Phew! A bit of a break this week from all the new releases as of late. Not to say there’s not some amazing new stuff in, but there’s a bit less anyway. And we’ve finally managed to get some copies of some real bangers from last year that weren’t very available when they first came out. Monokultur sold out immediately, and has finally been repressed! Leaving Records changed there distribution, so we weren’t able to get Sam Gendel‘s massive amazing, Fresh Bread. Blue Note hasn’t let up and has 3 new reissues from Don Cherry, Jackie McLean & the massive Ornette Coleman box. Black Country, New Road is getting rave reviews and Mitski & Cate Le Bon never disappoint. A Kevin Gray mastered reissue of Nina Simone’s seminal Little Girl Blue, and a whack of new tapes as well… have at it!
As previously mentioned, in line with current health restrictions we are operating as below..
– in-store shopping/pick ups – 11 – 6 pm Monday – Friday, 11 am – 4 pm Saturday
(if you don’t want to come into the store for a pick up, call and/or use the back door)
– Max 4 people in the store at a time
– Wear a mask (if you don’t have one, we’ll have some)
– Sanitize your hands(we’ll have some)
…..picks of the week…..
Monokultur: Ormens Vag (Mamma’s Mysteriska Jukebox) LP
“2021 starts as 2020 ends, the good as well as all the bad, with more better-than-everything-else Gothenburg output. Elin Engstrom (of Loopsel) and JJ Ulius’ debut 7″ as Monokultur back in 2018 was somewhere near the front end of the new wave of young Swedish artists that have gathered around the older heads at Discreet Music, and they make good on that promise with a second LP that’s every bit the best thing either of them have been involved in. As with the Loopsel record (back in print btw THANK GAWD!), and to some extent their contemporaries in Amateur Hour, there’s a big focus on the ethereal lost-in-the-dream phase of classic era 4AD – the submerged industrial clang of early Cocteaus obviously, but also elements of the various ghostworlds of Dif Juz, Dead Can Dance, His Name Is Alive, This Mortal Coil… What, for me, positions this above their still-great first album, is nothing more complex than the benefit of time. Those early recordings were as blunt and unrefined as they were a compelling reimagining of their influences, but on Ormens Väg, Monokultur have crystallised into something beyond their sharp reference points. Yes, the songs are better recorded, the compositions more defined. But that’s not quite it… More so than the music itself, what Monokultur mostly share with those cited 4AD acts is that ability to construct a world around themselves, to understand the value in the cult and occulted, the latter helped hugely by their insistence on singing mostly in the mysterious harsh tones of their native language (and perhaps this music lands differently with non-Swedish speakers?). Make no mistake, Ormens Väg is world-making of the highest grade. The last few years have often had me wondering if Gothenburg is the centre of the universe. Here’s another reason why…Best of the year so soon?”
File Under: Lo-Fi, Electronic, Post Punk, Dream Pop
Sam Gendel: Fresh Bread (Leaving) LP/CS
An epic set of wispy, submerged jazz x crate digger modes from LA horn player Sam Gendel. Seriously sublime – four hours on the download, almost two hours on vinyl – float away on this one. Sam Gendel has found a fertile mid-point between the outerzone fourth world experimentation of nu-nu age pioneer Jon Hassell and LA’s beat scene, infusing his woozy instrumental compositions with the sparkling essence of the Leaving canon. Gendel initially dropped “Fresh Bread” on Bandcamp during the pandemic, but quickly deleted it pending a wider release; now the 52-track (18 on the vinyl) epic of home recordings and performances spanning an eight year (!) period is available once again, with selected cuts making it to a 2LP vinyl edition. The set includes charming collabs with Carlos Niño, Jamire Williams, Daniel Aged, Gabe Noel, and Philippe Melanson and holds a consistent groove without falling into repetition. These are widescreen, sensual and often narcotic mood makers, scraping liberal amounts of influence from Morricone, Chick Corea, Carlos Santana, Madlib and David Axelrod – even Stereolab’s fizzed Kraut-cum-lounge permeates Gendel’s personable wyrd jazz bubble. It’s refreshing to hear an artist working in this mode, using digger techniques to assemble spiritual, life-affirming compositions that remind you fondly of the impossibly wide-reaching tendrils of jazz. You might not expect to have the patience for a four-hour set but trust us, once you start this one it’s hard to stop – it’s an absorbing, colorful musical landscape to get lost in.
