…..news letter #971 – dripped…..

Well, we did it, we finally survived the final RSD Drop. Now we can breathe a little… oh wait… BLACK FRIDAY. Well, that isn’t quite as nuts, or is it? Aaaaaaaanyway… There’s some great stuff in this week. I think we’re entering the final big push of new releases before the end of the year, so it’s likely going to be a busy next few weeks. Hopefully this mild weather holds for a bit longer too before we all have to hunker down for winter.

As always, big thanks to everyone who’s been hitting up our webstore and placing orders! It’s getting competitive around 6pm when we post up fresh used stock. If you haven’t hit up the WEBSTORE, MAYBE YOU SHOULD! 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. We’ll be at the shop 11-5 Tuesday – Friday & Saturday 11-4. Stay safe!

Oh ya… if you don’t follow us on Instagram, WHY NOT?! And now you know.


…..picks of the week…..

Masami Kawahara & The Exotic Sounds: Ecstasy (Beat Ball) LP
The 1970 erotic lounge record by Japanese maestro of percussion, Masami Kawahara, reissued now! The present record is a standout work amid the myriad records of the x-rated / lounge genre of the 1960s and 1970s that catered to adult audiences in both the east and the west. Masami Kawahara, who was a mainstay in both the jazz and pop scenes in Japan, brought together musicians including Akira Ishikawa, Masaoki Terakawa, and Jake H. Concepcion for this recording. As would be expected of such a stellar and diverse lineup of performers, the tracks boast a unique and eclectic mix of musical elements spanning Latin, soul jazz, Afrobeat, and psychedelic styles. The erotic moods conjured up through various sound effects and female moans / scat vocals are sure to evoke pleasure, as well as some bashfulness, in listeners. This record, which had often been categorized under the mondo / bizarre slot and was only found in the collections of a handful of cult fans, was rediscovered by Japanese DJs during the 1990s and subsequently attracted the attention of collectors around the world. A bizzare and idiosyncratic work that could only have been created during the 20th century (and the 1970s at that), it has now been reissued on vinyl for the first time ever!

File Under: Erotica, Jazz, Lounge, Psych
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Hiroshi Yoshimura: Green (Light in the Attic) LP
BACK IN STOCK! Barely known outside of his home country during his lifetime, the late Japanese ambient music pioneer Hiroshi Yoshimura has seen his global stature rise steadily in the past few years. The 2017 reissue of his lauded debut, Music For Nine Post Cards, along with a slow building cult internet following has helped ignite a renaissance in his acclaimed body of work, much of which has never been released outside of Japan. Known for his sound design and environmental music, Yoshimura worked on a number of commissions following the 1982 release of Music For Nine Post Cards, including works for museums, galleries, public spaces, TV shows, video art, fashion shows, and even a cosmetics company. Originally released in 1986, GREEN is one of Hiroshi Yoshimura’s most well-loved recordings and a favorite of the artist himself. Recorded over the winter of 1985-86 at Yoshimura’s home studio, the compositions unfold at an unhurried pace, a stark contrast to the busy city life of Tokyo. As Yoshimura explained in the original liner notes, the album title in the context of this body of work is not meant to be seen as a color, but is rather used to convey “the comfortable scenery of the natural cycle known as GREEN”—which perfectly encapsulates the soothing and warm sounds contained on the album, although it was created utilizing Yamaha FM synthesizers, known for their crisp digital tones. This edition marks the first reissue of the highly sought-after and impossible to find album. It features the original mix preferred by Yoshimura himself, previously available only on the initial Japanese vinyl release (a limited edition remixed version of the album, with added sound effects, was released on CD in the US). Additionally, this release is the first in our ongoing series, WATER COPY, focusing on the works of Hiroshi Yoshimura.

File Under: Ambient, Japan
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…..new arrivals…..

