Some real nice slabs in this week! Some long awaited stuff, and some much needed restocks. And that weather?! All in all, a pretty great week.
Also! Like the Other Music Documentary, we are again teaming up with Oscilloscope Labs for the distribution/viewing of the new documentary TRUTH TO POWER, about System of a Down’s frontman Serj Tankian. Click the link to rent the film and we’ll get a cut of the proceeds. Rent it HERE
As always, big thanks to everyone who’s been hitting up our webstore and placing orders! It’s getting competitive around 5pm 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 11-6 Monday – Friday & Saturday 11-4. Stay safe!
Oh ya… if you don’t follow us on Instagram, WHY NOT?! And now you know.
CHECK OUT OUR WEBSTORE!!!
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWS LETTER!!!!
…..picks of the week…..
75 Dollar Bill Little Big Band: Live at Tubby’s (Grapefruit) LP
NYC’s 75 Dollar Bill began its prolific career in 2012, after percussionist Rick Brown—a veteran of the indie underground (Fish & Roses, Run On, V-Effect)—and noise scene guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Che Chen—connected via MySpace. Since that initial jam session, when Brown began experimenting with his signature plywood crate drum rhythms, they have released three LPs and a clutch of self-released cassette and digital releases. Last year’s double album I Was Real received serious critical acclaim—The Wire calling it 2019’s Album of the Year. On their first live album, Live At Tubby’s, 75 Dollar Bill assembled a unique “little big band” [Sue Garner on bass, Cheryl Kingan on sax, Steve Maing on guitar, Jim Pugliese on percussion and Karen Waltuch on viola] for the small Kingston, NY club show. Recorded on the last day of their spring tour, the record puts a new perspective on themes from their body of work: a little more intimacy, a little more freedom, a little more controlled chaos. Brown’s idiosyncratic rhythms are all the more hypnotizing in Tubby’s cozy setting, and Chen’s furious guitar work cuts and hums with sounds seemingly only attainable on stage. It’s an album both challenging and immediate. The expanded 75 Dollar Bill’s affinity for improvisation and the avant-garde even leads to a rousing take on the Ornette Coleman classic, “Friends And Neighbors” that feels right at home in their own repertoire. The listener can’t help but feel present and part of the communal joy and catharsis being shared here in this room. This performance at Tubby’s turned out not only to be the last show of their tour, but the last show possible as the pandemic hit. Originally offered as a digital-only release on 75 Dollar Bill’s Bandcamp, Live At Tubby’s now documents a highlight and closure of sorts; this kind of musical improvisation and community interaction being on hold for the foreseeable future. This double album on Grapefruit will have to tide everyone over until it can all happen again.
File Under: Jazz, Minimalism, Avant-Garde
Carl Matthews: Col (Abstrakce) LP
Abstrakce Records present one of the most rare, interesting, and difficult-to-find of Carl Matthews’s cassettes. On vinyl for the first time and remastered by Colin Potter. Composed and recorded at his own home studio in 1991 and influenced by Harmonia and Cluster, Matthews develops a really personal project. A very delicate usage of rhythm machines, samplers, sequencers, e-bowed guitars that show up briefly hinting at a lo-fi Innovative Communication feeling… The capricious nature of these experiments opens many different doors of wonder to the curious heads, easing deep listening away from clichéd Berlin School, new age or krautrock — the most obvious reference points here –, into a forever-land of non-academic modernism, where to take shelter and briefly vanish. Quiet but not static, mellow but not too new age-y and trippin’ but not too trancey, this music finds its own space and character in the world of home recorded electronica. A true jewel of the European electronic underground.
File Under: Ambient, New Age
Abigail: Sweet Baby Metal Slut (Nuclear War Now) LP
ABIGAIL have returned with their fourth album. Entitled Sweet Baby Metal Slut, this album continues in the style Abigail began exploring on Forever Street Metal Bitch and further refined on Ultimate Unholy Death. Playing a style that sounds like a syphilitic union of Bathory, G.G. Allin, and Destruction, Abigail reach new lows of perversion and degeneracy.
File Under: Metal
Badge Epoque Ensemble: Future Past & Present (Telephone Explosion) LP
Barely a season passed in 2019 between the release of Badge Époque Ensemble’s self titled debut album, and its follow up, the disco-sleeved 12” Nature, Man & Woman. Now, 3 months on from the release of the group’s acclaimed sophomore album Self Help, we find them repeating the trick with a surprise fourth title on Telephone Explosion Records, the fittingly titled Future, Past & Present. A compilation of sorts, the album collects instrumental, alternate mix versions of all BÉE songs which originally featured guest vocalists. In practice this results in a pseudo-greatest-hits survey of the Ensemble’s catalogue to-date, touching on highlights from all three releases while emphasizing the group’s strength as versatile mood-conjurors. Where these songs once featured vocal heavyweights like Meg Remy, Jennifer Castle, James Baley and Dorothea Paas, they are now strung together instrumentally in a sequence which represents the purest distillation of BÉE’s collective musical chemistry to date. Crowning this delectably listenable platter is an exclusive, nearly eight-minute composition; title track ‘Future, Past & Present’. A spiritual sequel to ‘Nature, Man & Woman’, both tracks cook at a decidedly ‘luded tempo as pressurized atmospheres swing from pleasantly meditative to sinisterly growling. On ‘Future, Past & Present’ bandleader Maximilian ‘Twig’ Turnbull returns to the approach of the earlier track, chopping drum and percussion stems from previously released BÉE works, refashioning structures for bold new compositions. This approach is an interesting contrast from the reputation BÉE has cultivated for their LP compositions which are cut live off the floor, unadorned with little to no intervention. It suggests the possibility of an expanding sonic universe for the collective, as these collaged compositions shade closer to a more explicitly hip-hop oriented pallet mostly hinted at elsewhere in the catalogue. Fittingly, the rest of the runtime plays like a set from a well appointed hip hop producer’s crate; flattening the distances between proto-prog slap, sensuous soul flute and Brazilian AOR influenced pockets into a cohesive whole. While the band’s burgeoning reputation for dusted fidelity grooves is well observed, it is formed on the basis of a contemporary chemistry and approach. Future, Past & Present is a summation of that approach to date, and well worth crating.