File Under: Ambient, Electronic, Jazz, Fourth World
Amanaz: Africa (Now Again) LP
Single LP reissue of the original album (does not include the “Reverb Mix” version found on previous 2LP editions). “Issued in 1975, this is the articulation of Zambia’s Zamrock ethos. Its’ musicians were anti-colonial freedom fighters, it envelops Zambian folk music traditions, and it rocks — hard. Amanaz were serious, and they made a serious stab at an album. They titled their album Africa, according to original band member Keith Kabwe, ‘because of how it was shared and how its inhabitants were butchered and enslaved, its resources stolen… all the atrocities slave drivers committed.’ Thus, their ‘Kale,’ a blues sung in Nyanja, that traced the continent’s arc from slavery to Zambia’s independence closes the album. Kabwe and rhythm guitarist John Kanyepa have a winsome softness to their vocals, which sit politely aside the feral growl of drummer Watson Baldwin Lungu, bassist Jerry Mausala and bandleader/lead guitarist Isaac Mpofu. Africa’s vibe ranges from anxious (‘Amanaz’) to escapist (‘Easy Street’) to straight-up pissed-off. On the ‘History of Man,’ his voice whiskey-burned, his distorted guitar buzzing like swarming hornets, Mpofu indicts his species. There’s a darkness to Africa not found on any other Zamrock records, and a melancholy drifts throughout, specifically on Mpofu’s more restrained ‘Khala My Friend,’ which stands as an effective, bleak situation for the Zambian everyman, the average citizen of a struggling, new nation, who might have had relatives in conflict-torn countries on the horizon, who might have been struggling to find his next meal, who might have seen a bleaker future than his president promised. Then there’s the clear Velvet Underground-influence on the nostalgic ‘Sunday Morning,’ which, as Kabwe recalls, was the first song written for the album, back in 1968, when Velvet Underground and Nico was a new release — and the underground funk of ‘Making The Scene.’ The album also tackles traditional Zambian music and early-’60s rock — punctuated, of course by Kanyepa’s wah-wah and Mpofu’s fuzz guitars. But every time Amanaz get too deep, too violent, they come back with an accessible song and woo their listener back to the groove. ‘Green Apple’ is a civil song, featuring Kanyepa’s sighing guitar.”
File Under: Africa, Psych
Ambient Warrior: Dub Journey’s (Isle of Jura) LP
The next official reissue is an off the wall Dub album from Ambient Warrior originally released in 1995 on the Lion Inc label. The album is rooted in Dub but has a much broader scope taking in various musical influences from across the globe. Founder Ronnie Lion explains the concept “The Ambient Warrior was created as an outlet for myself and Andreas Terrano. At the time I was running Lion Music in Brixton, a popular mainly vocal roots label, and Andreas was teaching engineering at our studio. I soon realised he was a very talented guitar and piano player (Basement Jaxx also thought so and he worked with them around this time) and like myself we both wanted to create music that reflected our diverse influences. Andreas is of Italian, Armenian and Russian heritage and these musical influences clearly come through on the LP; over a Dub and Reggae backdrop you’ll hear a Tango and Bossa Nova style. The players on the album also come from different nationalities and genres, not just from the reggae scene, so this really created something authentic and unique”. The LP has been fully remastered from the original DAT tape with new full sleeve artwork from Bradley Pinkerton. Pressed on heavyweight 180 Gram Vinyl.
File Under: Reggae
Asa Tone: Live at New Forms (Leaving) CS
Asa Tone is a multidisciplinary, multinational group formed in New York City comprised of Melati Malay, Tristan Arp and Kaazi. Originally commissioned by Yu Su as an event-specific work for the New Forms Festival in Vancouver in 2020, Asa Tone worked together virtually during quarantine, embracing new approaches in chance-based composition. The group’s members individually recorded a pool of generative loops and field recordings in lieu of performed “songs,” adhering to general tempo and key parameters, yet each responding to their respective lockdown environments in Mexico City, New York and the Australian rainforest. From this nonlinear web of possibilities, Asa Tone prepared a continuous 30 minute piece via zoom, which was later adapted and spatialized for the 4D sound / 32-channel audio system at Lobe Studios in Vancouver by producer and festival curator Yu Su. This installation was accompanied by a custom modular video work by artist Nika Milano, and originally aired in August 2, 2020, in conjunction with performances by Helen Michelle Mackenzie and Khotin. This long-form recording is the stereo document of Asa Tone’s remote, digital 32-channel performance at New Forms.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient
Black Country, New Road: Ants Up From Up There (Ninja Tune) LP
Black Country, New Road will release the second album, “Ants From Up There” on February 4th via Ninja Tune. Following on almost exactly a year to the day from the release of their acclaimed debut “For the first time”, the band have harnessed the momentum from that record and run full pelt into their second, with “Ants From Up There” managing to strike a skilful balance between feeling like a bold stylistic overhaul of what came before, as well as a natural progression. Their debut “For the first time” is a certain 2021 Album of the Year, having received ecstatic reviews from publications including as NPR, Stereogum, Pitchfork, The FADER, CRACK, Uncut, The Quietus, Loud & Quiet, The Face, Paste, The Needle Drop, DIY, NME, CLASH and fans alike, as well as recently being shortlisted for the UK’s prestigious Mercury Music Prize. The album made a significant dent on the UK Albums Chart where it landed at #4 in its first week, as well as breaking into multiple Billboard Charts including Top Album Sales (#50), Current Album Sales (#26), Tastemaker Albums (#4), Heatseeker Albums (#15) and Emerging Artists (#22).
