…..new letters #830 – finally…..

Loads of sweeeeet jams this week. And lots of real chill grooves to lull you through till spring. The new year drought might be over! I know there’s lots en route for next week too, rejoice!

…..picks of the week…..


Kuniyuki Takahashi: Early Tape Works (Music From Memory) LP
The Japanese producer and DJ Kuniyuki Takahashi is the subject of Music From Memory’s latest retrospective compilation with ‘Early Tape Works – 1986-1993’. Composed of two volumes, the compilations gather together a selection of tracks from a tiny run of privately released tape only albums, highlighting a fascinating early period in Kuniyuki’s musical output, one of which little is known. “After discovering the world of nightclubs in Japan around 1986, and the seemingly boundless freedom expressed there through music as well as art, Kuniyuki became inspired to experiment with electronic music. Excited by the possibilities of new music technology, he would begin to gather together a number of, at that time, reasonably accessible and inexpensive local keyboards, drum computers and recording equipment. This became for Kuniyuki a way in which to explore music not as such made for nightclubs, but certainly inspired by them. Setting up a home studio in his hometown of Saporro, Kuniyuki would record extensively during this period with the equipment he had gathered together, equipment such as Roland’s Juno60, TR-606, TB-303, Casio FZ-1, Korg 770, Boss DE-200, Foster A8 and a Yamaha MT44 track cassette recorder. Driven to develop a musical language derived as much by an exploration of music technology and a desire to create new sounds, Kuniyuki was also looking to evolve the possibilities of what he refers to as a ‘new Oriental sound’. Early Tape Works – 1986-1993’ then brings together two albums of material which not only highlights the evolution of Kuniyuki’s own work but also of Japanese electronic music as a whole.”

File Under: Ambient, Electronic
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Nils Frahm: All Melody (Erased Tapes) LP
In tomorrow? For the past two years, Nils Frahm has been building a brand new studio in Berlin to make his seventh studio album All Melody, which will be released in January 2018 via Erased Tapes, before Nils embarks on his first world tour since 2015. Since the day Nils first encountered the impressive studio of a family friend, he had envisioned to create one of his own at such a large scale. Fast forward to the present day and Nils is now the proud host of Saal 3, part of the historical 1950s East German Funkhaus building beside the River Spree. It is here where he has spent most of his time deconstructing and reconstructing the entire space from the cabling and electricity to the woodwork, before moving on to the finer elements; building a pipe organ and creating a mixing desk all from scratch with the help of his friends. This is somewhere music can be nurtured and not neglected, and where he can somewhat fulfill his pursuit of presenting music to the world as close to his imagination as possible. His previous albums have often been accompanied with a story, such as Felt (2011) where he placed felt upon the hammers of the piano out of courtesy to his neighbors when recording late at night in his old bedroom studio, and the following album Screws (2012) when injuring his thumb forced him to play with only nine fingers. His new album is born out of the freedom that his new environment provided, allowing Nils to explore without any restrictions and to keep it all about the melody. Despite being confined within the majestic four walls of the Funkhaus, buried deep in its reverb chambers, or in an old dry well in Mallorca, All Melody is, in fact, proof that music is limitless, timeless, and reflects that of Nils’ own capabilities. From a boy’s dream to resetting the parameters of music itself.

File Under: Ambient, Electronic, Modern Classical
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Hiroshi Yoshimura: Music from Nine Postcards (Empire of Signs) LP
Not the first time we’ve had this, but last time it didn’t even make it into the news letter, so you probably missed it, so here this minimal masterpiece is… Despite his status as a key figure in the history of Japanese ambient music, Hiroshi Yoshimura remains tragically under-known outside of his home country. Empire of Signs – a new imprint co-helmed by Maxwell August Croy, Spencer Doran and distributed by Light In The Attic – is proud to reissue Yoshimura’s debut Music for Nine Post Cards for the first time outside Japan in collaboration with Hiroshi’s widow Yoko Yoshimura, with more reissues of Hiroshi’s works to follow in the future. Working initially as a conceptual artist, the musical side of Yoshimura’s artistic practice came to prominence in the post-Fluxus scene of late 1970s Tokyo alongside Akio Suzuki and Takehisa Kosugi, taking many subsequent turns within Japan’s bubble economy afterward. His sound works took on many forms – commissioned fashion runway scores, soundtracking perfume, soundscapes for pre-fab houses, train station sound design – all existing not as side work but as logical extensions of his philosophy of sound. His work strived for serenity as an ideal, and this approach can be felt strongly on Music for Nine Post Cards. Home recorded on a minimal setup of keyboard and Fender Rhodes, Music for Nine Post Cards was Yoshimura’s first concrete collection of music, initially a demo recording given to the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art to be played within the building’s architecture. This was not background music in the prior Japanese “BGM” sense of the word, but “environmental music”, the literal translation of the Japanese term kankyō ongaku [環境音楽] given to Brian Eno’s “ambient” music when it arrived in late 70’s Japan. Yoshimura, along with his musical co-traveler Satoshi Ashikawa, searched for a new dialog between sound and space: music not as an external absolute, but as something that interlocks with a physical environment and shifts the listener’s experience within it. Erik Satie’s furniture music, R. Murray Schafer’s concept of the soundscape and Eno’s ambience all greatly informed their work, but the specific form of tranquil stasis presented on releases like Nine Post Cards is still difficult to place within a specific tradition, remaining elusive and idiosyncratic despite the economy of its construction. This record offers the perfect introduction to Hiroshi’s unique and beautiful worldview: it’s one that can be listened to – and lived in – endlessly.