Baroness: Blue Record (Relapse) LP
2009’s Blue Record announced the re-awakening of Savannah’s rock giants Baroness. The sister recording to 2007’s Red Album, Blue Record is an instant classic with all the peaks and valleys, textures and nuances that timeless records yield over repeated listens. Deep and dark; Blue Record overflows with gossamer melodies and striking, earnest riffs that have become the band’s signature. “Swollen and Halo,” “Jake Leg,” “War, Wisdom and Rhyme,” “The Sweetest Curse,” are just a few of the tracks that are both instant and unforgettable, making Blue Record the most poignant moment in the Baroness canon to date. “A stained-glass palace of nuanced textures, hallucinogenic tones, and teeth-gnashing riffs, The Blue Record unfolds with the kinds of melodic surprises and confident songwriting that defined thrash’s golden era. And it overflows with diversity. At its simplest, Baroness utilizes proven metal strategies to set up bold turns. Yet despite the fluid presence of acoustic guitars, pastoral pianos, folk accents, and electronic washes, songs never feel overwhelming or weighed down. A colossal statement.” – Bob Gendron, Tone Audio, 2009’s Best Records, November 2009

File Under: Metal
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Baroness: Red Record (Relapse) LP
Savannah, Georgia’s Baroness blew the lid off their cauldron of hall of fame riffs on 2007’s Red Album, their first record for Relapse and debut full-length recording. With a sound built upon a resolute sense of purpose and shaped by hundreds of explosive live shows, Baroness positioned themselves at the forefront of heavy music with an epic album that is at once powerful, expressive, confident, and commanding. Red Album sees the band expand its sonic vision; colossal riffs and haunting vocals roll like thunder across epic songs spanning both the intense and the sublime. As the Red Album proves, Baroness’ formidable reputation proceeds them for a reason.

File Under: Metal
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Flaming Lips: Transmissions from the Satellite Heart (grey vinyl) (Warner) LP
1993’s Transmissions From The Satellite Heart served as the Flaming Lips’ second release for Warner Bros. and first with guitarist Ronald Jones and drummer Steven Drozd. The band’s transition from indie noisemakers to pop provocateurs was magnified tenfold here by the out of nowhere smash “She Don’t Use Jelly,” which was not only their first charting radio hit but heavily rotated on MTV. No one trick pony, the ambitious 11-song set balances further pop fare like “Turn It On” and extended numbers like “Moth In The Incubator” and “Slow Nerve Action,” with an acoustic folk cut in “Plastic Jesus,” all with a post-modern style and grace.

File Under: Rock, Pop
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Gorillaz: Song Machine Season One (Parlophone) LP
Song Machine, Season One is Gorillaz’s newest concept which started in January 2020, releasing brand new material episodically – as and when it happens – and has continued throughout the year. The ongoing and ever-evolving process has seen our favorite characters joined by an expanding roster of collaborators captured live in Kong Studios and beyond. The result is an 11-track collection (and 17 on the Deluxe Edition) embracing a myriad of sounds, styles, genres and attitudes from a breath-taking line-up of guest artists including Beck, Elton John, Robert Smith, ScHoolboy Q, St. Vincent, Peter Hook, 6LACK, Leee John, Georgia, Ovtavian, Kano, Roxani Arias, Fatoumata Diawara, Slowthai and Slaves.

File Under: Rock, Pop
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Buddy Guy: Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues (Music on Vinyl) LP
Very few artists have attempted, or succeeded, in improving the standard template for classic blues records set some 50 years ago in the golden age of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. Buddy Guy had a major influence on the development of the blues in recent decades. Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues is the Grammy Award-winning comeback album by the blues master, released in 1991. Legendary musicians like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Mark Knopfler all turn up on this album. This album put the spotlight back on Buddy Guy and deservedly so. The Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues package includes an insert.

