First week of new releases, and there’s some good ones! Also the first week of delays! The new Run The Jewels has been pushed until next Friday, although at this point, I’m skeptical that it’ll be here in time for that too. The Winged Victory hasn’t shown up but maybe tomorrow. Besides the new stuff there’s another pile of restocks back in too, it’s supposed to be warming up, so hopefully you come down for a dig!
…..pick of the week…..
Expo 70: American Here & Now Sessions (Essence) LP
Expo Seventy is back on Essence Music with the mastermind Justin Wright bringing together a rare line-up featuring two drummers. The four-piece only lived during a short period of time and the thunderous experiments achieved by these unique sonic hypnotists are fully presented here. With an impressive discography of transcendent kosmische drones, slow-burn psychedelic magnetism and heavier sounds behind him, Wright decided to set a new milestone with America Here & Now Sessions. Freely touching distant, dark corners of the cosmos where the sun shines timid, the band slowly builds two long movements of truly mesmerizing, free-form quality that propels the listener even higher to maximum altered state of consciousness. Warm, harmonic, meditational analog synth explorations get eventually accompanied by bursting, ritualistic percussions and distorted guitar tones, while a gloomy welcome ceremony of heavier guitar jams paints a grand canvas of seriously dark psychedelia. “America Here & Now Sessions” was recorded during the three-week art experience started in Kansas City featuring paintings, sculptures, poetry, plays, films and music from local and national artists called “America: Now And Here – A cross-country traveling dialogue about America through the arts”. Local musician Ashley Miller spearheaded a recording project that featured a handful of local acts to record some music that would be later edited together and released as an album. The project lost funding, but Expo Seventy was able to record as part of the art experiment.
File Under: Psych, Drone, Kosmische
A Winged Victory for the Sullen: Iris (Erased Tapes) LP
In tomorrow??? A Winged Victory For The Sullen, the otherworldly collaboration between Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie and Dustin O’Halloran, commence the New Year with their third full-length titled Iris. Adam and Dustin first met the director Jalil Lespert after he had discovered A Winged Victory For The Sullen on a music search online. After listening to their music, he immediately knew: “it was the sound of my new film.” With an excellent cast of France’s finest actors Romain Duris, Charlotte Le Bon, and the director himself, plus a script filled with tension, sexuality and darkness, they knew there was a lot of musical territory to mine. It was agreed that they wanted to explore more analogue electronique experiments as well as working with a large string ensemble, to create something that felt very modern and still cinematic. “Despite A Winged Victory For The Sullen being associated with film score type music, trying to survive the process of creating the modern film score is not for people with fragile egos. It requires those who are the most responsive to change. The director and the film presented a new set of challenges, so we decided to stop thinking about cinema as an object, and moved closer to using the film’s images as triggers for experiences. The more we were able to let go, and see the music as something that happens, like a process – not a quality, the more we were able to reach a place that sounded like us. It was as if we were making our first record all over again, except being filtered through another language littered with dead metaphors”, the duo elaborate. The recording sessions began with their long time sound collaborator Francesco Donadello in the form of some modular synth sessions in Berlin. Dustin and Adam began working from the script in their own studios, and after filming commenced they continued to create music that could be used for first edits of the film – each day getting new scenes that triggered ideas that would become the base of the film score. Over the course of the next few months the two slowly crafted the music with weekly discussion from their studio to the editing room. The final sessions to what is now the score of Iris was recorded with a 40-piece string orchestra at Magyar Radio in Budapest.