File Under: Jazz, Funk
Badge Epoque Ensemble: Self Help (Telephone Explosion) LP
Self Help is an exploratory record that dances across time and genre, guided by fidgety miniatures and jazz inflected collage. While constructed from the inspiration of soul, funk and film music, BÉE mediate those influences having first digested them through the productions of Madlib & the RZA. Throughout, the band pool together their instrumental chops, moving from fluid and serpentine R&B to meditative, minimalistic piano, evoking a contrast of virtuosity and self-surrender.
File Under: Jazz, Funk
Black Country, New Road: For the first time (Ninja Tune) LP
Coloured vinyl! ‘For the first time’ is the highly anticipated, debut album from ‘Black Country, New Road’ – a new UK based seven-piece, who have gained huge tastemaker press and radio support in the UK, US and internationally including NPR, KEXP, WFUV, The Fader, The Guardian, Loud & Quiet and more, off the back of just two singles releases in 2019. They are the latest stars from the famed Brixton Windmill scene – other acts from this scene include black midi, Squid, Fat White Family and Shame. First single “Athen’s France” was released on tastemaker label Speedy Wunderground, helmed by producer Dan Carey (Kae Tempest, Natasha Khan), ‘Sunglasses’ followed on Thurston Moore affiliated, Blank Editions. Recorded with Andy Savours (My Bloody Valentine), the album is the perfect capturing of a new band and all the energy, ferocity and explosive charge that comes with that.
File Under: Punk
Black Sabbath: Mob Rules (Rhino) LP
Singer Ronnie James Dio joined Black Sabbath in 1979 which resulted in two back-to-back classic albums: Heaven And Hell and Mob Rules. On those memorable albums, Dio’s soaring tenor and gothic songwriting were the perfect foil for the band’s bone-crushing mix of razor-sharp riffs, intense grooves, and dark imagery. Rhino salutes the long shadow cast by this short-lived lineup with newly remastered versions of both albums expanded with rare and unreleased music. Dio quickly found kindred spirits in guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, and drummer Bill Ward. To follow-up Heaven And Hell, the group returned to the studio in 1981 to begin recording Mob Rules, with drummer Vinny Appice joining the band for the first time. Released in October 1981 and certified gold, the album was another Sabbath classic, including standouts like “The Sign Of The Southern Cross,” “Turn Up The Night” and the title track. Mob Rules: Deluxe Edition boasts an expansive selection of rare and unreleased recordings. Along with additional tracks from Live At Hammersmith Odeon, the collection also includes a newly mixed version of “The Mob Rules.” The Dio-fronted lineup disbanded in 1982 but reunited a decade later to record Dehumanizer and tour before going on hiatus again. The group came together again in 2006 to record three new songs for Rhino’s era-spanning collection, Black Sabbath: The Dio Years. The collaboration led to a highly anticipated world tour in 2007 where the group was billed as Heaven And Hell. Their final album of new material, 2009’s The Devil You Know, again demonstrated the musical bond between the band members was unparalleled.
File Under: Metal
CAM: Quid Rides (Abstrakce) LP
Reissue of this obscure cassette from 1987, a really interesting rarity by Carl Matthews under the CAM moniker. Sturdy synth basslines sculpt solid rhythm patterns that bring to mind the innovations of the moment in electro and dance records. Having in mind that Matthews was a white ambient composer, it’s very curious to find him dropping these groovy bombs that sound like a primitive Detroit electro or hip-hop beats, mixed with sampled voices that recall Art of Noise influences. Also. to mention the conceptual work: Quid Rides is inspired in Roman Civilization, as the name of both the album and tracks point (all of them in Latin). Experimental-roman-electro seems to be a pretty weird label but works fine here… Mutant-futuristic-proto-electro for Roman statues would work too. Letterpress cover, including insert with liner notes by Colin Potter.
