Well, that wasn’t much of an autumn. Hopefully we see a little (ok, a lot) more warm weather. Anyway, last week was light, but this week is killer. Lots of great stuff in and clogging up my counter right now. Also, we’ve been pricing up a storm of used goodies, so come have a dig.
…..picks of the week…..
Sarah Davachi: Gave In Rest (Ba Da Bing) LP
Sarah Davachi has quickly risen in prominence since her first release five years ago, and Gave In Rest represents her highest artistic achievement. By infusing her compositional style within a predilection for medieval and Renaissance music, Davachi unearths a new realm of musical reverence, creating works both contemplative and beatific, eerie yet essentially human. Gave In Rest is a modern reading of early music, reforming sacred and secular sentiments to fit her purview and provide an exciting new way to hear the sounds that exist around us. Between January and September of 2017, Sarah Davachi lived in flux; storing her belongings in Vancouver, she spent the summer in Europe, occasionally performing in churches and lapidariums and seeking respite from her transitional state while surrounded by such storied history. This latest album echoes that emotional state of solitude and ephemerality, reaching towards familiar musical landscapes but from oblique perspectives. “I named each track after a particular time of day as a way of expressing my experiencing different moments of quietude, how morning and night are both independent and interconnected entities in this regard,” she says. Her titles evoke canonical phrases referring to morning or evening prayers, as well as Latin and German phrasings for metaphors about the time of day. “From my perspective, there is a lot of loneliness on this record, and I think it is as much about beginnings as endings,” she continues. “In a way, it’s about the prospect of the unknown as it manifests alongside a very inward form of grieving—really the essence of what constitutes a period of transition. Davachi has mined a bottomless landscape where listeners can witness music’s participation in their solitudes. Gave In Rest lends a voice to her personal exploration with a firm, intuitive stance.
File Under: Ambient, Drone, Classical, Minimalism
Raul Lovisoni/Francesco Messina: Prati Bagnati Del Monte Analogo (Superior Viaduct) LP
Of all the releases on Italy’s legendary Cramps Records, Raul Lovisoni and Francesco Messina’s seminal LP from 1979 has long remained among the most beloved. Prati Bagnati Del Monte Analogo not only introduced the world to the work of two gifted composers, but also is notable for being produced by electronic pioneer Franco Battiato. A sister album to Prati Bagnati would be Giusto Pio’s breathtaking Motore Immobile, likewise graced with the maestro’s gentle hand around the same time. Lovisoni and Messina are both central figures within the Italian avant-garde. Part of a generation of artists who contributed to a radical rethinking of musical practices and composition, they reveal Minimalism as it’s rarely known: delicate melodies, subtle harmonic interplay, incorporating diverse creative traditions and slowly giving way to an ever-expanding open space. Prati Bagnati Del Monte Analogo’s meditative title track, inspired by René Daumal’s surrealist novel Le Mont Analogue, features Messina on synthesizer and Michele Fedrigotti’s impressionistic piano, while on Lovisoni’s “Hula Om” and “Amon Ra,” solo harp, crystal glasses and Juri Camisasca’s radiant vocal drones further ascend into the stratosphere. Skirting the outer edges of ambient, new age and experimental music, Prati Bagnati has a transformative beauty unlike anything else. Superior Viaduct’s edition reproduces the original sleeve design and is recommended for fans of Jon Hassell, Luciano Cilio and Popol Vuh.
File Under: Ambient, Electronic, Italian
John Bender: Pop Surgery (Superior Viaduct) LP
Following the release of lo-fi electronic masterpiece I Don’t Remember Now / I Don’t Want To Talk About It and his brilliant follow-up Plaster Falling, Cincinnati-based artist John Bender began assembling his third and last album, Pop Surgery, in late 1982. While all of Bender’s work draws from intimate home recordings—featuring the artist alone with various keyboards, analogue sequencers and tape delays—Pop Surgery remains the one that perhaps best distills his arrant deconstruction of the “pop” concept. These twelve frenetic tracks, meticulously stitched together with dubbed-out vocals and disjointed drum machines, stretch the boundaries of bedroom electronics. Bender would forgo the handmade LP sleeves typical of his Record Sluts imprint. The cover depicts an imposing scrapyard crane, ready to pick up discarded objects with its bright red electromagnet, while the center labels détourn Columbia’s classic ’70s style. “I pressed a single run of 500 copies,” Bender recounts. “The only review I remember railed at the poor production quality. The DIY era had clearly come to an end.” This first-time standalone reissue is recommended for fans of Suicide, TG’s 20 Jazz Funk Greats and early Cabaret Voltaire. Liner notes by John Bender.
