Ugh, not sure why this news letter has taken me this long, so I’ll leave you with it, loads of good stuff this week….
…..pick of the week…..
Dedekind Cut: American Zen (Special Edition) (Hospital) LP
Following a strictly limited tape edition of American Zen, Lee Bannon, aka Dedekind Cut, links with Hospital Productions for an expanded new vinyl edition, clasping a sublime bonus single collaboration with Alex Zhang Hungtai, who’s better known for his maudlin pop moniker, Dirty Beaches. If you like your ambient music intangible and synaesthetically olfactory, huffable, you’re encouraged to check this one without delay… American Zen finds its center in quivering, pensive drones and fractured small sounds, but is rent with an oceanic sense of scale, deploying splashes of distant percussion, extreme panned vocal snippets, and slowly escalating harmonic space perfused by crackling radio-waves and that intangible timbre of an old TV turned on somewhere, but you can’t quite pick out its location. It unfolds at a glacial pace in five parts, crossing lines/waves comparable to Chino Amobi & Rabit’s ultraviolent mixtape (2015), the nostalgic Americana yearn of Torn Hawk, and even The Caretaker’s hallowed ether zones; perpetually out of reach, submerged or hardly there, but feeling as though he’s close, breathing quietly in the background and watching you listen. In addition to the original five tracks, including the formerly tape-only “Folsom Lake 04”, you’ll now also find a rare outing from Alex Zhang Hungtai infiltrating the finely graded and diaphanous silhouette of “I’ll Give You The World” on the final side, serving to complement and temper Dedekind Cut’s broader strokes with fluctuating microtonal infidelities and a gauzier, anaesthetizing and almost pastoral atmosphere that’s a real pleasure to drift off with. Excellent stuff, perhaps the most interesting of Bannon’s releases so far. Cut at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin.
File Under: Dark Ambient, Drone
Ellen Allien: Nost (Bpitch Control) LP
Ellen Allien’s seventh solo album Nost, which comes from nostalgia, is the quintessential sound of Berlin. It has a sensibility which can only be found in the depths of the city’s darkest underground clubs. The album begins with an expert lesson in hypnosis with “Mind Journey”; a warped vocal lures you into its creepy world, while a persistent beat, narcotic bassline, and spine-tingling eerie top-end builds an intense, immersive vibe. “Innocence” channels the loose atmosphere of a Berlin dancefloor, with its insistent energy conjuring up images of a clandestine warehouse soiree. “Jack My Ass” is a whirring, utterly captivating dancefloor treat with tension building rises in energy, built to create moments of pure exhilaration; techno from the 23rd Century, built by a modern-day master. “Call Me” sees Ellen inject sexy vibes but keeps it strictly jackin’; Berlin’s unmistakable vibe is blended with the classic sound of Chicago. “Electric Eye” follows with its emotive riff, again transmitting a lucid, hypnotic rhythm. Ellen demonstrates her expertise in warping vocals, and combines it with deadly techno elements. “mma” is a snarling beast of a track with dramatic strings creating a hair-raising atmosphere and a mesmerizing riff. “Physical” is a message from future inhabitants of our universe — the beats are crisp and powerful, while a symphony of analog effects cascade through the background. All the while a vocal clip appears once in a while, saying “Physical” — adding a strange human element to proceedings. The penultimate track is “Stormy Memories”, which opens with an extended, emotive intro, slowly building into a brooding acid-tinged workout with that classic 303 sound bubbling away in the low-end. Closing out this masterful selection is “Erdmond”, a delicate, hazy soundscape that feels like the “morning after the night before”, the sun blazing into your room through a gap in the curtain, a variety of electronic critters chirping and calling to one another and your head slowly shedding the layers of fuzz to reveal memories of last night. Like in all of her albums, Ellen uses her vocals like an instrument through alienation in many different ways. Nost is a homage to the feeling of nostalgia, that Ellen knows just too good, and that happens quite often to her, when she plays her DJ sets: This incredible, warm feeling, when she drops one of the old classic records, that she loves, and the people start smiling.
File Under: Electronic, Techno
Alt-J: Relaxer (Atlantic) LP
Alt-J follows up their UK No. 1, Grammy and Brit Award-nominated 2014 album This Is All Yours with their third full-length effort Relaxer. The 8-track offering was recorded all over London – from Shoreditch to St John’s Wood, Crouch Hill to Brixton – with producer Charlie Andrew at the helm for the third time. A first taste of the album comes in the form of the broody lead single “3WW.” The stereo-heavy tune is a production gem, sending out shakers into your eardrums and guitar chords into your heart one line at a time. Alt-J is one of the most successful British bands of the millennium. This Is All Yours and Mercury Prize and Ivor Novello Award-winning 2012 debut An Awesome Wave have sold in excess of two million copies and their songs have been streamed more than one billion times.
File Under: Indie Rock
Arcade Fire: Everything Now (Sony) 12″
Arcade Fire have issued a vinyl single called “Everything Now,” ahead of their long-awaited first new album since 2013’s Reflektor. Pitchfork confirms the song is for sale at merch tables on Arcade Fire’s current tour, which features an instrumental version of “Everything Now” on its B-side. Arcade Fire has been hinting at an imminent new album since January, when they released a collaboration with Mavis Staples called “I Give You Power.” They’ve since debuted some six previously unheard tracks during a secret Montreal show. The band posted an image that appears to be new album artwork earlier today, with the caption: “Stay tuned for Infinite Content.”
File Under: Indie Rock
Dan Auerbach: Waiting On A Song (Nonesuch) LP
Waiting On A Song is the second solo album from 9x Grammy–winner and Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach and the much anticipated follow-up to his acclaimed 2009 debut Keep It Hid. A love letter to Nashville, he recruited some of Music City’s most respected artists to work on the album including the great John Prine who co-wrote seven tracks, Mark Knopfler whose supple guitar work graces lead single “Shine On Me,” and guitar icon Duane Eddy who’s featured on standouts “Livin’ In Sin” and “King of a One Horse Town.” “Living in Nashville has definitely changed the way I think about music and the way that I record it,” Auerbach explains. “I didn’t have all of these resources before. I am working with some of the greatest musicians that ever lived.”
