Welcome to the future! Hope you all had a lovely, quiet, restful holiday season. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming. And with that, quite a monster of a list this week. Some of these things came in before xmas, but after our final update. Some of these have been on the slow train from Germany since Oct. Some of these came in yesterday. Either way, we’re starting the year off with a bang! Zoviet France for days! Sure to sell out fast. These are essential slabs of industrial ambient tribal brilliance. Don’t sleep.
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…..picks of the week…..
Zoviet France: Shouting at the Ground (Vinyl on Demand) LP
The quintessential ZF, if you were to only buy one… “‘Shouting at the Ground’ showed a dramatic improvement in sound quality and production from their earlier albums – all of which, by the way, are excellent in their own right. What we have here are an arsenal of hand made instruments, mostly stringed and percussive in nature, that are squashed through various delay and echo filter machines, creating an otherworldly, timeless and overwhelming creepy atmosphere. Outside this website Zoviet France are classed as Industrial Ambient, where in later years they become more ‘Drone’ and electronic. After the smooth opening, alien sounding ‘Smocking Erde’ there’s some very weirdly plucked chinese sounding strings on ‘Palace Of Ignitions’. This is followed by massive echo used on bizarre twanged oddities that pulsate and mutate over almost 9 minutes and is basically a continuation of ‘Smocking Erde’ only much fuller and denser in direction. ‘Revenue of Fire’ is more ‘traditional’ Zoviet France with that minimal tribal percussion feel that they used to be most well known for. A lot of the instruments sound ethnic in nature and it’s not until they’re forced through various effect units that they lose any sense of definition. The next few short tracks sounds pretty much like scenes from ‘Aguirre Wrath of God’ as Klaus Kinski goes stir crazy on that raft in the Amazon. Funny pipes are blown and all the while loops and indescribable drones rummage and grumble from ear to ear. The music gets stranger by the minute with a repetitive speeded loop of a high pitched voice on ‘Carole the Breedbate’ which is guaranteed to leave you disorientated. (Don’t ask where they got those title names – Your guess is as good as mine). More airy organic flesh pipes of extraterrestrial origin have wind blown through them reminding me of HP Lovecrafts ‘At the Mountains of Madness’ where that creature chases humans through a labyrinth of ice tunnels. Here we finally reach the two centre pieces of this 1987 recording which was their 4th album of this, their most prolific year. ‘Shamany Enfluence’ clocks in at a whopping 21 minutes. Here things sound much more laid back where space between notes is used beautifully throughout. Extreme delay is used on what sounds like someone blowing through a car exhaust pipe with pursed lips while ‘almost’ keyboard sounding walls of tone are stretched and manipulated in the background. Vaguely sounding like what’s gone before, but pulled together in the most artistic of manner. Twelve minutes in and I’m naming this one of the best things I’ve ever heard. This may sound like one of my usual review exaggerations – only this time it’s true. ‘The Death Of Trees’ continues in a far more creepy manner with slowed down vocals that sound animalistic and quietly torturous. Throbbing slabs of long slow fat bass noise are so flattened and dead that you’d be hard pressed to discern where they originate. There’s nothing musically catchy to grip onto, yet hearing this for the millionth time I still find this meaning more to me than anything else I’ve heard on the ‘Archives’. That’s why you’re getting this massively long review rather than the usual stabs of criticism and praise. This is my ‘Desert Island Disk’. The the one album I never want to lose. You can keep your ‘Floyd’, your ‘Magma’ and ‘Tangerine Dream’ – who were the reasons I first encountered the ‘Prog Archives’. Zoviet France are totally alien to the former and will always have a place in my heart. A thing of beauty that many will not find beautiful in any shape or form.” (Progarchives)
File Under: Ambient, Industrial, Experimental
Zoviet France: 17LP BUNDLE
Please note this is not the box set, this is a bundle of the 10 standalone releases on Vinyl on Demand.
Masterminds of the outer reaches of musique concrète and post industrial experimental music, Zoviet France formed in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1980. Since then they have had a prolific and highly influential output including a number of line-up changes. At long last, we have 5 of their most coveted releases back in print via Vinyl On Demand, as well as 2 live recordings from the early 90’s, a collection of material from various compilations over the years and 2 LP’s recorded in 88’ and 90’ of previously unreleased material. Also note… we are still waiting for a few LPs to show up, so this is sort of a pre-order type deal.. but they could arrive anyday.
File Under: Ambient, Industrial, Experimental
A Loss for Words: Motown Classics (Pure Noise) LP
Limited coloured vinyl edition! Massachusetts based pop-punks A Loss For Words have announced that they’ve released a re-issue of their ‘Motown Classics’ covers album, which has been remixed and remastered. Originally released in 2010, the ‘Motown Classics’ re-issue is out now via Pure Noise Records and is also available for the first time on vinyl. Vocalist Matty Arsenault had this to say about it. “It seems crazy to me that ten years ago we had the idea to re-work some of our favourite Motown classics and record them in our homie Chris Curran’s basement. They went over so well that it actually was a big staple for our band and growing our fan base on the road. It was an honour to sing these incredible songs with our own little twist! I hope you guys dig it and can travel back ten years ago with us! Much love always and forever. Big thanks to Pure Noise as well for believing in us since day one. It’s an honour to re-release another milestone with you guys.”
File Under: Pop Punk
Absolute Body Control: Tapes 1981-89 (Vinyl on Demand) 5LP Box
5LPs in heavy-duty box. Containing all 5 tape releases on Body Records from 1981-1989 incl. Untitled (Body001, 1981), Numbers (Body002,1982), Figures (Body003,1983), Live (Body004,1984), and Tracks (Body006,1989). “Influenced by bands from the German and UK electronic scene, Dirk Ivens (synths & voice) formed ABSOLUTE BODY CONTROL early 1980, and was joined by Mark de Jonghe (synths) and Veerle de Schepper (backing vocals). After releasing a track on the “Blitzpop 1″ compilation and the release of their first 7” single “Is there an exit?” (1981), wich became a local underground hit, Mark leaves the band. Eric van Wonterghem, who was in fact a spectator at the first ABC concert, filled in the gap and became Dirk’s new musical partner for years to come. Before they decided to go on as a duo, ABC already appeared on several compilation albums and tapes worldwide. Soon ABC became one of the first Belgian electronic acts who proved to be successful also on stage. In 1984 Dirk became a member of “The Klinik”, followed by Eric who left after the 2nd album to form Insekt. In 1989 they released their last tape “Tracks” wich contained all ABC compilation contributions so far, but the band was put on non active well before.”
File Under: Electronic, Synth Pop, Minimal Wave
Adult Fantasies: Tower of Silence (Stroom) LP
““Als das Kind Kind war, wusste es nicht dass es Kind war” the opening words of “Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire)” by Wim Wenders are so incredibly simple and innocent that they strike you down like the most murderous thunderbolt: “When the child was a child, it didn’t realize it was a child”. Are these words the fantasies of an adult or are these words the adult cogitations of a child’s brain?
File Under: Electronic, Pop
Anthroprohphh: German Oak (Feeding Tube) LP
All you need to know is Anthroprophh release records on Rocket Recordings and every so often they release one and with German Oak, you are getting a release that is both unique and very special. Side one is a 17-minute freak out/meltdown/brain buzz of a mother fucker — Imagine a star collapsing in upon itself and you’d have the sound of “German Oak”. Side two is four tracks all melded together — two tracks of hypnotic minimal electronic bliss melded into a Tacoma-like finger picking hoedown before the final two track brings in the spirit of Skip/Syd/Roky for a hauntingly mesmeric end.
File Under: Psych
Autechre: Plus (Warp) LP
Autechre’s (featuring Sean Booth and Rob Brown) new nine track Warp release Plus is issued hot on the heels of Sign which served as the duo’s first “traditional”-format album since 2013’s Exai. This is the second of two new albums that Autechre teased in their lockdown livestream sessions on Mixlr, in addition to their latest batch of live recordings.
