistic piano compositions. A bewitching musical journey, built around Wakhevitch’s keys where electronics give way to more acoustic sonorities (piano, harp) for a highly-charged magical sound. A very special record !!!

File Under: Electronic, Experimental
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Igor Wakhevitch: Let’s Start (Fauni Gena) LPOriginally released in 1979, Wakhevitch’s last album before definitely settling down in Auroville (India) was his most meditative and relaxed effort to date. Fruit of his 1978 stay in Israel invited by the “Mishkenot Sha’ananim” Foundation, the album was again completely dominated by the composer’s keyboards – hypnotic, majestic, enchanting and delicate: from the sweeping synths and fractured vocal loops of the title track to the fragility of Taddy’s Fruit Garden, the lyrical spaciness of Eriador or the otherwordly impressionism of Taddy’s Dream : Ramallah’s Road. A masterful closing statement by this french master and a must for anyone into meditative keyboard music in the vein of Terry Riley, Deuter, JD Emmanuel or Peter Michael Hamel, to name a few.

File Under: Electronic, Avant Garde, Experimental
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Kanye West: Yeezus (Good) LP
Kanye West: Graduation (Good) LP
Dubious pressings of these two Kanye albums, cuz they don’t seem to be pressing them legit. North doesn’t need the money anyway.

File Under: Hip Hop

ecstasy 4

Various: Ecstasy of Gold Volume 4 (Semi Automatic) LP
Volume four in this essential and peerless series. Selected from one of the most complete Spaghetti Western audio archives, this five-volume series showcases the most inspired tracks in this legendary genre. Digging deep to excavate a treasure trove of obscure and rarely-heard tracks by some of the genre’s greatest composers and vocalists, Ecstasy of Gold is the definitive series for aficionados of Euro-Western films and the music that they created. Loud gunshots with reverb and echo appear with the first image of a lawless killer riding a horse… a punchy and trebly bass guitar seeps into your brain as he draws his pistol, a hair-raising scream half-melodic, half-banshee spews forth from the speakers as blood splatters yet again onto the desert floor. The audio soundtrack to the Italian version of the American West is flamboyant, brutal, intense, and unforgiving. Songs composed for the Italian Westerns of the 1960s and 1970s have become a genre all unto themselves. There were hundreds of European Westerns during this period and the majority of them were made by Italian directors and scored by Italian composers. Crying trumpets, exploding surf guitars, thundering drums, droning organs, dramatic vocal performances, and innovative special effects were woven into a wild and violent desert backdrop creating that undeniable Spaghetti Western sound heard on this record. The most famous of all the Italian soundtrack composers is Ennio Morricone and his music for the Italian Western is guaranteed to inspire and amaze until the end of time itself. But there were many other great and legendary maestros who scored their share of Westerns and this compilation presents transcendent, brilliant and challenging tracks from the likes of: Bruno Nicolai, Gianni Ferrio, Francesco De Masi, Marcello Giombini, Luis Bacalov, Stelvio Cipriani, Alessandro Alessandroni, Nora Orlandi, Nico Fidenco, Piero Umiliani, and many others. 2LP gatefold in a limited edition pressing of 750 copies.

File Under: OST, Westerns

purple snow

Various: Purple Snow (Numero) 4LP/2CD
Never known for sizable African-American populations, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul in fact harbored a tight-knit community of musicians working feverishly through the late ’70s and early ’80s toward a radical manipulation of American dance music, coating futuristic funk with the glamorous sheen of guitar rock. Synthetic ebony and ivory met electricity, with sexed-up results sent shockingly across the pop heavens like violet lightning. On 4 LPs or 2 CDs, Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound – the Numero Group’s breathlessly anticipated 50th mainline release – chronicles the scene’s first steps, false starts, and follow-throughs, sourcing the life’s work of known quantities and shadowy figures alike. In the beginning, there was Purple Haze, whose billing as Haze on two obscure albums left the color purple to their city’s incipient sound. Pepé Willie’s 94 East project gave local prodigy Prince Rogers Nelson an early chance to row along with the crew. From there, the story courses past Jimmy Jam Harris’ extroverted Philly throwback Mind & Matter collective, to Terry Lewis and Flyte Tyme, flamboyant precursor to Morris Day’s The Time. Unearthing basement demos by Prince’s childhood sidekick/departed bassist André Cymone, plus deep cuts from legend-about-town Alexander O’Neal, Numero 050 gathers relentlessly as the sprawling, nonfiction prequel to Purple Rain’s cultural takeover. Surpassing 30,000 words, our hardbound, full-color book companion to Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound is a gorgeous, exhaustively detailed, and insight-rich guided tour across two hours of music and a decade of North Star history.

File Under: Funk, Soul
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Arcade Fire: Funeral (Merge) LP
Louis & Bebe Barron: Forbidden Planet OST (Poppy) LP
Beastie Boys: New York State of Mind (Grand Royal) 2LP
Charles Bradley: No Time For Dreaming (Daptone) LP
Dead Meadow: Warble Womb (Xemu) LP
Lard Free: I’m Around About Midnight (Wah Wah) LP
Lard Free: III (Wah Wah) LP
Lard Free: Unnamed (Wah Wah) LP
Mos Def & Talib Kweli: Blackstar (Rawkus) LP
Mos Dub: s/t (Mos Dub) LP
William Onyeabor: Who Is… (Luluka Bop) LP
Max Tannone: Ghost Funk (Ghost Funk) LP
Igor Wakhevitch: Docteur Faust (Fauni Gena) LP
Igor Wakhevitch: Hathor (Fauni Gena) LP
Various: Do the Shing a Ling (Vinyl Only) LP
Various: Girl Crazy (Vinyl Only) LP
Various: Pebbles Box (Music Media) 5LP Box
Various: R’n’B Meets Northern Soul (Vinyl Only) LP

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