Another moderate week but some real killer slabs. And since it’s going to rain all this long weekend, you might as well come down and have a dig.
…..pick of the week…..
John Bender: I Don’t Remember Now/I Don’t Want to Talk About It (Superior Viaduct) LP
John Bender recorded voraciously between 1978 and 1980 at his home in Cincinnati, Ohio. Not even song titles could slow down his creative pace, as he named all the tracks after their position on the original tapes. “36A2,” for example, was cassette #36 side A, piece #2. To close the DIY aesthetic circle, Bender made sleeves by hand with no two covers alike and pressed the LPs in hyper-limited editions on his own Record Sluts imprint. I Don’t Remember Now / I Don’t Want To Talk About It, Bender’s first album from 1980, is the holy grail of minimal lo-fi electronics. Layers of fractured melodies, distorted synthesizers, hollowed-out rhythms and claustrophobic vocals unfold over the 40 minutes of this lost masterpiece. “It’s A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl,” one of Faust’s greatest songs, is perfectly deconstructed by a distinct punk-meets-experimentalist sensibility. While I Don’t Remember Now is impossibly rare and the man behind the music remains shrouded in self-imposed mystery, the real surprise is that it has taken 35+ years for listeners to discover Bender’s warm, art-damaged immediacy. This first-time standalone reissue is recommended for fans of Pere Ubu, Brian Eno and Robert Ashley. Limited to 1,000 numbered copies. Red vinyl with hand-stamped jackets, each one unique. Liner notes by John Bender.
File Under: Electronic, Minimal Wave, Essential Grooves
Angry Angels: s/t (Goner) LP
This 17-song collection comprises the complete studio recordings (including five unreleased tracks) of Angry Angles, the Jay “Reatard” Lindsey and Alix Brown project that came together shortly after the mid-2005 demise of the former’s long-running primary endeavor, The Lost Sounds. The sheer immensity of Lindsey’s musical discography relative to the artist’s demise in January of 2010 at the age of 29 is an undeniably impressive attribute of his legacy. But unlike other artists with massively prolific output, Lindsey’s militantly self-imposed standard of quality control assured this project was not simply a prolonged demo or practice session for what came next—his landmark solo debut Blood Visions. Sure, extraneous live documents reveal a handful of set items that turned up on that album, and there’s more than a passing riff among the songs collected here that did the same. Ms. Brown herself even appeared on that album’s “I See You Standing There” and “We Who Wait.” But Blood Visions didn’t really “come next” at all. Angry Angles’ musical demise, at some point during the latter half of 2006, was a direct result of Brown and Lindsey’s demise romantically. In fact, the release of Blood Visions in October of 2006 was to be followed closely by a proper studio full-length by Angry Angles, with the latter receiving heavier promotion. And unlike much of the man’s discography, this was not “The Jay Show” all the way. Brown wrote three of these tracks: the amazing “Apparent – Transparent” as well as no-slouches “In My Room” and “You Call It Love,” the latter of which originally closed out the Angles’ debut 7-inch EP. The band’s songs are guitar-based noise-pop / punk (not “pop punk”) certainly informed by the garage-rock / punk landscape that Lindsey was constantly and effortlessly schooling. There are outside influences (post-punk…whatever the hell that means, really) but “the hook” is the biggest concern at the end of the day. This Angry Angles retrospective is the result of nine months of work by the involved parties of Goner Records; co-founder and handler of the band’s visual presentation, Alix Brown; Adam Shore, Lindsey’s manager / archivist in life and beyond; tour and sometimes studio drummer, Ryan Rousseau, then of Tokyo Electron and then and now the man responsible for the almighty Destruction Unit.