File Under: Ambient, OST, Stars of the Lid
Bonobo: Migration (Ninja Tune) DLX LP
Simon Green aka Bonobo returns with his sixth album, the masterful, magisterial Migration – a record which cements his place in the very highest echelons of electronic music and beyond. By turns lush, manic, beautiful, melancholy, joyful, packed with both emotion and technical skill, this is perhaps his most ambitious attempt yet to capture the very textures of human existence in his work, as Green says of the broad dynamics on the album, “Life has highs, lows, loud and quiet moments, beautiful ones and ugly ones. Music is a reflection of life.” In particular, there is a theme here of migration, eruditely put by Green as “The study of people and spaces,” he expands, “It’s interesting how one person will take an influence from one part of the world and move with that influence and effect another part of the world. Over time, the identities of places evolve.” It is a theme with a personal as well as a sociological aspect to it. Last year, a close family member passed away. “My family and I are all disbanded and spread to far corners of the earth,” explains Green, “In the end we did the funeral in Brighton. My own personal idea of identity, where I am from, and what home is, has played into this record and its migratory themes. Is home where you are or where you are from, when you move around?” Opener and title track “Migration” sets the tone for the record – a shifting, gradually building combination of complex electronic programming (Green programmed a special algorhythm to create the drum sequencing) and live piano playing, the sense of movement in the music is palpable. “Outlier” channels a swinging take on 2-step back into luscious romanticism, before changing direction and finishing hard on the dancefloor (not for nothing has Bonobo talked about the central importance to the overall feel of the album of his all-night Output DJ residencies in NY and his ‘Outlier’ club curation series, where he road-tested tracks). “Second Sun” mixes guitar, feedback and strings in completely unfamiliar ways. “Kerala” takes a R&B vocal sample from a classic Brandy track and uses it more as texture than as voice. This innovation is expanded upon and broadened on “Grains,” this time with the voice of folk godfather Pete Seeger. Beyond this, Green continues his theme of migration, through his guests and also his choice of found sound, which both strengthen and deepen “the transitory nature of the record.” Michael Milosh, from the LA group Rhye, for instance, is originally from Canada and recorded his affecting vocal over the harp and beautiful horn work of “Break Apart” in a hotel room in Berlin. Green, meanwhile built the structure of the track during a transatlantic flight (another meaning of “Migration” rests in the fact of making large chunks of the record while out on the road). Nick Murphy (aka Chet Faker), on the other hand, is from Australia, but a shared love of disco brought the pair together for the hugely emotive “No Reason.” Nicole Miglis of Hundred Waters, originally from Florida, delivers a superbly understated vocal for the glistening textures of “Surface,” while Moroccan band Innov Gnawa, based in New York, make up the last of the vocals, offering real grit and beauty to the housey shuffle of “Bambro Koyo Ganda.” Additionally, Green has used a sampler (“but not in a big boomer, wearing a cagoule kind of way”) and woven found sounds such as an elevator in Hong Kong airport, rain in Seattle, a tumble dryer in Atlanta and a fan boat engine in New Orleans into his intricate sonics. Migration deluxe double heavyweight 180g vinyl in gatefold sleeve. Includes special edition Migration zine and art card set. The LP also comes with a download code for the CD version of the album.
File Under: Electronic, Experimental
Brian Eno: Reflection (Warp) LP
Brian Eno presents Reflection, his new album on Warp Records. Reflection follows in the lineage of Eno’s long-running collection of ‘Ambient’ recordings that started with his 1973 collaboration with Robert Fripp, (No Pussyfooting) and 1975’s Discreet Music. Consisting entirely of one long form composition, Reflection mirrors perfectly Eno’s idea that ‘Ambient’ music is a term “to distinguish it from pieces of music that have fixed duration and rhythmically connected, locked together elements.” Reflection promises to be a much-needed catharsis at the start of a brand new year.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient
Tom Glazer & Dottie Evans: Space Songs (Modern Harmonic) LP
The first ever vinyl reissue of an extraordinarily-unique space-age educational LP. Includes the oft-covered “A Shooting Star Is Not A Star” and “Why Does The Sun Shine?” Featuring Leo Leonni cover art and taken from the original atomic-era 1959 master tapes. Written by Hy Zaret and sung by Tom Glazer & Dottie Evans. Zaret (co-author of “Unchained Melody”) turned his attention to educational children’s music in the late 1950s, collaborating with Lou Singer on a six-album series called “Ballads for the Age of Science.” Space Songs stands alone as the most essential volume in a series that also featured songs about energy and motion, experiments, weather, and nature. Space Songs contains “Why Does the Sun Shine” (aka “The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas”) and “A Shooting Star Is Not a Star” which were more recently popularized by They Might Be Giants.