File Under: Rock, Indie Rock
Ball: s/t (Horny) LP
Intensely disturbed, dirty, smut peddling, Swedish slime hard rock-psych-madness from the deepest cesspool of humanity. Fucked up sub-human fuzz guitars; Depraved, screaming vocals; Gut rumbling bass and caveman drums; A nightmare of revolting sounds. Ball is hard rock from hell. This is the much-anticipated follow up to the bands acclaimed Fyre/Fyre Balls single (2015). Ball’s debut album is a deranged hard rock tour-de-force that will have you gasping and gagging. Ball was formed by the mysterious S. Yrék Ball, previously known as a strong force in the occult underground of Northern Europe’s secret societies. He has now decided to dedicate his will to music and the good life outside of the covens and black magic orders. Backed by his two older brothers, they form a fierce and fearsome power trio. These guys aren’t very talkative but say their main interests are – apart from banging on their instruments – booze, girls, horror comics, and monster model kits. The guys have finally been released from probation, so hopefully they will be able to do some live shows. Anyways, it’s a good thing they are still together and have recorded this – nothing short of a miracle considering the circumstances.
File Under: Rock, Psych
Caterina Barbieri: Patterns of Consciousness (Important) LP
Patterns Of Consciousness is the powerful second full-length from analog synth composer Caterina Barbieri. Gorgeous high resolution analog textures and algorithmic melodies unfold under Barbieri’s careful control, exploring the basic nature of sound and consciousness. These pieces are minimal in arrangement but maximal in presence asserting Barbieri as a unique voice in contemporary electronic music composition. Patterns Of Consciousness was originated by ideally infinite permutation of patterns through a disciplined and exclusive use of machinery (an indexed quad sequencer and a harmonic oscillator). By means of subtraction, addition, and jitter operations, Barbieri derives a myriad of interlocking patterns extracted from an original matrix of just few harmonic archetypes, gradually developing the potential of the reduced constellation of pitches and durations determined in advance. Pushing the limits of her monophonic instrument, Barbieri seeks out counterpoint from a single oscillator through the exclusive use of additive synthesis, fast progressions, extreme melodic jumps, and intricate delay lines. She develops an illusory counterpoint style influenced by her passion for baroque lute music, where fast arpeggios are employed to get effects of sustained chords and overcome the limits of fast decay timbres. But the highly formulaic and germinative style of these pieces is also influenced by Indian classical music’s vision of sound as an agent of change and recreation. Patterns are understood as the cells of an organism or the units of a language: a limited set of signs that can be recombined to always generate new possibilities. In POC, repetition and permutation of patterns are explored as tools to reconfigure perceptions and bend emotions, approaching sound as a medium to develop and master our own perceptual art. Emerging machine intelligence, human desire of pattern detection and the understanding of music as a cognitive feedback between humans and technology are primary sources of inspiration for this work. All the compositions share a common fatalistic tension, an impossible running, a restless rush – somewhat nervous somewhat ecstatic – to grasp a meaning out of fragments. Every piece in POC is conceived as a generative entity, a dynamic and living being able to develop its own organic laws, whose inner potential of growth and change is embedded in the initial instructions of the sequencer. Music produced by Caterina Barbieri between September 2015 and January 2016. Mixed at EMS (Elektronmusikstudion) in Stockholm. RIYL: Alessandro Cortini, Eleh.
File Under: Ambient, Electronic
Berthling/Kuchen/Noble: Threnody, At The Gates (Trost) LP
Johan Berthling: double bass; Martin Küchen: tenor and soprano saxophones, retardophone, flute; Steve Noble: drums and percussion. Recorded by David Carlsson at Gula Studion, Malmö, Sweden, November 1, 2015. Mixed by David Carlsson. Mastered by Martin Siewert. Cover photo by Donald Boström.
File Under: Free Improv, Jazz
Biosphere: The Petrified Forest (Biophon) LP
Biosphere is the main recording name of Geir Jenssen — a Norwegian musician who has released a notable catalogue of ambient electronic music. He is well known for his works on ambient techno and arctic themed pieces, his use of music loops, and peculiar samples from sci-fi sources. His 1997 album Substrata was voted by the users of the Hyperreal website in 2001 as the best all-time classic ambient album. The Petrified Forest is inspired by the movie of the same name, released in 1936 and directed by Archie Mayo. IMDB description of the film: “Alan Squier, a failed, world-weary British writer, hikes into an isolated, weather-beaten desert diner in Arizona owned by Jason Marple. Jason’s daughter, Gabrielle is immediately taken with the disillusioned intellectual, since they share idealistic dreams of escaping the stark reality of their lives.” Features: Joan Lorring, Leslie Howard, and Bette Davis. Mastered by Stefan Betke; Designed by Joanna John.
File Under: Avant Garde, Experimental
Cluster: Konzerte 1972/1977 (Bureau B) LP
The two authorized recordings presented on Konzerte 1972/1977 vividly conjure up the atmosphere, perhaps even the magic, of a Cluster performance back in the day. One took place in 1977 during a science fiction festival in Metz (France). The other dates back to an earlier show in Hamburg’s Fabrik venue. Cluster played three gigs in the city in 1971/1972, including the one partially included on 1972’s Cluster II. Cluster shows routinely lasted six hours or more, luring both the band and the audience into a state of intoxication, no doubt acutely enhanced by the intake of certain substances. The buzzwords of the moment were: psychedelic, magical, ritualistic, corresponding more or less to the Dionysian hedonism which pervades certain styles of contemporary music culture today. It is worth noting this context as useful background when listening to the live recordings presented here. In the beginning, Cluster’s music was rough, brutal, and spontaneous, created with the most rudimentary tools. Unlike many of their colleagues in this pioneering age, Cluster did not use any synthesizers, sequencers, or high-end amps. But this proved to be their strength, rather than a disadvantage. Roedelius and Moebius played in the truest sense of the word, untroubled by mechanical processes. They used their machines but were not dependent on them. Intuition was the dominant force, the risk of potential failure was readily understood to be as much a part of their vibrant art as success. Perfection had become a concept associated with convention. Indeed, anyone who was lucky enough to witness Cluster play in the 1970s will testify that things sometimes went badly wrong. But mostly they did not, and then the real magic was tangible. A utopian, previously undiscovered world of sound was created in the presence of the beholder. The sound quality of these two documents is average. A successful performance was considered more important than a perfect recording thereof. As listeners, this should be accepted today. Konzerte 1972/1977 provides a short journey into the nascent heart of Cluster’s creative universe, just after the big bang.