File Under: Indie Rock
Braids: Companion (Flemish Eye) 12″
Braids is a three-piece experimental pop band from Montreal. In the spring of 2015 they released Deep In The Iris, their standout third record. Companion is the band’s latest 4 track EP, written during the Deep In The Iris sessions, and completed during a burst of creative energy in August 2015. Here Braids use the palette of Deep In The Iris to paint decidedly different vistas – joy, disaffection, thunderous explosion to delicate introspection, the minimalistic power of “Companion” to the patient blossoming of “Sweet World.” Distinct in their own right, these 4 songs are not to be dismissed as b-sides, outtakes, or the lesser of a group of songs. Though it uses Deep In The Iris as a compositional guidepost, Companion is a breathtaking journey all of its own.
File Under: Indie Rock
Sarah Davachi: Dominions (Jaz) LP
Dominions is the second full-length release from Canadian electroacoustic composer Sarah Davachi, following 2015’s Barons Court. A slightly more demure approach is at work here, shifting from the brooding textures of her previous work to softer tones and more delicate movements in structure, as in side openers “Feeler” and “Ordinal.” Recorded primarily at her home base in Vancouver, Davachi returns with her typical assembly of electronic equipment, mostly consisting of vintage synthesizers as well as the Orchestron, a rare optical sampler known for its low fidelity charms. The five compositions on this release breathe new life into these obsolete machines, pausing only for the stringed cacophony of the album’s closer. Melodics emerge almost as an afterthought, suggesting something farther and more distant, echoed in the disjointed imagery of local artist, Daniel Presnell. Previous release, Barons Court, on Students of Decay.
File Under: Ambient, Drone
Electric Citizen: Higher Time (Riding Easy) LP
After bursting to the American heavy rock forefront with their 2014 debut album, Sateen, Cincinnati four-piece Electric Citizen are ready for a Higher Time. Their second album for RidingEasy, it is a breakout moment for the band as a whole and for vocalist Laura Dolan, who stands tall in the spotlight throughout “Evil,” “Misery Keeper” and the rest of Higher Time, rising to the occasion of a fuller, bigger sound and meeting the memorable riffing of husband/guitarist Ross Dolan head on with already-stuck-in-your-head hooks and a fiery, passionate delivery. Electric Citizen spread their name far and wide on tours with Fu Manchu, Wolfmother, Budos Band and Pentagram for Sateen. Look for them to support Higher Time on the road in North America and Europe throughout 2016 and beyond.
File Under: Metal, Stoner, Psych, Rock
Grimes: Halifaxa (Arbutus) LP
Geidi Primes is Grimes’ debut LP. Originally available as a free download and a limited release of cassettes in 2010, it’s now being issued worldwide on vinyl for the first time. It has a strange air of being created unconsciously while the artist herself was asleep. It is a vastly intriguing set of pop tunes highlighted by its amazing fifth and sixth songs: “Avi” and “Feyd Rautha Dark Heart,” which are each frighteningly reminiscent of an unaccountable psychic experience you may have never had. It seems like an album made for very tall people about what it’s like to be very small. It calls to mind the glowering of a child king amidst the many vestments and decorations of his coronation. Listening to Geidi Primes is what its like to suddenly realize you are being watched while taking a cold shower…on the moon.
File Under: Indie Rock
Ash Koosha: AKA (Ninja Tune) LP
I AKA I is the first album that Iranian-born, London-based electronic musician Ash Koosha has released on Ninja Tune and it is, by some distance, his best work yet. Koosha, lauded for his “mind-bending electronic music” (Pitchfork) and “intimate, elegantly fractured, beat-driven music” (The Guardian) has been supported by various publications including FACT via their LPs of the year for Guud. Koosha has also had to cope with a brief imprisonment for his music and seeking asylum in the UK, where he lives as an exile, unable to return home. He prefers, though, to concentrate on his art and, with I AKA I Koosha’s experimental drive solidifies into remarkable achievement, sitting somewhere between Amon Tobin and Flying Lotus and sharing qualities with the likes of Arca and Haxan Cloak but sounding like no one but himself. The results are nothing less than stunning. I AKA I, Koosha says “is about transformations in psychology and technological advancements – the result is always the same humans in the end.” The fifteen tracks feel less like separate entities than part of a bigger structure, but the structure itself is constantly informed by its parts, a kind of jazz aesthetic with none of the sounds or cliches of jazz.”
