Well this is something I’d never have that would happen! This week I get to start selling one of my favorite albums of all time in bulk! Those in the know have been dreaming of this day, and those who aren’t don’t even know how glorious it is that they can walk in the door and pick up a copy of Torch of the Mystics. And on top of that, we’ve received a ton of other rad stuff this week, so read on and come for a dig…..
…..picks of the week…..
Sun City Girls: Torch of the Mystics (Abduction) LP/CD
Torch of the Mystics, the most popular and revered Sun City Girls album, was recorded in the summer of 1988 and became the first LP released on the Majora label in January of 1990 in an edition of 1000 copies (the original CD version was released by Tupelo Recording Company in 1993 and is long out of print). Reissued here for the first time, this record has influenced and inspired a wide variety of musicians and artists and continues to blow the minds of those hearing it for the first time today. Arguably as unique a ‘psychedelic’ statement as anything else that has appeared since the early 1970s, Torch of the Mystics cannot easily be compared to any other album you’ve heard. Here is Byron Coley’s original review from the May 1990 issue of Spin magazine: “Just out of the box, and so majestic that it makes my brain do out-skull jigs across my sizzling, glass-strewn floor, is the Sun City Girls’ new LP, Torch of the Mystics. As the heppest of you undoubtedly know, the Girls are a death-defying improv-rock band from Arizona who number no females amongst their membership, but who still bleed profusely on a near-monthly basis. Their recordings tend to be scattershot fiestas of lump-rich style gumbo, and Mystics is easily the richest, lumpiest puddle of guh they’ve yet emitted. The sounds on this record have moments of style-lifting, however, that should endear them even to fans of olden-days out-rock (a notoriously Luddite audience). At one point you’ll ‘hear’ the circa-65 Mothers chanting ‘Help I’m A Rock’ while being pushed into a kettle of boiling oil by the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band; at another you’ll swear that your head is stuck in a lardy commode while one of the Fugs’ ESP recording sessions rages around your sweat-soaked and heaving trousers. ET-fuckin-CETERA. But these ‘cops’ are not central parts of the whole. They pop up, rather, amidst swirling, psychedelic ethnic forgeries that will make Can fans renounce post-Landed Kraut Rock wax. Combined with this is greasy, long-wound-out puling that could come from nowhere but the small Arizona trailer park that birthed these honchos. The mix is nothing short of bo-weaving and I can’t imagine that this disc will have many equals in 1990.” Remastered by Mark Gergis.
HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!
File Under: Underground Rock, Psych, Essential Grooves
Abul Mogard: Circular Forms (Ecstatic) LP
Abul Mogard presents his debut LP, a suite of four analog synth pieces. Mogard was born in Belgrade, Serbia, and spent most of his life working in a metal factory, only beginning to approach music after his retirement. Following two highly regarded cassette releases on Steve Moore and Anthony Paterra’s VCO label and a series of compilations and split releases, Mogard makes a surprising departure on this debut album for Ecstatic Recordings. Circular Forms channels a wealth of soulful modular explorations and shadowy white-noise clouds. The end result is evocative, unsettling, and beguiling modern synth music. There’s a real emotive essence to his almost lyrical arrangements that is very much removed from the contemporary modular revival. Composed and recorded in solitude using a limited equipment array of Farfisa organs in conjunction with a self-built modular synthesizer, the album’s intoxicating distortions and extreme low frequencies translate into personal space and beautifully restrained impressions. Abul Mogard: “Lately I have been reading and appreciating visual art and paintings and this has informed my work on this album. Compared to my previous albums, this was the first time that I had a clear visual representation of my music, as geometrical forms — each element of a track suggested a form that intertwined with the other elements.” White vinyl; edition of 300.
File Under: Ambient, Electronic
Doug Hream Blunt: My Name is… (Luaka Bop) LP
Originally self-released recordings of home-brewed, proto-chillwave dance funk, recorded with washy and chirpy synths and genuinely out there guitar solos, with songs about dancing, fly guys and ladies’ butts. Kind of a smoother Wesley Willis (ok, much smoother!) with Jimi Hendrix dreams, Blunt’s genuinely infectious musical enthusiasm shined through on each track. Doug is finally having his well-deserved, big moment of larger recognition and discovery via David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label, with this reissue of his complete recordings which include the two previously self-released discs: Gentle Persuasion and Big Top, remastered and put together for the first time – these tracks have never sounded better! A lo-fi but breezy outsider funk, made with repetitive cheap-sounding keyboards loops and tones (the kind being currently exploited by Dam-Funk, Ariel Pink, and James Pants, all Doug Hream Blunt fans by the way), strange metallic tropical guitar tones that sound more like steel drums and flute sounds than actual guitar, and sly, laidback vocals and catchy, infectiously naive grooves that work their way into our heads and never let go. So delightful!! Back in 1985, when Doug was 35, he decided he wanted to learn guitar and found an extended learning class called ‘How To Form A Band’ run by Victor Flaviani out of his garage. Victor taught Doug the guitar, even though Victor barely knew the instrument himself, and Doug set about writing and recording the songs with his other class mates. We remember seeing the video of Gentle Persuasion we found on Vimeo from a cable access TV video with Doug and what seemed to be an all-girl band, which turns out were his fellow classmates, which included Victor and his wife Angela too on drums and guitar respectively. For fans of that Personal Space compilation of private press electronic soul, Dam-Funk, Ariel Pink or Dean Blunt, who apparently took the Blunt name in tribute to Doug!
File Under: Funk, Soul, Electro, Lo-Fi, Private Press
4th Coming: Strange Things (Now Again) LP
“They had a catchy, but inappropriate name: there is nothing forthcoming about Los Angeles’ 4th Coming, unless one counts a copious amount of releases — on rare 7″ singles — that didn’t sell farther than vocalist/principal Henry ‘Hank’ Porter’s Datsun 1200 could take him. When 4th Coming records surfaced in the ’90s, they were often disregarded as novelty. And some of their records were so rare that it took until the late ’00s for them to reemerge, after the sinking of their initial pressing runs. Assembling a complete set of 4th Coming recordings was nearly impossible, until the issue of this, the lost 4th Coming album. At its core, the 4th Coming was a songwriting duo — Porter and Jechonias ‘Jack’ S. Williams — and a rotating cast of musicians — including members of lauded LA funk ensemble the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band — that Williams assembled at Artist Recording Studio to realize the pair’s ideas. They existed only from the latter half of 1969 until 1974; during that time they issued eight singles as 4th Coming and one as Impact! on Al Firth’s Alpha imprint. And now, Strange Things, a thrilling listen, a mysterious trove of recordings made possible by an open minded and well-funded indie impresario, which document a very real and very weird Los Angeles of the past. It’s a city we’ll never know again, and one that might never again produce an ensemble like the 4th Coming. If Firth’s faith only rolled snake-eyes in terms of commercial success, in terms of documenting Los Angeles’ vibrant soul and funk underground, he rolled boxcars. This, the album Williams and Firth always hoped would bring them real success, now sees its complete release and allows us to ponder the might-have and the would-have beens — had a 4th Coming album come together in the mid-’70s.”
