…..news letter #692 – board…..

Look at that, I take most of the week off and stuff just keeps coming in! And I some how managed to also buy a nice stack of psych, prog, and garage raers. Anyway, my time is limited here this week so I’d best get to it….

…..picks of the week…..


Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson: The Art of Mirrors (Black Mass Rising) 2LP
Shortly before his musical partnership as Coil ended following the death of Jhon Balance, Peter Christopherson performed a live soundtrack to his old friend and collaborator Derek Jarman’s abstract 1973 Super 8 short The Art Of Mirrors in Paris. Sleazy had worked with Jarman on many occasions, including providing the music as a member of Throbbing Gristle for In The Shadow Of The Sun in 1974, Coil’s highly-charged compositions for The Angelic Conversation, as well as their singularly psychedelic disco contributions to the director’s final swansong, Blue. Since The Art Of Mirrors is barely six minutes long, quite how Christopherson made more than an hour of music to accompany the film’s screening is something those who were there can answer best, but ultimately it’s more or less irrelevant to the music as it appears here. Split carefully across three sides of vinyl, the LP divides a continuous performance into what are now essentially three interrelated movements. Each ebbs and flows with the same hallucinatory feeling that so much of the music that Christopherson made with others has, especially in Coil, and it soon begins to seem that time itself has become far more of an unnecessary frippery than usual. As each side of vinyl unfolds, Christopherson’s adherence to his oft-stated intention that his music was made to provoke a change of state in the listener is fully apparent. Anyone who saw Coil or (to a lesser extent Throbbing Gristle) live will attest to their preference for hypnotic digital mandalas which were often as much a part of the experience as the music and their elaborate and sometimes bizarre costumes. On his own here, Sleazy shifts and slides from deceptively calm stretches of almost-brittle digital electronics complete with passages of birdsong or human chanting into bass-heavy tremors shaking the floors like nobody’s business. They fill up space with the pressure of spectral presences and tectonic rumblings. These digital ghosts in Sleazy’s machine fall somewhere between later Coil instrumentals which aimed for a particular psychotropic effect on the listener (such as the epic, mind-altering Time Machines) and Christopherson’s later work with Ivan Pavlov (COH) as SoiSong. So while there are many recurrent elements for those already familiar with Sleazy’s role in other groups – the  sampled hurdy-gurdy loops in particular raise a few neck hairs, and not simply because of their uniquely resonant trebly tones – the music is also identifiable as Christopherson pursuing his own particular ideas alone, and perhaps unfettered. The quality is generally excellent throughout, the dynamic range stretched nearly as much as it must have been over the venue’s PA, and while there are occasional audience noises to be heard, they serve to give the recording a live atmosphere – it certainly feels like being in the room. Even if that means that all the coughs and splutters of a concert hall environment are therefore registered with similar fidelity to the music proper.

File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Coil
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Devon Folklore Tapes Vol.I: Ian Humberstone / David Chatton Barker:  Two Witches (Folklore Tapes) 2×10″ + Book
‘Two Witches’ is where it all began. This inaugural volume resulted from a postal correspondence between David Chatton Barker and Ian Humberstone in 2011, and was released as a split cassette housed in a hollowed-out hardback book later that year. Long out-of-print and highly sought after, the original recordings have been completely remastered for this lavish reissue, which is presented as a double ten-inch vinyl sited in a gatefold sleeve, complete with expanded research notes and artwork. This release is the definitive edition and marks the beginning of a wider reissue series for Folklore Tapes’ back catalogue, further editions of which will arrive throughout 2015. The release itself provides a sonic impression of two long-forgotten figures from Devon lore: Hannah Henley and Mariann Voaden. Though they never met, both women lived in rural Devon during the nineteenth century and fostered highly idiosyncratic careers in the provision of charms and curses, at a time when belief in the reality of witchcraft was in decline. Hannah and Mariann were thus engaged in an age-old profession experiencing its death throes, the last in a long line of wizened crones to provide their neighbours with folk-remedies and blessings, to threaten them with hue and cry. Building upon the scanty historical record, these recordings recreate the world of Hannah and Mariann as a living soundscape, giving flesh to the bare bones of their stories. Through acousmatic sound and composed music, Hannah’s curses recover their voice in the night. With rumbling thunder and detuned harmonium, the wind blows once more through the walls of Mariann’s crumbling cottage. And in the gathering dark, through the whirls and rattles, the creaks and drones, the tales of the long since departed might live and breathe again.

