Well these summer weeks of short lists are going to soon be coming to an end. Lots of big releases coming up in the next few months so you might want to start logging some overtime at work. I know I’m pretty much back in the saddle permanently from now on. Some nice stuff this week, including a small repress of one of the best boxsets ever… get on it.
…..pick of the week…..
Sperm/Samsa Trio/Pekka Airaksinen: Works 1968-1976 (Vinyl on Demand) 5LP Box
Pekka Airaksinen is a Finnish composer of electronic music. Airaksinen formed his first band, The Sperm, in late 1967. The Sperm mixed elements of avant-garde music with free jazz and psychedelic pop. Throughout its existence, the group’s members included Antero Helander, Ilkka Lehtinen, J.O. Mallander, Markus Heikkerö, Mattijuhani Koponen, Nikke Nikamo, and Peter Widén. By 1970 Airaksinen had started his own label, O Records, to produce and distribute his solo LPs, including One Point Music (1972); The Sperm’s Shh! Heinäsirkat (1970); and a 1972 LP by his free-jazz-dominated project Samsa Trio (together with Helander and Koponen) — all included here. Live performances by Airaksinen and The Sperm often took the form of confrontational performance art; two of The Sperm’s members were arrested for simulating sexual intercourse and screening pornographic films. Following The Sperm’s breakup in the mid-1970s, Airaksinen turned to Buddhism, but kept producing music in the years to come, integrating Roland 808 drum machines into his music and releasing classic LPs like 1984’s Buddhas of Golden Light. Works 1968-1976 contains The Sperm’s 3rd Erection EP (1968) with three bonus tracks, Shh! Heinäsirkat (1970), and Suite 71 (originally included on the 1998 CD reissue of Shh! Heinäsirkat on Dharmakustannus); Samsa Trio’s 1972 self-titled album; Airaksinen’s One Point Music (1972) and his Pagoda EP (1973) with Omar Williams and Donald Bane; and Golden Age (1976) by Mytologinen Duo (Airaksinen and Helander).
File Under: Experimental, Electronic, NWW List
John Bender: Memories of Mindless Mechanical Monologues 1976-1986 (Vinyl on Demand) 7LP+7″
AVAILABLE AGAIN!!! John Bender is without a doubt the protagonist, if not the inventor, of the musical genre known as minimal wave. His synthesizer sounds carried elements of techno and acid a decade before the invention of techno. His voice and his somewhat sentimental, mournful lyrics made his music outstanding and extraordinary, an unprecedented mixture of elements. His three self-released LPs — I Don’t Remember Now (1980), Plaster Falling (1981), and Pop Surgery (1983) — are must-haves for every serious collector and anyone interested in coldwave, minimal synth, and techno sounds. This seven-LP box set (with bonus 7″) includes I Don’t Remember Now, Plaster Falling (with selections from several tape releases known as Plaster: The Prototypes (1981)), Pop Surgery (also with selections from Plaster: The Prototypes), Packing List (1982), At the 4th St. Cage 1/83 (1983), Do the Cage (1983), and tracks from The Cassette (1986), originally released under Bender’s Johnny Vortex moniker. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!!!
File Under: Minimal Wave, Electronic, Essential Grooves
Bitchin’ Bajas & Natural Information Society: Automaginary (Drag City) LP
Wrapped up in a screen-printed jacket from visual artist Lisa Alvarado, whose aesthetic sense is a touchstone for the vision of Natural Information Society, Automaginary is psychedelic and ambient and jazz — yet none of it either, the whole being more than the sum of former parts. This is music of unique variance, a remarkably perfect congregation of the two tribes that are Natural Information Society & Bitchin Bajas. Natural Information Society, like their partners in time Bitchin Bajas, live their days in flow motion. Rhythms come and go, instruments sound as a means to a greater end. Music is the way of their life. Their debut convergence, Automaginary, feels as natural as it does inevitable. Both groups were first heard in 2010, both emerging from solo endeavors that accessed a vastness, more room than a single player might ultimately fill — a place then for fellow travelers! Joshua Abrams, a questing bassist and improviser by trade, with an extensive discography of solo recordings and collaborations with a wide variety of artists, formed Natural Information Society as a conduit for the live presentation of his guimbri music. Abrams had delved into the sound of the three-stringed Gnawan lute on his own, intrigued by the instrument’s ability to provide melodic and rhythmic direction with a minimal, hypnotic palette. Over several years, many shows and three albums, Natural Information Society has featured some of Chicago’s most remarkable musicians while developing a sound situating Abrams’ compositions and playing in diverse sonic settings, amid ultimately consonant sounds from electric guitar, percussion, harmonium, reed instruments, bells, vibes and synthesizer. Over this time, a core lineup has emerged, featuring Frank Rosaly, Emmett Kelly, Ben Boye, Mikel Avery and Lisa Alvarado.