File Under: Funk, Soul
Maki Asakawa: s/t (s/t) LP
A stunning survey of the 1970s heyday of great Japanese singer and countercultural icon Maki Asakawa (1942-2010). Deep-indigo, dead-of-night enka, folk, and blues, inhaling Billie Holiday and Nina Simone down to the bone. A traditional waltz abuts Nico-style incantation; defamiliarized versions of Oscar Brown Jr. and Bessie Smith collide with big-band experiments alongside poet Shūji Terayama; a sitar-led psychedelic wig-out runs into a killer excursion in modal, spiritual jazz. Existentialism and noir, mystery and allure, hurt and hauteur. With excellent notes by Alan Cummings and the fabulous photographs of Hitoshi Jin Tamura. “Japan’s answer to Scott Walker, with a visual aesthetic and a death-decadent appeal that is straight out of the Keiji Haino songbook.” –Volcanic Tongue
John Baker: Vendetta Tapes (Buried Treasure) LP
“A brand new compilation of rare material by John Baker from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop! John Baker (who worked for the BBC alongside Delia Derbyshire) ranks as one of the world’s most influential electronic musicians. His talent as a jazz pianist & ability to manipulate tiny fragments of tape into new sound is legendary. Whilst working on The John Baker Tapes compilation for Trunk Records, producer Alan Gubby unearthed several reels of music & sound effects from the 1960’s BBC TV series Vendetta — a mafia themed cop thriller starring Italian actor Stelio Canelli (Barbarella, Django, Planet Of The Vampires). The theme tune for the show was composed by John Barry whilst Baker produced all the incidental music. He created brilliant, tense, rhythmic & unhinged James Bond style themes for the show between 1966 & 1968, featuring radiophonic beats, twanging bass lines & screaming jazz solos. Available for the 1st time ever, Baker’s soundtrack for Vendetta displays his skill in fusing groovy tape loops, ambient drones & bass textures with real instruments. The music is thrilling, sleazy, deranged & very hip. Highlights from the score are presented on this compilation alongside other rare & previously unreleased Baker tracks, all digitally remastered by Mark Ayres from the Radiophonic Workshop archive.”
File Under: BBC Radiophonic, Early Electronic, OST
Bell Witch: Four Phantoms (Profound Lore) LP
Seattle funeral/death doom duo Bell Witch (comprised only of bass, drums, and vocals) made a massive impact on the doom metal scene with their 2012 debut Longing. Its highly anticipated follow-up, Four Phantoms (recorded and engineered by the legendary Billy Anderson) is easily Bell Witch’s most crushing and most moving work yet. With a more honed focus on song structure and more intricate composition, all while taking their sound to even heavier depths that ever before, Four Phantoms is a doom metal triumph for the ages, an album that will go down as one of the genre’s most triumphant moments of the 2015 and beyond. Features a guest lead vocal appearance by Aerial Ruin sole mastermind Erik Moggridge on the standout number “Somniloquy.”
File Under: Metal, Doom
Blackalicious: Imani Vol 1 (Black Mines) LP
Blackalicious is Gift of Gab (Timothy Parker) and Chief Xcel (Xavier Mosley) and the duo’s long awaited fifth studio album – Imani Vol. 1 will finally be available in September 2015. Ten years after The Craft Blackalicious brings us the Imani Movement. Imani, the word for faith in Swahili is a three volume series. Three years in the works, this album stays true to the wordplay of Gift of Gab and the clever mechanics of live instruments and production from Chief Xcel. The Sac-Town duo has never left. Between Gab releasing three solo albums and Xcel working with soul singer Ledisi, collaborating with General Eletriks and many others, they were ready and eager to start the next Blackalicious chapter. Gift of Gab explains, “In 2012, we came together like ‘Okay, it’s time to go back to the mothership. I equate working with different artists to travel…when you come back to your city after traveling to these other places, you have this broader perspective of what life is. I think that that’s what happened with Blackalicious.”
File Under: Hip Hop
Bruce & Vlady: The Reality (Vampisoul) LP
Going by the sleeve alone, it’s clear that this record has all the right ingredients: hypnotic artwork, enigmatic title, unusual Hammond and drums line-up… However, the album didn’t sell well upon its original 1970 released in Sweden, and has been long-forgotten since then. This is the first ever reissue of American Hammond player Bruce Powell and Polish drummer Wladyslaw Jagiello’s wonderful, unique record of hypnotic progressive jazz. Its story is also told here for the first time, thanks to Powell himself: “I was introduced to trumpeter Ernie Englund. He told me he needed an organist who could read music and had his own instrument… he hired me to play with his big band at the Grande Hotel in Stockholm. That was December 1969. My Hammond B-3 was somehow damaged on the trip over and Ernie decided to send me back to the United States. My wife, however, had arrived two days after I got there, so I decided to stay in Stockholm and make a go of it on my own… I met Vlady one night at a rock club. He and I both were sitting in with another band. He liked the way I played and I liked him… We got hired for several engagements at [Klub Ernst]. A friend of Rune Wallebom [Svensk American Records co-owner] heard us one night and told him about our music… Rune came to hear us and loved it. He came up after the show and offered me a recording contract… I don’t remember the name of the studio but I do remember that we did four takes. After reviewing them all, we decided upon the ones that appear on the album. There are two more takes out there somewhere. I had the tapes from the sessions but they got lost over time… Not long after, Rune came to me with a sad face and told me his wife was divorcing him. She was co-owner of Svensk American Records and was dissolving the company. This happened just after the album was released; therefore it went no further. The promotion and distribution ceased. I never received any monies or royalties for my work… When my grandmother passed, I decided to return to the United States (September 1970). I lost track of Vlady and never was able to contact Rune about what happened to the album.”
File Under: Funk, Soul
Joe Bussard: Year of Jubilo (Dust to Digital) LP
Legendary collector Joe Bussard is putting records out once again! After running the last 78-RPM label in the US (RIP Fonotone Records, 1956-1974), Bussard had relegated his efforts to promoting old-time music by making cassette tapes for people hungry to hear his rare treasures and producing his Country Classics radio show for stations in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. But in 2014, Bussard and his daughter Susannah Anderson had the idea to produce a compilation of Civil War tunes; they rang the office of Dust-to-Digital to gauge interest in distributing such a compilation. It was an easy decision for DTD. CD in digipak with 36-page booklet. Includes introductory essay by Kevin Fontenot and liner notes by Tony Russell. Includes tracks by Ernest Stoneman, Blue Ridge Mountain Singers, Grant Brothers & Their Music, Red Mountain Trio, Buell Kazee, G. B. Grayson – Henry Whitter, Ward & Winfield, Chubby Parker & His Littleold-Time Banjo, Da Costa Woltz’s Southern Broadcasters, Capt. M. J. Bonner (The Texas Fiddler), Cherry Lane Express, Henry C. Gilliland and A. C. (Eck) Robertson, The Foreman Family, Asa Martin & James Roberts, McGee Brothers & Todd, and Fiddlin’ John Carson & His Virginia Reelers.
File Under: Blues, Country
Lily Chao: Chinese Folk Songs (Akuphone) LP
As the first entry in its catalog, French label Akuphone presents a reissue of Lily Chao’s Chinese Folk Songs, originally released by Four Seas Records in 1968. This edition includes four previously unheard titles and exclusive liner notes containing Lily Chao’s biography and lyric translations. Chao Xiao-Jun aka Lily Chao was born in Taiwan in 1948, while mainland China was rapidly undergoing major changes immediately following the end of the Chinese Civil War. After experiencing hard times in her girlhood, she ventured out into singing quite unwillingly. Indeed, at age 19, Lily Chao was compelled to give up her studies to support her family and start a career as a singer, after passing an audition at the Taipei Cabaret in Taiwan. The cabaret industry was in full swing at the time, offering destinations for popular entertainment, and Lily Chao’s efforts to launch her singing career immediately attracted producers’ attention. Her appearances at the Taipei Cabaret as part of its shows, which combined music in Mandarin, poetry, drama, magic, and other fine arts, soon earned her a reputation. Despite the immediate success that her numerous stage performances and appearances on the national television channel won her, Lily Chao led a chaotic and painful private life. As she smiled very little and tended to appear distant, the audience dubbed her the “Ice Queen,” a nickname that she would keep for the rest of her career. This barely-concealed melancholy can be felt throughout Chinese Folk Songs, as well as in her very particular way of singing, which is both jerky and perfectly fluid. The album stands halfway between Mandarin folk songs and rock singing inspired by The Shadows, all surf guitar and garage sounds recorded with pinpoint precision and enhanced by saxophone and organ touches, while Lily Chao’s intoxicating vibratos bring a pinch of soul to the music. An outstanding achievement of timeless pop music from the 1960s.