File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Field Recordings, Experimental
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Devon Folklore Tapes Vol.II: Anworth Kirk / D.Orphan & The White Funz: Graves (Folklore Tapes) 2×10″ + Book
Graves was originally released in early 2012 and features two explorations of burial sites in Devon by Anworth Kirk and D.Orphan with The White Funz. Long out-of-print and highly sought after, the original recordings have been completely remastered for this lavish reissue, which is presented as a double ten-inch vinyl housed in a gatefold sleeve, complete with expanded research notes and artwork as well as two completely new recordings. A new introduction has been written by Barum Ware for this volume. The release itself offers a sonic impression of two characters and their eventual resting places in Devon: Kitty Jay and Richard Cabell. Jay’s grave is one of the best known landmarks on Dartmoor, a lonely little grave wherein lie the bones of an orphan girl, Mary (Kitty) Jay. Born in 1790, she fell pregnant in her late ‘teens and with no means of obtaining help or sympathy in those hard days ended up hanging herself. It is said that Jay’s ghost can be seen walking by her grave at certain hours of the day. Flowers, always bloom from the ground in which her remains lie, no matter how inclement the weather may be. Squire Richard Cabell was known to be an unsavoury character; he reputedly persecuted young maidens in the environs of his manor near Buckfastleigh. When he came to die in 1677 his end was said to be unpleasant. There are accounts involving the infamous whist hounds (inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’) who were said to chase him to his death as punishment for his terrible reputation. Cabell is buried in the grounds of The Holy Trinity church in a large tomb, and such was the locals fear of ghostly reprisals in that time, a giant stone wasplaced atop the grave along with iron bars to seal him in. Legend has it that by running around the tomb thirteen times and inserting your finger into the keyhole, Cabell would gnaw at it. Building upon reports found within the book Devon Ghosts (1982) by Theo Brown, these recordings recreate the lives and burial sites of Kitty Jay and Richard Cabell as a living soundscape, giving flesh to the bare bones of their stories. Field trips were taken to the sites and the sound recordings made here form the grounds from which these characters come to walk once more. Acousmatic sound and playfully composed music-tones and drones, loops and moans- are used to shine light into the murkiest recesses of these dark and often unsettling worlds.

File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Field Recordings, Experimental
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…..new arrivals……


Bjork: Vulnicura (One Little Indian) LP
Vulnicura is the eighth studio album from Icelandic artist Björk. Vulnicura was written, produced and recorded in collaboration with Venezuelan producer Arca and British musician The Haxan Cloak. Of the album’s nine tracks, six are written by Björk with two co-written with Arca and one co-written with Spaces. Six songs are produced by Björk and Arca, one by Björk, Arca and The Haxan Cloak and two by Björk. All string arrangements are by Björk. The album was mixed by The Haxan Cloak, except two songs mixed by The Haxan Cloak and Chris Elms, and mastered by Mandy Parnell. Vulnicura is Björk’s first release since the 2011 album/multimedia project Biophilia. “I guess I found in my lap one year into writing it a complete heartbreak album. Kinda surprised how thoroughly I had documented this in pretty much accurate emotional chronology…like 3 songs before a break up and three after. So the anthropologist in me sneaked in and I decided to share them as such. First I was worried it would be too self indulgent but then I felt it might make it even more universal. And hopefully the songs could be a help, a crutch to others and prove how biological this process is: the wound and the healing of the wound. Psychologically and physically. It has a stubborn clock attached to it. “And then a magic thing happened to me: as I lost one thing something else entered. Alejandro contacted me late summer 2013 and was interested in working with me. It was perfect timing. To make beats to the songs would have taken me 3 years (like on Vespertine) but this enchanted Arca would visit me repeatedly and only few months later we had a whole album! It is one of the most enjoyable collaborations I have had! “I then went ahead and wrote string and choir arrangements and recorded them in Iceland and whom else to lure into singing with me my worship-of-love-song “Atom Dance” than my goddess of love: Antony? Towards the end of the album I started looking around for a mixing engineer and was introduced by a mutual friend of ours, Robin Carolan to the Haxan Cloak. He mixed the album and also made a beat for one half of “Family.” Together with Chris Elms the engineer we kinda formed a band during the mixing process and this is the album we made!” – Björk