File Under: Electronic
Suzanne Ciani: A Sonic Womb (Lapsus) LP
Suzanne Ciani is a true electronic music pioneer. The five Grammy nominated Italian-American neoclassical composer is unquestionably one of the greatest minds that contemporary music has ever witnessed. After an incredible career spanning forty years, Ciani’s accomplishments have become a benchmark when discussing the origins of musical synthesis. For more than four decades she developed a body of work that transcends the music industry, composing for film, video games, and famous advertising campaigns that have impacted popular culture. On December 14, 2019, after six years of sound experimentation, Lapsus Festival bid farewell to Barcelona’s Centre for Contemporary Culture. Its final event was entitled “A Sonic Womb” and was dedicated to the musical roots of the synthesizer, with Suzanne Ciani headlining on the night. Ciani performed an exclusive show accompanied by her modular Buchla 200e synthesizer and enveloped in a specially designed multi-channel sound environment by Intorno Labs. It was a sonic voyage to the very heart of her beloved machine and a tribute to improvisation through an instrument that is said to possess its own soul. Suzanne described the night as “an improvisation that I began using in the ’70s and continue to use now as raw material. Each performance based on this material has its own expression and one could liken it to jazz.” Lapsus Records present A Sonic Womb: Live Buchla Performance at Lapsus, a unique live recording of this extra special concert.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient
Pascal Comelade: Le Cut-Up Populaire (Because) LP
Gatefold sleeve; edition of 600 (numbered). Pascal Comelade has been working for three years to achieve his brand-new album. Not only it features all of his musical obsessions and trademarks, some long-time partners and friends such as Richard Pinhas and members of his former backing band Bel Canto Orquestra but for the very time in 45 years, ladies and gentlemen there is “quite a long piano solo” and a string quartet in the album.
File Under: Electronic, Experimental
Mike Cooper: Playing With Water (Room 40) LP
From Mike Cooper: “Playing With Water is a novel written by James Hamilton-Paterson. I was introduced to his writing by the Australian poet Peter Bakowski who gave me a copy of his book Seven Tenths – The Sea And Its Thresholds; a book that influenced my record Globe Notes and subsequent works immensely. Another of his books Playing With Water: Passion And Solitude On A Philippine Island is about exactly what the title describes it as and provided me with the title. The first edition on my Hipshot c.d.r label in 1999 was titled Kiribati and was dedicated to the people of that Pacific Island nation as I shared their concern, then as now, with the fact of rising sea levels due to global warming which threatens to destroy or make uninhabitable their low lying island homes. That album was the start of a long musical and artistic journey for me . . . Cities such as Venice, Bangkok, Jakarta, London, Manhattan or any coastal, or near a major river, city will be subject to serious flooding and subsidence and may well become uninhabitable in the same way in the very near future. Bangkok was previously known as ‘The Venice Of South East Asia’ and its now roads were once canals . . . Jakarta is currently sinking at such an alarming rate that the Indonesian Government is building a new capital city in Kalimantan (Borneo) Several of my albums subsequent to Kiribati — Globe Notes, Rayon Hula, Reluctant Swimmer/Virtual Surfer, Fratello Mare, Raft, Oceanic Feeling-Like (with Chris Abrahams) and now Playing With Water are all conceptually concerned with this same subject. Another conceptual thread connecting them is my concern for the co-habitation of the human and non-human world expressed through my use of unprocessed avian or insect field recordings of song, signs and signals. Climate change, as well as the destruction by humans of the natural habitat of many species, is disturbing the balanced relationship we need to have with nature. Indigenous and small, often nomadic, coastal communities are very aware of this balance and the incursion of the industrial world into their way of life is having disastrous effects which will (if not already) have similar effects and repercussions on ours. There are field recordings on this edition from Pulau Ubin, Ko Phayan, Ko Lanta, Sri Lanka, Bangkok, St.Lucia and Martinique; all places that can look forward to or are already witnessing the Postdiluvian Future . . . My guitar playing here, as always, draws on a number of styles and genres influenced by Hawaiian Slack-key and lap steel guitar.”
File Under: Exotica, Guitar
Guilherme Coutinho E O Grupo Stalo: s/t (Mad About) LP
Mad About Records present the first worldwide reissue of Guilherme Coutinho E O Grupo Stalo’s self-titled album, originally released in 1978. Guilherme Coutinho started playing at the age of five and, at the age of seventeen, he was already part of Os Mocorongos and Os Iguanos, both as an amateur. But he soon became a group leader, playing in several nightclubs in Belém (Pará), until he settled in the Paraense Assembly, where he lived for more than 15 years. He was a musician who played for high society, he was a businessman who had the best instruments, besides always making his own arrangement for the songs. His favorite formation was piano, bass, and drums, as well as a singer. But, for some time, he even used a recorder as playback to give greater sound texture. The first performance was at Pinheirense in Icoaraci. The 1970s were at the height of the clubs in Belém, such as the Tuna, Yacht Club, and the Paraense Assembly. At the carnival, there was Guilherme at the head of his group, with rhythmists and a brass section, playing not only the greatest hits but supporting local composers. He was the musical director of Leila Pinheiro’s first professional show, at Teatro da Paz. In his career, he released three albums: Guilherme Coutinho and Curtição, Busca-se, and Guilherme Coutinho and Grupo Stalo. Guilherme’s last two shows took place on Friday, August 19, 1983, at the Theatro da Paz, through the Pixinguinha Project, and at the old Gemini Blues nightclub. On the morning of Saturday, August 20, Guilherme Coutinho died of a heart attack. Guilherme Coutinho E O Grupo Stalo was released on the Erla, an obscure Brazilian label, which curiously pressed only 7″ singles, but this Guilherme Coutinho album is an exception. An LP that became one of the most sought after in Brazilian music. It was generating a cult for sound innovation, a kind of lo-fi tropicalism. One of the most sought-after records in Brazil and one of country’s best-kept secrets. Deluxe limited edition with obi; numbered.
File Under: Brazil
Cleveland Eaton: Plenty Good Eaton (Real Gone) LP
The jazz world lost a true legend when bassist Cleveland Eaton passed away in the Summer of 2020. This 1975 album, one of the real gems in the hallowed Black Jazz label catalog, takes the full measure of the man. Cleve recorded Plenty Good Eaton right after he left Ramsey Lewis’ band, with whom he recorded a grand total of 17 (!) different albums for such labels as Argo, Cadet and Columbia, including the hit records Wade in the Water, Another Voyage, and Sun Goddess. Then, starting in 1980, Eaton spent a dozen years with Count Basie’s band, and if you can imagine some blend of Lewis’ soul-funk with Basie’s hard-driving swing, you might just begin to grasp what’s on the menu of Plenty Good Eaton (the album graphics actually present the credits and songs as if they were menu entrees). This truly is fusion cuisine, and it’s (sorry) cookin’, too, ranging from the Blaxploitation soundtrack stylings of “Keena,” “All Your Lover All Day All Night,” and “Hamburg 302,” all of which incorporate disco-style strings into funky soul-jazz vamps, to the almost trad-jazz of “Kaiser 405,” to the Philly soul of “Are You Out There Somewhere Caring,” to the out-and-out party anthem “Moe Let’s Have a Party.” The cooks in the kitchen are first-rate, too, including such Chess-label stalwarts as keyboardist Odell Brown and percussionist Morris Jennings and fellow Black Jazz label artists Steve Galloway and Arie Brown of The Awakening. This long-awaited and timely reissue of Plenty Good Eaton features a fresh remastering by Mike Milchner of SonicVision, plus notes by Pat Thomas that include remembrances from Cleve’s widow Myra and long-time friend Lee Shook. A musical meal not to miss!
File Under: Jazz
Philip Glass: Naqoyqatsi (Music on Vinyl) LP
Naqoyqatsi is the third and final film in the Qatsi trilogy, meaning “life as war”. About eighty percent of Naqoyqatsi uses archive footage and stock images manipulated and processed digitally on non-linear editing (workstations and intercut with specially-produced computer-generated imagery to demonstrate society’s transition from a natural environment to a technology-based one. Just like its predecessors Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi the music was composed by Philip Glass. Performed by members of the Philip Glass Ensemble, and featuring the amazing Yo-Yo Ma on cello, this completes the lengthy score which was begun for this film series with “Koyaanisqatsi” in 1982. The music is more in the traditional orchestral tradition than much of Glass’s work as a familiar doorway to images so disconnected from the familiar world. One instrument, the cello, plays through much of the piece. Some unconventional instruments are used in addition to traditional ones, including a didgeridoo and an electronically-created jaw harp. This wonderful release includes an 8-page booklet and insert with info on the Philip Glass series on MOV, coming in 2020 / 2021.