File Under: Asia, Folk
Current 93: Swastikas For Noddy (Spheres) LP
Reissue of Current 93’s seminal and liminal 1986 album Swastikas for Noddy, including the 1987 re-recording of the album, Crooked Crosses for the Nodding God. Packaged in a full-color gatefold bearing the original artwork plus a previously-unpublished photograph of Current 93 by Ruth Bayer, tinted by Ania Goszczyńska. Includes insert with track listing, group line-up, and a photograph of Current 93 at the time of the recording, again by Ruth Bayer. One record is opaque green; the other is opaque lilac. Swastikas for Noddy has been unavailable on vinyl since 1987. Crooked Crosses for the Nodding God has never been available on vinyl. Both have been beautifully remastered by the bricoleur.
File Under: Goth, Neo-Folk, Industrial
Dikeman Noble Serries Trio: Obscure Fluctuations (Trost) LP
American saxophonist John Dikeman, Belgian guitar experimentalist Dirk Serries, and legendary English drummer Steve Noble team up for an impressive improvisational record. Inventive, harsh, precise! Recorded at Sound Savers, London, in 2015. John Dikeman: saxophone; Steve Noble: drums; Dirk Serries: guitar.
File Under: Jazz, Improv
Aaron Dilloway: Psychic Driving Tapes (Trilogy Tapes) LP
“Coruscating cut-ups yanked still dripping and yowling from the belly of the beast. Dazzling and invigorating, scary and discombobulating. ‘Psychic driving was a psychiatric procedure in which patients were subjected to a continuously repeated audio message on a looped tape, in order to alter their behavior… often hundreds of thousands of repetitions of a single statement over the course of their treatment. They were also concurrently administered muscular paralytic drugs such as curare… The psychic driving procedure was a chronological precursor to Cameron’s depatterning, involving massive doses of ECT combined with similarly large doses of psychedelic drugs like LSD. The intent was to break down the subject’s personality — theoretically psychic driving could then be used with some efficacy in establishing a new personality’ (Hanson Records).” Originally released on cassette by Medusa in 2010.
File Under: Electronic, Noise, Minimal
Donato Dozzy: The Loud Silence (Further) LP
In April 2015, Donato Dozzy took a set of mouth harps to his parents’ house in the Italian countryside and set about exploring the possibilities of that most basic of instruments. The mouth harp had been calling to Donato Dozzy ever since childhood, and he had begun to see in this peculiar, ancient sound the roots of the music he’d been making and playing in clubs. The Loud Silence is the result of those explorations, an accompanied deep-dive into childhood memory, social history, and the roots of psychedelia. Recorded indoors and outdoors; halfway up mountains and on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, the album is meditative but also powerful. Each track maintains an inviolable central pulse, while delicate, fluttering sounds hint at vast spaces waiting for the listener to connect with them. Field recordings hover below the resonating harps, adding to the mysterious atmosphere. Tracks like “The Loud Silence” and “Downhill to the Sea” are wrapped up in simple rhythms, their strict throb drawing the listener in. The organic physicality of the sound, made in concert with the body itself, generates a primal response in the listener; an undeniably visceral understanding; an empathetic resonance. The Loud Silence is Donato Dozzy’s second solo album, and it sees him return to Further Records, with which released his first solo album, K, in 2010. The two albums share a sense of dynamic movement within a limited sphere. It’s not minimal, exactly — it’s hard to describe such a rich sound as minimal or reduced in any way — but it gets the most out of a small, well-chosen set of tools. As on his 2015 album Sintetizzatrice, a full-length collaboration with singer Anna Caragnano, the ability to make a single element the center of a musical world is enthralling. Anyone who has followed Donato Dozzy’s work, whether the celebrated Voices from the Lake collaboration with Neel, the otherworldly mixes he’s done for mnml ssgs and electronique.it, or, particularly, his 2013 album of Bee Mask remixes for the Spectrum Spools label, will see that The Loud Silence is a continuation of a lifelong fascination with sound and its potential to bring people, times, and places together. This album is the first in Further’s series exploring the depth of one instrument, preceding a solo record from Nuel focused on the Ekdahl Polygamist synthesizer.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Techno
Edge of Daybreak: Eyes of Love (Numero) LP
Incarcerated funk has no right to feel this free. Musical convicts and actual convicts from across the Commonwealth, The Edge Of Daybreak’s membership wrote and recorded Eyes Of Love while serving out sentences of six to sixty years. Set to tape inside Powhatan Correctional Center on the outskirts of Richmond, Virginia, these intimate 1979 sessions unlock the prison gates and peer into a collective consciousness concocted by a core of four confined artists. Assembled from distant love ballads and fanciful odes to freedom, Eyes Of Love is a prison letter composed by committee, recorded hastily, and circulated regionally amongst adventurous clientele willing to take a chance on these felonious talents.
File Under: Funk, Soul
El Vy: Return to the Moon (4AD) LP
El Vy (pronounced like a plural of Elvis; rhymes with ‘hell pie’) is the musical collaboration between Matt Berninger, vocalist and lyricist of The National, and Brent Knopf, the Portland musician and producer best known for his work in Menomena and his more recent band, Ramona Falls. Their debut album Return To The Moon will be released in October 2015 via 4AD. The album is a project Berninger and Knopf have been thinking about for years. Their friendship spans nearly a decade, starting back when the National and Menomena played small half-empty clubs along America’s west coast. Feeling an immediate musical kinship, the pair kept in touch, Brent sending Matt occasional rough sketches of music and Matt responding with melodies and lyrics. Finally, in the winter and spring of 2014-15, they actually got together to make an album. Return to the Moon sounds exactly like you’d hope a collaboration between these artists would: Berninger’s darkly funny, lyrical storytelling and his immediately identifiable sense of melody offset by Knopf’s playful, architectural arrangements and inventive production. Knopf explains, “I never worried about sending Matt something unfinished. He’s able to imagine where it can go. He can grab the four bars that will become the core of the track and develop them into something amazing.” The National and Ramona Falls are both currently preparing upcoming releases, so El Vy is not a replacement or a side project, but a glimpse into an alternate musical universe: a universe in which Berninger never left Cincinnati, and Midwestern punk Mecca the Jockey Club never closed. A universe in which Mike Watt and the late D. Boon of the punk band Minutemen are every bit as iconic as Mick and Keith, and a teenager’s sense of rebellion is fed by the dark social politics of middle America. “This record is more autobiographical than anything else I’ve written,” says Berninger, “but the details aren’t true. It’s written in the voices of a few invented characters, composites of different people – myself, my wife, and other people I was thinking about.”
File Under: Indie Rock, The National
Evil Blizzard: Everybody Come to Church (Louder Than War) LP
Like Hawkwind on even more acid or Sunn O))) meets Butthole Surfers/P.I.L. with four bassists and droning powerful songs… Those masked marauding architects of cacophonic, bombastic, psychedelic, bass-bothering rock have been at it again, making another album of unrivalled and quintessentially unique rock music. To say that Everybody Come to Church has been eagerly awaited in many quarters is an understatement; fellow Northwest England-based musician Mr. Mark E. Smith, who’s been heard to say of the Blizzard, “I like Evil Blizzard, they give me hope that music is alive and kicking,” would no doubt agree. The Guardian are also huge fans of the band, having featured them on their cover and described them as “a fearsome collision of Hawkwind, krautrock, molten noise, dazzling psychedelic lights and weird, gnarly looking masks.” The album was “recorded live in one day with minimal overdubs at Magnetic North Studios… a fierce, spontaneous outburst of evil noise.” They had only four songs written before entering the studio and the rest of the album just happened around ideas they’d had kicking around. Everybody Come to Church features eight tracks of brooding, sinister psychedelic rock that will melt your mind and soul.
File Under: Metal, Psych, Rock
Express Rising: Fixed Rope (Numero) LP
One-take ambient instrumental travels, composed in strict committee by the trio of Kevin Blagg, William Suran, and Dante Carfagna. Recorded spontaneously in rural Arkansas, bulging sub-woofers lope through fissures of skeletal banjo and pitched down pedal steel, while delicately arranged basins of synth and guitar reverberate, providing a steady stream of granular epiphanies. Utterly faded, yet still possessing crystalline clarity, these twelve songs continually attain summits rarely reached within the span of four-minute transmissions.
