This might be a tad last minute for some of y’all, but I’m not one for a lot of self promotion, but…. I’m heading to the Black Dog to DJ tonight after I close up the shop. I’ll be upstairs spinning records with Yuri for the final installment of Dig It! Thursdays. If you find yourself bored and on the southside, you should come hang out and have a beer while I play some wild and wonderful things!
…..pick of the week…..
Deuter: Kundalini Meditation (Deuter) LP
New age masterpiece from krautrock mystic Deuter, this album contains the music for the first two stages of an hour long kundalini meditation developed for westerners by Rajneesh (later known as Osho). The stages involve listening to the music and “Shaking” (stage one), “Dancing” (stage two), and “Witnessing” (stage three). These stages are not really meditations but a sort of preparation to facilitate meditation. Rajneesh had been trying to teach the practice of direct meditation for ten years before he realized his effort was futile: “I would say, ‘Relax’, to those I was teaching. They would appear to understand the meaning of the word, but they could not relax.” He developed a technique that would activate the body with intense movement, creating tension in order to allow for the stillness of the meditation. Deuter and Rajneesh (along with a team of disciples that tested and consulted on these methods) collaborated to make music that would (in stage one and two) occupy the mind and compel the body. The music of stage three was designed to relax the body and compel the mind to awareness, acting as a transition to stage four, which is silent, with the person lying down, (actually) meditating. Speaking about music, Rajneesh wrote, “Between sounds of music there are gaps of silence. The authentic music consists not of sounds, but of the gaps. Music can make you aware of those gaps more beautifully than anything else.” While living at the ashram as a disciple of Rajneesh, Deuter produced a series of compositions to be used in these “active” meditations. They were recorded using a multitrack tape machine and an assortment of acoustic and electronic instruments – guitar, tambura, bells, percussion, and synthesizers. The playing style is repetitious yet dynamic, incorporating loops, Indian classical motifs, musique concrète, and pastoral acoustic passages. Kundalini Meditation, never released on vinyl in the states, is presented here for the first time with the full length tracks. It was originally released in 1979.
File Under: Krautrock, New Age, Kosmische
Tony Allen: HomeCooking (Comet) LP
Originally released in 2002, Comet presents the legendary album from Tony Allen, HomeCooking, reissued with a remastered version. Tony Allen talks about the album: “After Black Voices and Psyco On Da Bus albums, I came back with HomeCooking which was an album filled with guests. I brought in Ty, who had remixed some of my work previously, to rap on the record, and Damon Albarn, who had already sung about me on ‘Music Is My Radar’. On the first day in the studio, Damon didn’t record anything because we were enjoying ourselves too much. He came with two boxes of champagne and everyone got boozed and he decided he’d take the music back to his own studio and finish it there. That was the beginning of our friendship and since then we’ve done a lot of different things. Since the early days I’ve been trying to find things that everybody will want to listen to. I’ve always been pushing Afrobeat in different directions. Here’s another one again, another style, almost clean but still rough, raggedy and radical.” Also features: Mary & Norman and Eska.
File Under: Afrobeat, Funk, Jazz
Oren Ambarchi: Hubris (Editions Mego) LP
“Hubris continues the exploration of relentless, driving rhythms heard on Oren Ambarchi’s Sagittarian Domain and Quixotism. Where those records looked to krautrock and techno for their starting points, the side-long opening track on Hubris begins from the perhaps unlikely inspirations of disco and new wave, drawing particularly from Ambarchi’s love of Wang Chung’s soundtrack to William Friedkin’s To Live and Die in L.A. (1985). Leaving behind the song-forms of these reference points, Ambarchi weaves a sustained and pulsating web of layered palm-muted guitars from which individual voices rise up and recede, eventually setting the stage for some lush guitar synth from Jim O’Rourke. Arnold Dreyblatt collaborator Konrad Sprenger contributes overtone-rich motorized guitar, pushing the piece into a satisfying intersection of shimmering minimalism and rhythmic drive that smoothly builds up until the entrance of Mark Fell’s electronic percussion in its final section. After a short second part, in which Ambarchi, O’Rourke and Crys Cole pay tribute to the skewed harmonic sense of Albert Marcoeur with a track built from layered bass guitar figures and abstracted speech, the long final piece pushes the concept of the first side into darker and denser areas. Joined by electronic rhythms from Ricardo Villalobos and the twin drums of Joe Talia and Will Guthrie, the layered guitars of the first piece are transformed into a raw and tumbling fusion-funk groove that calls to mind early Weather Report or even the first Golden Palominos LP (1983). As this stellar rhythm section rides a single repeated chord change into oblivion, a series of spectacular events emerge in the foreground: first, aleatoric synthesizer burbles from Keith Fullerton Whitman, then slashing skronk guitar from Arto Lindsay, until finally Ambarchi’s own fuzzed-out guitar harmonics take center stage as the piece builds to an ecstatic frenzy. Few artists could hope to include such an incredible variety of collaborators on one record and still hope for it to have a unique identity, but Ambarchi manages to do just that, crafting three pieces that emerge directly out of his previous work while also pushing ahead into new dimensions.” — Francis Plagne. Mastered and cut by Rashad Becker at D&M, Berlin, April 2016. Photography by Estelle Hanania. Sculptures by Daniel Druet. Design by Stephen O’Malley.