File Under: Classical, OST
Judith Hamann: Peaks (Black Truffle) LP
Black Truffle present Peaks by Australian cellist Judith Hamann, her debut release of electro-acoustic music. Known mostly for her live performance work with composers including Sarah Hennies, Yvette Janine Jackson, Alvin Lucier, Tashi Wada, and La Monte Young, here she steps away from the cello, moving into an intimate dreamscape woven from recordings gathered over years of itinerant touring. Peaks is a work in two distinct parts, crossfading between different landscapes and apertures; from rooftop to church, from stasis to flares of momentary romanticism. Peaks considers summits as being both above and below, reframing the idea of apex from a more intimate perspective. Hamann considers how our domestic and personal geographies might form their own apogees, meridians, or nadirs. Assembled in 2019 while an artist in residence in Krems, Austria, Peaks begins with Hamann’s more familiar cello but soon unravels into resonant electronic interiors; Southern California nightscapes heard through windows, San Francisco bathroom fans, snatches of recordings of friends, hand organs, and engines. “signal/Centinela” draws primarily on recordings from Hamann’s time living in San Diego, and carries with it a certain sense of nostalgia in the sense of homesickness, longing, and displacement of distance and time. Side B is composed from recordings gathered on a different continent, Europe, weaving piano with recordings of sleep, breath, church organ, and the act of climbing. “under/over” emerges as it recedes, overlapping moments of arrival to create another kind of “spire” in the sense of spir (breath). Peaks, with its omission of any recordings from Hamann’s home of Australia, hints at how the very construction of home itself, might be restless, untethered, changeable, and malleable. On Peaks, Hamann interrogates tropes of ambient concrète musics, intentionally pivoting formally around material which teeters on the edge of cliché. This exploration asks whether familiar frames of harmony, field recordings and narrative trajectories can excavate new territories, or be ruptured. Peaks untangles a very personal sense of tension between beauty and shame in experimental music: treating lushness and harmony as possessing potentially muscular musical properties that might wrestle with or construct senses of belonging and home. Design by Lasse Marhaug. Photos by Judith Hamann. Mixed and mastered by Alan F Jones.
File Under: Experimental
Hold Steady: Heaven is Whenever (Vagrant) LP|
10th Anniversary Deluxe Vinyl 2LP Reissue featuring Original Album Remastered Plus Nine Bonus Tracks and Liner Notes by Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers! “I’ve always had a hard time thinking about Heaven is Whenever, as it wasn’t a ton of fun to make. But 10 years later, going over these songs for this reissue, I’ve taken on a great new appreciation for this collection. With some distance, I see that we were trying to get somewhere else, and that this was a necessary transition record. The songs are weary, but with a dark humor. Upon review I think this might be the funniest Hold Steady LP, although it’s sometimes hard to tell because it doesn’t convey the same ecstatic joy as some of the earlier records. “The band had just lost Franz and we’d come off several years of non-stop touring. We were tired, and perhaps feeling a pressure that was mainly internal. We’d become a bit more self aware than in our early days. I, for one, was stuck on the idea of a 5th album – many of my favorite bands didn’t make it to their 5th LP, and it’s hard to keep a band evolving for that long. Rock problems, right? The process of making it was a challenge. It was recorded in fits and starts. At one point we even left Dreamland Studios early due to a medical issue. The label folks flew in and visited to see what the hell was going on. Meanwhile, we were chasing something that was mostly undefined, and we kept recording more and more music. “So here in 2020, I have become very proud of Heaven is Whenever. It’s the sound of a band pushing through difficult times by making music about that very struggle. It acknowledges suffering as part of human life. And with all the extra songs that we recorded beyond the album tracks, it’s a testament to the band’s willingness to show up and try to work through uncertainty. This shouldn’t hurt, but you might feel a slight discomfort. I’ll leave it at that, as our amazing friend Patterson Hood has a lot more to say about this record in the LP liner notes. Happy 10 years to Heaven is Whenever.” – Craig Finn “Heaven is Whenever saw one of the most loved bands of this, then still-new century take a perceived stumble and face a small comeuppance. It happens. Many bands don’t survive it, much less come out the other side intact and possibly better than ever…A lesser band might have imploded. Lesser artists might have tried to continue on repeating a successful template that denied the real consequences of the machine they built. Instead they dug deep and pushed onward into a darker night of the soul.” – Patterson Hood
File Under: Indie Rock
Hypnotic Brass Band: Bad Boys (Pheelco) LP
“2020 sees Hypnotic Brass Ensemble celebrating twenty years together not only as a band, but a Band of Brothers and they are marking this anniversary with the launch of their sixth studio album Bad Boys of Jazz, which sees them seamlessly weave funk, dub, hip-hop and soul into their own irrepressible take on jazz. They draw deep from the well of tradition while taking the pulse of the most cutting-edge and street-savvy sounds. The Bad Boys of Jazz album release marks a turning point in Hypnotic Brass Ensemble’s development. Trading their signature all brass sound, and adding an electric guitar and bass to their aptly vibrant horn lines, they’ve written 14 new tracks of sonic sorbet for this fresh album. The energy and feel move seamlessly through genres — from Delta’s rock-infused distorted guitar to the house music rendition of In The House; from My Ship’s rhythm & blues inflection or the very soca feel of Soul on Ice to Indigo’s solid groove. There’s room left for the sing-along tunes Coffee and Friends and this body of work flows comfortably into the very funky Menage. The band has been at the forefront of the global jazz revival of the last decade, bringing the music back to its dance floor origins and along the way, legions of new fans hip to the fact that jazz runs through the DNA of nearly every strand of Afro American music. Jazz has always been an evolving and innovative force in music, renewing itself by borrowing from whatever styles and fresh sounds come its way. The Hypnotics are past masters at this process of assimilation and innovation, blowing fresh sounds on the embers of tradition, keeping the flame lit. They call their brand of music now music. Presented here is the fully Instrumental version of each track.
File Under: Funk, Jazz
Incantation: Sect of Vile Divinities (Relapse) LP
Death metal pioneers Incantation return with their highly anticipated new album, Sect of Vile Divinities. For over 30 years Incantation has consistently remained one of the underground’s most influential and respected artists in the genre. True to form, Sect of Vile Divinities sees the legendary band adhering to the ways of the old school, unleashing twisted, mangled, and utterly disgusting death metal once again. A pitch-black mix of unrelenting death metal and imposing funeral doom, each track on Sect of Vile Divinities is a dirge dedicated to different ancient evils across various cultures. At a point where the world’s most vile converge, tracks such as “Propriation” see the band’s driving riffs and pummeling drums crush the very foundations of religious zealotry, while standouts such as “Entrails of the Hag Queen” and “Fury’s Manifesto” champion no-frills death metal in its purest form. Three decades of death metal still the funeral procession carries on. With Sect of Vile Divinities, Incantation hail a return to form for the genre, and release one of 2020’s most blasphemous and unforgiving titles.
File Under: Metal
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: KG (ATO) LP
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard return with new album K.G., their sixteenth since forming in 2010. In the wake of a global pandemic, it’s a collection of songs composed and recorded remotely after the six members of the band retreated to their own homes scattered around Melbourne. K.G. is a pure distillation of the King Gizzard sound, one that cherry picks the best aspects of previous albums and contorts them into new shapes via defiantly non-western rock scales. K.G. is the second volume in the band’s “microtonal” series that began with 2017’s Flying Microtonal Banana and contains the preceding tracks “Honey,” “Straws in the Wind,” “Some of Us” and “Automation.” “FMB was one of the purest and most enjoyable recording experiences we’ve had, and the ideas just kept coming,” explains de facto bandleader/multi-instrumentalist Stu Mackenzie. “It’s almost like an album that normal people make.” LP jacket in brown paper bag wrap.