File Under: Ambient, Electronic
Fat Boys: s/t (Tin Pan Apple) LP
“The Fat Boys were the highest profiled hip hop group in the early 1980’s next to Run DMC. They were part of the first corporate sponsored rap concert (Fresh Fest), they were featured in the movie Krush Groove, one of the first rap groups to travel to Europe, and they sold hefty amounts of records and continued to balloon throughout the decade. Their beginnings were humble like most but quickly catapulted into full stardom. Appearances on radio, TV, full tours, magazine spreads and they even had their own embroidered satin jackets! Their first single; ‘Reality’ under the name Disco 3 was released unnoticed and that’s when their fearless management of Charles Stettler and Lynda West decided to bring in one of the hottest names in rap at the time to produce; Kurtis Blow. The single ‘Fat Boys’ with Kurtis became a instant hit and it also became the new name of the group. Kurt enlisted his music team to assemble what became the debut album by the Fat Boys. Larry Smith (Run DMC’s producer and arranger), Davy DMX, Don Blackman, and a whole slew of other session players laid the raw backbeat for the three boys from Brooklyn to rock the house! What separated their album from the majority of other rap records at the time was the pure rawness of the songs. The humorous element dominated the record but there was a prime roughness to their style that gave them a hardcore edge. Songs like ‘Stick ‘Em,’ ‘Fat Boys,’ ‘The Place To Be’ & ‘Human Beat Box’ easily display their boisterousness.”
File Under: Hip Hop
Tim Hecker: Norberg/Apodalifa (Room40) LP
In 2015, Room40 celebrates 15 years of editions and events; as part of the celebrations, the label is reissuing a number of editions in various formats that are out of print. One of these editions brings together two of the pieces the label had the pleasure to publish by Tim Hecker. These two works were both created in conjunction with Hecker’s visits to Australia and were released in limited quantities. The 2010 7″ edition of Apondalifa basically vanished upon release. It was also originally split across both sides of the record. On this edition, cut by the wondrous Lupo at Calyx, the piece is available on vinyl for the first time in its extended format. Norberg was originally released in 2007 as a 3″ CD; Room40’s original description reads, “Recorded at the Norberg Festival (Sweden) amidst the mineshafts and cluttered buildings strewn throughout parts of the city, this 21 minute live piece summarises much of what makes Tim Hecker’s music so vital and compelling. Adept at counter-pointing the most ferocious of distorted platters with smooth beds of ambient sound and potent melodic overtones, Tim Hecker creates music with a vast depth. On Norberg, this depth seems almost endless, as layer upon layer of sound are compiled into a swelling and altogether visceral oceanic sound wave.”
File Under: Electronic, Ambient
Philip Jeck: Cardinal (Touch) LP
Philip Jeck writes: “To make this record I used Fidelity record players, Casio keyboards, Ibanez bass guitar, Sony MiniDisc players, Ibanez and Zoom effects pedals, assorted percussion, a Behringer mixer and it was edited it at home with MiniDisc players and on a laptop computer.” “…and they sparkled like burnished brass” “Out of the depths of our complaints, it could be all so simple. To be never fooled by the finesse of a long-yearned for solidity, but in the momentary aplomb of a sleepy walk threading through familiar streets we’d hum our way, alto, baritone and tenor toward some harmonious end. An effect like some wonderful recollection of one or other of those technicolour movies. Not real for sure, but if you are in the mood…” “I would like to acknowledge the influence the writer Marilynne Robinson has had on this work. I would recommend reading any/all of her four novels and also When I was a Child I Read Books (Virago, 2012). This collection of essays includes ‘Austerity as Ideology,’ which dissects prevailing economic thinking, and ‘Open Thy Hand Wide,’ which continues with a celebration of liberal thinking as Generosity (and also turned over my received knowledge of Calvinism). Her ability to convey a love of humanity and sense of wonder about the great mystery of existence in her writing has, since I first read a book of hers, found a way into the way I think about my work — not illustrating but meditating upon.” (April 2015) Philip Jeck works with old records and record players salvaged from junk shops, turning them to his own purposes. He really does play them as musical instruments, creating an intensely personal language that evolves with each added part of a record. Jeck makes genuinely moving and transfixing music in which one hears the art, not the gimmick. He started working with record players and electronics in the early ’80s and has made soundtracks and toured with many dance and theatre companies in addition to his solo concert work. His best-known work, Vinyl Requiem (with Lol Sargent), a performance for 180 ’50s/’60s record players, won the Time Out Performance Award in 1993. In 2010, Jeck won a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Composers Award. This gatefold double LP comes with a download code for Jeck’s “Live in Caen,” recorded by Franck Dubois on February 28, 2015, at Impressions Multiples #4 (ésam Caen/Cherbourg), with thanks to Thierry Weyd.
File Under: Electronic, Experimental
Johnny Kafta Anti-Vegetarian Orchestra: s/t (Discrepant) LP
Initially a combination of two of Lebanon’s most-active and longest-standing groups, Johnny Kafta Anti-Vegetarian Orchestra was founded when Scrambled Eggs (punk rock band founded in 1998) and “A” Trio (free improv trio founded in 2002) joined forces and mixed styles to record Beach Party at Mirna el-Chalouhi in January 2009, combining each trio’s distinctive sound to create something genuinely new, somewhere between punk and krautrock, free jazz and improvisation. Though self-released and self-distributed in a printed envelope on Al Maslakh sub-label Johnny Kafta’s Kids Menu, the 2010 CD received very positive feedback, leading to several concerts in Lebanon under the band’s new identity. On one occasion the band was joined by seminal American guitarist and composer Elliott Sharp, and in their European debut, they were augmented by Australian drummer Tony Buck. In August 2012, the band finally recorded this self-titled album, adding a strong element of composition to their usual improvisations to create works ranging from noisy ambient atmospheres to full-energy free rock explosions.
File Under: Improv, Free Rock
King Midas Sound/Fennesz: Edition 1 (Ninja Tune) LP
King Midas Sound is comprised of Kevin Martin (also known for his work under The Bug moniker), singer/poet Roger Robinson, and vocalist Kiki Hitomi. Their landmark 2009 debut Waiting For You on Hyperdub quickly established them as falling sonically somewhere between sub-electronic lovers’ rock, dub and the bleakest, slowest mutation of narco hip-hop, while on the live front they were nestled somewhere between the apocalypse and FX-drenched, shoegaze laments. In both arenas they are known as a brooding sonic force. With a move over to Ninja Tune plus the release of 2013’s lauded Aroo single and in particular its b-side “Funny Love” an even deeper sense of spaciousness began to set in. That track’s dramatic tonal shift acted as a catalyst for the idea of a conceptual collaborative project to be born. Hence this first edition (in a series of four), appropriately titled Edition 1. Looking even further back it does seems fitting that the person (Kevin Martin) who once curated a compilation called Isolationism is one of the key contributors behind this truly mesmeric examination of melancholy and desolation, Edition 1 features collaborator number one, Austrian guitarist / electronic musician Fennesz. His 2001 album Endless Summer was a swirling mix of electric tonal guitars and sweeping emotional shifts which inspired and sparked an admiration within Kevin and Roger to bring him onboard. Utilizing improvised guitar tracks, samples, and unreleased material from Fennesz’s archive, Edition 1 took shape within the KMS framework. In the wake of Kevin’s last Bug album Angels & Devils, he wanted to create a record focused on kaleidoscopic sonic beauty, bathed in the bluest emotional lyricism. This record reflects the group’s past, present, and a truly extraordinary future. Edition 1 is a tide coming in. A fog reaching out into nothing, and encapsulating everything. An ultimate parting note drifting into absolute loneliness, swept up in a sumptuously blurred, dronal haze. Hallucinatory tone poems of heartbreak, despair, disappearance, and displacement. Seductively spatial sketches of long goodbyes. Music to cling to or to be used to move past. Sounds set adrift on their own tonal plain and reigned back in by Roger and Kiki’s complimentary, yet extremely different deliveries. Cosmic blues meets a siren’s song. A zonal re-examination of “It’s Raining Today” or an audio representation of a Sugimoto “Seascapes” photo… A high water mark forever etched to memory. Edition 2 through 4 to follow, with collaborators kept under wraps, each one to be a genre-stretching and boundary-pushing surprise, packaged with a conceptual continuity.
