Unlike me, sitting in this nice air conditioned room with piles of killer wax all around me, you are very well likely in Calgary at Sled Island. But maybe you aren’t! Or maybe you don’t get paid until Monday and you’ll be spending all your spare cash on records next week anyway. Which if it’s either of those two options, then we’ve got a load of killer stuff in this week for your ears….
…..pick of the week…..
Berrocal/Fenech/Epplay: Antigravity (Blackest Ever Black) LP
Legendary trumpeter Jac Berrocal joins two fellow travelers in the French avant-garde, David Fenech and Vincent Epplay. A lugubrious mise-en-scène in which ice-cold outlaw jazz meets musique concrète, DIY whimsy, and dubwise studio science, all watched over by the lost souls and hungry ghosts of rock ‘n’ roll. The trio’s first album together, Antigravity is a richly imagined universe combining original compositions and détourned standards. Berrocal revisits his own signature piece “Rock ‘n Roll Station,” which first appeared on his ’77 LP Parallèles with chain-wielding, leather-clad wildman of British rock ‘n roll Vince Taylor singing the lead, and Berrocal on mic’d up bicycle; here, the Frenchman takes the vocal reins. A barely recognizable interpretation of Talking Heads’ “The Overload” pushes beyond the bush of ghosts into a fourth world dread-zone of stalking drum-machine rhythms, humid electronics, and jagged guitar phrasing, while “Where Flamingos Fly” reroutes the Gil Evans Orchestra’s classic rendition through the seamiest back-streets of the 13th arrondissement; there, as on the trio’s reading of “Kinder Lieder,” the mood is romantic, but stark, isolationist: imagine Chet Baker falling through the glacial sound-world of early PiL or Scott Walker’s Climate of Hunter. Originals include the agitated Iberian psychedelia of “Spain,” and “Panic in Bali,” which begins in seemingly trad-jazz fashion only to swell into a cacophony of a gurgling electronics and fevered “Lonely Woman” quotations. “Solaris” is a swirling, suspenseful arabesque of whiplash guitars and Black Ark FX, Berrocal’s trumpet hitting deep blue notes while his vocals are sliced and diced and tossed into a yawning void of tape-delay — like Antigravity at large, the result is oblique, dissolving, forever out of reach. Despite the chilly, sometimes austere mood of the album, it is, ultimately, a deeply human and welcoming work, with a playfulness and sly humor pervading; see the anarchic cross-hatch of “Ife Layo,” or the CD-only track “L’essai des Suintes ou le bal des Futaies,” Berrocal’s poetic disquisition on the infinite variety of female genitalia. Mischief and misdirection are rife here, and fans of Officer!, Henry Cow, and the ReR axis will find much to chew on. Play, as we know, is serious business. Put another way, and to quote Berrocal entirely out of context, Antigravity is completely crazy, completely timeless, completely out. As its title suggests, the objective is nothing less than lift-off, weightlessness, a total unshackling from earth. Sunglasses on, collar up, let’s go.
File Under: Experimental, Jazz, Electronic
Alva Noto: Xerrox 3 (Raster-Noton) LP
After a break following the 2009 release of Xerrox Vol. 2, Alva Noto continues his Xerrox series with Xerrox Vol. 3, titled Towards Space. This is a journey that started with Xerrox Vol. 1, referring to the “old world,” and Xerrox Vol. 2, heading “to the new world.” Using the process of copying as a basis, the Xerrox series deals with the manipulation of data by means of endless reproduction. Due to the inherent vice of the procedure that becomes especially visible when copies are made from copies, everyday sounds are so much altered that they can be hardly associated with the source material anymore. As a result, entirely new sounds are created that, being copies of originals, become originals themselves. On Xerrox Vol. 3, a new aspect enters the scene. Inspired by childhood film memories from the 1970s including Tarkovsky’s adaption of Solaris (1972) and La isla misteriosa y el capitán nemo (1973), based on Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island, the album shows Alva Noto’s private side. With its very intimate atmosphere, it is a personal reflection of dreams, an imaginary journey through emotional landscapes or, as he himself puts it, a “cinematographic emotion of a soundtrack to a film that actually does not exist in reality.” Alvo Noto further states, “I see Xerrox Vol. 3 as my most personal album so far. I have to admit that this emotional output is a surprise even for myself. It remains exciting how the last two albums of this series will sound.”
File Under: Electronic, Minimal, Ambient
Art Zoyd: Generation Sans Futur (Sub Rosa) LP
Génération Sans Futur (Generation Without a Future), Art Zoyd’s third LP originally released in 1980 through Atem Records, returns to the sound (and lineup, plus Daniel Denis (Univers Zero)) of the group’s first album, Symphonie Pour le Jour où Brûleront les Cités. The 17-minute “La Ville” is a powerful epic, featuring Thierry Zaboïtzeff’s prehistoric grunts, complex time shifts, and a tribal/ritualistic feel once again close to the spirit of Magma. But unlike “Musique pour l’Odyssée” (the title-track of Art Zoyd’s second album), the music here is fast-paced, less atmospheric, more organized. It plays on the tension that would remain the basis of Art Zoyd’s originality: a tribal, atavistic feel contrasting with contemporary classical aesthetics. Actually, Génération Sans Futur may lean more toward the contemporary side, as exemplified by pieces like “Divertissement,” “Trois Miniatures,” and the manic “Speedy Gonzales.” “Génération Sans Futur,” on the other hand, taps into a more visceral progressive rock format and percussionist Daniel Denis actually gets to play drums for a couple of minutes, giving the piece an unusual drive. A strong album, unavailable for years, now reissued with new artwork.