File Under: Electronic, Krautrock, Minimal
Dylan Golden Aycock: Church of Level Tracks (Scissor Tail) LP
“Dylan Golden Aycock is part of the new generation of guitar pickers young enough to first have been influenced by early volumes of Tompkins Square Records’ Imaginational Anthem series and then to be anthologized on a later one. The Oklahoma native is on Volume 7, should you feel like looking, playing an early version of ‘Red Bud Valley,’ which sits in the middle of the B-side of the LP under consideration here. Aycock’s composing on Church Of Level Track offers evidence that he’s well studied in a lineage of American Primitive pickers that stretches back decades before he was born. ‘Lord It Over’ puts it right out there by opening with a double-thumbed bass line right out of John Fahey’s bag of tricks. But this quotation is merely an opening gambit, and one that is quickly followed by moves that prove Aycock is no parrot but a bird with his own song to sing. The steel guitar that sails in over his picking evokes first the bucolic playfulness of Jim O’Rourke’s Bad Timing and then keeps going back into the deep back shelves of country-rock lyricism. At the same time a virtual band (Aycock plays everything on the track and nearly everything on the LP) sets up a subtle undertow of entropic drumming and echo-laden feedback. . . .” –Bill Meyer (Dusted Magazine, Chicago Reader)
File Under: Folk, Blues, Guitar Soli
Bitori: Legend of Funana (Analog Africa) LP
In 1997, an unassuming 59-year-old man named Victor Tavares — better known since the late 1950s as Bitori — walked into a studio for the very first time to record a work that many Cabo Verdeans consider to be the best funaná album ever made. Analog Africa’s Legend Of Funaná marks the first time that these recordings, originally issued as Bitori Nha Bibinha & Chando Graciosa in 1998, have been available outside of Cape Verde, bringing Bitori’s beloved accordion-based sound to the world. In 1954, Bitori embarked on a journey across the seas to the island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe with the hopes of returning with an accordion. Following two years of hard labor, Bitori had saved enough money to acquire what was to become his most valued possession. The two-month journey back to Cape Verde provided time enough for him to master the instrument. Self-taught, Bitori developed his own style, an infectious blaze that quickly caught the attention of the older generation. Before long Bitori was asked to perform at local festivities around Praia, the capital of Cape Verde. But not everybody welcomed the rural accordion-based sound of the funaná. Perceived as a symbol of the struggle for Cabo Verdean independence and frowned upon as music of uneducated peasants, the funaná was prohibited by Portuguese colonial rulers. Performing it in public or in urban centers had serious consequences — often jail time and torture. As a result, the funaná began to slowly disappear. In 1975, Cape Verde achieved independence from Portuguese colonial rule, and the ban on the funaná was lifted. Many artists embraced the funaná, translating and adapting its musical form in new ways. It was not until the mid-1990s, however, that the funaná in its traditional form was actually recorded. A young singer from the Cabo Verdean town of Tarrafal, Chando Graciosa, heard Bitori and immediately felt drawn to his playing style — a raw, passionate sound accompanied by honest lyrics that reflected the harsh reality of the Cabo Verdean working class. He approached Bitori suggesting they join forces and travel overseas to take the funaná beyond its rural roots. After introducing a receptive European audience to the vibrant energy of the funaná, Bitori eventually returned to his beloved Cape Verde, while Graciosa settled in Rotterdam. Graciosa vowed, however, to bring Bitori to Holland to eventually record an album. In 1997, the time was ripe to immortalize the sound Bitori had shaped over four decades. Drummer Grace Evora and bassist Danilo Tavares helped record “Bitori Nha Bibinha,” which catapulted Graciosa to stardom, establishing him Cape Verde’s foremost interpreter of the funaná. Bitori’s songs quickly became standards — classics known and loved throughout the country.
File Under: African, Latin, Funk
Darkthrone: Arctic Thunder (Peaceville) LP
Norwegian duo, Darkthrone, return with their first new studio material since 2013’s triumphant The Underground Resistance; the album becoming the band’s most successful release in recent years. Darkthrone’s new album Arctic Thunder is due for release in October 2016 through Peaceville. A new heavy metal odyssey now awaits fans as Fenriz and Nocturno Culto once more show their mastery of “the riff,” demonstrating why Darkthrone remain one of the most respected and enduring acts in the history of extreme metal. An eclectic mix of free-spirited 80’s fueled blackened heavy metal, all executed in Darkthrone’s trademark raw and organic style, Arctic Thunder was recorded and produced by the band themselves, with the sessions conducted at Darkthrone’s old rehearsal unit, The Bomb Shelter, which they had originally used during 1988-1990. With themes based around hate, contempt, and the inner mind and soul, and with the notable presence of Nocturno Culto on vocal duties across all songs for the first time in recent years, Arctic Thunder retains a grim atmosphere throughout the album’s 8 tracks, with mastering once again handled by Jack Control at Enormous Door.
