Hm… what a week! Tons of great stuff in! Sadly, the album I was planning on flogging as the Pick of the Week sold out before I even put it on the shelf. But really that just saves me from having 2 picks this week, although really, I could easily just pick 5, that’d be much easier. Anyway, lots for you to digest today, and lots for me to still do, so……
Heldon: Allez-teia (Superior Viaduct) LP
Allez-Téia, the second album by French guitarist Richard Pinhas under the Heldon moniker, was originally released in 1975 on the artist’s own Disjuncta imprint. Far from the band’s prog-tinged trio lineup, Allez-Téia features a menagerie of guitars, Mellotron and analog synthesizers. While opening track “In the Wake of King Fripp” pays homage to King Crimson in its title, the album’s heady textures and rhythmic meditations are more reminiscent of the German Kosmiche movement (Cluster, Harmonia, et al.) and post-rock experimentalists, such as Jim O’Rourke and Gastr del Sol. Acoustic guitar even makes a rare appearance—on the beautiful and melancholy “Aphanisis.” With front cover artwork depicting the events of May ’68 in Paris (by renowned photojournalist Gilles Caron), these dark ambient sounds make Allez-Téia perhaps the most revolutionary release in Heldon’s influential catalogue, foreshadowing Pinhas’s incredible solo work for decades to come.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Prog
Bahamas: Is Alfie
In tomorrow! Follow up to hugely succesful ‘Barchords’ album from this epic Canadian musician, having played for hit acts such as Feist, Howie Beck, Jason Collett, Jack Johnson, The Weather Station, and Zeus, to name a few. Afie Jurvanen isn’t from the Bahamas. He’s a Finnish-Canadian from Barrie–a working class town in rural Ontario. But his chosen epithet is fitting. Since 2009 he’s been making music under the name Bahamas–writing songs about sunsets, love affairs, and making out with crooked smiles. Through simple arrangements, he charts an escape route from the snow belt to the coral reefs.
File Under: Indie Rock, CanCon
Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs: Gates of Hell (Southpaw) LP
From countryesque ballads, to power-pop anthems, to straightforward punk rippers…and everywhere in between: Sam Coffey is no stranger to evolution or variety. With Gates Of Hell the band finally unloads an agglomeration of it all! This is their first proper full-length, and it’s bound to explode power-pop hearts everywhere! Four of the more anthemic tracks were recorded by Ben Cook of Fucked Up and Young Guv fame (among a slew of other projects). Coffey tracked the rest of the record himself as the band grew into their own. A serious lineup change from a four piece to a six piece, and a move from the scenic views of Waterloo, ON to the more bustling streets of Toronto, ON have proven to be positive exercises for Coffey’s songwriting. Gates Of Hell finds the band successfully crossing the sounds of The Exploding Hearts and Thomas Function while Coffey plays ringleader, bellowing the band forward with a Strummeresque yowl. Mixing the classic overblown power-pop of a group like Cheap Trick with the updated simplistic sound of the current garage-rock explosion isn’t an easy task, but Coffey n Co. pull it off seamlessly. AND don’t for a minute think this is your dad’s teenage puppy-love power-pop record: Coffey is the next demonic denizen bound to melt your face (and heart) with happily haunting melodies and emotionally charged deliveries. The title says it all “Gates Of Hell”. For fans of The Nerves, The Dentists, The Exploding Hearts and The Romantics. LP includes digital download code.
File Under: Punk, Power Pop, CanCon
Coloured Balls: Heavy Metal Kid (Desperate) LP
1974’s Heavy Metal Kid is a true proto-punk slab of dynamite, right up there with similar recordings by the likes of the MC5 and the Pink Fairies. Featuring a mix of growling punkers (the title track, ‘Private Eye’), ’50s rockers (a cover of ‘(You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care,’ ‘Need Your Love’), hi-energy boogie (‘Do It’, ‘Dance To The Music’), cosmic rock (‘Back To You,’ ‘Metal Feathers’) and even a ballad in there, it’s an eclectic mix held together by its outlaw sense of purpose. Along with , Ball Power, Heavy Metal Kid is THEE sound of the great Sharpie stomp of 1970s Melbourne. This edition on Desperate is fully licensed from Lobby Lloyde’s estate, expertly remastered by Aztec Records’ Gil Matthews from the original tapes (it sounds amazing) and comes housed in an exact replica of the original gatefold sleeve with a heavy-duty tip-on cover, as well as an insert with lyrics and decorative obi strip. It’s pressed on high-quality 180-gram vinyl. In other words: this limited edition is the one to get.
File Under: Aussie Punk, Hard Rock
Com Truise: In Decay (Ghostly) LP
In Decay provides a fascinating alternative routemap for the idiosyncratic journeys of New Jersey producer Seth Haley – aka Com Truise – through the history of electronic music. A compilation of unreleased, early recordings, In Decay encompasses 13 tracks that have previously been either only available as demos online or are entirely unheard tracks dating from before Haley’s official releases – his debut Cyanide Sisters EP, its follow-up full-length Galactic Melt, and last year’s Fairlight EP. While the ’80s-influenced synth sounds, rubbery basslines and sci-fi flavors that inform Haley’s later work are in full effect here, they’re assembled in manners different enough to make this both a fine record in its own right, and also a fascinating insight into the development of the distinctive Com Truise sound. It also finds the producer exploring a number of facets of that sound, from 8-bit influenced experimentalism to distinctly danceable beats – often within the confines of the same track. “Controlpop,” for instance, announces itself with an intro that sounds like a Commodore 64 being hit with a hammer, but resolves into slow liquid synthfunk that recalls Galactic Melt highlights like “VHS Sex” and “Flightwave.” Its slow-burning dance vibe is shared by several other tracks – “Colorvision” and “Yxes,” amongst others – while elsewhere, Haley drops the tempo and channels the psychedelic cosmic meanderings of forebears like Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh. Dreambender” sounds like it should be soundtracking a voyage into uncharted digital innerspace, while “Video Arkade” cruises along on a woozy rising-and-falling synthline that’s like drifting on some sort of virtual reality rollercoaster. Like all Haley’s work, it’s like stepping into a strange, digital parallel world – a place constructed out of sounds both immediately familiar and yet somehow rendered thoroughly fresh, and a place that’s worth staying for quite some time.
File Under: Electronic, Down Tempo
Crime: Murder By Guitar (Superior Viaduct) LP
San Francisco’s first and only rock n’ roll band, Crime loomed over the entire Mabuhay Gardens scene with their blistering 1976 single “Hot Wire My Heart.” Crime’s loose, damaged rock n’ roll was as immediate as it was controversial. They were Punk by any definition, yet shunned the label with a guttersnipe sneer. Their meticulously cultivated aesthetic of S&M graphics and police uniforms produced some of the era’s most indelible imagery. One of their finest moves was playing in the San Quentin prison yard. Formed by guitarists/vocalists Johnny Strike and Frankie Fix, Crime enlisted bassist Ron The Ripper and drummers Ricky “Tractor” Williams (later of The Sleepers), Brittley Black, and Hank Rank. Joey D’Kaye later joined on keyboards and bass duties. For the first time, this LP release collects the sick energy of Crime’s three singles along with nine previously unreleased studio recordings from 1976 to 1980. The visceral churn and unwieldy leads on tracks like “Frustration” and “Piss On Your Dog” make Murder By Guitar the definitive statement from this prescient American underground band.
File Under: Punk
Dead C: The Twelfth Spectacle (Grapefruit) 4LP
A follow-up to last year’s immense Armed Courage is not easy, but The Twelfth Spectacle comes as close as anyone could hope. This four-LP set collects live recordings from the past decade by a band whose infrequent performances have become part of their legend. Captured herein is THE Dead C at their most dynamic, oblique, challenging and consuming. Each disc has its own title and origin. To wit:
* Arena: Recorded at La Dynamo Pantin, Paris, and Les Ateliers Claus, Brussels, April 2013
* Permanent LSD: Recorded at Luminaire, London, December 2006
* This Century Sucks: Recorded at The Smell, Los Angeles, March 2002
* Year of the Rat: Recorded at The Swap Meet, New York, October 2008
This is a retail version of the Grapefruit Records subscription-only version released via mail order, and is only available in stores. The set comes bagged together in brown cardboard jackets, each one stamped and marked. Limited to 80 copies.