File Under: Electronic, Electro
M. Caye Castagnetto: Leap Second (Castle Face) LP
Influenced by a life split between Lima, London, and Twentynine Palms, Peru-born M. Caye Castagnetto’s Leap Second is an intriguingly personal and hard to classify debut album. The album is a thick collage of samples Caye recorded with different artists and musicians, including Beatrice Dillon and the late Aileen Bryant, that spans five years in the making. There is something in Leap Second that tracks the speed of bodies, how they approach and retreat. The ten tracks are speedy and languid, thick ruffles, and dirges. In parts it feels like one’s stumbled upon a forgotten incredible ’70s folk record but that feeling gets broken quickly by clever sleights of hand. Caye’s balladry is angular, time is elastic. Each song is a fresh cape. How dandies really mean it, so masc- that it’s fay, how the only moment is this one and it’s just passed, etcetera. “While it doesn’t really sound like anything else, there are moments that feel like a Latin-flavored Nico, that’s edging its way towards some of the outings of the Sun City Girls. In my opinion it checks all the boxes, by checking none of them.” —Bjorn Copeland, Black Dice “A truly interesting conglomeration of loose inspirations and conjurings. A hard to decipher sound all together which makes it worth every moment…a sprinkling of Catherine Ribeiro, Dr. John, Terje Rypdal and Nico. Far-out sun-soaked odysseys and moon-dappled woodland night creepers…” —John Dwyer
File Under: Folk, Latin, Experimental
Cloud Nothings: The Shadow I Remember (Carpark) LP
For a band that resists repeating itself, picking up lessons from a decade prior is the strange route Cloud Nothings took to create their most fully-realized album. Their new record, The Shadow I Remember, marks eleven years of touring, a return to early songwriting practices, and revisiting the studio where they first recorded together. In a way not previously captured, this album expertly combines the group’s pummeling, aggressive approach with singer-songwriter Dylan Baldi’s extraordinary talent for perfect pop. To document this newly realized maturity, the group returned to producer Steve Albini and his Electrical Audio studios in Chicago, where the band famously destroyed its initial reputation as a bedroom solo project with the release of 2012 album Attack on Memory. The Shadow I Remember announces Cloud Nothings’ second decade and it sounds like a new beginning.
File Under: Indie Rock
Decemberists: Castaways & Cutouts (Kill Rock Stars) LP
Finally in! As its title would suggest, Castaways and Cutouts is a record populated with an eclectic array of unlikely characters in various states of abandonment and revelry. While the likes of Spanish gypsies, infant specters, and Turkish prostitutes are not common elements to be found within modern pop music, these figures find ample footing within the songcraft of Mr. Meloy, supported comfortably by the bands lush and orchestral instrumentation. Recorded over a two month period in a warehouse in Portland, Oregon’s Industrial Southeast, the record swims gracefully between heart-rending, deftly arranged pop and scrappy off-the-cuff dirge.
File Under: Indie Rock
David Fenech & Klimperei: Rainbow de Nuit (Marionette) LP
Maestro melodist Christophe Petchanatz (aka Klimperei) and all around music fanatic David Fenech engage remotely in a repetitive exchange of recordings and overdubs on their debut album titled ‘Rainbow de Nuit’, sporadically spanning over the last decade. Evocations of experimental and improvised jazz, chansonesque songs, bluesy folk, and outsider music undulate harmoniously across the record. From music boxes and walkie-talkies down to plastic straws, plucking various stringed instruments such as the charrango and banjo, kazoos and snake-charmer ocarina and flutes, all the way through the sweet accordion and melodica, found and traditional tuned percussion – there is far from a shortage of sound sources on this freakishly inviting record. What germinates as an imaginative and emotional chord progression played by Klimperei, evolves with Fenech layering additional recordings, which would then find their way back home to Klimperei yet again, and so on, and so forth. This recursive compositional and improvisational loop, combined with Fenech’s musique-concrete-like mixing and editing techniques, transforms the acoustic recordings by way of compression, saturation, and reverberation or simple pitch changes – resulting in the duo’s recordings seemingly sound like they may very well be an octet in real time. While the majority of the recordings have been ping-ponged remotely, David and Christophe unite under one roof to record the closing track of the album. The pieces presented on ‘Rainbow de Nuit’ treat the ears to a carousel ride waltzing through a multiverse made up of surrealist puppet theaters, dramatic film noir act changes, and a mosaic of polyphonic instruments and toys alike. In other words, a score to a fable brought to life with haunting yet charming melodies and occasional hallucinatory voices reminiscent of laughter and infantile epiphanies which we hear on Tarzan en Tasmanie and Madrigal for Lola. This is taken a step further by Fenech, to a brief libretto of incomprehensible tongues on Pocarina. Amid the mysterious and dark (Septième Ciel and Rugit Le Coeur) also lies tender and simple compositions (Rainbow de Nuit and Chevalier Gambette), murky suspenseful melancholy (Levy Attend and Eno Ennio), and casually slipping into pensive psychedelic backdrops (Un Cercueil à Deux Places) – forming a colorful blend of sounds. A world of echoes. A tale of tales. One persistent earworm that you’ll likely be whistling and humming along to on a first listen.
File Under: Electronic, Experimental
Foo Fighters: Medicine at Midnight (RCA) LP
Finally in stock after the courier lost our first batch. Co-produced with Greg Kurstin, engineered by Darrell Thorp and mixed by Mark “Spike” Stent, 12x Grammy Award-winning rock band Foo Fighters’ tenth studio album Medicine At Midnight packs nine new songs into a tight 37 minutes. The follow-up to 2017’s No. 1 charting Concrete and Gold is introduced by the smoldering new single “Shame Shame.” Dave Grohl on the new record to Los Angeles’s ALT 98.7, “It’s filled with these anthemic, huge, sing-along rock songs. It’s weird, because it’s almost like a dance record in a weird way – not an EDM, disco, modern dance record. It’s got groove, man. To me, it’s like our David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ record. That’s what we wanted to make, ’cause we were, like, ‘Let’s make this really up, fun record.” Vinyl LP in heavyweight standard jacket with printed sleeve and 12″ x 12″ insert.