File Under: Blues
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Erik Hall: Music for 18 Musicians
(Western Vinyl) LP

A re-interpretation so often comes from an impulse, even if subliminal, of one-upmanship – let me do better, wait ‘til you hear it my way. Sometimes though, and it happens too rarely, the cover is an act of devotion in which a musician’s humility produces something more beautiful than bravura could. When Erik Hall undertook his painstaking reconstruction of Steve Reich’s 1976 masterpiece of minimalism, Music for Eighteen Musicians, it was as much an exercise in modesty as ambition. With its repetitions and complex constructions, the piece makes great demands on stamina and concentration, and Reich himself advised that these challenges meant it should probably be performed with more than eighteen musicians. Hall, however, recorded every part himself in his small home studio, playing instruments he had on hand, in live, single takes. Here, then is the ambition. But here too is the modesty: by doing one section a day, one instrument at a time, he made his way through this monumental piece, building a faithful and loving re-creation, one sonic brick at a time. Xylophone becomes muted piano, violin becomes electric guitar and so it is that music for eighteen becomes music for one. “I didn’t want it to be distracting, or a gimmick,” says Hall, who’s loved the piece for as long as he can remember. “I wanted it to be true to the timbre and spirit of the original recording,” and he thought a great deal about, “how I would shape the tone of each instrument, to come across with the same impact that we know the piece to have.” His methodology, as with Reich’s piece itself, is workmanlike, and it’s from this humble and steadfast undertaking that something honest and radiant emerges.

File Under: Ambient, Classical
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Kraftwerk: Autobaun (Parlophone) LP
Blue vinyl! In 2009, Kraftwerk upgraded their Kling Klang masters with the latest studio technology and these magnificent recordings still sound like nothing else in the history of music. Kraftwerk is unique, pristine, profound and beautiful – all at once. Decades may pass, but their streamlined synthetic symphonies stand outside time, as fresh as tomorrow, transcendent and sublime. Though they’d recorded three previous albums, Kraftwerk’s modern pop legacy starts with this impressionistic excursion down Germany’s famed superhighway. The rhythmic synth pulse that carries the title track is a sonic revelation while co-founder Florian Schneider’s flute work and other more delicate melodic touches hearken back to the band’s prog-rock foundations as do the atmospheric “Kometenmelodie 1 & 2,” “Mitternacht” and “Morgenspaziergang.”

File Under: Electronic
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Kraftwerk: Soest Live (Inner Space) LP
180 gram yellow vinyl. Includes insert. Hand-numbered. One of the most influential bands in the last five decades, Kraftwerk virtually established the blueprint, the source code even for electronic music. Founded by classically trained musicians Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider-Esleban in Dusseldorf in 1970, the band has informed and inspired a diverse range of genres and artists including David Bowie, Björk, Afrika Bambaataa, and Joy Division. This early live performance, in Soest, Germany in Winter 1970, broadcast on WDR-TV displays the band in superb form. Arguably, the future of electronic music, trance, techno, ambient — started right here.

File Under: Electronic
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L-Seven: s/t (Third Man) LP
L-Seven were a short-lived but foundational post-punk band from Detroit, MI. Active between 1980-83, L-Seven only ever officially released one 7″ on Touch And Go’s Special Forces, a division of Touch And Go Records designated for releases that were not just straight-ahead punk and hardcore, the L-Seven 7″ was the only Special Forces release. L-Seven was formed by members of The Blind, Retro and Algebra Mothers and fiery singer Larissa Stolarchuk and are not to be confused with the similarly named LA grunge group L7 who would form a decade afterward. Following the demise of L-Seven, Larissa (now going by Larissa Strickland), while still donning her bleached blonde hair and tattered floral sundress with combat boots, would put down the mic and pick up a guitar and form the seminal Laughing Hyenas with her partner in (life of) crime John Brannon. During their time together L-Seven was loved and respected by all of the Detroit punk and hardcore bands. Larissa was the surrogate den mother to the hardcore scene and although L-Seven’s sound was far from hardcore, their DIY attitude and willingness to bring art into their music was hugely inspiring and influential to the “Freezer Theater” crew. They shared stages with Negative Approach, Necros, Meatmen and all of the midwest superstars as well as many legendary touring artists. L-Seven opened for Iggy, The Birthday Party, Bush Tetras, did a small tour with Gun Club and even played U2’s first ever Detroit show (proof of this is included on this LP). Third Man Records is beyond proud to be releasing an LP of unreleased studio and live recordings. The label was honored to work closely with longtime fan and almost-member Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth, all surviving L-Seven members as well as a few other folks from the L-Seven scene. Sadly, Larissa passed away in 2006, but her presence is missed and this record is dedicated to her.

