Once again, not a huge list this week. This will likely be a running theme for the next few weeks, as it is every summer. But all that 90s stuff is priced and available now. And, I just bought a bunch of 80s hard rock/metal. More mainstream than last summer’s metal haul, but still some cool stuff to look for in the bins soon.
…..pick of the week…..
Mtume Umoja Ensemble: Alkebu-Lan – Land of the Blacks
(Live at the East) (Strata-East) 2LP
180-gram exact repro reissue, originally released in 1972. Hyper-afro spiritual jazz teetering between avant-garde inventiveness and free jazz madness. “This album is a mean motherfucker. It’s an amazing document of the pure fire of Black Nationalist Free-Jazz. I discovered it during a period when I was picking at the outer reaches of Leroy Jenkins’ discography (he’s a member of this ensemble). At the time I had exhausted his output as a band leader and as a member of the Revolutionary Ensemble and was desperate to hear more. It begins with an Afro-Spiritual/Political monologue. Even before the music started, I knew I was onto a good thing. When its first notes cried out, I nearly fell out of my chair. It’s astounding. I spent years desperately trying to track down a copy. It doesn’t turn up often and when it does, it’s rarely cheap. I waited it out and got lucky. The ensemble is lead by James Mtume, a percussionist who during this period was playing regularly with with Miles Davis, Buddy Terry, Sonny Rollins, Pharoah Sanders and others. He released two albums as a leader. Both are great representations of 1970’s New York Free-Jazz, and among the best displaying the possibilities of larger ensembles. Alkebu-Lan – Land Of The Blacks was recorded at The East, a radical venue in the Clinton Hill Neighborhood of Brooklyn, remembered for the Pharoah Sanders album bearing its name, and notable for not allowing White people to pass its doors. Mtume left the world of Jazz in the late 70’s and went on to have a fairly successful career as a Modern Soul and Disco artist. This phase in his career didn’t produce many things I like, and is probably most noted for the track Juicy Fruit, which was famously sampled by Notorious B.I.G. Of all the albums I’ve chosen for this list, Alkebu-Lan stands slightly at odds. Most of the artists featured here, like Mingus, use complex orchestration to capture the depth of their anger and emotion. To achieve this, they exacted remarkable control over the emotional realization of their music. Alkebu-Lan is the other end of the spectrum. It is a howling storm set forth on the world. There isn’t an ounce of restraint on its four sides. It makes the emotional onslaught of Punk and Hardcore sound like a childish temper tantrum. Despite all that it unleashes, somehow its sound still returns me to Mingus. It’s not only the scale of the ensemble, but how the musicians play off each other. The album embraces the rising tide of the whole rather than the brittle interplay of single musicians. The dissonances they create despite their energy and emotion feel considered and composed. It’s a rare and wonderful thing. If you spend the time it takes to hunt it down, you won’t be disappointed.” The Hum
File Under: Free Jazz
Aphex Twin: Cheetah (Warp) LP
In tomorrow…. The new Aphex Twin Cheetah EP uses digital sound generation techniques combined with wave sequencing technology to bring you sounds with movement and depth rarely found on records today. To assure you that your Cheetah EP will give you many years of enjoyment, please be sure to read the owners manual carefully before attempting to operate. All forms of the EP come encased in high gloss packaging with silver foil detailing to ensure a high quality product experience.
