Lots of great new releases again and lots of delayed releases. I thought they had sorted that stuff out, but I guess I was wrong. Hopefully King Gizzard will be in next week. Either way, so many wonder things to come dig through. As always, lots of fresh used wax hitting the bins too.
…..picks of the week…..
Franco Battiato: Fetus (Superior Viaduct) LP
In tomorrow… Franco Battiato is often heralded as Italy’s answer to Brian Eno. A quizzical composer / lyricist, Battiato turned pop music upside down in the early ‘70s with three classic LPs—Fetus, Pollution and Sulle Corde Di Aries—that formed a confluence of avant-folk sensibilities and analog electronics. Originally released in 1971 on Bla Bla, Fetus predated the prodigious Cramps and Multhipla catalogues to become one of the first electronic records produced in Italy. With his trusted VCS3 synthesizer, Battiato created primordial soundscapes that shift between dreamy and delirious. His unsentimental, yet evocative voice—combined with a sublimely detached approach to lyrics—spawned a new breed of divergent songwriting. Fetus, a concept album exploring themes of genetic engineering, is enigmatically sub-titled “Ritorno al Mondo Nuovo” (Return to the New World) and dedicated to Aldous Huxley. While the sleeve design may have raised a few eyebrows upon its initial release, the back cover photograph of Battiato (standing defiant in dark glasses) makes the real iconoclastic statement. Battiato’s infectious melodies and innovative sound-collage techniques remain uniquely spry given that each track averages less than four minutes in length. Pink Floyd’s Meddle, Os Mutantes’ eponymous recordings and Jim O’Rourke’s experimental-pop idiosyncrasies all find parallels to the curious beauty of Fetus. Superior Viaduct is honored to present the first-time domestic release of Fetus on vinyl. Reproducing the original gatefold jacket, this reissue is part of an archival series that chronicles Franco Battiato’s masterful body of work from 1971 to 1978.
File Under: Electronic, Experimental, Prog, Psych
Ben Frost: The Centre Cannot Hold (Mute) LP
Composer Ben Frost’s fifth album, The Centre Cannot Hold, was recorded over 10 days by Steve Albini in Chicago. The music exists not in space, but in a space; it’s a document of an event, of a room, and of the composer within it. It’s music that is not fully controlled and appears to be anxiously, often violently competing against its creator. It’s an attempt to materialize a kind of liquid music. Frost – an artist whose command of sound design lies at the heart of his practice – chooses a new kind of raw immediacy and directness in his work. Focusing solely on the performance of his music he hands the reigns of the studio recording process to Albini in relentless pursuit of Theseus’ paradox; the question of whether a ship restored by replacing every single part remains the same ship. The Centre Cannot Hold is not a literal description of the current political climate. But the music has arisen out of a period of global upheaval which the title inevitably alludes to. Taken from W.B. Yeats’ poem The Second Coming, it reads: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold/ Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,/ The blooddimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/ The ceremony of innocence is drowned…” The titles of many of the pieces on the album – “All That You Love Will Be Eviscerated,” “Trauma Theory,” and “Entropy in Blue” – could channel that feeling. “Ionia” wants to pull us directly into the seas of southern Europe and “Eurydice’s Heel” references a Greek myth in which a single event unleashes a sequence of unstoppable tragedies. The Centre Cannot Hold is a probing question as much as a statement of fact. An exercise in limitation and chromatic saturation, it’s an attempt at transcribing a spectrum of glowing ultramarines into sound. It forbids casual engagement, but rather seeks to engulf those who encounter it.
File Under: Electronic, Experimental
Acephalix: Decreation (20 Buck Spin) LP
In tomorrow… The rotten corpse of Acephalix, the Bay Area’s beast of barbarism, has been re-animated. Abnormally deceased since the band’s Southern Lord debut Deathless Master, the crushing return of Decreation leaves no bone unbroken and no skull intact. Foul American death metal maggotry eating back to life coagulated remains of hardcore’s guts. Opener “Upon This Altar” rages with d-beat ferocity morphing into a slithering puzzle of pierced flesh. Primitive savagery pervades on “Suffer (Life In Fragments)” through to the cro-magnon battering of “Excremental Offerings.” All the while an obscure weirdness that characterizes the idiosyncratic deformities of certain Cannibal Corpse, Nocturnus and Death moments arises out of the Acephalix tomb. With each release the band’s horde grows more intense, vicious and bestial. This album is the culmination of five years of dormancy, letting loose upon the Earth the calamitous consequence of pent up wrath.
File Under: Metal
Amadou & Mariam: La Confusion (Because) LP
La Confusion is the eighth full-length album from Malian musical duo and Grammy-award nominees Amadou & Mariam. The album includes the hit single “Bofou Safou”, which Stereogum calls “the funk, the whole funk, and nothing but the funk.” The term “bofou safou” is a Bambara (Malian national language) nickname given to nonchalant young men who would rather dance than work. Over the span of three decades, Amadou (guitar and vocals) and Mariam (vocals) have developed an international following, recorded eight full-length albums, and toured around the world. Their album Welcome to Mali was nominated for “Best Contemporary World Music Album” at the 52nd Grammy Awards. On the ensuing tour they supported U2 on their U2 360 Tour, performed at the 2010 World Cup for FIFA’s Kick-Off Celebration, and performed alongside a host of major acts. Don’t expect a still frame of African music; Stillness has never been part of their repertoire. The road stretches far behind them as Amadou & Mariam march on, bound by an unbreakable chain in their tireless search for new horizons. Creativity and generosity have never ceased to shine through their eight full-length albums. At their core lies a skillful fusion of heritage and cutting-edge music.