File Under: Black Metal
Eddy Detroit: Black Crow Gazebo (Assophon) LP
Eddy Detroit returns with a brand-new LP! The legend refuses to diminish. Eddy Detroit crafts eight new songs full of his trademark twisted folk, satanic Americana, and trance voodoo magic. This album ventures into the deranged psychosis of the Phoenix AZ characters that inhibit Eddy’s world. Multiple-personality girlfriends, twisted and rouge hanger-goners, and life as a street musician in the infernal Arizona summer heat. Another cast of local musicians are on board for this record that features cello, ocean drum, piano, guitar, bongos, and violin. This is all capped off by the B-side, a deep, trance-inducing descent into Dante’s Inferno that features Alan Bishop (Sun City Girls) on vocals, Doug Clark (Victory Acres/Feederz) on synthesizer, and Eddy Detroit on bongos — overlaid with a recording of Eddy Detroit waxing on about his extraordinary life. “Toe Sucker Beach” is meant as an homage to The Velvet Underground’s “The Gift” — a track that can be listened to as a whole or as a hard pan, with the demented instrumental in one channel and Eddy’s reminiscences in the other channel. This record is another swan dive into the brilliant mind of one of the most original outsider musicians out there. Limited edition of 400. Released to coincide with Eddy’s Detroit’s first European tour in the fall of 2016.
File Under: Outsider, Exotica
Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein: Stranger Things OST (Lakeshore) LP
We’ve got a bunch en route, either they’ll all show up tomorrow, or a few tomorrow and the rest early next week… A love letter to the ’80s classics that captivated a generation, Stranger Things is set in 1983 Indiana, where a young boy vanishes into thin air. As friends, family and local police search for answers, they are drawn into an extraordinary mystery involving top-secret government experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and one very strange little girl. Lakeshore Records has partnered with UK’s Invada Records founded by Geoff Barrow to press and release Stranger Things Vol. 1 Soundtrack (composed by S U R V I V E’s Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein) on vinyl for a release date in October 2016 just in time for Halloween. The release will be a double disc gatefold package with a printed insert featuring album credits and additional art. Michael Stein explained to Noisey: “We discussed having a classic tone and feel to the music for the show but being reserved enough that it wasn’t ’80s cheese, while offering a refreshing quality so that felt modern as well – which is one of the qualities that drew them to our music in the first place. Having a familiarity with classic synths works but with an overall modern and forward thinking approach.”
File Under: OST, Electronic, Synth
Betty Harris: Lost Queen of New Orleans Soul (Soul Jazz) LP
Betty Harris’ The Lost Queen of New Orleans Soul collects together the steady stream of amazing soul and funk singles she issued from 1964 to 1969, under the musical guidance of legendary composer, musician and producer extraordinaire Allen Toussaint, a collection which truly captures the heart and soul of the city of New Orleans during this era. Harris’ powerful, fiery soulful vocals found a perfect accompaniment with the New Orleans’ players that Toussaint put together to back her, which by the time of her funk classic “There’s A Break In The Road” were the legendary supertight, super-funk New Orleans group The Meters. With the extraordinary song-writing skills of Toussaint alongside the powerful, soaring, confident and emotive singer and the groove of The Meters, you have an unbeatable combination. That Harris never in fact lived in New Orleans (she flew in from Florida for all her sessions with Toussaint’s local in-house players) seems almost an irrelevance, a geographical aside to the defining New Orleans sound captured on the recordings featured here. All of the singles featured here were released on Toussaint and his business partner Marshal Sehorn’s local New Orleans label Sansu, widely distributed in the southern city but in only limited quantities elsewhere. As a consequence, Harris’ music failed to achieve the commercial success of other New Orleans artists such as Lee Dorsey (who she recorded with) and The Meters (who backed her). And so at the end of the decade she stopped recording, retired from the music business to raise her family in Florida. This is no reflection of the stunning musical quality of all these songs which encompass everything from southern soul, heavy funk, deep soul ballads and northern soul. Harris has been a cornerstone of Soul Jazz Records’ New Orleans Funk and New Orleans Soul compilations. Always soulful and always funky, Betty’s music contains the essence of New Orleans music. She is the Lost Soul Queen of New Orleans. This collection is released on heavyweight gatefold double LP vinyl (with download code).
File Under: Soul
Xander Harris: California Chrome (Rock Action) LP
In his 5th album as Xander Harris, the bloke off Buffy The Vampire Slayer continues to pursue a horror disco sound for Mogwai’s Rock Action label, picking up precisely where he left us with the Cry Havoc 7” back in 2014 with a pensively slow suite of EBM and Italo grooves galvanised with cinematic synth mettle. Perhaps not your typical Rock Action fayre, but it’s not difficult to draw lines between Harris’ taste for layered melodic progressions and Mogwai’s post rock architectures and windswept atmospheres, especially in the motorik shift of Basilisk Stare, or the stacked reverbs of Predator State and the album’s panoramic closer, Dirts. But that’s only one half of his sound, and the other is well looked after here with dancefloor-strength EBM in the epic drive of Nervous Serpents and the gritted momentum of The Eye In The Triangle.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient
Jung An Tagen: Das Fest Der Reichen (Editions Mego) LP
Jung An Tagen, aka Stefan Juster, presents Das Fest Der Reichen. Jung An Tagen is the primary music act operating inside the Virtual Institute Vienna. By using subtractive synthesis and sampling techniques, Jung An Tagen builds aleatoric arrays, repetitive figures and polyrhythmic moirés circulating around distinctive timbres and haptic fragments. This results in a vision of morphing movements between high energy and zero gravity states. Due to the synaesthesian nature of the VIV, Jung An Tagen is bound very closely to a specific visual grammar and is intertwined with video art, even though the performative settings are usually reduced to music only. Previously, Stefan Juster was mainly present with different bands and monikers on labels like Not Not Fun, Blackest Rainbow, 100% Silk or his own imprint SF Broadcasts. “Lässt Los, Jeder Immer” is the remix of the Jung An Tagen soundtrack for Embargo (2014), a video by Johann Lurf. Artwork and layout by Milica Balubdzic and J. Fröhnel. Mastering by Brian Pyle. Features: Raju Arara, Ensemble Economique, Superskin and Miaux.