File Under: Rock
Henry Franklin: The Skipper (Real Gone) LP
Though it’s hard to pick a winner among the estimable Black Jazz catalog, this 1972 release from bassist Henry “The Skipper” Franklin would have to be near the top of the list. Franklin got his start woodshedding with Latin maverick Willie Bobo in the mid-‘60s and went on to play with The Three Sounds, but probably his most notable gig prior to this debut album was his stint in Hugh Masekela’s band (that’s Franklin playing bass with Masekela at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival). For The Skipper, Franklin assembled a crack outfit that included a horn section of trumpeter/flugelhornist Oscar Brashear (Bobby Hutcherson, Ry Cooder, Donny Hathaway) and tenor & soprano sax man Charles Owens (Buddy Rich, Horace Tapscott, John Mayall) along with a Masekela bandmate in electric pianist Bill Henderson and ace drummer Michael Carvin (Pharoah Sanders, Lonnie Liston Smith, Freddie Hubbard). This is such a unique, organic recording that it’s hard to make comparisons; definitely a little fusion, a little ‘60s Blue Note feel, and the usual Black Jazz journey to the more lyrical, pop-inspired (“Little Miss Laurie”) and funk-infused (“Plastic Creek Stomp”) sides of jazz, but perhaps the best comparison is late-‘60s Miles before he went electric. In any case, The Skipper is just a joy to listen to from start to finish, beautifully recorded by Black Jazz producer Gene Russell and blessed with some really fine writing, most of it by Franklin himself. Remastered for CD and vinyl by Mike Milchner at Sonic Vision and featuring liner notes by Pat Thomas, this Real Gone release is a first-time LP reissue and a must-have!
File Under: Jazz
Grateful Dead: Dick’s Picks Vol. 36—The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA 9/21/72 (Real Gone) BOX
In the Grateful Dead firmament, there are countless good shows, shining like stars in the sky. Then there are the great shows, those that shine the brightest. And then there are the truly transcendent shows, those that exert a gravitational pull’dare we say it, like a ‘Dark Star”on all the other concerts from that particular year or tour. These are the nights that every Dead Head learns about right after getting on board the bus’and the September 21, 1972 performance at the Spectrum in Philadelphia is truly one of those nights. This is the concert that original Dead archivist Dick Latvala strongly considered to kick off the Dick’s Picks series, and it’s the one that ended it. It’s one of those nights when every Garcia guitar solo tells a story, when the rhythm section is locked in like the gears on a Swiss watch, and when the band is repeatedly hitting its vocal harmonies dead-on. It’s also a show when Bob Weir absolutely shreds, his unusual chord voicings and off-time guitar fills perfectly complementing Jerry’s leads (the set also includes some highlights from the 9/3/72 show at Folsom Field in Boulder, CO). So when we at Real Gone Music were considering which Pick to put on vinyl next, the choice was pretty obvious. But to do this concert justice, we had to bring in the best. This 7-LP set is mastered for vinyl by Jeffrey Norman at Mockingbird Mastering from Bear’s original tapes, which are absolutely brilliant in their clarity and immediacy. Lacquers are cut by Jeff Powell, who got his start at Memphis’ legendary Ardent Studios and has worked with everybody from Bob Dylan to Gregg Allman to Irma Thomas. Pressed on 180-gram vinyl at Furnace Record Pressing, the vacuum-quiet test pressings were approved by engineer Norman, Dead archivist David Lemieux, and Real Gone’s own Gordon Anderson. And each of the seven LPs is housed inside a polyvinyl sleeve carefully nestled (with extra padding!) inside a two-piece hardshell box. We’ve also included a 4-page insert featuring, along with original photos and graphics and Bear’s original notes, a word from Bear’s son Starfinder Stanley on behalf of the Owsley Stanley Foundation, who kindly provided the tapes for our reissue. Limited to 2000 hand-numbered copies, this one’s going to be a keepsake. Don’t miss it.
File Under: Rock, Boxsets
Gravesend: Methods of Human Disposal (20 Buck Spin) LP
Limited white vinyl!!! NYC’s Gravesend arise with ill intent, like a foul emanation from the aging, sewage-filled rot slowly winding its way beneath the city’s vast concrete walls and pavement pathways. A New York of discarded needles, noxious fumes, scavenging rats, broken bottles and cracked minds. An aural manifesto of urban blight and disgust, Methods Of Human Disposal works like a lone killer stalking the streets, internally seething with rage, preparing to cast off the last remnants of restraint. Bear witness to savage black / death metal with a hellish grindcore fixation, searing warped speeds, and the slowly swelling carnage of a derailed subway pile-up. Like the centuries old cemetery that bears its name, the fetid stench of death and decay permeates Gravesend, and the predatory wrath and inhumanity embodied in Methods Of Human Disposal holds up a shattered mirror reflecting back the filth and corruption of a New York that never really went away.
File Under: Metal
Daniel Hecht: Guitar (Morning Trip) LP
There are few instruments more uniquely suited to capturing the beauty and ennui of the rural American Midwest than the acoustic steel-string guitar. In the hands of a master, the range of evocable emotion and experience is truly limitless. Daniel Hecht is one such master. His 1973 self-released debut album, simply titled Guitar, is an indispensable piece of the endless puzzle that is instrumental Guitar Soli music. Guitar was written and recorded while Hecht was living and working on a commune in Madison, Wisconsin. In between harvesting his own food and studying the music of Andrés Segovia and Mississippi John Hurt, Hecht found himself playing host to legendary itinerant street performer, Moondog. On Moondog’s insistent urging, Daniel decided to record some of his recent guitar compositions. Released on his own Dragon’s Egg imprint, Guitar fused Hecht’s complex classical preoccupations with his country folk influences. The album eventually found a fan with guitar godhead, John Fahey, who eventually helped land Hecht on the eminent new age/instrumental label, Windham Hill. As Hecht’s playing and composition grew in complexity, he found peership with labelmates like Michael Hedges, William Ackerman, and Alex DeGrassi. But it is his debut album that remains the greatest document of Hecht’s talent and ambition in first bloom. A rolling, blissful trip through rural America, guided by the ambitious hand of a guitar master. Morning Trip is elated to release this gorgeous and seminal document of acoustic exploration on vinyl for the first time since its initial 1973 offering.