File Under: Prog, Classical, Avant Garde
Meg Baird: Don’t Weigh Down The Light (Drag City) LP
MEG BAIRD is back! Don’t Weigh Down the Light is her first album since 2011’s Seasons On Earth, and it arrives alive with mystery and color buoyed by a voice that’s a warm, mesmerizing call across time. Meg Baird’s last decade would be remarkable by any artist’s standards. She co-founded and recorded three albums with Espers; one of the most distinctive and hypnotic bands of the century’s first decade. She recorded two solo LPs for Drag City: Dear Companion and Seasons on Earth. She also collaborated with Will Oldham, Kurt Vile, Sharon Van Etten, and Steve Gunn and toured with the legendary Bert Jansch. And while it’s been four years since her last release, the days since have been anything but restful. She played drums and recorded with Philadelphia cave punks Watery Love, and toured with Michael Chapman, Michael Hurley, Vile, Cass McCombs, Hiss Golden Messenger, and Lambchop. And after more than a decade as a fixture in Philadelphia’s boiling-over musical scene, Meg moved west to San Francisco where she joined forces (as drummer and lead vocalist) with members of Comets on Fire and Assemble Head to form the moody and thunderous Heron Oblivion. She also wrote and recorded this LP. Like Meg’s previous LPs (and much of Espers output,) the foundation of Don’t Weigh Down the Light is her lyrical, precise, and propulsive fingerstyle guitar work and a voice that moves from soaring and tender to soothing and spellbinding. A voice that more than a few have likened to folk’s greatest female voices: Sandy Denny, Jacqui McShee, and Shirley Collins.
File Under: Folk
Butthole Surfers: Independent Worm Saloon (Plain) LP
“Independent Worm Saloon is the major-label debut by the Butthole Surfers originally released by Capitol Records in 1993. Riding the wave of the early ’90s alternative explosion the band used some of that major label money and hired former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones as producer and the result is a tight in your face album that didn’t tone down the band at all. Gibby Haynes is in fine form with his often hilarious and bizarre vocals and lyrics working their way into your brain on all out rockers like ‘Who Was in My Room Last Night?’ and ‘Goofy’s Concern’ and on the more mellow numbers such as ‘The Ballad of Naked Man’ and ‘You Don’t Know Me.’ First time ever domestic vinyl release.”
File Under: Punk, Weirdo, Grunge, 90s
Container: LP 3 (Spectrum Spools) LP
Ren Schofield’s Container took the world of underground electronic music by storm with the debut LP in 2011. Following massive amounts of touring and the powerful follow-up LP, LP, in 2012, the project became a must-experience staple everywhere from U.S. basements to Berghain. After two fantastic EP recordings on Morphine and Liberation Technologies, Container returns with the first full-length album since 2012, simply titled LP. LP is the most explosive offering in the Container oeuvre, capturing the raw and unhinged essence of the live Container experience while exploring new compositional and sonic limits. Opener “Eject” wastes no time with its instant feedback squeal backed by a barrage of pounding, distorted percussion. The concomitant storm of misfiring FX and derailed drum patterns sets the stage for the aural pandemonium to come. “Remover” and “Peripheral” are dense and intricate structural compositions ruthless in their delivery and infectious in rhythm, stretching the known limits of the project’s sound into welcome new realms. Tracks like “Appliance” and “Cushion” find Schofield in his most vicious form, with floor-destroying tempos and a miraculously adroit sense of arrangement. Somehow, LP manages to simultaneously be the most palatable and most damaged contribution yet. Patchwork polyrhythm motifs, melodic (albeit fully blasted) hook sensibilities, and ballistic synthesized sounds are melted down together and shaped into some of the most rewarding, enjoyable works yet heard on any of the LP offerings. The closing “Calibrate” pounds with a hypnotic churn, growing into a stasis of red-hot squelches and deranged electronic malfunction that recalls some of the earliest tape works Schofield created. LP gives a sense of “full circle,” blurring the end and the beginning into a baffling riddle that can only be admired and never solved. Schofield has enigmatically crafted his most insane Container album to be the most architecturally dexterous and club-minded, never compromising his fundamentals while evolving the project in an utterly satisfying fashion. LP is his most locked-in full-length recording to date, long overdue and absolutely essential.
File Under: Electronic, Techno, Industrial
Czarface: Every Hero Needs a Villain (Brick) LP
Includes the first issue of the Death & Abduction comic book. “CZARFACE — Wu-Tang founding MC Inspectah Deck and veteran Boston duo 7L & Esoteric — isn’t concerned with the glitz and the B.S. that modern consumer culture is pushing. And neither are the group’s fans. In 2013, the trio appeared relatively unassumingly with their self-titled debut, which was chiefly produced by DJ 7L and included guests ranging from Ghostface Killah and Cappadonna to Vinnie Paz, Action Bronson and Roc Marciano. The soon-to-be acclaimed group found out quickly that there was a groundswell of hip-hop fanatics thirsting for the lunchpail, lyrics-above-all-else rap they fell in love with in the ’90s. Several pressings of the album on CD, 2-LP and even cassette later, they are back and ready to up the ante. The fighting analogy — whether drawn from pugilism or ’80s wrestling, both which figure into Every Hero Needs A Villain — is an apt one, considering the unrelenting lyrical attacks that Deck and Esoteric unleash on track after track, each trying to one-up the previous verse. Best of all, it is friendly camaraderie, based around a loose theme of renegade mutant MC talents running wild. DJ 7L explains, ‘All three of us are influenced by comics, sci-fi movies, TV, wrestling. Czarface encompasses all of that, and it helps with the visuals as well.’ On the production side, 7L shows yet again — as he did with the group’s debut — that he remains a formidable yet underappreciated musical force, constantly providing hard, funky and alternatingly ominous backdrops for the assembled MCs to use as lyrical luge paths.”