File Under: Psych
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Sketches of East Brunswick (ATO) LP
Coloured vinyl version! Sketches of Brunswick East, a 2017 collaboration with LA tripster troupe Mild High Club, is a chance to get to know King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard’s sunny, playful side. Where previous albums have slipped down sonic worm-holes to explore distant galaxies, this is an examination of (and homage to) the Melbourne suburb in which King Gizzard write and record. A nod to Miles Davis’s Sketches of Spain, the band further explores a Tropicalia element only ever previously hinted at. The group’s various sketches about time and place were reworked and pieced together, akin to “sampling-culture, in which old ideas are reshaped and suddenly things make sense,” explains lead singer Stu Mackenzie. “It was like we were continually jamming with ourselves.”
File Under: Psych
Lagoss: Imaginary Island Music Vol 1 (Discrepant) LP
Introducing a new project by Discrepant label boss Gonçalo F. Cardoso (Gonzo, Visions Congo, Papillon, Prophetas) and Tenerife electronic stalwarts Tupperwear (Mladen Kurajica and Dani Tupper). Diving deep into various phantom island mythologies (the elusive St. Brendan’s island being a recurring motif) Lagoss borrow from the exotica playbook of ideas and twist it inside out into a bubbling melting pot of sounds, shapes, and patterns that eventually confuse, wonder, and (occasionally) scare the inattentive listener. Built like a schizophrenic booklet of moods, with 30+ vignettes describing the various habitats and moods of the local (imaginary) archipelago, Imaginary Island Music Vol. 1 offers grand visions of brave new old worlds, independent from the obvious, atypical lines of thought. There’s no such thing as a break from mother nature here, fauna and flora take it all, a constant buzz of local predators, big and small, preying on everyone and anyone, constantly — humans are just temporary guests here. A nautical almanac of remote notions from a forsaken land, built and rebuilt upon layer and layer of green and blue death — forget Martin Denny, no armchair xylophone grooves here. All music by Lagoss. Artwork by Evan Crankshaw. Mastered by Rashad Becker. One-off vinyl edition of 500; printed inner sleeve.
File Under: World, Electronic, Exotica
Mein Glas Gabrik: Exotic Percussion/Death TV – Recordings 1979-81 (Vinyl on Demand) LP
In the heart of Sheffield’s electronic / industrial music scene of 1979, Peter Bargh and Mark Holmes created the experimental project Mein Glas Fabrik. “This VOD release is a combination of their two cassette albums, recorded on simple equipment using tape loops, home made synths, samples, random radio frequencies and a legendary Shergold guitar. Death TV was favourably reviewed in local fanzine “Tigers on the Moor”, Exotic Percussion followed soon after. While influenced by a wide spectrum of musical genres, Mein Glas Fabrik created a fusion of sounds, not adhering to any specific genre…expect the unexpected!”
File Under: Industrial
Lloyd Miller: Jazz at the University of Utah (Now Again) LP
“Modal and eastern jazz by spiritual jazz maestro Lloyd Miller, originally issued in a run of 500 copies in 1967. This reissue was overseen by Miller and pressed from new stampers made from the original metal parts. The album contains an extensive booklet detailing Miller’s story by Francis Goding and also includes a download Card for WAV files and video of late 60s performances as well as Miller’s autobiography ‘Sufi, Saint & Swinger’ included.”
File Under: Jazz
Nails: Unsilent Death (Southern Lord) LP
Southern California’s Nails was formed in December of 2007 by Todd Jones (Terror) along with the help of Taylor Young (Cremetorium) and John Gianelli. Nails is beyond brutality. Filthy, vicious and raw. Imagine a cross between the good Amrep bands of the ’90s (Helmet, Hammerhead, Today is The Day, Unsane) and Cro-Mags Age of Quarrel riffage played at breakneck speeds. Their epic battle cry, Unsilent Death was recorded during the cold winter of 2009 at Kurt Ballou’s (Converge, Trap Them, Disfear, Black Breath) Godcity Recording Studio. The LP version was self released the following year by the band on Jones’ Streetcleaner label. Southern Lord proudly picks up the torch with a 2020 colored vinyl LP reissue and lets it burn brightly through many more countless battles.
File Under: Metal
Ocean Moon: Crystal Harmonics (Be With) LP
Ocean Moon is a solo project from Jon Tye of Seahawks. A long-time explorer of the sounds of spaciousness, having released the ambient classic LP iO in 1994 as MLO, Crystal Harmonics is a document of Jon’s latest discoveries. Island Visions (BEWITH 077LP), the recent collection of music from Seahawks for KPM, touched on the deeper, more spatial side of music and led to Jon exploring this territory in greater depth, again for KPM, under his Ocean Moon alter ego. This time he brought along some of today’s most visionary musicians: Jon Brooks (The Advisory Circle, Ghostbox) for his intuitive melodic mastery, Seaming To (Graham Massey’s Toolshed) for her extraordinary vocal talents, Steve Moore (Zombi) for his sophisticated and inventive rhythmic sensibility, and Richard Norris (The Grid) for his sensitive and deeply resonant ambience. The initial recordings were made at The Centre Of Sound in Cornwall, with the collaborators various contributions coming from London, Derbyshire and the US. The supremely serene electronic flute and bells of “Crystal Drift” ease you into the journey and you take the next steps with “Rainbow Ripples” as it gently folds space with arpeggiated synth swells and delicate machine beats. Light vocal tones, bells, and breath FX on “And Breathe” keep you going, accompanied by synth drones and billows of electric piano. You travel through the synth-space-surf haze of “Lost Oceans”, with soft bass and warm ambience, to reach the “New Infinity” of revolving melody, spacious pads, and light electronic beats. The celestial tone floats of “White Mirror” close out the first side. Temple bells ring out to running water flowing together with deep resonant vocal tones as the second side opens with “Peace Bells”. “Revolving and Evolving” follows, a tranquil electronic meadow of lush pastoral synth tones where you rest for a while for “Mountain Dreaming”, a light rhythmic dance of zither and birdsong. The undulating “Forest Motion” ripples with synth arpeggios, dreamy Solina strings and percussive modular electronics before allowing the crackling ambience and Cantonese whispers of “Sleep Golden” to wash over you. Finally, you find yourself on “The Long Path”, its warm temple ambience of drones and chants guiding you home. Crystal Harmonics is inspired by four particular albums from KPM’s catalog: There’s The Electronic Light Orchestra by Adrian Wagner (1975) and then Temple Of The Stars, Breath Of Life, and finally Keith Mansfield’s Circles, these last three coming from KPM’s mid-1980s run of modern classical/new age gems. Mastered by Simon Francis, cut by the legendary Pete Norman.
File Under: Library
Pharaoh Overlord: 6 (Rocket) LP
Yellow vinyl version! Pharaoh Overlord returns with their new, sixth record. The band’s current duo of Tomi Leppänen and Jussi Lehtisalo first channeled their love of krautrock-damaged monomania into synth-driven motorik soundscapes on 2019’s 5, yet this new exploration is a step way beyond into a chilly and captivating electronic panorama. Beholden to the melodies and textures of Kraftwerk yet also the cinematic austerity of EBM and the effervescent pulse of classic Italo-pop, it’s further abetted by fierce and corrosive vocals from longtime collaborator and Sumac/Old Man Gloom seer Aaron Turner, which stand atop these futuristic serenades not unlike the fevered delivery of a dystopian hellfire preacher.
File Under: Metal, Motorik, Circle
John Prine: Common Sense (Atlantic) LP
Among the English language’s premier phrase-turners with music relevant to any age, the late great John Prine was part of the Atlantic Records family for four albums – John Prine (1971), Diamonds in the Rough (1972), Sweet Revenge (1973) and Common Sense (1975) – before he jumped over to Asylum for another three records and eventually his own label Oh Boy. Fittingly for a former mailman, Prine delivered songs that are both literate and personal. The skilled and compassionate storyteller enjoyed widespread critical acclaim in the wake of his groundbreaking debut and continued to write and perform songs that became central to our American musical heritage for nearly five decades. That debut featured a brace of songs that would make him a legend – tracks like “Angel from Montgomery,” “Sam Stone,” “Illegal Smile,” “Paradise” and the immortal “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore” heralded a brave and literate songwriting voice. So good were those songs and so striking was that album, that Prine’s second record, Diamonds in the Rough, is sometimes overlooked, though its best songs are equal to his best. Prine’s third album, Sweet Revenge, was much more rooted in rock ‘n’ roll than its predecessors and the master storyteller’s signature cynicism took over for good. However, the most successful of the bunch was Common Sense, which was Prine’s only album between Atlantic and Asylum to make it into the upper half of the Billboard 200, topping out at No. 66. Helmed by Steve Cropper (Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Blues Brothers) it marked Prine’s first Atlantic release sans producer Arif Mardin and includes contributions from Bonnie Raitt, Glenn Frey, Jackson Browne, Steve Goodman and Donald “Duck” Dunn. Stax vet Cropper incorporated a fuller sound courtesy of horns and backup singers with songs like “Come Back to Us Barbara Lewis Hare Krishna Beauregard” and “He Was in Heaven Before He Died” serving as the standouts. Prine noted that he, “didn’t want to keep making the same album over and over…I was really reaching on Common Sense, trying to do some different things musically.”