File Under: Guitar Soli
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings: Keep on Looking (Daptone) 7″It is a privilege to present to you, our esteemed Daptone Family, a selection of fan-favorites by thee legendary Sharon Jones and her Dap-Kings available for the very first time on 45! Over the years Daptone H.Q. has been flooded with suggestions and requests for certain album tracks to be available on 45, so we’ve gone ahead and pressed up a few that are consistently at the top of the heap. First up we have “Keep On Looking”, a track that debuted on SJDK’s breakout album 100 Days, 100 Nights, which subsequently became a staple in the groups live set. The incessant backbeat and tight horn arrangement, coupled with Miss Jones’ powerful plea to a lost lover provides unadulterated dance-floor fuego!
File Under: Soul, Funk
Femi & Made Kuti: Legacy (Partisan) LP
Released on Partisan Records on February 5, 2021, the Legacy + project sees Femi and Made Kuti, respective eldest son and grandson of legendary Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, come together to release two albums: one from each, but unified together. Legacy + is the Kuti legacy: the musicianship and history passed down three generations, from Fela, to Femi, to Made.
File Under: Afro Beat
Lloyd Miller: At the Ends of the World (FountainAVM) LP
Doc Lloyd Miller returns with his signature and timeless Spiritual Jazz and World/Cultural Music trademarks, as well as inviting a few contemporary sensibilities contributed by himself and collaborators Ian Camp and producer Adam Michael Terry. Expanding upon Miller’s distinctive Academic, Persian and Far-Eastern Jazz Fusion into territories of New Age, Minimalism, Modern Classical, Ambient, and even hints of Psychedelic Folk with the opening song “The Summoning”. Proudly extending Lloyd’s already unique and massive music pallet that has been documented on his esoteric 60’s records and self-released CDs over the decades, we anticipate his fans around the world will be pleased to hear familiar stylings as well as some evolved ideas. Recorded late summer 2019 down in Lloyd Miller’s basement, “At the Ends of the World” is a prophetic expression of the social and cerebral atmospheres that Miller personally predicted for the pestilence of 2020. The album reflects a moody dichotomy between the increasingly doomed world and the musician’s attempts to heal with divine music and cultural beauty
File Under: Jazz
Moor Mother: Circuit City (Don Giovanni) LP
Orange vinyl! Poet and noise musician Camae Ayewa (Moor Mother) presents her first theatrical work, a futuristic exploration—part musical, part choreopoem, part play—of public/private ownership, housing, and technology set in a living room in a corporate-owned apartment complex. Framed by Ayewa’s bold poetry and bolstered by new Moor Mother music performed live by Irreversible Entanglements and the Circuit City Band, Circuit City is an afrofuturist song cycle for our current climate.
File Under: Experimental
Yumiko Morioka: Resonance (Metron) LP
Japanese pianist Yumiko Morioka initially released Resonance, her first and only solo recording, on Akira Ito’s ‘Green & Water’ imprint in 1987. Whilst by no means a commercial failure, the album was mostly found in the background of Japanese TV documentaries, maternity clinics and healing shops before drifting into relative obscurity. By 1994, Morioka had relocated to America and her solo music career had given way to the joys of starting a family and her new life in California. It was, and still is, a shock for her to learn that Resonance had gained the attention of a new audience outside of Japan through blog posts and YouTube album uploads. After hearing Resonance for the first time ourselves back in early 2017, we tried for months to track Morioka down about a reissue. This news reached her at a particularly trying time in her life following the devastating loss of her home in the 2017 California wildfires. Her home had recently been razed, destroying all of her possessions, musical equipment, scores and recordings. Morioka was lucky to escape with her life; her quick thinking neighbour raised the alarm in the middle of the night giving her just enough time to escape safely before then tragically watching her home burn to the ground. In the aftermath, Morioka returned to Japan in an attempt to rebuild her life. She found work writing music for commercial projects and pop acts before recently opening her own chocolate shop in the Jiyugaoka neighbourhood of Tokyo – back where it all began. ‘’Space and time moved at a different speed than now’’ – Yumiko Morioka A lifelong student of the piano, Morioka was born in Tokyo in 1956. A child prodigy, she took up the instrument under her mother’s tutelage at just three years old and by her teens she had won multiple piano scholarships. Her talent was so obvious that she was invited to train in America, eventually graduating from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with a piano major during John Adams’ reign as head of composition. After graduation, Morioka returned to Japan but struggled to find her place musically, working mostly on commercial songwriting assignments. Frustrated, and at times embarrassed by her musical output, she turned to the works of Brian Eno and the surroundings of her coastal home in the Izu Peninsula south of Tokyo for inspiration. It was here that she began to work on the compositions that would eventually become Resonance. Recorded on a Bösendorfer grand piano, much of Resonance was made in an attempt to soothe her creative soul. Constructed from unwritten improvisations with additional instrumentation added later, Resonance explores the space between notes. As such, it’s a record that feels open and inviting, permeated throughout with a sense of confident serenity. The sparse, delicately played notes are allowed to reverberate and echo through the spaces between themselves, giving each track a feeling of both grandeur and intimacy. Like the great pioneers of classical and ambient music, there’s a timelessness to Resonance – a comforting, familiar feeling, as if these melodies have always existed. Resonance drew influence from the popular environmental music culture prevalent in Japan during the late 80s, but it was also heavily inspired by Western musicians such as the avant-garde Parisian composer Erik Satie. Listening today, it still feels fresh and pertinent; a warm, contemplative reflection of a travelled woman. Resonance has been lovingly remastered by Séance Centre’s Brandon Hocura and given new artwork by Métron Records’ label head Jack Hardwicke.