File Under: Electronic
Lucifer (Mort Garson): Black Mass (Black Mass Rising) LP
Well, if the words: “Mort Garson — 1971 — Modular synth — official — reissue — limited edition of 500” aren’t enough to excite you, how about this: “UK — exclusive!” Piqued your interest? Well, I’m sitting up; but I have to — we’re not allowed to review records here at NR any other way. Not that I’m aware of. Anyway, we’re all pretty excited, even now that the post has gone. So, ‘Lucifer’ then. Trippy? Why yes. Satanic? Um, I’ll get back to you on that one. Melodic and surprisingly pretty synth oscillations with a few quiet moments — pauses, I think they’re known as — and spooky moog. I do love a spooky moog. Track 3, ‘Incubus’, even has a slightly muffled female voice groaning and panting away; whether in agony or ecstasy I wouldn’t like to say, although if I were to hazard a guess I’d probably say both. ‘Black Mass’ oscillates ominously, with some evil noodles sprinkled o’er top. It’s frenetically paced and pretty groovy. ‘The Evil Eye’ has some BBC Radiophonic Workshop type atmosphere, before descending into something altogether more Italian-horror-film-soundtrack scary. Flipping over the record reveals manic synths attempting to exorcise some light demonettes, on ‘Exorcism’; music for creeping around on tiptoe in the dark to on ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’, the soundtrack to conjuring up the ghosts of your dear departed ones on ‘Voices of the Dead (The Medium)’ and the faintly ridiculous, unscary but still interesting timbres on remaining two tracks; ‘Witch Trial’ with its syncopated wobbliness and a brief tremolo on closing track ‘ESP’. It’s actually all pretty delightful.
File Under: Early Electronic
MF Doom: Live From Planet X (Metal Face) LP
Experience the exceedingly rare genius of an MF DOOM live performance with these exclusive “straight from the soundboard” audio recordings. Broadcasting from an undisclosed location, this limited-edition vinyl pressing of “Live From Planet X” offers fans a chance to own the most comprehensive glance into Doom’s lengthy career available. “Live From Planet X” includes over 50 minutes of live recordings spanning Operation Doomsday, Madvillain, MM…Food?, and more.
File Under: Hip Hop
Mrs. Magician: Bermuda (Swami) LP
Bermuda is the latest effort by San Diego’s dismal-pop outfit Mrs. Magician and their second full-length release on Swami Records. The album offers a concise collection of punk songs inspired by the big sounds of classic ’60s pop and rock ’n’ roll, with structures more associated with ’70s and ’80s power pop. Thomas Garcia’s blissed-out backwash guitar tones and fuck-it fuzz attack juxtapose the band’s dry and thudding foundation, creating a tropically depressed grog. Cutting through the lacquer with a glossy shimmer, producer Swami John Reis (Drive Like Jehu, Rocket From The Crypt, Hot Snakes) coaxes a tightly wound, rigid backdrop for vocalist Jacob Turnbloom’s morose-pop delivery. Lyrically far more non-linear than their 2012 debut album Strange Heaven, Bermuda echoes the familiar self-deprecating humor that is heavily present in the band’s prior work, but focuses less on interpersonal relationships, favoring broader inspirations of alienation and melodrama. Themes of gentrification, addiction, religion and the intoxicating aroma of modern day conspiracy theories wrestle against a bright and tight sonic terrain. This is the ghetto of Kokomo. Bermuda has a boozy and breezy island malaise on the surface. But once submerged, the listener is exposed to confusion, nihilism and the notion that even with all of our technology and omnipresence of big brother, essentially we are all still very lost.