File Under: Hip Hop, Wu-Tang
Arnold Dreyblatt: Second Selection (Black Truffle) LP
“Black Truffle is honored to present a major collection of archival recordings by seminal minimalist composer, performer, instrument builder and visual artist Arnold Dreyblatt. Following on from the archival compilation Choice (Choose Records, 2013), Second Selection presents eleven pieces selected by Oren Ambarchi from Dreyblatt’s extensive archive of previously unreleased recordings. Recorded in beautifully varying fidelity between 1978 and 1989, the pieces range from solo works to documents of various iterations of Dreyblatt’s long running Orchestra of Excited Strings. The ensemble pieces here possess the singular, hypnotic quality of Dreyblatt’s vintage work, underpinning the shimmering overtones of his self-devised twenty note microtonal scale with primordial, thudding rhythms that undergo surprising but economical shifts in group dynamics and sonic density. Like the court music of some imaginary ancient civilization, this music unfolds unhurriedly, relinquishing traditional melodic and harmonic movement in favor of a single-minded search for the world of sound inherent in a single string. There is much to wonder over here for the Dreyblatt connoisseur, including variants of pieces found on classics such as Nodal Excitations and Propellers in Love. But Second Selection also unearths some elements of Dreyblatt’s work that have gone undocumented until now, including an incredible pair of solo pieces for modified electric guitar and electronics performed in Europe in 1988. The second of these, ‘Luftmenschen II’, has to be heard to be believed, consisting of 15 minutes of insistent and frenetic rhythmic irregularity sourced to multiple electric guitars run through a digital noise gate controlled by a recording of malfunctioning escalators. Second Selection is presented as a high-spec gatefold double LP with archival liner notes including contemporaneous selections from Dreyblatt’s notebooks and an early conversation between Dreyblatt and Phill Niblock. This is both a gold mine for long-term fans and an ideal introduction for those still awaiting initiation into Dreyblatt’s rapturous science of the string. These are stunning examples of one of the most unique and fully realized sound-worlds of contemporary music; as Dreyblatt always recommends, they are best experienced at maximum volume!” –Francis Plagne. Artwork design by Stephen O’Malley. Vinyl cut made by Rashad Becker at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin.
File Under: Experimental, Classical
Eyeless in Gaza: Rust Red September (Let Them Eat Vinyl) LP
A welcome re release of this early and much sought after classic Eyeless In Gaza album. Rust Red September finds the group further moving away from the brusquer hooks of its earliest days to a calmer reflectiveness. Eyeless In Gaza remain a curiously attractive band; their uniqueness and Englishness making a record like ‘Rust Red September’ very treasurable indeed.
File Under: New Wave, Electronic, Ambient
Eyeless in Gaza: Drumming The Beating Heart/Pale Hands I Loved So Well (Let Them Eat Vinyl) LP
This double LP brings together two classic Eyeless In Gaza albums, on limited edition coloured vinyl for the first time. Eyeless In Gaza are a post-punk/new wave musical duo of Martyn Bates and Peter Becker. This double LP brings together two classic Eyeless in Gaza albums.
File Under: Electronic, New Wave, Ambient
Faith Healer: Cosmic Troubles (Mint) LP
Long before Jessica Jalbert began recording under the Faith Healer moniker, she fostered a tight collaborative friendship with fellow Edmonton-bred polymath Renny WIlson. They’ve made boppy garage rock in Tee-Tahs, kicked up a racket in Punk Explosion, and even played in a smattering of cover bands. In 2011, Wilson was a key contributor to Jalbert’s solo album Brother Loyola. So when Jalbert set about creating her first album as Faith Healer, she naturally called on her old buddy to help out. The result of these productive sessions is the debut LP Cosmic Troubles. Jalbert wrote this material while absorbing a steady diet of psychedelic rock from the ’60s and ’70s. This fixation translates into inventive songs that combine the sun-kissed sparkle of classic pop harmonies with head-swimming trippiness and forays into thundering fuzz. She and Wilson played all of the instruments themselves, with the latter also handling production duties. Cosmic Troubles captures the warmth of the Summer of Love along with an eclectic sense of anything-goes adventurousness. Clearly, Jalbert and Wilson bring the best out in one another. They have already covered a lot of ground over the years, but Cosmic Troubles is their greatest triumph. Pressed on dark red vinyl and includes free digital download.
File Under: Indie Rock, Local, CanCon
Greg Foat Group: Dancers at the Edge of Time (Jazzman) LP
Includes printed inner sleeve. Limited to 1000 copies. This major release from The Greg Foat Group sees the celebrated jazz quintet making the most of the acoustics of an ancient church, accompanied by a full ensemble of supporting musicians. The fourth album from the celebrated jazz combo will further delight Foat fans who have been consistently enthralled by the taste and finesse with which they execute their beguiling arrangements and instrumentation. During England’s long, hot summer of 2014, a couple of tons of vintage studio gear were bundled into an ancient church on the charming and picturesque village of Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. There the centuries-old church organ was the centerpiece and the Group was accompanied by a string quartet and woodwinds to create a musical style like no other. The resulting hauntingly sublime sounds need not only fill vaulted chapel ceilings, but our hearts and ears as well. Recorded across three of the hottest days in that summer, direct to one-inch tape, with all the rich, live analog sound and the hallowed magnificence that church acoustics can bring, The Dancers at the Edge of Time features the classic Foat Group with guesting local musicians and friends, and celebrates the summertime and beach ambience of living on the island.
