Who’d have thunk, normally I’d be sitting here frantically trying to sort out record store day stuff and receiving shipments and having a good old time with friendly folks stopping in for a dig. Instead, our doors are locked, I’m packing up orders and bringing them out to people. Record Store Day has been pushed to June, if that even happens. And I’ve received the last shipment I will likely receive until AFTER the original RSD date passes, as pretty much all our suppliers are located in areas that are under total shut down orders until at least the middle of April. So, this is the last weekly update I’ll be sending out for a while. Unless I get real bored and start putting out lists of stuff we have in stock that really deserves another mention.
Anyway, big thanks to everyone who’s been hitting up our webstore and placing orders! Every little bit will help us be able to turn the lights back on when the curve has been flattened and we are able to open the doors back up. If you haven’t hit up the WEBSTORE, MAYBE YOU SHOULD! I’ve been adding way more stuff than usual and will keep doing so, even if we go into total lock down. If that happens, our site is linked to our inventory, if you can order it on the site, we have it. If it sells out, you can’t order it. So ordering will put it on hold for you at the very least. If you can’t figure out the site, or don’t like to use computers, you can always call the store and we can do an order over the phone. I’ll be at the shop 11-4 week days, until I’m not allowed to be. Stay safe!
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…..picks of the week…..
Jon Hassell: Vernal Equinox (Ndeya) LP
Vernal Equinox was the first commercially released work by Jon Hassell, originally put out by Lovely Music in 1977. It is also the debut of a pioneering new form of music that would become known as “fourth world”: a subtle blend of field recordings, electric jazz, ambience and global music influences. Hassell’s trademark FX-soaked trumpet is carefully embellished by a studio ensemble including the master Brazilian percussionist Naná Vasconcelos and David Rosenboom on synth. The result is a quiet, meditative and highly original work of outstanding beauty. Fully remastered from the original tapes and available on vinyl for the first time in 42 years! Sleeve notes by Jon Hassell and Brian Eno. “Jon Hassell’s 1980 album Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics, produced alongside Brian Eno, is perhaps the most common entry point in the trumpeter’s catalog, arriving during the latter’s ascendance as a pop theorist and alchemist. But Hassell’s 1977 debut contains many of the same ideas in a more muted and subtle form. Inspired by raga music, particularly the work of the vocalist Pandit Pran Nath, Hassell processes his trumpet sound and focuses on notes that change in tiny increments, giving his melodies a slippery quality where you’re never quite sure where they are coming from or where they might go next. The background is filled with quiet twitches of rattles and bells, gurgling talking drum, and snippets of bird songs, creating a bed of sound that is hard to pin down but easy to absorb as a whole. Sources stretch in all directions, from the “Shhh/Peaceful” jazz of Miles Davis to Indian classical music to twinkling New Age, but the music’s refusal to be any one thing makes each listen feel like the first one.” – Mark Richardson, Pitchfork (The 50 Best Ambient Albums of All Time)
File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Jazz, Fourth World, Essential Grooves
Gigi Masin: Calypso (Apollo) LP
“The LP is inspired by the mythical Greek island of Ogygia and its alleged real life counterpart Gavdos – also known unofficially as Calypso – a place of extreme beauty, which upon visiting had a profound effect on the musician. “Gavdos gives you profound sensations in every corner, as here you can find enchantment, mystery, the getting lost to forget, to erase and drown the memories in a light and salty water. A place new and ancient, between cedars that have seen exiles, pestilences, blood and desperation, isolation and abandonment, it’s the absolute of a life that every heart in love seeks, desperately, in the arms of Calypso, divine among the goddesses. An infinite love, and the infinite horizon of our dreams”, says Masin, eloquently. The aqueous and sky-filled vistas of his native Venice are deeply intrinsic, but the best and simplest way to describe ‘Calypso’s sound might simply be Aegean, as every track takes you directly and vividly there – to timeless Greek beauty, glistening seas, picturesque landscapes and the sun’s bright, balmy heat. But, much more than just pleasant dapples of twinkling of audio balm, ‘Calypso’ is music of the gods, goddesses and heroes, subliminally capturing all the celestial beauty, awe, romance and adventure of an epic saga. ‘Calypso’ marks a new phase in Masin’s musical evolution after re-releases and retrospectives on the Music From Memory label and new releases with the Gaussian Curve trio alongside Jonny Nash and Young Marco. Aptly released on Apollo, Masin joins a label who count other classics like Aphex Twin’s ‘Selected Ambient Works 85 – 92’, plus Biosphere’s ‘Microgravity’ and ‘Patashnik’ in its catalogue. Climbing in incremental steps to the pantheon’s summit, Masin now is close to reaching his rightful place alongside giants like Brian Eno, Laurie Spiegel, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Tangerine Dream and Midori Takada.”
