Finally! I’ve finished my reno’s just in time for Festival season! Which makes the traffic in the store a little bit light, but for those of you who do come in, we’ve got lots of great new and used stuff hitting the shelves every day.
Also, next Wednesday, if you are bored and like to drink, I’ll be spinning records at Daravara from 9-12. Come have a drink or four and let me play some records for ya.
…..picks of the week…..
Not Waving: Voices (Not Waving) LP
Alessio Natalizia’s limited three-volume Voices cassette series (2014) is reworked and extended for this limited double vinyl release, marking a point of transition for Natalizia’s Not Waving project in advance of a crushing dancefloor album for Diagonal, forthcoming at the time of this release. These 18 reshaped mixes of the tapes’ original 23 tracks are shuffled up like a deck of tarot cards to form a new narrative. Drawing inspiration from Ivan Pavlov, Oliver Sacks, B. F. Skinner, and “the relationship between perception, memory, attention and comprehension,” they render a quietly burning mind full of ideas and synæsthetic sensation, from the lush drone harmonics of “A Part of Thought” to pulsing EBM lab golems like “The Behaviourist Approach,” with a really special touch for beautifully wistful, Eldritch/Italian analog electronics in the likes of “No Kill” or lump-in-throat closer “Voices.” Perhaps the best comparison would be with Pye Corner Audio’s Black Mill volumes, but Not Waving’s varied yet coherent aesthetic feels more like a lost compilation of library music or early industrial music than the work of one super-talented guy. Mastered and cut by Matt Colton. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!
File Under: Ambient, Electronic, Retro
Omar Souleyman: Bahdeni Nami (Monkeytown) LP/CD
Perhaps Syria’s most successful musical export, international singer Omar Souleyman returns with his second proper studio effort and most personal album to date, Bahdeni Nami. For the album Souleyman opened his doors to collaborations with a number of renowned electronic producers, all of whom were established fans eager to offer unique interpretations of his sound. Four Tet returns to produce a track, Gilles Peterson lends his considerable talents to one song, Modeselektor turn in the two fastest dance numbers of the set, and Legowelt offers a remix of the title-track. Additionally, a 7″ planned for release in August 2015 will feature a thoroughly distinctive remix of one of the album’s heartrending ballads by The Black Lips’ Cole Alexander. Bahdeni Nami was recorded closer to home, in Istanbul, and appropriately the singer is joined by traditional accompaniment. Souleyman has reunited with his favorite poet, Ahmad Alsamer (who penned his pre-west hits “Kaset Hanzel,” “Khattaba,” and “Shift -al Mani”), heard throughout the album offering claps and wails of encouragement. The songs come alive with musical contributions and support from the virtuosic sax work of Khaled Youssef, another longtime collaborator from his hometown. Rizan Sa’id’s keyboards improvise devotedly to every tune and turn of Souleyman’s choice. The lyrics are familiar territory for the singer — declarations of eternal love, consolation of one’s aching heart, pleas to his lover to sleep in his arms forever — realized as four fast dance numbers, an introduction mawal, and an elaborate araby style ballad. Omar Souleyman continues to tirelessly bring his wild dance party to all corners of the globe, everywhere from SXSW to the Nobel Peace Prize Concert to rock clubs in cities around the world. Originating from the Hasake region of Syria, Souleyman earned his reputation by singing and leading years of weddings, birthdays, christenings, corporate parties, and more, answering invitations from all peoples living in the region — be they Muslims, Christians, Kurds, Iraqis, Syrians, Assyrians. Those parties yielded hundreds of cassette tapes at first offered as gifts and later distributed throughout the region and other Arab countries. Despite the world’s insistence in associating him with his home country’s unending war, Omar Souleyman gives back nothing but love.
File Under: Syrian, Dabke, Wedding Singers
Alvarius B: Chin Spirits (Durga) (Unrock) 10″
Unrock’s Saraswati series continues with a trip into the spiritual wonderland of Alvarius B. aka Alan Bishop (Sun City Girls, Invisible Hands). Deep down, heavy, Sun-City-Girls-flavored Dada deluxe. Crackling midgets, purist psychedelia. A cocoon of seven colorful, shiny monoliths of essential nonsense, each dirty pearl standing by itself. Limited edition one-time pressing.