File Under: Electronic, DIY, Minimal Wave
Beta Band: The Three Eps (Because) 4LP
Because Music presents a 20th anniversary remaster and reissue of The Three EPs, a compilation of The Beta Band’s early music, dating from 1997-1998. Arguably one of the most acclaimed and loved bands of the past 20 years, by both fans and their musical peers alike, The Beta Band formed in St. Andrews, Scotland, in 1996. Their unique musical and aesthetic approach to everything they did set them far apart from their musical contemporaries. Together for a relatively short period of time, the three albums and three EPs that they released between 1996 and 2004 would nonetheless help define them as one of the most exciting and cherished bands of their generation. After acquiring the Beta Band’s catalog in 2017, Because Music reissue the first in a series of releases, starting with The Three EPs. A deluxe vinyl edition gathering the EPs: Champion Versions (1997) on red vinyl, The Patty Patty Sound (1998) on two yellow vinyl, and Los Amigos Del Beta Bandidos (1998) on blue vinyl. Remastered tracks; Includes CD; Slipcase box set; Hand-numbered edition; Limited to 5,000.
File Under: Rock, Pop
Blitzen Trapper: Furr (Sub Pop) LP
Deluxe 10th Anniversary Reissue Expanded with 12 Rare & Previously Unreleased Tracks. Portland, OR-based experimental country/folk rock band Blitzen Trapper offers up a deluxe edition of their breakthrough 2008 album and Sub Pop label debut Furr. For this expanded release, the band has compiled over two LPs worth of material: the original album and 12 rare and previously unreleased tunes. The added songs are from the same recordings that become Furr, with the exception of the “Live at KCRW” tracks, which were recorded during the Furr tour. The songs “War is Placebo,” “Booksmart Baby,” and “Maybe Baby” appeared as limited-edition singles in 2009 and 2011. This reissue also features new liner notes from frontman Eric Earley reflecting on the record, as well as a track-by-track description of the bonus songs, and a Q&A with the stage and screen actor Rainn Wilson (of The Office fame). “With Furr I was attempting to create my own tiny sonic world of freak folk in order to tell the tale of the Northwest as I remembered it growing up: a misty, empty, bedraggled place of mystery and violence, logging ghost towns and glutted rivers, dark creatures glimpsed from the corner of the eye in the endless evergreen forests where we’d go as teenagers hunting dark spirits, looking for trouble or trying to dodge our troubles back home,” explains Earley. “That even a few people have found beauty and solace in the stories and sounds on this record over the years is rewarding and astounding, humbling and affirming.” There are glimpses of God – and of American Christianity – throughout, not least in the mournful folk narrative of “Black River Killer” and “God & Suicide.” The former is a made-up tale about an anonymous murderer on a killing spree which Earley cites as being about “the mindless violence that Americans consume every single day – in film and books and everything – and what does it mean for us to consume that content and make it a part of us?” The latter is a shimmering, more upbeat track that’s an attempt to commit to tape an ineffable feeling that Earley felt within him but which, after all these years, he’s still unable to pinpoint exactly. The soft acoustic jangle of the title track is full of wistful longing, while the plaintive, poignant piano of “Not Your Lover” is a forlorn love – or loss of love – song full of tender sadness. Around three albums’ worth of material was recorded during the sessions for Furr, and it’s a selection of those that comprise the bonus material for this anniversary edition of the record. From the dulcet, chugging tones of “War Is Placebo” to the carefree, summer whimsy of “Ballad Of Bird Love” – a song driven by that same piano – and the melancholy folk tale waltz of “On My Way To The Bay,” the 10 outtakes included here offer even further insight into Earley’s creative mindset and the feeling that sits at the center of these songs. Written largely between the hours of 11pm and the morning – something that was possible because, in between tours, Earley was living in the studio building – Furr is a very nocturnal album, full of the wonder and the mystery of the night.