File Under: Electronic, Ambient
Ian William Craig: Red Sun Through Smoke (130701) LP
A stark, beautiful new album from our old pal Ian! Uncannily timed for the current state of humanity and its need for reflective composure and cathartic expression, ‘Red Sun Through Smoke’ is a powerful new body of work by IWC, who has become widely beloved for his textured tape recordings with Recital and FatCat’s 130701 label over the past decade. Taking the experience of personal loss and finding new love whilst forest fires raged in British Colombia as inspiration, IWC transmutes his feelings into rough gold across 12 of the most stripped back, direct and affective songs in his catalogue. The background to ‘Red Sun Through Smoke’ is almost hard to believe. Ian travelled to his grandfather’s house to record an album while his gramps resided in a car home. But upon arrival his grandfather was taken gravely ill and moved to palliative care, where he sadly died two weeks later. During this time, as life would have it, Ian met someone special and fell in love, but they promptly moved to Paris, 5000 miles away. A long distance relationship flourished while Ian also grieved and wrote the music of ‘Red Sun Through Smoke’ against a backdrop of thick smoke, in a small house shared with his parents. Understandably, many of us would crack or unravel under this sort of stress, but Ian turned the intensity of the situation into a master opus. Pared back to keys, vocal, shortwave radio and tape, the recordings find IWC at his most vulnerable, with a vocal captured naked to tape and then mixed on vintage 4-track with shortwave static and tape infidelities to poetically represent his situation, as he attempted to follow and come to terms with his thoughts amid scenes of emotive confusion. The results are inarguably, soulfully profound from the multitrack choral greeting of ‘Random’ to the elegiac resolution of ‘Stories’, following the artist’s bewildered state of mind between heart-breaking songs such as ‘Supper’ and its stark refrain, “We had grief for supper”, the doomy majesty of ‘Open Like a Loss’, and the devastating smoky stillness of ‘Last of the Lantern Oil’ where his touch for textured, dreamlike tones is at its most traumatized.
File Under: Choral, Electronic, Classical, Experimental
Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats: Unlocked (Loma Vista) LP
Denzel Curry kicks off 2020 with a menacing and concise full length produced entirely by Kenny Beats. Unlocked is the product of a manic studio session following Denzel recording an episode for Kenny’s show The Cave and it finds the duo mining sounds outside of what prompted their respective rises in recent years. While Denzel pulls influence from various members of The Wu-Tang Clan, Kenny taps into a sound inspired by Madlib, Dilla and MF Doom. Despite these classic touchstones, Unlocked also sounds like something completely new, with Denzel setting the tone for the new decade once again, just as he and Raider Klan did at the outset of the 2010’s. Unlocked is supported by a half live-action, half stop-animation companion film featuring every song from the record.
File Under: Hip Hop
Miles Davis: Music From and Inspired by Birth of the Cool (Legacy) LP
The definitive audio companion to the critically-acclaimed new documentary directed and produced by Stanley Nelson, the soundtrack is an essential Miles Davis playlist for seasoned fans and new listeners alike, lovingly curated by the director and paired with short audio excerpts from the film for a unique listening experience. It brings together recordings and performances spanning labels and the artist’s musical evolution–from “Donna Lee” (a 1947 Savoy master take with legendary alto saxophonist Charlie Parker) to “Moon Dreams” from the groundbreaking 1949 Capitol sessions that were ultimately collected on the album Birth Of The Cool, through the seminal 1950s pieces for Columbia that revolutionized the worlds of jazz and popular music (including “Generique,” Miles’ improvised soundtrack to Louis Malle’s “Elevator to the Gallows” as well as tracks from Miles Ahead and, of course the most popular jazz album of all time, Kind of Blue). The album also highlights Miles’s evolution in the 1960s with tracks from Sketches of Spain and Someday My Prince Will Come to his iconoclastic invention of electric jazz/fusion (exemplified in a 45rpm single edit of “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down” from Bitches Brew). Finally it documents his triumphant mid 1980s comeback (1986 s “Tutu”), while premiering a brand-new track, “Hail To The Real Chief.” The new track features unreleased Miles Davis studio trumpet performances combined with music written by Lenny White, produced by White and Vince Wilburn, Jr and featuring an all-star collection of Miles band alumni and acolytes including White, Wilburn, Marcus Miller, Emilio Modeste, Jeremy Pelt, Antoine Roney, John Scofield, Bernard Wright, and Quinton Zoto.