File Under: Krautrock, Kosmiche
Contrepoint: s/t (Monster Melodies) LP
At the end of the sixties, Jean Pierre Weiller, a young Parisian and amateur bassist, was an assistant at a Soft Machine concert, and befriended Hugh Hopper who introduced him to Robert Wyatt. He was invited to the Abbey Road studios to attend the recording of Kevin Ayers’s 1969 album Joy Of A Toy. Back in Paris, in October 1970, he decided to add a saxophonist to the band Brave New World, a band he set up at the age of seventeen with two other high school students of Paris’s thirteenth arrondissement. Having become a quartet, the group took the name Contrepoint. Contrepoint, first formed by bassist Jean Pierre Weiller, organist Jean Pierre Carolfi, percussionist Mike Freitag, and saxophonist Robert Taylor, started to explore instrumental avant-garde music between rock and free jazz. Like so many bands at the time, Counterpoint performs in the circuit of the MJC and for various events. The members gained a certain notoriety, allowing them to be invited to the Pop Club of “France Inter” where they performed three singles: “Facelift”, “Golden Section”, and “Lily Kong” in the company of English musicians Elton Dean, Lol Coxhill, Hugh Hopper, and Laurie Allen. The group had a growing reputation and were in talks with CBS to release an album, but it was not like England. In France, the market for innovative music was not in line with the expectations from the French majors requesting maximum profitability. Contrepoint never recorded a studio album. Contrepoint did end up recording a live single, “Unfathomable Of The Seventh Time”, on the initiative of Laurent Thibault, for Puissance 13 + 2 (1972), a compilation with other bands such as Catherine Ribeiro and Magma. In 1974, it was a new beginning. Counterpoint played in the first part of the new group by Hugh Hopper, which included Jean Pierre Weiller, Jean Pierre Carolfi, Elton Dean, and Mike Travis. A record from the band Hugh Hopper Monster immortalized on its second face the performance recorded in Bordeaux on March 20, 1974. But despite the recognition, after more than 200 concerts throughout France, Contrepoint separated in 1976. The unpublished record of Contrepoint, directed by Jean Yves Tonello in 1971, was originally engraved on acetate at the time and it remains one of the few existing testimonies of the work of these excellent musicians. Includes two inserts; Transparent vinyl; Edition of 1000 (numbered).
File Under: Jazz, Prog
J.D. Emmanuel: Rain Forest Music (Aguirre) LP
Aguirre Records present a reissue of the 1981 debut album by new age pioneer JD Emmanuel, Rain Forest Music. Texan musician JD Emmanuel’s career story is, in a way, a story about how the passion of fans can make a difference and about a gifted musician whose music may have been lost to the ages. The tale begins in 2005 when Douglas Mcgowan stumbled on several dusty boxes of two JD Emmanuel vinyl albums — several hundred of them, all still sealed — at a discount book and record store in North Dallas, Texas. Mcgowan purchased 50 copies and took them back to the west coast. This discovery set in motion a chain of events that led to a series of reissues and Emmanuel’s return to recording and performing in 2010. The majority of JD Emmanuel’s studio recordings date from the 1980s, when new age music in America was still an indie scene. Whether you call his albums new age or not, the meditative vibe, spiritual underpinnings and self-releasing are all hallmarks of the genre. Yet his cyclic, organ-based music is different from most of his contemporaries of that era. Back in 1970, he was deeply impressed by his first taste of classical minimalism when he heard American minimalist composers Terry Riley and Steve Reich. He was also attracted to the improvisations of modern jazz and long-form rock jams. Minimalism and improvisation, then, became the foundations of his art, and the evocation of trance-like states his goal. In 1980, with his newly acquired Crumar Traveler-1 organ, analog synths, guitar, and various effects, he began building a body of warm, melodic, usually stripped-back ambient trance with a unique mystical vibe. On Rain Forest Music he builds gentle, short cycles of notes into floating clouds of sound, mostly improvising around single chords. The “minimalism” in his music lies not in repetitive patterns that barely change — the extreme end of classical minimalism — but more in the spare arrangements. There’s also an open, loving optimism to the melodies that has obvious appeal to new age listeners. The album cover is from an original water color created for the LP in 1981 by Houston artist, Molly Khan. 180 gram vinyl; Printed inner sleeve; Remastered by Rashad Becker; Lacquer cut by Rashad Becker; Cover reconstruction by Jeroen Wille; Edition of 1000.
File Under: Ambient, New Age
Golden Cup: Futura (Grandangolo) LP
Luca Massolin is an active figure in the young generation of outsider musicians. Born in Italy, he is now living in Portugal. His sound is focused on string instruments (guitar, bass, mandolin), voice, and analog electronics. He is constantly encouraged by his fascination for the work of early electronic music pioneers, early ’70s guitar rock, as well as cosmic improvisation, minimalism, and free jazz. In his solo recordings and live performances, as well as his involvement in Golden Jooklo Age and Neokarma Jooklo Experience, he developed a personal sound focusing on the power of music to create images and visions. His efforts as a band member and solo artist have been documented by labels such as Qbico, Digitalis, Backwards, Troglosound, Peasant Magik, Utmarken, Holidays, and his own 8mm imprint. Massolin has had intense non-stop live activity, performing in 20 nations across Europe, Middle East Asia and the United States, playing music on stage and in the studio with artists like Anla Courtis, Peaking Lights, Takeisha Kosugi, John Paul Jones, Sonic Youth, Sachiko, The Merce Cunningham Dance Company, and Stefan Neville. Since 2002, he has run his record label 8mm Records, focused on limited editions of free improvised and obscure underground music from all over the world.