File Under: Electronic, Synth
Mahjun: s/t (1973) (Souffle Continu) LP
First time vinyl reissue of the eponymous classic debut album by Mahjun, one of the most innovative French prog underground bands, on the productive Saravah label in 1973. Their music, as you can hear on tracks such as “Les Enfants Sauvages” or “Chez Planos”, is a subtle mix of spiritual jazz, pop music, folk and avant-garde reminiscent of Full Moon Ensemble, Brigitte Fontaine or the Thêatre du Chêne Noir. Standard black vinyl LP version is in an edition of 500. Comes in 350 gram, gatefold sleeve with an obi strip and matte printing.
File Under: French, Prog, Avant-garde
Mahjun: s/t (1974) (Souffle Continu) LP
On Mahjun’s second eponymous album released by Saravah in 1974, percussionist Nana Vasconcellos joined the line up on the nearly 14 minute long track “La Ville Pue” and “Fin Janvier”. Their politico folk-prog sound moved to an ethnic flavored psychedelic fusion. First time reissue of this classic and influential album. Standard black vinyl LP version is in an edition of 500. Comes in 350 gram sleeve with an obi strip, insert and matte printing.
File Under: French, Prog, Avant-garde
MF Doom: Operation: Doomsday (Metal Face) LP
“Back again on vinyl where it belongs, MF DOOM’s 1999 classic Operation: Doomsday is now presented on a premium grade LP, with audio re-mastered from the original Fondle’Em Records release, and a poster of the album cover art! Underneath his mysterious metal mask, MF DOOM hides the cachet underground legends are made of. After KMD (his first group)’s 1994 sophomore album Bl_ck B_st_rds was shelved by Elektra in 1994 and his blood brother Subroc (one half of the sibling rap duo) passed away, surviving front-man Zev Love X mutated into the MC Avenger known as MF DOOM and the rap world is better for it. This 19-cut deep album is ridiculously dope, in a bizarro Ol’ Dirty Bastard kind of way. Doom sounds either high or drunk on most of the tracks, his self-produced beats are gritty, and his rhyme styles are almost indecipherable. On arguably the best track, ‘Rhymes Like Dimes,’ Doom weaves some pointed lyrics through his abstract wordplay, spitting ‘only in America could you find a way to earn a healthy buck / And still keep your attitude on self-destruct.’ ‘Who You Think I Am?’ features DOOM’s crew M.onster I.sland C.zars, while on ‘?’ he trades hot verses with former Columbia artist Kurious Jorge. Doom’s avant-garde ghetto-rhyme philosophies take even more intentionally weird twists on ‘Tick, Tick…’ where he and guest MC MF Grimm’s flows warble over a rhythm track whose tempo speeds up and slows down continually. The comic-book themed skits, will help take you deep into the mind of an MC who is as otherworldly as they come. And in today’s bland commercial rap universe, Operation: Doomsday’s left-of-center beats and rhymes are the perfect remedy.”
File Under: Hip Hop
Roberto Musci: Tower of Silence (Music From Memory) LP
Music From Memory present Tower Of Silence from Roberto Musci. Traveling extensively across Asia and Africa between 1974 and 1985 to study music, Roberto made many field recordings and collected many instruments on his travels which he would then combine with synthesizers and electronics back in Italy.
File Under: Italian, Electronic, World, Field Recording
The Notwist: Superheroes, Ghostvillains & Stuff (Alien Transistor) LP
Cover with large spine. Includes three printed inner sleeves. Includes download code. The Notwist release their first ever official live recordings with Superheroes, Ghostvillains + Stuff. “Brothers Markus and Micha Acher have launched various musical vessels, bands and free-floating constellations over the past three decades – and yet: amid all these other speedboats and unlikely sonic barges, The Notwist has always remained the mother ship. This new album documents the latest live incarnation of this very band, which also features Andi Haberl, Max Punktezahl, Karl Ivar Refseth, and Cico Beck. Recorded on December 16, 2015 on the second of three consecutive, sold-out nights at UT Connewitz in Leipzig, Germany, Superheroes, Ghostvillains + Stuff indeed feels like a first-hand live experience. That’s why it’s the definitive album of The Notwist’s career. Although there is one song that points to the early, ‘louder years’ of The Notwist, ‘One Dark Love Poem’ off the album Nook (1992), the rest of the night’s set sees the band perform all the major hits off Neon Golden (2001), The Devil, You + Me (2008), and Close To The Glass (2014). However, these are different, organically enhanced versions, new interpretations and combinations that feel much more alive; thanks to Olaf Opal’s incredible mix, they sometimes even outshine the original studio recordings. Listening to Superheroes, Ghostvillains + Stuff feels like watching these songs evolve and change, moving from one frame to the next, much like a baroque triptych. What starts out like ‘wimmelbook’ imagery, the music soon folds and unfolds like a Moebius strip: Sans bottom or top, sans inside or outside, the inside becomes the outside and vice versa. It’s all about sonic interconnection, about music as entanglement, music as reconciliation. The rather majestic, cinematic (indie) pop and experimental, kraut-infused jazz, the spirit of the enlightenment and baroque playfulness, the traces of modernism and minimal music, dub leanings, hip-hop lessons, and even hints of house music: here is where they all come together, reconciled in a sound that’s both melancholy and romantic. The crew’s back at it, working the instruments, the rigging, with sails a-billow, launching the next voyage of discovery, assuming the east in the west and vice versa. And thus the adventure saga continues.” — Pico Be (Das Weiße Pferd).