File Under: Sun City Girls, Weirdness, Guitars
Daniel Bachman: Miscellaneous Ephemera & Other Bullshit (Feeding Tube) LP
“First off, the cover. Let’s make it clear — this was totally Daniel’s idea and is based on the original art for Tony Rice’s California Album (Rebel SLP-1549, 1975). Why? We cannot say exactly. The album is considered to be in Rice’s all-time top five. But so what? Who amongst us can claim to have fully plumbed the depths of Bachman’s mind? The guy is a genius and those types just have ‘their ways.’ So shut up about the cover already. This album itself was released under the title Daniel Bachman by an English label — Lancashire and Somerset — in 2014. But copies evaporated like mom’s milk, so here’s a sonic jug from which we can all suckle with warm ease. Miscellaneous Ephemera is an amazing record — filled to the brim with music that extends the concept of acoustic guitar manipulation beyond the range of mere vaseline machine guns. The pieces range from disruptive scrambles and neo-Tuvan throat aktion worthy of late-period Fahey to Kabra-style ragas and the more easily-anticipated particles of primitive guitar brilliance. There is also some adult content on the second side, so radio programmers — be alert! Bachman has been a growing force in the acoustic underground for a few years now, and this new one really rips a new hole in the side of the style’s star-cluster. Join forces with it today. Or else” –Byron Coley, 2015. Edition of 500.
File Under: Guitar Soli, Folk
The Bachs: Out of the Bachs (Out-sider) LP
’60s garage-psych moody monster! Out of The Bachs was originally released in 1968 as a private pressing of 150 copies; it’s one of the rarest USA ’60s garage/teenbeat albums ever. The band consisted of five young kids from Chicago, regulars at local teen dances, who decided to release an album for their fans before splitting up. Recorded and mixed in just ten hours at a makeshift studio, Out of The Bachs offers 12 amazing self-penned songs with a sound ahead of its time. Pure teenage-angst vocals, crashing Rickenbackers, fuzz outbursts, killer moody tracks… Sadly, all previous reissues of the album failed to capture the true sound of the original, until the Time-Lag label reissued it in 2011 with remastered sound from a pristine original vinyl copy. This reissue uses the same audio master as the out-of-print Time-Lag edition. File next to The Rising Storm, The Fantastic Dee-Jays, The Savages. Includes insert with detailed liner notes and rare photos.
File Under: Garage, Psych, Raers
Alessandro Cortini: Risveglio (Hospital Productions) LP
Though known as a touring and recording musician associated with Nine Inch Nails, Alessandro Cortini has really come into his own via his Forse trilogy, and his 2014 Hospital Productions debut, Sonno (HOS 412CD). For his Hospital follow-up, he maintains the grittiness and intimacy introduced on his debut, but expands on it, offering a wider spectrum of emotion and depth. Like Sonno, Risveglio was written and recorded while on tour. The drive to create intimate works during late-night downtime reveals Cortini to be committed to a personal vision beyond the call of duty. While Sonno was created using only a 202 and delay, Risveglio adds a TB303, synced to the 202. In Cortini’s words, “The 303 can be such a haunting instrument used in a certain way, and I felt it completely fit the mood of the previous work I have done on the 202, especially when given a specific location in space… it’s such a living instrument.” The addition of TR606 gives one of the pieces a rhythmic pulse that separates it from the preceding synthscapes and renders Risveglio an altogether more dynamic affair than Sonno. With Risveglio, Cortini emphasizes the imperfections and visceral textures of electronics absent from so much contemporary solo synthesizer music. He carves out a similar space to that formed by Kevin Drumm’s releases for Hospital in the worlds of drone and noise by finding the emotional and, ultimately, human voice within synthesis.