File Under: Ambient, Japanese, Electronic, Classical, Minimal
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…..new arrivals…..

alexanderHarold Alexander: Sunshine Man (Tidal Waves) LP
Harold Alexander was a competent saxophonist and dynamic flutist whose early and mid-’70s albums for Flying Dutchman and Atlantic blended originals, soul/jazz and R&B effectively. Alexander recorded three albums (including a live ‘Montreux Jazz Festival’ record in 1972) and contributed to various other recordings during his career. After a very brief period of recording music, from about 1967 to 1974, Alexander disappeared from the music scene. He is alleged to have commented on the music industry by saying: Most people don’t know what happened to me…I guess they think I’m gone. They didn’t kill my spirit, but they killed my desire to share”. Before his removal from the scene of recorded music, Harold Alexander provided the world with some incredibly funky jazz fusion tracks with a distinct otherworldly craziness. His most recognized LP is 1971’s Sunshine Man, on Flying Dutchman Records. On that album, the most sought after groove is the straight up banger “Mama Soul”, which features insane scatting over a delicious funky flute and organ driven beat. An immaculate six minutes of mental vocals and Alexander’s flute doing exactly what the vocals are doing. It comes as no surprise that “Mama Soul” was sampled multiple times by artists from ‘Blackalicious’ to ‘DJ Shadow’. Another highlight (one of the many on this album) is the adept double beat from iconic drummer “Bernard ‘Pretty’ Purdie” (husband to Aretha Franklin & known for his work with Isaac Hayes, Cat Stevens, B.B. King & Joe Cocker) who is delivering some of the most tight and wicked drum-skills known to man. Bass duties here are filled by another icon: the award winning “Richard Davies” (known for his work with Miles Davis, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Frank Sinatra & Leonard Bernstein). Production of the album was handled by industry veteran “Bob Thiele” who produced & arranged countless albums from the likes of Art Blakey, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Quincy Jones, John (and Alice) Coltrane & Gil Scott-Heron. Harold Alexander’s Sunshine Man is pure bliss, free-form Jazz with hints of soul and P-funk (courtesy of ‘Jimmy Castor’ collaborator Richard Landrum on the congas) to cosmic music with both profoundly spiritual and resolutely physical dimensions. Sunshine Man is that rare record that’s both far-out and funky at the same time. Originally released in 1971, now back available as a limited deluxe vinyl edition featuring the original gatefold artwork. To top all this off, this reissue also comes with extensive liner notes by Harold Alexander himself.

File Under: Jazz, Funk
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Laurie Anderson/Kronos Quartet: Landfall (Nonesuch) LP
Inspired by Laurie Anderson’s experience of Hurricane Sandy, Landfall is the first collaboration between the iconic storyteller/musician and the groundbreaking Kronos Quartet. Landfall juxtaposes lush electronics and strings with Anderson’s powerful descriptions of loss, from water-logged pianos to disappearing animal species to Dutch karaoke bars. “These are stories with tempos,” Anderson says. “I’ve always been fascinated by the complex relationship of words and music whether in song lyrics, supertitles or voice over. In Landfall, instruments initiate language through our new text software, erst. The blend of electronic and acoustic strings is the dominant sound of Landfall. Much of the music in this work is generated from the harmonies and delays of unique software designed for the solo viola and reinterpreted for the quartet. In addition, there were elements of the optigan, a keyboard that uses information stored on optical discs.” Kronos Quartet founder, artistic director, and violinist David Harrington says, “Laurie Anderson is the master magician musician who has always inhabited those secret places where technology has personality, where ‘real time’ is questioned and where all the elements of performance meet and combine into music. Her process is to gather and continue to gather potentially useful aspects as she sculpts a shape. Her sense of play and fun and her continuous experimenting make her the ideal chemist (or is it alchemist?) in the laboratory of music.”

File Under: Electronic, Avant Garde
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Michel Banabila: Trespassing (Séance) LP
Trespassing is a 2LP compilation focusing on Dutch electronic artist Michel Banabila’s incursions into otherworldly and imagined realms. LP1 is a compilation of works spanning over 20 years that acts as a bridge between his earliest work and his contemporary practice. LP2 is a reissue of his early masterpiece Marilli, a highly sough-after album that acts as both an LSD inspired DIY tribute to Byrne and Eno’s Ghosts and a youthful exploration of Banabila’s personal background and his experience as a squatter in Amsterdam in the early 80s.