File Under: Indie Rock
Capital Punishment: Roadkill (Captured Tracks) LP
If you were told that a band of NYC teenagers who met in 1979 decided to form a band influenced by Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle, Brian Eno, Chrome and released a privately pressed record, it would be enough to pique your interest. When you find out the band consisted of a future Supreme Court Justice for Arizona, a Professor of Slavic Studies, a musician/documentarian whose family built the Brooklyn Bridge, and an A-list world-famous actor the story goes from being about another rare, privately pressed recording that’s been re-discovered, into something that’s pretty incredible. Captured Tracks is thrilled to reissue Capital Punishment’s sole 1982 LP Roadkill on vinyl. For a band of high school weirdos who actually got their shit together enough to make a completely uncommercial album with no means to sell it shows a lot of determination, persistence and perhaps insanity. But it’s always those kinds of weirdos who go on to do great things – just ask Judge Peter Swann, Professor Peter Zusi, Kriss Roebling and Ben Stiller. The band has been rehearsing and hopes to play some special shows in 2018-19. “I was in a band in high school – it was called Capital Punishment, and it was sort of a post punk-neo-goth-urban-experimental band…I was sort of the Ringo of the band.”- Ben Stiller
File Under: Post Punk, Noise Rock
Alejandro Escovedo: The Crossing (Yep Roc) LP
Alejandro Escovedo’s scorching and cinematic The Crossing follows the story of two young immigrants, one from Mexico and one from Italy, as they come to the U.S. to pursue the American dream and search out their punk rock idols. Not only is it Alejandro’s first album with Yep Roc it’s his first recorded in Europe. He co-wrote and performed it with Italian band Don Antonio from Mogdilana led by guitarist and composer Antonio Gramentieri who has a rich musical history of his own in Italy with his cult band Sacri Cuori. The album was recorded in a month in Villafranca, Italy with Brian Deck co-producing. The Crossing also features a host of guest musicians, including The Stooges’ James Williamson on “Teenage Luggage” and Wayne Kramer from the MC5 on “Sonica USA” (both bands are also name checked in the album’s lyrics). “Waiting For Me” features Peter Perrett and John Perry from The Only Ones, recording together for the first time since 1980. Joe Ely appears on his own track, “Silver City.” “Rio Navidad,” a spoken word song about a Texas ranger, was written by novelist and Richmond Fontaine/The Delines’ bandleader Willy Vlautin and read by his bandmate Freddy Trujillo.
File Under: Rock, Folk
Faust: The Faust Tapes (Superior Viaduct) LP
Faust stand among the most influential creative forces to have emerged from Germany in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Along with Can, Agitation Free, Neu! and others, Faust rejected the Anglo-American norms of rock ’n’ roll to start a back-to-basics and uniquely Teutonic revolution in sound—later dubbed by the UK press with the semi-derogatory term “krautrock.” Faust would reach near-mythical status through a series of classic albums recorded between 1970 and 1973 at their secluded Wümme studio. As Dave Segal writes in the liner notes, “There’s no consensus about which Faust album represents their zenith. But a survey of the group’s fans would likely find the collage-heavy messterpiece The Faust Tapes triumphing. Its freewheeling, jump-cut nature and unlikely earworm moments conspire for more what-the-fuck epiphanies per minute than just about any other record about which Krautrocksampler author Julian Cope has raved.” Comprised of twenty odd tape-manipulation experiments and freak-out jams, The Faust Tapes stashes away some of the band’s best-known songs. “Flashback Caruso,” with its delicate acoustic guitar and Rudolf Sosna’s airy vocals, could easily have appeared on So Far or Faust IV, while on “J’ai Mal Aux Dents,” Jean-Hervé Peron’s playful lyrics and this ecstatic, era-defining riff perfectly represent Faust’s magical mischievousness. This first-time domestic release of The Faust Tapes on vinyl reproduces the original sleeve design, featuring artwork by Bridget Riley.