File Under: Punk
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Adrianne Lenker: Songs and Instrumentals (4AD) LP
Songs and Instrumentals are two distinct collections, both written and recorded in April 2020 after Big Thief’s March tour was abruptly cut short due to Coronavirus. After returning to the states from Europe, frontman Adrianne Lenker decamped to a one room cabin in the mountains of western Massachusetts. “I grew really connected to the space itself,” says Lenker. “The one room cabin felt like the inside of an acoustic guitar – it was such a joy to hear the notes reverberate in the space.” With a hankering to capture the feel of the space, Lenker enlisted the help of engineer Philip Weinrobe, gathering a mass of tape machines, a binaural head, and a pile of XLR cables. After almost three weeks of setup and troubleshooting, the studio finally was operating – although the only functioning tape recorder the duo had was Phil’s battery powered Sony Walkman. Although at peace with the idea that they might just be recording the whole record on cassette tape, a friend was able to dig a Otari 8 Track out of storage and deliver to the pair right before they’d lost all hope. Nine of these songs were written freshly during the recording session. Lenker and Phil began and closed each day with an improvised acoustic guitar instrumental, later making a collage of their favorite pieces, which became the first side of the instrumentals album. “We wanted to make a record that put you, the listener, in the most intimate position possible,” explains Weinrobe. “I had a handful of songs that I was planning on recording, but by the time Phil arrived I was on a whole new level of heartsick and the songs were flying through my ears,” says Lenker. “I was basically lying in the dirt half the time. We went with the flow. A lot of the focus was on getting nourishment from our meals. We cooked directly on the woodstove, and we went on walks to the creek every day to bathe. I’m grateful that this music has come into existence. These songs have helped me heal. I hope that at least in some small way this music can be a friend to you.” This vinyl record is 100% analog-analog-analog (AAA). No digital process was used in the production of this sound recording. The album’s stunning artwork are watercolor paintings done by Adrianne’s grandmother, Diane Lee.

File Under: Indie Rock
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Mastodon: Medium Rarities (Reprise) LP
Medium Rarities is the first rarities collection from Mastodon covering their entire career. The compilation features one brand new song – “Fallen Torches.” It also includes a bevy of classic covers, soundtrack contributions, instrumentals, B-sides, and live recordings on one complete package for the very first time. Among an eclectic array of covers, the musicians tackle “A Commotion” by Feist, “A Spoonful Weighs A Ton” by The Flaming Lips, “Atlanta” by Butthole Surfers, and “Orion” by Metallica. It also features soundtrack cuts such as “White Walker” [from the Game of Thrones inspired mix tape] and the soundtrack song “Cut You Up With A Linoleum Knife” [Aqua Teen Hunger Force]. Meanwhile, they get under the hood with instrumental versions of “Asleep in the Deep,” “Toe To Toes,” “Jaguar God,” and “Halloween.”