File Under: Jazz
Nils Frahm: Victoria OST (Erased Tapes) LP/CD
Nils Frahm presents his first film score, composed for single-take feature film Victoria (2015). Filmed in Berlin, Victoria centers on a runaway party girl who’s asked by three friendly men to join them as they hit the town. Their wild night of partying suddenly turns into a bank robbery as the music changes from techno to subdued piano sounds. For the recording session at Studio P4 in Berlin, Frahm enlisted the help of long-time collaborator and cellist Anne Müller, violist Viktor Orri Árnason, and ambient artist Erik K. Skodvin of Deaf Center on guitar. “Dear viewer and listener, I’ve finally written music for a film. It took me some time to do so, as I was patiently waiting for a movie that would truly speak to me. When director Sebastian Schipper invited me to work on Victoria, I knew it was worth the long wait. Does such a strong film even need music? I realised it wouldn’t be easy to create a score that embraces these bold pictures. Luckily we were given unusual creative freedom by approaching the movie together with Sebastian Schipper, who was keeping the production and direction to one single team. The score was recorded in a special location, the former GDR broadcasting production facilities that today host Studio P4. We simply put a big screen in the middle of the room, filled it with microphones and instruments, set the movie on loop and kept improvising on top of it together — my good friends and I. The guest musicians started their recording session by playing a cohesive take over the course of the whole movie. This was the most interesting part of the day, since they hadn’t seen the film before. They became spectators and creators at once, intuitively recording hundreds of different cues that way. You are about to listen to some of its highlights. I hope they do Victoria and your ears justice. With love, Nils Frahm.” Victoria was awarded the Berlinale Film Festival prize for Best Cinematography and received seven Deutscher Filmpreis nominations, including a nomination for Best Score. The release of this soundtrack follows the film’s release in Germany on June 11, 2015, and precedes an international release in the UK and beyond. The soundtrack opens with an edit of “Burn With Me” by German producer DJ Koze.
File Under: OST, Electronic, Ambient, Classical
Hayvanlar Alemi: Visions of a Psychedelic Ankara (Glitterbeat) LP
Formed by three school friends in the Turkish capital of Ankara in 1999, Hayvanlar Alemi have established themselves at the vanguard of global psychedelic sound. Their acclaimed 2010 album Guarana Superpower (SF 062CD) was released on the buzz-label Sublime Frequencies and showcased the band’s unrepentant eclecticism and wide-eyed cosmic spirit. Interfacing with the golden age of Turkish psychedelic rock, surf music, Cambodian pop, West African guitar motifs, Middle Eastern traditional music, and the knife-edge of indie rock, it was clear from the beginning that Hayvanlar Alemi was an instrumental rock band for our radically interconnected millennium. But in 2010 they also recorded and released (online) a dramatically different sort of album. The band had flirted with dub-reggae stylings since their inception and with Visions of a Psychedelic Ankara they at last realized their dream of making a full-blown dub album, though clearly a dub album that also embraced their own agenda. The album includes covers of the Eek-a-Mouse classic “Assassinator” and a legendary Turkish radio jingle, and blends together re-workings of older Hayvanlar Alemi songs with freshly minted, dubwise explorations. Drummer Işık Sarıhan explains the album’s inception this way: “We were listening to a lot of dub and reggae during the days leading up to this album. We even ended up playing in a reggae festival at some point; we were invited for some reason, maybe because we had some reggae rhythms on a bunch of songs on the previous demos. Anyway, we had this fantasy of creating a dub record, but in our own psych-rock fashion which led to Visions of a Psychedelic Ankara. The title is a reference to the African Head Charge album Vision of a Psychedelic Africa.” Visions of a Psychedelic Ankara is the flashpoint where dub music and global psych-rock melt together. It is a feast for all well-appointed sonic explorers. This is its first vinyl release, pressed on 180-gram vinyl, presented in a gatefold sleeve, and limited to 500 copies. Side A is the complete Visions of a Psychedelic Ankara (2010) and side B is a collection of related, previously unreleased songs and experiments titled Selected Visions (2009-2011).
File Under: Turkish, Psych, Surf, Dub
Helm: Olympic Mess (Pan) LP
London-based experimentalist Luke Younger (aka Helm) returns to PAN with Olympic Mess, a record born of destructive practice, competing desires, and troubled optimism. Where his previous effort, 2014’s The Hollow Organ, dealt in dense, distressed sonics, Olympic Mess is Younger responding to a period spent engaged with loop-based industrial music, dub techno, and balearic disco. These musical references, all of which can induce hypnotic states and feelings of euphoria, inform ten evocative aural landscapes that unfurl over the course of an hour and act almost as a counterpoint to the turmoil that spawned them. “It’s about exploring a perverse desire to pull the rug from under yourself, and the struggle to achieve a healthy equilibrium between one’s personal and artistic lives,” Younger says. “Dealing with the problematic consequences of pushing your own limits, forming and dissolving relationships, transient lifestyles, physical and mental exhaustion, excess, and other kinds of personal chaos.” Crafted using an array of heavily processed samples, found sound, and electroacoustics, personal conflict manifests in “I Exist in a Fog” and “Outerzone 2015,” in which visceral noise disintegrates into veiled, ambient strata. The disquieting crescendos of “The Evening in Reverse” and “Fluid Cloak” offer no such relief, while the title-track and “Don’t Lick the Jacket” are mineral, multilayered abstractions twisting around a brittle pulse. Following a period of extensive touring throughout the States and Europe, which included 20 dates in support of Danish punk group Iceage, Olympic Mess was recorded in London, New York, and Berlin by Sean Ragon, Luke Younger, and John Hannon. The album is mastered and cut by Rashad Becker at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin. It features photography by Kim Thue and artwork by Bill Kouligas.