File Under: Krautrock, Prog, Experimental
David Gilmour: On An Island (Columbia) LP
2006’s On An Island is the third David Gilmour solo album and his first studio recording since Pink Floyd’s 1994 multi-platinum The Division Bell. From the first moments of the sound collage that begins On An Island, you know it’s a special experience that not only bears comparison with the best of Pink Floyd, but also confirms their lead guitarist and singer as an outstanding solo artist. Here he reveals a personal vision and a breadth of styles – folk, jazz, orchestral and rock – brought together as a unified piece by his lyrical guitar playing and instantly recognizable voice. With orchestrations by the renowned Polish composer Zbigniew Preisner and a luminous production (assisted by Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera), there is virtuosity a plenty. David Crosby and Graham Nash sing harmonies, Robert Wyatt plays the cornet, Caroline Dale the cello and Alasdair Molloy the glass harmonica. Pink Floyd’s Richard Wright guests on Hammond organ, while Gilmour sweeps and soars with his often soul-piercing guitar and vocals. Yet the album never becomes grandiose. At its heart, it remains a reflective piece, not least because of the lyrics. Although Gilmour takes some writing credits, most go to writer Polly Samson, continuing a collaborative partnership that began with The Division Bell. The songs tell of shared experiences that evoke a breadth of moods, from the hauntingly beautiful title track “On An Island” (with a guitar performance on par with Gilmour’s canon of classics) to the meditative “The Blue and A Pocketful of Stones,” as well as the heavier rock and blues numbers “Take A Breath” and “This Heaven.” In the spirit of intimacy, the album also sees Gilmour’s debut on the saxophone, as well as contributions by contemporaries from his pre-Floyd days. On An Island is a collection of songs and instrumentals that had its genus in the critically acclaimed 2002 London Festival Hall concerts. Gilmour stepped out of his super-group to discover he was still at his peak – and he was rightly pleased. “It’s my best and most personal work,” he exclaimed. “Making it with my musician friends has been a positive experience on so many levels.”
File Under: Rock, Pink Floyd
GØGGS: Pre Strike Sweep (In The Red) LP
With their second album Pre Strike Sweep, GØGGS add a new level of primordial anxiety to their already catastrophic symphony. Recorded and mixed in 2017 by GØGGS guitarist and co-founder Ty Segall, the album explores the damaging affects of modern life before blowing them up one by one. Singer Chris Shaw uses terms like “space rinse” and “roadside surgery” to inform the listener that this is a strange and different trip, far and away from the “Glendale Junkyard” he romanticized in 2016 on their self-titled album. In fact, all expectations brought on by that acclaimed debut are crushed into dust, revealing a new standard by which the GØGGS march thumps.
File Under: Punk, Rock, Ty Segall
Honey Hahs: Dear Someone, Happy Something (Rough Trade) LP
Dear Someone, Happy Something is the debut album by London based sister act Rowan, Robin and Sylvie Siddall. The three siblings from Honor Oak Park in South London, with an average age of only 13 and a ½ years old, write songs that reflect a disarmingly frank child’s-eye view of the world. Honey Hahs have been championed by, and played shows with, Goat Girl, Fat White Family, Insecure Men, Shame, Micachu and The Moonlandingz amongst others. Dear Someone, Happy Something was recorded in London with Pulp’s Steve Mackey. Rowan plays guitar and piano, Robin plays bass and Sylvie plays drums, and they all sing and harmonize. Album design by Jonny Lu Studio with images shot by Oliver Hadlee Pearch.
File Under: Indie Rock
Jungle: For Ever (XL) LP
Towards the end of 2013 Jungle burst onto the scene with their first two singles: “The Heat” and “Platoon.” Appearing out of nowhere and propelled by feverish word of mouth online and IRL, Jungle would transform over the next few years from an anonymous production duo to a kaleidoscopic, personality-filled seven-piece live band built around the core duo of Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland, whose debut album (2014’s self-titled Jungle) was one of the year’s defining debut records; one that would end up nominated for the UK’s Mercury Music Prize and go on to sell over half a million copies. Josh and Tom describe their long awaited second album For Ever as “a post-apocalyptic radio station playing break up songs.” If Jungle’s first effort was their imaginary soundtrack to the places they had never been, their new record captures the landscapes they had so often dreamed of. To write and record the record, Josh and Tom swapped Shepherds Bush for the Hollywood Hills. Their romanticization of The California Dream clashed with the reality of living it – although the experience led them back home to London to finish the album, the journey itself ultimately defining the music it produced. Includes the singles “Happy Man” and “House In LA.”