File Under: World
Laura Baird: I Wish I Were A Sparrow (Ba Da Bing) LP
In tomorrow… “With a musical timeline dating back to her early childhood, Laura Baird is an exceptionally talented multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, best known for her projects with her sister, Meg, as The Baird Sisters, and guitarist Glenn Jones. Baird’s own sound stems from the Appalachian folk tradition, and she connects to it via family lineage — her great-great uncle I.G. Greer’s folk recordings for the Library of Congress are a large influence. Also woven in are classical composers like Bach and Satie, and modern day musicians such as Opal and Yo La Tengo. With this debut solo album, I Wish I Were A Sparrow, Baird plays odes to the traditions from which she learned, combining Appalachian balladry and the roughness of old field recordings, but there is also a dose of dreaminess and solitude that captures sleepy central New Jersey. This is where she departs from tradition, leaving the communal origins of folk music to capture the singular self. The lyrics also present an amalgam of old and new, with half of the songs, including ‘Dreadful Wind and Rain’ and ‘Pretty Polly,’ being passed down from the folk tradition, and the other half, including ‘Wind Wind’ and ‘Love Song From The Earth To The Moon,’ coming from Baird’s own hand. While the most salient part of her previous Baird Sisters project was the melding of familial voices and various instruments, Baird’s solo effort is centered around the combination of her virtuosic banjo playing and prominent but airy vocals.”
File Under: Folk
Franco Battiato: Pollution (Superior Viaduct) LP
In tomorrow… Franco Battiato is often heralded as Italy’s answer to Brian Eno. A quizzical composer / lyricist, Battiato turned pop music upside down in the early ‘70s with three classic LPs—Fetus, Pollution and Sulle Corde Di Aries—that formed a confluence of avant-folk sensibilities and analog electronics. Pollution from 1972 is the captivating follow-up to Fetus. Like its predecessor, the album features Baroque textures, motorik rhythms, weird tape effects and Battiato’s perfectly oblique vocals. Upon hearing Pollution, Frank Zappa joyfully proclaimed it “genius.” While Battiato’s core group of collaborators remains largely the same as on his debut, this phenomenal band (joined by an eighteen-year-old Roberto Cacciapaglia on keys) appears even more in the foreground on Pollution. Out of the Ash Ra Tempel-like riffs and urgent guitar strumming emerge hypnotic grooves and cinematic flourishes, suggesting a futuristic meeting point between Stereolab and Ennio Morricone. Dedicated to the Centro Internazionale Studi Magnetici, Pollution touches on themes of environmental catastrophe. Futurist allusions seep in through eccentric lyrics (at times sung backwards) about hydraulics, magnetic fields, etc., yet listeners don’t need to speak the artist’s language to grasp his melancholy vision. With Pollution, Battiato solidifies not only his cult figure status, but also many of his forward-thinking ideas on rock ‘n’ roll. Superior Viaduct is honored to present the first-time domestic release of Pollution on vinyl. Reproducing the original gatefold jacket, this reissue is part of an archival series that chronicles Franco Battiato’s masterful body of work from 1971 to 1978.
File Under: Electronic, Prog, Psych
Franco Battiato: Sulle Corde di Aries (Superior Viaduct) LP
In tomorrow… Franco Battiato is often heralded as Italy’s answer to Brian Eno. A quizzical composer / lyricist, Battiato turned pop music upside down in the early ‘70s with three classic LPs—Fetus, Pollution and Sulle Corde Di Aries—that formed a confluence of avant-folk sensibilities and analog electronics. 1973’s Sulle Corde Di Aries is the third chapter in Battiato’s foray into esoteric pop. While the artist would venture further out into avant-garde terrain on subsequent releases, his early records enjoy a lyrical and playful spirit—eschewing traditional, song-based composition in favor of kosmische voyages. On Sulle Corde Di Aries, Battiato guides the labyrinthine structural changes and majestic tones to evolve gradually over four electroacoustic suites. “Sequenze e Frequenze,” the album’s side-long centerpiece, blooms in a polyphony of organic pulses reminiscent of the vibrant keyboard minimalism of Terry Riley’s A Rainbow In Curved Air and the rhythmic interconnectedness of Can’s Ege Bamyasi. While Fetus and Pollution are often considered his masterpieces, Sulle Corde Di Aries remains a hidden gem in Battiato’s catalogue. With more of a cohesive album-feel than the previous records, Sulle Corde Di Aries slows the pace to take in the sweeping scope of otherworldly sounds and soulful harmonies. Superior Viaduct is honored to present the first-time domestic release of Sulle Corde Di Aries on vinyl. Reproducing the original gatefold jacket, this reissue is part of an archival series that chronicles Franco Battiato’s masterful body of work from 1971 to 1978.
File Under: Electronic, Prog, Psych
Bully: Losing (Sub Pop) LP
While Bully’s 2013 debut Feels Like tumbled headlong into the precarious nature of Alicia Bognanno’s young adult life, its follow-up Losing is their first for Sub Pop (Bully’s sound is an outgrowth of the bands the label championed in the late ‘80s and ‘90s). Losing is a document of the complexity of growth: navigating breakups with sensitivity, learning not to flee from your troubles but to face them down no matter how messy they may be. Written as the group slowed down from touring constantly and Bognanno attempted to adjust to how different a home schedule is from a road schedule, her songwriting has matured from the quick one-two punches of Feels Like to tracks that contemplate the necessity of space in both song structure and emotion. Bognanno’s gruff yet dynamic voice is allowed to bloom, and it has a tenderness and openness to it here that’s new. The group returned to Electrical Audio in Chicago, another home for Bognanno, to record Losing. Their core – Bognanno, guitarist Clayton Parker and bassist Reece Lazarus – truly solidified during the process, a detail-oriented push for perfection in which each moving part was labored over and polished. Emily Lazar’s mastering adds the perfect cap to Bognanno’s engineering; this is a record that has both shimmer and heft. There’s power in the guitar attack, delicacy and toughness in the melodic hooks, precision in the drums, and backbone in the bass. While Bognanno wouldn’t call this a political record, she doesn’t deny that the current political atmosphere and its urgency and tension haven’t shaped some of her ideas on this record, too – though she does not want that to be its focus. Mostly, this is an internal record, a universalized diary and an exorcism – not of any one specific demon, but of the host of them that characterize contemporary anxieties. Bully are growing up, sure, but their fire is in no way diminishing.