File Under: Folk
John Prine: Diamonds in the Rough (Atlantic) LP
Among the English language’s premier phrase-turners with music relevant to any age, the late great John Prine was part of the Atlantic Records family for four albums – John Prine (1971), Diamonds in the Rough (1972), Sweet Revenge (1973) and Common Sense (1975) – before he jumped over to Asylum for another three records and eventually his own label Oh Boy. Fittingly for a former mailman, Prine delivered songs that are both literate and personal. The skilled and compassionate storyteller enjoyed widespread critical acclaim in the wake of his groundbreaking eponymous debut and continued to write and perform songs that became central to our American musical heritage for nearly five decades. That debut featured a brace of songs that would make him a legend – tracks like “Angel from Montgomery,” “Sam Stone,” “Illegal Smile,” “Paradise” and the immortal “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore” heralded a brave and literate songwriting voice. So good were those songs and so striking was that album, that Prine’s second record, Diamonds in the Rough, is sometimes overlooked, though its best songs are equal to his best. Take a listen to “Everybody,” a conversation-with-Jesus tale that kicks off the record, with Prine sounding like Bob Dylan’s twin brother in 1966. Or check out the sideways waltz of “Rocky Mountain Time,” with its palpable sense of desolation, not to mention isolation and desperation. “The Great Compromise” is an end-of-the-romance chronicle / Vietnam War allegory on which sadness, confusion and anger vie for the primary response of the jilted narrator, and by song’s end it’s still unclear which will win the day. Prine’s humor shines through on tracks like “Yes I Guess They Oughta Name a Drink After You” (“You’ve left my heart a vacant lot / I’ll fill it with another shot”) and “The Frying Pan,” as well as specific moments on other songs (like “Everybody”‘s meeting with Christ: “I said ‘Jesus you look tired’ / He said “Jesus, so do you”). And there’s a ton of pickin’ throughout, like the mandolin-forward “Take the Star Out of the Window” and the 12-string guitar arpeggios that form the foundation of “Souvenirs.” Diamonds in the Rough is a mostly acoustic affair, to be certain, and the playing is reminiscent of a high-quality bluegrass session employed to the service of some fine non-bluegrass songs.
File Under: Folk
John Prine: s/t (Atlantic) LP
Among the English language’s premier phrase-turners with music relevant to any age, the late great John Prine was part of the Atlantic Records family for four albums – John Prine (1971), Diamonds in the Rough (1972), Sweet Revenge (1973) and Common Sense (1975) – before he jumped over to Asylum for another three records and eventually his own label Oh Boy. Fittingly for a former mailman, Prine delivered songs that are both literate and personal. The skilled and compassionate storyteller enjoyed widespread critical acclaim in the wake of his groundbreaking eponymous debut and continued to write and perform songs that became central to our American musical heritage for nearly five decades. Classics like, “Angel from Montgomery,””Sam Stone,” “Paradise,” “Hello in There” and “Donald And Lydia,” all found on his staggering first offering, speak to the everyday experience of ordinary people with a simple honesty, and an extraordinary ability to get right through to the heart of the listener. “I bought John Prine’s first album on LP when it was released,” said Poet Laureate Ted Kooser. “I played it as soon as I got home and noticed at once that here was a truly original writer, unequaled, and a genuine poet of the American people. He’s taken ordinary people and made monuments of them, treating them with great respect and love.” Roger Waters proclaimed that Prine, “lives on that plane with Neil Young and Lennon” while Bob Dylan ponders songs like “Sam Stone” and “Donald and Lydia” and says, “nobody like Prine could write like that.” Indeed, Prine’s songs are singular and atypical enough to remove themselves from any notion of competition. They stand alone, yet they pal around with the masses. When Prine was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2019, Bonnie Raitt said it best: “John can fit so much meaning and insight into such deceptively simple lines and weave a heart-wrenching moment of hilarity, empathy or hard fought truth into such beautiful stories and characters, then wrap them all up in melodies as comfortable as slipping into your favorite pair of jeans.”
File Under: Folk
Terje Rypdal: Conspiracy (ECM) LP
A new ECM studio album and a program of new music from Terje Rypdal is cause for celebration. On Conspiracy the great Norwegian guitarist seems to reconnect with the wild inspiration that fueled such early masterpieces as Whenever I Seem To Be Far Away, Odyssey and Waves, exploring the sonic potential of the electric guitar with both a rock improviser’s love of raw energy and a composer’s feeling for space and texture. Keyboardist Ståle Storløkken, who contributed to Terje’s Vossabrygg and Crime Scene albums is an ideal co-conspirator, perpetually thickening the plot with his own intuitive feeling for complementary sound-colors. Conspiracy also marks a welcome return for Pål Thowsen, whose subtle, detailed drumming was last heard on ECM with Arild Andersen’s 1970s groups. Rypdal’s best band in years is completed by gifted young bass guitarist Endre Hareide Hallre. Conspiracy was recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio and produced by Manfred Eicher and Terje Rypdal.
File Under: Jazz
Sturgill Simpson: Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 (Thirty Tigers) LP
Since breaking through in 2014 with his Grammy-nominated Metamodern Sounds in Country Music album, Sturgill Simpson has established himself as one of the most daring and most acclaimed artists of our time. His music stretches across genres and styles, from the psychedelic soul of 2016’s A Sailor’s Guide To Earth (Grammy nominated for Album of the Year and winner for Best Country Album) to the fuzzed-out rock attack of Sound & Fury in 2019. Now Simpson returns to the music of his native Kentucky with his first bluegrass project, Cuttin’ Grass – Vol. 1 (The Butcher Shoppe Sessions). The album, which he calls “a mixtape for the fans,” was dreamed up while he was recovering from Coronavirus, and sees him reimagining songs from across his catalogue backed by some of Nashville’s finest acoustic virtuosos. Produced by Sturgill Simpson and Dave Ferguson and featuring Mark Howard, Scott Vestal, Mike Bubb, Tim O’Brien, Miles Miller, Stuart Duncan, and Sierra Hull.
File Under: Country, Folk, Blue Grass
Chris Stapleton: Starting Over (Mercury) LP
Five-time Grammy Award-winning country superstar Chris Stapleton delivers the highly anticipated new studio album, Starting Over. Of its 14 songs, he co-wrote 11, with a combination of longtime friends and new collaborators. Three hand-picked covers augment the new material, John Fogerty’s “Joy Of My Life” and two by Guy Clark, “Worry B Gone” and “Old Friends.” Starting Over opens with the acoustic-based title track single which finds the talented troubadour and his whiskey-soaked soul vocals imparting, “It don’t matter to me / Wherever you are is where I wanna be / And honey for once in our lives / Let’s take our chances and roll the dice / I can be your lucky penny / You can be my four-leaf clover / Starting over.” The set was recorded in Stapleton’s “second home,” the historic RCA Studio A in Nashville. Further work was added at Muscle Shoals Sound and Compass Sound Studio). The producer once again is Dave Cobb, who also plays acoustic guitar on an album featuring Chris’ wife Morgane Stapleton on vocals and tambourine. Longtime bandmates J.T. Cure (bass) and Derek Mixon (drums) are also present. Guests joining that core band include Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench of the Heartbreakers on electric guitar and Hammond B3 organ respectively, as well as equally revered pedal steel player Paul Franklin. The Nashville Urban Choir feature on “Watch You Burn,” written by Stapleton and Campbell. Starting Over follows Stapleton’s pair of 2017 albums, the platinum-selling From A Room: Volume 1 and the gold-certified From A Room: Volume 2. These came in the wake of the incredible success of his quadruple platinum solo debut album of 2015, Traveller. Both 2017 sets were recorded at RCA Studio A by Cobb, who also co-produced Traveller with Stapleton. 180g vinyl 2LP-set.