File Under: Electronic, Pop
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Grachan Moncur III: Evolution (Blue Note) LP
The first avant-garde jazz trombonist, Grachan Moncur III recorded two dazzling classics for Blue Note during 1963-64: Some Other Stuff and Evolution. In the 1950s J.J. Johnson’s boppish trombone style was dominant, resulting in scores of young trombonists sounding quite a bit like Johnson. Moncur, who picked up experience with Ray Charles and the Jazztet, was a very different case. While very familiar with Johnson, Moncur expanded the emotional range of the trombone, and led to its acceptance in free jazz. By 1963, Moncur was fully formed and sounding unique on Jackie McLean’s famous One Step Beyond album. Nearly the same group (with McLean, Bobby Hutcherson and a teenaged Tony Williams) is on Evolution plus the great trumpeter Lee Morgan. The four Moncur pieces are dramatic, lengthy, episodic and full of surprises. The titles (“Air Raid,” “Evolution,” “The Coaster” and especially “Monk In Wonderland”) give listeners hints as to the wild, innovative and unpredictable nature of this dynamic music which is unlike anything heard anywhere else. The wit and colors, along with the brilliant playing, make Evolution a very memorable set even during the extremely fertile period of the mid-1960s.

File Under: Jazz, Blue Note
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Modest Mouse: Building Something Out of Nothing (Glacial Pace) LP
Modest Mouse was originally formed in 1993 in Issaquah, WA and over the last two decades has become the indie rock standard and one of the few bands capable of treading the narrow path where massive popularity is possible without sacrificing their longtime fans. Following the 2015 release of Strangers To Ourselves, the first new studio album from the band in eight years, the Modest Mouse / Glacial Pace reissue machine will keep rolling with vinyl pressings of the Interstate 8 EP and the singles collection Building Nothing Out of Something. Interstate 8 was originally only pressed on CD in limited quantities in 1996, this will be the first time it appears on vinyl. As with the original CD, it will include the Live in Sunburst Montana demo. Building Nothing Out of Something was originally pressed on vinyl in 2000, but has been out of print for over a decade now. Both releases will mark the end of the band’s highly sought after Up recordings. The 12-track compilation Building Nothing Out of Something gathers various singles and rare cuts from the band’s indie-label years circa 1996-1998 including three tracks from the Interstate 8 EP and “Baby Blue Sedan” from the vinyl version of The Lonesome Crowded West.

File Under: Indie Rock
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Monolord: Vaenir (Riding Easy) LP
Like Sleep, YOB, and Electric Wizard before them, Swedish doom trio Monolord bring an individualistic psychology to heavy music. They’re not out to reinvent the riff so much as test its boundaries. On the band’s second album, Vænir, Thomas V Jäger lets his guitar lines wander and build off one another to glorious, colossal effect, like Captain Beyond crossed with Slowdive. At its core, the album is more of a prog psych journey than a straight-up metal record, but there are plenty of signature riffs and sludginess to satisfy those looking for the latter. Crushing opener “Cursing the One” provides a contender for doom riff of the year. Jäger’s guitar is downtuned so that his feedback mingles and interplays with Mika Häkki’s bass; their call-and-response tradeoffs pace the song for nine minutes without ever growing tired. The clarity of the production recalls Scott Burns’ masterworks. The purr of the guitar tone is captured in its every detail; drummer Esben Willems’ thrashing cymbal work (especially on “We Will Burn”) rings out, seemingly uncompressed. Vænir is a distinctly modern record both for its organic production and amorphous, genre-bending songcraft. Steeped in heavy reverb, Jäger’s hazy vocals carry hazy melodies, a la Deftones’ Chino Moreno: distinct enough to provide hooks (the chorus of “Died a Million Times” is an earworm) while remaining unobtrusive to Monolord’s meditative plod. With six tracks amounting to more than 50 minutes of music, Vænir drifts along almost like a Sigur Rós record, with massive buildups giving way to quiet passages of minimalist guitar. The 16-minute closing title track is built on those kinetic heavy/soft dynamics. When the drums drop out toward the end, leaving only dissonant chords, it creates a looming uncertainty that lingers and lingers — like a scene in a horror film when the killer is about to pounce on a victim — before Willems ends the silence with one last breakdown. It’s a punctuating close to one of the most satisfying heavy albums in recent memory.