File Under: Reggae, Calypso
C418: Minecraft Volume Alpha (Ghostly) LP
Minecraft is a dreamscape, a limitless world where anything is possible. Minecraft is a tool, a means of bringing the imagination to life. Minecraft is a community, a platform on which inventive minds of all ages can share their creations and ideas. Minecraft, of course, is also a game, the most popular and best-selling video game of all time. Created in 2009 by Swedish programmer Markus “Notch” Persson, this cultural phenomenon speaks volumes of our current zeitgeist’s love for virtual spaces, but its unprecedented success couldn’t be pinned on one factor alone. Countless layers of thoughtful artistry flow through Minecraft’s singular experience, not the least of which is its transportive soundtrack. And now for the first time since releasing digitally in 2011, the music of Minecraft will be issued on vinyl by Ghostly International. Minecraft Volume Alpha, the first installment of a two-part OST, is the work of German composer and musician Daniel Rosenfeld. Using C418 as his moniker, Rosenfeld crafted the sweeping soundtrack and vibrant sound design which helped breathe life into Minecraft’s voxel-based universe. Fans and critics were universally enamored with his beatless, nuanced electronic pieces upon release. Popular gaming site Kotaku named it among The Best Game Music of 2011, calling the music “remarkably soothing,” and The Guardian has compared Rosenfeld’s delicate piano and sparse ambient motifs to legendary artists Erik Satie and Brian Eno. In an interview feature with C418, Polygon distilled Volume Alpha to its essence: “It’s not bound by the retro aesthetic of Minecraft’s graphics. It transcends them. The album is an attempt to uplift the combined game/music experience into the sublime.” But for all of the critical praise, C418’s crowning achievement has to be his insatiable fan base, the seemingly endless swath of players and listeners who treat his music like gospel. They are exactly who this physical release of the Minecraft soundtrack was conceived for, though Ghostly hopes to bring Rosenfeld’s music to a whole new audience as well. As any cursory listen of the touching sounds will reveal, this isn’t a record meant solely for lifelong gamers and MineCon diehards; anyone in love with ambient, neo-classical, or minimal music needs to hear Volume Alpha.
File Under: OST, Video Games, Ambient, Endermen
Clock DVA: Horology 2: The Future & Radiophonic Dvations (Vinyl on Demand) 5LP Box
This five-LP box contains material that predates the contents of the 2012 Horology box set. Horology 2 is a companion collection of experimental recordings made in late 1977 and 1978 by Adi Newton before and during the formative period of development of Clock DVA. The first LP in the box includes recordings made by The Future, the trio of Newton, Martyn Ware, and Ian Craig Marsh, before the group developed into The Human League and Clock DVA. The Future pioneered an electronically synthesized sound that would later dominate the 1980s and synthpop. The remaining four LPs, titled Radiophonic Dvations, include previously unreleased experimental analog tape and synthesis works inspired by early acousmatics, radiophonics, psychotronics, the occult, and avant-garde electronics. These recordings are from the earliest period of Adi Newton’s research and development, pioneering experimental work made at the outset of what became industrial and minimal electronic music in the late 1970s. Horology 2 includes a 40-page booklet that examines infrasound, psychoacoustics, psychotronics, and the development of tape music and radical experimental electronics, illustrated throughout with archival photos and artwork.