File Under: Experimental, Legends, Live
Demdike Stare: Testpressing 006 (Modern Love) LP
Demdike Stare unleash the 6th installment in their ongoing Testpressing series, a split session focusing on damaged dancefloor articulations on the A-side, and demented metal edits on the flip. “40 Years Under the Cosh” finds Demdike in feisty form, re-framing the bare-boned floor-bound funk of classic Artwork and Anthony Shakir within more brutal parameters. “Frontin'” heads somewhere else entirely once again, unloading an agitated, freeze-framed metal loop and turning it into a barely-contained bass-and-drums session that, unsurprisingly, sounds like nothing you’ll have heard from this lot before.
File Under: Electronic, Industrial
Kenny Dope: Presents Wild Style Breakbeats (Kay-Dee) 7×7″ Box
“Kay-Dee Records, the online store and label owned and operated by Kenny Dope, takes things to the next level with the debut of its ‘Book Series.’ Kenny’s vision for Kay-Dee’s first book was to create a premium set with a mix of well-known and never-before-seen ‘Wild Style’ photos, in addition to liner notes detailing the stories behind the music of one of his favorite films. Teaming up with Get On Down, the record label and online boutique dedicated to presenting and celebrating music with unique packaging and exclusive extras, the two have come together to release this impressive and historically-significant musical trophy item: The Wild Style Breakbeats. The book features the following elements: 13 songs total, spread out over seven “big hole” 45s (each with a different label color); re-EQed audio with re-edited / extended audio versions of each song, modified from original source tapes; extensive liner notes in a 28-page book, including dozens of images — from ‘Wild Style’ director Charlie Ahearn, among other sources — as well as interviews with Fab 5 Freddy, Chris Stein and GrandWizzard Theodore; the 14th side (the B-side of the seventh 45) features unique etchings with different ‘Wild Style’ graphics; unique ‘Kay-Dee Casebook’ packaging — all seven 7-inches fit into a book as self-contained pages.”
File Under: Hip Hop, Breaks
Tashi Dorji: s/t (Hermit Hut) LP
Tashi Dorji grew up in Bhutan, on the eastern side of the Himalayas. Access to any music created outside the country is limited, as are most cultural options, given the geologically isolation of the country. How Dorji went from a life so remote to developing his innovative and revelatory guitar style is mind-boggling. Yearning for access to the world outside, Dorji pursued and obtained a fully-paid scholarship to a liberal arts school in Asheville, NC, in his early twenties. He’s since settled in there (save a short stint in Maine), soaking up a vast array of music, most notably the works of Derek Bailey and John Zorn. Along the way, Dorji developed a playing style unbound by tradition, yet with a direct line to intuitive artistry. His recordings feature improvisations that spasmodically grow along tangential, surprising paths. All references break loose during a composition, as Dorji keys into his own inner world. After a handful of cassettes on various labels, Dorji presents his first proper album on Hermit Hut, the label created by Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance) and inspired by spreading word of Dorji’s talents. The six compositions here are hand-picked by Dorji and Chasny as the most representative and far-reaching of his recordings. Taken together, they announce a new guitar music unlike anything being made today.
File Under: Solo Guitar, Improv
Brigitte Fontaine: s/t (Superior Viaduct) LP
Never one to settle on a single musical style, Brigitte Fontaine followed up her debut, Est…Folle, and her astonishing collaboration with The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Comme à la Radio, with the most eclectic release of her lengthy career, 1972’s Brigitte Fontaine. It is telling that Fontaine chose an eponymous title for her third album, the sole release from her venerable ’70s catalogue attributed to her alone. Here the actress-cum-singer has finally arrived. From the introspective opening track, simply named “Brigitte,” seductive melodies perfectly hang above slithery bass lines and acoustic strumming. On “Moi Aussi,” a sparse and trance-like duet with long-time collaborator Areski, Fontaine muses, “They put me in a cage and after they told me ‘You fly down.’” Brigitte Fontaine is an unmatched European art-pop masterpiece anchored by both vocal and lyrical dexterity—in many ways, Fontaine’s most compelling work and an excellent entry point for those unfamiliar with this unique French icon.
File Under: French, Art Pop
Grateful Dead/John Oswald: Grayfolded (Important) 3LP
Here it is, Deadheads, the ultimate “Dark Star” is now on vinyl. Deluxe audiophile pressing cut in Toronto under the watchful ears of John Oswald. Heavy-duty triple gatefold jacket includes liner-notes by musicologist Rob Bowman featuring interviews with Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, and Robert Hunter, plus two “time maps” which chart the source concerts of “Dark Star.” Music performed by The Grateful Dead (c) Grateful Dead Productions Inc. & Ice Nine Publishing Inc. Taken from over 100 performances of “Dark Star” recorded between 1968 and 1993. Built, layered and “folded” to produce one large, new re-composed “Dark Star.” Original recordings of the Grateful Dead in performance have been processed using Plunderphonic techniques.
File Under: Psych, Grateful Dead, Jam
Harald Grosskopf: Synthesist (Bureau B) LP
“Harald Grosskopf was in his early twenties when LSD ‘blew [his] reality away,’ as he recalls. Born in Hildesheim in 1949, he had previously drummed in fairly conventional rock bands, most recently for Wallenstein. Their label-boss Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser was fond of facilitating jam sessions for musicians on his Ohr und Pilz label, often supplying his ‘cosmic couriers’ with LSD (unbeknown to them, on occasion). In one such session, the drug inspired something of an epiphany in Grosskopf: ‘There I was playing the drums when, in the midst of my euphoria, I realized that I had been imitating other drummers. Suddenly a voice spoke to me: stop trying to sound like Billy Cobham or Ginger Baker. From that moment on I felt liberated, free to drum without having to shine in a particular role.’ Having discovered his own musical identity, Harald Grosskopf understood that a standard rock combo was not the ideal conduit through which to express it. Grosskopf: ‘I was completely in thrall to electronic music and the total freedom that it offered. This was the music I wanted to create. I knew it would be a success, the energy levels were so high.’ Grosskopf consequently left Wallenstein. ‘I fell into a hole at first, wondering what I was going to do. So I sold my prized drum kit and used the money to buy a guitar, amp and echo device.’ A few days later, the doorbell rang. It was Manuel Göttsching, on his way back to Berlin from a tour of France. They knew each other from Berlin’s electronic scene and recording sessions for the likes of Ash Ra Tempel. Göttsching invited Grosskopf to sign up for his new project Ashra and the rest is history: Ashra (Grosskopf, Gottsching, Lutz Ulbrich alias Luul) released a series of successful albums in the years that followed. It was not until the summer of 1979, however, that he finally felt ready to release a solo album. Synthesist comprises eight instrumentals, recorded largely by Grosskopf on his own. His melodies, carried along by synthesizers and drums, were reminiscent of works by Berlin electronic friends such as Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream, as well as those ‘cosmic’ sessions of the early 1970s — yet each melody retains a unique timbre. Synthesist is thus regarded as a classic by electronic music enthusiasts all over the world, evoking a thrilling musical era of the past with equal capacity to excite today.” –Christoph Dallach
File Under: Kosmische, Krautrock, Electronic
Harald Grosskopf: Oceanheart (Bureau B) LP
“Tired of the rock format and excited by the freedoms promised by electronic music, Harald Grosskopf quit Wallenstein, a conventional rock band, in the mid-’70s to turn his attention to electronica. Grosskopf thus became the first drummer to specialize in the electronic music field. He played drums on Klaus Schulze’s Body Love album and on YOU’s Electric Day. When Manuel Göttsching from Ash Ra Tempel asked him if he would consider enrolling as the regular drummer in the group now rechristened Ashra, he did not need to think about it for long. Grosskopf changed course again in the ’80s, this time in pursuit of commercial success: he played in the NDW (Neue Deutsche Welle) group Lilli Berlin and backed Joachim Witt on his best-selling Silberblick LP, which featured the hit ‘Goldener Reiter.’ Sky, the record company, were more than a little disappointed with the performance of Grosskopf’s first solo effort Synthesist, so there was no great sense of urgency as far as its successor was concerned. ‘They even halved my advance!’ Grosskopf recalls. Oceanheart was released some six years after Synthesist. ‘The album title reflects my love of transcendental meditation, of course it might be taken for watery esoterics.’ (A similar vibe was evident in the cover art, hence fresh artwork has been created for the reissue). Musical equipment for the production was limited by the label’s ongoing thrift program. The first Oceanheart recordings took place ‘under the roof’ in the Lilli Berlin Studio, Kreuzberg. They were completed at the Spandauer Studio by former Tangerine Dream member Christoph Franke. ‘We mixed everything down and recorded the drums there.’ Harald Grosskopf again played everything himself, except for the tablas. In keeping with its predecessor, Oceanheart was no best-seller, but, like Synthesist, it attained cult status, rediscovered in recent years through the internet by a younger generation. Harald Grosskopf himself needed time to appreciate the work: ‘I only really discovered the musical quality of Oceanheart years later. I finally realized that I had created something quite special.'” –Christoph Dallach
File Under: Electronic, Krautrock, Kosmische
Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova Consananza: s/t (Superior Viaduct) LP
Considered the first collective of experimental composers, Gruppo d’Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza formed in 1964 in Rome to chase the expressive potential of live improvisation to its furthest reaches. Led by Franco Evangelisti, Gruppo also included Ennio Morricone before he found fame composing soundtracks. The ensemble advanced the innovations of 20th century avant-garde in laboratory-like studio settings where the intuitive interplay between members flourished. Before 1976’s benchmark release, Musica Su Schemi, Gruppo recorded this eponymous album in 1973. Whether the passages are jarring or soothing, clamorous or silken, the ensemble retains astounding organic coherence. An ultra-rare entry in Gruppo’s formidable discography, Gruppo d’Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza is finally reissued for the first time ever.