File Under: Indie Rock, Garage
John Carpenter: Anthology (Sacred Bones) LP
John Carpenter is a legend. As the director and composer behind dozens of classic movies, Carpenter has established a reputation as one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of modern cinema, as well as one of its most influential musicians. The minimal, synthesizer-driven themes to films like Halloween, Escape From New York, and Assault on Precinct 13 are as indelible as their images, and their timelessness was evident as Carpenter performed them live in a string of internationally sold-out concert dates in 2016. Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998 collects 13 classic themes from Carpenter’s illustrious career together on one volume for the first time. Each theme has been newly recorded with the same collaborators that Carpenter worked with on his hit Lost Themes studio albums: his son, Cody Carpenter, and godson, Daniel Davies. Anthology is a near-comprehensive survey of Carpenter’s greatest themes, from his very first movie, the no-budget sci-fi film Dark Star, to 1998’s supernatural Western, Vampires. Those sit alongside the driving, Led Zeppelin-influenced Assault on Precinct 13 theme, Halloween’s iconic 5/4 piano riff, and the eerie synth work of The Fog. Carpenter and his band also cover Ennio Morricone’s bleak, minimalist theme for The Thing. We also get vital new recordings of the themes to ’80s classics and fan favorites Big Trouble in Little China, Escape From New York, Christine, and They Live, along with the romantic Starman, which earned Jeff Bridges his first Oscar nomination as a lead actor. The collection is rounded out by the menacing, heavy themes to Prince of Darkness and In the Mouth of Madness, the latter a Metallica-inspired riff originally played for the film by Kinks guitarist Dave Davies, and now played by his son Daniel.
File Under: Electronic, OST
Patrick Cowley: Afternooners (Dark Entries) LP
In tomorrow… Dark Entries and Honey Soundsystem Records have teamed up once more to release the final volume of gay porn soundtracks by San Francisco-based musician and producer, Patrick Cowley. One of the most revolutionary and influential figures in the canon of disco, Cowley created his own brand of Hi-NRG dance music, “The San Francisco Sound.” Born in Buffalo, NY on October 19, 1950, Patrick moved to San Francisco in 1971 to study at the City College of San Francisco. He founded the Electronic Music Lab at the school, where he would make experimental soundtracks by blending various types of music and adapting them to the synthesizer. By the mid-70’s, Patrick’s synthesis techniques landed him a job composing and producing songs for disco superstar Sylvester, including hits like “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)”, “Dance Disco Heat” and “Stars.” This helped Patrick obtain more work as a remixer and producer. His 18-minute long remix of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” and his production work with edgy New Wave band Indoor Life were both of particular note. By 1981, Patrick had released a string of dance 12″ singles, like “Menergy” and “Megatron Man”. He also had founded Megatone Records, the label upon which he released his debut album, “Menergy”. Around this time Patrick was hospitalized and diagnosed with an unknown illness: that which would later be called AIDS. Throughout 1982, he recorded two more Hi-NRG hits, “Do You Wanna Funk” for Sylvester, and “Right On Target” for Paul Parker, as well as a second solo album “Mind Warp”. On November 12, 1982, he passed away. In 1979 Patrick was contacted by John Coletti, owner of famed gay porn company Fox Studio in Los Angeles. Patrick jumped on this offer and sent reels of his college compositions from the 70s to John in LA. Coletti then used a variable speed oscillator to adjust the pitch and speed of Patrick’s songs in-sync with the film scenes. The result was the VHS collections “Muscle Up” and “School Daze” released in 1979 and 1980. “Afternooners” is the third collection of Cowley’s instrumental songs, recorded in May 1982. These recordings were culled from two 23-minute reels in the Fox Studio vaults. All songs were originally untitled, so we’ve used the titles from Fox Studio’s 8mm film loops. This compilation also includes three bonus tracks found in the archives of fellow Megatone Records recording artist Paul Parker and the attic of teenage friend Lily Bartels. Influenced by Tomita, Wendy Carlos, and Giorgio Moroder, Patrick crafted a singular sound from his collection of synthesizers, percussion, modified guitars, and hand-built equipment. The listener enters a world of forbidden vices, evocative of Patrick’s time spent in the bathhouses of San Francisco. The songs on “Afternooners” reflect the advances of the equipment available at the onset of the 1980s. Cowley’s unadulterated electronic forms are stripped down and dubbed up. Lush electronic percussion, soaring synthesizer riffs and low slung funk grooves comingle on these magnificent soundscapes. Featuring 70 minutes of music never before released on vinyl. All songs have been remastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA. The vinyl is housed in a gatefold jacket designed by Berlin-based artist Gwenael Rattke, featuring black and white photos of Patrick in his studio that opens to a full color array of x-rated scenes from the Fox Studio vaults. Included is a fold-out poster featuring a handmade collage using photography and xeroxed graphics of classic gay porn imagery and an essay from Drew Daniel of Matmos. For Patrick’s 67th birthday, Dark Entries and Honey Soundsystem Records present a glimpse into the futuristic world of a young genius. These recordings shed a new light on the experimental side of a disco legend who was taken too soon.