File Under: Synth, Drone, Nine Inch Nails
Deaf Wish: Pain (Sub Pop) LP
When Deaf Wish found themselves in a room together for the very first time, they agreed on a guiding philosophy: “Let’s not make anything that’s going to last. If we’re together for just two shows, then that’s what it is.” They’ve deviated some. Over the course of eight years, the Melbourne foursome – bassist Nick Pratt, drummer Daniel Twomey and guitarists Sarah Hardiman and Jensen Tjhung, with each member contributing vocals – have instead amassed one of rock’s most exhilarating bodies of work, a concise run of wooly seven-inches and white-knuckle LPs whose legendary live translation has been most accurately described as “unhinged.” All this despite their being scattered across multiple continents, with no way of getting to know one another outside of intermittent touring. “We didn’t really know what this band was,” Tjhung says. “We had something, but it wasn’t clear – we had to figure out what that was.” This year marks the arrival of Pain, the first they’ve written since coming together again semi-permanently in Melbourne, and their appropriately titled first full-length for Sub Pop. The St. Vincent EP was their proper Sub Pop debut. It is a miraculously dissonant, wonderfully immediate display of Deaf Wish at their mightiest, alive with the same wild chemistry and sense of possibility that made their first recordings so vital. With more time together than they’ve ever had before, they’ve found themselves confronted with ideal (yet foreign) conditions. Two-minute freakouts like “Eyes Closed” share airspace with the meditate squall of “On” and the guitar-born majesty of “Calypso.” Everything was captured in three takes or less, in a bleak, nondescript studio on the lifeless outskirts of Melbourne. Pain was mastered by Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Total Control). “It’s a simple thing,” Tjhung says of their approach. “Simple takes the worry out of it. If we try to step it up and go sideways, it just doesn’t seem to work. But we’ve grown up and been through some shit. To get to this point you have to bust through a few walls. It’s easy to be new, and I think, in the end, this is what it is. When you put these people in the room, it’s Deaf Wish.”
File Under: Indie Rock
Mac Demarco: Another One (Captured Tracks) LP/CS
Like the days of Steely Dan, Harry Nilsson or Prince releasing a classic every year (or less) comes Mac DeMarco’s Another One, a mini-LP announced almost one year to the date of the meteorically successful Salad Days. Conceived and recorded entirely by himself in a short period between a relentless tour schedule at his new place in Far Rockaway, Queens, Another One is eight, freshly written songs, expanding the arsenal of Mac’s already impressive catalog. There’s a bittersweet, romantic sensibility present. The overall feeling is lost love, or perhaps love never found, yet Mac embraces this without making it an overly somber experience for the listener. It’s at times haunting and warm, and a bit more refined and sophisticated, but still plenty playful, retaining the guts and soul of classic Mac. With two full-length albums and two EPs released and hundreds of sold out shows performed in the last several years, it seems as Mac DeMarco nears his 25th birthday, he’s outgrowing any sort of slacker stigma.
File Under: Indie Rock
Ducktails: St. Catherine (Domino) LP
Unfurling out of Los Angeles comes St. Catherine, Matt Mondanile’s fifth outing as Ducktails. St. Catherine is a finely-honed collection of baroque pop songs that take the blissful, cascading melodic fretwork that Mondanile has made his signature with both Ducktails and his other band, Real Estate, and applies it to songs of considerable new emotional heft and dynamic range. Mondanile partially wrote and recorded St. Catherine over the course of 2014 and then finished off recording at the start of 2015. The longest time he has ever spent working on a record, it took place in bedrooms and studios predominantly in east LA and Glendale, but venturing as far as Berlin and New York as Mondanile worked on tracks around heavy periods of Real Estate touring. When Mondanile finally settled back in LA at the start of 2015, it was Rob Schnapf, co-producer of Elliott Smith’s classic albums XO and Either/Or, that he turned to in order to help put the finishing touches to St. Catherine. Together, the pair added a new crispness and punch to the record’s more upbeat, psychedelic pop tracks (such as James Ferraro featuring, lolloping lead single “Headbanging In The Mirror,” and the soaring “Into The Sky”), that recalls the artful muscularity of Smith’s later work, whilst title track, the heavenly “St. Catherine” boasts one of Mondanile’s greatest ever lead guitar lines and benefits greatly from Schnapf’s warm, rich feel. Where St. Catherine impresses even more so, however, is when Mondanile steps out of his comfort zone, as he does frequently and with great success. The Julia Holter-featuring “Church” and “Heaven’s Room,” tracks which see Mondanile flex his muscles as a composer and arranger, introducing complex, interlocking vocal harmonies, gorgeously sweeping string parts and a host of off-kilter electronic elements into his sonic palate – channelling the likes of Broadcast, and Stereolab but with a younger, wide-eyed sensibility.
File Under: Indie Rock
Enhet For Fri Musik: Dokument 1 (Holidays) LP
Arisen from the always-surprising Swedish underground (or undergrowth), Enhet för Fri Musik — featuring members of Sewer Election, Ättestupa, Neutral, Makthaverskan, and Blod — gathered in the woods and recorded this music to make all wild souls dance. A real gem. Folk unit mixed with tape music. Loose thin line between composed and improvised, or, as member Dan Johansson defines it, “quite sparse outsider anti-music.” The Enhet starts where Ättestupa left off. Strictly limited to 150 copies, then on to Dokument 2.