File Under: Italian, Improv, Avant Garde, Morricone
Lee Hazlewood: Friday’s Child (1972) LP
Riding the crest of successive hit-making for Duane Eddy, Sanford Clark, Dean Martin and Nancy Sinatra, the ever-industrious Lee Hazlewood still found time to release his excellent third solo album in 1965. His second solo recording for the Reprise label, Friday’s Child indulges his signature country-pop flare and pioneering use of vocal reverb. With electric guitar leads, harp and female backup vocals, the album finds Hazlewood embellishing his arrangements, though some of its strongest moments draw their impact only from his rich timbre. Some artists develop their voice for years; Hazlewood’s third album proves it was an innate and irrevocable gift. Weepy guitar leads kick off the title track and Hazlewood takes up the story of twinkling sorrow and bad luck. He often speckles pain with humor, but “Friday’s Child” is one of his most purely somber ballads. Elsewhere, with finger snaps, sparse backup vocals and Hazlewood’s emotive intonation, the intro of “Houston” alone could carry on entirely a cappella and still endure as a classic. The composition made a hit for Dean Martin, but the Friday’s Child version shows Hazlewood’s inimitable skill as a vocal stylist. Mostly lacking the dada-esque humor of his first two albums, Friday’s Child places Hazlewood in league with the era’s greatest traditional songwriters, though one for whom pop conventions were to be bucked and cast aside.
File Under: Country, Pop
Lee Hazlewood: Love & Other Crimes (1972) LP
Originally released in 1968 on Reprise, Lee Hazlewood’s Love and Other Crimes merges countrified balladry and lounge styling with light psychedelic pop touches. Perhaps relaxing after his mid-decade semi-stardom as Nancy Sinatra’s foil, the devout Europhile decamped to Paris and assembled an ace backing band of fabled “Wrecking Crew” sessions players to record Love and Other Crimes. His stream-of-consciousness notes on the LP’s back cover suggest Parisian days and nights of endless revelry and debauched excess in a land of unfamiliar languages and customs, but the music is high-class and impeccably performed—another contradictory Hazlewoodism to mark the man’s unique career. The lounge atmospherics of “She’s Funny That Way” find Hazlewood’s voice deep and resonant, piano runs skittering between each of his lines. At the last minute, the entire band ascends to a booming, ecstatic release, while Hazlewood vows to drown in his own tears. “Rosacoke Street” is a sleazy blues ballad about a host of restless characters, and “She Comes Running” pairs Hazlewood’s voice with gusts of harpsichord. On “Pour Man,” his voice descends to seemingly impossible depth, while “Morning Dew” treats the standard to a rollicking up-tempo arrangement of swells and bursts. Hazlewood reinforced his own enigmatic mythology even more after Love and Other Crimes, treating all of Europe as his stomping grounds. Love and Other Crimes places Hazlewood at the helm of an incredible ensemble, and synthesizes a bit of everything he lent to others as a producer. The result: one of the most diverse and consummate albums of his singularly eclectic and often confounding career.
File Under: Country, Pop
Lee Hazlewood: The N.S.V.I.P.’s (1972) LP
Lee Hazlewood’s partnership with Reprise Records in the 1960s resulted in timeless hits for Dean Martin and Nancy Sinatra. Throughout the decade, though, the label also released three of the artist’s most highly regarded solo works: The N.S.V.I.P.’s, Friday’s Child and Love and Other Crimes. Hazlewood’s 1964 sophomore album The N.S.V.I.P.’s (Not So Very Important People) is the perfect companion to his classic debut, Trouble Is a Lonesome Town, released the year prior. Setting his signature spoken intros to a new cast of small town eccentrics (perhaps modeled on his childhood locale in Mannford, Oklahoma), this early career high-point presents Hazlewood with all of his singular assets already intact: playful lyrics veering toward the bizarre, wry delivery and wonderfully understated pop-country song craft. “First Street Blues” opens The N.S.V.I.P.’s with the saga of Leroy, the once-irascible dragon who converts to a cheerful wino. The small-town drunkard’s likely story merges with fantastic whimsy in Hazlewood’s strange world. Elsewhere, he waxes absurd on “I Had a Friend” about Tarzan’s deficiencies as a citizen and marital prospect for Jane. He even imparts some simple wisdom about the presidential election on “Save Your Vote for Clarence Mudd.” As always, Hazlewood’s tongue is firmly rooted in cheek. Still, it’s easy to just forget that and live inside the poignant songs he creates for each and every one of the not so very important, but absolutely riveting, people—and dragons, too.
File Under: Country, Pop
Julia Holter: Tragedy (Domino) LP
The much anticipated Domino vinyl re-issue of Tragedy – the hugely celebrated, long out-of-print and intensely coveted debut album by Los Angeles based artist Julia Holter. Originally released in two runs of five hundred copies only on Los Angeles label Leaving Records in November 2011, Tragedy proved to be that year’s most captivating, adventurous and inspired debut album and announced the arrival of a major new talent. Inspired by Euripides’ Hippolytus, the sheer scope and scale of ambition evident in Tragedy’s fifty minutes is staggering. Comprised of voice, synths, drum machines, piano, cello, saxophone, samples, vocoders, ensemble musicians and a chorus, Tragedy is a transcendental amalgamation of avant garde and pop conventions and of organic and electronic compositional forms – an entire universe of a record blessed with its own beautifully peculiar logic.