File Under: Electronic, Hi-NRG, OST
Death & Vanilla: Vampyr (Fire) LP
“Recalling the eerie, haunt-ed ambience of Angelo Badalamenti/Julee Cruise’s Twin Peaks soundtrack, Stereolab/Broadcast’s experimental vision of ‘50s lounge muzak/exotica and French ‘60s pop, or the narcotic country-noir of Mazzy Star.” The Guardian. It’s 1932 and Danish film director Carl Theodor is making a movie of a grim tale for both French and German audiences. To get over the language barrier he decides to have the majority of dialogue on silent movie title cards. Imagine the scene, you’re sleepy, you’re in a strange house, you doze. Inevitably you’re lured to a castle, you open a package, it’s a book about horrific demons called vampyrs. The castle is manned by servants – there are also two sisters (one with bite wounds, the other in a trance-like stupor), a doctor and an old woman complete the cast.… Some 70 years later, what’s needed is a band to play live on Hallowe’en at the Fantastisk Filmfestival, Lunds Stadsteater. One year to the day later, they release the music in a now super rare limited edition of 150 blood red cassettes. Now re-issued as a double vinyl package.
File Under: Indie Rock, Psych
Destroyer: Ken (Merge) LP+7″
(Special Indie-Store-Only edition LP album on yellow vinyl + black bonus 7” in matte jacket with spot gloss detail & die cut Euro jacket. 11 x 11 insert + full album download included) Of his 12th studio album and its enigmatic title, Destroyer’s Dan Bejar offers the following: Sometime last year, I discovered that the original name for “The Wild Ones” (one of the great English-language ballads of the last 100 years or so) was “Ken.” I had an epiphany, I was physically struck by this information. In an attempt to hold on to this feeling, I decided to lift the original title of that song and use it for my own purposes. It’s unclear to me what that purpose is, or what the connection is. I was not thinking about Suede when making this record. I was thinking about the last few years of the Thatcher era. Those were the years when music first really came at me like a sickness, I had it bad. Maybe “The Wild Ones” speaks to that feeling, probably why Suede made no sense in America. I think “ken” also means “to know.” ken was produced by Josh Wells of Black Mountain, who has been the drummer in Destroyer since 2012. The album was recorded in its entirety in the jam space/studio space that the group calls The Balloon Factory. However, unlike Poison Season, ken was not recorded as a “band” record, though everyone in the band does make an appearance.
File Under: Indie Rock
Lt. Frank Dickens: Sour Bubblegum (Jaz) LP
Sour Bubblegum is the sophomore effort on JAZ Records from Vancouver underground balladeer LT. FRANK DICKENS, former singer and songwriter in Vancouver post-punk band PEACE (Suicide Squeeze). It is a concise collection of slanted rock heroics, poems, and yearning serenades bookended by two seasick waltzes and glued together by his signature grizzled croon. This time around, a sense of societal claustrophobia pervades. Ultimately though, optimism wins the day, and perseverance through life’s drearier moments is elevated as the noblest of pursuits, with it’s own inherent beauty. These songs display the wistful sweetness and rush of classic bubblegum pop craft, but replace the teenage frivolity endemic to the genre with a world weary depth that would find camaraderie with the likes of Nikki Sudden and Leonard Cohen. They are the soured disillusionment of adulthood that never gives way to bitterness or cynicism.They are “Sour Bubblegum”.
File Under: Indie Rock
Don Caballero: Singles Breaking Up (Touch & Go) LP
By no means a release of new or current Don Cab material (originally issued in 1999), Singles Breaking Up (Vol. 1) offers quite a range of the band’s history to appreciate. The oldest recordings found here are programs 1-6 which became the first two singles and a b-side for the fourth. They were recorded in a 1/2 inch 8 track studio by Lee Hollihan of Valencia, PA for only $25 an hour. The next batch, 7-9, were recorded by Steve Albini in his once home studio and were a part of the For Respect sessions. Program 10 was also recorded in this same studio by colleague engineer Bob Weston. Program 11 was recorded in Detroit by engineer Al Sutton and was a part of the sessions for Don Caballero 2. Lastly, programs 12-13 were recorded again by Albini in the B room portion of this Chicago studio Electrical Audio. With the exception of programs 12-13, these songs were recorded in the early part of the 1990’s. The intention was not to release them in this form, if at all, but to give the record company a rough idea of the songs Don Cab had at the time. The “punky” songs were written with the sole intention of obtaining a record contract. It seemed at the time that contracts flowed like water for this kind of music. The band soon found out that it wasn’t quite that easy, but did, eventually, manage to sign a deal with Touch and Go. It is interesting to see how some of these songs, or parts of them, developed into others that have become well-known. The photographic art concept for the whole anthology is simply this: 7 inch phonograph singles breaking up, in the kind of setting of giving Abby Road back to the people.
File Under: Indie Rock. Math Rock
Emptyset: Skin (Thrill Jockey) LP
Emptyset stand at the vanguard of electronic music. With each release, they stretch boundaries and explore new methods of creating sounds with scientific precision. On their EP Skin, Emptyset (the duo of James Ginzburg and Paul Purgas) bring together techniques they developed through their 2017 LP Borders, exploring structural aspects of ritual music and non-Western composition and combine them with recent performance work examining microtonal vocalization and acoustic qualities of materials. This is the first time Emptyset has presented a body of work using entirely acoustic production methods. The compositions of Skin are all focused around structure, texture, and rhythm captured through recordings of a custom string instrument, drums, and physical granular materials modulated in real-time, alongside tonal vocal elements. Skin was mastered and cut to vinyl by Rashad Becker at Dubplates & Mastering in Berlin.