File Under: Electronic, Jazz, Improv
Virginia Genta/Dag Stiberg/Jon Wesseltoft/David Vanzan: Det Kritiske Punkt (Feeding Tube) LP
“Spine-tingling free improv fire-blast from an international quartet with deep underground roots. Italian reeds player Genta and drummer Vanzan form the basis for all Jooklo aktion (Duo, Golden, Stellar, et al.). Norwegian reeds dude Stiberg and guitar/electronics manager Jon Wesseltoft also collaborate in Maranata. Together in Olso in 2012, the quartet laid down this very hard-blown and stylish session. There are let-ups in the attack, but there aren’t many. Broken into five parts, ‘Det Kritiske Punkt’ (‘The Critical Point’) surges along like an unbroken chain of climaxes. Even when one or two of the instruments start to move laterally, as though things are preparing to wind down, the other two almost invariably get more sput in their gutteral sails and start to howl like their brain stalks are under attack. The only real break comes on ‘Pt. III’ where it starts to sound like one of the AACM’s little instrument jamborees. But that is a feint. Soon enough you’ll feel your scalp begin to raise again. And it’s off to the races we go. One does not generally think of the Italians and the Norwegians forming an affinity group. But they do share a love of fish. And perhaps sometimes that’s enough.” –Byron Coley, 2015
File Under: Free Improv
Gianni Giublena Rosacroce: Musica da Camera Oscura (Holidays) LP
Gianni Giublena Rosacroce is the solo project of Stefano Isaia (Movie Star Junkies, La Piramide di Sangue), created with the intention of sonically exploring the Middle-Eastern shores of the Mediterranean. After two tape releases and a split 12″, here’s the debut long-player, recorded between home and the mountains with the help of Galilea Mallol between 2013 and 2014 and featuring companions Reverend F. Murphy and Mai Mai Mai on the side-long track “Compendium Maleficarum.” A caravan of percussion — lead by the haunting sound of the clarinet — wandering and dancing between the stands of a crowded market. Edition of 250.
File Under: Experimental, Jazz, Folk, Psych
Alan Jefferson: Galactic Nightmare (Trunk) LP
A homemade 86-minute epic space adventure, conceived, written, played, sung, and illustrated by an amateur musician in his bedroom in Hull, England, from 1979 to 1985, and reissued here for the first time. When Alan Jefferson heard The War of the Worlds, he thought he could make something similar, maybe better. This was in 1979. So, he set about it, with limited equipment — a Moog, a reel-to-reel, a guitar, and some pedals. Six years later, in 1985, Galactic Nightmare was finished, and made available to readers of the magazines Future Music and CU Amiga. Via Jefferson’s advertisement, one could buy a 90-minute chrome cassette of the album, complete with poster and storyfile for £7.99 plus £1 postage. Very few people bought it, but one of the writers for Future Music, Dave Robinson, liked the preview copy that he received. He started playing it for a few people. One of those was a guy called Dave Green, who eventually played it for Stewart Lee in the 1990s. All of them found Galactic Nightmare an addictive, unforgettable musical experience. In 2014, Stewart Lee sent a small snippet of Galactic Nightmare to Jonny Trunk, who, a few months later, wrote to the address in the 1986 advertisement. Two days later Alan Jefferson got in touch, and this double LP reissue of Galactic Nightmare is the result. Jefferson wrote the story, narrated the story, wrote and played the music, sang the songs, and made the artwork, poster, storyfile, et cetera, sometimes fighting against faulty instruments and a dodgy tape machine. Galactic Nightmare is a totally unique recording, joyous in its attempt to create something absolutely epic with very few resources and charming in its attention to detail and almost folk-like naiveté. A great example of an amateur being inspired to make something, getting on with it, sticking with it, and ultimately creating an album that few people will forget once they have heard it. Presented in gatefold matte varnished sleeve bearing the original Galactic Nightmare poster; includes original Galactic Nightmare graphics, plans, musical notation, early sketches, advertisements, et cetera inside the gatefold; notes by Alan Jefferson, Jonny Trunk, Stewart Lee, and Dave Green; and complete storyfile with original illustrations across all four sides of the printed inner sleeves.