File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Experimental
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Courntey Barnett: Nameless, Faceless (Mom + Pop) 7”
They announced today the upcoming album from Courtney Barnett, out May 18th. Since that’s months away, here’s a super limited (100 copies for Canada) single. Get it while you can.

File Under: Indie Rock
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Belle & Sebastian: How to Solve Our Human Problems (Matador) 3×12” Box
The How to Solve Our Human Problems EP project is the latest installment in a career that has always pursued a singular and delightful vision of what pop represents and what it can achieve, a career that has seen them triumph against the odds to win a Brit award, be one of the first bands to curate their own festival, and play at the London residence of the US ambassador. Belle and Sebastian’s new music has the timeless blend of joy and melancholy that has always characterized them. What has changed is how the group want their music to be released, and over the coming months, they will gift the world a double album’s worth of music – richly melodic, deliciously literate, as gentle as a summer stream but as insistent as a river. Harkening back to their 1997 release of three consecutive EPs (Dog On Wheels, Lazy Line Painter Jane and 3.. 6.. 9 Seconds Of Light), Belle and Sebastian issue three new EPs under the umbrella title How To Solve Our Human Problems, with the first EP coming out in December 2017, the second in January 2018, and the third in February 2018. The EP trilogy culminates in this limited 12″ vinyl box set containing all three EPs. Just as those three early EPs are a crucial part of the Belle and Sebastian canon, these three new releases aren’t merely a detour between albums, but as definitive releases in their own right. How To Solve Our Human Problems is both an era of its own, and part of a long, rich history. How To Solve Our Human Problems is, if you like, Belle and Sebastian Redux. When Belle and Sebastian felt new music percolating, they decided to break from the working methods of the recent years and instead stay at home, record the tracks as and when, often producing themselves, working with friends and collaborators to see what emerged. Working in Glasgow gave them the freedom to work without the constraints that making an album can impose: they could take their time honing and experimenting. One thing that has defined Belle and Sebastian has been their relationship with fans, and that’s apparent in the new EPs. For the three sleeves, the group issued a call to fans to come to be photographed by Murdoch at a studio in Belsize Park in North London. 50 were selected, and all those photographed were also recorded answering the question: “How do you solve your human problems?”

File Under: Indie Rock, Pop
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Car Seat Headrest: Twin Fantasy (Matador) LP
Car Seat Headrest fans, new and old alike, will be elated to learn that Will Toledo’s 2011’s Bandcamp masterpiece, Twin Fantasy, has been re-recorded and re-imagined and comes out via Matador Records He has, now, the benefit of a bigger budget, a full band in fine form, and endless time to tinker. According to him, it took eight months of mixing just to get the drums right. But this is no shallow second take, sanitized in studio and scrubbed of feeling. This is the album he always wanted to make. It sounds the way he always wanted it to sound. It’s been hard, stepping into the shoes of his teenage self, walking back to painful places. There are lyrics he wouldn’t write again, an especially sad song he regards as an albatross. But even as he carries the weight of that younger, wounded Will, he moves forward. He grows. He revises, gently, the songs we love so much. 2 LP Includes MP3 download coupon. Dbl CD includes a remastered version of the original 2011 recording, Twin Fantasy (Mirror to Mirror).

File Under: Indie Rock
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Stanley Cowell: Regeneration (Pure Pleasure) LP
Around the time of this recording, Stanley Cowell had achieved a degree of prominence as the pianist for the advanced bop quartet Music Inc., which he co-led with trumpeter Charles Tolliver, as well as for unusual projects like his Piano Choir. With Regeneration he chose another path, essentially trying to produce a jazz-infused pop album with strong African roots, perhaps owing a little bit to Stevie Wonder. He assembled an extremely strong cast of musicians for the venture, including Marion Brown, Billy Higgins, and Ed Blackwell, as well as several African string and percussion masters and, by and large, succeeded conceptually if not commercially. A few songs use vocals in a fairly standard pop framework, and, while they are performed capably enough, the lyrical content leaves something to be desired in typical mid-‘70s fashion. But much of the rest of the music makes up for this with, among other things, a delightful fife and drum piece by Brown and strong bass work by Bill Lee (Spike’s dad). Regeneration is an interesting, often enjoyable album which, aside from its own small pleasures, provides a snapshot of some of the cross-fertilization in genres occurring at the time.