File Under: Metal
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Kevin Morby: Sundowner (Dead Oceans) LP
Yellow vinyl! In 2017, Kevin Morby moved from Los Angeles back to an empty house in his hometown of Kansas City, KS. Landing back home in Kansas felt jarring juxtaposed with a life full of chaos and adventure with a band on the road. But at the very least, Morby “was happy to have – for the first time in my adulthood – a place to close the door, with no temptations other than to work on music and reflect on what I had built since I left.” Not ready to let go of the hand of the California desert, Morby spent the winter decorating the best he knew how – with mementos from his previous home, cactus and aloe vera and covering the walls in pinewood – immediately earning the house its nickname, The Little Los Angeles. During that summer, Kevin’s isolation was given a subtle lift when Katie Crutchfield began visiting. She would stay weeks at a time, living quietly beside him – their love taking shape in a quiet refuge from their lives on the road. They shared many things, including a mutual melancholy that seemed to appear every night around sunset. They began to refer to themselves as “sundowners.” The collection of new songs that would become Sundowner came together effortlessly as he did his best not to resist or refine the songs, but instead let them take shape all on their own. In his makeshift studio, Morby taught himself basic recording techniques. Because it had no heating or cooling elements, he was subjected to the elements – the warm and abstract summer and the icy Kansan winter. He worked largely on a Four Track Tascam model 424. “I wrote the entire album wearing headphones, hunched over the 424, letting my voice and guitar pass through the machine, getting lost in the warmth of the tape as if another version of myself was living on the inside, singing back at me,” says Morby. “I was mesmerized by the magic of the four track not only as a recording device, but also an instrument, and considered it my songwriting partner throughout the whole process.” To record, Morby and producer Brad Cook headed to Texas’ Sonic Ranch in January 2019, with the intent of making the record away from any coastline, and in the heart of America. “My end goal was to capture the cadence of what I had found inside the four track but make it three dimensional, and Brad seemed perfect for the job,” notes Morby. Aside from bass and some keys from Cook, Morby played nearly every instrument on the album – lead guitar, mellotron, and the album’s secret weapon, a slightly out-of-tune pump organ. Later, James Krivchenia joined at the end of the session to fill out the percussion. Following the recording session at Sonic Ranch, Morby toured for Oh My God, and Sundowner sat inside of a hard drive back at Sonic Ranch. It didn’t see the light of day until he found himself, as did the rest of the world, stuck inside their home and in quarantine in March 2020. Brad, Jerry Ordonez (from Sonic Ranch) and Morby worked from their respective homes, sending notes back and forth to mix the album, and suddenly, just like that, Sundowner was finished. Morby further explains the results: “It is a depiction of isolation. Of the past. Of an uncertain future. Of provisions. Of an omen. Of a dead deer. Of an icon. Of a Los Angeles themed hotel in rural Kansas. Of billowing campfires, a mermaid and a highway lined in rabbit fur. It is a depiction of the nervous feeling that comes with the sky’s proud announcement that another day will be soon coming to a close as the pink light recedes and the street lamps and house lights suddenly click on.”

File Under: Indie Rock
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Motorhead: On Parole (Parlophone) LP
Available as a double LP newly-remastered from the original analog tapes, the 2020 package includes six bonus tracks including “Motorhead”, “City Kids”, “Leaving Here” and the title song, a demo version of “Fools”, and the set’s first preview: a previously-unreleased original version of “Iron Horse / Born To Lose.” Motorhead recorded their first album, “On Parole”, in 1976 with the group’s original lineup of Lemmy, guitarist Larry Wallis and drummer Lucas Fox. The band’s record label failed to see any commercial potential in the project and held it back until the group was more established in 1979, instead releasing their self-titled debut in 1977. Many of the songs originally recorded for “On Parole” would become mainstays on record and live by the “classic” Motorhead trio of Lemmy, “Fast” Eddie Clarke and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor and beyond, with the song “Motorhead” making the UK Top Ten in 1981. The 2020 reissue will feature the rare Canadian version of the cover artwork and include new liner notes written by Fox alongside rarely-seen photographs and archive content.

File Under: Rock, Metal
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Mountain Goats: Getting Into Knives
(Merge) LP

On the first of March, 2020, John Darnielle, Peter Hughes, Matt Douglas, and Jon Wurster, aka the Mountain Goats band, visited legendary studio Sam Phillips Recording in Memphis, TN. Darnielle armed his band with new songs and reunited with producer Matt Ross-Spang who engineered 2019’s In League with Dragons. In the same room where The Cramps tracked their 1980 debut album, the Mountain Goats spent a week capturing the magic of a band at the top of its game. The result is Getting Into Knives, the perfect album for the millions of us who have spent many idle hours contemplating whether we ought to be honest with ourselves and just get massively into knives.