File Under: Electronic
Avalanches: Wildflower (Astralwerks) LP
In tomorrow... Sixteen years after the release of their critically acclaimed, award winning debut Since I Left You, The Avalanches return with their second album, Wildflower. Astralwerks is thrilled to be releasing the long-awaited album from the influential and genre-defying Australian band stating, “It is an absolute honor to be working with The Avalanches on their return. They made an incredible impact with their first album and fans all over the world have been waiting for this. The wait is over.” Created by the band’s core duo – Robbie Chater and Tony Di Blasi – Wildflower is like The Beach Boys’ Smile re-imagined in the Daisy Age: a mind-bending cartoon road movie that’s best viewed with closed eyes and an open mind. The first single, “Frankie Sinatra,” draws from a variety of eras, cultures and genres, and exemplifies the rich tapestry of samples and sonics that is distinctly The Avalanches. An infectious, old world, carnival-inspired rollercoaster of a song, “Frankie Sinatra” features Danny Brown and MF Doom on vocals and masterfully weaves in 20th century works by influential calypsonian Wilmoth Houdini and the musical theatre team of Rodgers & Hammerstein. Since I Left You – released in Australia in 2000 and in the U.S. and the U.K. in 2001 – perfectly captured the hazy millennial zeitgeist. Pitchfork awarded it a 9.5/10 rating, noting, “Since I Left You sounds like nothing else…this is an album brimming with spontaneity, joy, sadness, humor, reflection, and general human-ness” while NME hailed the album as a “joyous, kaleidoscopic masterpiece of sun-kissed disco-pop.” Since I Left You was named one of 2001’s best albums by numerous critics – and its enduring influence was underscored when it placed in the top 10 of Pitchfork’s Top 200 Albums of the 2000s. The Avalanches, meanwhile, have become the stuff of folklore. The announcement of the release of Wildflower comes after years of speculation and rumors. “What kept us going during the making this record was a belief in the day-to-day experience of music as a life force – as life energy,” says The Avalanches’ Robbie Chater. “Hearing a certain song on a certain morning can change your day; it can make the world look different, changing the way you perceive light refracting through the atmosphere for the rest of the afternoon. Literally changing the color and feeling-tone of your world.”
File Under: Electronic, Hip Hop
Marc Barreca: Twilight (Palace of Lights) LP
“Marc Barreca has been creating and performing electronic music since the mid 1970s. Following recent vinyl reissues of Barreca’s 1983 cassette Music Works for Industry via the RVNG spin-off Freedom To Spend, and a compilation of early cassette tracks on Vinyl On Demand’s acclaimed American Cassette Culture, Palace of Lights has reissued the artist’s first album for the label. 1980’s Twilight was one of the earliest releases on Palace of Light, and is part of an ongoing program of documenting the roots of the Pacific Northwest independent impulse. This remastered and expanded edition includes one previously unreleased track on the LP and an additional six bonus tracks via the enclosed download card. Twilight struck out in a distinct direction, taking steps into the ambient and industrial while carrying along a phonographic sensibility. Using sounds derived from a variety of acoustic as well as electronic sources, Twilight foreshadowed the diversity and pliability of sampled, industrial and lowercase musics, ensuring the album was remarkably prescient and remains resiliently fresh to this day. Textura (reviewing Tremble) said ‘Barreca’s lava-like soundworlds are heady constructions whose sounds spill forth in thick clusters and collectively present themselves as heaving conglomerations of shape-shifting sound… a word like organic is less applicable than geologic, given the immense tectonic force with which its material convulses.'”
File Under: Electronic, Ambient
Sharon ‘Mhati’ Chatham: Fantasy (Cinedelic) LP
Cinedelic Records presents a reissue of Fantasy (1973) by Sharon “Mhati” Chatam. Originally released in 1973 on RCA, this obscure library music title was produced by Maestro Gian Franco Reverberi using the pseudonym of Ninety as previously done before for other records like Psycheground Group Library on Lupus and the two Underground Set releases. The style is different from the aforementioned albums and is closest to the style of murky erotic cult soundtracks created for Renato Polselli as “Fire Shadows In The Sunset” features congas, groovy piano, spacey synthesizers and vocals. It contains many other amazing tracks like “I’ve Got An Idea” which includes insane fat drums, hypnotic bass, trippy piano and beautiful phased flutes, or the jazz groove “Closed In a Drugstore”, the up-tempo funk “You’re So Vain” (Carly Simon), the hip-hop drum on the cover versions of “Daniel” (Elton John, Bernie Taupin), “Sylvia’s Mother” (Shel Shilverstein) and “Vincent” (Don McLean), and the slow psychedelic cinematic lounge of “Quel Che Non Saprei Dirti Mai A Parole”. Comes in glossy cover. Includes digital download code. Edition of 500.