File Under: Punk, Power Pop
Marissa Nadler: Strangers (Sacred Bones) LP
For more than twelve years, Marissa Nadler has perfected her own take on the exquisitely sculpted gothic American songform. On her seventh full-length, Strangers, she has shed any self-imposed restrictions her earlier albums adhered to, stepped through a looking glass, and created a truly monumental work. In the two years since 2014’s elegiac, autobiographical July, Nadler has reconciled the heartbreak so often a catalyst for her songwriting. Turning her writing to more universal themes, Nadler dives deep into a surreal, apocalyptic dreamscape. Her lyrics touch upon the loneliness and despair of the characters that inhabit them. These muses are primal, fractured, disillusioned, delicate, and alone. They are the unified voice of this record, the titular “Strangers.” This sense of “end times” is exemplified by the sparse, piano-driven opener “Divers of the Dust.” Written utilizing a Dadaist cut-up technique (popularized by David Bowie and William S. Burroughs), Nadler layers hypnagogic imagery of waves pulling cities into the ocean over a very personal tale of longing. Once again partnered with July producer Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Earth, Black Mountain) Nadler has created a new album equal in sonic quality to the apocalyptic lyrical tone that covers its 44 minutes. In places her voice and guitar play off subsonic synths, while elsewhere, as in “Katie I Know,” a pulsing drumbeat launches the song off into an intense, confrontational place. “Janie in Love” is another full-band highlight, marrying the album’s most allegorically primal lyrics to the melodic hooks that makes Nadler one of the best songwriters working today.
File Under: Folk, Rock
Pig Destroyer: Painter of Dead Girls (Robotic Empire) LP
Finally available on vinyl after over a decade of unavailability, the deluxe edition of Painter of Dead Girls showcases grind legends Pig Destroyer at their most primal. Recorded by a then-bassless power trio, this album captures the powerful and varied sounds of an envelope-pushing, borderline feral outfit behind the instruments as well as control panel. The first half of this collection album was initially tracked as an equipment burn-in test during the millennial year, leading up to Pig Destroyer recording their seminal Prowler in the Yard full-length. The secondary bulk of the material initially yielded their most sonically powerful recordings at the time, recorded in the late 1990s at Oblivion Studios (Pg.99, Enemy Soil, etc.). Rounding out this expanded edition of Painter of Dead Girls is the long-lost track “Delusional Supremacy 2K,” a raw mosh basement live recording of “Rejection Fetish,” and a truly bludgeoning cover of Helmet’s “In the Meantime” complementing the existing Dwarves and Stooges covers. With nineteen blistering tracks in total, all meticulously remastered by James Plotkin, this key piece of the Pig Destroyer catalog looks and sounds better than ever. The original cover work by Chris Taylor has been extended into a beautiful gatefold jacket with added metallic silver highlights. Newly created art adorns the interior, along with recently unearthed lyrics to all the Pig Destroyer songs on Painter of Dead Girls, printed in full for the first time ever. A double-sided photo collage inner-sleeve houses the vinyl, containing classic photos from the era surrounding these recordings. Including a digital download of the full release, Pig Destroyer’s classic Painter of Dead Girls collection is finally done justice on this deluxe edition release.
File Under: Metal, Grindcore
Steve Reich: Four Organs/Phase Patterns (Superior Viaduct) LP
Steve Reich remains one of the most important figures in 20th century music. Though he studied at the prestigious arts institutions Julliard and Mills College, by the mid-1960s Reich set about dismantling the very orthodoxy that he had been trained in. Forming a new musical language based on repetitive processes, Reich became established as part of the so-called “Big Four” of New York minimalists (along with La Monte Young, Terry Riley and Philip Glass). Reich’s influence can easily be seen today in both the classical world and contemporary pop music. “Four Organs” is the ultimate minimalist composition. Performed by Reich, Glass, Art Murphy and Steve Chambers, four identical Farfisa organs strike a single chord and gradually lengthen each note to produce polyrhythms between the players. Anchored by Jon Gibson’s stoically-steady pulse on maracas, the piece deconstructs its opening burst to a sustained mass of sound – stretching the tones to create (in Reich’s words) “slow-motion music.” Inspired by Reich’s early training on drums, “Phase Patterns” treats the keyboards like tuned percussion instruments: a basic rhythm pattern is played in unison and almost imperceptibly increases tempo to move out-of-sync. Each progressive cycle emphasizes unique figures that are not generated by an individual alone, but rather emerge from the communal expression of the group. Originally released on Shandar in 1971, Four Organs / Phase Patterns is one of the most highly regarded avant-garde recordings of the past 50 years. This first-time vinyl reissue features cover photography by artist Michael Snow and is recommended for fans of Neu!, Glenn Branca and Tim Hecker.