File Under: Electronic, Funk/Soul
Jon Krocker: Monolog (Dark Entries) LP
We are proud to present the first ever vinyl issue of Jon Krocker’s debut album ‘Monolog’ originally released on cassette in 1983. Jon is from Winnipeg, Canada and got his start as half of the synth noise duo Dialog. In 1981-82, while studying for a BA in Film Studies, he would go to the studio and practice. No writing or patch memories, composing on the fly. His set up consisted of a Minimoog, Oberheim Two Voice, Roland RS-202, Roland Space Echo, EML 400, Roland DR 55, Roland System 100 mixer. After playing some of the songs to Impulse Records store owner Roman Panchyshsyn, he agreed release the album on cassette on Contagious Records. Primarily influenced by the German school typified by artists such as Conrad Schnitzler and Kraftwerk, Jon’s music exhibits the cold machine ethic of the neumusik. The 12 instrumental tracks are stark and minimal, at times anxious but overall space orientated and flexible. All songs are remastered for vinyl by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. Each copy includes an 8-page newsprint zine featuring ephemera, press clippings, photos and liner notes by Jon.
File Under: Electronic, Minimal
Oneida: Each One, Teach One (Jagjaguwar) LP
In 2000-2001, when this album was written, recorded, and conceptualized, Oneida was a pretty hectic organization, committed to confrontation and tragipsych and Wu-Tang and electro relentlessness. The record was made by the original quartet lineup of the band, founded in 1997; and the tour that followed the completion of the album in late 2001 was the final 35-date hurrah of this lineup. When the record finally saw the light of day in early 2002, the band hadn’t broken up but was in a process of irrevocable transformation. Oneida began as a project, then became a gang. Come On Everybody Let’s Rock (2000) and Anthem of the Moon (2001) were absolutely gang work, and Each One Teach One was a logical final blow. In some respects this record is a baring of scars. The band’s original label, Turnbuckle Records, had closed its doors with no warning in 1999, giving rise to the oldest tune on the album, “No Label”; and both extended pieces on the record, “Sheets of Easter” and “Antibiotics,” conjoin pain and possibility in some more metaphysical or metaphorical ways that absolutely reflect their collective state of disorientation at the time. The music on Each One Teach One was recorded in several different locations, under different circumstances, and using different compositional techniques. Some of the songs were built piece by piece through the recording and editing process; some were conceptualized ahead of time and approached with some science; and some were pure instinct. All four members of the band worked on composing and the final result is an accurate document of Oneida following the turn of the century.
File Under: Indie Rock, Experimental
Robert Pollard: Waved Out (GBVI) LP
Robert Pollard’s Waved Out gets the 20th anniversary re-issue treatment with newly re-mastered audio and a beautiful blue vinyl pressing. The Guided By Voices captain’s second solo album from 1998 captures the more eclectic side of his songwriting. Here, he brilliantly compresses prog, psych, and post-punk ideas into magnificent two-minute pop songs. Wire, early Genesis, Nilsson Schmilsson, Lennon’s White Album songs, Blue Öyster Cult, XTC, and Captain Beefheart: it’s all here, condensed into brilliant songs like “Subspace Biographies” and “Whiskey Ships.” A lot’s been made of Pollard’s spontaneous and prolific songwriting methods, and most of that’s true, though he works much harder on his songs than even he likes to admit. With Waved Out, he seemed to grow more comfortable and ambitious in formal studio-type settings, so that anyone who carps about “unfinished arrangements” and “shitty production values” ought to be pretty happy with this record. This doesn’t apply to “Caught Waves Again,” where he sings into a boombox over a tape of GBV guitarist Doug Gillard’s noodling. Nor does it apply to a touching song about tragedies in Pollard’s hometown of Dayton, Ohio, called “People Are Leaving,” where he puts two separate melodies over instruments by collaborator Stephanie Sayers. In addition to Gillard, a few other GBV personalties appear on the record, Jim Pollard, Tobin Sprout and Jim MacPherson, then of The Breeders. But the bulk of the record, including a fair bit of the drumming, is all Robert Pollard.