File Under: Experimental, Industrial
John Fahey: Dance of Death and Other (4 Men With Beards) LP
John Fahey is widely recognized as one of the most influential acoustic guitarists of his generation. His early-60’s Takoma records have inspired countless disciples and imitators, but Fahey’s uniquely original imagination and his mastery of traditional styles put him in a class by himself. The Dance Of Death And Other Plantation Favorites was Fahey’s third Takoma record and one of his best. The flights of fancy of the original pieces are contrasted with traditional tunes from country blues and old-time Appalachian sources, and the two strains come together on tracks like “Variations on Coocoo” among others. Fahey’s dark sound, quirky humor, and moody slide work are all in evidence on this historic release!
File Under: Folk, Guitar Guru, Guitar Soli
Golden Rules: Golden Ticket (Lex) LP
South London producer Paul White and Florida vocalist/rapper Eric Biddines are Golden Rules. The languid yet life-affirming previously released single “Never Die,” featuring Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def) is lifted from their debut album, Golden Ticket, a collection of soulful, psychedelic hip-hop due for release via Lex Records. A Some context: Paul White counts Madlib and Diplo among his fans and is best known for his production for the likes of Danny Brown and Charli XCX. Described as “a 21st Century DJ Shadow” (The Independent), he’s released several hip hop-related albums, an EP on Stones Throw with Homeboy Sandman, and an experimental album on cult electronic label R&S. This is his first full-length collaboration with a single artist. Eric Biddines has an unusual background for a rapper: brought up in a Jehovah’s Witness household on a Florida farm, he spent his childhood listening to Al Green and Motown before falling heavily for Southern rap in his teens. With no local music industry, he built his own label and released several albums independently. His 2013 album Planetcoffeebean 2 was a breakthrough, garnering support from Complex and 2DopeBoyz and regular video rotation on MTV Jams. After discovering Planetcoffeebean 2 online, Paul White sent some beats over email on the off-chance Eric would listen to them and a few days later was surprised to find several finished tracks in his inbox. The chemistry was obvious: Eric’s molasses-thick harmonies and laid-back storytelling rap verses were a perfect match for Paul’s offbeat and addictively catchy tracks. Before long Eric was on a plane to London to plan an album and form their group.
File Under: Hip Hop, Rap
Pierre Henry: Choix d’oeuvres de 1950 a 1985 (Vinyl on Demand) 10LP Box
Limited to 400 copies. This ten-LP box set, presented in a deluxe book-like folder in an outer box, covers half a lifetime in musical history. It is more than a regular retrospective; it shares Pierre Henry’s personal listening, organized by theme and technology. The box set emphasizes previously unpublished works, and highlights comparisons and contrasts between them. This ultimate anthology covers the first 35 years in the career of the French mastermind of electronic and electroacoustic music, the avant-garde, and musique concrète, enhanced by careful remastering and restoration in correspondence with the artist’s intention and approach to the recordings. Transparency, detail, and logical history are the substance of this release.
File Under: Experimental, Early Electronic
Pigeon Breeders: Concrescence (Shaking Box) CS
“Concrescence” is the fourth album by Edmonton-based experimental trio Pigeon Breeders. Released on Calgary’s Shaking Box Music label (Bitter Fictions, Ashley Soft), this will be their first cassette. While previous releases have been formed through paring down one or two full improvisations, this is the first to compile various material over a two year period. The recording captures the band playing in a variety of local spaces (including the old Mile Zero Dance Studio above The Artery). The resulting sonic journey is their most challenging to date, and the most accurate in presentation of the group’s scope: introspective ambience, tense and spastic electroacoustic interplay, scrappy free jazz, apocalyptic free-form drone rock, and beyond in short, complete and blissful abandon into sound. Concrescence urges the listener to pick their poison, light some incense, and turn off the lights.
File Under: Experimental, Drone, Improv
Jay Reatard: Better Than Something (Factory 25) LP+DVD+Book
For Jimmy Lee Lindsay, known to his fans and detractors as Jay Reatard, life was a race against time. After growing up fast among Memphis crack addicts, he managed to blaze a path through the rough-and-tumble underground rock scene of the early aughts, releasing over 100 singles, EPs and full-length records in fourteen years. Then on January 13, 2010, not yet 30, he died. With their feature documentary Better Than Something, filmmakers Alex Hammond and Ian Markiewicz let Jay tell his own story: a poverty-stricken childhood, teen years spent as a two-fisted tunesmith battling fans and band mates alike, and a short-lived adulthood of focused and relentless productivity. Jay said “I just try to make as much as I can with the time that I have.” By any measure, that is exactly what he did. Better Than Something is both a testament to Jay Reatard’s indisputable legacy and a tribute to his vital, thrilling, and all-too-brief life.