File Under: Indie, Ethereal, Pop
Inryo-Fuen: Early Works 1980-1982 (EM) LP
Innersleeve with liner notes and lyrics, as well as photos. With this release, EM Records shine a light into the dark and yet strangely uplifting world of Inryo-fuen’s early ’80s wonderland: a surreal, adventurously analog, positively negative realm of freedom. Following the EM Records release of Inryo-fuen’s enigmatic Ho-aku (EM 1125CD), Early Years 1980-82 collects the band’s earliest recordings, originally released on flexi and vinyl, here re-edited, re-mixed and remastered. With enlightening notes by band member Jun Harada providing historical background and recording information, stressing their love of improvisation and their ongoing quest for liberation, this is a landmark release, offering a glimpse into a hitherto inaccessible netherworld of the Tokyo/Yokohama post-punk underground. The music here, all improvised, with many of the pieces recorded live, have an edge-of-the-world electricity, informed by the group’s fascination with the Surrealist idea of Automatic Writing. The launch point is a brutalist, knuckle-dragging Conrad/Faust thug-riff featuring the hectoring rants of a stage-invading student activist, dramatically melded with the music by the sound engineer. From there we traverse manifold realms, variously propulsive and static, dense and pointillistic, threatening and whimsical, opaque and translucent. Inryo-fuen’s searching use of the basic rock instrumentation of drums, bass and guitar is augmented with keyboards and, on one piece, acoustic instrumentation. No overdubs, no vocals. Only sound and freedom.
File Under: Japanese, Post Punk, Experimental
Peter Jefferies: Electricity (Superior Viaduct) LP
Peter Jefferies (This Kind of Punishment) released his brilliant sophomore album Electricity in 1994. While his solo debut, 1990’s The Last Great Challenge in a Dull World, has drawn comparisons to classic singer-songwriters like Nick Drake and Townes Van Zandt, Electricity is a far more sparse and nocturnal affair. Jefferies’ earthy baritone weaves between piano, guitar, cello and analog tape machine noise, pulling in listeners to the deep pastoral life of his music. With guest appearances from heavyweights in the New Zealand music scene (Straitjacket Fits’ Shayne Carter, Plagal Grind’s Robbie Muir and the Dead C’s Bruce Russell), Electricity has garnered a cult following among fans, yet the songs possess a singular quality—every note, utterance and flourish reflect back to Jefferies alone. The simple arrangements, in particular on ballads such as “By Small Degrees,” convey fiercely intimate moments as well as Jefferies’ tremendous range and playfulness as a writer. This first-time vinyl reissue includes four bonus tracks from 1992’s Swerve EP and is highly recommended for fans of Flying Nun Records, John Cale and Jim Shepard. After 20 years, now is the time to revisit the groundbreaking work of this New Zealand legend.
File Under: New Zealand, Flying Nun
David Kilgour & The Heavy Eights: End Times Undone (Merge) LP
End Times Undone, the latest album from David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights, was recorded in his native New Zealand between 2012 and 2014, but that’s a bit misleading. The album took so long to finish only because Kilgour assembled his bandmates every four or five months, and then only for a couple days at a time. And when they convened, the tape was rolling almost from the start. It’s the perfect way for Kilgour to operate these days, more than 30 years into a career that is equally compelling, consistent, and influential. From his first recordings with The Clean, the iconic band who remain active and whose legend deservedly grows mightier every year, Kilgour has had a distinct sound that has inhabited all of his albums and sounds fresh with every new release. Over just ten songs, End Times Undone offers a robust sampling of all the various styles Kilgour has mastered over the last three decades. For an album that comes so late in one’s career, it’s a surprisingly convenient entry point into Kilgour’s body of work. And to talk about a Kilgour album without talking about the guitar playing would be irresponsible. He has always been an understated guitar hero, playing with an efficient elegance, equally adept at heady drones or twinkling solos. The interplay with de Raad accounts for highlights on every track. End Times Undone will be released shortly after a reissue of The Clean’s Anthology, a 46-track set that serves as the band’s defining document that can attest to their pantheon status. End Times Undone is a perfect companion piece to that collection that left off in 1996, and in many ways feels like it could have simply been the next album helmed by Kilgour instead of one that comes nearly 20 years later. That’s what happens when you have an artist so comfortable with his sound and approach that you just turn on the amps and start playing.
File Under: New Zealand, The Clean, Flying Nun
Hamish Kilgour: All of it and Nothing (Ba Da Bing) LP/CD
Incredibly, after all his work as a founding member of both The Clean and The Mad Scene, Hamish Kilgour has never released a proper solo album of his own, until now. Fans of his work over the years will no doubt be pleased with this debut release. All of It and Nothing is an ode to the power of jangle, highlighting Kilgour’s innate ability to both gleam the melodic cube and let the choogle of a chord progression ride itself to greatness. Written and recorded in collaboration with Gary Olson, who captured the album at his Marlborough Farms studio and accompanies Kilgour on some songs, the album carries a distinct hushed intimacy, full of soft-spoken phrases and light guitar play that belie the power of the music it provides.
File Under: New Zealand, The Clean, Flying Nun
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Float Along – Your Lungs/Oddments (Flightless) LP
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard crank up the fuzzbox and set the Memory Man delay on infinity, assembling a cosmic force field that draws their sonic creations of the recent past into one unified, throbbing whole. Housed in a gatefold jacket for special release in the USA, this compilation features the truly intergalactic Float Along – Fill Your Lungs (dateline September 2013) together with its sister album Oddments (dateline Match 2014). The Melbourne, Australia, seven-piece just finished their maiden North American tour, including a run of club dates along with appearances at Austin Psych Fest, Canadian Music Week and a slot at Northside Festival alongside Thee Oh Sees, Mac Demarco, Omar Souleyman and more. The remainder of King Gizzard’s American vacation saw them holed up in Sky Lodge in the Catskills for a month, recording what will be their sixth LP (tentatively scheduled for early 2015 release). They have also just recorded their fifth LP at Daptone in Brooklyn, due out at the end of 2014. The band return to Australia for the rest of the summer before heading back Stateside in October to open a White Fence tour, and then a European tour in November, including a slot at the Iceland Airwaves Festival. In short, there is no slowing this band down. Float along and fill your ears.
File Under: Psych, Rock, Australia
Matt Kivel: Days of Being Wild (Woodsist) LP
Days of Being Wild was recorded over the course of six weeks in the summer of 2013 with Paul Oldham in a small detached shed in Los Angeles. The album art features original drawings by Max Markowitz. “I had worked with Paul on the last record I did, 2013’s Double Exposure, and I was lucky because he decided to move to LA right after that record was finished. My friend Brian Cosgrove has this house in the Echo Park hills, kind of a punk house where everyone who lives in it plays in bands. It’s got a front porch with a refrigerator on it and it’s got a one room shed in the back where bands rehearse. A lot of bands have rehearsed there over the years. Paul and I started meeting there over the summer and I would buy Paul beer. We drank whiskey on the first day, but I think we both got too drunk to do anything productive—well, at least I did, Paul’s from Kentucky, so he has an even higher threshold—so we switched to beer and things went smoothly from then on. I played most of the instruments, Paul played bass, and my friend David Kitz joined in on drums for two of the harder songs. Paul told me some great stories about all of the musicians he’s worked with over the years. He even told me the secret to I See a Darkness—Bunny Wailer’s ‘Blackheart Man.’ Supposedly he and Will were listening to that a lot when they made that record— one of my favorites. So, I started listening to it myself. It’s fantastic. When I wrote these songs I was trying to do something that felt more social, something that reached out a little bit more to other people and that’s why there are more drums on it. People like to rock! I also wanted to use more electric guitar. I was listening to the radio a lot at this time. I was really sick of my record collection and I started listening to the classic rock stations and for the first time I really started enjoying that music—Led Zeppelin, Tom Petty, The Cars, Fleetwood Mac—I was really feeling that stuff. My friend Eric Deines told me that some of the songs feel like ‘super-minimal, outsider transmissions of “Jesse’s Girl”’ and I kind of like that. Todd Ledford from Olde English Spelling Bee was also very helpful after the recording was done. He was the first person I sent these songs to and he gave me a lot of good advice about mixing and recording and life. He thinks there are a few potential hits on this album … but which ones? I guess we’ll have to watch the Billboard charts to find out.” —Matt Kivel
File Under: Rock, Folk, Psych
Fela Kuti: Confusion (Knitting Factory) LP
1974 – This epic Afrobeat album contains just one eponymous track clocking in at just over 25 minutes in length, and beginning with a mysterious and psychedelic musical interplay between Fela on organ and Tony Allen on drums. As the song takes on a righteously funky groove, Fela evokes the chaos of Lagos – the multitude of regional dialects, the gnarly traffic jams, the absence of a policeman to take charge – as a metaphor for the larger problems of post-colonial Nigeria.