File Under: Electronic, Experimental, Ambient
Alan Lee: Australian Jazz Anthology (Jazzman) LP
There are few Australian originals in jazz, but vibraphonist Alan Lee surely ranks among the best. Australian jazz is and always will be an interpretation of the American art form, but throughout his long career Lee has ploughed his furrow undaunted; as he puts it, “What I want is the fire! Whether it’s John Coltrane’s ‘Blues Minor’ from Africa/Brass or ‘Backwater Blues’ by Leadbelly, I want the emotion, the gut wrenching pain, the cry from within!” A musician and bandleader who cut a number of jazz sides for small independent Melbourne labels from the early 1960s to the mid-1970s, Lee has always searched for this fire, evident in the broad styles he’s covered throughout his career. From ’60s soul jazz to the deep modal sounds of the early ’70s and cross-genre experiments exhibited in his chamber jazz, the tracks included in this anthology — the first of Lee’s music — were recorded by various incarnations of Lee’s band and are taken from three albums recorded in 1973 and 1974 — Lee’s sole albums as a bandleader and collectors’ items in their own right. The deep modal version of “Love Song” and Freddie Hubbard’s perennial spiritual jazz standard “Little Sunflower” are both taken from the 1973 LP The Alan Lee Jazz Quartet. The 1973 album Gallery Concerts 1973, which was recorded for Bruce Clarke’s jazz sub-label Cumquat Records, provides us with a fierce electric-jazz version of Igor Stravinsky’s “Dance of the Adolescents” from The Rite of Spring, plus the plaintive chamber jazz of John Lewis’s “Sketch” as well as two tracks featuring vocalist Jeannie Lewis — “Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5” and the beautiful “Bailero.” Completing this compendium is a cover of the Milt Jackson-penned “Enchanted Lady” taken from the 1974 follow-up recording for Jazznote, The Smilor. This anthology is filled out by Lee’s stories, including his correspondence with fellow vibraphone player Gary Burton on how to achieve advanced extended techniques for the vibraphone (resulting in pages of technical diagrams) and a story about travelling across the US to purchase an original 1940s Deagan Imperial vibraphone from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra “just to get that Milt Jackson sound.” There are moments of deep introspection and intellect in Lee’s playing; this is emotional music that contains and shares a common spiritual oneness, seeking the thrill Lee experienced after first listening to Lionel Hampton and The Benny Goodman Quartet.
File Under: Jazz
Mecanica Popular: Que Suede con el Tiempo? (Dead-Cert) LP
Behold, a cultishly coveted slab of freeform new wave dance/tape music from 1984 Madrid, Spain, reissued by Andy Votel, Sean Canty, and Doug Shipton’s Dead-Cert label. Notable not only for including Beppe Loda’s Typhoon favorite, “La Edad del Bronce” — which sounds uncannily like a cut from Craig Leon’s Nommos (1981) — this album also features the beguiling concrète funk of “Galilea: Centro de Datos,” which, by any measure, bears a striking, prototypical resemblance to Photek’s “Ni – Ten – Ichi – Ryu” and has become something of an oft-asked-about staple in Dead-Cert’s polysemous, polymetric DJ sets. Founded in 1978, Mecánica Popular was the brainchild of Luis Delgado (also a member of Finis Africae) and Eugenio Muñoz, conceived and nurtured during after-hours sessions in Madrid’s Estudios RCA using exclusively tape loops — no samples involved. They did, however, use an innovative set-up including a Polaroid 600 camera, an Eventide H910 Harmonizer, and an ARP Odyssey, all fed thru a matrix of FX to make a wonky, clanking sound that could be happily compared with the output of Conrad Schnitzler, Chris Carter, Jon Hassell, or Kerry Leimer during that fertile early-’80s era. For the DJs and post-punk fanatics, this one way is just too good to miss out on. Edition of 500. Cut at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin.
File Under: Electronic, Industrial
Ron Morelli: A Gathering Together (Hospital) LP
A Gathering Together is Ron Morelli’s second full-length for Hospital Productions, a “techno” cacophony brought to its granular detail and reduced to its most elemental tonal depths. A cohesive fusion of surreal and feverish déjà-vu loops, brittle noise, fucked rhythms, scrap-metal percussions, pro-one metal synths, and an injection of near-buried Drāno vocal samples, it’s a fearsome celebration of brokenness and of amplified surroundings, with stereo-shifting drones and driving rhythms that tell the stories of those now gone — more a soundtrack for a wake than 4/4 crafted for the dancefloor. There’s a naked anxiety at work that doesn’t turn away from loss but runs with an excited melancholy toward a future that won’t exist. The boldness of the gestures is not to be confused with exuberance. With this effort Morelli has shown remarkable restraint and patience, most notably highlighted on title-track “A Gathering Together,” an intense cut born from rapid-paced dead-end urban environments that force people together. It’s a calling to do more, include more, and celebrate the many forms within those inconspicuous places. Upon numerous listens, it’s clear that the sound-design is a reflection of heavy compositional themes that suggest a greater whole. This is hard, dirty techno — humid, reduced, bare-bones, yet dense and dissolved to its electronic soil. Heavy without being oppressive, it is the culmination of many elements pulled from all spheres of modern electronics, eaten, digested, and spit back out. Produced at the end of 2014, with final mixdown and additional production in spring 2015 by Krikor Kouchian and Ron Morelli in Paris. Mastered and cut by Matt Colton.
File Under: Electronic, Industrial, Ambient
OST: Lone Wolf & Cub (K.O.) LP
“Rediscover in its vinyl release for the very first time the original soundtrack of the cult movie series in 6 parts played by the Baby Carts and produced by Kenji Misumi after the adaptation of famous manga entitled Lone Wolf & Cub, created by writer Kazuo Koike and artist Goseki Kojima. In medieval 17th century Japan, during the Edo period, Ogami Ittō, the implacable and stoic Shōgun’s executioner, played by legendary Tomisaburo Wakayama, is dismissed from his title and position as part as a masterplan plotted by the Yagyū clan. After the murder of his wife and the slaughter of all their household, Ogami Ittō throws himself into a blood battle to avenge the death of his clan and his disgrace by becoming a rōnin, a samourai with no lord or master. Together with his young son Daigorō, whom he wheels about in a stroller replete with weapons of all kinds, they become known from now on as Kozure Okami, which literally means ‘Lone Wolf and Cub’, they wander the country with an unwavering drive as an assassin-team to be hired by the highest bidder to avenge themselves in bloodshed and vowing to topple the Yagyū clan. As a result of an unexpected mixture of traditional Japanese music and psychedelic rock music with multiple echoing and resounding effects, as well as musical elements that are reminiscent of the blaxploitation film genre of the 1970s, these 24 tracks perfectly convey the dramatic stance and epic dimension of the series. Moving from dream-like and hypnotic passages played by an orchestra of violins and wind instruments to faster ones, in which the taiko – percussion instruments – gallop their way through the Japanese landscapes of this medieval fantasy, these compositions created by Hideaki Sakurai give pride of place to the shakuhachi, a typical Japanese bamboo flute. With its diverse and changing forms, Sakurai’s music takes on different shades that give it an atypical side ? at times funky, as in the Besieging Army of Ura Yagyu piece, it can also become more jazzy, as in the final theme of the Baby Cart In Peril. Although they keep their original identity, these rare instruments abound in influences and will ravish the fans of the series, but also more widely-speaking all music lovers, thanks to their overflowing of richness and inventiveness. This DELUXE edition comes with embossed sleeve, red vinyl, a poster reproducing the first part of the saga’s original one, and an exclusive seven-inch single including 3 tracks from the TV series. LIMITED TO 500 copies only. Be quick or be dead!”