File Under: Indie Rock, Electronic
Novo Line: Movements (Ecstatic) LP
Following a limited tape release for Ecstatic, Berlin’s Nat Fowler renders his meticulous Novo Line alias for its second full-length release, a killer marriage of automated EBM and unexpected MIDI disruptions, continuing a life-long quest for esoteric knowledge and a love of archaic computer hardware. Modeled on re-appropriated software, run on two separate Atari ST’s, Movements is the compelling result of obtuse production technique and painstaking trial and error; basically experimentation at the service of discovering a sound that really sounds unlike anything else out there. As he explains: “I like the idea of using restrictions in order to find and push boundaries, from limiting which octaves I use to how many notes at a time. I use the only PC capable of MIDI that had no multitasking, so communication is immediate, a direct mechanical communication from my fingers to the sounds is created. I feel lucky because technology has accelerated so fast since the first digital synthesizers and PCs that nothing since the early 1980s has been really pushed to its limits.” In that sense, he can be placed in a small category of operators – including The Automatics Group, Dave Noyze, Lorenzo Senni and V/VM among them – who persistently gnaw at the boundary between dance-pop and avant-electronics, and with all of whom he shares a capacity for hearing the poetry of singular frequencies, unique pitch combinations and the strange electronic timbres just waiting to be born from overlooked, outmoded equipment. Whilst at times it may recall the saltiest digital tone and gait of early Chicago house and Belgian new-beat, there’s a futuristic funk and idiosyncratic ambiguity to Movements that entirely belongs to Novo Line; whether bubbling up the mutant dembow lacquer of opener, “The Movement 1”, radiating form the tightly-bound, curdled funk of “Hot Piece”, or jabbing like a bag of cyborg slow house cats in “The Movement 2”, it really does make for one of the year’s finest and most addictive dancefloor mutations, bar none. 2016’s most meticulous album of algorithmic body music. Inspired by F.M. Alexander, G.I. Gurdjieff and Pythagoras. Mastered and cut by Matt Colton at Alchemy.
File Under: Electronic, House, Leftfield
The Orb: COW/Chill Out, World! (Kompakt) LP
The Orb, Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann, have become known for their genre-bending curiosity and surprising sonic detours, exploring experimental soundscapes as well as club-friendly beats. COW / Chill Out, World! is a masterful ambient album that branches out in many directions, but unmistakably sounds like The Orb. In contrast to their much-acclaimed previous full-length Moonbuilding 2703 AD, which took years to prepare and fine-tune, COW / Chill Out, World! was produced over the course of only five sessions in six months, directly following the like-minded Alpine EP. Paterson on recording the album: “It got so spontaneous that a track like ‘9 Elms Over River Eno (Channel 9)’ consisted only of material collected at North Carolina’s Moogfest in May – second-hand records from local stores, field recordings, live samples from gigs that we liked, and of course an excursion to the Eno River, which actually exists. This geographic intimacy and the spontaneity are among the top reasons why we love this album so much.” Fehlmann sees the duo’s relentless gigging schedule as a formative influence on the new album: “the countless performances we’ve played in the last years have brought us closer as a musical unit. The spice of our concerts is improvisation – a fertile process that we’ve brought to the studio, where we operate with very simple rules of engagement and go wherever the flow takes us.” It’s an approach that one might expect from traditional acoustic instrumentation, not necessarily an electronic set-up. Once more, The Orb’s trademark playfulness is on full display on COW / Chill Out, World! and it doesn’t limit itself to the multi-layered sampling and psychedelic sound composites. It’s not so much an obscure trope coming full circle as a perfect example for The Orb’s multi-timbre approach to sound and meaning – a compelling, immersive journey to diverse places and impressions. Each track title is a conceptual work in its own right, playing with multiple references, some of which remain highly personal and mysterious. But the greatest feat of The Orb’s latest outing might just be how all this semantic doodling never gets in the way of the actual listening, at all times directly relating the artists’s sonic vitality and cheerful nosiness.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient
Bill Orcutt & Chris Corsano: Live At Various (Palilalia) LP
“That guitarist Bill Orcutt & drummer Chris Corsano would play as a duo should come as a surprise to no one. As artists, both of them have bent sonic boundaries to the breaking point, especially as regards rock-based music, and they have long flowed through the same international sub-underground arteries. It was only a matter of time. The first fruit of their union was a brain melting LP called The Raw & The Cooked (2013), recorded on tour in 2012. Live at Various / Various Live is made up of the two Palilalia cassettes that followed it. The tracks were recorded between a couple of tours, one in 2013 and one the following year, in Northampton, Mexico City, Brooklyn, Montreal, Cleveland and Rochester. And they demonstrate the ferocity of Orcutt’s return to the electric guitar. Twinned-up with Corsano, Bill goes for the most distorted and bleeding tones available, whether pouring out frenzied clusters, or slow-bending blue-notes in the tradition of Loren Connors, the raunch of the proceedings is a physical presence. And Corsano goes deep into rolls and splashes with an almost perverted intensity. There ain’t much space here for sweetness or subtlety. The music is driven home with mallets, achieving a near-Beefheartian density in spots. Heard as a whole, this album provides a gush of relentless thug-beauty of a sort that has never been in long supply. Grasp it now or hold your sad peace for now and ever.” — Byron Coley. Double LP with gatefold cover. Recorded by Chris Corsano and Bill Orcutt on tour in 2013 and 2014. Reissue of two cassettes originally released on Palilalia as Live At Various and Various Live. Edition of 500.