File Under: Library
Stelvio Cipriani: Rhythmical Movement (Cinedelic) LP
Cinedelic Records presents a reissue of Rhythmical Movement (1980) from Stelvio Cipriani. Maestro Cipriani is one of the most known and appreciated composers of Italian soundtracks, whose unmistakable style makes it one of the most appreciated and collected. Rhythmical Movement came out only as a promo-library LP for CAM records in 1980 and is therefore a very rare album pressed in limited quantity. But what impresses most is the high level content and, as explicitly expressed in the title, no rhythm decreases. After a jazz intro depart sequentially tunes full of funk, soul, samba and disco, with references also to the classic tradition of Italian poliziotteschi films for which Cipriani is the absolute master. Alternating on a drum and congas base are wah-wah guitar, but also often distorted as in fierce riffs of “Storm In A Teacup” and “Do Not Tamper With My Things”, piano-electric and horns. Two tracks, “What Can I Do” and “Living And Loving” were composed with Michael Fraser, the famous UK musician and producer very active in Italy since the early ’70s. Also of note are the curious “Percussion Gun” and “Chicago U.S.A.” built on the popular bassline of “In-a-Gadda-da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly. An unmissable record to listen and dance to. Comes in a wonderful minimal mirror-cover. Includes a digital download code. Edition of 500.
File Under: Library
Miles Davis: Miles Ahead OST (Legacy) LP
Miles Ahead tells the story of a few lost days in the life of Miles Davis (Don Cheadle), the virtuoso, fighter and genius, as he bursts out of his silent period, conspires with a Rolling Stone writer (Ewan McGregor) to steal back his music, and relives the years he had with his great love, Frances Taylor (Emayatzy Corinealdi). Davis’ mercurial behavior is fueled by memories of his failed marriage to the talented and beautiful dancer. During their romance and subsequent marriage, Frances served as Davis’ muse. It was during this period that he released several of his signature recordings including the groundbreaking Sketches of Spain and Someday My Prince Will Come. “Miles was many things…a supreme artist and a national treasure but also an enigma to those around him, especially during his so-called quiet period,” said director and star Cheadle. “With the family’s blessing and Miles’ tenets on creativity as our guide, we used these cloistered years as a jumping off point to compose the story of a self-exiled artist creating his own ‘centrifugal adventure’ to spin himself back into playing music again.” The accompanying original motion picture soundtrack features 11 essential tracks spanning 1956 to 1981, select dialogue from the film featuring Cheadle in character, and five original compositions written, co-written, produced and/or performed exclusively for Miles Ahead by Robert Glasper. These include “What’s Wrong with That?” (a jam that closes the movie imagining Cheadle as Miles playing in the present day with guest performers Glasper, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Gary Clark, Jr., Esperanza Spalding and Antonio Sanchez) and “Gone 2015,” an end-credits song featuring guest verses from rapper Pharoahe Monch. Comes complete with revelatory new liner notes penned by Cheadle.
File Under: Jazz, Soundtrack
Inter Arma: Paradise Gallows (Relapse) LP
After already having taken forward-thinking extreme music to unprecedented heights over the course of their short but propulsive career, Richmond’s Inter Arma are back with another opus of epic proportions. Like the band’s previous works, the new album Paradise Gallows is direct and foreboding while maintaining a nuanced, artful perspective. Inter Arma’s signature palette of dissonant high-end and abyssal low-end has been augmented with swathes of thick, impressionistic melody that lend Paradise Gallows a truly biblical sense of scale, both lyrically and in terms of the album’s sonic content. Harsh and acoustic passages (including the band’s first-ever foray into clean vocals) spar with complex rhythmic structures across nine sweeping tracks over 71 minutes of expansive, progressive heaviness. Dense, funereal, and richly evocative, Paradise Gallows is a vibrant blend of doom, post-metal, sludge, avant-garde, black and death metal, and is a singular and powerful new addition to the band’s already monumental discography.