File Under: OST
Evan Parker/John Edwards/Chris Corsano: The Hurrah (Otoroku) LP
The Hurrah is the second recorded outing from the universe-shifting free jazz trio of Evan Parker, John Edwards, and Chris Corsano. This trio has been playing together since 2006, sometimes expanding into quartets with the likes of Noah Howard, John Russell, Joe McPhee, John Coxon, and Paul Dunmall. The material on this LP was recorded by James Dunn at Cafe OTO in London on August 22, 2014, during Corsano’s four-night residency. All material recorded live; no editing or post-production. As raw and liberating as it was on the evening. Evan Parker: tenor saxophone; John Edwards: double bass; Chris Corsano: drums. All compositions by Evan Parker/John Edwards/Chris Corsano. Artwork by Dennis Tyfus. Mixed by Rupert Clervaux at Grays Inn Road, London. Mastered by Andreas “Lupo” Lubich at Calyx, Berlin.
File Under: Free Jazz, Improv
Regis: Manbait (Blackest Ever Black) LP
Manbait is a survey of Regis’s 2010-’15 productions and remixes for Blackest Ever Black. In addition to three originals (in several different versions) and his celebrated remixes of Raime, Vatican Shadow, Ike Yard, and Dalhous, it features three previously unreleased tracks: a Regis take on a lost song by his own teenage synth-punk group Family Sex, an alternate mix of Tropic of Cancer’s “Plant Lilies at My Head,” and an edit of his own “Blinding Horses.” Regis — real name Karl O’Connor — requires little in the way of introduction. Founder of the Downwards label, lynchpin of the late Sandwell District collective, one half of British Murder Boys (with Surgeon), and instigator of numerous other projects (among them Ugandan Methods, Concrete Fence, Kalon, and Sandra Electronics), the eternally shape-shifting O’Connor is one of techno’s last true visionaries. O’Connor’s arrival on Blackest Ever Black in 2010 coincided with a radical recalibration, and heightening, of his production work, and the tracks collected on Manbait document nothing less than an artist at the peak of his powers. One can hear elements of Sandwell District’s Berlin-incubated warehouse minimalism, the brutish dancefloor provocations of Regis’s ’90s Downwards material (what will always be known, against his wishes, as ‘The Birmingham Sound’), the DIY drone-pop and darkwave of Sandra Electronics, the high-torque breakbeat experiments of British Murder Boys. Throughout the listener is treated to some of the most morbidly atmospheric sound design in all electronic music (the shadowplay of ’80s goth and industrial made thrillingly contemporary), and to urgent, cyclical, ruthlessly avant-garde drum-programming informed by jungle, dubstep, and grime… but always unmistakably, irreducibly Regis. Manbait’s key track actually predates O’Connor’s association with Blackest Ever Black by several months: “C U 1,” a nauseous, low-slung production credited to his alias Cub, and originally self-released, incognito, on an imprint of the same name in April 2010. With its coarsely broken-beat, disarmingly slow tempo, and deep pools of low-end pressure, it set the tone for O’Connor’s productions in the ensuing half-decade. In 2015, five years after its release, it’s still pretty much untouchable. All tracks mastered and cut by Matt Colton at Alchemy, London, except “Loss (Regis Version),” mastered by Veronica Vasicka, and “C U 1,” mastered by CGB at Dubplates & Mastering. CD housed in full-color digipak. With exquisite cover art (Survivor, 1987) by none other than Val Denham, this is an anthology that no conscientious stableboy or girl can refuse. Life hurts!
File Under: Electronic, Industrial, Techno
Rodinia: Drumside/Dreamside (Now-Again) LP
“Ambient Krautrock in line with Cluster, Popul Vuh, Tangerine Dream. Now-Again Records has enjoyed a long and creative partnership with Munich-based multi-instrumentalist JJ Whitefield, creative force behind the Poets of Rhythm, Whitefield Brothers and Karl Hector & The Malcouns. Rodinia, his latest project, is quite different than anything that’s come from his oeuvre to date, but follows in the line of the Poets of Rhythm’s great Discern/Define, as it reaches back to Krautrock’s experimental heyday but pushes its boundaries with a post-hip-hop approach. That’s to say that everything you read in the header above is true, but the ambient sound Whitefield and his Rodinia collaborator — saxophonist and keyboardist Johannes Schleiermacher — reached for found itself morphing over the course of a year. What was originally recorded in a two-day studio lock-in, which found Whitefield and Schleiermacher hooking up ‘all our vintage synths (Korg MS-20, Moog Prodigy, Roland Juno 60, Jen SX 1000, Korg Polysix), triggering everything with a vintage Korg rhythm box, absorbing some mind altering substances and jamming out,’ was later turned into two, side-long suites, with over-dubbed reeds, drums and guitar, and self-made Moroccan field recordings introducing the project on its Drumside.”
File Under: Ambient, Pseudo Krautrock
Romperayo: s/t (Discrepant) LP
Psychedelic cumbia discharges from Bogotá, Colombia. Romperayo’s full-length debut reunites Pedro Ojeda (from projects such as Los Pirañas, Frente Cumbiero, Ondatrópica, and Chúpame el Dedo) on drums, percussion, and timbales; Eblis Álvarez (from internationally-acclaimed bands Meridian Brothers and Los Pirañas) on samplers and synths; virtuoso organist and pianist Ricardo Gallo on synthesizers; and renowned bassist and composer Juan Manuel Toro on bass. Romperayo’s sound is a fast-moving musical journey through Colombian tropical folklore, a mischievous modern interpretation of the up-tempo rhythms of descarga and the psychedelic sounds of ’70s cumbia. By cleverly incorporating urban sounds and sampling techniques into the tropical music of the past decades, Romperayo embodies Colombia’s modern folklore scene. Artwork by Colombian artist Mateo Rivano. Cut and pressed at Optimal.
File Under: Electronic, Experimental, Cumbia
Roots Manuva: Bleeds (Big Dada) LP
Not only one of Britain’s greatest musical artists, but one of the greatest lyricists full stop, Roots Manuva is back with a dazzling new album, Bleeds. Past collaborations with everyone from Gorillaz to the Maccabees to Leftfield to Coldcut to the Cinematic Orchestra, Rodney Smith’s influence can be heard right across the musical landscape. Now, with his sixth studio album, he has made his most concise and focused record to date, his most emotionally affecting and powerful release since his breakthrough, Run Come Save Me. Drawing upon production assistance from young British producer, Fred, together with musical heavyweights Four Tet, Adrian Sherwood and Switch’s new production team, With You, the title of the record is, in the man’s own words, an “egocentric jest of daring to do things in the tradition of Jesus: I’m ready to bleed for the artform.” It is, of course, also a reference to the way in which genres, in the sonic world of Roots Manuva, have a tendency to bleed into one another, so that hip hop, reggae, techno, funk, neo-classical, all blend together to create “liquid soul, the blood, the bleeds that paint infinite sacred wonders in our dreams and unfold in our day-to-day.”
File Under: Hip Hop, Soul, Electronic
Shiggajon: Sela (El Paraiso) LP
It’s tempting to categorize Danish collective Shiggajon as a spiritual jazz ensemble. But while there’s an element of ritualism present, there’s also a postmodern tendency to absorb everything from Sufi music to krautrock and contemporary electronic drone. Heavily modulated guitar pedals and processed vocals accompany layers of flutes, strings, bells, and percussion as the most natural thing in the world. It’s the kind of music that demands openness and surrender. These two long, multi-layered, cacophonous pieces occasionally come off as slightly abrasive and dissonant, but ultimately the music is a process resulting in joyful catharsis and healing.