File Under: Electronic, Space Rock, Synth Pop, Weird Shit
La Luz: Weirdo Shrine (Hardly Art) LP
For most, a brush with death would be cause for retreat, reflection, and reluctance, but Seattle band La Luz found something different in it: resilience. Having survived a high-speed highway collision shortly after releasing their 2013 debut LP It’s Alive, La Luz, despite lasting trauma, returned to touring with a frequency and tirelessness that put their peers to shame. Over the past year-and-a-half of performing, the band arrived at a greater awareness of their music’s ability to whip eager crowds into a frenzy. In response, frontwoman Shana Cleveland’s guitar solos took on a more unhinged quality. The basslines (from newly-installed member Lena Simon) became more lithe and elastic. Stage-dives and crowd-surfing grew to be as indelible a part of the La Luz live experience as their onstage doo-wop-indebted dance moves. When it came time to record Weirdo Shrine, their second album, the goal was to capture the band’s restless live energy and commit it to tape. In early 2015, Cleveland and Co. adjourned to a surf shop in San Dimas, California where, with the help of producer/engineer Ty Segall, they realized this vision. Tracking most of the album live in shared quarters, La Luz chose to leave in any happy accidents and spur-of-the-moment flourishes that occurred while recording. Cleveland’s newly fuzzed-up guitar solos – which now incorporated the influence of Japanese Eleki players in addition to the twang of American surf and country – were juxtaposed against the group’s most angelic four-part harmonies to date. The organs of Alice Sandahl and the drumming of Marian Li Pino were granted extra heft and dimension. Thematically, Cleveland channeled Washingtonian poet Richard Brautigan on “You Disappear” and “Oranges,” and sought inspiration from Charles Burns’ Seattle-set graphic novel Black Hole. The resulting album is a natural evolution of the band’s self-styled “surf noir” sound – a rawer, turbo-charged sequel that charts themes of loneliness, infatuation, obsession and death across eleven tracks, from the opening credits siren song of “Sleep Till They Die” to the widescreen, receding-skyline send-off of “Oranges” and its bittersweet epilogue, “True Love Knows.” In describing Weirdo Shrine, Segall remarked that it gave him a vision of a “world…burning with colors [he’d] never seen, like mauve that is living.” In “Oranges,” the Brautigan poem which inspired the aforementioned track of the same name, the poet writes of a surreal “orange wind / that glows from your footsteps.” These hue-based allusions are apt: the sound of La Luz is (appropriately) vibrant, and alive with a kaleidoscopic passion. Weirdo Shrine finds them at their most saturated and cinematic.
File Under: Indie Rock, Ty Segall
El Mahdy Jr.: Ghost Tapes (Discrepant) LP
With the haunting collages of Ghost Tapes, El Mahdy Jr goes deeper into his own personal sonic space. “Ghost Tapes is a composition of everyday fragments based on found tapes, field recordings, beats, and radio frequencies. A ruff attempt of interpreting the cultural ghost that surrounds the field and makes the difference between place and space” –El Mahdy Jr, 2015. Mastered and cut by Rashad Becker at Dubplates & Mastering. Pressed at Optimal.