File Under: Country
Arturo Stalteri: From Ajanta to Lhasa (Soave) LP
From Ajanta to Lhasa is an intense and unique work with mystical and exotic references that sees the light for the first time in 40 years, and find its place among the must-haves artifacts of the Italian experimental/minimalist scene. In 1979, upon returning from a two-month trip to India, Arturo Stàlteri, a pianist of undisputed value and founder member of Italian prog duo Pierrot Lunaire, withdraws in his studio to set this strong experience to music. References to the overseas minimalism by Terry Riley, Philip Glass, and La Monte Young are obvious, as well as clear hints to Popol Vuh. The suite from which the album takes its title is inspired by the days Stàlteri spent in Ajanta exploring the cave paintings which made a great impression on him. The days he spent in Goa can be found in “Floating Moon”, specifically an evening when a giant moon shrouded in fog, looking like a huge ball floating on the ocean, magically appeared. From Ajanta to Lhasa is the result of a search for an inner dimension free from the conditioning of Western civilization.
File Under: New Age, Minimalism, Ambient
McCoy Tyner: Tender Moments (Tone Poet) (Blue Note) LP
On his second Blue Note album Tender Moments, pianist and composer McCoy Tyner explored the colors and textures available in a nonet setting with some of the finest musicians of the time: Lee Morgan on trumpet, Julian Priester on trombone, Bennie Maupin on tenor saxophone, James Spaulding on alto saxophone and flute, Bob Northern on French horn, Howard Johnson on tuba, Herbie Lewis on bass, and Joe Chambers on drums. “The main task at the outset was to pick out the right horns, instrumentation that would combine to produce the particular sounds I had in mind,” Tyner explained. “I believe the personnel I selected gave me plenty to work with, and a good range all the way from the flute down to tuba. Each note becomes very important in a group of this kind, but I think I showed you can get a big, full sound with six horns.” Highlights of the session include dedications to John Coltrane (“Mode to John”) and Thelonious Monk (“The High Priest”) as well as the stunning ballad “All My Yesterdays.” Blue Note Records has announced the continuation of the acclaimed Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series in 2020. Launched in 2019 in honor of the label’s 80th Anniversary, the Tone Poet series is produced by Joe Harley (from Music Matters) and features all-analog, 180g audiophile vinyl reissues that are mastered from the original master tapes by Kevin Gray of Cohearent Audio. Tone Poet vinyl is manufactured at RTI in Camarillo, CA, and packaged in deluxe Stoughton Printing “Old Style” gatefold Tip-On jackets. The titles were once again handpicked by Harley and cover the crème de la crème of the Blue Note catalog along with underrated classics, modern era standouts, and albums from other labels under the Blue Note umbrella including Pacific Jazz and United Artists Records. Every aspect of these Blue Note/Tone Poet releases is done to the highest-possible standard. It means that you will never find a superior version. “The LPs are mastered directly from the original analog master tapes by Kevin at his incredible facility called Cohearent Mastering. We go about it in the exact same way that we did for so many years for the Music Matters Blue Note reissues. We do not roll off the low end, boost the top or do any limiting of any kind. We allow the full glory of the original Blue Note masters to come though unimpeded! Short of having an actual time machine, this is as close as you can get to going back and being a fly on the wall for an original Blue Note recording session.” – Joe Harley
File Under: Jazz
Toy Division: Cute (Vinyl on Demand) LP
Melbourne based TOY DIVISION (Dick Sallows with help from friends Phillip McKellar (Informatics) and Martin Fripp (sound engineer)) with their fantastic electronic album “CUTE” from 1983. The CUTE Lp includes a Bonus 7 inch sampler with 4 more tracks previously released on other Temporary Art Tapes between 1981 and 1983.” “TOY DIVISION’s music style ranges from ‘Nulabor’ an Aussie ‘Autoban’ , to an ambient ‘Autumn Trees’, to post punk political commentary on ‘Beurit’ and ‘John Wayne once told me’ which are still relevant today…”
File Under: Post Punk
Zoviet France: Collusion (Vinyl on Demand) LP
First vinyl pressing of ZF’s 1992 compilation of tracks for Mute’s Grey Area, spanning obscure cuts 1984-1991 ranging from signature, weathered ambient to grinding rhythmic noise and mindbending enigmas that affirm faith in music of the most mysterious sort. Original liner notes: “For many years we avoided participation in compilation projects, although opportunities were frequently presented to us. We have developed our music in such a way that it is most appropriately experienced in isolation. Therefore, allowing it to be presented in a form where it could be preceded and succeeded by other recordings, over which we would have no control, was alien to our intention. It also seemed (and in many cases still does) that compilation projects serve little purpose other than to fulfil the collector or editorial aspirations of the originator. In such circumstances the listener becomes little more than the end-user. In 1984, following an approach from Jon Wozencroft of Touch seeking a contribution to Lands End, we revised our policy: we inverted the criticisms outlined above and sought to exaggerate them so that they became a positive technique in their own right. We encouraged the active and overt participation of the compiler so that the project would become more than the sum of its parts. In practice this required us to produce music akin to the incidental music produced for film and television soundtracks, music that could be cut up, manipulated and re-worked into new contexts, yet still retain its inherent characteristics. Now, with the general availability of sampling technology, the appropriation and translocation of music in this way is widespread, elevating the end user to a position of experiential collusion. More recently, we have adopted a more closely defined stance, working only with those projects behind which we can perceive a unifying concept, either of form or purpose. Most of the recordings on this CD were created in this context and therefore represent a degree of creative input on the part of the labels concerned – Prometheans all!”
File Under: Ambient, Industrial, Experimental
Zoviet France: Further Collusion (Vinyl on Demand) LP
First vinyl edition of a new 1hr40min compilation of ZF’s hard-to-find compilation cuts, pursuing the model of 1992’s ‘Collusion’ with work spanning nearly a decade, arriving as part of Vinyl-On-Demand’s comprehensive reissue programme. ‘Further Collusion’ looks down lesser heard ginnels and hidden ravines of Zoviet France’s singular, textured ambient noise with a range of obscure cuts sequenced into an inimitable trip. Inspired by their native North East English regional landscape of rural wilds and post-industrial waste, they using a patented, encrypted palette of loops and FX to conjure sounds and sensations that describe the natural world and may well induce deeply uncanny, hypnagogic states of mind with certain listeners.
File Under: Ambient, Experimental, Industrial
Zoviet France: Just an Illusion (Vinyl on Demand) LP
First vinyl edition of Zoviet France’s 1990 album of folk from adjacent dimensions, arriving in V-O-D’s 2nd batch of comprehensive reissues spanning the Northumberland band’s first decade, ‘Châsse 2’. ‘Just an Illusion’ is a potently hypnagogic example of ZF’s hallucinatory lo-fi dub tekkers in effect. As we can tell, the band’s foundational line-up of Ben Ponton and Robin Storey are manning the controls, typically syncretising surreally natural elisions of far-flung styles into a singular sonic vernacular that transcends time and place. We’re instantly snagged on the mid-eastern blues lilt and hard-to-place vocals of ‘Lief Lulla’, and transported perpendicular across eons to glorious cosmic noise, grinding berimbau-type rhythms and genuinely heart-in-mouth moments of ambient beauty that are worth the price of admission for the opportunity to discover them alone, nestled in between the moonlit moorland scapes and wide rolling river masses of their sound. If you love getting stranded at the bleakest/lushest points of their early work, or indeed AFX’s SAW II, which came out a few years later, this one will take you there, and beyond.