File Under: Jazz
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Betty Davis: Nasty Gal (Light in the Attic) LP
Limited coloured wax! Betty Davis was riding high in the 70s. A new record label, a series of high profile relationships, and intensely sexualized live performances made her a rising star. It seemed like everything was aligned to take the music world by storm. So Betty and band got back into the studio where she would act as writer, producer, and performer, creating what she thought would be her definitive release… What emerged was the unapologetically uncompromising, self-referential 1975 album Nasty Gal. Now – over forty years later – Light In The Attic Records is proud to announce the vinyl reissue of this final Island Records-release by unparalleled funkstress Betty Davis. The re-release features liner notes by John Ballon (writer of the Wax Poetics Betty Davis cover story in 2007), original album art, complete lyrics, rare photos, and interviews. Ahead of its time, Nasty Gal shows Betty digging deeper into her musical and cultural expression than ever before, and delivers from every angle. This is Hendrix and Sly Stone inspired funk-rock at its finest. From the title tracks mutant groove and grunt to her onetime husband and jazz legend Miles Davis co-written ballad “You and I”, this lady will tear your heart out! Betty’s time is now…

File Under: Funk
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Digable Planets: Reachin’ (Modern Classics) LP
Super limited coloured wax!!! At a time when hip-hop was determined to snap your neck, a young, hip trio from Brooklyn (by way of Seattle, Philly, and Brazil) conspired on an uncommonly smooth new sound and freaky way of speak, a titanically chill expression of Black bohemia loaded with jazz idiom and a subversive Marxist bent—and pushed it worldwide via an undeniable crossover hit. Digable Planets’ 1993 debut, Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space), unexpected to all involved, produced a massive radio hit in “Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat)”, which won the 1994 Grammy for Best Rap Performance by Duo or Group. Unduly lumped into an “alternative rap” subgenre they chafed at, the Dig Plans were dismissed by some as one-hit wonders, coming out of nowhere; but the Digable Planets concept, and what became Reachin’, had been in the works for close to five years, as group leader Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler wrote music and soaked up game in multiple cities, navigating the industry of hip-hop’s golden age. In the end, Butler, Mary Anne “Ladybug Mecca” Vieira, and Craig “Doodlebug” Irving came together to create a seamlessly articulated vision of urbane hiphop cool with an uncommonly literary bent that subtly pushed the hip-hop genre’s frames of reference and added breadth to rap music’s burgeoning political philosophy. Drawing on inspiration from Butler’s jazzbo father, the Black Panthers, Jose Luis-Borges, the Last Poets, and Jimi Hendrix, Reachin’ posited a theory of “universal beats”, narrated by three unearthly MC’s that had “split to Earth to resurrect the funk”, assuming curious, arthropodic aliases—a nod to the natural collective action of the insect world. In just four years the crew would record two beloved and ambitious LPs before disbanding. Out of print on wax domestically since 1993, Reachin’ captures one of the last gasps of rap music’s jazzy, upbeat adolescence in the early 90’s—those warm, blissed-out grooves every bit as slick as when they were laid way back when. Put this on, roll up with your crew and bug out again with the insect tribe.

File Under: Hip Hop
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lomaLoma: s/t (Sub Pop) LP
In tomorrow… Loma’s enigmatic debut feels beautifully adrift in time and space. It’s an album that takes you to a place you’ve never been, with a rare confidence in the strength of its own vision. Though it was recorded off a dirt road in rural Texas, there’s no hint of country here: from the first airy notes of “Who Is Speaking?” to the decaying choir of “Black Willow,” Loma create a hypnotic world of their own, where rustling leaves, fuzzed-out bass, panting dogs, prepared pianos, and a wilderness of percussion form a backdrop for Emily Cross’ translucent voice. Cross is a steady, clear-eyed presence throughout, even among the heart-pounding pulses of “Relay Runner,” the skittering drums of “Dark Oscillations” and the galloping release of “Joy”; in sparer songs like “Shadow Relief” and the haunting “I Don’t Want Children,” she’s a fearless ally, swimming calmly with you against a powerful undertow. Loma is inviting but also beautifully self-contained, like a dream that stays with you all day. There’s something here for lovers of Nina Nastasia or Broadcast, but also Linda Thompson, or The Silver Apples – even early Pink Floyd. But most of all, this arresting and mysterious album marks the arrival of a band whose first steps already feel timeless. Loma was recorded by the group at Dandy Sounds Studios in Dripping Springs, Texas and mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound.

File Under: Indie Rock
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bronxzOST: Fuga Dal Bronx (Death Waltz) LP
Fuga Dal Bronx (also known as Escape from the Bronx) is one of Director Enzo G. Castellari’s crowning achievements. It’s part of his low budget Mad Max-inspired trilogy that started with 1990: The Bronx Warriors and I Nuovi Barbari. Fuga, though, is the jewel in that particular crown, and is so over the top it makes Mad Max 2 seem like a Disney film. Dispensing with story all together, Casterllari is able to go wild with crazy over-the-top stunts, explosions and gratuitous violence. Francesco De Masi’s score is nothing short of masterful proving why he is one of the greatest (unsung) composers that worked in Italian genre pictures during the exploitation heyday of the ’70s and ’80s. His score veers from tense, smokey, jazz-inspired moodiness to full on rousing funk action, masterfully composed and beautifully orchestrated. It’s another essential Italian score that deserves to be in your collection.