File Under: Psych, Drone, Neokarma
Golem: Orion Awakes (Mental Experience) LP
Mental Experience present a reissue of Golem’s Orion Awakes. Orion Awakes was recorded and produced circa 1976 by Toby Robinson, aka Genius P. Orridge, while he worked as second engineer at the famous Dierks Studio in Cologne. Memories from those hazy times are sketchy, but all evidence leads you to believe that the musicians featured here were well-known names from the kraut scene working under pseudonyms, recording 100% underground, non-commercial music under Toby’s guidance, just for fun. Apparently, Orion Awakes was released as a very limited hand-made pressing housed in a silver foil sleeve on the Pyramid label, which was run by Toby and his friend Robin Page, the Fluxus artist. No original copies have ever been found. The fascinating liner notes by kraut expert Alan Freeman talk about seeing an original copy of Golem at a record shop in Germany many years ago and he also sheds some light on who could be the real musicians involved, as well as discussing the controversial story of the Pyramid label and the accusations of Golem being a manufactured ’90s “fake” instead of a real vintage ’70s recording. A glorious blend of space-rock, kraut, and psychedelia, courtesy of the mysterious Golem — Plenty of Hammond organ, analog synths, ripping guitar, effects, trippy jams. RIYL: Gila, Mythos, Guru Guru, Cosmic Jokers, Novalis, Neu!, Hawkwind, Brainticket, My Solid Ground, Pink Floyd. “Legitimately tripped out, fans of the Cosmic Jokers could certainly get behind this one.” –Angela Sawyer (Weirdo Records) Includes download coupon; 24-bit domain remaster from the original tapes; Housed in a silver foil sleeve; Insert with liner notes by Alan Freeman (Ultima Thule/The Crack In The Cosmic Egg (1996)).
File Under: Space Rock, Psych
Grateful Dead: Cornell 77 (Rhino) 5LP
There are concerts, and then there are live performances so epic that they are still spoken of in hushed tones several decades after the fact. In the latter category: the Grateful Dead’s performance at Cornell University’s Barton Hall on May 8, 1977. Yes, we know, this is exactly the sort of praise that you’d expect Rhino Records to lavish on the Dead, but it’s not just us: a recording of the concert in question was added to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry in 2011. Do we have your attention now? Here’s hoping so, because we’re here to tell you that Rhino has just released CORNELL: 5/8/77, which offers this famous performance as a limited edition five-LP set (only 7,700 copies will be pressed), and as a digital download. “During the 18+ years I’ve worked with the Grateful Dead, no concert has garnered as much attention and as many requests for release as Cornell,” said David Lemieux, Grateful Dead archivist and the set’s producer. In addition, MAY 1977 comes in an ornate box crafted by Grammy-winning graphic artist Masaki Koike and includes an in-depth essay by noted Dead scholar Nicholas G. Meriwether as well as the book Cornell ‘77: The Music, The Myth And The Magnificence Of The Grateful Dead’s Concert At Barton Hall, by Peter Conners.
File Under: Rock
Arek Gulbenkoglu: Three Days Afterwards (Penultimate Press) LP
Three Days Afterwards is the fourth solo release from Arek Gulbenkoglu. Within manifests a disorientating assignment of tones, textures, and voice. Hovering around the key words below there is an unsettling psychedelic music – ready ripe and raw for the current foreboding age: Sickness; Rooms; FM synthesis; The fickle; Objects; Rituals; Armenia; Vibrations; The inconsequential; Three days afterwards; Arek Gulbenkoglu. Mastered by Joe Talia. Artwork concept by Arek Gulbenkoglu; Layout by Matthew Revert; Published by Mark Harwood. Comes in a high gloss sleeve; Edition of 300.
File Under: Experimental
Heliocentrics: A World of Masks (Soundway) LP
The Heliocentrics are a group for which genres are meaningless and boundaries invisible. Since first appearing on DJ Shadow’s 2006 album The Outsider the group have gone on to release a string of records that float through jazz, hip-hop, psych, krautrock, and musique concrete whilst collaborating with numerous genre heavyweights from Mulatu Astake to Gaslamp Killer and picking up prestigious fans along the way, such as Madlib and the recently departed David Axelrod. The primarily instrumental group, who operate out of their vintage analogue studio in East London called the Quatermass Sound Lab, bring in a new singer on album number four – a young Slovakian singer called Barbora Patkova. The result is an album that takes the band, already solidified in ever-expanding grooves and rhythms into new previously unexplored dimensions.The group’s deep-set ability to craft music intuitively and impulsively stems from a desire to avoid typical processes or generic structures. Since its conception, the band’s music has mainly been created from live improvisation. This musical approach gives the band its own sound and identity -“for anything to happen it must be at that time from the people in the room, and on the spot”. A decade of such sonic adventures has resulted in a tightly knit bond that the group refer to as “almost a form of telepathy” with “musical changes that otherwise would be near impossible to write.”