File Under: Post Punk
Joanna Brouk: The Space Between (Numero) LP
Previously issued on three rare cassette-only editions, Joanna Brouk’s 1980 sophomore album The Space Between has finally been given spacious LP quarters. The side-long title track, performed by Brouk’s Mills College instructor and sometime-lover Bill Maraldo is among the deepest and most distinctive pieces in the new age canon, while side B’s three cuts expand the theme in hypnotic new directions.
File Under: Ambient, New Age
Tom Carruthers: Non Stop Rhythms (L.I.E.S.) LP
Blinding double pack of heavily old school influenced bleep, direct from the depths of England by prolific young producer, Tom Carruthers. These are heavily sample based mpc productions that harken to the carefree days when the pills were pure and the music was fresh and never stopped. When house was techno and techno was house, this long player takes the best elements from say Chill Records, early-Warp and the best Nu-Groove creating timeless dance tracks made for the warehouse dj. Essential stuff here.
File Under: Electronic
Don Cherry: Where is Brooklyn (Blue Note) LP
Blue Note Records has announced the continuation of the Classic Vinyl Reissue Series which presents 180g vinyl LP reissues in standard packaging mastered by Kevin Gray and manufactured at Optimal. The pressings are all-analog whenever an analog source is available, with Gray mastering directly from the original master tapes. While the first 16 titles of the series focused on the best-known Blue Note classics from the 1950s and 60s, the new run of titles curated by Don Was and Cem Kurosman broadens its scope to span the many eras and styles of the legendary label’s eight-decade history presented by themes: Bebop, Hard Bop, Soul Jazz, Post-Bop, Avant-Garde, The 70s, The Rebirth, and Hidden Gems. Don Cherry first rose to prominence as part of the Ornette Coleman Quartet that turned the jazz world on its ear in 1959, then in 1965 began his career as a leader with a run of fiery Blue Note albums including Where Is Brooklyn?, a highly interactive quartet date with Pharoah Sanders on tenor saxophone, Henry Grimes on bass and Ed Blackwell on drums.
File Under: Jazz
Ornette Coleman: Round Trip (Blue Note) LP
Iconoclastic saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman shook the jazz world when he arrived at the Five Spot Café in New York City in 1959 and began his run of seminal albums on Atlantic that laid the foundation for the free jazz movement to come. After a period of disillusionment during which he withdrew from public music making, Coleman re-emerged on Blue Note in 1966 and began writing an intriguing new chapter of his legendary career. Round Trip: Ornette Coleman On Blue Note presents all-analog 180g vinyl LP editions of all six albums featuring Coleman that were recorded for Blue Note, including his five albums as a leader – the two-volume At The ‘Golden Circle’ Stockholm (1965), The Empty Foxhole (1966), New York Is Now! (1968), and Love Call (1968) – as well as his lone sideman appearance on New And Old Gospel (1967) by fellow saxophonist Jackie McLean. The box set includes a booklet featuring rare photos and an enlightening essay by critic Thomas Conrad. Blue Note Records’ acclaimed Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series continues in 2022. 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.
File Under: Jazz
Jocy De Oliveira: Raga Na Amazonia (Discos Nada) LP
For the first time on vinyl, this compilation brings excerpts from electroacoustic pieces written by Jocy de Oliveira from 1987 to 1993. Jocy is considered a pioneer in avant-garde electroacoustic music in Brasil, also as a pianist, working with famous 20th-century musicians like Igor Stravinsky, Oliver Messiaen, Claudio Santoro, Luciano Berio, John Cage, K. Stockhausen and Xenakis. Her main musical tools are human voice, Yamaha TX and DX7 synthesizers, woodwind instruments, tablas, electric violin, and less traditional instruments from other cultures. In her pieces, Jocy talks about imagination, mythologies connected to the sacred feminine and contemporary physics cosmology. Jocy plays synthesizers in all tracks and is accompanied by great musicians as Ayrton Pinto, Joseph Celli, Sang Won Park, Ricardo Rodrigues and Anna Maria Kieffer. The LP comes with an insert with unseen photos and two texts, one by Jocy de Oliveira and other by the musician and researcher Paulo Beto.