File Under: Improv, Guitar, Free Rock
Oval: Popp (UOVOOO) LP
Oval’s album Popp started as a concept album. It was neither meant as a pop record nor as “the Markus Popp signature album”. At first, Popp was all about playing around. And about changing the musical outlook from the earlier hyper-detailed, improvisational Oval style to straight-up sequencing, old-school glitch tricks and beat-making. Popp explains, “Working on these new ‘club tracks’ was like going from cucina povera (my 1990s student-budget glitch style) and hi-tech fusion cuisine (post-2010) to feeling like a vegan who just stumbled into a barbecue seminar.” Popp is a relentless, euphoric love letter to a musical utopia: kaleidoscopic and soulful, optimistic and grandiose. No matter if you choose to trace the many exhilarating, meandering melodies (“RE”, “ID”), or if you prefer to dance to the housy information overload of “AI” and “LO”, Popp is simply a joy to listen to. The newly introduced, intricate “fantasy vocals” are another new through line in Oval’s music: weaving a blissful, sensual, “post-R&B”-narrative beyond words (“KU”, “LO”, “VE”). Ghosts of vintage Oval glitch stylings (“FU”, “MY”, “MO”) are met with swooning strings, dreamy bells, 1990s rave stabs, angular bass lines and polyrhythmic beats. The atmosphere can even border on the solemn (“SA”), cinematic (“CA”) or even hymn-like (“VE”) before dissolving into these unstoppable, multi-layered loop-scapes. Popp explains further, “However complex and insanely technical my tracks may ever be getting, I will always make sure they sound organic, as if they’re running on nothing but sheer imagination.” Popp is released on Uovooo, a new label run by Markus Popp. Markus Popp’s early, now legendary album releases sent shockwaves through the “electronica” landscape in the late 1990’s – introducing a unique, innovative digital sound and production aesthetic. With an undeniable instinct for the pleasantly irritating, the drastic and the dreamy, Popp pioneered “glitch” and “clicks & cuts”, inspiring and provoking an entire generation of musicians to this day. After a long hiatus, Oval returned in 2010, changing the game all over again with a new, groundbreaking “hyperreal” style, blurring the lines between the electronic auteur and (virtual) “band music”. The distinctive, organic appeal of Oval tracks, remixes and albums have brought along several watershed moments for the entire genre.
File Under: Electronic
Painkiller: Execution Ground (Karlrecords) LP
The seminal 1994 double album Execution Ground, by the original Painkiller with the line-up of Bill Laswell, John Zorn and Mick Harris on vinyl for the first time. When Painkiller started in 1991, their first two albums Guts Of A Virgin (1991) and Buried Secrets (1992) (both released on extreme metal label Earache) were heavy attacks blending grindcore and free jazz that brought together the musical backgrounds of the three protagonists: drummer Mick Harris had just left grindcore legend Napalm Death, John Zorn explored new extremities with his Naked City project while Bill Laswell had as a member of roaring free jazz quartet Last Exit (with Peter Brötzmann, Sonny Sharrock, Ronald Shannon Jackson) proven that he was not only a visionary producer but also an accomplished bassist. But it is their 1994 double album Execution Ground remains the opus magnum of the brilliant trio: Zorn’s unmistakable shrieking saxophone, Harris’s pounding drums and Laswell’s growling sub-bass lines were given heavy mixing desk treatment, resulting in extended tracks that are no less intense than their early works but display the full range of the musicians’s skills. Avant-jazz, grindcore, dub and ambient melt into eerie tracks of haunting atmospheres – even more so in the “ambient” versions of the second disc. Mastered and cut by Rashad Becker at D&M Berlin. Available here as a double 180 gram vinyl. Includes a download code and insert. Edition of 500.