File Under: Jazz, Funk, Soul, Psych
Heroin in Tahiti: Remoria (Grandangolo) LP
Heroin In Tahiti is a death surf duo from Rome, Italy, composed of Valerio Mattioli and Francesco de Figuereido. In Roman mythology, the murder of Remus by his brother Romulus is the key event that led to the founding of the city of Rome. But what if Remus overcame Romulus? Easy: rather than Rome, we’d have Remoria, the city that never happened. We’ll never know what Remoria would have looked like, at least compared to the Rome which still stands there 27 centuries after the ominous brother’s sacrifice. But perhaps, the ghosts of Remoria still harbor under the so called Eternal City, as a kind of deforming mirror of the events, the shapes, the geometries, and the values which lay on the surface. In their new “alternate history LP”, Heroin In Tahiti explore the negative occult side of their native city, portraying the myths, the legends, the heroes, and the tragedies of that original “what if”, and sink into the abyss of Rome’s psyche and griefs.
File Under: Psych, Ambient, Experimental
Magnetic Fields: 50 Song Memoir (Nonesuch) 5LP Box
Nonesuch Records presents the Magnetic Fields’ 50 Song Memoir. The 5LP-set chronicles the 50 years of songwriter Stephin Merritt’s life with one song per year; it was produced by Merritt with additional production by Thomas Bartlett and Charles Newman. Merritt began recording on his 50th birthday: February 9, 2015. Unlike his previous work, the lyrics on 50 Song Memoir are nonfiction – in Merritt’s words, “a mix of autobiography (bedbugs, Buddhism, buggery) and documentary (hippies, Hollywood, hyperacusis).” As he says in the album’s liner note interview with his friend, the author Daniel Handler, “I am the least autobiographical person you are likely to meet. I will probably not write any more true songs after this than I did before, but it’s been interesting working on it.” In addition to his vocals on all 50 songs, Merritt plays more than 100 instruments on 50 Song Memoir, ranging from ukulele to piano to drum machine to abacus.
File Under: Indie Rock, Pop
Lieven Martens Moana: Music From the Guardhouse (Kraak) LP
Lieven Martens Moana’s first album under his birth name marks an important shift in his oeuvre. While still indebted to the universe created under his moniker Dolphins Into The Future, Music From The Guardhouse shows the artist reaching the shores of his mental island, fully matured. This is where a new journey begins, a musical research program within the “composer genre”. Through literature and landscape painting, Martens develops a language that is as close to the personal-spiritual documentary as to contemporary classical music. Quoting Percy Bysshe Shelley in its opening piece, the tone of “Aria, The Cloud” is set for an intimate but extroverted modernist take on neo-romanticism. The album is conceived as a play for magnetic tape recorder, using field recordings and midi devices as its round characters. Rich musical intertextuality, ranging from Baudelaire to Toru Takemitsu and Messiaen, cleverly chaperones the theater of sound, emphasizing every shift and every detail while still allowing time and space for reflection between the acts. More than ever, Martens’s work is the result of a deep process of enlightening. It shows the becoming of a mediating poet who summons the spirits of Nature, of the Sensual, of the Unspoken. A quatrain of Emerson is whispered in a ghost appearance: “All day the waves assailed the rock, / I heard no church bell chime; / The sea-beat scorns the minster clock / And breaks the glass of Time.” All along the deliberately chosen archaisms are beautifully transcended, making these compositions a constant game of question and answer between past and present, between man and art. This album lays bare modern man’s need of myth, of classic beauty. Music From The Guardhouse could be regarded a corner stone, a blue print for the future of composition to come, a lecture in honesty and depth.
File Under: Electronic, Field Recording
Janko Nilovic: Funky Tramway (Underdog) LP
Underdog Records present a reissue of Janko Nilovic’s Funky Tramway, originally released in 1975. Rare, remastered edition. Following the recent reissues of 1972’s Pop Impressions, 1976’s Super America, 1975’s Soul Impressions, and 1974’s Chorus, Underdog Records continue the series with another brilliant album by the underrated French composer and producer, Janko Nilovic. Janko Nilovic certainly was one of the greatest studio talents of Europe in the ’70s. Devoted to music, Nilovic’s output resulted in a great number of published works, but most of them were made for library music labels and therefore not available for sale. His oeuvre stretches from classical, jazz, and funk to pop, psych, and easy listening. Nilovic has been sampled many times by hip-hop artists such as Jay-Z, Dre, Dafuniks, or Guts.
File Under: Library
Charlemagne Palestine & Grumbling Fur Time Machine Orchestra: Omminggg & Schlomminggg (Important) LP
Important Records present Omminggg and Schlomminggg, the second release by continuous music pioneer Charlemagne Palestine and Grumbling Fur, consisting of London based multi-disciplinary artists Daniel O’Sullivan and Alexander Tucker; the Time Machine Orchestra being the extended drone arm of Tucker and O’Sullivan’s experimental avant-pop conception. This double LP captures a performance of the trio at Copenhagen’s illustrious Jazzhouse on November 28th, 2016. The pin-drop acoustic clarity of the venue providing an ideal setting for this mesmeric recital of eternal music. A Grumbling Fur redux/remodel constitutes side four. The signature strumming of Palestine’s piano augmented by Tucker and O’Sullivan’s earthware electronics and processed strings create seamless sonic ripples in a constant state of unfolding. This is perhaps the most demonstrative document of Palestine’s powerful vocal delivery – an alien hybrid of sacred music drawing deep from the well of the cantorial synagogue and Hindustani classical styles in a bid to channel inter-dimensional beings from ancient cultures. In some respects, this could be thought of as Charlemagne in dub as Grumbling Fur carefully twist and mangle their palette of electrified harp, viola, bowed mandolin, percussion, tapes, and voice transformers through chains of loopers, resulting in a slowly dilating vapor. A unique document of portal opening music that defies time and space. Gatefold sleeve art by Alexander Tucker; Inside art by Daniel O’Sullivan. Assembled and mixed by Grumbling Fur; Mixed at O’Sullivan’s Dream Lion Studio; Cut by Matt Colton, Alchemy Mastering.