File Under: Metal
K. Leimer: Closed System Potentials (Palace of Lights) LP
“Following the RVNG reissues of A Period Of Review (ranked the #7 reissue of 2014 by The Wire) and Artificial Dance (ranked the #2 reissue of 2015 by The Wire), Closed System Potentials, recorded in 1979 and originally released in 1980, finds its way back to vinyl in a completely remastered and expanded edition. The LP includes two previously unreleased tracks, and the download card includes an additional two unreleased tracks, all taken from the original Closed System Potentials sessions. In their review of A Period of Review, Pitchfork said, ‘These pieces most closely evoke the work of Roedelius and Moebius in Cluster: meditative, wistful, lovely, giving off gentle glimmers of light. In trying to think if the closest American corollary for this set, the possibility emerges that Kerry Leimer is one of the lone examples of American kosmische music, that elegant hybrid that falls somewhere between the Velvets-style mesmerism of Can in the early ’70s and the placid tones of new age music that arose in the next decade. It’s a sound that applies to mid-’70s Cluster, Ash Ra Tempel, Popul Vuh, the second side of Kraftwerk’s Autobahn, and others.’ K. Leimer founded the Palace of Lights label in 1979. Leimer’s early work was reissued by Autumn and RVNG in 2014 and 2015, and his early cassette work is in the critically acclaimed Vinyl On Demand box set American Cassette Culture. He has been actively producing music since the mid 1970s – his current catalog includes 16 still-in-print albums plus two collaborative albums with Marc Barreca.”
File Under: Electronic, Ambient
Dave Matthews Band: Crash (Legacy) LP
RCA Records and Legacy Recordings celebrate Dave Matthews Band’s 25th anniversary in July 2016 with the first-ever vinyl release of Crash, the group’s best-selling second studio album. Newly re-mastered from the original flat analog tapes, Crash will be available as a 2LP set, pressed on 180g 12″ vinyl and housed in a gatefold jacket that features an eight-page booklet packed with previously unpublished photographs of the band. Produced by Steve Lillywhite (U2, The Rolling Stones, Peter Gabriel, The Pogues), and originally released on RCA Records on April 30, 1996, Dave Matthews Band’s Crash brought the band three Grammy nominations and one award for Best Rock Vocal for the hit single “So Much To Say.” The album peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and has been certified seven times platinum by the RIAA, in recognition of seven million copies sold. Following its success with Crash, the Virginia-based Dave Matthews Band – singer/guitarist Dave Matthews, drummer Carter Beauford, saxophonist LeRoi Moore, violinist Boyd Tinsley and bassist Stefan Lessard – became the first band in history to have six consecutive studio albums debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 – Before These Crowded Streets, Everyday, Busted Stuff, Stand Up, Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King and Away from the World. The group has sold a collective 38 million albums and DVDs combined and more than 20 million tickets to its live performances.
File Under: Alt-Rock
Minor Victories: s/t (Fat Possum) LP
Comprised of Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite, Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell, Editors’ Justin Lockey and his brother James, Minor Victories were born out of Justin’s desire to create an extreme noise EP topped off with delicate female vocals. It became quickly apparent that the power of the resulting tracks was more than enough to lay the foundation stones of a full album, and so Minor Victories became a cinematic ten-track LP. Masterfully crafted by four band members who have somehow never all been in the same room together, it was also produced and engineered by Justin.
File Under: Shoegaze
OST: Drive (Lakeshore) LP
Available again! Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the acclaimed 2011 Nicolas Winding Refn film Drive compiled and composed by Cliff Martinez. The film stars Ryan Gosling as a Hollywood stunt driver moonlighting as a wheelman who discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist gone wrong. In addition to Martinez’s own late-’60s German experimental inspired compositions, the soundtrack features material by French DJ Kavinsky (“Nightcall”), The Chromatics (“Tick of the Clock”) and College featuring Electric Youth (“A Real Hero”). “[Driver] is half man, half machine,” says Refn. “But the machinery, his car, is an antique. Late ’70s bands like Kraftwerk inspired my idea of making a movie where the score was electronic, but at an infant stage – crude in its technology, yet extremely poetic. Drive is like Pretty in Pink with a head smash. When I was cutting the movie, people kept asking, ‘Why are you using the entire songs?’ I said, ‘Because John Hughes did.’ He never played just a clip. It almost becomes a musical in that sense.” “One thing that was unique for me about this project was having songs exert such a strong influence on the score,” said Martinez. “That helped to create a unified, one-size-fits-all, style of soundtrack…the 80s electronic pop style made a lot of sense to me. I knew that Nicolas (Refn, director) was in love with that sound and I saw a way to acknowledge it with vintage synth sounds and cover most of the dramatic food groups while referencing that style.”