File Under: Jazz
Roger & Brian Eno: Mixing Colours (Deutsche Grammophon) LP
Roger and Brian Eno explore the nature of sound in their first ever duo album, Mixing Colours. Their Deutsche Grammophon debut is a major milestone in their ongoing creative collaboration featuring eighteen soundscapes that invite listeners to immerse themselves in the infinite space that lies below their surface. Mixing Colours grew over a number of years, with both artists drawing on their long experience as composers, performers and producers. The creative process began with Roger playing individual pieces and recording them using a MIDI keyboard. He then sent digital MIDI files of these recordings to his older brother, who set each piece in its own particular sound world, by revising and manipulating its content. Their exchange developed an effortless dynamic as the project unfolded. The earliest pieces began life around 2005, but were not originally thought about as part of a larger body of work. “We weren’t directing this towards an end result – it was like a back-and-forth conversation we were having over a 15-year period,” says Roger. “I’d wake up, go straight upstairs, put my equipment on and improvise, then I sent things to Brian that I thought he might be interested in. The idea for a full album emerged as the number of pieces kept increasing and the results kept being interesting. It’s something that neither of us could have arrived at alone.” Mixing Colours creates bridges between the music’s past and future. Roger’s compositions evoke the yearning melodic style of late Schubert while Brian’s sound design draws from his ground-breaking conceptual work with electronic music and lifelong fascination with the creative potential of new media. Over the past half century, he notes, the pop world has developed electronic music’s enormous possibilities to create previously unimagined sound colors and instrumental timbres. Brian observes: “With classical instruments the clarinet represents a little island of sound, the viola another, and the grand piano yet another. Each instrument is a finite set of sonic possibilities, one island in the limitless ocean of all the possible sounds that you could make. What’s happened with electronics is that all the spaces in between those islands are being explored, yielding new sounds that have never previously existed. It has been a huge pleasure for me to explore that ocean with Roger’s unique compositions.” All but one of the Mixing Colours’ eighteen tracks have color-related titles – “Burnt Umber,” “Obsidian” and “Verdigris” among them – comparable to those often attached to abstract paintings. Together they create a deep meditation on shifting tonal shades and contrasts in timbre. The final track, the haunting “Slow Movement: Sand,” strips music back to its bare essentials of tone color, timbre and pulse. Mixing Colours, adds Roger, stemmed from their shared artistic, musical and literary interests to become a work of genuine collaboration. “The more you listen to this album, particularly with the fabulous worlds that Brian has created, you can really walk into its enormous landscape and stay.” The album artwork features abstract paintings by artist Dom Theobald, including a striking piece given as a gift by Roger to Brian.
File Under: Ambient, Classical
Grunwald: OMA (Outside) LP
Toronto keyboardist R. Grunwald has played on sessions for hundreds of musicians, and has served as bandleader for jazz/pop chanteuse Jill Barber and country/folk songwriter Donovan Woods for the better part of a decade. Now he’s ready to step onto the public stage with his own music – alone. Oma is an evocative and deeply personal solo piano record, inspired in part by the life story of his 96-year-old grandmother, a Holocaust survivor and pianist. Drawing from Erik Satie, Nils Frahm and others, Grunwald refers to his intensely melodic compositions as “extended minimalism.” “After quitting piano, it was my Oma who inspired me to get back into it, Grunwald explains. “She survived the 2nd world war moving from town to town, hiding from the Nazis, and the Russians in Poland. Music was the one thing that tied her young life together. This music is a tribute to her.”
File Under: Piano
Trey Gruber: Herculean House of Cards (Numero) LP
A tortured songwriter and struggling addict who jolted the tired Chicago DIY scene with his own brand of primal despair, Trey Gruber and his band Parent were on track to join the ranks of Twin Peaks, Mild High Club, and Whitney. His death in 2017 at the age of 26 brought it all to a halt. In his final years Trey wrote and recorded hundreds of previously unheard demos, dandelions in the cracked concrete of 21st century disconnect, an alphabet’s worth of which have been compiled by his family and friends for his only album: Herculean House Of Cards. Produced by Jessica Viscius and Desiree Gruber. Mixed by Paul Cherry. Mastered by Greg Obis at Chicago Mastering Service. Pressed by A-Z Media. Album design by Jessica Viscius and Alexa Viscius. Cover photo by Brooklyn Morgan.