File Under: Kids, Educational, Space Age
Justice: Woman (Because) LP
French electronic music duo Justice’s new album Woman is a journey that catapults you from the elastic R&B pop of “Pleasure” straight into the rush of “Alakazam!” Twirls through a dazzling bout of thumping electronic piano and clavinet sparring during “Fire”‘s dancefloor peacocking, barely pausing for breath before it lands at “Stop” – a sparkling, bittersweet slice of disco pop that boasts one of the best chorus the pair have ever had on a track. “Randy” has a melody Michael McDonald would have killed a fellow Doobie Brother for (if Michael McDonald was into gut-shuddering electro that is). “Love S.O.S”, meanwhile, sounds like the greatest disco anthem you’ve never heard. 2LP-set features three full sides of audio and one side etched plus accompanying CD of the album.
File Under: OST, Maestro
Pye Corner Audio: Half-Light (More Than Human) LP
Pye Corner Audio’s acclaimed 2015 album ‘Prowler’ (’Moody minimal techno throb’ – Mojo) has been warped, twisted and reborn as ‘Half-Life’, the first ever PCA remix album. Featuring 4 new remixes by Clesse, Silent Servant, Cloudface and Not Waving; plus 2 brand new compositions by the Head Technician himself.
File Under: Electronic, Electro
Attilio Mineo: Man In Space With Sound (Modern Harmonic) LP
Man In Space With Sounds is a commemorative album of 12 tracks dedicated to the Seattle World’s Fair. Envisioned and conducted by Attilio “Art” Mineo, this unearthly album was released in 1959, but its roots go as far back as 1951 when Mineo carved out many of the uncannily clandestine melodies. They’re an inebriated burlesque of circus organs, tipsily galloping bongo beats and electronic hydrazine expectorations that enclose the listener. In anticipation of the World’s Fair, Attilio mined these pieces from his archive and paired them with out-of-this-world narration to guide your journey. This narration is a milky way of recognizable sound bites that have been sampled by the best. Available on colored vinyl and packaged in a stunning gatefold jacket; this is the kind of future the Seattle State World’s Fair promised!
File Under: Early Electronic, Experimental
Nirvana: Incesticide (Geffen) 2LP
All great bands have a treasure trove of rarities and early material fans long to hear. The demand for any Nirvana music, new or previously unheard by most ears, was so great in 1992 that the group and its record label issued Incesticide, one of the best odds-and-sods collections ever produced. Consisting of demos, outtakes, and radio broadcast recordings made from 1988 to 1991, Incesticide functions as a point-on-accurate cross-section of Nirvana’s sound. While not heavily promoted, the record’s paramount success is a testament to its enduring appeal, as it climbed to No. 39 on the Billboard 200 and sold 500,000 copies in only a couple of months. Moreover, the 15-song set functions as a window into the trio’s influences and core sound, and is anchored by several songs that originally comprised the sought-after Japanese-only EP Hormoaning. Spanning Nirvana’s early singles (“Dive”) and B-sides (“Stain”), scintillating covers (the Vaselines’ “Molly’s Lips” and “Son of a Gun”), and formative original material (“Mexican Seafood,” “Hairspray Queen”), Incesticide runs the gamut from sing-a-long pop to noisy sludge, and covers all the bases in between!
File Under: Rock, Grunge
Sun Ra: The Space Age is Here to Stay (Modern Harmonics) LP
Across the history of jazz, there is no wilder, more future-forward composer and performer than Herman Poole Blount, aka Sun Ra. Known as much for his wild on-stage persona as his innovative compositions, Sun Ra was the avant-garde bleeding edge of the jazz genre, introducing modal composition and electronic instrumentation before almost anyone else — not to mention bringing the space age to life with his obsession with all things extraterrestrial. Across more than 100 LPs released in his lifetime, Sun Ra charted a course to space and far, far beyond. Known primarily for his keyboard improv and freeform band arrangements, Sun Ra could also write great vocal songs when he set his mind to it. Such songs as “Space Is The Place” and “Interplanetary Music No.1” show Ra’s unique approach to songwriting, using eerie chanting and repetition to create hypnotic moods. And Ra could get swingy when he wanted to as well — “Enlightenment” and “Sometimes I’m Happy” are gorgeous ballads, as pretty as any Tin Pan Alley tune. Of course, it wouldn’t be Sun Ra without his space age lyrics — “Take your first step out to outer space/You’re like a little baby who never walked before” shows up in the future-predicting “Walking On The Moon.” At long last, Sundazed’s Modern Harmonic has put together The Space Age Is Here To Stay, the very first collection of Sun Ra’s vocal tracks – two albums’ worth of mind-blowing tunes from the mind of the Man from Saturn himself. 2LPs wrapped in a gorgeous package featuring artwork by the king of space-age art himself, Chesley Bonestell. Includes extensive liner notes from Charles Blass of Sun Radio. Cue this one up and get ready to visit other worlds in Sun Ra’s jazz rocket ship!