File Under: Electronic
Esmerine: Mechanics of Dominion (Constellation) LP
Esmerine is the modern chamber ensemble co-founded by former Silver Mt. Zion member Rebecca Foon and Godspeed You! Black Emperor alumnus Bruce Cawdron in the early 2000s, composing two beloved albums of post-rock based around cello and mallet instruments on Madrona Records in 2003 and 2005. The group emerged from a semi-hiatus in 2010 and have made four acclaimed full-length records of uniquely emotive, lyrical, exploratory instrumental music since then (all released by Constellation) – each marked by a distinct collaborative and thematic agenda. Following the Turkish/near-Eastern exchange featured on Dalmak (2014 Juno winner for Instrumental Album Of The Year) and the intense, rock-inflected Lost Voices (2016 Juno winner for Album Package Of The Year and finalist for Instrumental Album), Esmerine embarked on a soundtrack commission for the National Film Board documentary “Freelancer on the Front Lines” (about independent journalism in the Middle East), which also led to a deep dive into archival and previously unreleased recordings from the band’s aforementioned early years. Sessions for the film soundtrack kept rolling organically throughout 2016-2017 (alongside Foon’s own work on her Saltland solo project, whose second album came out in March 2017), informed by anxiety over the reactionary, regressive, seemingly irresolvable disharmony of human oppression/domination, falsifying propaganda and ever-accelerating degradation and denial of nature and social justice. Mechanics Of Dominion is perhaps Esmerine’s most dynamic and narratively-informed work, tracing an arc through Neo-Classical, Minimalist, Modern Contemporary, Folk, Baroque, Jazz and Rock idioms to invoke lamentation, meditation, resolve, resistance and hope. It is a requiem for our intractably suffering planet and a paean to the inscrutable, essential dignity of indigenous ethics and the natural world, and to modern human frailty and ingenuity. Stylistically, Mechanics Of Dominion brings mallet instruments to the fore, with marimba, glockenspiel, piano and amplified music box providing a prominent foundation and through-line on the album’s diverse tracks. Multi-instrumentalist Brian Sanderson’s contributions are also an ever greater part of Esmerine’s songwriting – his stately melodic lines on horns and acoustic strings are formidable elements in the ceremonious lyricism and keening vitality of this song cycle. Mechanics Of Dominion is also another superlative iteration in Esmerine’s dedication to artwork and packaging, this time featuring the work of Montréal artist Jean-Sebastien Denis to beautifully echo the album’s compositional balance of abstraction, tension and emotional colourations.
File Under: Indie Rock
John Frusciante: Niandra LaDes And Usually Just a T-Shirt (Superior Viaduct) LP
In tomorrow… Niandra LaDes And Usually Just A T-Shirt is the first solo record by John Frusciante. Between 1990 and 1992 the guitarist made a series of 4-track recordings, which at the time were not intended for commercial release. After leaving the band Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1992, Frusciante was encouraged by friends to release the material that he wrote in his spare time during the Blood Sugar Sex Magik sessions. Originally released on Rick Rubin’s American Recordings label in 1994, Niandra LaDes is a mystifying work of tortured beauty. Frusciante plays various acoustic and electric guitars, experimenting with layers of vocals, piano and reverse tape effects. Channeling the ghosts of Syd Barrett and Skip Spence, his lyrics are at once utterly personal and willfully opaque. Frusciante’s rapidfire, angular playing shows how key he was in the Chili Peppers’ evolution away from their funk-rock roots. His cover of “Big Takeover” perfectly deconstructs the Bad Brains original with laid-back tempo, twelve-string guitar and a fierce handle on melody. The album’s second part—thirteen untitled tracks that Frusciante defines as one complete piece, “Usually Just A T-Shirt”—contains several instrumentals featuring his signature guitar style. Sparse phrasing, delicate counterpoint and ethereal textures recall Neu/Harmonia’s Michael Rother or The Durutti Column’s Vini Reilly. On the front cover, Frusciante appears in 1920s drag—a nod to Marcel Duchamp’s alter-ego Rrose Sélavy—which comes from Toni Oswald’s film Desert in the Shape. This first-time vinyl release has been carefully remastered and approved by the artist. The double LP set is packaged with old style tip-on gatefold jacket and printed inner sleeves.
File Under: Alt. Rock, Chili Peppers
Lee Gamble: Mnestic Pressure (Hyperdub) LP
Mnestic Pressure is Lee Gamble’s first album since 2014 and his first with Hyperdub, a reset that sees a noticeable change in his sound and the concepts that feed into his music. Lee says, “From “Diversions 1994-1996” (2012) through to “Koch” (2014) – my music felt like I was dealing with signals from elsewhere – signals from the unconscious, sub-aqua, hallucinated, dreamt. “Mnestic Pressure” feels like their decoded offspring, a terra interpretation.” The title comes from Lee’s thinking about how our contemporary memory is pressured, individually, but also collectively, “We live in these strobing, visual times, like a constant subliminal advertisement but, also over the last few years the world seems to have become more and more dreamlike, alien, and parodic itself and there was this part of me that wanted to drag my music back from this Shangri-La, but fully drenched and infected by its ghosts.” Mnestic Pressure as a whole is a simulation of this experience; a flow of targeted information, through contrasting and quickly changing terrain, from one track to another you’re dragged into a new space. The pressure to move is intrinsic to the flow of the album, one thing morphologically transforms into another, zooming in and out from wide angle to detail, reshaping into new forms at a speed Lee’s music hasn’t before. The music on Mnestic Pressure has a hardness, with a structure and melody that was sublimated in Lee’s previous LPs. It builds on his more recent experiments with more functional dancefloor forms. Here his hypermodern production and crunchy, dissembled beats feel like they could be malfunctioning holograms projected onto the hallucinated memories of his early work.
File Under: Electronic
Half Japanese: Half Gentlemen/Not Beasts (Fire) LP
In 1974 Jad Fair, along with his brother David, co-founded the lo-fi alternative rock group Half Japanese. Over the ensuing three decades, Half Japanese released fourteen albums and in the process, attracted a solid base of fans passionate about the band’s pure, unbridled enthusiasm for rock and roll. Half Japanese’s first album Half Gentlemen/Not Beasts is a collection of the Fair brothers earliest home recordings, originally released in 1980 as a homemade three LP box set, and now available for the very first time as a double LP. These songs stretch their DIY, lo-fi ethos to the limits featuring sound experiments cobbled together from guitar noise, electronics and odd effects, whilst throwing in some barely recognizable covers (such as tracks by The Temptations, Buddy Holly and Bob Dylan). Over the years Half Gentlemen/Not Beasts became something of a cult legend, partly helped by its scarcity and foreshadowed much of the lo-fi movement of early-90s indie rock. In 1995, Rolling Stone designated the album one of the top 100 most influential Alternative albums while Spin Magazine’s Alternative Record Guide states; “Half Japanese assumed it was the greatest Rock and Roll band on the planet. It was often right.”