File Under: Sing Songwriter, LoFi
Horse Lords: The Common Task (Northern Spy) LP
Horse Lords make music for the liberation of mind and body. The Baltimore quartet’s new album The Common Task points to a utopian, modernist ideal, recalling as diverse a cohort as The Ex and Glenn Branca to raucous Saharan guitar music, Albert Ayler, and James Tenney. As evidenced by the album’s title, as well as songs like “Fanfare for Effective Freedom” and “People’s Park,” the band’s penchant for radical politics is especially accentuated on this release. Horse Lords are the Pied Piper of experimental music and radical thought. Their music is unabashedly fun, and experiencing it in a live context is an experience of collective ecstasy, each body moving to its own notion of what the beat may be. By showing just how joyous it can be to imagine new futures and possibilities, by making us dance and howl with each tectonic shift, they show how dazzling the path towards utopia could be.
File Under: Math Rock
Ikebe Shakedown: Stone By Stone (Ubiquity) LP
Ikebe Shakedown’s powerful instrumental soul takes “big unison horns, slinky bass lines, tight little guitar licks—and blends them with tasty grooves culled from ’70s-style horn-driven funk (WNYC Soundcheck).” The Brooklyn-based collective is set to follow up their well-received self-titled debut album with the heavier, more mature sound of their second full-length Stone By Stone.
File Under: Funk
Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You? (International Anthem) LP
Irreversible Entanglements, the Philly/NY/DC free jazz collective fronted by poet/MC Moor Mother, return in another blaze of anti-colonialist anti-capitalist anti-pacifist fire music, with an even-more developed and distinct message than they had on their 2017 debut (which was fierce enough to earn “Best of 2017” praise from NPR, WIRE, Stereogum, and many more).
File Under: Funk, Soul
Jacaszek: Music for Film (Ghostly) LP
Since his earliest projects nearly two decades ago, Polish composer Michal Jacaszek has kept some proximity to film music. Initially, his output simply felt cinematic by nature; densely detailed electroacoustic textures on releases like Lo-Fi Stories (2004), Treny (2008) and Glimmer (2011) evoked dimly-lit worlds within themselves, vignettes of the imagination. Over time his interest in sound design and collaboration would manifest actual film projects and commissions, some of which have earned him awards. Jacaszek’s practice – an amalgamation of ambient, classical, and musique concrete – deploys field recordings, acoustic samples, poetry, and baroque instrumentation to paint pictures, oftentimes melancholic, nostalgic, tragic. His 2020 album, Music For Film, marks the naturally-occurring intersection of his identities as a solo artist and a film score artist. The collection is now sequenced and released as a single autonomic movement. “I didn’t write to particular scenes,” says Jacaszek, recalling the process of envisioning music for Rainer Sarnet’s 2017 black-and-white fantasy drama November. “He asked me to create a bunch of pieces for a dark fairytale-like movie about love in old Estonian pagan times – full of dark magic, strange beliefs, poverty, grit, and natural beauty.” That versatile purpose from the onset affords the material particular pliability in the album format; the pieces work on their own. Two tracks originated from the 2019 documentary He Dreams of Giants; another was first used in 2008 project Golgota wrocławska. Context removed, they fuse seamlessly; ten years time between some recordings, erased. A visceral dynamism emerges here with a relatively restricted palette of sounds. Music moves in measured steps, inconspicuous yet holding attention. Opener “The Zone” is curious and brittle, crawling on keys and a foundational bass thump as strings seep beneath in a raspy hush. Centerpiece “Dance” folds into an ominous and molasses-slow trot through minor chords, spacious percussion, and static, all under the spell of a mournful violin lead. Windswept vocals haunt “Liina” from a distance, while they sink deeply into orchestral closer “November Late.” Jacaszek’s work is that of an auteur; he has signatures that he uses faithfully and with much aplomb. Listeners can expect subtle gesture and baroque grandeur on Music For Film: soaring melodies cloaked in reverberation, delicate piano ruminations, and textural craftwork capable of creating and disrupting motifs, smothering and enchanting minds.