File Under: Electronic, Dark Ambient, Techno
The Orb: Moonbuilding (Kompakt) 3LP
Deluxe triple LP version. Includes two exclusive jams plus a J Dilla tribute on the bonus record. Includes CD. Housed in a gorgeous tri-fold sleeve. Iconic electronic music pioneers The Orb return to Kompakt with Moonbuilding 2703 AD, another major slice of psychedelic synth bliss, obscure loops, and deep ambient textures tossed in swinging breakbeats and powerful basslines. Installing a forward momentum rather unusual for a genre-defying project like this, the latest effort from masterminds Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann follows their 2005 album success on Kompakt, the cheekily named Okie Dokie It’s The Orb On Kompakt — as well as several contributions to Kompakt’s Speicher and Pop Ambient series — but, more importantly, it finds the legendary duo at the peak of its creativity, ringing in another essential phase in what can only be called a groundbreaking career. True to form, Moonbuilding 2703 AD features a small track list, but turns each one of its four cuts into a mini-epic in its own right. Opener “God’s Mirrorball” hits the ground floating, employing a handful of cozy statics to great effect before finally discharging into an intricate mosaic of atmospheric, melodic sketches and gripping rhythms. With a hypnotic runtime of more than 14 minutes, it immediately establishes a blueprint for the other album tracks to follow, perfectly illustrating the vast extent of the artists’ vision and their impressive skills in luring in listeners — welcome to The Orb’s sonic labyrinth, where nothing is what it seems and the unexpected waits just around the corner. Likewise, follow-up track “Moonscapes 2703 BC” presents itself as a uniquely versatile affair sitting comfortably between ambient flourishes and beat-driven focus, holding as many twists and turns as a caper movie, but carefully grounding every single one of its cliffhangers in its impeccable flow. With a runtime of approximately nine minutes, “Lunar Caves” is the shortest jam of the bunch — and also the most ethereal, keeping its rhythmic content to a bare, pulse-like minimum and opting for enticing, freewheeling synth textures instead. Album closer and title cut “Moonbuilding 2703 AD” introduces a surprisingly jazzy vibe mingling rather well with the wealth of electronic tricks up its sleeve — even indulging in abrasive bass sweeps and a breathtaking multitude of different rhythm sections constantly switching places. It’s a fitting closing act for a full-length as multifaceted as this, as idiosyncratic as possible and as muscular as needed. Cover design by iconic graphic wizards The Designers Republic.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Dub
Pig Rider: Robinson Scratch Theory (Guerssen) LP
Bedroom/lo-fi psychedelia by unsung heroes of the ’80s DIY cassette culture scene. From outsider synth-pop to Barrett-esque lysergic folk; from lo-fi garage-punk to basement prog: acid-fuzz guitars, cheap keyboards, primitive electronics, homemade vibes, and bizarre, funny lyrics. Pig Rider were formed in Kent, UK, in the late ’60s by John Mayes and Colin Kitchener. With the help from some friends they recorded and self-released a series of acetate-only psych-folk albums in the mid-’70s (Heterophonies, Bloody Turkey Sandwiches…), which are prime examples of early DIY psychedelic music, highly sought-after since a review of Heterophonies appeared in Richard Morton Jack’s Galactic Ramble book. In 2013, collector Alexandre Mansuy (from the influential Somewhere There Is Music blog) found Mayes and Kitchener and was astonished when they told him their story: Heterophonies was only one of their many, many great recordings, 22 in all, including 45s, acetates, and tapes. Thanks to Mansuy, Guerssen is launching a comprehensive Pig Rider reissue campaign, starting with The Robinson Scratch Theory. The compilation includes tracks originally recorded between 1980 and 1986 and released as private cassettes. Pig Rider’s sound brings to mind obscure DIY bands like The Desperate Bicycles, Instant Automatons, or Beyond the Implode — if those bands knew how to write catchy and well-crafted songs. But the most amazing thing is that Pig Rider were creating this kind of music for their own amusement without any knowledge of the post-punk or DIY movement. Although they were listening to bands like the Bonzos, Pink Floyd, and The Misunderstood — “I played their ‘Children of the Sun’ 45 until the groove was worn out!” says Kitchener — Pig Rider claim that the main influence on what they played was the availability of instruments and what they could do with them — not always what they were designed for — and always pushing their limits. The Robinson Scratch Theory is presented in master tape sound with an insert/booklet containing detailed liner notes and photos. The compilation is released in advance of first-ever reissues of two of Pig Rider’s ultra-rare ’70s acetates, Bloody Turkey Sandwiches (1974) and Heterophonies (1975). Welcome to the twisted world of one of the truly pioneering DIY psychedelic pop bands.
File Under: Psych, Bedroom Lo-Fi
Racker & Orphan: Sounds of Insects (Hood Faire) 10″
In one form or another all insects produce sound. Many of these are audible to the human ear whilst others go unheard by us without the aid of specialist audio equipment. Sounds of Insects sees N.Racker (Pre-Cert Home Entertainment) and David Orphan (Folklore Tapes) calling into question the value of human modes of communication, taking due care to unravel the innermost workings of the arthropod mind. Bringing to mind elements of the work of artists like Faust, Pierre Henry and Autechre, Sounds of Insects is a mysterious synthesis of specialized field recording, homemade instrumentation and sympathetic reassembling where it is uncertain where one sound source ends and another begins. A direct homage to the Scholastic Folkways Sounds Of Insects recordings by Albro T. Gaul and informed by viewing countless nature documentaries, this artifact attempts to form an entomological soundscape of wonder and intrigue, a minutiae of alien environments and meetings. Plays at 45rpm. Limited edition of 250 copies — housed in a reverse board sleeve with protective bag.