File Under: Jazz, Drone, Kosmische
Small Black: Best Blues (Jagjaguwar) LP
Gracing the cover of Brooklyn band Small Black’s new record, a mysterious woman walks alone on the dunes at dusk, amid pockmarked sand. She’s the subject of a found photo, one of many rescued with the warmth of a blow dryer and a fireplace, by singer Josh Hayden Kolenik after Hurricane Sandy flooded his family’s Long Island home. The faded image offers clues and invites viewers to construct their own narrative, one that escapes even the picture’s taker, Kolenik’s father. To put it simply, Best Blues is an album about loss, the specific loss of precious people in our lives, but also the loss of memories and the difficult fight to preserve them. “I spent months trying to scan all these images and letters, most covered with ocean dirt, and in doing so discovered what people often find in their family’s past: that they are a hell of a lot like those who’d come before,” says Kolenik. The chorus of standout “Boys Life” echoes this sentiment with the refrain “pictures of youth/picturing you,” over a track that itself was an old demo re-discovered by accident by the band, during a late night jam session at a cabin in Upstate NY. The compassion of the record collects itself in the soft repeating mantra-esque hook in “No One Wants It To Happen To You.” The group’s third full length release, written and recorded at their Brooklyn home studio, nicknamed 222, showcases a band still evolving, and embracing the unpredictable. Kolenik (keys, vocals), Ryan Heyner (guitar, keys, vocals), Juan Pieczanski (bass, guitar) and Jeff Curtin (drums) have been recording, writing, and often living together, throughout the life of the band, establishing a closeness that has allowed them to achieve easy creativity and unspoken chemistry. After a year of recording, that band enlisted mixer Nicholas Vernhes (War on Drugs, Deerhunter) of Rare Book Room Studio to help complete the record. Best Blues finds the band in their sweet spot: the smoky intersection of considered and vulnerable songwriting and loose, almost nonchalant ambience. The addition of piano flourishes, trumpet (Darby Cicci of The Antlers), hidden acoustic guitars and Kaede Ford’s ethereal vocals provide new dimensions to the band’s already expansive sonic palette. Cut-to-the-chase rippers “Back at Belle’s” and “Checkpoints” embody and build on the group’s signature gritty yet focused electronic sound. While the more pastoral tracks, such as “Between Leos,” and “XX Century,” skeletally based on recorded improvisations, find the band painting a more nuanced, assured aural portrait. The repeating of the line “twentieth century” on closer, “XX Century”, serves as a coda for the album, offering a simple summation of what Best Blues’ intent has been from the opening Casio stab: an attempt to reexamine the past, but also one to let it go.
File Under: Electronic, Pop
Sunburned Hand of the Man: Mind of a Brother (Feeding Tube) LP
“Amazing archival retrieval (with extra material on the download) of the first release by long-running human zoo known as Sunburned. Forged in the heat of Kristin Anderson’s Charlestown loft, the group more or less descended straight from the corpse of Shit Spangled Banner, although they did not assume the band name until 1997 (two years after the first protean jams had started). The material on the album was recorded in 1997 & ’98, often deep in the grip of acid flashes, and it really shows. Over the course of their nearly two-decade lifetime, Sunburned has been many things, but it’s easy to forget how spacily jazzoid and proggily psyched-out their initial gushes were. The music here is wildly explorative and crazily inventive, sharing a clear affinity with fellow travelers No Neck Blues Band. Indeed, the second edition of the CDR of this album was created to be sold on a 1999 tour which was No Neck, John Fahey, and Sunburned. One can only shudder at the mere thought. Anyway, this may well be one of the best Sunburned albums. It has a bizarre sweetness I never noticed in the band back then, because they always seemed like thugs underneath everything else. But you can really sense it here. And Rob Thomas’s excellent liner notes attest to the benign flow of their early visions. How nice to hear where this weird trip started.” –Byron Coley, 2015
File Under: Abstract, Psych, Rock
Andrea Taeggi: Mama Matrix Most Mysterious (Type) LP
Italian artist Andrea Taeggi’s Mama Matrix Most Mysterious is a rich exploration of tense, rhythmic minimalism. Unlike his work with Koenraad Ecker as Lumisokea and his material under the Gondwana moniker, the album showcases Taeggi’s interest in finding strength in simplicity. Taeggi was able to limit himself by working on old modular synthesizer systems — the Buchla and the Serge, to be exact. “I needed to adapt to them,” he admits. “I don’t actually master them, which isn’t necessarily a disadvantage.” This playfulness buoys Mama Matrix Most Mysterious throughout, distancing it from the litany of self-involved modular synth LPs filling the shelves right now. The Serge and Buchla systems allowed the Italian producer to realize his rhythmic and timbric visions; Taeggi filters decades of beat-driven electronic music through these machines to come up with a record of chattering, bass-heavy experiments that sound like little else. You’d struggle to dance to it, but Taeggi’s sound is so physical that you can almost feel the electricity running through the circuits. And isn’t that exactly what electronic music should be about? Mastered and cut by Matt Colton. RIYL Pan Sonic, SND, Raster-Noton. Edition of 500.
File Under: Electronic, Synth
Jr. Thomas & The Volcanos: Beware (Truth & Soul) LP
“Junior Thomas is a songwriter, musician, vocalist, and producer born north of Minneapolis, MN. He developed a sincere devotion to classic Jamaican music at a young age, listening to such artists as Dave Barker, The Bleechers, The Wailers, Phyllis Dillon, and Alton Ellis. ‘I wanted to make a record that was honest and true to the golden era of Jamaican music’ says Thomas. The Volcanos are a collective of Southern Californian musicians specializing in Reggae’s late 60s early 70s sound.”
File Under: Reggae
United Bible Studies: The Ale’s What Cures Ye (Mie) LP
The Ale’s What Cures Ye by United Bible Studies is a compendium of traditional and modern folk songs as interpreted by the band and inspired by Folkways. United Bible Studies in The Ale’s What Cures Ye are David Colohan (Raising Holy Sparks), Michael Tanner (Plinth), Áine O’Dwyer, Nicholas Palmer, Alison Cotton, Richard Moult, Louise McGrath, and Sharron Kraus. Mixed by Michael Tanner; mastered by Patrick Klem; sleeve by Lucy Duncombe. Edition of 300; includes download code. The record also comes with a booklet of words by the band members. Here are three extracts: “Titled after the Black Sands of ‘Sweet Streams of Nancy’ and pieced together from the relative geographies of melodies found elsewhere on the album, ‘Blacksands’ represents, to my mind, the band as a whole — waxing and waning between various members offerings and sewn together with a shared understanding of something more unified and ancient. Recorded in various parts of the English countryside and the Irish midlands.” “Dave brought the Litany to the table, and I was only faintly familiar with it from the Hart/Prior version. F.W. Moorman’s paean to itinerant labouring hardships, the piece always conjured images of the families left behind in the search for pit work — A concept which lead to the creation of a kind of coda, The Burning Sea — with Alison Cotton’s vocals from Ten Thousand Miles echoed here in an altogether different form… that of a distressed wife abandoned overseas, set against a scree of gradually deconstructed/decaying viola lines.” “Many’s the tip Johnny Moynihan offered me regarding the songs I was singing whilst touring with him one Summer. Singing ‘The Recruited Collier’ exactly as Anne Briggs had done was one of them. However, on this recording, Nature intervened. The tide was fast approaching & in our haste, I sang ‘take my heart’ rather than ‘break my heart’. Not only that, but I sang it twice, perhaps recalling Pavement’s advice to repeat any mistakes you made so as to make them seem deliberate. With no room for second takes, we made good our escape from the smugglers cave & I swore to never haul a harmonium up & down a cliff face ever again.”