File Under: OST, Italian, Jazz, Funk
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iron fistOST: Iron Fist (Mondo) LP
In celebration of the forthcoming Netflix Original Series Marvel’s The Defenders, Mondo is excited to unite the previously released soundtracks to Marvel’s Daredevil – Season One, Marvel’s JEssica Jones – Season One and Marvel’s Luke Cage soundtracks with the fourth Defender, Marvel’s Iron Fist. Composed by Trevor Morris (Castlevania), the score continues the tradition of giving each of The Defender’s their own sound and feel. Marvel’s Iron Fist feels right at home beside the scores to The Raid 1 & 2, delivering moody, ominous synth cues with frantic, pulsating percussion that attack and release in powerful bursts.

File Under: OST, Superheroes
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jawsOST: Jaws (Mondo) LP
One of the finest achievements in film music and quite possibly the most iconic score of all time, John Williams’ score to JAWS is absolutely essential for soundtrack collectors. While the Grammy-winning 1975 MCA album was a re-recording, our 2x Vinyl set presents the entire Academy Award-winning score as composed and recorded for the actual film in its first-ever vinyl release. Album co-producer Mike Matessino restored, edited and mixed the music from the original studio elements for the best possible quality, approved by the composer himself. John Williams won a much-deserved Oscar for his work on JAWS, with a score that not only manages to accentuate the terror of the onscreen action without resorting to cheap stingers, but also layers in beautifully understated cues to offset the horror with much needed relief. Quiet and calm one minute, then ratcheting up the tension with screaming strings the next when the great white attacks.

File Under: OST, Sharks
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metal slugOST: Metal Slug (Data Discs) LP
The culmination of more than a year’s collaborative work with SNK Corporation, to develop an exclusive soundtrack release for the Japanese publisher’s most iconic franchise and one of the most beloved shooters of all time. The vinyl edition includes the complete music from the first entry in the series (Metal Slug: Super Vehicle-001), composed by Takushi Hiyamuta in 1996. Working in collaboration with the SNK Sound Team, the audio was sourced from a NeoGeo development kit in Japan and then mastered at our in-house studio in London. The release is packaged in a gatefold sleeve with accompanying double-sided lithographic insert, featuring rare artwork from the Japanese archives and a special translucent OBI strip with fluorescent Pantone print.

File Under: OST, Videogames
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portalOST: Portal (Mondo) LP
Mondo, in conjunction with Valve software, is proud to present the premiere vinyl release of the soundtrack of the legendary puzzle adventure Portal. The music to Portal by Aperture Science Psychoacoustics Laboratories (Mike Morasky) is incredibly dense, featuring super atmospheric ambient soundscapes that you can literally get lost in, recalling such ambient pioneers as Brian Eno and Tangerine Dream. It also features the incredible ear worm of ‘Still Alive’, an absolutely charming pop song that once heard is never forgotten! This limited edition record is housed in a deluxe, debossed, ‘Magic Wallet’ style jacket designed by design wizard Alan Hynes (Fight Club, Anomolisa).

File Under: OST, Videogames
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OST: Portal
(Mondo) LP

Mondo, in conjunction with Valve software, is proud to present the premiere vinyl release of the soundtrack of the legendary puzzle adventure Portal. The music to Portal by Aperture Science Psychoacoustics Laboratories (Mike Morasky) is incredibly dense, featuring super atmospheric ambient soundscapes that you can literally get lost in, recalling such ambient pioneers as Brian Eno and Tangerine Dream. It also features the incredible ear worm of ‘Still Alive’, an absolutely charming pop song that once heard is never forgotten! This limited edition record is housed in a deluxe, debossed, ‘Magic Wallet’ style jacket designed by design wizard Alan Hynes (Fight Club, Anomolisa).

File Under: OST, Videogames

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Mustafa Ozkent: Funk Anatolian (Hammer) LP
The incredible music of Anadolu Pop’s very own Dr. Frankestein-Maestro Mustafa Özkent. As The Daddy of all Turkish rarities, this record simply has to be heard to be believed and even then it’s still literally UNBELIEVABLE. As an expert in both carpentry and and electronics ,Özkent was keen to combine his skills with his interest in music and science.fuelled by a passion for traditional music values the natural progression was inevitable and as Mustafa’s reputation and repertoire of original compositions mutated so did his instruments. Özkent’s band is funky and loose in the way hyperdiscipilined musicians can be,and it’s no surprise that Özkent is a World-class arranger.But the record transcends mere craftsmanship by fusing Özkent’s Turkish traditions with his contemporary funk musicians across the Atlantic. Mustafa Özkent is a talented guitarist who was known to modify the design of his instruments to create unusual tonal qualities by adding extra frets on his guitar to play traditional Turkish modes. Özkent was a nationalist, but the blends his Turkish folk influences so perfectly into modernity of the psyche-jazz-funk that you might not even notice them unless you knew what you were listening for.