File Under: OST
Roger Rodier: Upon Velveatur (Sagara) LP
Canadian folk-rock from Roger Rodier, featuring acoustic guitar, lush orchestral arrangements, and fantastic female backing vocals. Drawing inspiration from British contemporaries such as Al Stewart and Nick Drake as well as a major talent to the south in Crosby, Stills, & Nash, Rodier is a talented crafter of songs, ranging from lilting to eviscerating, and all points in between. Fetching outrageous sums in the online market, this Canadian singer-songwriter rarity is finally back in print on LP.
File Under: Folk Rock
Sonic Youth: Murray Street (Geffen) LP
Murray Street is Sonic Youth’s twelfth full-length studio effort and first to feature the all-out collaboration (writing, playing and production) of the great Jim O’Rourke. Named after the New York street where the band’s studio was situated and where a plane engine landed on September 11, 2001, Murray Street finds the band building their signature avant garde explorations within a more song oriented framework. The results are obliquely melancholic yet tuneful and the album moves effortlessly and enjoyably between tones, structures, textures and melodies with new found purpose and precision. Songs like “The Empty Page,” “Disconnection Notice,” and “Rain On Tin”) easily hold their own among the many highlights in SY’s vast and varied catalog.
File Under: Indie Rock
Aesop Rock: Impossible Kid (Rhymesayers) LP
Air: Moon Safari (EMI) LP
Alabama Shakes: Boys & Girls (ATO) LP
Black Mastiff: Music Machine (New Damage) LP
Black Mountain: IV (Jagjaguwar) LP
Boards of Canada: Geogaddi (Warp) LP
David Bowie: Heathen (Columbia) LP
Can: Future Days (Mute) LP
Nick Cave: Push the Sky Away (Bad Seeds) LP
Miles Davis: Birth of Cool (Waxtime) LP
Dr. Dre: The Cronic (Interscope) LP
Durutti Column: LC (Factory Benelux) LP
Earl Sweatshirt: I Don’t Like Shit… (Columbia) LP
Ella Fitzgerald/Louis Armstrong: Ella & Louis (Waxtime) LP
Dexter Gordon: Our Man in Paris (Blue Note) LP
Iron Maiden: Number of the Beast (BMG) LP
Iron Maiden: Powerslave (BMG) LP
J Dilla: Jay Love Japan (Vintage Vibes) LP
Shelia Jordan: Portrait of Shelia (Blue Note) LP
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Nonagon Infinity (ATO) LP
Kendrick Lamar: Good Kid… (Aftermath) LP
Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp A Butterfly (Aftermath) LP
Love: Forever Changes (Rhino) LP
M83: Junk (Mute) LP
John Mayall: And Blues Breakers (Sundazed) LP
MF Doom: Special Herbs 1 & 2 (Metal Face) LP
Hank Mobley: No Room for Squares (Blue Note) LP
Modest Mouse: Lonesome Crowed West (Glacial Pace) LP
Thelonious Monk: Brilliant Corners (Original Jazz Classics) LP
Thelonious Monk: Monk’s Dream (Waxtime) LP
Mumford & Sons: Babel (Glassnote) LP
Joanna Newsom: Have One On Me (Drag City) LP
Nine Inch Nails: Downward Spiral (Interscope) LP
Jim O’Rourke: The Visitor (Drag City) LP
Iggy Pop: Post Pop Depression (Loma Vista) LP
Public Enemy: Fear of a Black Planet (Def Jam) LP
Lou Reed: Transformer (Legacy) LP
Terry Riley/Don Cherry/Karl Berger: Live in Koln (Modern Silence) LP
Sigur Ros: Takk (Krunk) LP
Sturgill Simpson: A Sailor’s Guide to Earth (Atlantic) LP
Soul Asylum: Grave Dancer’s Union (Brookvale) LP