File Under: Afro-beat, Psych, Funk
Fela Kuti: Sorrow, Tears & Blood (Knitting Factory) LP
Fela wrote the title track of this album as a response to the Soweto Uprising of 1976 in which thousands of South African students protested the forced teaching of Afrikaans, the colonial language of Apartheid. During the uprising and the ensuing riots, hundreds of students were killed. The song calls out killings that have gone on in the name of authority and totalitarian rule as well as the instruments of repression of colonial Africa – the police and the army. In this way the song indirectly references the brutality that Fela and his family have experienced in the series of raids on his family compound, the Kalakuta Republic. The musical composition parallels the somber tone of the lyrics; focused and direct, the track avoids the bombastic funk of many of Fela’s compositions. ‘Colonial Mentality’ follows in the same manner, pointing out that those who wish to live in a post-colonial mentality are in essence living as slaves. Musically, the Africa 70 returns to a more funk and jazzy grooves while relaying a pertinent message to those who looked to Fela as a leader of the resistance.
File Under: Afro-Beat, Funk
Fela Kuti: Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense (Knitting Factory) LP
1986 – “Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense: Fela explains the role of the teacher in any society with the concept that: all the things we consider as problems, and all the good things we accept from life as good, begin with what we are taught. The individual teaching begins with when we are children – our mother is our teacher. When we come of school age, our teacher is the school-teacher. At the university, the lecturers and professors are our teachers. After university – when we start to work, government becomes the individual’s teacher. When then is government’s teacher? ‘Culture and Tradition’ says Fela. This is the order of things everywhere in the world. However, it is the problem side of teacher and student that interests Fela in this song. Because every country in this world except in Africa, it is the respective culture and tradition of that country that guides the government on how to rule their people.” – Mabinuori Kayode Idowu
File Under: Afro-Beat, Funk
Bunny “Striker” Lee & The Roots of Reggae: I Am the Gorgon OST (Kingston) LP
Bunny “Striker” Lee’s standing in the Jamaican recording business has remained unassailable for over four decades, and he was known by many aliases, including “Gorgon.” The legend of the Gorgon originated in Greek mythology some 3,000 years ago and has become a common image in art, literature and in Jamaican music. The name actually derives from the ancient Greek word “gorgos,” which means “dreadful,” appropriate when one considers that the avalanche of Gorgon-inspired records came as a direct result of the influence of the Rastafarian movement on the Jamaican musical mainstream and the dreadlocked hair of the Rasta brethren was likened to that of the Gorgon sisters. ”About her shoulders she flung the tasselled aegis, fraught with terror… and therein is the head of the dread monster, the gorgon, dread, awful….” –Homer; Artists include: Bunny Striker Lee All Stars, Delroy Wilson, Cornell Campbell, Dennis Al Capone, The Uniques, Ken Boothe, Horace Andy, Johnny Clarke, The Upsetters And The Aggrovators, Max Romeo, Don Lee, Stranger Cole And Tommy McCook, Tappa Zukie, U Roy, Derrick Morgan, John Holt, I Roy, Prince Jazzbo, Jah Stitch, Linval Thompson, Don Carlos, and King Tubby & The Aggrovators.
File Under: Reggae
Liturgy: Renihilation (Thrill Jockey) LP
“Thrill Jockey is happy to present a vinyl re-issue of Liturgy’s 2009 debut full-length, Renihilation. The album is unrelenting and hyper-focused, an astonishing balance of pure chaos and meticulous composition, and never wavering in its dedication to its own conceptual core. Even as it introduced the band to the metal community at large, Renihilation established Liturgy as a group that refused to play by the same rules that had dictated black metal aesthetics up to that point, instead blazing their own white-hot path that used black metal as a means to express something much grander, and much more elusive. It simultaneously works within and against these preexisting forms, and even five years after its initial release, seems completely alien and unparalleled. These are the first recordings of the band’s quartet line-up of Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, Greg Fox, Bernard Gann, and Tyler Dusenbury, laid to tape just several months after it coalesced. Renihilation is the work of a band pushing their limits physically and musically to organically realize music that was conceived completely in the abstract.”
File Under: Metal
Lydia Lunch & Rowland S. Howard: Shotgun Wedding (1972) LP
High priestess of macabre rock and assaultive poetics with impeccable taste in collaborators, Lydia Lunch first joined forces with guitarist and songwriter Rowland S. Howard in the early ’80s in Europe. The duo improvised clamorous live séances as an opening act before Howard’s sets with the revered Australian post-punk act The Birthday Party. The fortuitous meeting spawned 1982’s Some Velvet Morning EP, and Howard guested on Lunch’s excellent 1987 album, Honeymoon in Red, but the pair’s next true collaboration took until 1991, when they travelled to Memphis to create Shotgun Wedding with producer JG Thirlwell (Foetus, Coil). As Lunch wrote in the liner notes for an earlier CD edition, “Shotgun Wedding is a sassy scrapbook of bruised love songs, somehow buoyant in spite of its obsession with death.” Indeed, the guests at this wedding are ghastly phantoms and shifty junkies, but the chemistry between Lunch and Howard produces deviant bliss, and Shotgun Wedding showcases each artist equally. Lunch dominates vocal duties, but Howard’s oaken backups propel the rollicking “Endless Fall” to a feverish and resplendent musical climax. Elsewhere, his teardrop guitar leads and penetrating sustain create a menacing atmosphere on “What Is Memory” for Lunch’s trenchant speech to ride atop. A cover of Alice Cooper’s “Black Juju” closes out the original album—its sinister brooding and fiery outbursts the perfect cap to an album of mad incantations and tarnished eros—while this reissue ends with the cover of Lee Hazlewood’s classic “Some Velvet Morning.”
File Under: Alt. Rock
Lussuria: Industriale Illuminato (Hospital) LP
One of the most intriguing artists on the Hospital Productions roster, Lussuria came to prominence with the release of three tapes as part of the American Babylon series in 2012 which were eventually compiled into a double vinyl edition in 2013. His opiated atmospheres brought together the ritualistic appeal of late ’70s and early ’80s Italian industrial music crossed with the claustrophobia of early material from The Cure and the decadent, voyeuristic compulsion of Pasolini flicks so enamoured by Coil. Having been in the works through late 2013 and in post-production for several months since, Industriale Illuminato is in some respects the first release by Lussuria conceived as a standalone album, and is perhaps his most unique, unsettling body of work to date. Inspired by Deconstructionism and an overriding sense of anxiety, the album revolves around the dislocated narrative of album opener “Boneblack,” a dense and evocative fade into shadowy realms inspired by composer Giacinto Scelsi and the enigmatic mind-tricks of Alain Resnais’ Last Year at Marienbad. “Petra Marina” sees Lussuria use real drum sounds alongside electronic ones for the first time, layered through with odd, foreboding drones constructed out of handmade Japanese music boxes, feedback manipulation and mangled tape loops which together sound like an industrial, shadowy counterpart to the hazy nostalgia of Boards Of Canada. “Venus in Retrograde” was inspired by and evokes the paranoid narrative of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation, making use of snatches of barely tangible dialogue to form an unnerving backdrop, before “Breath of Cinder” brings the first half of the album to a close with field recordings made in deepest provincial France overlaid with a detached narrative evoking that cold, abandoned landscape. The second half of the album takes us further into this airless environment, the intriguing widescreen ambience of “Eyes of the World” offset by the percussive rattling and decimated 3 pinch harmonics of “Angelshare,” while “Wind Carries Soot” recalls the aggression of Mika Vainio sedated and tamed into an altogether more narcotic kind of beast, before “Art of Veins” closes the album with a mangled and inverted message — like some kind of Satanic directive embedded for posterity.