File Under: Experimental, Field Recordings
M.e.s.h.: Piteous Gate (Pan) LP
Following his acclaimed 2014 Scythians EP, M.E.S.H. returns to PAN with his debut album, the opulent and dystopian Piteous Gate. Alongside fellow members of Berlin’s Janus collective, behind nights at Berghain and Corsica Studios, M.E.S.H. is known for his futurist approach to club dynamics and production. On Piteous Gate, tightly gridded and sculpted sound juts up against loose-wristed improvisation, automated processes, and collage. Standard club syncopation is twisted by sliding tempos, cut-and-paste time signatures, and indeterminate pacing. Its sound design and compositions are ornate, even courtly, with neo-feudal moods offset by the recurrence of hydraulic hiss and flanger. A synthetic fuel injector revs opener “Piteous Gate” to life. Drawing from action-scifi film trailers and the sound design of festival trance, its hardcore synthlines shatter into “Optimate” — stately, spatial, and whiplash-luxurious, with meandering cybernetic drumming. “Thorium” sends a slow-motion camera through a melting test reactor; all burnt VSTs and synthetic theorbo and loose drums. “The Black Pill” smears high-end renaissance sample libraries through arcs of static. In “Epithet,” temple sewer atmospheres are ruptured by “Scythians”-style cut-up drums. “Jester’s Visage” indulges a minute-long baroque guitar improv, and territorial youths air their beef in “Kritikal & X.” Closing out the album, “Methy Imbiß” is a machinic rhythm track, and “Azov Seepage” mingles birdlike granular noises with rusted steel clanging. Recorded in Berlin in winter 2015. Mastered and cut by Rashad Becker at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Experimental
Metabolismus Und Fifty-Fifty: A Square Inside a Circle Inside… (Black Sweat) LP
This LP is a documentation of the very first meeting of Stuttgart-based minimalist jazz duo Fifty-Fifty and Swabian sound exploration society Metabolismus. All players draw from decades of experience with different forms of improvisation, using instrumental and electronic sounds known and unknown to spontaneously create an aural environment of complex simplicity. A wide spectrum of group mind expressions can be heard, from the purely abstract to moments of calm reflection. The title is a meditation on the idea of the impossible, beautifully represented by these words from Alexander Pope: “Mad Mathesis alone was unconfined, Too mad for mere material chains to bind, Now to pure space lifts her ecstatic stare, Now, running round the circle, finds it square.” The session was recorded during one afternoon in the summer of 2012 at Sumsilobatem Sound Studio on magnetic tape; any technical imperfections due to the spontaneous nature of the situation were kept in as part of the document. No digital technology was used in the making of this album. Cover art is hand-silkscreened; originally designed by Estuardo Maldonando. “Metabolic music saves you from a life of grey.” –KF
File Under: Electronic, Jazz, Ambient
MV & EE: Alpine Frequency (Feeding Tube) 2LP
“Matt Valentine and Erika Elder have been cutting new synaptic pathways through brainic underbrush since before most people became capable of breathing air. That said, their albums (many of which are CDR-only issues on their own Child of Microtones imprint) often have a specific delirious blueprint, designed to shift only a certain batch of molecules and/or air into forms that translate into music. Such is not the case with Alpine Frequency. This lazily explorative 2LP set was sewn into a whole from various tattered swathes of sound, pieced together like the jeans Neil Young wore on the cover of After the Gold Rush (1970). A Spectrasound production, AF includes appearances by a vast array of MVEE enablers of all known periods — PG Six, Mick Flower, Rafi Bookstaber, Jeremy Earl, Doc Dunn, Spanish Wolfman, and many others emerge from time to time, making sure the water is just right. And it is. Like a very good Dead set, the music here moves from overt abstraction to melodic focus and back like the tracking shots Monte Hellman used in the 1974 film version of Charles Willeford’s Cockfighter (1962). But unlike the Allman Bros. (who were extras in the crowd scenes at Hellman’s staged cock fights), MV&EE don’t do anything to placate the squares. Their trip is as deep, dark, and flowing as a bushel of burning VT weed. Their music sucks you into its vortex (if it allows you in, of course) and then just carries your ass right through to the finish line. All you have to do is get up now and then to change the records. This here outfit (in all its many guises) has put out a lot of great music, but Alpine Frequency feels like a real achievement — a shorthand essay about all that has gone before it. A beautiful capsulization, ready to float onto your ear’s tongue, to melt once and for all. Dig it” –Byron Coley, 2015. Edition of 500.
File Under: Blues, Folk, Cosmic
Stephen O’Malley: Gruides (Demdike Stare) LP
The dark interpreter Stephen O’Malley ov Sunn O))) presents his towering orchestral composition Gruidés, commissioned by French 35-piece improv orchestra ONCEIM — l’Orchestre de Nouvelles Créations, Expérimentations et Improvisation Musicales — and released thru Demdike Stare’s DDS label. In early 2014 O’Malley was approached by pianist and composer Frédéric Blondy to write a work for the orchestra, which is made up of exceptional musicians from the fields of contemporary, jazz, experimental, improvisation, and classical. Understandably intimidated by the prospect, but encouraged to “just be punk rock about it,” the preternaturally gifted composer has conceived a technically demanding — for the players, at least — and richly rewarding long-form drone piece intently focused on harmonic experimentation and overtone study. During its 35-minute lifespan, Gruidés requires the musicians to sustain pitches for several minutes (which is difficult enough for strings, and a real feat of endurance for woodwind), yielding spectra of eliding dissonance rent in sliding tone clusters and lucent geometries punctuated by a similar whipcrack percussion to that used in Sunn O)))’s 2014 collaboration with Scott Walker. It makes great use of the acoustic qualities of Saint Merry church in central Paris, as captured in the recording of IRCAM’s Augustin Muller and mastered by Matt Colton with a detached spaciousness evocatively distilled in Jean-Luc Verna’s cover art. It’s an incredibly immersive piece that comes highly recommended if you’re into the work of Phill Niblock, Alvin Lucier, Ellen Fullman, Harley Gaber, and, indeed, Sunn O))).