File Under: Ambient
Lucifer: III (Century Media) LP
Lucifer III is the third studio album by Lucifer who celebrated massive international success with 2018’s much acclaimed Lucifer II, which saw the 2014 formed band’s new constellation reach a new level of songcraft and sheer impact. Uniting the songwriting talents of Johanna Sadonis and Nicke Andersson (The Hellacopters, Entombed, Imperial State Electric), Lucifer III now further perfects the group’s stunning mix of 70’s hard rock, tinges of doom, doses of classic heavy metal and addictive choruses resulting in powerful ballads (“Leather Demon,” “Cemetery Eyes”), straight up rockers (“Flanked By Snakes,” “Ghosts”), catchy anthems (“Lucifer,” “Midnight Phantom,” “Pacific Blues”) and Sabbathian heaviness (“Coffin Fever”).
File Under: Metal
Moaning: Uneasy Laughter (Sub Pop) LP
What happens when an abrasive rock trio trades guitars for synths, cranks up the beats and leans into the everyday anxieties of simply being a functioning human in the 21st century? The answer is Uneasy Laughter, the sensational second Sub Pop release from Los Angeles-based Moaning. The group’s self-titled 2018 Sub Pop debut featured songs mostly written in practice or brought in already complete by individual band members. But Uneasy Laughter is a collaborative breakthrough which significantly brightens Moaning’s once claustrophobic sound, again abetted by producer/engineer Alex Newport (At The Drive-In, Bloc Party, Melvins). The trio points to first single “Ego,” as an embodiment of this evolution. Solomon admits Uneasy Laughter could have gone in quite another direction had he not gotten sober and educated himself on such core subjects as gender and mental health. “I did a lot of reading in the tour van – authors like Bell Hooks, Mark Fisher, and Alain de Botton, all really inspired me. I don’t want to be the person who influences young people to go get high and become cliche tragic artists,” he says. “What I’d rather convey to people is that they’re not alone in what they think and how they feel. ‘Ego’ specifically and the album overall is about those themes – letting go of your bullshit so you can help other people and be present.” “We want to be part of a community,” he adds. “I wrote online about being sober for a year, and I had kids from all over writing and asking for advice. One of them said, ‘For the first time I can remember, I didn’t drink last night.’ I thought, for once, maybe we did something besides sell a record. That’s a win. That’s incredibly exciting.”
File Under: Noise Rock
Rustin Man: Clockdust (Domino) LP
Having waited 17 years for Drift Code, some may be surprised at Clockdust’s swift arrival, but the album’s roots can be found in the same extended sessions. Realizing that Paul Webb had two albums worth of material he took great pains to ensure that each album would stand alone. Idiosyncratic and quietly haunting, Clockdust is seeped in sepia-tinted nostalgia, “a powerful force of nature,” Webb states, “up there with love and desire.” The album blurs the boundaries between past and present. Webb insists that he prefers to live in the here and now, but in looking back he’s found a magical, mesmerizing manner in which to forge a path forward: for him, for his music, and for his audience.
File Under: Rock
Daniel Romano’s Outfit: Okay Wow (You’ve Changed) LP
In a shocking turn of events, Daniel Romano has decided to give you exactly what you asked for – he and his unparalleled live band, The Outfit, have decided that you deserved it, that it is in fact already yours – and they want to say “you’re welcome.” The record is called Okay Wow. Which is probably what you’ll say when you listen to it. It’s all your favorite songs except superior in every way to the versions you’ve exhausted. Okay Wow was recorded live by Kenneth Roy Meehan the 1st while on tour across Scandinavia.
File Under: Indie Rock
Ryuichi Sakamoto: The Staggering Girl OST (Milan) LP
Ryuichi Sakamoto releases his soundtrack to Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino’s new short film, The Staggering Girl, via Milan Records. The Staggering Girl stars Julianne Moore, Mia Goth and Twin Peaks’ Kyle MacLachlan, and focuses on the daughter of an acclaimed German-Italian painter who returns to her Italian childhood home to visit her unwell mother. “When approaching the score for The Staggering Girl, I wanted to incorporate the tactile sound of Valentino’s fabrics,” Sakamoto says. “So I asked them to send me some samples and utilising special sensitive microphones, I experimented ‘playing’ the fabrics. I love the sound and how it forces one’s attention to a sound all around us, yet almost entirely ignored.”