File Under: Free Jazz, Grindcore, Ambient
Prurient: Pleasure Ground (Hospital) LP
One of Prurient’s most captivating raids on the borderlands of power noise and symphonic doom rears its furious head once again for this gatefold reissue on Hospital Productions, ten years on from its original release on double tape and then as a single vinyl pressing for the legendary Load Records in 2007. Pleasure Ground stands as a key part of Prurient’s golden quadrant alongside The History Of Aids (2002), Black Vase (2005) and Cocaine Death (2008), its immolating rage renders Ian Dominick Fernow at an early crest of his energies, consolidating the hi-pitch intensity and bile of his idols, Whitehouse, with the majestic, meditative inspirations of black metal and a more personalized bloodlust for unheimlich synth tones and pulsating electronic undercurrents. Its four long tracks are riven with the paradoxes that make Prurient’s music so compelling and practically a genre unto itself, meting out a sound in “Earthworks / Buried In Secret” that’s simultaneously nerve-gnawing yet bleakly tender, or weighing up caustic harshness with a melodic vulnerability in “Apple Tree Victim” that appeals far beyond the bombed-out no-man’s land of pure noise to intersect with the entrails of EBM in the raging but poised thunder of “Military Road” – one of his finest moments, bar none – and cold-wave pop and fetishistic synth themes in “Outdoorsman / Indestructible”. If you’re willing to bite down, you will find a depth of bittersweet flavor submerged beneath the tidal waves of white noise filled with nuance and vulnerability, slowly dragging you into the abyss. Ultimately though, there’s no mistaking that in the end Pleasure Ground is just unflinchingly fucking heavy. Housed in a deluxe, reverse-board gatefold sleeve. Mastered and cut by Barry Grint at Alechemy.
File Under: Noise, Industrial
Scorch Trio: XXX (Rune Grammofon) LP
XXX is a four LP collection featuring Scorch Trio’s recordings. It includes Scorch Trio (2002), Luggumt (2004), Brolt (2008) and a radio session entitled Oval. In Norway, Scorch Trio was greeted with 6/6 reviews in the two biggest newspapers and The Wire said “the scope of their improvisational ideas is breathtaking”, in spirit comparing the album to The Mahavishnu Orchestra’s The Inner Mounting Flame (1971). Four years after Luggumt, Brolt was to become the final album with Paal Nilssen-Love behind the drums. Following in the tradition of the previous albums, this is a masterful example of passionate improvisation and breathtaking interplay. The joker in this collection is Oval, a radio session done for Yle, the Finnish broadcasting company, two years before their debut album was released. Why this recording has been left on a shelf for so long is anyone’s guess because this is quite a remarkable recording, showing off a new group brimming with energy and new ideas. Paal Nilssen-Love was only 25 at the time, but he and Ingebrigt Håker Flaten already had a reputation as one of the most energetic and creative rhythm sections in Scandinavia. Here the Finnish guitar phenomenon Raoul Björkenheim had found the perfect partners for his new group. Oval is previously unreleased in any form. Scorch Trio has only been available on CD until now, while both Luggumt and Brolt have long been out of print on vinyl.
File Under: Free Jazz, Improv
She & Him: Christmas Party (Columbia) LP
She & Him (the sublime duo of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward) offer up their second holiday themed collection with Christmas Party, the sequel to their acclaimed 2011 release A Very She & Him Christmas. The uplifting 12-track set features guest appearances by Jenny Lewis, The Chapin Sisters, Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley and Jim Keltner amidst stylized renditions of “Let It Snow,” “Winter Wonderland,” “Run Rudolph Run,” and “Mele Kalikimaka.” Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” is also updated wonderfully here with Deschanel noting, “I’ve always loved this song, and I was like, ‘I’d love to hear it without the digital keyboards. I’d love to hear it recorded in a little more of an old school way.”
File Under: Indie Rock, Holiday
Shifted: Appropriation Stories (Hospital) LP
Guy Alexander Brewer, aka Shifted, is involved in several projects taking in techno, noise and experimental electronics overlaying a once-hidden past in drum’n’bass. Having shunned his previous work in Commix, more recently Brewer has learned to look back, even making sideways stabs into breakbeat territory with his Covered In Sand alias. The process grows more intricate and subtle on Appropriation Stories for the Hospital Productions imprint helmed by Dominick Fernow (aka Prurient, Vatican Shadow, et al.). On Appropriation Stories, rigorous processing and studio treatments transform classic breaks into deeply hidden components that add new layers of character to his highly-developed techno sound. At first presenting itself as a dense wall-of-sound underpinned by an incessant pulse, Appropriation Stories at length reveals itself to be a much more complex work. In place of the stark minimalism, razor-sharp digital textures and smeared analog surfaces of his previous output, Brewer offers layered tracks with intricate mixes that reveal themselves gradually over time. For long stretches – opener “This Passage”, “For Closure”, “In Respect of Tactics” – the rhythm steps back from insistent to implied, further exposing the careful arrangements of pure sound. As his origins in purist techno grow ever-more distant, Shifted’s sound has progressed from digital clarity to the murky-but-hard middle ground of his sophomore full length on Bed Of Nails, Under A Single Banner, and through a clear evolution on Brewer’s own Avian imprint. Integrating his more searching work as Alexander Lewis and his increasingly introspective work as Shifted while eloquently addressing his past, Appropriation Stories is a comprehensive statement of intent and Brewer’s finest, most mature work to-date. Mastered by Matt Colton at Alchemy.