File Under: Avant-Garde, Minimalism, Classical
Zig Zags: Running Out of Red (Castle Face) LP
Los Angeles-based bonehead savants Zig Zags are no-nonsense ’80s style thrash with a magpie eye for deep-fried pop culture detritus. These guys give so few fucks while they are out ripping faces that it’s tough to say much about them that hasn’t been said before—they shred so that we may raise beers in non-ironic salute to their Voivod worship, to a world in which young heshers subscribe to Heavy Metal and practice early Slayer solos while watching daytime TV, to waking and baking as you watch the world burn. Running Out of Red is the soundtrack to getting high and driving around in your shitty car in your small town, occasionally getting laid…occasionally getting laid out at the local liquor store by an older dude. Gang vocals: check. 1-2 pit beat: on lock. Shredder solid state guitar heroics: ripping, and so should you, the bong is packed and I think there’s still pizza in the fridge. I can smell your pants from here, dude.
File Under: Punk, Space Rock, Stoner
Various: Brown Acid 2 (Riding Easy) LP
The celebrated compilation series of long-lost vintage ’60s-’70s proto-stoner-psych singles, Brown Acid delivers the second trip. Expertly archived compilation (asssembled by LA’s Permanent Records along with Riding Easy), this second volume features rippers from Aah, Sweet Crystal, Raving Maniac, Crossfield, Spiny Normen, Glas Sun, Voltrush Band, Buck, Iron Knowledge, and Sonny Hugg.
File Under: Stoner Rock, Psych, Metal
Various: Nigeria ’70 (Strut) 3LP+3CD
Limited new 15th anniversary repress of classic Afro-funk and afrobeat collection. 500 copies only on a 3LP set including 2CD version and 1 CD audio documentary. Originally released in 2001, the album followed the death of Fela Kuti and a renewed interest in original Afrobeat among younger club-goers. Put together over a three-week trip to Lagos, it documented for the first time the explosive era when domestic bands fused traditional highlife and juju with funk, soul, rock and disco. As well as being a valuable document of an under-rated era, Nigeria 70 was one of the first crossover albums to dig deep into the African music archives and effectively market the music to a new online audience hungry for rare grooves and unique dancefloor sounds. Since Nigeria 70, this market has widened hugely with labels like Soundway, Analog Africa and Hot Casa all working tirelessly to document rare African beats. This new pressing of the Nigeria 70 3LP set is limited to 500 copies and features the full CD version and CD audio documentary as a bonus within the package. Full artwork is also featured including John Armstrong’s extensive sleeve note history alongside rare photos. ESSENTIAL!!
File Under: Afro Beat, Funk, Africa
Various: Root Hog or Die: 100 Songs, 100 Years – An Alan Lomax Centennial Tribute (Mississippi) 6LP Box
“In celebration of Alan Lomax’s 100th birthday, Mississippi Records is proud to present a 6 LP box set featuring 100 of his finest field recordings. Previously unreleased tracks by Bob Dylan, Bascom Lamar Lunsford, Southern Drum and Fife Corps, Bill Broonzy, Rosa Lee Hill, Dennis McGee, Jean Ritchie, Shirley Collins, Bukka White, Vera Ward Hall, The Georgia Sea Island Singers, Son House and many more. 55 unreleased tracks in all on this set! Also features hard to find tracks by Skip James. Fred McDowell, Almeda Riddle, Duke of Iron, Jeannie Robertson, Bessie Jones, Texas Gladden, and many more. This set was lovingly compiled by Nathan Salsburg from the Alan Lomax archive’s deep well of material. Only top notch recordings. Limited to 1,000 copies worldwide. Set features : 6 LP’s in their own record sleeves highlighting beautiful photography from the Lomax Archive; Remastered audio by Timothy Stollenwerk; A 28 page booklet with many photos, an essay by Alan Lomax, a chronology of all of Lomax’s field recording trips, and liner notes by Nathan Salsburg; A heavy duty standard ‘candy box’ style outer box.”