File Under: Punk, Lo-Fi, DIY
Johnny Jewel: Windswept (Italians Do It Better) LP
In tomorrow… Johnny Jewel’s Windswept featuring music from the new season of Twin Peaks. Housed in gatefold jackets and pressed on 180-GRAM BLOOD RED VINYL.
File Under: Electronic, OST
Nazoranai: Beginning To Fall In Line Before Me…. (W.25th) LP
In tomorrow… Nazoranai is the supergroup of Keiji Haino, Oren Ambarchi and Stephen O’Malley. For close to four decades, Haino has been a legendary figure in Japan’s avant-garde community through his commanding presence in the band Fushitsusha and numerous solo ventures. Ambarchi, a prolific electro-acoustic composer of heavy ambience and hypno-rock, has long stood at the leading edge of Australia’s experimental music scene, while O’Malley remains a principle architect for the drone / doom metal project Sunn O))) in harnessing extreme sub-harmonic frequencies. Collectively, Nazoranai operates as a live recorded collaboration, although Haino is quick to point out the difference between the words “nazoranai” (which in Japanese calligraphy means “not repeating,” as in developing a distinct, individual style) and “sokkyō” (referring specifically to improvisation). In this parsing of terms, the group separates themselves from the free-music scene, which can be just as convention-bound as the established genres from which improvisers hope to escape. On the trio’s third album, Beginning To Fall In Line Before Me, So Decorously, The Nature Of All That Must Be Transformed, Nazoranai explore two side-long tracks of superb abstraction. Ambarchi and O’Malley provide the perfect brute-rock rhythm section to Haino’s wrecklessly pure expression through instrument and voice. Blurred noise, dark hurdy-gurdy and thunderous harmonics build an accretive mantra of jagged electricity. While Haino’s extensive discography resists easy interpretation, he constantly challenges himself to further his art by channeling the unknown. Shifting from his native Japanese to English, he asks: “Do you still have a mystery?” This existential plea could apply to the artist’s own deep inquisitions or stand to confront his audience about that which eludes their understanding. W.25TH / Superior Viaduct is proud to present Nazoranai’s latest work, recorded at SuperDeluxe in Tokyo, which marks the band’s first release on an American label.
File Under: Experimental, Drone, Rock
The Nils: s/t (Label Obscura) LP
The Nils’ story has been described as a “Greek rock ‘n’ roll tragedy.” Forging a following in the mid ’80s with their melancholy punk-driven power-pop sound, the Montreal group became casualties of a record label deal gone bad, before spiralling into black holes of drug addiction and death. Despite languishing in legal limbo and quickly going out of print, The Nils’ 1987 debut album has become a Canadian cult classic, influencing members of Green Day, Hüsker Dü, Sloan, and Superchunk. Now, to celebrate the album’s 30th anniversary, Label Obscura is proud to reissue a deluxe remastered LP, available on 180 gram vinyl for the first time in decades. This edition of The Nils’ classic debut features new artwork from Yorodeo (the visual art collective of Dog Day’s Seth Smith), a gatefold jacket with archival photos, and liner notes by Jack Rabid, editor of New York’s influential music zine The Big Takeover. A series of live performances from the reformed Nils will follow throughout October.
File Under: Punk, Power Pop
Orb: Naturality (Castle Face) LP
In tomorrow… An exciting development from under strange Australian lab-lights: ORB re-spawn from last year’s Birth with a further mutated slab of paranoid heavy shred, Naturality. They bring the dread with a kinetic muscularity and a pleasantly evolving synthetic strangeness, as if having eaten of the wrong part of the garden, causing familiar things start to seem less so. The effects of these spores on the modern brain, already clogged with a steady drip of zips and zooms, are fresh and confusing. ORB are young and fleet fingered, and certainly know their way around a riff, but bring everything into an almost alien clarity both blunted and futuristic. ORB, you see, have ripened quite radically, and one can only think at an accelerated pace upon their travels with King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard. This album finds them sprouting new appendages and clawing at their enclosures. This is potent stuff—be careful!
File Under: Psych, Garage, Stoner
OST: Paterson (Third Man) LP
With their most recent project, the score for Paterson (2016), SQU¨RL (Carter Logan and Jim Jarmusch) took inspiration from their performances live-scoring Man Ray’s surrealist silent films and made a dive into the ocean of ambient electronic music. The poetry of Jarmusch’s latest fiction film offering requested a slightly different approach in texture, timbre and tone than the band’s usual sound, leading them to employ primarily analog synthesizers and leave drums and guitars behind. Feedback gives way to glass harmonica drones, kick drums to sub-bass punctuation marks. “It’s ambient, dreamy stuff,” Jarmusch told IndieWire while promoting the film’s release. While a brighter counterpoint to some of SQU¨RL’s previous work, including their Live at Third Man Records LP, using some new tools, the band’s purpose has remained to create their own variation on ecstatic music.
File Under: OST, Jim Jarmusch
Rural Alberta Advantage: The Wild (Paper Bag) LP
Late in 2016 the trio of Nils Edenloff, Paul Banwatt and Robin Hatch hit the road for a unique set of shows in some of their favorite venues across North America and Europe. They had been hard at work writing their next album and wanted to work out the new material the way they love best: by bringing it to their fans in person. As Nils put it, “I’ve never been good about focusing on a theme or having a specific plan at the outset of a new record. For me, writing music tends to be more of a constantly evolving process, like following one strange trail after another until a song has come to its general conclusion. This time around, we’re following that natural writing process more and inviting the fans to come along those trails with us.” Over the ensuing months they took the lessons of the road into the studio, laying ten new tracks to tape. Earlier in 2017, fans had their first chance to hear the results with the release of singles “White Lights” and “Beacon Hill.” Now, the full fruit of their labors can be found on The Wild.