File Under: Funk, Turkey, Anatolian
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parkerBilly Parker’s Fourth World: Freedom of Speech (Pure Pleasure) LP
Most of the musicians who gathered to record this fantastic spiritual jazz record for the Strata-East label on May 24th, 1974 had crossed each other’s paths in various musical pairings over the preceding few years. Husband and wife team Dee Dee Bridgewater (vocals) and Cecil Bridgewater (trumpet) had been working together on albums like Frank Foster’s “Loud Minority”, and Roy Ayers’ “Coffy” and “Virgo Red”. Ten weeks before the “Freedom Of Speech” session, the couple had been joined in Tokyo by Cecil’s brother Ronald Bridgewater (tenor saxophone) to record Dee Dee’s debut album, the beautiful “Afro Blue”. Also in the studio on May 24th, 1974 was Donald Smith, (piano, vocals), fresh from recording on his older brother Lonnie Liston Smith’s “Cosmic Funk” – on which Ronald Bridgewater had also played percussion. Cecil McBee (bass) was also there – just two weeks before, he’d completed his own Strata East date “Mutima”, and in February he’d played on Mtume’s “Rebirth Cycle” – with both albums also featuring Dee Dee Bridgewater on vocals. He’d also played on Lonnie Liston Smith’s “Astral Travelling”.

File Under: Jazz
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payneCecil Payne: Zodiac (Pure Pleasure) LP
It’s impossible to talk about this album without acknowledging the spectre of death that hangs over it – not only is it the third entry in Strata-East Records’ Dolphy Series, a collection of archival recordings from some of the label’s close associates honoring the recently deceased multi-instrumentalist, but it is actually dedicated to two members of the band, Wynton Kelly and Kenny Dorham, who died in between the recording sessions and its release. The point is driven home even further by the fact that the album begins with a tribute from Payne to the fallen Martin Luther King, Jr., a piece that acts as a de facto solo for Dorham – his playing all rosy elegance and regal warmth – before shifting into the lighter (though equally coolly-paced) “I Know Love,” a showcase for Payne’s sax. While not the most somber jazz track ever recorded, this opening suite is a low-key and mournful way to open the affair, but thankfully the album really picks off and shows these musicians more in their element the rest of the way. “Girl, You Got a Home” is a funky piece, beginning very soulfully with some tight interplay among the rhythm section of Kelly, bassist Wilbur Ware and drummer Albert Heath. Ware is in especially fine form on this track, tying together the disparate passages of the piece by grounding the more ponderous moments in a deep funk, while Kelly’s playing is especially ear catching in the way he stabs at his piano like it’s an organ. After the first two tracks take up nearly twenty minutes, the four-minute “Slide Hampton” feels almost impossibly brief, a feeling that’s enhanced by its quick, jittery, and infectious rhythm, driven by some really dexterous work from Kelly. The final track, “Flying Fish,” may be the album’s highlight, a Caribbean-inspired composition that casts the rhythm section as flighty ground for both Payne and Dorham to vamp on. The track is oddly danceable for something released on Strata-East, maybe the most fun moment ever for the label, and relentlessly uptempo. Though this release may be in part defined by the deaths that preceded it, it’s clear that the recording process was actually a lot of fun for everybody, as their enthusiasm and energy jumps right out of the speakers. This is one of the first Strata East records I really got into and is still one of my favorites, a must-hear for any fans of the flightier moments of Dorham or Kelly’s career, and a fitting tribute for both master musicians.

File Under: Jazz
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Richard Russell: Everything is Recorded (XL) LP
Everything Is Recorded is the full-length debut solo album from record producer and XL Recordings co-founder Richard Russell featuring vocal contributions from Sampha, Giggs, Ibeyi, Obongjayar, Infinite and Wiki & Syd plus instrumental contributions from Kamasi Washington, Damon Albarn, Rachel Zeffira, Peter Gabriel and Owen Pallett. The 12-track collection follows up the accomplished Close But Not Quite EP and is ushered in by the raw and emotional lead single “Show Love” with R&B singers Syd and Sampha.

File Under: Electronic, R&B
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schulzeKlaus Schulze: La Vie Electronique Volume 1 (One Way Static) LP
Klaus Schulze is a German electronic music pioneer, composer and musician that needs very little introduction. In the late sixties & early seventies he was a member of several iconic bands such as ‘Tangerine Dream’, ‘The Cosmic Jokers’ & ‘Ash Ra Tempel’ before launching a solo career consisting of more than 60 albums released across five decades. Collaborations were numerous and highlights include working with Steve Winwood, Brian Eno & Alphaville… just to name a few. Klaus Schulze’s proto moog-synthesizer work is regarded as a milestone in electronic music & during the decades he released landmark albums in genres catalogued as ‘Ambient’, ‘Electronic’, ‘New Age’, ‘Berlin School’, ‘Experimental’, ‘Kosmische Musik’ & ‘Krautrock’. Mr. Schulze had a more organic sound than most electronic artists of the time, often he would throw in decidedly non-electronic sounds such as acoustic guitar and a male operatic voice. Schulze is also known for developing a Minimoog technique that sounds uncannily like an electric guitar, which is quite impressive in concert. On occasions he would also compose film scores such as Body Love (1977), Barracuda (1978), Next of Kin (1982), & Angst (1983). His best known song ‘Freeze’ has been used in films like Manhunter (1986) and more recently in Sofia Coppola’s ‘The Bling Ring’ from 2013. In 2009, producer Klaus D. Mueller and Schulze began releasing La Vie Electronique (“The Electronic Life”), a series of sets that collected rare sought-after early works & unreleased tracks put in chronological sequence. These sets contain some of the best music Klaus ever created and are early 70’s masterworks that will appeal to both fans and collectors. Now available for the first time on vinyl, One Way Static Records presents the first volume in our new archival series ‘La Vie Electronique’. This volume (1.0) focuses on the years 1968-1971 and is spread over two glorious LP’s containing +78 minutes of Klaus Shulze rarities. This deluxe vinyl set also comes with an insert containing extensive liner notes.