File Under: Folk, Blues
Alabama Shakes: Boys & Girls (ATO) LP
Anohni: Hoplessness (Secretly Canadian) LP
Bathory: s/t (Black Mark) LP
Beastie Boys: Ill Communication (EMI) LP
Bjork: Debut (One Little Indian) LP
Bjork: Homogenic (One Little Indian) LP
Bon Iver: For Emma, Forever Ago (Jagjaguwar) LP
Bon Iver: s/t (Jagjaguwar) LP
Couch Slut: My Life As A Woman (MRI) LP
Cypress Hill: Black Sunday (Music on Vinyl) LP
Cypress Hill: s/t (Get on Down) LP
Death From Above 1979: Live at Third Man (Third Man) LP
De La Soul: 3 Feet High And Rising (Rhino) LP
Lana Del Rey: Born to Die (Universal) LP
Earthless: Sonic Prayer (Gravity) LP
Explosions in the Sky: The Wilderness (Temporary Residence) LP
Faith Healer: Cosmic Troubles (Mint) LP
Nils Frahm: Spaces (Erased Tapes) LP
Fugazi: End Hits (Dischord) LP
Fugazi: First Demo (Dischord) LP
Fugazi: In On The Killtaker (Dischord) LP
Fugazi: Margin Walker (Dischord) LP
Fugazi: Instrument (Dischord) LP
Fugazi: Red Medicine (Dischord) LP
Guided By Voices: Bee Thousand (Scat) LP
John Lee Hooker: Alone 1 (Fat Possum) LP
John Lee Hooker: Alone 2 (Fat Possum) LP
Skip James: Greatest of the Delta Blues Singers (Sutro Park) LP
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Quarters (Castle Face) LP
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: I’m in Your Mind Fuzz (Castle Face) LP
MF Doom: Mmm… Food (Rhymesayers) LP
Charles Mingus: Mingus Plays Piano (Superior Viaduct) LP
Charles Mingus: Black Saint & The Sinner Lady (Superior Viaduct) LP
Mogwai: Rock Action (PIAS) LP
Oliver Nelson: The Blues & The Abstract Truth (Dol) LP
Oh Sees: Carrion Crawler (In The Red) LP
Oh Sees: Drop (Castle Face) LP
Oh Sees: Floating Coffin (Castle Face) LP
Oh Sees: Help (In The Red) LP
Oh Sees: Master’s Bedroom.. (In The Red) LP
Oh Sees: Mutilator Defeated.. (Castle Face) LP
Oh Sees: Putrifiers II (In The Red) LP
Oh Sees: Singles 1 & 2 (Castle Face) LP
Oh Sees: Warm Slime (In The Red) LP
Om: Conference of Birds (Holy Mountain) LP
Om: Advaitic Songs (Drag City) LP
Ty Segall: Melted (Goner) LP
Ty Segall: Singles 2 (Drag City) LP
Ty Segall: Ty Rex (Goner) LP
Shigganaon: Sela (El Paraiso) LP
Spiritualized: Pure Phase (Plain) LP
Tyrannosaurus Rex: A Crown of Dark Swansdown (Easy Action) LP
Wolf Parade: Apologies to the Queen Mary (Sub Pop) 3LP
Woods: City Sun Eater In The River (Woodsist) LP