File Under: Indie Rock, Folk
Ty Segall Band: Slaughterhouse (In The Red) LP
In tomorrow… A reissue of the 2012 debut release by the Ty Segall Band on In The Red, featuring a bonus song not on the original release! The Ty Segall Band is Ty Segall (obviously), Mikal Cronin, Charlie Moonheart and Emily Rose Epstein. While Segall has released many incredible solo releases, Slaughterhouse marks the first time he recorded with his touring band. For this mini-album (originally released as a double 10-inch, but now expanded to a double 12-inch) the band recorded with Chris Woodhouse at the Hangar, turned their amps all the way up, set their fuzz pedals on “obliterate” and commenced to kick ass and take names. Seriously, this record will melt your face. All of Segall’s usual psych-pop sensibilities are present but Slaughterhouse adds the full-throttle, go-for-the-throat bombast that the band delivers in the live setting. The fuzz riffs, bratty howl and Cro-Magnon bashing culminate with a feedback freakout that’s clearly the only sensible way to end a workout of this magnitude in shit to announce the debut release by the Ty Segall Band.
File Under: Psych, Punk, Garage, Fuzz
Jackie Shane: Any Other Way (Numero) LP
Recognized by genre aficionados as one of the greatest singers and most riveting stage presences in soul music, Jackie Shane has remained largely unknown outside Toronto, where her career briefly flowered in the 1960s. Ms. Shane is a star without parallel – a pioneer of transgender rights born in a male body, living her entire life as a woman at a time when to do so seemed unthinkable. Any Other Way is the first artist-approved collection of Ms. Shane’s work, collecting all six of her 45s and every highlight from the legendary 1967 live sessions at the Sapphire Tavern, including three mind blowing, previously-unreleased tracks. Any Other Way marks Jackie Shane’s first communication with the public in nearly half a century. Rob Bowman’s extensive liner notes tell, for the first time ever, Ms. Shane’s story in her own words, copiously illustrated with never-before-seen pictures from a career and life unlike any other.
File Under: Soul
Spoon: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge) LP
Remastered by Howie Weinberg, the 10th anniversary 2-LP edition of Spoon’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga features the studio album on one LP and the 12-track Get Nice! EP – long out of print and previously only released on CD – on the other. Both are pressed on 180-gram vinyl packaged in a gatefold jacket with updated art. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga was recorded throughout 2006 in Austin, TX, by the band and Mike McCarthy (except “The Underdog” which was recorded in Los Angeles with Jon Brion). With a history of stellar records, Spoon topped themselves with Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. It kicks off with “Don’t Make Me a Target” a song that builds on Spoon’s familiar minimal rhythmic piano/guitar vamp popularized on earlier hits like “Small Stakes” or “The Way We Get By.” The album quickly moves into uncharted territory with the atmospheric “The Ghost of You Lingers” and moves through several different stylistic changes from the explosive “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” to the wall-of-sound horns of radio single “The Underdog.” Upon release, critics and listeners alike praised the record, which subsequently received Best New Music status from Pitchfork and cracked the top 10 of Rolling Stone’s Best Albums of 2007.
File Under: Indie Rock
UFOmammut: 8 (Neurot) LP
In tomorrow… 8 is UFOmammut’s eighth album, comprised of eight tracks that flow into each other without interruption. This flow can also be seen when you tip 8 horizontally, thus it morphs into the lemniscate from algebraic geometry—∞—a plane curve that meets at central point, or more commonly known as the infinity symbol. A continuous stream of movement reflective of the uninterrupted nature of the album but also the continued togetherness of the essential elements of the band —Urlo, Poia and Vita— since the beginning of the band’s history in 1999. It must be stressed there is no singular pronunciation of the title, 8 is “eight” in English, “otto” in Italian, “acht” in German, “huit” in French, and so on. It is a continuous flux of music, a singular entity, which can be defined in micro-measurements by its eight satellite songs. Each song expands upon the one preceding it, unfolding into an exceedingly dense and malevolent journey, resulting in this being the band’s most extreme venture yet, with no permittance for breathing space in those forty-eight minutes.
File Under: Metal
Wand: Plum (Drag City) LP
In tomorrow… Plum is Wand’s fourth LP since the band formed in late 2013 but their first new album in two years. After a whirlwind initial phase of writing, recording, and touring at a frenetic clip, their newest document marks a period of relative patience; a refocusing and a push toward a new democratization of both process and musical surface. In late winter of 2016, the band expanded their core membership of Evan Burrows, Cory Hanson and Lee Landey to include two new members—Robbie Cody on guitar and Sofia Arreguin on keys and vocals. From the outset, the new ensemble moved naturally toward a changed working method, as they learned how to listen to each other and trust in this new format. The songwriting process was consciously relocated to the practice space, where for several months, the band spent hours a day freely improvising, while recording as much of the activity as they could manage. This new process demanded more honest communication, more vulnerability, better boundaries, more mercy and persistence during a year that meanwhile delivered a heaping serving of romantic, familial and political heartbreak for everyone involved. They learned more about their instruments and their perceived limitations.
File Under: Indie Rock, Psych
White Manna: Bleeding Eyes (Cardinal Fuzz) LP
In tomorrow… Following an incredible one-two brace of releases on Holy Mountain, a release on Valley King, a limited live album (Live Frequencies) and then their last sonic attack (Pan) on Cardinal Fuzz in 2016, White Manna releases their new studio album as part of a joint venture between Cardinal Fuzz and Agitated Records. Unleashed at the end of September in Europe to tie in with a UK / EU tour that features another sure-to-be main-stage-storming appearance at Liverpool Psych Fest, Bleeding Eyes is the sound of the band soaring and searing with riffs and grooves that float their own take on sike rock to a higher plane! Eight tracks deliver serious motorik action along the way, with lo-fi pop glaze over the top of solid rhythmic pummel. Riffs, one asks? Oh yes—great rafts of guitar interplay blitzing the ears in a dronesome scree, ricocheting through space and time to transport all to sonic enlightenment.