File Under: Electronic, Kosmische, Krautrock
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clamsShannon & The Clams: Onion (Nonesuch) LP
Oakland-based, indie garage punk quartet Shannon & the Clams, known for a diverse sound that incorporates elements of doo-wop, early rock & roll, classic R&B, garage psych, and surf rock as influences, releases their fifth album, Onion, this time working with producer Dan Auerbach and Easy Eye Sound. The song “Backstreets” is guitarist Cody Blanchard response to the Ghost Ship fire, and particularly the issues of artist housing and being forced to make your own way in a society that is not arranged to accommodate artists. Album closer “Don’t Close Your Eyes” is Shannon’s response, an inspirational ballad urging those suffering through loss to not give up in the midst of tragedy. “It’s Gonna Go Away,” is the album’s biggest stylistic departure, mixing elements of soul, disco, R&B, psychedelia, the Zombies, chanting and baroque while opener “The Boy” is quintessential Clams, a heavily 60s rock inspired track with a mournful hook.

File Under: Indie Rock, Garage, Punk
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songsSongs: Ohia: Travels in Constants (Temporary Residence) LP
In tomorrow… Sometime in 2001 – sandwiched between the release of Ghost Tropic and its follow-up, the cryptic classic, Didn’t It Rain – Songs: Ohia recorded an EP for Temporary Residence’s distance-themed subscription series, Travels In Constants. The untitled EP consisted of a single 18-minute song – performed live by Jason Molina in his living room, recorded directly to 4-track cassette as the sounds of a typical Chicago night bled through the air. Built solely from an acoustic guitar and Molina’s familiar melancholy croon, it’s a hauntingly intimate track. Molina once remarked that it was “probably too out there” for a proper Songs: Ohia album, which is perhaps why it felt right at home in this context. Scarcely available in its original CD-only edition of 1,000 copies, Travels In Constants has finally been remastered and reissued for the vinyl format. Completing this reissue is “Howler,” another unusually lengthy Songs: Ohia track that, like Travels In Constants, was recorded and released in 2001 in an edition of only 1,000. These tracks are amongst the most abstractly beautiful and alarmingly delicate music that Molina ever committed to tape. Temporary Residence is honored to finally make thenm properly available to the world.

File Under: Singer-Songwriter, Folk

skmSun Kil Moon: Ghosts of the Great Highway (Rough Trade) LP
One time only vinyl re-press of Sun Kil Moon’s 2003 cult classic Ghosts of the Great Highway. An album as good as Ghosts of the Great Highway should never go out of print. Ghosts… continues – even fine-tunes – the work Mark Kozelek did with his former band, Red House Painters. These songs are virtuously stoic Americana – all shimmery guitars, measured tempos, malevolent moods, and wandering melodies. His voice sounds like Neil Young’s, especially in the effortlessness with which he hits the high notes then returns to a lower, earthier texture. Ghosts… is a travelogue of sorts, speeding through the Midwest and the West; in this sense, it’s the male equivalent to Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, especially in the imperfect mirroring of physical terrain and emotional geography. The band Kozelek assembled for Ghosts… – Anthony Koutsos (Red House Painters), Tim Mooney (American Music Club), and Geoff Stanfield (Black Lab), along with a few guests – ably but subtly bolster his lyrics and vocals, generating a steady clip that never flags. The result is an album as hypnotic as highway divider lines whizzing past. Includes original bonus track “Gentle Moon (Acoustic).”

File Under: Indie Rock
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Sun Kil Moon: Ghosts of the Great Highway (Rough Trade) LP
One time only vinyl re-press of Sun Kil Moon’s 2003 cult classic Ghosts of the Great Highway. An album as good as Ghosts of the Great Highway should never go out of print. Ghosts… continues – even fine-tunes – the work Mark Kozelek did with his former band, Red House Painters. These songs are virtuously stoic Americana – all shimmery guitars, measured tempos, malevolent moods, and wandering melodies. His voice sounds like Neil Young’s, especially in the effortlessness with which he hits the high notes then returns to a lower, earthier texture. Ghosts… is a travelogue of sorts, speeding through the Midwest and the West; in this sense, it’s the male equivalent to Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, especially in the imperfect mirroring of physical terrain and emotional geography. The band Kozelek assembled for Ghosts… – Anthony Koutsos (Red House Painters), Tim Mooney (American Music Club), and Geoff Stanfield (Black Lab), along with a few guests – ably but subtly bolster his lyrics and vocals, generating a steady clip that never flags. The result is an album as hypnotic as highway divider lines whizzing past. Includes original bonus track “Gentle Moon (Acoustic).”