File Under: Ambient, Experimental, Industrial
Zoviet France: Look into Me (Vinyl on Demand) LP
First vinyl reissue of ZF’s elusive ambient noises, originally transmitted in 1990 on their Charrm label and including parts used for a Stan Brakhage soundtrack, now resurfacing as part of V-O-D’s ongoing archaeological survey of the Northumbrians’ seminal early years. Far as we can make out, ‘Look Into Me’ marks one of the last Zoviet France appearances of Mark Spybey, who was a band member 1987-1989. Alongside founding members Ben Ponton and Robin Storey they conjure a rawer, coarsely hypnagogic sequence of events and textures that recalls a folk drone symphony played by wraiths on high moorlands and in the pits of derelict collierys. A section of the 24’ opening side’s wizened strings loops and windswept ambient noise in ‘Cair Camouflet’ was used as part of the soundtrack to the film ‘Loud Visual Noises’ (1987) by Stan Brakhage, and the rest of the record follows in a fittingly enigmatic allegory of synaesthetic sound abstraction and experimental de/composition, to deeply psychedelic tracts of drone noise reminiscent of Two Daughters, mottled voices reminding of Delia Derbyshire’s Dreams records, and clangorous, feral ambient noise that could really only come from these epochal shaman and masters of their craft.
File Under: Ambient, Industrial, Experimental
Zoviet France: Russian Heterodoxical Songs (Vinyl on Demand) LP
Unmissable, unreleased ZF blinder, seemingly riffing on Russian orthodox church chants and/or prison songs with their inimitable, Northumbrian, ambient noise accent – must check for fans of The Caretaker/The Stranger, Stephan Mathieu, Coil, Two Daughters. On ‘Russian Heterodoxical Songs’ we can hear Zoviet France echoing a sense of solidarity and mutual spirits between their native Northumberland’s landscape of post-industrial and rural wilds, and those of ancient and soviet Russian backwaters. It’s all speculation on our behalf, but the strings seem to resemble wheezing miners songs and Northumbrian folk standards as much as Russian Orthodox folk chant and the kind of aching prison songs referenced by Coil, but naturally eroded, strung-out and smudged with Zoviet France’s patented magick, and even a Tarkovskyan sense of metaphysics. We can hardly imagine a better soundtrack to a world back-pedalling into feudalism and losing sight of spirituality in the new/old world dense flux.
File Under: Ambient, Industrail, Experimental
Zoviet France: Shadow, Thief of the Sun (Vinyl on Demand) LP
First vinyl edition of Zoviet France’s sought-after 1991 album of ambient-industrial nuance, originally issued via Canada’s Death Of Vinyl Entertainment, now as part of the ‘Châsse 2ᵉ’ set in Vinyl-On-Demand’s comprehensive reissue programme. With patented hypnotic traction, ZF invoke mesmerising ur-states of mind with mystic loops and vocal mantras encrypted in the band’s secretive matrix of FX. It’s definitely not recommended for use while operating heavy machinery, or even writing for that matter – it’s a sort of “ambient” musick but will lure your attention away and absorb susceptible heads in its nuanced, inharmonic complexities with uncanny traction and potential. Seriously save it for somewhere padded, lowlit and private and allow the shamans to do their work in return for a rare session of the lushest, altered, hypnagogic states. Massive RIYL Eliane Radigue, Two Daughters, AFX’s SAW II
File Under: Ambient, Industrial, Experimental
Zoviet France: The End of Nothing, The Beginning of Everything
(Vinyl on Demand) LP
First vinyl pressing of this 1990 album by Zoviet France, now part of Vinyl-On-Demand’s comprehensive reissue programme. “Never released before 1990 album, limited to 300 copies. :zoviet*france: is an idiosyncratic group of anonymous music makers, gatherers of sound, and fabricators of unknown music. For nearly 40 years, they have explored and reported back from the liminal areas of music and composition, walking the margins where little is easily located and consensus reality melds with the hypnagogic and half-heard. Having wilfully obscured themselves in Newcastle upon Tyne since their inception in 1980, :zoviet*france: has developed a radical relationship with cheap technologies, homemade acoustic instruments, primitive looping and sampling techniques, and basic dub trickery from which the group has crafted a distinctly unique vocabulary of sonic hypnosis.”
File Under: Ambient, Industrial, Experimental
Zoviet France: Vienna (Vinyl on Demand) LP
Maiden vinyl voyage for ZF’s spaced-out 1991 release, spliced from recordings made in Austria the year before, and originally issued on their Charrm label, now as part of Vinyl-On-Demand’s comprehensive reissue programme. For the performances at Szene Wien, Austria, 9 and 10 November 1990 as part of the ‘Ohrenschrauben’ festival, Zoviet France were Andy Eardley with co-founders Ben Ponton and Robin Storey. The CD’s original 64’ piece has been cut in two to fit vinyl, and features elements of both shows woven into a deeply seductive, oneiric gauze, drifting from steepled reverbs and a sort of stately Viennese feel to stranger and disorienting cascades of pounding drum loops, etheric voices and psychedelic wheeze swept up in their singular, dub-like FX matrix.
File Under: Ambient, Industrial, Experimental
Zoviet France: What is not True (Vinyl on Demand) LP
First vinyl pressing of Zoviet France’s ritualistic 1993 album, originally available on CD via their Charrm label, now part of Vinyl-On-Demand’s comprehensive reissue programme. ‘What Is Not True’ is a classic in the Newcastle band’s singular cosmos of ambient noise, and appears here slightly edited for vinyl purposes, with the paganistic drone and folk atmosphere of ‘Public Service Announcement’ and the liminal voices of ‘Not Just What To Say’ paired on the A-side, and their immense 54’ excursion into subharmonic drone ‘Cyclonic Sub Alien’ cleft in two over the other sides, sounding like some ancient pre-echo of Stephen O’Malley and Senyawa slowed 1000%. Until the hypnic jerks kick in, this one’s got potential to takes listeners right out there to another place and time entirely. Best consumed by the keenest isolationists in a bothy on high moorland with a thermos and lots of layers, probably.
File Under: Ambient, Industrial, Experimental
Various: Benny’s Badekar (Engahave Grammofon) LP
If you are into jazz funk and soundtrack, the Danish soundtrack to the animated 45 minutes childrens movie “Bennys Badekar” (Benny’s Bathtub) from 1970, is your number one record to come out of Denmark from those glory days. Originally released as a 4 track 7” EP in 1970, we have expanded the material og recordings to justify the release of an album. This great re-issue LP contains all four of the tracks originally released on the EP, plus all of the rest of the tracks from the movie, some dialog (in danish) and a bunch of passages of psychedelic sitar-ish “underwater music”. This is a cult movie in Denmark – and the tracks are a part of the danish history of music. But apart from being a very big thing in Denmark, it does have that extra something, its jazzy and has a psych thing going on, surely something that diggers worldwide are looking for.. The record is renowned for the strong jazz team, featuring jazz heavy weighters of Copenhagen anno 1970 – such as Allan Botschinsky, Kenny Drew, Ray Pitts, Niels Henning Ørsted Pedersen (NHØP), Bjarne Rostvold and Christian Sievert. The jazzy vocal tracks are sung in danish by the cream of danish 60s pop and rock, such as Peter Belli, Otto Brandenburg, Poul Dissing and Trille. All rights are cleared by the owners. The LP was mastered by Morten McCoy (Bremer/McCoy (Luaka Bop)), and pressed by small local pressing plant Nordsø Records, who always delivers very nice pressings.