File Under: Japan, Ambient
Painted Shrines: Heaven and Holy (Woodsist) LP
Jeremy Earl (Woods) and Glenn Donaldson (Skygreen Leopards, The Reds, Pinks & Purples) met sometime in the mid-oughts and bonded over a love of tambourines and DIY sounds. They shared many stages since, and their first serious collaboration was on the 2011 Woods album Sun & Shade. Around 2018, Earl was restless in upstate NY and accepted an invite to record in Donaldson’s studio in an undisclosed rural coastal town in Northern California. In a week they emerged with nearly an album’s worth of hazy folk-rock and psych-pop with touches of more outré lo-fi noise. Jeff Moller (The Papercuts) added bass, and they put the finishing touches on during quarantine. Heaven And Holy ebbs and flows like coastal fog between songs and dreamy instrumentals, splitting the difference between The Clean’s Unknown Country and The Byrds Fifth Dimension.
File Under: Indie Rock
Gene Russell: Talk to My Lady (Real Gone) LP
In between acting as Producer on all of the Black Jazz label releases, keyboardist Gene Russell also cut two fine albums for the imprint, of which this is the second, released in 1973. Judging by the quality of their respective solo outings for the label, the fact that Russell’s band includes bassist Henry Franklin and guitarist Calvin Keys bodes very, very well for the quality of this record. And indeed, Talk to My Lady represents a sterling stylistic leap for Russell from his New Direction album, which was the first release issued on Black Jazz; here, he’s leading an electric band instead of the basic piano trio format found on the former record, and playing a number of original, soul jazz compositions like “Get Down” and the title tune. As for the covers, both “Me and Mrs. Jones” and “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” are heartfelt renditions given a little extra bounce by Russell’s ivory tickling and Franklin’s expressive bass playing in particular, while the version of “My Favorite Things” goes way out beyond what John Coltrane played on his original Atlantic studio version. It’s hard to go wrong with a Black Jazz album and you won’t on this one from the label’s creative helm, newly remastered for CD and LP by Mike Milchner at Sonic Vision and boasting liner notes by Pat Thomas. First-ever LP reissue!
File Under: Jazz
Gavilan Rayna Russom: Secret Passage (w.25th) LP
Growing up in deindustrialized Providence, Rhode Island of the 1970s and 1980s provided NYC-based composer and interdisciplinary artist Gavilán Rayna Russom access to derelict subterranean spaces including the mile-long East Side Rail Tunnel. The tunnel’s reverberant darkness would produce distinctive sensory effects and host Russom’s formative experiences of interpersonal connectedness, liminality, transgender identity, anti-capitalist desire and state repression. Secret Passage—an absorbing, memoiristic work by Russom, whose synthesis-based practice fuses information and expression into organic wholes—draws on memories of “unsupervised autonomous zones where I tasted the possibilities of a world without surveillance,” as she writes in the liner notes. Inspired by “this beautifully neglected place,” the music resounds with ghostlike echoes and raw pulsations. Russom utilizes synthesizers, field recordings and voice to illustrate hallucinatory revelations of the city’s lightless undercarriage. Each track of Secret Passage, originally released as a limited cassette on Voluminous Arts, is dedicated to a friend—entwining personal liberation with collective discovery. The East Side Rail Tunnel has been inaccessible since the 1990s, the result of urban development and gentrification.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient
Shabason, Krgovich & Harris: Philadelphia (Idee Fixe) LP
The protagonist of Icelandic writer Halldór Laxness’s 1969 novel, World Light, gives a tearful goodbye to the grains and knots of his attic ceiling when he leaves after years spent staring up at them, bedridden. On their album Philadelphia, Nicholas Krgovich, Joseph Shabason, and Chris Harris chase a similar kind of romance toward the mundane and miniscule details made more visible by the world’s newfound relationship with the Great Indoors. The three musicians, who convened on a shared love of New Age music, create a space of sonic refuge out of softly electrified textures, burbling live instrumentation, and Shabason’s lacquered synth work, all of which support Krgovich’s koan-like poetry about showers before bed, dusty minivans, sips of gatorade, and the modern minutiae rendered beautiful by mere observation. Contrasting the forced trend of remote collaborations, Philadelphia was recorded across three days of sessions in Toronto, pre-COVID. “Somewhere back in 2018 we started to pass demos back and forth over email and we quickly got about eight song sketches together,” explains Shabason. “Then in fall of 2019 we all realised that if we didn’t get into the same room together we were never gonna finish this album.” The trio’s physical proximity while recording underwrites the hushed tones that pervade the album, which itself reads like the kind of quiet, personal conversation that can only happen in close quarters lest it be washed away in the din of public life. Philadelphia establishes this immediately with “Osouji”, a track whose gentle intro of balmy synth and crickets suggests a sunrise and sunset equally. Bathed in calm light, Krgovich sets a scene not unfamiliar in this day and age: “Garden pebbles underfoot / the wet bamboo / been inside all the day / deep cleaning room to room.” Krgovich wrote the album’s lyrics under the self-imposed philosophy of “first thought, best thought” admittedly avoiding the well-trodden subjects of romance, love, and heartbreak. He chooses instead to reveal