File Under: Punk
Red House Painters: Down Colorful Hill (4AD) LP
In 2015, each of Red House Painters’ original studio albums released on 4AD will be reissued on individual vinyl after being out of print for years. Originally released between 1992 and 1995, titles include Down Colorful Hill, Red House Painters (Rollercoaster), Red House Painters (Bridge), and Ocean Beach (which has been reformatted as a double 12” LP to also include the Shock Me EP). Singer Mark Kozelek wrote songs that defied conventional structure. His lyrics were poetic and plainspoken. He wrote about what he knew. The band played along. Drummer Anthony Koutsos ignored the standard time-keeper temptation to speed things up. He understood the value of playing against such instincts. Bassist Jerry Vessel locked into place, sustaining notes until the setting was nearly ambient. Guitarist Gorden Mack added subtle flourishes, tonal colorings that aided the songs‚ sombre hues. Anyone who persevered, who accepted the fact that these songs took time, was amply rewarded. 4AD chief Ivo Watts-Russell sensed this and after minimal remixing, the label released six songs in 1992 – all taken from the band’s original demo tape – as Down Colorful Hill, the first introduction to the world of Kozelek and the Red House Painters. Out of print since its original release, it remains one of the 4AD’s strongest offerings.
File Under: Indie Rock, Slowcore
Red House Painters: s/t (Rollercoaster) (4AD) LP
In 2015, each of Red House Painters’ original studio albums released on 4AD will be reissued on individual vinyl after being out of print for years. Originally released between 1992 and 1995, titles include Down Colorful Hill, Red House Painters (Rollercoaster), Red House Painters (Bridge), and Ocean Beach (which has been reformatted as a double 12” LP to also include the Shock Me EP). Singer Mark Kozelek wrote songs that defied conventional structure. His lyrics were poetic and plainspoken. He wrote about what he knew. The band played along. Drummer Anthony Koutsos ignored the standard time-keeper temptation to speed things up. He understood the value of playing against such instincts. Bassist Jerry Vessel locked into place, sustaining notes until the setting was nearly ambient. Guitarist Gorden Mack added subtle flourishes, tonal colorings that aided the songs‚ sombre hues. Just one year on from their brilliant 1992 debut, Red House Painters were back with not one, but two albums. Both eponymously titled and released just months apart in 1993, the first of which was this ambitious double album. With a rollercoaster on the cover to give it its unofficial title, it’s now seen as one of Kozelek’s most fully realized collections, containing such career highlights as “Grace Cathedral Park,” “Katy Song” and “Mistress.”
File Under: Indie Rock, Slowcore
Red House Painters: s/t (Bridge) (4AD) LP
In 2015, each of Red House Painters’ original studio albums released on 4AD will be reissued on individual vinyl after being out of print for years. Originally released between 1992 and 1995, titles include Down Colorful Hill, Red House Painters (Rollercoaster), Red House Painters (Bridge), and Ocean Beach (which has been reformatted as a double 12” LP to also include the Shock Me EP). Singer Mark Kozelek wrote songs that defied conventional structure. His lyrics were poetic and plainspoken. He wrote about what he knew. The band played along. Drummer Anthony Koutsos ignored the standard time-keeper temptation to speed things up. He understood the value of playing against such instincts. Bassist Jerry Vessel locked into place, sustaining notes until the setting was nearly ambient. Guitarist Gorden Mack added subtle flourishes, tonal colorings that aided the songs‚ sombre hues. The second of the band’s eponymous albums of 1993 and with a bridge on the cover to give it its unofficial title, this set was shorter, collecting eight more tracks from the studio sessions the band embarked on upon signing to 4AD. Holding back signature classics like “Evil,” “Uncle Joe” and “Blindfold” for this record, it’s arguably the most experimental and darkest of their 4AD releases, reflecting the winter month it was issued in. It’s also notable for containing the first “Kozeleked” cover versions, with “I Am A Rock” and the “Star Spangled Banner” both getting the Red House Painter treatment.