File Under: Drone, Experimental
Loke Rahbek: City of Women (Editions Mego) LP
Editions Mego welcome Danish artist Loke Rahbek (Damien Dubrovnik, Croatian Amor, Posh Isolation) to the fold. Known for countless creative and commercial endeavors, Loke presents City Of Women, his first solo full-length under his own name. As with all of Loke’s output, City Of Women harnesses the radical with the aesthetic in a manner of extreme pleasure for all who encounter. Harnessing his thorough knowledge and experience in extreme electronics, melodic encounters, and sultry showmanship, Loke ties together disparate threads of various underground movements to create a singular and deeply personal journey through industrial temptation, noise refraction, and melodic seduction. This is 21st century pop music. One which dismantles previous held borders of sound to present a wide palate of sound, song, abstraction, and intense emotion. Recorded throughout Europe; Assembled in Stockholm at EMS studios and in Copenhagen 2014-2016. Mixing assistance by Malthe Fischer, Copenhagen; Mastering by Bonati, New York; Cut at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin. Additional instrumentation by Anton Rothstein, Mikkel Reher Langberg, Alex Zhang Hungtai, Kristian Emdal, and Elias Bender Rønnenfelt. Artwork by Rahbek, Emdal, and Lukas Højlund.
File Under: Electronic, Experimental
Sufjan Stevens/Bryce Dessner/Nico Muhly, James McAlister: Planetarium (4AD) LP
Planetarium is the new collaborative album co-composed by Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly and James McAlister. A completely reimagined version of the project originally undertaken years ago and performed in various iterations around the world, Planetarium unites Stevens’ vocals, McAlister’s beats, Dessner’s guitar performance, and Muhly’s instrumental compositions – part rock odyssey, part electronic experiment, part classical opus. Conceptually, Planetarium revolves around the cosmic ideas Stevens’ lyrics explore: mythology, astrology, science, astronomy and the intricacies of human consciousness. The album began when Dutch concert hall Muziekgebouw Eindhoven commissioned Muhly to create a new piece and he enlisted friends Dessner, Stevens and McAlister, all of whom had been looking for the opportunity to collaborate on a larger scale. After sketching the framework of the song cycle and performing the piece as a band – flanked by a string quartet and seven trombones – in various forms, the quartet put the project on hold for several years. Returning to the raw material in 2016, Stevens and McAlister reversed their typical process, taking recordings of the live show and adapting to the studio. “We had recorded all the arrangements and the live parts in a studio after our last performance,” says Stevens, “so years later when we all kind of settled down, we said, ‘let’s open Pandora’s box.'” Stevens and McAlister worked to arrange Muhly’s symphonic framework and Dessner’s guitar virtuosity alongside their own lyrics and beats. Stevens became the driver behind the “song” part of the song cycle, his unique voice providing a clear and coherent center of gravity for the whole project.
File Under: Indie Rock
Ron Trent: Prescription: Word, Sound & Power (Rush Hour) 6LP Box
Prescription: Word, Sound & Power presents the groundbreaking Chicago based house label’s anthology, holding milestone songs. The legendary Prescription Records defined the 1990s deep house sound. This anthology holds numerous classics that have been out of press for years, along with previously unreleased tracks. Chez Damier and Ron Trent started the label in 1993, releasing some two-dozen singles in a four-year span, many of which attained legendary status on the underground scene. Ron Trent talks about the starting Prescription Records: “Chez Damier and I started the label, because we had the idea to take a certain level of fidelity and bring that fidelity to what people call tracks. Tracks being drum orientated Chicago rhythm tracks with a minimalistic melody. We were playing with that idea, expounding a point of that minimalistic aspect and making it more complex.” Ron Trent was born in Massachusetts but raised in Chicago, listening to jazz and learning percussion. He began DJing in 1982, playing at area high schools. His first EP, containing the epic instrumental “Altered States”, was released on Armando Gallop’s Warehouse Records in 1990. Chez Damier (Anthony Pearson) grew up in Chicago, where he danced at the Warehouse as a youth. He left for Detroit in the 1980s, helping to open the Music Institute and working A&R for Kevin Saunderson’s label, KMS. Damier and Trent met while Damier was visiting Chicago and immediately hit it off. Today, Prescription Records is cited by countless producers as a major influence. “It’s a very dub experimental label… sound bites, samples, rhythms, and a lot of ethereal stuff, too,” Trent expounds. “Not to mention. Prescription’s embrace of heavy sub-bass,” concludes Trent, “It was ahead of its time, definitely.” In addition to Damier and Trent, Precription also features: Angora (Peven Everett, Roy Davis Jr.), Anthony Nicholson, USG (Anthony Nicholson, Ron Trent), Monica Elam, Konfusion Kidzz (Anthony Nicholson, Ron Trent), Ani, World, Sky & Universes (Trent), Harry Dennis, Noni (Anthony Pearson). Includes a download code with four more exclusive tracks.
File Under: House, Dance
U2: Joshua Tree 30th Anniversary (Island) LP
2017 sees U2’s seminal album, The Joshua Tree, turn thirty years young. Released on Island Records in March 1987, the album is considered by many to be the turning point at which the iconic band honed their trademark, stadium-filling sound. Released to universal acclaim and featuring the hit singles “With Or Without You,” “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “Where The Streets Have No Name,” The Joshua Tree shot to No. 1 around the world, selling in excess of 25 million copies and catapulting Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr from heroes to superstars. The album was an instant classic: critics loved that U2 were drawing inspiration from the USA to develop the European sounds they’d explored on 1984’s The Unforgettable Fire. The subject material ranges from commentary on America’s wealth and hypocrisy to heroin addiction, romantic despair, the loss of a friend, political and economic oppression and totalitarian brutality. In a decade associated with financial success – U2 were a band that had something to say. “Recently I listened back to The Joshua Tree for the first time in nearly 30 years,” says Bono. “It’s quite an opera. A lot of emotions which feel strangely current, love, loss, broken dreams, seeking oblivion, polarisation…all the greats.”