File Under: Electronic, Field Recordings, Concrete
Don Robertson: Celestial Ascent (Black Sweat) LP
If his 1969 debut album, Dawn, offered a magical ethnic sound from an 80-string guitar-zither, American multi-instrumentalist Don Robertson’s 1980 follow-up, Celestial Ascent, uses the Austro-Germanic instrument as a viaticum for a timeless journey into the depths of the soul and psyche. The album was originally released as a cassette, and this is its first reissue since then. Traditionally designed to accompany the singing of psalms in religious communities, here the zither is the perfect way to explore the power and the formal purity of the natural pentatonic scales of eastern derivation, investigated by Robertson in New York City at the end of the ’60s. According to the same respect for the cosmic rhythms also found in Indian ragas, the album is divided into two parts: the first side (“Oracle of Love”) is the music of the day, while the second (“Isis Unveiled”) is the sound of the night. “Music for Elevation and Transformation” with an extraordinarily peaceful effect and a holistic and transcendent approach that aligns it with other investigations of the sacred sound, like those of Stephan Micus, Paul Horn, or Deuter.
File Under: New Age, Ambient
Royal Jesters: English Oldies (Numero) LP
Twenty-eight homespun stunners from the Alamo City’s scrappiest souleros. The Royal Jesters were the kings of San Antonio’s cross-cultural teen scene in the 1960s, soundtracking lovelorn slow dances with their heart-sick harmonies. For the first time, English Oldies gathers the best early doo-wop, R&B, and blazing Latin rock and soul from these Tex-Mex masterminds—a simmering melting pot of diverse regional flavors, best served hot.
File Under: Doo-wop, R&B, Soul
Dasha Rush: Sleepstep (Raster-Noton) LP
Sleepstep’s subtitle, Sonar Poems for My Sleepless Friends, describes its underlying concept — Sleepstep is a trip through electronically alienated micro-compositions and sound collages that, interwoven with text passages, aim at creating a dream-like atmosphere. The album’s journey strives for oblivion of time, an immersion, a drifting in universal states — moving through the stations of death, life, birth, grief, desire. The titles often appear to be raw sketches; fugitive, surreal short stories. The musical arrangements are rather subtle and fragile, and, though the pieces are electronically manipulated, no production technique pushes itself to the fore. Dasha Rush’s sonar poems for her sleepless friends are feminine, subtle, and personal reports. A musical dream journey in the form of a classical concept record, and an album that also stands in the tradition of ambient music. Dasha Rush is already known as a techno DJ and producer. Here on Sleepstep, she celebrates her alter ego.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient
Studio Sardena: s/t (Nashazphone) LP
DJ Sardena is a major player in the current electro-shaabi wave that has taken over Egypt in the past few years. Better known locally as mahragan, electro-shaabi is characterized by heavy auto-tuned loud vocals and beats featuring synthesizers and various electronic effects. Studio Sardena, located in the Matariya disctrict of Cairo, is home to a number of singers and produces dozens of tracks every month. This LP compiles five tracks representing Sardena’s very special, stripped-down and minimal mahragan style, featuring an array of major MCs such as Salsa El-Ageeb and Halabessa. Limited to 500 copies pressed on green vinyl.
File Under: Electronic, Electro, Egypt
David Toop: Lost Shadows: In Defence of the Soul (Sub Rosa) LP
Mixed by Lawrence English. Recordings from 1978 by David Toop of Yanomami ritual songs, shamanistic ceremonies, and rainforest sounds. The voices of spirits and animal familiars, ventriloquial illusions of sound in dark spaces, secret spirit languages, the clap of thunder that links shamanic trance with the sleep language of Finnegans Wake… Out of these passages of the everyday, intensity flares like flames caught by a gust of wind. Skin burns or oozes blood, the wind blows up havoc as the spirits move about. Includes 40-page booklet with text and pictures telling the full story of Toop’s fascinating journey in 1978 through the Amazon jungle to meet and record the last Yanomami shamans.
File Under: Ethnic, Field Recordings, Ritutals
Ugly Things #39 Magazine
“We gave two attention-grabbing cover stories this time… Brian Jones was one of ’60s rock’s most iconic stars — and also one of its most maligned and misunderstood. Harvey Kubernik sets the record straight, weaving together interviews with many people who knew or worked with Brian. The Clingers were one of the first all-female rock groups, four beautiful sisters whose story is a gripping saga of teenage drama and determination. We also have an in-depth feature one of the ultimate UK freakbeat groups, The Mickey Finn, and an interview with Michael Des Barres about his rock ‘n’ roll days with Silverhead. Other interviews include Chris Bailey of The Saints, Tim Warren of Crypt Records, and Aussie rocker Ross Wilson of The Pink Finks and Daddy Cool. Plus stories on the San Pedro garage band The Grapes of Wrath, The Soul Vendors, French Ye-Ye girl Annie Philippe, and folk-rock duo David & Anthony. Cyril Jordan of the Flamin’ Groovies revisits 1969-70, and of course there’s our comprehensive review sections covering all the latest reissues, in-depth, and rock ‘n’ roll-related books.”
File Under: Psych, Garage, Magazines
Mary Afi Usuah: Ekpenyong Abasi (Voodoo Funk) LP
A stupendous blend of scintillating highlife, smoking Fela, and spaced-out, funkdafied black jazz, from 1975, reissued for the first time. Mari Affiong Usuah from Oron, by way of Calabar, in southeastern Nigeria, fronting a knockout band led by Daniel “Satch” Asuquo from the Atomic 8 (and formerly of Bobby Benson’s orchestra). The afrofunk cuts are especially killer — with James Brown just percolating through by the end — but it’s a stunning, magnificent album, through and through. Beautifully sleeved, too, with excellent notes by Uchenna from Comb & Razor. “Gob, smacked,” he recalls, about his first listen; “mind, blown.”