File Under: Jazz, Funk, Children’s OST
Various: Cassette Culture: Homemade Music and the Creative Spirit in the Pre-Internet-Age (Vinyl on Demand) BOOK+2CD
‘Cassette Culture’ is an in-depth tome and 46-track comp of top shelf tape obscurities charting the scene evolution between the early ‘80s and the emergence of the internet in the mid ’90s, with 2hrs of music spanning choice cuts by Muslimgauze, Beequeen, Storm Bugs, R Stevie Moore and many, many more. Authored and compiled by Jerry Kranitz – a pivotal node of tape culture’s rhizome of cottage industry comrades – the book and 2CD spell out a unique and enduringly influential phase of late 20th century culture that emerged in the fall-out of punk and and tailed off when everyone starting “surfing” the net and buying CDs in the ‘90s. Maybe it’s fair to say this scene, or an echo of it, has necessarily flourished again in recent years, making this whole collection pretty indispensable for anyone interested in the idealistically democratic and networked roots of contemporary underground culture. Taking a “social history/analytical approach” to his subject in the book, Kranitz offers a topically apt perspective on the scene of experimental artists who, through trading, collaboration and self-distribution effectively established a network that would foreshadow the internet’s early idealism and structures. The stylistic breadth of the music on offer, from mouth-watering early house/synth pop by Jeff Central to the cyber-industrial fantasy of 10-Speed Guillotine, stunning dark ambient by Brume and an unmissable Linn workout by Muslimgauze, is a strong reflection of how the culture fostered artistic freedom away from the mainstream and found strength in diversity and the scenius of the hivemind. Seriously you’re spoilt for choice on the 2CD, which includes multiple Bryn Jones (Muslimgauze.EG. Oblique Graph) and the sun-bleached jangle of ‘Puttin’ Up The Groceries’ by Ariel Pink mentor R Stevie Moore, thru to hellishly good industrial clang and drive from F-i and Storm Bugs, burnt out DIY scrabble by Vittore Baroni, V/Vm-like croons by Monochrome Bleu, and the roiling darkwave techno freakishness of Markus Schwill, whose ‘The Advantage of Tape Music’ epitomises the run of c.1990-’92 zingers that really set this comp in the vital category.
File Under: Books, Experimental, Industrial
Various: Midnight in Tokyo Vol 1 (Studio Mule) LP
Mule Musiq announce their new label, Studio Mule. Midnight In Tokyo Vol. 1 is a compilation of Japanese disco, boogie, and soul music. The compilation starts off with the Afro disco classic “Mi Mi Africa” by harmonica player Nobuo Yagi. “Silver Spot” is a jazzy fusion disco track taken from composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist Nobuyuki Shimizu’s first album (1980), released when he was 19. The track features singer Epo. “Samba Night” is by vocalist Keisuke Yamamoto and his band Piper, from their masterpiece second album Summer Breeze (1983) — a delightful city pop number for fans of Tatsuro Yamashita. “Akogareno Sundown” is a Japanese soul classic, sung by singer Haruko Kuwana (sister of Masahiro Kuwana). Produced by Mackey Feary Band, known for the soulful classic “A Million Stars”. “Koiwa Saiko (I’m In Love)” is a mellow and groovy track by singer Aru Takamura, the great-grandchild of sculptor Kouun Takamura. It can be thought of as Japan’s answer to Cheryl Lynn’s “Got To Be Real”. “What The Magic Is To Try” is a cult electropop track by Honma Express, a project helmed by producer Kanji Honma. Hailed as Japan’s Trevor Horn, he is also known as the producer of legendary techno pop band TPO. “Colored Music” is a song by Colored Music, a duo of pianist Ichiko Hashimoto and her partner Atsuo Fujimoto. Taken from their sole album (1981), the Japanese rare groove treasure is a mesh of new wave, synth pop, and jazz influences. The dubby electronic new wave disco “Electric City” is a B side of pop idol group Shohjo-Tai & Red Bus St Project’s debut 12″ single. “Love Is The Competition” is a breezy disco jam by Okinawa-born bilingual artist Hitomi Tohyama, originally featured on her album Next Door (1983). Taken from Mariah project’s diva Yumi Murata’s first album (1979), “Krishna” is a funky and soulful rockin’ disco cut. Reminiscent of Chaka Khan’s “I Know You, I Live You”, “Live Hard, Live Free” is a song by jazz vocalist Eri Ohno who is known for her work with DJ Krush. “Rocket 88” is a melancholic disco number by singer Minnie originally released through Sapporo’s independent label Paradise Records. Closing out the 13-track compilation is Japanese disco staple “Tokyo Melody”, sung by Shoody and backed by Tetsuji Hayashi’s disco band the Eastern Gang. Compiled by Toshiya Kawasaki. Mastering by Kuniyuki Takahashi. Cover photo by Mika Kitamura.
File Under: Japan, Disco, Boogie, Soul
Various: Gunsmoke Vol. 6 (Stag-o-Lee) 10″
The sixth volume in a limited-edition series on Stag-O-Lee. This is a collection of oddball country weepers, moody rockabilly, widescreen country and western, and popcorn noir from the 1950s and early ’60s. So, turn out the lights, sit back and relax to the soundtrack from a jukebox in a ghost town… For best results: listen to after dark! Edition of 666; packaged in a nice 10″ sleeve with center hole. Features Dorsey Burnette, Slim Whitman, Jimmie Driftwood, Larry Hall, Jody Reynolds, Jimmy Lloyd, Foy Willing And The Riders Of The Purple Sage, Johnny Carroll, Paul Evans, Dennis Roberts, Virgil Holmes, and Mike Jarrett & Gene Herd.
File Under: Exotica, Western
Various: Virtual Dreams: Ambient Explorations in the House & Techno Age 1993-1997 (Music From Memory) LP
When House and Techno exploded out of America in the mid-1980s a whole generation was redefined not only musically but also culturally and chemically speaking. Peaking, quite literally, with a second ‘Summer of Love’ in 1988, millions of young people across the world would experience the life-changing ups of a brave new world but with it of course, came the downs; enter the concept of a ‘Chill-out’ room. Whilst early Chill-out rooms lacked a specific sound and were often soundtracked by music such as reggae and soul, slowly young Techno and House producers themselves would become increasingly interested in developing a futuristic ‘Ambient’ soundtrack to a world beyond the thud of the main room. ‘Ambient’ in this new age now though had sharper teeth than in Brian Eno’s key text for ‘Music for Airports’, instead here the sounds were the mode of transport rather than the backdrop. While the melodies were pretty, the soundscape steered away from the pastoral, dreaming of outer-space and technology as opening up exciting new dimensions. Much like in the first Summer Of Love; the musicians were again exploring psychedelic, mind-altering, and transcendental possibilities of music. And also much as in the first Summer Of Love, a psychedelic visual language would accompany the music. Though now the tracks could be accompanied by music videos, utilizing early CGI techniques, they would look almost entirely to the future: envisioning technology, nature, and humanity intertwined in a new Utopian future. Virtual Dreams of a better world. From Ambient and early Chill-out classics to lesser-known one-off projects, as well as Ambient deviations by some of House and Techno’s leading producers, Volume One of Virtual Dreams features tracks by Bedouin Ascent, LA Synthesis, LFO, Marc Hollander, Mark Pritchard & Kirsty Hawkshaw, Richard H. Kirk and more.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient
Acid Mothers Temple: s/t (Black Editions) LP
Clock DVA: Horology 2 (Vinyl on Demand) BOX
Cluster: Grosses Wasser (Bureau B) LP
Alison Cotton: Only Darkness Now (Feeding Tube) LP
Nick Drake: Pink Moon (Island) LP
Bill Evans: Everybody Digs Bill Evans (OJC) LP
Bill Evans: Waltz for Debby (OJC) LP
Exhumed: Death Revenge (Relapse) LP
Fontaines DC: A Hero’s Death (Partisan) LP
Ryo Fukui: A Letter from Slowboat (We Release Jazz) LP
Ryo Fukui: In New York (We Release Jazz) LP
Maleem Mahmoud Ghania w/ Pharoah Sanders: Trance of Seven Colours (Zehra) LP
Inoyamaland: Danzindan-Pojidon (WRWTFWW) LP
Jason Isbell: Nashville Sound (Southerneastern) LP
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Live in San Francisco (ATO) LP
Merzbow: Venereology (Relapse) LP
Ennio Morricone: Death Rides A Horse (Dagored) LP
Ennio Morricone: Veruschka (Dagored) LP
Muslimgauze: Return of Black September (Staalplaat) LP
Muslimgauze: Sadaam’s Children (Staalplaat) LP
New Order: Power, Corruption & Lies (Rhino) LP
O Yuki Conjugate: Ambiguism 1983-1987 (Vinyl on Demand) BOX
Arvo Part: Works for Choir (CGC) LP
Sam Rivers: Contours (Tone Poet) (Blue Note) LP
Luke Schneider: Altar of Harmony (Third Man) LP
Colter Wall: Imaginary Appalachia (Thirty Tiger) LP
Waxahatchee: Saint Cloud (Merge) LP
Various: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (Sony) LP