File Under: Pop, Rock
UGK: Too Hard To Swallow (Get on Down) LP
Repressed; previously: impossible-to-get RSD 2017 release. “To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of UGK’s first album, Get On Down goes the extra mile, presenting it for the first time ever on vinyl. And 2-LP clear vinyl at that, giving the strutting, funky grooves the chance to really stretch out on your system. Back in 1992, Southern hip-hop was still proving to the world that it could sustain a fan base that was chiefly raised on rap from New York and LA. The Geto Boys and 2 Live Crew had made strong cases by the earliest ’90s, and Pimp C and Bun B were ready to make their own. Most of the trunk-bumping bass comes from drum programs and basic sampling on these tunes — in later years they would build their sound into something even fuller and deeper. Self-produced with additional work from Houston locals Bernie Bismark and Shetoro Henderson, the tracks here are minimal, slow and menacing, which matched their lyrical approach quite nicely. You can hear the beginnings of the group’s true greatness in these early lyrical workouts — several taken from the regional cassette-only EP The Southern Way that got them signed to Jive — with tales of street hustles, relationships and self-reliance in a world stacked against them. They may have been done early-on, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t crucial to UGK’s legacy — cases in point being the three singles: ‘Something Good’; a charismatic update to Bill Withers’ ‘Use Me Up’; and ‘Pocket Full Of Stones’ (the latter featured on the Menace II Society soundtrack). Beyond the singles, deeper cuts like ‘I’m So Bad,’ ‘Feels Like I’m The One Who’s Doin’ Dope’ and ‘Cramping My Style’ made it clear to the world that this crew had the attitude and charisma to make even bigger waves in the years to come.” Edition of 1000.
File Under: Hip Hop
U-Roy: Dread in a Babylon (Get on Down) LP
2017 repress; previously an RSD 2017 release. “U-Roy was a true reggae pioneer, dubbed The Originator for good reason. Bursting onto the Jamaican scene in the earliest 1970s, he pioneered the vocal approach called ‘toasting,’ which in addition to branching out Jamaican music into a new era, was also heavily influential on an American genre in its infancy: rapping. On Dread In A Babylon, his third full-length, he stretches out over traditional roots grooves provided by the Soul Syndicate and Skin, Flesh & Bones bands, riffing on topics including love (‘Runaway Girl,’ a 1975 single released in the UK on Virgin Records); the Bible (‘The Great Psalms’); walking the straight and narrow (‘Listen To The Teacher’); and even his take on governmental policy goals (‘Chalice In The Palace’). The album finishes with an instrumental version of Bob Marley & The Wailers’ ‘Trench Town Rock,’ for good measure. U-Roy’s style and charisma are always on display, and — as with all of his classic records — the groove rules all. Presented on black vinyl with a poster of the glorious, ganja-drenched cover art, it’s the perfect chance to revisit one of the more underrated voices in Jamaican musical history. Includes an 18″ x 24″ full-color poster of the cover art.”
File Under: Reggae
Roger Waters: Is This the Life We Really Wanted? (Columbia) LP
Roger Waters, the creative power and song writing force behind Pink Floyd, returns with his first rock album in 25 years, Is This The Life We Really Want? Waters’ last studio album, 1992’s Amused To Death, was a prescient study of popular culture, exploring the power of television in the era of the First Gulf War. The long-awaited follow-up is an unflinching commentary on the modern world and uncertain times and serves as a natural successor to classic Pink Floyd albums such as Animals and The Wall. Produced and mixed by Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Paul McCartney, Beck, U2), Is This The Life We Really Want? includes 12 new Waters musical compositions and studio performances. The musicians on Is This The Life We Really Want? are: Roger Waters (vocals, acoustic, bass), Nigel Godrich (arrangement, sound collages, keyboards, guitar), Gus Seyffert (bass, guitar, keyboards), Jonathan Wilson (guitar, keyboards), Joey Waronker (drums), Roger Manning (keyboards), Lee Pardini (keyboards), and Lucius (vocals) with Jessica Wolfe and Holly Proctor. Tracks on Is This The Life We Really Want? include: “When We Were Young,” “Déjà vu,” “The Last Refugee,” “Picture That,” “Broken Bones,” “The Life We Really Want,” “A Bird In A Gale,” “The Most Beautiful Girl,” “Smell the Roses,” “Wait For Her,” “Oceans Apart,” and “Part of Me Died.” The lyrics for “Wait for Her” were written by Roger Waters and inspired by an English translation by an unknown author of Lesson from the Kama Sutra (Wait for Her), by Mahmoud Darwish. Double 180-gram vinyl in a gatefold jacket.
File Under: Rock
West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band: Vol 3: A Child’s Guide to Good & Evil (Jackpot) LP
“Released in July 1968 on Reprise Records, Vol. 3: A Child’s Guide To Good & Evil is considered to be the band’s most accomplished work and a masterpiece of the psychedelic genre. Released just nine months after Vol. 2, the band explores their incredibly creative psychedelic pop song writing with an accomplished mastery of studio techniques. Featuring iconic original artwork by John Van Hamersveld (Beatles, Rolling Stones). A long awaited reissue from the master tapes.”