File Under: OST
Hideto Sasaki/Toshiyuki Sekine Quartet + 1: Stop Over (BBE) LP
BBE Music presents the sixth release in its acclaimed J Jazz Masterclass Series: Stop Over by Hideto Sasaki – Toshiyuki Sekine Quartet +1. Released at the height of the electric fusion era, Stop Over is an all-acoustic hard bop killer, sounding like the Jazz Messengers on speed. When it was originally issued on the private Smile label in 1976, only 100 copies were pressed, making Stop Over one of the most sought after and rare LPs in the J Jazz canon. Trumpeter Hideto Sasaki tears it up as if he’s Kenny Dorham on a classic late ’50s Blue Note session. He also provides the breakneck title track to the album, the one stunning original that sits next to solid covers including Bobby Hutcherson’s modal classic “Little B’s Poem” and Denny Zeitlin’s “Carole’s Garden.” Pianist Toshiyuki Sekine is also on top form with his deft touch and fluid keyboard runs, playing Horace Silver to Sasaki’s Dorham. If you dig that late ’50s/early ’60s breathless hard bop sound, you’ll love this. Licensed and released with the approval of Toshiyuki Sekine himself, Stop Over is available here on double LP, the first vinyl reissue of this amazing album since originally slipping out to family and friends in 1976. With a deluxe packaging and translated sleeve notes, there will also be new notes and an interview with Toshiyuki Sekine. The BBE J Jazz Masterclass Series is personally curated by Tony Higgins and Mike Peden and is dedicated to presenting the very finest in Japanese modern jazz. The series features rare material presented in the highest quality reproductions of the original releases, fully licensed and authorized.
File Under: Jazz, Japan
Ghedalia Tazartes: Diasporas (Dais) LP
Originally recorded in 1977, following a limited release in 1979, Ghédalia Tazartès debut album, Diasporas, introduced listeners to the surreal, mysterious and truly unclassifiable statement of Tazartès and his out-of-time place in the French avant-garde canon. Born in Paris in 1947 to Judaeo-Spanish parents of Greek descent, Tazartès spent his early career as an autodidact utilizing his knowledge of repetition and collage, coupled with his Ladino linguistic heritage, to create some of the most unique recordings of the late 20th century. Interest in the works of Tazartès truly sparked when artist Steve Stapleton included his follow up album, Tazartès’ Transports, in his famed “Nurse With Wound List,” thus adding endless curiosity to the folklore behind Tazartès and his mystical entrée. From the onset of Diasporas, looping incantations seemingly pile up at the behest of Tazartès. In almost a prayer-like decree, Tazartès chants to the gods in an undefined whail that is both haunting and spiritually divine. Tazartès unique use of tape loops to capture the disappearing traditions of his family’s past creates an atmospheric texture that unexpectedly complements his cut-up, manipulated vocal experiments. While contemporaries within the French avant-garde maneuvered academic theory and rigid tradition, Diasporas strays away from these boundaries, working in Tazartès’ invented practice of ‘impromuz’, a method in which he endlessly records for hours and edits only the moments that display any sense of spontaneous enlightenment. Further emboldening the obtuse nature of Diasporas are the seemingly random recitation of poet Stéphane Mallarmé and the traditional ‘Parisian-style’ piano accompaniment of experimental composer Michel Chion. Since its initial release over 40 years ago, both Dais Records and Alga Marghen have released reissues of Diasporas in various formats, all of which quickly fell out of print. Dais Records presents an official reissue, newly remastered by Josh Bonati, utilizing the original artwork of Diasporas in its sole album form, for the first time in over four decades.
File Under: Experimental, Essential Grooves
Trees Speak: Ohms (Soul Jazz) LP
When the band Trees Speak, coming out of nowhere, released an exclusive one-off 100-pressing white label 45, described as Can/Neu! meets Liquid Liquid, it sold out so quickly (in less than 30 min) that Soul Jazz Records decided to release their album almost immediately. Soul Jazz Records rarely releases new music but found Trees Speak’s Ohms so stunning and to have so many elements of music that they admired that they felt compelled to release it on vinyl. Trees Speak are from Tucson, Arizona and create music that sounds like German krautrock meets no wave/post-punk and psych rock – music for fans of Cluster, Tangerine Dream, Can, Neu!, Silver Apples and early Kraftwerk. Ohms sounds at times like a tripped out and moody Johnny Carpenter/Goblin/Morricone soundtrack that seamlessly segues into propulsive, ‘motorik’ krautrock instrumentals loaded with fuzzy, hypnotic mellotron, synths and analogue effects, as well as elements of Art Ensemble free jazz, and at times reaching a kind of post-rave psychedelia. The album includes an exclusive bonus 45 single (the white label of which sold out so fast) that will only be available with the first order of this amazing and ground-breaking new album.