File Under: Psych
Wolves in the Throne Room: Thrice Woven (Artemisia) LP
In tomorrow… ON LIMITED CLEAR WITH GREY SWIRL VINYL WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!! Wolves In The Throne Room re-imagined black metal as an ode to rain storms, wood smoke and the wild energies of the Pacific Northwest. Their first studio album, Diadem Of 12 Stars (2006), was a genre-dissolving classic that created a melancholy and psychedelic Cascadian atmosphere. Since that time they have become one of the most potent and highly regarded bands in extreme music. The listener encounters crystalline metal riffs that slowly collapse and shift into ritualistic laments, singing of endless rain falling upon ancient cedars. Their music is a doorway into a mythic ethereal heathen landscape entered through music, magic and dreams. Now, a portal into the dreamworld of the band opens again with Thrice Woven. It is a glorious return to the blazing and furious black metal that they alone can create!
File Under: Black Metal
Various: Studio One Supreme (Soul Jazz) LP
By the 1970s Studio One and Clement ‘Sir Coxsone’ Dodd had already proved himself to be the defining force in Reggae for almost two decades. From running the Downbeat sound system on the lawns and yards of Kingston in the late 1950s to opening Studio One at 13 Brentford Road at the start of the 1960s, ushering in Ska and Rocksteady and establishing the careers of most of Jamaica’s artists – everyone from Bob Marley and The Wailers, Ken Boothe, Toots and The Maytals, The Skatalites, Jackie Mittoo and more – Clement Dodd had until this point dominated the Jamaican musical world. And yet, incredibly, Clement Dodd was barely half way through his musical path, maintaining Studio One’s number one position in the Jamaican music scene throughout the 1970s with a combination of musical and creative innovation and an endless capacity to adapt and create new musical fashions. By the end of the 1970s Dancehall had become the defining sound on the island. Dancehall was essentially a tribute by other Jamaican producers and artists to the classic music of Studio One created in the 1960s as young artists across the island created new songs, while musicians recreated these original classic foundation Studio One rhythms. As on other occasions, Clement Dodd rose to this new musical challenge by producing a whole new era of classics for Studio One. The roots of Dancehall begin with the DJs of the early 1970s, who were the first to sing new material over earlier classic rhythms. Early DJ pioneers such as Dillinger and Prince Jazzbo both feature here toasting over classic songs – The Mad Lad’s Ten to One and The Eternals’ Queen of the Minstrel. But it is the new wave of artists who arrived at Studio One at the onset of Dancehall which enabled Studio One to maintain its number one status as the whole of Kingston’s rival music producers – Channel One, Joe Gibbs and many others – attempted to challenge this position. Sugar Minott, Michigan and Smiley, Willie Williams, Lone Ranger had all grown up listening to the classic Studio One music of the 1960s and were able to pay the greatest compliment to the label by creating the defining new music of this new era with songs that combined all the musical and technological developments of the 1970s – dub, deejaying, discomixes, syndrums, synthesizers and more – into the sound of the future: Dancehall. Throughout this era Clement Dodd also continued to work with a number of original and returning artists – such as Alton Ellis, Horace Andy, Freddie McGregor, Johnny Osbourne – updating old rhythms and creating new ones while employing the in-house band variously known as The Brentford All-Stars/Rockers/Disco Set to update these sounds in order to maintain Studio One’s number one position as the defining force in Reggae.
File Under: Reggae, Dancehall
And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead: Source Tags & Codes (Interscope) LP
Beatles: Abbey Road (Apple) LP
Beatles: Let It Be (Apple) LP
Beatles: Rubber Soul (Apple) LP
Beatles: White Album (Apple) LP
Beck: Colors (Universal) LP
Beck: Colors (Universal) DLX LP
Beck: Morning Phase (Universal) LP
Blur: Parklife (Parlophone) LP
Bon Iver: For Emma, Forever Ago (Jagjaguwar) LP
R.L. Burnside: Worried Blues (Fat Possum) LP
Alice Coltrane: Journey In Satchidananda (Impulse) LP
Sarah Davachi: All My Circles Run (Students of Decay) LP
Rev. Gary Davis: Worried Blues (Fat Possum) LP
Here Lies Man: s/t (Riding Easy) LP
Hot Snakes: Audit In Progress (Swami) LP
Skip James: Worried Blues (Fat Possum) LP
Kacy & Clayton: Sirens Song (New West) LP
Kendrick Lamar: Damn (Aftermath) LP
Lee Morgan: Sidewinder (Blue Note) LP
Mos Def: Black on Both Sides (Universal) LP
Oliver Nelson: Blues and the Abstract Truth (Jazz Wax) LP
Oh Sees: Orc (Castle Face) LP
Oh Sees: Castlemania (Castle Face) LP
OST: Solaris (Superior Viaduct) LP
Protomartyr: Relatives in Descent (Domino) LP
Replacements: Let It Be (Sire) LP
Replacements: Pleased to Meet Me (Sire) LP
Rostam: Half-Light (Nonesuch) LP
Ty Segall: Manipulator (Drag City) LP
Smiths: Hatful of Hallow (Rhino) LP
Dusty Springfield: OooooWeeee! (Premium Cool) LP
Dusty Springfield: Stay Awhile (Premium Cool) LP
Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty) LP
The Sword: Age of Winters (Kemado) LP
The Sword: Gods of the Earth (Kemado) LP
The Sword: Warp Riders (Kemado) LP
Tragically Hip: Now for Plan A (Universal) LP
Tragically Hip: World Container (Universal) LP