the romanticism of the world hidden in plain sight while Harris and Shabason deepen the sentiment with reflective, instrumental excursions. Whispered, conversational synthesizers fill out “Tuesday Afternoon” over a backdrop of birdsong, and vocals make only brief appearances near the track’s beginning and end. Conversely, “Friday Afternoon” is lyrically driven, and delivers an anthemic refrain that constitutes one of the most emotional moments of Philadelphia. After a postcard-like recounting of seeing a roadside stranger experience car trouble, Krgovich repeats the hushed mantra “wrap your loving arms around it”, almost as a call-to-action for embracing the present moment as it is instead of as it ought to be. “I Don’t See the Moon” is a lighter mood by comparison. With its jazz-tinged interplay of piano and guitar, complete with a gliding electric bass line, the song provides levity, but is no less introspective than the rest of the collection. “Waltz” serves similar ends without much interjection from the drums– the beat is instead implied by the rhythm of Krgovich’s vocals that bear a subtle smooth RnB influence as he paints a picture of his residential surroundings: “and all the cactus gardens growing right on through the fences / and the flowers over high walls / and the houses all the way / down, down, down.” Throughout Philadelphia, as with his solo work, Shabason and company intelligently reshape 90s adult-contemporary aesthetics for more experimental aims in a world where genre walls are permeable, and no juxtaposition is off the table. Even the album’s title track is a cover of Neil Young’s theme from the 1993 movie Philadelphia, which in turn takes its name from the so-called City of Brotherly Love. Shabason himself prompted the rendition via text a few days ahead of recording. “I asked if it would be crazy for us to cover it, to which Nick replied that he used to all the time with another band,” he says, “and Chris was very much on board as well. A few weeks later Nick told us that he’d been calling the record Philadelphia and the rest of us agreed that it seemed like the right call. It’s the city of brotherly love, and this album was three grown men in a room together making something over which we literally had zero disagreements or conflicts. It was truly a first for all of us in terms of making an album that was a group effort, so calling it Philadelphia made sense.” Their cooperation has produced an endearing exposé on the beauty that exists right under our noses, in the mental spaces and living spaces that our present circumstances are commanding us to get to know better.
File Under: Electronic, New Age, Pop
Steady Sun: Truth is a Needle (Wick) 7″
Making their debut on Wick Records, New York’s own Steady Sun deliver two sublime sides of ethereal psych. We’re not talking about your run-of-the-mill fuzz fodder here, folks – Steady Sun delivers some of the most refreshingly satisfying psychedelia in decades! Truth is the Needle floats out of the speakers like lysergic vapor, engulfing the listener in layers of delicate guitar, spaced-out vocals, and pulsating bass that swirl around the heavy, grounded groove – generating an intoxicating juxtaposition. On the flip is Lash Around, whose insistent beat and hook-heavy melody will send you through a sonic wormhole that marries the experimentation of Barrett era Floyd with the hypnotic bounce of 1990s Manchester.
File Under: Psych
Bill Stone: Stone (Drag City) LP
Just when you thought every loner folk genius had been outed / discovered, hyped, and pontificated about, a new/old challenger lurks in the murky depths of time… and Maine. Sure, you have your Skip Spences, Dave Bixbys, Stone Harbours, and Perry Leopolds already, but have you heard the lonesome sound of Bill Stone? Well, don’t feel bad or “unkool”, hardly anyone has—unless you lived in rural Maine in the early ’70s and grabbed his barely-ever seen LP in the day. Titled simply Stone, Bill’s mysterious album was pressed in the micro-est of quantities, covering wistful, airy psychedelia on par with the UK’s Mark Fry’s classic Dreaming of Alice, while still evoking the earthy, evening-hour melancholy of Leonard Cohen or Tom Rapp. Stone was also especially influenced by one Donny P. Leitch, one Robby Zimmerman, and much trad folk, while growing up in his hometown of Old Town, Maine. Stone started out playing in a few small folk ensembles while also moonlighting with occasional solo gigs, finally recording this lone platter in 1969 in a pottery studio (!?) on a 2-track Panasonic tape recorder in Boothbay, Maine (where he says, they competed with a cat in heat). The LP features Tom Blackwell and Bill Stone on guitars, Arthur Webster on bass, Bob Blackwell and Skip Smith on drums, and Bill Stone and Beth Waterhouse on vocals. It also seems cover artist Doug Bane went on to become an acclaimed cosmic painter—committing loads of animals, psychedelic scenes, and Native American portraits to canvas, who knew? But we digress—anyhow, seems Stone’s solo career slowed down after marriage hit, and he transitioned to playing covers in bars for cash, but after acquiring a masters and doctorate in education, he moved into the teaching walk of life. Bill published books and articles on subjects as diverse as school counseling and chaos theory—but now retired, he’s returned to music, even recording a new album of originals and traditional numbers, based on his experiences as a cab driver (another wrinkle in the Stone Saga we must hear more of someday—but for now check out billstone.bandcamp.com). So with Bill back in action and the world slowly crawling out of a disillusioning haze, now seems like the perfect time for a first-time-ever reissue of this incredibly rare, happy-sad, gently delicate, Stone(d) classic of a downer song-cycle.