File Under: Indie Rock, Folk
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Mr. Bungle: The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo (Ipecac) LP
The first release from Mr. Bungle since 1999, The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Demo is a re-recording of the band’s 1986 high school thrash metal demo along with songs written then, but never recorded. The record also features covers of classics by S.O.D. and Corrosion Of Conformity. This version of Mr. Bungle is original members Mike Patton, Trey Spruance and Trevor Dunn, joined by Scott Ian of Anthrax and Dave Lombardo of Slayer/Dead Cross. Mr. Bungle produced the album, which was recorded by Husky Höskulds at Studio 606 and mixed by Jay Ruston. “Recording this music with these guys was an enormous head-rush of virtuosity and surprises every day in the studio,” Patton said. “Trey’s video game-esque solos, Scott’s bionic right hand and cyborg-like precision, Dave’s caveman-meets-Bobby Brady-like drum fills, Trevor’s solid foundation and laser-focus to detail. There is nothing sweeter than getting your ass kicked by true comrades…where everyone has a singular drive and mission.” “Recording this record felt like we were finally utilizing our Ph.Ds in Thrash Metal,” Dunn added. “All we had to do was go back to our original professors for some additional guidance and talk them into joining us. Turns out we were A+ students. We even went for extra credit by revisiting some tunes that we’d given up on back in the day. It was less like a trip of nostalgia and more like the refining of an original, worthy document. We were haunted for 35 years by the fact that this music wasn’t given it’s due respect. Now we can die.”

File Under: Metal
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Nubo: Nu Vision (Western Vinyl) LP
Nu Vision is Nipponese modernist kosmische that is therapeutic, multicolored, and alluringly strange, like a bioluminescent valley on an exoplanet discovered by a JAXA probe. With chopped-up kabuki howls and moonlit koto plucks placed ecstatically around floral billows of ambience and candy-coated synthesis, it at least approximates a picture-book about traditional Japan cut-up and recombined to become an instruction manual for building the aforementioned spacecraft. The author of such a guidebook, Yuji Namiki aka nubo (stylized lowercase) began as a rapper and beatmaker, using hip-hop as a launchpad to traverse the plethora of genres he would later uncover during a formative stint working at a record shop in Tokyo. The musicological momentum he gained there would eventually lead him to establish his own label, UGFY Records, through which nubo and his peers continue to explore techno, acid-house, synthesis, and other electronic psychedelia. However, a marked shift toward the contemplative tone of Nu Vision arose out of spiritual necessity after Namiki’s parents, concerned for his mental well-being as he slipped (understandably) further into dissatisfaction with the modern world, insisted he admit himself to a psychiatric hospital for three months. The pharmaceutical treatment he received there left him feeling creatively and emotionally detached. In his own words “judging that the world is sick, I was hospitalized, and it took me a year and a half,” before he was able to make music of any kind. When the time finally came for nubo to retrace the musical steps inward to his sense of self, contemplative sounds became the torchlight by which he illuminated the path. “It was time,” he says “to face my mind.” He emerged with a Nu Vision, so to speak, one that folds his view of himself, his home country, and the cosmos at large into a psychospiritual codex of sound that only nubo himself could have fostered into existence. “The illusion for me is now the present world itself,” he explains, “when we can see the world as being full of love, the scenery changes dramatically and we realize that life is infinite.”

File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Japan
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Luke Schneider: Altar of Harmony
(Third Man) LP