File Under: Psych
Various: Miracle Steps (Optimo) LP
Miracle Steps (Music from the Fourth World 1983 – 2017) has been on Optimo Music’s to-do list for ages, but it was only when Twitch and Glasgow’s Fergus Clark started crossing swords over what actually constituted “Fourth World” music that the project really got going. Twitch decided that co-compiling the release with someone who had a slightly different take on things might make for a more interesting finished product, and so it came to pass that a cohesively thrilling compilation quickly materialized as each of them drew from a wealth of different artists and eras. For the uninitiated, here’s an extract from Fergus Clark’s sleeve notes honing in on how the term “Fourth World” (an idea conjured up by Jon Hassell in the early ’80s) might be defined: “What we have attempted to gather across this compilation is a body of work which we feel directly resonates with both the literal definition of ‘Fourth World’ music and indeed our own interpretation of this unique sonic vision; from the work of the late Jorge Reyes, a Mexican musician who combined pre-Hispanic instruments with synthesizers and digital sampling, through to the work of organic ambient ensemble O Yuki Conjugate. There are tracks which utilize custom, home-made instruments and there are tracks built from scratch using the latest in digital technology, but the undercurrent tying each piece together is this deeply personal feeling of intrigue and mysterious elation. Strange and unparalleled, this feeling manages to eschew geographic borders and rigid genre movements in favor of something which manages to evoke an inner sanctum, a musical private place for both reflection and assessment. This is music grounded in nor the past nor the present, music which manages to sound futuristic yet remarkably nostalgic.” JD Twitch is one half of Glasgow’s Optimo (Espacio) and runs the Optimo Music and Optimo Trax labels. Fergus Clark is a writer, occasional DJ, and avid music fan. He is a founding member of the music and art collective 12th Isle. Housed in a gatefold sleeve designed by the redoubtable Glasgow based visual artists Al White and Jamie Johnson. Also features: Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe & Ariel Kalma, Iona Fortune, X.Y.R., Jon Keliehor, David Cunningham, Larry Chernicoff, Sussan Deyhim & Richard Horowitz, Jon Hassell, Vulgata, Afro-Disiak, Rapoon, and Javier Segura.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Experimental
Various: Saigon Supersound Vol 1 (Saigon Supersound) LP
Gatefold sleeve. What started as an idea in 2012 now becomes reality with the release of Saigon Supersound Vol. 1, compiled by Jan Hagenkötter. A compilation about the story of a musical era in Vietnam that was almost lost, made of tracks from 1965 to 1975, the so-called “Golden Music” period in the south of Vietnam, where — under difficult circumstances — a lively pop culture had developed. This period is characterized by the fusion of Vietnamese music with western pop music. The compilation includes some tunes reissued for the very first time since their original release. Jan Hagenkötter, a music-lover and DJ who is also the mind behind the renowned music publishing company and record label INFRACom!, relocated to Saigon in 2012. In co-operation with the Vietnam based dOSe crew, Jan organized parties and shows, inviting guest and friends like DJ Spinna, Jazzanova, Alice Russell, and many other artists. In 2012, as he was spinning tunes in Saigon and other parts of South East Asia, the idea for this project was born. In 2013, Jan returned to Germany, but he has been swinging back and forth between Saigon and Frankfurt ever since. In the following years, he began to research and collect more seriously. He bought vinyl singles from around the world, often several copies of the same release, just to restore or rather “rebuild” one good recording from several sources. With the help of friends based in Saigon, he was able to navigate an almost impenetrable jungle of music websites and come into contact with several collectors. The best recordings from this treasure hunt were then retouched, refined, and remastered in the studio for this release. Besides this amazing project, Vietnamese producers like Maqman from Saigon, DJ Yellow from Paris, and others who also share roots in Vietnam, have already started to work on edits and re-works of songs featured on Saigon Supersound Vol. 1. Features: Carol Kim, Hùng Cường & Mai Lệ Huyền, Duy Quang & Thái Hiền, Thanh Vũ, Connie Kim, Hòa Tấu, Phượng Mai, Khánh Ly, Kim Loan, Thanh Thuý & Văn Thanh & Hoàng Liêm & Thanh Mai, Kiều Oanh, Thanh Lan, Châu Hà & Thanh Mai, Mai Lệ Huyền, Vân Sơn & Thùy Dung, Hoàng Oanh, Phương Dung, and Ngọc Giàu.
File Under: Asia, Garage, Psych
Various: Slow Grind Fever 7 (Stag-o-Lee) LP
The seventh volume of Slow Grind Fever, the amazing series of slow grinding R&B/soul/exotica tunes as they are played in a club in Melbourne/Australia. “Around midnight on the last Saturday of every month, an assemblage of juiceheads, grifters, kittens, dandies, and derelicts gather in a dimly-lit, smoke-filled room and dance together real slow. These are some of the records they dance to… Thanks to all the flute players and backing singers of yore for flavouring these old records up just like we like them.” –Richie1250, Melbourne, 2017. Fourteen songs dating from 1957-1962. Side A compiled by Richie1250; Side B compiled by Pierre Baroni. Liner notes by Richie1250. Features: Bob And Lucille, The Ravons, Kip Tyler, Ferlin Husky, Louis Armstrong, Johnnie Morisette, Jack Hammer, Bing Day, Big Jack, Jack Costanzo, Peggy King, Dr. Horse, Frank Minion, and The Swinging Tigers.
File Under: R’N’B, Exotica
!!!: Shake the Shudder (Warp) LP
Beatles: Let It Be (Apple) LP
Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s (Apple) LP
Black Sabbath: s/t (Rhino) LP
Dave Brubeck: Time Out (Jazz Wax) LP
Childish Gambino: Camp (Glassnote) LP
Coil: Backwards (Cold Sweat) LP
Dadawah: Peace & Love (Dug Out) LP
Dick Dale: Singles (Sundazed) LP
Nick Drake: Pink Moon (Island) LP
Bob Dylan: Blood on the Tracks (Mofi) LP
Feist: Pleasure (Universal) LP
Gas: Narkopop (Kompakt) 3LP
Gorillaz: Humanz (Warner) LP
Iron Maiden: Number of the Beast (Parlophone) LP
Iron Maiden: Piece of Mind (Parlophone) LP
Iron Maiden: Powerslave (Parlophone) LP
Jay Z: Black Album (Universal) LP
Jay Z: Blueprint (Universal) LP
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Nonagon Infinity (ATO) LP
Curtis Mayfield: Superfly (Curtom) LP
Nas: Illmatic (Get on Down) LP
New Order: Power Corruption & Lies (Rhino) LP
Relatively Clean Rivers: s/t (Phoenix) LP
Satan: s/t (Monster Melodies) LP
Midori Takada: Through the Looking Glass (WRWTFWW) LP
Allen Toussaint: Collection (Warner) LP
A Tribe Called Quest: Low End Theory (Jive) LP