File Under: Folk, Experimental
Voices From The Lake: Live at MAXXI (Editions Mego) LP
After their respective releases on Spectrum Spools, Italian techno masterminds Donato Dozzy (Sintetizzatrice) and Neel (Phobos) return as the duo Voices from the Lake with Live at MAXXI on the motherlabel Editions Mego. A marvelous, organic live set of hypnotic, ambient techno that proves the outstanding and elegant craftsmanship of the pair’s renowned sonic sculpture work. As expected, they stay true to their polyphonic topography of liquid scapes, with aquatic sceneries embedded in soaking dense atmospheres, gently gyrating the listener into a trance. Sometimes soft echoes of sirenic voices are heard — the only remnants of human traces in these spaces that have suspended time, where smooth silky textures are channeled into fractal structures that induce a state of transcendence. The haptic quality of their sound adds up to a sonic matrix provoked by gentle glides and dynamic beat patterns of an almost tribalistic quality. Dunked in a bath of dark fluid, sometimes washed away at the shores of kosmische, Voices from the Lake’s tunes seduce the listener into a condition of haziness, culminating in a cover of Paolo Conte’s “Max,” a dazzling sample of sweet, dreamy melancholia. With this release Voices from the Lake succeed again in strengthening their position as supremely refined ambient techno producers. All music written and produced by Donato Scaramuzzi and Giuseppe Tillieci, except “Max,” written by Paolo Conte. Guitar overdubs and arrangements on “Max” by Brando Lupi. Mastered by Giuseppe Tillieci at Enisslab Studio in Rome. Recorded at MAXXI in Rome on October 25th, 2014, during the Open Museum Open City exhibition. Photography and cover design by Koto Hirai.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Techno
Frank Wright Quartet: Church Number Nine (Calumet) LP
This is the free jazz record that everyone wants. Its long, mythic history is shrouded and whispered about because of it rarity. Church Number Nine was recorded on March 7, 1970, but remained buried until it was released in 1973 on the Calumet label, a Parisian venture that instantly evaporated into thin air. Only 300 copies of the album made it into circulation; the rest were apparently destroyed. The line-up is one of free jazz’s greatest, the same quartet as Frank Wright’s legendary BYG Actuel outing One for John: Wright on tenor, Noah Howard on alto, Bobby Few on piano, and Muhammad Ali on drums. The opening track is a monumental 26-minute slab of holy-rolling free gospel. Heavily indebted to Albert Ayler, Wright’s take on the spiritual is spiced up by adding additional percussion. This is when Wright and Howard are not blowing their horns to smithereens — they both unleash an all-incinerating racket, an ominously heavy whirlwind of feverish, infernal blowing. Bobby Few is a standout in these sessions and exerts explosive and alternating churchy licks and furious clusters until the whole comes crashing down like the walls of Jericho under the blasts of the horns. The second piece comprises tight bursts of energy, ripping notes to pieces like there is no tomorrow. Possessed vocals from various members imbue the proceedings with an air of a possession ceremony amid the fractured tone-clusters of the torrential sonic storm. This record is heavy, ecstatic, and mind-blowing! Church Number Nine is without a single doubt one of the greatest free-blowing jazz discs ever to be put down on wax. One-time pressing of 300 copies. Faithful to the original.
File Under: Free Jazz
Various: Excavated Shellac: Reeds (Parlotone) LP
Includes eight-page booklet and download code. Reed instruments are capable of some of the most impassioned music on the planet, due to the malleability of the reeds themselves — historically made of plant tissue — which vibrate when air hits them. The origin of most reed instruments is steeped in rural, pastoral culture. Many insistent, loud, often joyful reed instruments have always been played outdoors as traditional accompaniment for dancing and celebrations. This compelling album is the second volume in the Excavated Shellac release series, featuring rare, never-before-issued 78-RPM records from around the world centered on a unique theme. The previous volume (Excavated Shellac: Strings (DTD 044CD)) focused on stellar stringed-instrument performances. This release examines some of the most intense and hypnotic music set to disc during the early years of international recording, all featuring reed instruments.. All records have been carefully transferred and mastered. Featuring rare and historic photos, jaw-dropping graphics from the 78-RPM era, and extensive liner notes by compiler Jonathan Ward, founder and author of the acclaimed Excavated Shellac website. Includes tracks by I Tre Antonio della Basilicata (Italy), Sylvain Poujouly & Achille Marc (Auvergne, France), Karzana Oyun Havasi (Turkey), Tufanpur Orchestra (Iran), Ahn Ki-Ok and Kin Yin Kuan (North Korea), Guangdong Troupe with Da Kai men (China), T. Rajarathnam Pillai (India), Selim (Albania), Obdulia Alvarez, “La Busdonga” (Asturias, Spain), Jhande Nath (India), Hoseynkali was Roofakah (Kurdistan), Mohamed Efendi Baz (Upper Egypt), Ngoma Ya Kitokomire (Tanzania), Mqonga Sikanise (South Africa), Musicians of Radio Studio Skopje (Macedonia), uncredited musicians (Tajikistan), and Parush Parushev (Bulgaria).
File Under: World, Folk
Various: I Can’t Give You the Life You Want (Blackest Ever Black) LP
“Blackest Ever Black US exclusive release manufactured and distributed by Mount Analog. 500 copies worldwide featuring unreleased and brand new material from Tropic of Cancer, Bremen, Tarcar, Cut Hands, Exploring Jezebel, Dalhous, Secret Boyfriend, 500 Stamps (Veronica Vasicka), Infrastructure Zero and more.”
File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Industrial
Various: Ork Records: New York, New York (Numero) 4LP/2CD
Where in the mythos of punk is there room for a frizzy-haired cinephile San Diegan? How could the defining rock attitude and look of the late 1970s get brainstormed by two go-nowheres from a boarding school in Hockessin, Delaware – a D student and kid voted Most Unknown by his senior class? Forget the worn-out yarns about London gobbers and safety pin piercings – the true story of the birth of punk rock on 45 is the story of Ork Records, captured by Numero Group on four hefty LPs and told across 120 high-gloss pages filled with insider photos and sordid details. It is a story populated by iconic names like Television, Alex Chilton, Lester Bangs, Richard Hell, the Feelies, Patti Smith, Talking Heads, Brian Eno, Blondie and the Ramones. And it’s a tale told from the hallowed grounds of CBGB, Max’s Kansas City, and Ardent Studios. It all began with Terry Ork, a Jewish SoCal film nerd enthralled by Andy Warhol’s posse as they made a transgressive surfing flick, who moved cross-country to manage a movie memorabilia shop on the grubby streets of the Lower East Side. Made in the shadows of disco and dereliction in late-‘70s Manhattan, Ork Records: New York, New York is not just the genesis of punk, it is the birth of the New York City scene and indie culture as we know it.
• 49 total tracks, including previously unreleased recordings by Richard Lloyd, Alex Chilton, Feelies, Erasers and the first singles by Television and Richard Hell
• 120-page hard cover coffee table book featuring previously unpublished photos by revered NYC punk photographers David Godlis, Ebet Roberts and Roberta Bayley (Ramones)
• 37,000-word essay detailing birth of punk rock on 45, populated by iconic artists like Television, Alex Chilton, Lester Bangs, Richard Hell, the Feelies, Patti Smith, Talking Heads, Brian Eno, Blondie, and the Ramones
• A comprehensive look into early punk and the NYC music scene from 1975-1979
File Under: Punk, Rock
Various: Uchronia: Field Recordings from Alternate Realities (Sahel Sounds) LP
“Ethnographic documentation of a fictional Bamako where Abubakari II discovered America. Musical recordings of future manding, bamako nu-wave, hip hop visionaries, and the sounds of an imagined geography. Includes 60 page booklet of photographs. Collaboration between photographer Maciek Pozoga and musicologist Christopher Kirkley, and a number of Bamako’s artists, ethnologists, musicians, and designers. Soundtrack for the exhibition ‘Uchronia : The Unequivocal Interpretation of Reality.'”
File Under: World
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Neko Case: Truckdriver Gladiator Mule… now Nov 20
Deafheaven: New Bermuda LP… now Nov 20
Steve Hauschildt: Where all is Fled… next week???
Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp A Butterfly LP… now Nov 6
Sigur Ros: ( )…. en route!
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Kamasi Washington: The Epic… late no ETA
Wolf Eyes: I Am A Problem… Next week