File Under: Electronic, Techno, Ambient
Various: Cologne Curiosities (Mental Experience) LP
The Nuggets (1972) of krautrock, Cologne Curiosities collects for the first time on vinyl, all the otherwise unpublished/un-reissued material that originally appeared on the three Unknown Deutschland – The Krautrock Archive CDs released on Virgin in 1996. These CD only releases were originally compiled by Trevor Manwaring (Paratactile, Impetus, Virgin, Harmonia Mundi) from tapes supplied to him by Toby Robinson. Toby, aka The Mad Twiddler, aka Genius P. Orridge, is well-known to krautrock collectors as one of a number of engineers working at Stockhausen’s WDR and Dierks Studio in Cologne in the mid-1970s, where he assisted on recordings by many famous kraut bands such as Can, Birth Control, Mythos and Dzyan. The recordings included here were made between 1972 and 1976 using studios in and around Cologne, produced by Toby Robinson for his own amusement. Bands would come in for practice sessions, to record demos, and during slack periods, impromptu jams would happen. Most of these sessions were recorded by Toby, and they feature Toby himself plus a revolving cast of friends and musicians (some of them apparently big kraut names under pseudonym). Including lost-in-time bands/studio projects like Astral Army, Fuerrote, Spirulina and Baal among others, the music here ranges from killer proto-new wave kraut psych to wild space rock, proto-ambient electronic, dark psychedelia and raw kosmische sounds with lots of analog synths/Moog. It was during that time in Cologne, that Toby, along with Fluxus artist Robin Page, gave birth to the mysterious and controversial Pyramid label, for which these tracks were originally made for. 24-bit domain remaster from the original master tapes. Insert with detailed liner notes by Alan Freeman (Ultima Thule, The Crack In The Cosmic Egg (2007)). Also features: Chronos, Neil Andersen and Ten To Zen. RIYL: Pink Floyd, Gila, Cluster, Hawkwind, Ash Ra Tempel, Amon Düül II, Popol Vuh, Cosmic Jokers.
File Under: Krautrock, Kosmische
Various: French Disco Boogie Sounds Vol. 2 (Favorite) LP
After an internationally acclaimed first edition, Favorite Recordings and Charles Maurice follow-up their French Disco Boogie Sounds compilation with this second volume. Pursuing his fine work at digging rare music from around the world, DJ and collector Charles Maurice presents another brilliant selection of great music linked to France and French West-Indies: 12 hidden and forgotten titles, all produced between 1978 and 1985, in France, or by French artists abroad. Again, he perfectly browses and defines the great energy and quality of this specific disco/funk scene at that time, both in the underground market, or through bigger labels. On one hand, tracks by Crystal, Jackie Esam, Ideku Dynasty or Marc Ashy, were produced by small artists and labels from the French Caribbean and African community and are filled with a raw spirit and some tropical influences. On the other hand, tracks by Claude Morgan, Greg Smaha, Roots, or Black Bells Group, were released by major labels such as Phonogram, RCA, Derby, or Carrere, thanks to confirmed independent producers, acting not only in France, but also in Canada and the US. Favorite Recordings and Charles Maurice unearth these 12 gems, amongst them some very hard to find and almost unknown titles. Also features: Charms, Neilo Feel,Nel Oliver and Messan.
File Under: Disco, Boogie
Beach Boys: Good Vibrations (Universal) LP
Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill (Universal) LP
Broadcast: Noise Made By People (Warp) LP
Califone: Roomsound (Dead Oceans) LP
Alice Coltrane: Journey in Satchidananda (Impulse) LP
Converge: You Fail Me Redux (Deathwish) LP
Lana Del Rey: Born To Die (Universal) LP
Michael Farneti: Good Morning (Companion) LP
Guns n Roses: Use Your Illusion 1 (Geffen) LP
Guns n Roses: Use Your Illusion 2 (Geffen) LP
Intersystems: s/t (Alga Margen) Box
Norah Jones: Day Breaks (Blue Note) LP
Fela Kuti: Expensive Shit (Knitting Factory) LP
Medico Doktor Vibes: Liter Dorker (Companion) LP
Mitski: Puberty 2 (Dead Oceans) LP
Naked & Famous: Simple Forms (Sony) LP
New Creation: Troubled (Companion) LP
Angel Olsen: My Woman (Jagjaguwar) LP
OST: Beyond the Black Rainbow (Jagjaguwar) LP
Pearl Jam: Versus (Legacy) LP
Pearl Jam: Ten (Legacy) LP
Pearl Jam: Vitalogy (Legacy) LP
Pharcyde: Bizarre Ride II (Bicycle Music) LP
Pink Floyd: Meddle (Pink Floyd) LP
Daniel Romano: Mosey (New West) LP
Jack Rose: Kensington Blues (VHF) LP
Semi-Colon: Ndia Egbuo (Comb & Razor) LP
Small Faces: First Step (Rhino) LP
Stooges: s/t (Rhino) LP
S U R V I V E: RR7349 (Relapse) LP
Syrinx: Tumblers from the Vault (ReRVNG) LP/CD
T. Rex: s/t (Rhino) LP
Throbbing Gristle: 2nd Annual Report (Industrial) LP
Throbbing Gristle: DOA (Industrial) LP
Tomorrow The Rain Will Fall Upwards: Wreck (Blackest Ever Black) LP
Caetano Veloso: s/t (Lilith) LP
Weezer: Green Album (Universal) LP
Weezer: Red Album (Universal) LP
Various: Brixotica Goes East (Trunk) LP
Various: Psych Funk 101 (World Psych Funk Classics) LP