File Under: Afrobeat, Highlife, Soul
Moritz Von Oswald Trio: Sounding Lines (Honest Jon’s) LP
The Moritz Von Oswald Trio opens a new chapter. There’s a new configuration to the project, with Tony Allen joining original members Moritz von Oswald and Max Loderbauer. Allen, the legendary drummer who’s amassed a formidable catalog both as a solo artist and as part of Fela Kuti’s band, has taken over percussion duties from Vladislav Delay. Together, von Oswald, Loderbauer, and Allen form something close to a dream team, two masters of the electronic sphere meeting an afrobeat pioneer. Allen had already established a rapport with the group before they entered the studio to record Sounding Lines — he’s been touring with von Oswald and Loderbauer for more than a year, playing live shows around the world. There has been an evolution on each new Moritz Von Oswald Trio record, and Sounding Lines is no different. The album, which was mixed by Ricardo Villalobos, maintains the project’s trajectory — a fearless exploration of dub techno, classical music, and jazz — but the prevailing mood feels looser and more organic than ever before. Allen’s imperious percussive work sits tantalizingly in the mix. His drums meet the electronics of von Oswald and Loderbauer in a way that renders the project in new, vivid colors. There are 4/4 tracks, beatless interludes, and complex jazz structures, with propulsive recordings (“3”) coexisting alongside more languid moments (“1”). Sometimes Allen provides flourishes of drums (notably on “4”) while at other times spectral synths come to the fore (as on “5”). Von Oswald, a masterful composer and arranger with a deep understanding of space, paints the crevices of each composition on Sounding Lines with rich detail. Individually, von Oswald, Loderbauer, and Allen are formidable and hugely influential musicians. As a trio, they’ve conjured something remarkable. Tony Allen, drums; Max Loderbauer, synthesizers; Moritz von Oswald, percussion sequencing, synthesizers, additional electronics. Artwork by Marc Brandenburg.
File Under: Electronic, Dub Techno
M. Zalla: Problemi d’Oggi (Black Sweat) LP
Italian maestro Piero Umiliani, during his period of fascination with psychedelic and electronic atmospheres, composed a good number of musical portraits dedicated, as this title reveals, to the problems of his time. In the early ’70s, Italians were worried about the mafia, terrorism, and social conflicts; and one can sense that the music represents these anxieties in its experimental nature. Dark, disturbing, and unique in the long and extremely productive career of Piero Umiliani. And if, in 2015, titles like “Mondo in Crisi,” “Problemi Sociali,” “Azione Sindacale,” and “Mafia Oggi” sound sadly relevant, it’s even more surprising to find that the music of Problemi d’Oggi (Problems of Today) still sounds alien and unique. The record, released under Umiliani’s M. Zalla alias in 1973, presents various styles, from Pink Floyd atmospheres (or The Braen’s Machine, if you prefer…) to compositions characterized by a great use of drum machines and Moog synthesizers. One listen to the beginning of the opening track “Produzione” justifies the words of Sean Canty (Demdike Stare), citing the music as the first techno/trance track in history. But between the grooves of this record, reissued here for the first time, it’s easy to find moments that many other artist and musicians — from The Residents to Aphex Twin and Four Tet — may have caught during their careers.
File Under: Italian Library, Electronic
Various: A New Life (Jazzman) LP
Thought you knew about British jazz? Think again. Diving into the unknown world of the private pressing, Jazzman Records presents some of the rarest and wildest British jazz ever recorded! The major stars of British jazz such as Stan Tracey, Michael Garrick, and Joe Harriott are now rightly recognized as the giants they were, and the legendary Brit jazz recordings of the 1960s are amongst the most highly-prized of all collectable records. But what happened to jazz in the UK when the recording industry lost faith in it? A New Life is the first survey of British jazz labels and musicians that went their own way in the 1970s, bringing to the light the unknown indie gems and outsider private pressings that let jazz musicians keep the faith into the 1980s. From the time-bending spirit music of London’s Lori Vambe to the psych-jazz of Birmingham’s Poliphony, via Spot the Zebra’s jazz dedication to David Attenborough and Indiana Highway’s modal Christmas carolling, A New Life chronicles a compelling selection of lost and obscure jewels of the British jazz underground. Compiled by Francis Gooding and Duncan Brooker (the team responsible for the acclaimed Next Stop Soweto series), and presented with comprehensive and detailed liner notes with pictures and information on each track, created from interviews with the musicians involved, A New Life is the first major British jazz collection since Gilles Peterson’s Impressed series (2002-2004), and the first ever to shed light on the forgotten legacy of independent, regional, and experimental Brit jazz. All tracks fully licensed and digitally restored. CD includes 24-page booklet with pictures and extensive notes based on original research. Gatefold double LP limited to 1000 copies. Also includes tracks by Joy, Nottingham Jazz Orchestra, Billy Jenkins & The Voice of God Collective, London Jazz IV, Graham Collier, Quincicasm, Frank Evans, Edge, Walsall Youth Jazz.