File Under: Jazz
Tasseomancy: Do Easy (Hand Drawn Dracula) LP
Do Easy is the fifth full-length effort from Tasseomancy aka Canadian twin sisters Sari and Romy Lightman. For the seasoned loners, stoners, and lackadaisically laid, Do Easy was written as a dead-beat anthem for a generation who was told that anything is possible after the possibility slows. Written in Toronto and Montreal, Do Easy was created as a lamp shade of hope; of soft survivalism. Serene, strange and magnetically sung, it honours its free-thinking forebears without being weighed down by them, creating immersive worlds of loving allusion. Soft synths and crystalline harmonies merge hypnotically on “Dead Can Dance and Neil Young,” an invitation to “fade into folk song.” If folk song this is, it’s folk of great idiosyncrasy, where vocoded chorales provide atmospheric shading and alto-saxophones drift like cigarette smoke from a David Lynch dream-film. Between the new age synth of “Claudine & Annie,” the ambient swoon of “29 Palms,” Kate Bush-like prog-psych of “Missoula” and gently lapping title-track, Do Easy plays like pop from a parallel world. Sari and Romy are former members of queer cold-wave band, Austra. Channelling their former forays in psychedelic folk into a kind of lushly accessible, warmly experimental dream-pop along with bandmates Johnny Spence and Evan Cartwright, they explore manipulated sounds, all with mood in mind. Assisted by friends Brodie West (alto-sax), Ryan Driver (flute), Simone Schmidt (voice of a young Neil Young) and Alex Cowan (Blue Hawaii), that exploration reaches full bloom on Do Easy, the sound of a band hitting their richly imagined, luxuriously executed stride. And, wealth of evocative references included, making it all sound easy.
File Under: Pop, Indie Rock
XX: I See You (Young Turks) LP
Out tomorrow! Limited clear vinyl while it lasts… The xx’s I See You is marked by a tonal shift to something close to pure, crisp pop structure, adorned by unusual crescendos that echo a dextrous DJ inching their dancer toward climax without ever quite lifting the house lights. Its lyric sheet moves from the danger and hopelessness of love to its deliciousness and rapture; a move into a more outward looking proposition. I See You is recognizably still The xx but is now powered by the voluble ambition of its three perfect counterweights to one another starting to not just realize but harness their full potential. You might even want to think of the decisive move from Joy Division to New Order here, too. When they take their plum festival slots in 2017, armed with the ten most robust songs of their career, The xx should prick the skin and touch gently the shoulder of an audience reaching to the back of the field. Also available as a limited edition 180g 2LP + 2CD box set with bonus tracks, enhanced video content and three art prints, which will be in next week.