File Under: Classical, Drone
Sleaford Mods: Key Markets (Harbinger) LP/CD
Nottingham duo Sleaford Mods present third “proper” album, Key Markets. “Key Markets was a large supermarket bang in the centre of Grantham from the early 1970’s up until around 1980,” explains Jason Williamson. “My mum would take me there and I’d always have a large Coke in a plastic orange cup surrounded by varnished wood trimmings and big lamp shades with flowers on them. Beige bricks with bright yellow points of sale and large black foam letters surrounded you and this is why we called the album Key Markets. It’s the continuation of the day to day and how we see it, the un-incredible landscape.” “The album was recorded in various periods between summer 2014 through to October of that year. We worked fast as we normally do, the method was the same as the other albums and like the other two, the sound has naturally moved itself along. Key Markets is in places quite abstract but it still deals heavily with the disorientation of modern existence. It still touches on character assassination, the delusion of grandeur and the pointlessness of government politics. It’s a classic. Fuck em.” Housed in a gatefold sleeve designed by Steve Lippert; mastered by Matt Colton at Alchemy. Everything else was done by Sleaford Mods. Sleaford Mods are Jason Williamson: words; Andrew Fearn: music.
File Under: Hip Hop, Thug
Ghedalia Tazartes: La bar Mitzvah du Chien (Bisou) LP
Another shamanic journey in Tazartès’s universe. He sings and plays all the instruments and samples, recorded in the very same room as all his other solo records since 1974. Performed, produced, and recorded by Ghédalia Tazartès for Bisou in 2012. Tazartès’s son, Lalo, can be heard on “Don’t Cry for Me, Mamma.” The front cover is a picture of Quentin Rollet, shot by Yannick Ressigeac. The back features a drawing by Lalo Tazartès. Mastered by F/Lor.
File Under: Experimental
Michael Vallera: Distance (Opal Tapes) LP
An Opal Tapes debut from Michael Vallera of the group Cleared, Distance makes a clear case for just how easily industrial and dark ambience swing between beauty and fear, with more than a wink of the gothic that brings to mind a host of classic cvlt missives by Lycia, Vidna Obmana, or Maeror Tri. As with the best of those, these works mark the transition between dream and nightmare. Something chilling, perhaps borne of the subconscious’s twisted ability to fuck you up, but remaining just out of reach. Subtle perfumes linger in the air and a kind of romantic melancholy spreads, but the overwhelming sensation is of a patient and growing dread.
File Under: Ambient, Industrial
Various: My Heart’s In My Hand…. (Shady Lane) 2LP
This double LP, released by NERO magazine and Shady Lane Productions, gathers selected materials, both texts and audio recordings, from Phil Collins’s project of the same name, for which Collins collaborated with guests of Gulliver, a self-described “survival station for the homeless” in Cologne, Germany. There, Collins installed a phone booth for free and unlimited local and international calls, on the condition that the conversations would be recorded and anonymized. Collins sent selected material to an international group of musicians, to serve as the starting point for original songs that he then presented as 7″s in specially-designed listening booths overlooking Cologne’s central train station. Collins produced the work for his 2013 solo exhibition In every dream home a heartache (curated by Anna Brohm), at Museum Ludwig in Cologne, where he first presented it. The work is a headfirst dive into a city, tuning in to its many unheard stories. Having worked for a homeless magazine in the 1990s, Collins has a long-standing interest in issues relating to these communities. Bringing to the fore the lyrical and narrative potential of the human voice when it stands in for those subjects of city life who are purposefully ignored and routinely overlooked, he dramatizes the moment of communication as an emotional and ambivalent exchange. On January 5, 2001, Gulliver opened in a railway arch under the Hohenzollern Bridge, in the immediate vicinity of Cologne’s main train station, the banks of the Rhine, and the old town. Gulliver is the first institution of its kind in Germany, offering a wide range of services with unusually long hours of operation. Collins’s project includes contributions by legendary figures Scritti Politti, David Sylvian, Lætitia Sadier, and Damon & Naomi; trailblazing experimental and indie acts Demdike Stare, Planningtorock, Maria Minerva, Heroin in Tahiti, Pye Corner Audio, and Peaking Lights; and local heroes Elektronische Musk aus: Köln, Pluramon, and Cologne Tape; as well as a special guest turn from the original German superstar, Julia Hummer. The double LP is pressed on 140-gram colored vinyl and includes all of the original tracks and music by those who partook in the project. It’s presented with a 29 x 29 cm, 24-page, 400-gram booklet containing critical texts by Mark Fisher and Florian Schneider, an extract from the original telephone conversations, images of the 7″s, and photographs of the Gulliver center. The LPs and booklet are housed in a glossy four-color gatefold sleeve.