File Under: Indie Rock
Eric Random: A Boy Alone (Dark Entries) LP
We are honored to release ‘A Boy Alone’, a double LP set from Manchester electronic music pioneer Eric Random. Best known for his early recordings for New Hormones and Les Disques du Crépuscule and collaborations with Pete Shelley (Buzzcocks), Cabaret Voltaire and Nico. As an original member of The Tiller Boys with Shelley, Random injected a healthy dose of Krautrock into the dour Manchester post-punk scene in 1978/79 before going solo the following year. Random’s first 7” “Subliminal”/“23 Skidoo” was released in 1981 via Les Disques du Crépuscule and explored ominous sonic surrounds. That same year also saw the release of a second 7″ single on New Hormones, “Dow Chemical Company”/ “Skin Deep”. Both tracks offered bubbling, rhythmic sound patterns, and were the first to feature other musicians that would become know as The Bedlamites. Consisting of Lynn Walton on vocals, Ian Runacres and Andy Diagram of Dislocation Dance, and bassist Wayne Worm, aka Wayne Sedgeman. Their debut 12” single “Subliminal Seduction”/“Bedlam-a-Go-Go” was released in 1982 through Plurex, mixing arid funk textures and sparse melodies. That same year the group contributed proto chill-out track “6.55” to Plurex compilation ‘Hours’ and the highly filmic track “In Cassette Conference” to the Touch cassette package ‘Feature Mist’. In 1983, Random spent several months in the Himalayas with a group of musicians from the Kulu Valley and studied non-Western instruments such as tabla. On returning to Manchester, Random convened a new group of Belamites including Walton, Sedgeman and drummer Graham Dowdall aka Dids of Ludus. They released the 12” single “Mad As Mankind”/“Dream Web Of Maya” in 1984 on Cabaret Voltaire’s Doublevision, embracing electronic, industrial and dub styles. In 1985 they contributed the soothing “Pure Power” to Food Records’ “Imminent Episode One” compilation. Our reissue also includes 4 unreleased bonus tracks from Eric’s archives recorded between 1981-1984. The whole set adds up to 115 minutes of sinister, somnambulant Random music. All songs have been remastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios. Each copy is housed in a gatefold jacket designed by Eloise Leigh featuring a spread of ephemera, photos with liner notes by James Nice of LTM
File Under: Electronic
St. Paul & the Broken Bones: Young Sick Camellia (Red) LP
With Young Sick Camellia, Paul Janeway has created a space for St. Paul & The Broken Bones to rival any forward-thinking band making music today, based on a concept all-too familiar to him: family, and how we love them despite our differences. Originally envisioning the project as a trio of EP’s, each from the perspective of the three generations of Janeway men, he realized he had enough material in the first volume – written from his own vantage – to make a full-length record. Assigning himself the image of a camellia, the Alabama state flower, Janeway uses his lyrics as a conduit for interpersonal conversation and excision, in addition to pieces of an actual conversation with his grandfather he recorded months before his unexpected death. Janeway leaned more heavily than ever before on his band to help with the songwriting. In the past, he and co-band leader Jesse Phillips served as a “two-headed monster” who ultimately called all the shots; this time around, however, the band was invited to add song ideas. “The record really flexes the muscle of this band,” Janeway says. “Musically, it’s a kaleidoscope of flavors and it covers a lot of ground.” Furthering this notion, the band chose the hip-hop/modern R&B producer Jack Splash to record in Los Angeles, a choice that Janeway credits with taking the band outside of their comfort zone and establishing a connection to a new sound. From the opening space-opus of “Convex” to the snappy, buoyant charm of “Apollo” and the intensely personal bent of “LivWithoutU” and the album-ending “Bruised Fruit,” it’s clear that this represents a new chapter of the band. A darker, more cerebral affair, Young Sick Camellia embraces a variety of sonic experiments and blurs boundary lines, but its focus remains sharply on the titular frontman and his bold, intensely personal and brave examination of his own family tree and how it has shaped him.