File Under: Indie Rock, Pop
Neil Young: Peace Trail (Reprise) LP
Neil Young offers up his second Reprise Records album of 2016 with the brand new studio effort, entitled Peace Trail. The compelling ten-track set features all new songs that Young wrote since the release of his unconventional album Earth with Promise of the Real, in June. Peace Trail is a primarily acoustic affair and reflects an intimate, sparse approach to each of the songs within. The album was recorded at Rick Rubin’s Shangri-La Studios and features Young on vocals and guitar, Jim Keltner on drums, and Paul Bushnell on bass. It was produced by Young and John Hanlon, and mixed by Hanlon. “Neil Young matches the fire in his belly to the poetry from his pen for one of the most gripping outings of his long career. This riveting collection, a spare acoustic-electric hybrid, seethes with righteous indignation over a plethora of social and political injustices, but also soothes with deeply felt empathy for those on the receiving end of iniquity.” Randy Lewis, Los Angeles Times
File Under: Rock, Folk
Arcade Fire: Funeral (Merge) LP
Avalanches: Wildflower (XL) LP
Daniel Bachman: s/t (Three Lobed) LP
Beatles: Revolver (Apple) LP
Boards of Canada: Geogaddi (Warp) LP
Boards of Canada: Music Has The Right to Children (Warp) LP
David Bowie: Blackstar (Columbia) LP
Can: Future Days (Mute) LP
Nick Cave: Skeleton Tree (Bad Seeds) LP
Gord Downie: Secret Path (Arts & Crafts) LP/DLX LP
Flying Lotus: Until the Quiet Comes (Warp) LP
Funkadelic: America Eats It’s Young (Westbound) LP
Frightnrs: Nothing More To Say (Daptone) LP
Ghostface Killah: Fishscale (Universal) LP
Harmonia: Musik von Harmonia (Gron) LP
Jimi Hendrix: Are You Experienced (Reprise) LP
J Dilla: Donuts (Stones Throw) LP
Nicolas Jaar: Sirens (Other People) LP
Kaytranada: 99.9% (XL) LP
Killers: Hot Fuss (Universal) LP
Kleenex/Lilliput: First Songs (Kill Rock Stars) LP
LCD Soundsystem: This is Happening (DFA) LP
Hamilton Leithauser/Rostam: I Had a Dream That… (Glassnote) LP
Massive Attack: Blue Lines (EMI) LP
John Mayall: Blues Breakers (Sundazed) LP
The Meters: Zony Mash (Sundazed) LP
Minutemen: Double Nickels on the Dime (SST) LP
Mitsky: Puberty 2 (Dead Oceans) LP
Ennio Morricone: 60 Years of Music (Universal) LP
Joanna Newsom: Ys (Drag City) LP
Joanna Newson: Divers (Drag City) LP
Nirvana: Nevermind (Geffen) LP
Angel Olsen: My Woman (Jagjaguwar) LP
The Olympians: s/t (Daptone) LP
Pearl Jam: Vitalogy (Epic) LP
Pearl Jam: Vs. (Epic) LP
Refused: Shape of Punk to Come (Epitaph) LP
Saun & Starr: Look Closer (Daptone) LP
Andy Shauf: Bearer of Bad News (Arts & Crafts) LP
Sigur Ros: Takk (Krunk) LP
Sigur Ros: ( ) (Krunk) LP
Sturgill Simpson: A Sailors Guide to the Earth (Atlantic) LP
Sloan: One Chord To Another (Murder) LP
Sly & The Family Stone: Anthology (Friday Music) LP
Esperanza Spalding: Emilys D+Evolution (Concord) LP
Sunn o))): Monoliths & Dimensions (Southern Lord) LP
Tame Impala: Lonerism (Modular) LP
Tool: Opiate (Zoo) LP
Tragically Hip: Fully Completely (Universal) LP
Tragically Hip: Man Machine Poem (Universal) LP
Tragically Hip: Now For Plan A (Universal) LP
Tragically Hip: s/t (Universal) LP
Tragically Hip: We Are the Same (Universal) LP
Tribe Called Quest: Beats, Rhymes & Life (Jive) LP
Tribe Called Quest: Low End Theory (Jive) LP
Tribe Called Quest: The Anthology (Jive) LP
Tribe Called Quest: Hits, Rarities, & Remixes (Jive) LP
Townes Van Zandt: In The Beginning (Fat Possum) LP
Townes Van Zandt: s/t (Fat Possum) LP
Townes Van Zandt: Out Mother the Mountain (Fat Possum) LP
Townes Van Zandt: Flyin’ Shoes (Fat Possum) LP
Townes Van Zandt: Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas (Fat Possum) LP
White Stripes: Elephant (XL) LP
White Stripes: De Stijl (Thirdman) LP
White Stripes: White Blood Cells (Thirdman) LP
White Stripes: Get Behind Me Satan (Thirdman) LP
Various: All Night Long (Numero) LP