File Under: Ambient, Industrial, Electronic
J Mascis: Tied To A Star (Sub Pop) LP/CD
News of a new record from J Mascis – the well-loved, bespectacled, silver-haired, magical-seeming, wizard-like figure of independent music – is not only actual music to our ears but figurative music to our ears. Tied to a Star is the follow up to his acclaimed Sub Pop debut Several Shades of Why. The acoustic album, led by the songs “Every Morning” and “Wide Awake,” was recorded and produced by Mascis and mixed by John Agnello at Bisquiteen in Amherst, MA and features guest appearances by Ken Maiuri, Pall Jenkins, Mark Mulcahy and Chan Marshall. “It makes perfect sense that I was asked to write a bio for J Mascis. Let’s face it, he and I have a long history. It all started the first time I saw him live. It was in New York City. I don’t remember when or where, but I think he was walking around. I was probably walking around, too. The second time was also in New York, at a Mexican restaurant in the East Village (the one that takes credit cards now, but didn’t used to). Years later I actually met him at the SXSW festival though a friend who works at Sub Pop. “I guess that meeting went well, because when that friend from Sub Pop got married, she sat me at the same table as J. Sounds unbelievable? I suggest you look at the picture below. Now keep staring at that picture until August 26th. That’s when J’s new acoustic album Tied to a Star comes out on Sub Pop Records. It features appearances by Ken Maiuri (Young@Heart Chorus), Pall Jenkins (Black Heart Procession), Mark Mulcahy (Miracle Legion) and Chan Marshall (Cat Power). Had I been in the area, I’m sure I would’ve been asked to play on it, too.” – comedian Todd Barry
File Under: Indie Rock, Dinosaur Jr.
Dan Melchior Und Das Menace: Hunger (Castle Face) LP
“The first time I heard Dan Melchior I felt betrayed that no one had turned my ear to his strange sounds before then. The LP was called Hello, I’m Dan Melchior and it starts with the line ‘I once did mushrooms with Björk…’ Goddamn, he had me at mushrooms. “Since then, I’ve been blessed with unearthing several of his masterpieces from LP bins all around the world. Dan has made mighty and copious marks upon the world of wax. Every record is a wade through the primordial poem-brain that is Dan Melchior’s creative force. “What we have here is a fabulous collection of classic Melchior und das Menace. We asked, he let us dig through the archive, and lo and behold: Hunger, a grip of unreleased Melchior gold. It will take less than ten seconds for the high to kick in after the rush of greasy guitars consume you at the get-go of ‘A Wizard Doesn’t Need a Computer.’ And yes, he’s taking the piss. “I’ve also been lucky enough to do some touring with him and his lovely wife and co-conspirator Letha. They may be the only white cats I know who don’t look weird in dashikis. I wish I was kidding…quite comely. Letha has been duking it out with a heavy illness, and although strong as ever, the bills are piling up and they could always use a hand. A portion of the proceeds from the sales of this record will go to aid them in this fight. Here’s a link to the website, should you feel the urge to donate otherwise: http://melchiorfund.blogspot.com/ “So please dig in with open ears and hearts. Let Dan melt your brains as he has ours at Castle Face.” —John Dwyer
File Under: Garage Rock
MV & EE: Alpha Lyrae (Children of Microtones) LP
“I was feeling rockets all the time when we were creating and listening to this record. sometimes they were bottle rockets, imaginary rockets, Estes, space crafts and gimongous star machines that haven’t been built yet. more importantly I was feeling stages, secondary…tertiary…beyond growth. definitely alotta triangulation with the ‘eye’ and geometric eye in the sky -> always liftoff/ground, fruit/roots. ()() philosophies. those kinda sounds often bless our head to remind us heads, they peak and peek out of the spectra as explosions. hopefully that translates for you, it will if you are that kind. maybe dig it in headphones if at first you don’t succeed. in many ways this LP represents the cosmic fire of orgasm. we waited for a long time…”–Matt Valentine, Maximum Arousal Farm (Vermont 2014). Beautiful deluxe silkscreened cover with offset insert. LP edition of 600 copies.
File Under: Psych, Blues, Cosmic Blues
Nirvana: Feels Like the First Time (Let Them Eat Vinyl) LP
Previously unreleased broadcast of the seminal Pier 48 gig. Also included is a second Nirvana broadcast of the bands show at The Palace, in Melbourne, Australia on 2nd February, 1992, with Nirvana showcasing much of what was then their new album, “Nevermind”. Finally an additional four tracks from the two appearances Nirvana made on legendary American sketch show Saturday Night Live are also made available. Together, these vintage recordings complete this career spanning package and provide the ultimate collection of live Nirvana performances. Includes rare versions of “Come As You Are”, “Lithium” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. FANTASTIC 180 GRAM BLUE VINYL RELEASE OF THIS COLLECTION OF BROADCASTS, 1000 ONLY LIMITED EDITION.
File Under: Grunge
Pauline Oliveros: Reverberations: Tape & Electronic Music 1961-1970 (Important) 12CD
Dense 12 disc retrospective of Pauline Oliveros’ early and unreleased electronic work, including her very first piece for tape made in 1961. The majority of these pieces had never before been released. Organized chronologically by studio, this set not only documents Pauline’s earliest electronic music, but it also functions as an early history of electronic music itself. Extensive liner notes including essays from Pauline Oliveros, Alex Chechile, Ramon Sender, David Bernstein, Corey Arcangel and Benjamin Tinker. This box set was originally released in conjunction with Pauline Oliveros’ 80th birthday celebrations. Pauline Oliveros, composer, performer and humanitarian, is an important pioneer in American Music. Acclaimed internationally, for four decades she has explored sound — forging new ground for herself and others. Through improvisation, electronic music, ritual, teaching and meditation, she has created a body of work with such breadth of vision that it profoundly effects those who experience it and eludes many who try to write about it. Oliveros has been honored with awards, grants and concerts internationally. Whether performing at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., in an underground cavern, or in the studios of West German Radio, Oliveros’ commitment to interaction with the moment is unchanged. She can make the sound of a sweeping siren into another instrument of the ensemble. Through “Deep Listening Pieces” and earlier “Sonic Meditations,” Oliveros introduced the concept of incorporating all environmental sounds into musical performance. To make a pleasurable experience of this requires focused concentration, skilled musicianship and strong improvisational skills, which are the hallmarks of Oliveros’ form. In performance Oliveros uses an accordion which has been re-tuned in two different systems of her just intonation in addition to electronics to alter the sound of the accordion and to explore the individual characteristics of each room. Pauline Oliveros has built a loyal following through her concerts, recordings, publications and musical compositions that she has written for soloists and ensembles in music, dance, theater and interarts companies. She has also provided leadership within the music community from her early years as the first Director of the Center for Contemporary Music (formerly the Tape Music Center at Mills), director of the Center for Music Experiment during her 14 year tenure as professor of music at the University of California at San Diego to acting in an advisory capacity for organizations such as The National Endowment for the Arts, The New York State Council for the Arts, and many private foundations. She now serves as Distinguished Research Professor of Music at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Darius Milhaud Composer in Residence at Mills College. Oliveros has been vocal about representing the needs of individual artists, about the need for diversity and experimentation in the arts, and promoting cooperation and good will among people.