File Under: Psych, Krautrock
Matthew Tavares & Leland Whitty: Visions (Mr. Bongo) LP
Visions is a new collaborative album from BadBadNotGood co-founders, Matthew Tavares and Leland Whitty. The Grammy Award winning, multi-platinum producers have been performing and writing music together for 10 years. They have achieved international acclaim with BadBadNotGood and Tavares’ recent solo single Self-Portrait has been championed by tastemakers such as Gilles Peterson and Benji B. ‘Visions’ is the latest upshot of their incredibly fruitful partnership. Recorded in Toronto, it was produced by Tavares and Whitty – with Tavares also mixing the album and arranging strings. After a three-week writing period it was played in its entirety in one continuous studio session; almost all the tracks on the album are the first take. Tavares is on piano and guitar, Whitty on saxophone and flute. The rhythm section of Julian Anderson-Bowes on bass and Matthew Chalmers on drums completes the players. They make an impressive collective and are performing at the peak of their powers. Conceptually the album is a canvas for a combination of composition and group free-form improvisation. Tavares and Whitty are the sole composers, but with some tracks collectively improvised, there is also a group dynamic running through the album. The outcome is a sublime melting pot of modern jazz, impressionist classical music and Arthur Verocai-esque arrangements. It is a sound that is hard to date; it is certainly of the now but is also reminiscent of a lost classic. Similar to the process of its creation, the optimal listening experience for Visions is in its entirety. As a coherent body of work it draws the listener in with waves of intensity and crescendos that release back into tranquility – there is both darkness and light in the album’s narrative arc. There is also rawness and honesty to the music, which makes it feel like an intensely personal and intimate offering.
File Under: Jazz, BadBadNotGood
Various: Whispers: Lounge Originals (Numero) LP
A lounge in the Poconos located just inside a Holiday Inn, 1973. The smoky haze clears to reveal a middle-aged couple on a one-foot high stage, prattling on about the weather or Watergate before launching into a serviceable cover of Burt Bacharach’s “Do You Know The Way To San Jose?” Tens of thousands of such combos littered restaurants, cruise ships, casinos, lobbies, and cocktail bars throughout the ’60s and ’70s, but far fewer cut a record worth buying from the stage, much less listening to on the home hi-fi. Gathered here are 14 lounge originals from across the entire easy listening spectrum. A spent matchbook’s worth of crooners, bossa nobodies, seafood jazzers, and Donca-Matic enthusiasts all in search of their ticket out of a red leather booth hell.
File Under: Lounge, Easy Listening
Arcade Fire: Funeral (Merge) LP
Arcade Fire: Suburbs (Merge) LP
Roy Ayers: Virgin Ubiquity (Ubiquity) LP
Roy Ayers: Virgin Ubiquity II (Ubiquity) LP
Miles Davis: Tribute to Jack Johnson (Legacy) LP
Miles Davis: Bitches Brew (Legacy) LP
Miles Davis: Round About Midnight (Columbia) LP
Chet Baker: Sings (Blue Note) LP
Caribou: Suddenly (Merge) LP
Neal Francis: Changes (Karma Chief) LP
GA-20: Lonely Soul (Karma Chief) LP
Mort Garson: Wozard of Iz (Audio Clarity) LP
Durand Jones: American Love Call (Dead Oceans) LP
Durand Jones: s/t (Dead Oceans) LP
Elvin Jones: Mr Jones (Blue Note) LP
Khruangbin & Leon Bridges: Texas Sun (Dead Oceans) LP
Khruangbin: Con Todo El Mundo (Dead Oceans) LP
Khruangbin: Hasta El Cielo (Dead Oceans) LP
Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio: Close But No Cigar (Colemine) LP
Orville Peck: Pony (Royal Mountain) LP
Lee Ranaldo & Raul Refree: Names of North End Women (Mute) LP
Six Organs of Admittance: Companion Rises (Drag City) LP
Tyler, The Creator: Flower Boy (Sony) LP
Tyler, The Creator: Igor (Sony) LP
Scott Walker: Climate of Hunter (Universal) LP