File Under: Electronic, Experimental, Comps
Various: Primitive Paradise: Early Exotica (University of Vice) LP
The genre known as “exotica” reached worldwide success during the 1950s thanks to artists such as Yma Sumac, Martin Denny, and Arthur Lyman, but its origin can be found almost 50 years earlier. The seed was planted by Hawaiian musicians who performed, representing their country, at the first Universal Exhibitions that took place in the United States in 1901. Their paradisiacal melodies, percussion, and tribal rhythms; the strange timbre of instruments such as the ukulele and the steel guitar; and the scantily clad female dancers sparked the interest of American society. The eccentric vaudeville shows, especially their risqué numbers, incorporated sounds from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa to create the right atmosphere for an exotic stage on which sensual dancers tried to satisfy the audience’s escapist needs. It was then that the traditional folklore of the islands began to merge with Western rhythms such as foxtrot and swing. The first recordings by Hawaiian artists were marketed widely in the 1910s on the 78 rpm format, and as a result the steel guitar, the genre’s characteristic instrument, became so popular that it was integrated into other genres such as country, country blues, Western swing, and novelty music. At the same time, Cuban and Puerto Rican music arrived in the United States thanks to pioneers such as Trío Matamoros, Don Azpiazú, and Los Jardineros, who paved the way for such enormously popular stars as Desi Arnaz and Xavier Cugat. On the other side of the pond, in the early ’30s, rumba, conga, and beguine were creating a frenzy in Europe thanks to orchestras from Cuba, Guadeloupe, and Martinique performing at Parisian clubs. Later on, after World War II, more commercial rhythms such as cha-cha-cha and mambo would be easily assimilated by an audience already used to Latin sounds that would eventually conquer all of Europe and the rest of the world. The music featured on this compilation is a sample of that musical expansion, exemplified by 14 tracks of early exotica originally released on 78 rpm records between 1920 and 1947 in countries such as France, Spain, England, Holland, Japan, and the USA. Most have never been reissued on any format until now. Includes tracks by Orquesta Serramont, Lecuona Cuban Boys, Mercedes Mariño, Pedro Berrios, All Star Trio, The Honolulu Queens, South Sea Islanders, Anglo-Persians, Jay Whidden, Elsie Bayron, The Kidoodlers, Wailana Grass Shack Boys, The Tune Wranglers, and Gino Bordin.
File Under: Exotica, World
Belle & Sebastian: Boy With The Arab Strap (Matador) LP
Philip Cohran: On The Beach (Kelan Zulu) LP
Helm: Olympic Mess (Pan) LP
Jamie XX: In Colour (Young Turk) LP
Blind Willie McTell: 1927-1935 (Yazoo) LP
Ol’ Dirty Bastard: Return to 36 Chambers (Get On Down) LP
Pavement: Slanted & Enchanted (Matador) LP
Pixies: Surfer Rosa (4AD) LP
Pixies: Come On Pilgrim (4AD) LP
Sigur Ros: Valtari (XL) LP
Sigur Ros: Meo Suo I Eyrum Vio Spilum En (XL) LP
Sun Ra: Lanquidity (Philly Jazz) LP
Sun Ra: Monorails & Satellites (Saturn) LP
Big Mama Thornton: In Europe (Arhoolie) LP
Big Mama Thornton: Queen at Monterey (Arhoolie) LP
Tycho: Dive (Ghostly) LP
Vampire Weekend: s/t (XL) LP