File Under: Indie Rock

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Marlon Williams: Make Way For Love (Dead Oceans) LP
In tomorrow… Known for his effortlessly distinctive voice, Make Way For Love marks New Zealand singer/songwriter Marlon Williams’ exponential growth as an artist. Throughout 11 originals, he explores new musical terrain and reveals himself in an unprecedented way in the wake of a fractured relationship. While Make Way For Love draws on Marlon’s own story, it captures the vagaries of relationships we’ve all been through: the bliss (opener “Come To Me”); ache (“Love Is a Terrible Thing”); nagging questions (“Can I Call You”); and bitterness (“The Fire Of Love,” whose lyrics Williams says he “agonized over” more than any). Delicate and bold, tender and searing, it’s a mightily personal new step. The album was recorded with producer Noah Georgeson and his backing band, The Yarra Benders, in NC’s Panoramic Studios after several weeks of pre-production in his native Lyttelton with regular collaborator Ben Edwards. The finished result is an expansive record that moves Marlon several paces from “country” – the genre that’s been affixed to him more than any in recent years – with forays into cinematic strings, reverb, rollicking guitar, and at least one quiet piano ballad.

File Under: Indie Rock
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windhandWindhand/Satan’s Satyrs: Split (Relapse) LP
Two of Virginia’s finest heavy bands team up for an amp-worshipping, acid trip from hell on Relapse Records! Includes two brand new songs of smoldering gloom and grief from Windhand paired with three tracks of devilish, fuzz-drenched metal/punk from Satan’s Satyrs.

File Under: Metal
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hillbilliesVarious: Hillbillies in Hell Volume 5 (Iron Mountain) LP
Obscure Hell-fired Hillbilly laments, forgotten plaintive Gospel pleas, demonic alien visitations, grisly hayseed homicides and crazed inebriates. Originally waxed on microscopic labels and distributed in minuscule amounts, these troubled troubadours sing of infernal monsters and windswept deserts of vice, damnations and tortured final fallen moments. Years in the making – ‘Hillbillies In Hell’ (Volume Five) presents a further 18 timeless testaments of sinners, winners, troubles, tribulations, shallow graves and hot flames. An abandoned catacomb of subterranean 45s, some of these sides are impossibly rare and are reissued here for the very first time. All for your primal listening pleasure.

File Under: Country

la contraVarious: La Contra Ola – Post Punk & Synth Wave from Spain (Bongo Joe) LP
Bongo Joe records is pleased to present La Contra Ola, a compilation recording dedicated to the early 80’s Spanish Synth Wave and Post Punk scene. First to be published outside Spain, this anthology explores the electronic music side of the independent music produced in the days in the Iberian Peninsula: Synthetic pop music with industrial sounds including futurist Art Rock, dancefloor productions and low-fi experiments on cassettes. Classics or true hidden treasures, this selection of nineteen songs is symbolic of the musical dawn that Spain experienced during the decade marked by the return of democracy and by the creative freedom initiated by Punk music.

File Under: Punk, Synth Wave, Electronic
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Black Angels: Directions to See A Ghost (Light in the Attic) LP
The Bug vs Earth: Concrete Desert (Ninja Tune) LP
Michael Chapman: Wrecked (Light in the Attic) LP
Michael Chapman: Fully Qualified Survivor (Light in the Attic) LP
D’Angelo: Voodoo (Modern Classics) LP
Serge Gainsbourg: Histore De Melody Nelson (Light in the Attic) LP
Hayden: Place Where We Lived (Hardwood) LP
Mauno: Tuning (Idee Fixe) LP
John Maus: Screen Memories (Domino) LP
Ennio Morricone: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly (AMS) LP
Neu: s/t (Gronland) LP
Neu: 2 (Gronland) LP
Olympians: s/t (Daptone) LP
OST: The Fog (Silva Screen) LP
OST: Escape From New York (Silva Screen) LP
Pink Floyd: Animals (Pink Floyd) LP
Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd) LP
Terry Reid: Other Side of the River (Future Days) LP
Tom Rogerson/Brian Eno: Finding Shore (Dead Oceans) LP
Rodriguez: Searching for Sugarman OST (Light in the Attic) LP
Super Super Blues Band: s/t (Jackpot) LP
This Heat: s/t (Modern Classics) LP
Tyler the Creator: Flower Boy (Sony) LP
Marcos Valle: Previsao Do Tempo (Light in the Attic) LP
Chelsea Wolfe: Hiss Spun (Sargent House) LP
Link Wray: Mordicai Jones (Tidal Waves) LP
Link Wray: Be What You Want to (Tidal Waves) LP
Various: Microcosm (Light in the Attic) 3LP Box
Various: I am the Center (Light in the Attic) 3LP Box
Various: Even a Tree Can Shed Tears (Light in the Attic) LP

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