File Under: Drone, Electronic, Experimental
Pallbearer: Foundations of Burden (Profound Lore) LP
The vinyl edition of the new Pallbearer album ‘Foundations Of Burden’ is a double LP presented on thick vinyl (limited red-black two-sided coloured edition also available), in a gatefold jacket with a printed/designed insert. In the short timespan that they’ve been a band, Little Rock Arkansas’ Pallbearer have literally defined and set a new standard in the realm of modern-day doom metal. Their 3-song ‘The Legend’ demo which was first released already had made a huge impression in itself amongst the doom metal scene. Said demo would just be a harbinger for what would become the band’s debut full-length LP, 2012’s ‘Sorrow and Extinction’ which made a massive impact not only in the doom metal scene but the entire metal scene in itself along with crossing over even within more mainstream territory. In turn ‘Sorrow and Extinction’ was one of the most praised metal albums of 2012, landing on pretty much every metal best-of year end list and being praised by such notable outlets as Pitchfork, Decibel, SPIN, Rolling Stone, Stereogum, and Entertainment Weekly, just to name a few. The band would do some great tour runs likewise in support of ‘Sorrow and Exctinction’ touring with the likes of St. Vitus, Boris, and Enslaved, and along with playing such notable festivals as Roadburn, Hellfest, MDF, Scion Rockfest, Fun Fun Fun Fest, and Hopscotch Fest respectively. Now, with their new album ‘Foundations Of Burden’, Pallbearer are prepared to take it to the next level unparalleled by creating an album much more advanced, moving, and sonically glorious than their debut. If ‘Sorrow and Extinction’ created massive waves in the metal scene, ‘Foundations Of Burden’ will create the stuff of legends. Captured by legendary producer Billy Anderson (Agalloch, Sleep, Neurosis, The Melvins etc.) at Type Foundry studios in Portland Oregon, ‘Foundations Of Burden’ sees Pallbearer expand their sound even further and going beyond into an emotionally driven sonic landscape more epic, vast, and ultimately more glorious and triumphant.
File Under: Metal
Ragtime Frank: I’m A Rocketship For My Lord (Little Big Chief) LP
Avant blues with voice like Derek Bailey’s guitar, and guitar like Joan La Barbara’s voice, paired up with percussion worthy of The Monks. Ragtime Frank’s brand of anti-art is a laser beam of moonshine-imbued vitriol with discernible if haggard structure. Beautifully ramshackle and indecipherable.
File Under: Avant Blues
Cassie Ramone: The Time Has Come (Loglady) LP
The debut album from Cassie Ramone (Vivian Girls, Babies) features Ariel Pink on bass for several tracks and has a somewhat contemporary take on what a modern day Karen Dalton record may sound like. “This is Cassie’s first record. she used to sing and play guitar in the Vivian Girls. she recorded these songs by herself over the last year or so. she hopes you like the record. goodbye.”—Ariel Pink First pressing of 300 copies on colored vinyl.
File Under: Indie Rock, Vivian Girls
Roll The Dice: Until Silence (Leaf) LP
Until Silence marks a monumental shift for Roll The Dice. The characteristic framework of piano and synthesizer is reinforced with a newly conscripted string section: dramatic arrangements grind against furnace blasts of static, and phases of unrelenting rhythmic intensity collapse into moments of frayed, fragile beauty. The Stockholm-based duo’s most powerful and nuanced work to date is by turns harrowing and searching, pushing their sound to monolithic, foundation-shuddering heights of ambition and scale. For Until Silence, Peder Mannerfelt and Malcolm Pardon enlisted Erik Arvinder to work on string arrangements for several of the album’s tracks, which were then recorded with a 26-piece ensemble. Arvinder’s contributions further heighten the natural cycles of tension and release that are cornerstones of the Roll The Dice sound. During the album’s harshest moments, they sharpen every piano note and rhythmic sub-bass throb so the music cuts jagged from the speakers, while during quieter phases they carve open huge spaces within the music. Matching their use of orchestral instrumentation, Until Silence also pushes compositional methods further into uncharted territory. The influence of the duo’s individual projects on the collective sound of Roll The Dice has always been tangible. Pardon, who works as a composer for film and TV, has a natural flair for evocative composition and narrative arc, while Mannerfelt is a remarkably skilled sculptor of electronic sound and bass tones. Mannerfelt’s recent solo explorations under his own name, including the stark and brutalist electronics of his current Lines Describing Circles album, have clearly fed their own energy back into Roll The Dice—with Until Silence, they take the electronic core of their sound into harsher and more heavily processed textural domains. The dark and stormy nature of Until Silence strikes a chord at a time when the socioeconomic and political state of affairs gripping Europe and further afield is grim indeed. Yet throughout, the music is pockmarked with flashes of light where proactive optimism for the future intermingles with nostalgia for fond memories buried beneath the rubble. That Pardon and Mannerfelt have crafted so ambitious, deep and multifaceted an album isn’t necessarily a surprise given their acclaimed tenure as Roll The Dice. With it they continue to stake their position as one of the most fascinating and vital units currently operating in electronic music.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient
Ty Segall: Manipulator (Drag City) LP/CD/CS
The Segall has landed. And it’s fully loaded, with everything that Ty Segall (and you and me) are gonna need in the world to come. Heads up! It’s coming down fast. Sticking his hand deeper into the machines all around him, TY is reaching ever further to the outer limits of inner space orbited throughout Twins and Sleeper. And now more than ever, the chunks of the world that came before are like asteroids formed in his image . . . picking up speed . . . .Still fighting the power with all the energy that a determined mind-patriot can conjure, Ty’s a fighter who loves, a surfer, a spaceman, and yeah, a casualty – like you, he’ll never be free. But unlike you, he knows it – and when he goes down and his head cracks in two, out pour the multi-colored manias that make up Manipulator. Soursweet declarations featuring freaks and creeps alike: ‘The Singer’, ‘The Faker’, ‘Mister Main’, ‘Susie Thumb’, the ‘Connection Man’, and ‘The Crawler’, to name but a mutant fistful. Three-quarter quartets raising their din in a few key places. Waves of sparkling acoustics with ominous, Love-ly undertones – and then, torrents of filthy git-grunge, exploding into the chorus, washing everything away, fusing the blackness of Sabbath with the grime and grab-ass of the Stooges and the sweet swinging tones of the Stones. All in the name of getting higher on the music. Why have one guitar solo when you can have a few in the same space? There’s so little time, and a LOT to say. In order to ensure that he got it all out, Ty called a few friends to fill in special parts on certain Manipulator songs. He got great touches from Chris Woodhouse (piano, synth & percussion), Sean Paul Presley (vocals), Brit Lauren Manor (vocals), Steve Nutting (drums), Irene Salzer (violin), Jessica Ivry (cello), Matthias Mcentire (viola) and the Ty Segall band (Mikal Cronin, Charles Mootheart, Emily Rose Epstein). Plus, Mikal arranged the strings – and everyone played awesomely. The clarion call / siren song of his guitar . . . . clouds of guitar billowing, blood rushing to the head, the temperature going from blue to red . . . . TY’s on a mission, working to change chemistry through music with the steam-lined pop and helium-cooled vocals of Manipulator.
File Under: Psych, Garage, Glam
SND: Newtables (SND) LP
Mark Fell and Mat Steel’s second EP as SND arrived a year after their debut Tplay (SND 1SE) and continued to explore a distinct, highly individual take on electronic minimalism, house and UK garage stripped to its bare bones. The tracks here more or less split themselves into three distinct categories: the first detailing the brilliant swing and shuffle of their reduced UKG mutations, with “22” in particular perfecting the balance between academic reduction and kinetic, feminine motion. The second outlines a more linear approach utilizing reduced house and techno templates, while the last includes more experimental works such as the proper fwwwwd bass-pulse arrangements on the previously unheard B2 and the frequency fxxckery of closing track D3. With the original DAT tapes remastered and cut by Rashad Becker, this series is a real treat to followers of SND and Mark Fell, and an essential eye-opener for anyone unfamiliar with this incredible early material.
File Under: Electronic
Spider Bags: Frozen Letter (Merge) LP
Formed in 2005, Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s Spider Bags were largely a revolving cast, with only Dan McGee (guitars, vocals) persevering through the various incarnations of the band. But during the 2011 recording of Shake My Head, the current lineup consisting of Steve Oliva (bass) and Rock Forbes (drums) was finally solidified. Building upon the foundation laid down by its predecessor, Frozen Letter rocks with the clairvoyance of three musicians who have spent a lot of time recording and touring together over the last few years. “When we started this record, we weren’t even thinking about it being released. We just did it to have fun and keep moving forward,” says Forbes. This approach allowed the band to push itself further out into the psychedelic frontier than ever before, aided by engineer/producer Wesley Wolfe. Recorded mostly live over the course of a few days, there’s an exhilarating urgency to the record, as heard in riff-driven rockers like ‘Back With You Again in the World’ and ‘Chem Trails’. The band brings the tempo down a notch for ‘Coffin Car’, which finds them mining an ominous morbidity over one of their prettier chord patterns. ‘We Got Problems’ comes on like a true acid trip, alternating between utter terror and unfettered joy. Featuring a heavy and repetitive pattern, a slew of effected guitars, and searing guest leads from Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan, the song encapsulates an entire Spider Bags epoch in under six minutes. Frozen Letter is the band’s fourth full-length record overall and first for Merge Records.