File Under: Rock
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Nirvana: Nevermind (Geffen) LP
Released in September of 1991, Nirvana’s sophomore album and major label debut, Nevermind elevated Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl from a critically acclaimed Aberdeen, Washington cult band to generational spokesmen who’d unwittingly created a cultural shift and musical touchstone. Rising to #1 the world over by year’s end and ultimately selling over 30 million copies worldwide, Nevermind would come to be much more than one of the most successful and influential albums of its or any era. As the album that returned unaffected rock ’n’ roll integrity and passion to the top of the charts, Nevermind would prove a singular inspiration to fans and musicians alike over the last two decades, and will undoubtedly do so for generations to come! “The overnight-success story of the 1990s, Nirvana’s second album and its totemic first single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” shot up from the nascent grunge scene in Seattle to kick Michael Jackson off the top of the Billboard album chart and blow hair metal off the map. No album in recent history had such an overpowering impact on a generation – a nation of teens suddenly turned punk – and such a catastrophic effect on its main creator.” – #17 on Rolling Stone’s ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Time’

File Under: Rock, Grunge
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reichSteve Reich: Music for 18 Musicians (Nonesuch) LP
RSD restock of this essential slab of minimalism… This has to be Steve Reich’s most difficult work to perform; but he’s done it. Several times. Music for 18 Musicians is for violin, cello, two clarinets doubling bass clarinet, four women’s voices, four pianos, three marimbas, two xylophones, and a metallophone (vibraphone with no motor). It’s a 1974 composition that focuses entirely on the rich staccato that gives minimalism its unique sound. However, Reich turns all of this into actual music by adding the richness of the metallophone and the women’s voices. Whatever else people may have said about minimalism, pro or con, a work such as Music for 18 Musicians demonstrates its legitimacy. –Paul Cook

File Under: Experimental, Minimalism
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Rush: Hemispheres (Mercury) LP
In 2014 UMe/Mercury reissued Rush’s self-titled debut on heavy-weight vinyl in celebration of the album’s 40th anniversary. Now in 2015, let the Rush 40 celebration continue with ’12 Months of Rush’ reissues – in chronological order – starting with 1975’s Fly By Night on LP and Blu-Ray Pure Audio. During the ’12 Months of Rush’ campaign all 14 of the band’s Mercury albums will be remastered on 200-gram heavy-weight vinyl at legendary Abbey Road, all from original analogue masters. All LPs will also include a digital download code for a 320kbps MP4 vinyl ripped Digital Audio album download. In addition to Fly By Night, A Farewell to Kings and Signals will also be reissued on Blu-Ray Pure Audio. Another favorite of true Rush fans, this sixth studio album, released in 1978, once more explored fantasy and science fiction themes in Neil Peart’s lyrics. The final track, the ambitious nine-and-a-half minute “La Villa Strangiato,” was the band’s first instrumental. The album peaked at #47 on the Billboard charts, and was the group’s fourth consecutive gold album in the U.S., featuring the singles “The Trees” and “Circumstances.” “Their influence is undeniable…and their legacy is that of a band that stayed true to themselves no matter how uncool they may have seemed to anyone. I think it’s safe to say that Rush are indeed a band that has balls…and they’ve always been cool.” – Dave Grohl inducting Rush into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