File Under: Indie Rock, Slowcore
Sons of Huns: While Sleeping Stay Awake (Riding Easy) LP
“The sophomore slump is for suckers, and the mamas behind Sons of Huns didn’t raise no fools. The Portland heavy rock power trio have hauled out the big guns for their stoned-to-the-bone new record (and second full-length for RidingEasy Records), “While Sleeping Stay Awake”. Melvins drummer Dale Crover brings the thunder on “Philosopher’s Stone,” and doom veteran Wino lends his grizzled pipes to a duet with vocalist/guitarist Pete Hughes (also of Danava) on “An Evil Unseen.” – VICE.
File Under: Metal
The Sword: High Country (Razor & Tie) LP
There’s an unspoken edict handed down through the ages when it comes to rock bands: there are no rules. Nobody picks up a guitar to be constricted or oppressed. It’s all about feeling free artistically. Now, The Sword – John Cronise (vocals, guitar), Kyle Shutt (guitar), Bryan Richie (bass), and Santiago Vela III (drums) – cut out boundaries since day one. Their style never stood predicated on a trend or a template. They always create what feels right and let the results speak for themselves. When it came time to record the group’s fifth full-length album, High Country, Cronise landed at something of a spiritual crossroads. Following the final tour for their critically acclaimed Apocryphon, he holed up in his North Carolina home and eventually began writing new songs. The material began to veer into a different space that at the time Cronise felt was somewhat outside of The Sword’s sphere. “I didn’t even intend for the demos to be Sword songs,” he explains. “But then I realized that I had taken on a sort of limiting view of what The Sword was, and that wasn’t actually what I wanted it to be. I think the new album is more reflective of the music I listen to and where our heads are at collectively. With each of our albums, it’s become less about fury and bombast and more about trying to write good songs. We realized that our music can go wherever we want it to go. There’s no pre-determined course here now, and there never was.” High Country became new territory for The Sword, and they began doing things differently. That approach included more attention to backing vocals and harmonies, implementing more synthesizers and percussion elements, and tuning to E-flat instead of all the way down to C. As a result, the guitars stand out as more vital and vibrant than ever. Inspired, the boys headed to Church House Recording Studio in Austin, TX to cut High Country with Adrian Quesada of Brownout and Grupo Fantasma producing, Stuart Sykes (The White Stripes) engineering, and J. Robbins mixing. Over the course of four weeks, they hammered out the album’s 15 tracks in the old converted church.
File Under: Metal, Stoner
Alabama Shakes: Boys & Girls (Ato) LP
Alabama Shakes: Sound & Color (Ato) LP
Animal Collective: Sung Tongs (Fat Cat) LP
Badbadnot: III (Arts & Crafts) LP
Bon Iver: For Emma, Forever Ago (Jagjaguwar) LP
Bon Iver: s/t (Jagjaguwar) LP
Charles Bradley: No Time For Dreaming (Daptone) LP
James Brown: Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag (Polydor) LP
Brand New: Deja Entendu (Triple Crown) LP
Budos Band: Burnt Offering (Daptone) LP
Can: Ege Bamyasi (Spoon) LP
Lana Del Rey: Ultraviolence (Interscope) LP
Mac Demarco: Salad Days (Captured Tracks) LP
Dinosaur Jr.: Where You Been (Rhino) LP
Father John Misty: Fear Fun (Sub Pop) LP
Gorillaz: s/t (EMI) LP
Grizzly Bear: Yellow House (Warp) LP
Jesus & The Mary Chain: Darklands (Demon) LP
Joy Division: Substance (Rhino) LP
Kid Koala: 12 Bit Blues (Ninja Tune) LP
Ministry: Psalm 69 (Rhino) LP
OST: Whiplash (Varese) LP
Pearl Jam: Ten (Sony) LP
Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon (EMI) LP
Queens of the Stone Age: Era Vulgaris (Ipecac) 2×10″
Otis Redding: Blue (Sundazed) LP
Steve Reich: Music For 18 Musicians (Nonesuch) LP
Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers (Universal) LP
Omar Souleyman: Wenu Wenu (Domino) LP
Titus Andronicus: The Most Lamentable (Merge) 3LP
TV on the Radio: Return to Cookie Mountain (Beggars) LP
Women: s/t (Flemish Eye) LP
Women: Public Strain (Flemish Eye) LP