File Under: Jazz
Various: Thai Beat A Go Go 3 (Subliminal Sounds) LP
Available on vinyl again! Volume three of the legendary Thai Beat compilation including 5 (!) awesome extra tracks that were not previously available on the CD! Incredible and ultra-rare recordings from Thailand in the 1960s. The amazing Thai Beat A Go-Go Vol 3 concentrates on Shadow music string bands, cosmic surf instros, mad garage/beat, mystic go-go organs, wild guitar rave-ups and psychedelic mind-benders, exotic female singers, wild Moog funk, disco madness, funky and soulful with extreme sensuality and emotions, surreal and groovy, all with a totally otherworldly Thai flavor. Experience the blossoming Bangkok night club scene with the exotic bar and lounge go-go bands! These recordings have a sound that’s completely inexplicable, despite the use of standard rock instrumentation and song structures combining a fascinating and primal version of rock n roll, surf, r ‘n’ b — sometimes all in one song. Don’t miss this ultimate Thai ’60s compilation. Limited edition of 1,000 copies worldwide. Housed in a beautiful full-color gatefold sleeve.
File Under: Garage, Beat, Thai
Various: Too Slow To Disco 2 (How Do You Are?) LP
More late ’70s/early ’80s West Coast yacht-pop you can almost dance to! Buoyed by the incredible love felt for Too Slow to Disco in summer 2014, Berlin’s renowned pop archaeologist, that master musical excavator DJ Supermarkt, has leapt straight back into the soft-top and been out digging for the lost gems you’ll find here on volume two. This is another perfect collection of missing-in-action, late ’70s/early ’80s smooth, singer/songwriter, AOR-paced, yacht-based pop and blue-eyed soul. Every song brims over with that West Coast sunshine, and for this second volume DJ Supermarkt/Mellow Mafia have dug even deeper into obscure corners of LA, London, even Cologne, to create an even more potent soundtrack to that lost world that’s somehow always with us. So join another sunset trip in the company of these lost luminaries. Bask in every detail of that glorious over-production, and recall an era when the music industry had the time, money, and sheer musical talent to make everything BIG. Pay no mind to the cynics, the cooler-than-thou-erati, or the buzzkills of the sincerity police. These are big tunes that deserve to be hits, even if it’s taken 40 years to get there, driving slowly up that winding California coast road in the wonderful warm summer air. CD includes O-card and liner notes; double LP pressed on heavyweight vinyl and presented in gatefold sleeve with poster and download code. Includes tracks by Daryl Hall & John Oates, Ben Sidran, Jimmy Gray Hall, Eric Kaz, Leblanc & Carr, Dave Raynor, R & J Stone, Larsen/Feiten Band, Byrne and Barnes, Paul Davis, Joe Vitale, Niteflyte, Bruce Hibbard, Streetplayer, Michael Omartian, and Michael Nesmith.
File Under: Yacht Rock, Almost Disco
Alt-J: An Awesome Wave (Infectious) LP
Mulatu Astatke: Ethio Jazz (Heavenly Sweetness) LP
Beatles: Let It Be (Apple) LP
Big Black: Songs About Fucking (Touch & Go) LP
Black Keys: El Camino (Nonesuch) LP
Brotzmann/Wertmuller/Pliakas: Full Blast (Jazzwerkstatt) LP
Tim Buckley: Happy Sad (4 Men With Beards) LP
Daft Punk: Random Access Memories (Columbia) LP
Dettinger: Intershop (Kompakt) LP+CD
Eric Dolphy: Out to Lunch (Blue Note) LP
Electric Wizard: Dopethrone (Rise Above) LP
Alemeyehu Eshete: Ethiopian Urban Modern Music (Heavenly Sweetness) LP
Expo 70: Where Does your Mind Go? (Immune) LP
FKA Twigs: LP 1 (Young Turks) LP
Flower Travelin’ Band: Satori (Phoenix) LP
Flying Lotus: Until the Quiet Comes (Warp) LP
Nils Frahm: Solo (Erased Tapes) LP/CD
Funkadelic: Standing on the Verge… (4 Men With Beards) LP
Funkadelic: Tales of Kidd Funkadelic (4 Men With Beards) LP
Future Islands: Singles (4AD) LP
Elias Hulk: Unchained (Sommer) LP
Bobby Hutcherson: Oblique (Heavenly Sweetness) LP
Imaginary Softwoods: s/t (Digitalis) LP
Jamie XX: In Colour (XL) LP/3LP
Kavinsky: Outrun (Rec) LP
Kenney/Kang/Parker: At Temple Gate (Weyrd Son) LP
Laraaji: Celestial Music (All Saints) 3LP
LCD Soundsystem: 45:33 (DFA) LP
Hailu Mergia: s/t (Awesome Tapes From Africa) LP
Metallica: Master of Puppets (Blackened) LP
My Morning Jacket: Waterfall (ATO) LP
Milton Nascimento: Clube Da Esquina (4 Men With Beards) LP
The National: Boxer (Beggars) LP
Neu: Vinyl Box (Gronland) 5LP
Nirvana: Nevermind (Geffen) LP
Nisennenmondai: Live (Clouds) LP
Nisennenmondai: N (Petite Blast First) LP
Penny Penny: Shaka Bunda (Awesome Tapes From Africa) LP
Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here (EMI) LP
Lou Ragland: I Travel Alone (Numero) 3LP
Smashing Pumpkins: Siamese Dream (Virgin) LP
Smiths: Meat is Murder (Rhino) LP
Vampire Weekend: s/t (XL) LP
Townes Van Zandt: Late Great.. (Omnivore) LP
Jack White: Blunderbuss (Thirdman) LP
Jack White: Lazaretto (Thirdman) LP
Various: Funky Chicken Vol 1 (SDBan) LP
Various: Funky Chicken Vol 2 (SDBan) LP
Various: Wizzz! 1 (Born Bad) LP
Various: Wizzz! 2 (Born Bad) LP
Various: Wizzz! 3 (Born Bad) LP