File Under: Rock, CanCon
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Amon Duul II: Phallus Dei (Cleopatra) LP
Courtney Barnett: The Double Album (Mom & Pop) LP
Beck: Morning Phase (Columbia) LP
Behemoth: Satanist (Metal Blade) LP
Booker T & The MGs: Green Onions (Sundazed) LP
Booker T & The MGs: And Now! (Sundazed) LP
Captain Beefheart: Safe as Milk (Sundazed) LP
Nick Cave: Your Funeral… My Trail (Mute) LP
The Clash: London Calling (Epic) LP
John Coltrane: Giant Steps (Rhino) LP
Sam Cooke: Mr. Soul (Music on Vinyl) LP
Daft Punk: 1997: Alive (EMI) LP
Daft Punk: Random Access Memories (Columbia) LP
De La Soul: 3 Feet High & Rising (Rhino) LP
Doors: s/t (Rhino) LP
Doors: L.A. Woman (Rhino) LP
Doors: Strange Days (Rhino) LP
Bob Dylan: s/t (Sundazed) LP
Bob Dylan: Freewheelin’ (Sundazed) LP
Nils Frahm: Spaces (Erased Tapes) LP
Fugazi: End Hits (Dischord) LP
Fugazi: The Argument (Dischord) LP
Fugazi: In on the Killtaker (Dischord) LP
Fugazi: Red Medicine (Dischord) LP
Fugazi: Steady Diet of Nothing (Dischord) LP
Dexter Gordon: Go (Blue Note) LP
Dexter Gordon: Our Man in Paris (Blue Note) LP
Jimi Hendrix: Are You Experienced (Reprise) LP
Billie Holiday: Lady in Satin (Columbia) LP
Husker Du: Warehouse (Rhino) LP
Jesus & The Mary Chain: Psycho Candy (Warner) LP
Kyuss: And The Circus Leaves Town (Elektra) LP
Kyuss: Welcome to Sky Valley (Elektra) LP
Madvillain: Madvillainy (Stones Throw) LP
John Mayall: Blues Breakers (Sundazed) LP
John Mayall: Hard Road (Sundazed) LP
Millennium: Begin (Sundazed) LP
Modest Mouse: Strangers to Ourselves (Epic) LP
Modest Mouse: This is a Long Drive… (Epic) LP
Lee Morgan: Sidewinder (Blue Note) LP
OST: Birdman (Milan) LP
Pearl Jam: Ten (Sony) LP
Pearl Jam: Vitalogy (Sony) LP
Portishead: Dummy (Island) LP
Quasimoto: The Unseen (Stones Throw) LP
Raconteurs: Consolers of the Lonely (Thirdman) LP
Radiohead: Kid A (Capitol) LP
Radiohead: OK Computer (Capitol) LP
Otis Redding: Dictionary of Soul (Sundazed) LP
Otis Redding: In Person (Sundazed) LP
Otis Redding: The Soul Album (Sundazed) LP
Otis Redding: Dock of the Bay (Sundazed) LP
Django Reinhardt: Anthology (Not Now) LP
Django Reinhardt: Djangology (Cleopatra) LP
Santigold: Master of My Make Believe (Atlantic) LP
Shakey Graves: And the War Came (Dualtone) LP
Sturgill Simpson: Metamodern Sounds in Country Music (Thirty Tigers) LP
Soft Machine: s/t (Sundazed) LP
Soft Machine: Volume 2 (Sundazed) LP
Sonics: Introducing (Sundazed) LP
Speedy Ortiz: Foil Deer (Carpark) LP
Alexander Skip Spence: OAR (Sundazed) LP
Spoon: They Want My Soul (Republic) LP
Bruce Springsteen: Nebraska (Sony) LP
Cecil Taylor: Unit Structures (Blue Note) LP
Timber Timbre: Hot Dreams (Arts & Crafts) LP
Tool: Undertow (Zoo) LP
Eddie Vedder: Into The Wild (Music on Vinyl) LP
Yardbirds: Roger the Engineer (Music on Vinyl) LP

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