The history of new age music from south of the Mason-Dixon line is largely a secret one. But the south is where we find one of the genre’s most important distributors – New Leaf, in Kentucky, some of its most accomplished synthesists – Don Robertson, Geoffrey Newhall, William Linton, amongst others, and acoustic musicians like PC Davidoff and George Tortorelli. It is the home of countless spiritual retreats, intentional communities, and other signifiers of alternative spiritual life. But until now, there have never been any particular regional characteristics that can be assigned to southern new age music. Until now, there has never been any crossover between country and new age. And so – all of the sounds heard on this album were made with a 1967 Emmons Push/Pull pedal steel guitar in Nashville, Tennessee. This recording, which can justifiably be described as “new age” in the most essential sense, represents a radical new approach to the versatile and cosmic instrument of the steel guitar. The closest antecedents may be sculptural sounds of Francesco’s Cosmic Beam, or Constance Demby’s Sonic Steel Space Bass. But unlike these invented instruments, the pedal steel is steeped in tradition. This is something new under the sun, a total reinvention of an iconic instrument. Quite literally, there has never been anything else quite like it. But more than a mere piece of invention – Altar Of Harmony is extraordinarily cinematic, an epic musical devotional to higher realms – booming music of the spheres. Regardless of its origins, the expression unmistakable. This is the sound of Valhalla, of heaven, planetary alignment, of total eclipse. This is the sound of an angelic army roaring into battle. This is the heavy metal thunder of the future we were promised. Music for the end of the world. At very least, music of transformation. Sunset on the old way of life, sunrise on the new. Luke Schneider was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1980. He was named after Paul Newman’s character in the film Cool Hand Luke. He cut his teeth playing with artists like Margo Price and Caitlin Rose. A popular session player, he has, at the age of 40, taken the extraordinary step of transforming himself into a solo artist, the main attraction. Third Man Records put out a new age album. Play this record to find out why.

File Under: Ambient, Drone
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Nina Simone: And Piano!
(Music on Vinyl) LP

Musicians certainly don’t have it easy with record companies. First of all they must struggle to even get a contract. Then, when their debut release has proved a success, they are bandied around from one arranger to another in all the recording studios imaginable. But having been ‘treated’ with such sounds as a snappy combo, meaty big band, and smoochy string orchestra, there at last comes an opportunity for some artists to be themselves again. This album wholly concentrates on Nina Simone and demonstrates that she does not need help from anyone else in order to bring her strikingly expressive voice into the limelight. Accompanying her in her songs about loneliness, identity crises, and desires is her faithful friend, the piano, which she masters equally as well as her voice. The piano parts are far more than just casual accompaniments. Varying from number to number, they range from a classical, bluesy sound, to late-Romantic fervour, right up to avantgarde aggression. And yet all these pieces have something in common: filled with bizarre beauty, they portray a complex personality with all its ups and downs.

File Under: Jazz, Soul
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Various: Lovin’ Mighty Fire – Nippon Funk, Soul, Disco 1973-1983 (BGP) LP
Howard Williams (check his amazing Japan Blues show on NTS radio!) has assembled a compilation of Japanese funk, soul and disco for Ace Records offshoot BGP International. From mavericks like Haruomi Hosono of the Yellow Magic Orchestra, with his low-down proto-disco groove, to soul singer Minako Yoshida belting it out on the epic title track; jazz vocalist Yasuko Agawa (of LA Nights fame) sweetly covers Roberta Flack, while Memphis soul group Ebonee Webb, funk up a Japanese folk tune, and that’s just for starters. This compilation shows that Japan not only voraciously consumed soul and its offshoot genres, but – unknown to the rest of the world – it carved out its own sound too. With original sleeves and label artwork, and voluminous sleeve notes.

File Under: Funk, Soul, Japan
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Grateful Dead: Aoxomoxoa (Warner) LP Haim: Women in Music pt. III (Columbia) LP
George Jackson: The Fame Sessions (Ace) LP
Drew McDowall: Agalma (Dais) LP
Thelonious Monk: Palo Alto (Impulse) LP
Ennio Morricone: Western (Music on Vinyl) LP
My Morning Jacket: The Waterfall II (ATO) LP
Queens of the Stone Age: Songs for the Deaf (Universal) LP
Sturgill Simpson: Metamodern Sounds in Country Music (Thirty Tigers) LP
Elliott Smith: s/t DLX (Kill Rock Stars) LP
A Tribe Called Quest: Midnight Marauders (Jive) LP
Waxahatchee: Saint Cloud (Merge) LP
X: Alphabetland (Fat Possum) LP

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