File Under: Indie Rock
Spiritualized: Fucked Up Inside (Plain) LP
“Fucked Up Inside” is the first live album ever issued by Spiritualized, it was originally released as a limited edition of 1,000 mail order only LP in 1993. Recorded on tour in 1992 while supporting Spritualized’s debut release ‘Lazer Guided Melodies’ this is the first album to document the power of the band live and has long been an out of print collector’s item since it’s initial release. Includes three songs from ‘Lazer Guided Melodies’, two from the future Spiritualized album ‘Pure Phase’, plus the Spacemen 3 favorite ]Walking With Jesus’. Limited edition of 3,000 in a recreation of the original cover.
File Under: Psych, Spacemen 3
Damo Suzuki: Seven Potatos (Noiseagonymayhem) LP
Krautrock pioneer Damo Suzuki, vocalist of Can, has influenced generations of creative musicians. This enigmatic singer has continued the journey, traveling the globe to perform improvised music with a unique collection of musicians. The lucky few that perform with him he calls his Network or Sound Carriers. Canadian Sound Carriers have included members of Black Mountain, Broken Social Scene and Do Make Say Think, among many others. On a warm night in June he set down in Nanaimo, BC for an epic night of long, heavy space-rock jams in front of a rabid sold-out crowd at the historic Globe Hotel. The result is a sprawling, transcendent, seamless soundscape. Damo’s vocalizing feeds off the energy and dynamics of the band. A strangely hypnotic and melodic repetition of phrases and countered with low, guttural growls delivered in his own language. The legacy of Can is always evident. The auditory capture was superb and the result obvious. It must be shared. David Read of Vinyl Record Guru immediately decided to release it as a co-production of NoiseAgonyMayhem Records and Lance Rock Records. The recording captures Damo’s memorable performance with a psychedelic rock orchestra assembled from Nanaimo’s thriving independent music scene, featuring members of Clumsy Lovers, Colliding Canyons, Moths & Locusts, and Wolf Parade. Two synth stations, fuzzed-out guitars, and three drummers coalesce behind Damo’s commanding presence. Limited to 300 copies.
File Under: Psych, Kraut, Can
Piero Umiliani/Chet Baker: Smog (Doxy) LP
The long forgotten soundtrack to a hip early 1960s Italian cult movie, with music by Piero Umiliani and the legendary Chet Baker. Helen Merrill’s vocal theme is just outstanding, rarely bettered, the jazz is playful, mysterious and charming. This is just inspired and incredible music. Limited edition of 500 copies.
File Under: Jazz, OST, Italian
White Hills: Glitter Glamour Atrocity (Thrill Jockey) LP
“Glitter Glamour Atrocity is a snapshot of the band in the midst of an incredible burst of creativity, and was recorded during the same sessions that produced Heads on Fire and Abstractions & Mutations. Sonically, it is radically different from anything else coming out of the New York underground at the time, and it set the template for the singular concoction of heavy psychedelic music, krautrock, and a worship of pure sound they have explored in different variations ever since. Throughout the album the band explores themes of greed, misinformation, war, hypocrisy and their outcomes within the world’s political and economic systems, presenting these weighty topics with the same air of mystic understanding that underpins their music.”
File Under: Psych, Rock, Stoner
Lucinda Williams: Car Wheels On A Grave Road (Music on Vinyl) LP
FIRST TIME ON VINYL! “It isn’t surprising that Lucinda Williams’ level of craft takes time to assemble, but the six-year wait between “Sweet Old World” and its 1998 follow-up, “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road”, still raised eyebrows. The delay stemmed both from label difficulties and Williams’ meticulous perfectionism, the latter reportedly over a too-produced sound and her own vocals. Listening to the record, one can understand why both might have concerned Williams. Car Wheels is far and away her most produced album to date, which is something of a mixed blessing. Its surfaces are clean and contemporary, with something in the timbres of the instruments (especially the drums) sounding extremely typical of a late-’90s major-label roots-rock album. While that might subtly alter the timeless qualities of Williams’ writing, there’s also no denying that her sound is punchier and livelier. The production also throws Williams’ idiosyncratic voice into sharp relief, to the point where it’s noticeably separate from the band. As a result, every inflection and slight tonal alteration is captured, and it would hardly be surprising if Williams did obsess over those small details. But whether or not you miss the earthiness of Car Wheels’ predecessors, it’s ultimately the material that matters, and Williams’ songwriting is as captivating as ever. Intentionally or not, the album’s common thread seems to be its strongly grounded sense of place — specifically, the Deep South, conveyed through images and numerous references to specific towns. Many songs are set, in some way, in the middle or aftermath of not-quite-resolved love affairs, as Williams meditates on the complexities of human passion. Even her simplest songs have more going on under the surface than their poetic structures might indicate. In the end, “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” is Williams’ third straight winner; although she might not be the most prolific songwriter of the ’90s, she’s certainly one of the most brilliant.” – All Music Guide (5/5 stars).
File Under: Country, Folk
Wire #367 Mag
“On the cover: Dean Blunt (David Keenan talks black metal, free jazz and life after Hype Williams with East London’s shapeshifting samplist). Inside the issue: David Rosenboom (From brainwaves to stellar oscillations, the US composer finds sonic inspiration in all possible worlds); The Primer: Pharoah Sanders (The freewheeling saxophonist’s career spans decades, encompassing some of free jazz’s essential recordings); Cross Platform: Sarah Angliss (Secret histories of sound are animated by the Brighton artist’s uncanny inventions); Invisible Jukebox: Justin Broadrick (The Godflesh founder feels the weight of The Wire’s mystery record selection); Drew Mulholland (The Glasgow hauntologist formerly known as Mount Vernon Arts Lab resurfaces with an album of chamber music); Catherine Lamb (Patience is a virtue in the evolving tones of this Berlin based composer); Slackk (The London grime producer thinks outside the box).”
Various: African Gems (SWP) LP
This is some of the best traditional African music ever recorded. The music is the star — of course — then comes the wonderful musicians who performed it, but it was the recordists who make it possible for us to listen to the genius in African music captured on these magnificent tracks. After having released the 22-CD series “Historical Recordings by Hugh Tracey,” it is time to pay homage to some who came after him. Thanks to Charles Duvelle, Jos Gansemans, Benoit Quersin, and David Fanshawe, for these great recordings. Over 73 minutes of magic. Each track is a gem. There is nothing coincidental in this music: it is based on a deep understanding of interconnectivity — consequently also of time and space — and has been developed over many centuries. Yet it sounds so modern! Each track has its own swing, and this danceable quality is a profound thing: it is participatory, revitalizing, communal, relaxing, healing.
File Under: African, Ethnic, World
Various: Congo Traditional (SWP) LP
Music from another world! This collection of magnificent recordings merely touches on the richness and diversity of the traditional musics of the Congo, as found by Hugh Tracey in the 1950s. In the ensemble tracks we can hear his hand-held microphone technique, as he moves around with his one mike to highlight one instrument after the other — a kind of instant mixing. But how many of these musical traditions have been lost since they were captured on tape — urbanization and satellite TV have taken their toll. We are lucky to have these recordings, but they especially are a gift to the peoples involved, for the legacy as played by their forebears belongs to them. A compilation of tracks from the CDs SWP 009: On the Edge of the Ituri Forest, SWP 011: Kanyok and Luba, SWP 016: Forest Music. This LP is a 140 gram pressing by Pallas.
File Under: World, Ethnic, Field Recordings
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