File Under: Loner Folk
Yasmin Williams: Urban Driftwood (Spinster) LP
With her ambidextrous and pedidextrous, multi-instrumental techniques of her own making and influences ranging from video games to West African griots subverting the predominantly white male canon of fingerstyle guitar, Yasmin Williams is truly a guitarist for the new century. So too is her stunning sophomore release, Urban Driftwood, an album for and of these times. Though the record is instrumental, its songs follow a narrative arc of 2020, illustrating both a personal journey and a national reckoning, through Williams’ evocative, lyrical compositions. Williams, 24, began playing electric guitar in 8th grade, after she beat the video game Guitar Hero 2 on expert level. Initially inspired by Jimi Hendrix and other shredders she was familiar with through the game, she quickly moved on to acoustic guitar, finding that it allowed her to combine fingerstyle techniques with the lap-tapping she had developed, as well as perform as a solo artist. Deriving no lineage from “American primitive” and rejecting the problematic connotations of the term, Williams’ influences include the smooth jazz and R&B she listened to growing up, Hendrix and Nirvana, go-go and hip-hop. On Urban Driftwood, Williams references the music of West African griots through the inclusion of kora and hand drumming of 150th generation djeli Amadou Kouyate, on the title track. Yasmin Williams is virtuosic in her mastery of the guitar and in the techniques of her own invention, but her playing never sacrifices lyricism, melody, and rhythm for pure demonstration of skill. Storytelling through sound is important to her too. As detailed in the liner notes, the songs on Urban Driftwood were completed during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, in the midst of a national uprising of Black Lives Matter protests in response to the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. But while Urban Driftwood illustrates current struggle, can’t help but open-heartedly offer a timeless solace.
File Under: Guitar Soli
Various: A Wound Without a Tear (Daisart) LP
Wound Without A Tear is a compilation of “Australian” Ambient and Experimental Music; an area so often overlooked and misunderstood because it does not easily fall into historical context. However, the fifteen years (1993-2008) the collection cites–a period of early 90s post-rave ethereality defined by pleasure-centred spaces (chill-out rooms) and the personal computer’s emergence as a popular tool for file-sharing and secondary-living in the 00s–is befitting of closer examination. The recordings were sourced from artists, labels, corrupted disk drives, CD-Rs, the WWW and archives of Melbourne’s 3RRR community radio station. During the 1990s, as new technologies emerged and mass digital culture flourished, artists explored the emergent possibilities of the Internet with a utopian fervour, viewing the web and its plethora of images and information as a site of boundless potential. In the 2000s, file sharing connected people around the world directly to one another, and this incorporation of online experience into material objects, meant there was an increasingly porous border between the online and offline worlds–if there remained a border, at all. What is remarkable from this collection is that so many people, working (mostly) on their own came up with such remarkably similar ideas. In most cases these similarities can be related to the inherent qualities of the medium, though often any distinction is decidedly blurred at the edges. The compilation seeks to make the works of these various artists available as a means of “demystification”. No specific destination is intended upon. Perhaps by the time you have reached the end, you will have forgotten where you began.
File Under: Ambient, New Age
Various: This is Jamaica Ska (Studio One) LP
When first released, This Is Jamaica Ska followed in the footsteps of the successful Ska Authentic releases and also marked the first time that Clement Dodd began to showcase on LP his new discovery, The Wailers, who had begun tearing up the dances in Kingston with “Simmer Down.” This song had been held for exclusive use in the dances before it was finally put out on 45, now it gained album status marking the increased visibility of the group in the marketplace. In addition to “Simmer Down,” two other songs by The Wailers are also found on the album: “How Many Times”, and the blazing cover of Jimmy Clanton’s “Go, Jimmy, Go” which Clement Dodd had proposed for the group to incorporate into their repertoire. Transferred in 2020 from the original master tapes, This Is Jamaica Ska is a welcome addition to the Studio One Original Masters Series.
File Under: OST
Arcade Fire: Reflektor (Sonovox) LP
Bikini Kill: Reject All American (Bikini Kill) LP
Bikini Kill: The Singles (Bikini Kill) LP
Black Keys: Rubber Factory (Fat Possum) LP
Budos Band: Long in the Tooth (Daptone) LP
Alvin Curran: Canti E Vedute Del Giardino Magnetico (Superior Viaduct) LP
The Fall: Grotesque (After the Gramme) (Superior Viaduct) LP
Fugazi: In On the Killtaker (Dischord) LP
Fugazi: s/t (Dischord) LP
G.I.S.M.: Detestation (Relapse) LP
Alain Goraguer: La Planete Sauvage OST (Superior Viaduct) LP
Hold Steady: Open Door Policy (Positive Jams) LP
Randy Holden: Population II (Riding Easy) LP
Idles: Brutalism (Partisan) LP
Lucero: When You Found Me (Thirty Tigers) LP
Charles Mingus: Mingus Ah Um (Music on Vinyl) LP
Kevin Morby: Harlem River (Woodsist) LP
Osees: Metamorphosed (Rock is Hell) LP
Pink Floyd: Obscured by Clouds (Pink Floyd) LP
Primitive Man: Immersion (Relapse) LP
Rage Against the Machine: s/t (Legacy) LP
Rapoon: Vernal Crossing (Abstrakce) LP
Stars of the Lid: Gravitational Pull… (Kranky) LP
Matt Sweeney & Bonnie Prince Billy: Superwolf (Drag City) LP