File Under: Funk, Soul
Sufjan Stevens: The Avalanche (Asthmatic Kitty) LP
The little secret behind the Illinois record is that it was originally conceived as a double album, culminating in a musical collage of nearly 50 songs. But as the project began to develop into an unwieldy epic, common sense weighed in – as did the opinions of others – and the project was cut in half. But as 2005 came to a close, Sufjan Stevens returned to the old, forsaken songs on his 8-track like a grandfather remembering his youth, indulging in old journals and newspaper clippings. What he uncovered went beyond the merits of nostalgia; it was more like an ensemble of capricious friends and old acquaintances wearing party outfits, waiting to be let in at the front door, for warm drinks and interesting conversation. Among them were Saul Bellow, Ann Landers, Adlai Stevenson, and a brief cameo from Henry Darger’s Vivian Girls. The gathering that followed would become the setting for the songs on The Avalanche: Outtakes and Extras from the Illinois Album. Sufjan gleaned 21 useable tracks from the abandoned material, including three alternate versions of “Chicago.” Some songs were in finished form, others were merely outlines, gesture drawings, or musical scribbles mumbled on a hand-held tape recorder. Most of the material required substantial editing, new arrangements or vocals. Much of the work was done at the end of 2005 or in January the following year. Sufjan invited many of the original Illinois makers to fill in the edges: drums, trumpet, a choir of singers. The centerpiece, of course, was the title track – “The Avalanche” – a song intended for the leading role on the Illinois album but eventually cut and placed as a bonus track on the vinyl release. In his rummaging through old musical memorabilia, Sufjan began to use this song as a meditation on the editorial process, returning to old forms, knee-deep in debris, sifting rocks and river water for an occasional glint of gold. A careful listener may uncover the obvious trend on this record: almost every song on the Illinois album has a counterpart on the outtakes. Carl Sandburg arm-wrestles Saul Bellow. The aliens landing near Highland salute Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto. The loneliness of “Casimir Pulaski Day” deepens even further in the foreboding soundtrack to “Pittsfield.” At its best, The Avalanche is an exercise in form, revealing the working habits of one of the most productive songwriters today. As an illustration, the avalanche refers to the snow and rubble that falls off the side of a mountain, or, in this case, the musical debris generously chucked from an abundant epic. It’s unlikely you’ll find a mountain in the Prairie State so the metaphor will have to do. Fans have requested a vinyl pressing of Avalanche ever since its release on CD and digital. A mere twelve years later, Asthmatic Kitty presents a special colored double vinyl edition complete with all 21 songs from the original release.
File Under: Indie Rock
Bill Callahan: Dream River (Drag City) LP
Daft Punk: Random Access Memories (Columbia) LP
Earth: The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull (Southern Lord) LP
Elder: Reflections of a Floating World (Armageddon) LP
Here Lies Man: You Will Know Nothing (Riding Easy) LP
Lightnin’ Hopkins: Last Night Blues (4 Men With Beards) LP
Jawbreaker: 24 Hour Revenge Therapy (Blackball) LP
Modest Mouse: This is a Long Drive (Glacial Pace) LP
Modest Mouse: Lonesome Crowded West (Glacial Pace) LP
Mogwai: Rock Action (PIAS) LP
Mogwai: The Hawk is Howling (PIAS) LP
Mogwai: Mr. Beast (PIAS) LP
Jim O’Rourke: Simple Songs (Drag City) LP
Oh Sees: A Weird Exits (Castle Face) LP
Oh Sees: Orc (Castle Face) LP
Oh Sees: Smote Reverser (Castle Face) LP
Colin Potter: The Where House? (Dark Entries) LP
Steve Reich: Four Organs (Superior Viaduct) LP
Ty Segall: Singles 2 (Drag City) LP
Ty Segall & White Fence: Hair (Drag City) LP
Ty Segall: Lemons (Goner) LP
Ty Segall: Melted (Goner) LP
Ty Segall & Mikel Cronin: Reverse Shark (In The Red) LP
Sleep: Dopesmoker (Southern Lord) LP
Stars of the Lid: Tired Sounds of (Kranky) LP
Sunn o))): White 1 (Southern Lord) LP
Sunn o))): White 2 (Southern Lord) LP
Sunn o))): Monoliths & Dimensions (Southern Lord) LP
West Coast Pop Art: Part One (Jackpot) LP
Wipers: Is This Real? (Jackpot) LP