File Under: Avant Garde
Earthless: Night Parade of One Hundred Demons (Nuclear Blast) LP
The latest from the San Diego-based psych rock power trio Earthless was recorded with Mario Rubalcaba’s childhood friend Ben Moore, who’s worked with everyone from Diamanda Galas and Burt Bacharach to Ceremony and Hot Snakes. Their fifth album is comprised of two monster songs: the 41-minute title track and the 20-minute “Death To The Red Sun.” The album and its title were inspired by an ancient Japanese legend in which a horde of demons, ghosts and other terrifying ghouls descend upon sleeping villages at night, once a year. Known as Hyakki Yagyō, or the “Night Parade Of One Hundred Demons,” one version of the tale states that anyone who witnesses this otherworldly procession will die instantly – or be carried off by the creatures of the night. As a result, the villagers hide in their homes, lest they become victims of these supernatural invaders. “My son and I came across the ‘Night Parade of One Hundred Demons’ in a book of traditional Japanese ghost stories,” bassist Mike Eginton explains. “I like the idea of people hiding and being able to hear the madness but not see it. It’s the fear of the unknown.” Given the record’s inspiration, it should come as no surprise that Night Parade Of One Hundred Demons strikes a more sinister tone than the rest of the band’s catalogue. “It definitely has a darker, almost evil kind of vibe compared to stuff we’ve done in the past,” Rubalcaba says. “There’s more paranoia and noise, and some of Isaiah’s whammy-bar stuff kind of reminds me of these Jeff Hanneman moments in Reign In Blood, where it just seems like everything is going to hell. It’s pretty fun.” All told, Night Parade Of One Hundred Demons isn’t just a return to the band’s traditional format – it’s a return to their very beginnings. “This album actually has the very first Earthless riff in it,” Eginton reveals. “We just recorded it 20 years after we wrote it. But we’re really happy with how this record came out. We feel it might be our finest to date.”
File Under: Metal
J Foerster/N Kramer: Habitat (Leaving) LP/CS
Habitat, an environmental music collaboration by Berlin based composer Niklas Kramer and percussionist Joda Foerster, is inspired by the drawings of Italian architect Ettore Sottsass. Each of the eight tracks represents a room in an imaginary building. In Habitat the duo layers, loops and merges sonic textures and patterns into fluid blocks without the restraint of statics. African log drum, Bolivian chajchas, vibraphone, kalimba and various other percussion instruments are processed, pitched, harmonised and filtered through modular synth and script based sample cutting to form a collage of asynchronous layers. By using acoustic instruments and expanding their sound into abstract shapes, Habitat evokes a vague intimacy, a curious state of comfort in the unknown.
File Under: Ambient, Electronic
Futurangelics: s/t (Leaving) CS
Brin (Colin Blanton), Dntel (aka Jimmy Tamborello), and More Eaze (Mari Rubio) are Futurangelics. via Cached Media: The three artists, all pioneering their own versions of forward looking electronic music in their own works, mesh into a seamless, gauzy, and expressive trio here; a mysterious palimpsest of amorphous, curious, introspective, and masterfully arranged sounds and musical motifs. The collection feels cinematic; this term usually connotes something sweeping, grandiose… instead of grandiosity we are shown a film full of subtle emotional negotiation, longing and release, mundane landscapes shrouded in purple night and light pollution. Like laying in bed at 4am thumbing back through a camera roll of blurry photographs from a night out with friends. Warm synth timbers grip onto the surfaces of gravely field recordings and parking lot stripes. Vocoded voices are draped through clattering digital percussion expressions, jittery glitches, and processed acoustic guitar. Modular percolations and warm wide pads color the humid post-meridian scene with burgundy light. Bugs clatter around a street light caught in the radiance of a swirling violin movement and a puff of cigarette smoke. Futurangelics showcases three musicians, all accomplished and respectively unique, congealing as a trio to create something subdued, but in that subtlety deeply rewarding, almost loyal. It feels familiar, but like a friend that has gone away and finally come back to hang again, full of secrets. A world of lights glaring on the windshield as the car glides through the pre-dawn tenderness. For fans of these respective artists, you will find their signatures (cascading microsamples, enveloping synthesis, misty ambient/pop) peppered throughout, but it is those moments where you can’t tell whose hand you’re holding that become the most exhilarating. In those mysteries there is a very peculiar and enchanting softness.
File Under: Ambient
Sam Gendel: AE-30 (Leaving) CS
AE-30 is both a film and audio album of the 2021 Sam Gendel x Roland AE-30 / Aerophone / Pro Digital Wind Instrument documentary. In August, musician Sam Gendel and filmmaker Marcella Cytrynowicz traveled to Iceland and filmed Gendel performing the instrument in unique locations outdoors around the country – most locations remote and accessed only via their friend Viktor, a search-and-rescue volunteer for Iceland who expertly navigates the country’s challenging terrain in his modified Toyota Land Cruiser. The full documentary film and audio companion album will be released December 8th 2021 via Leaving Records.
File Under: Ambient, Electronic
German Army: Passage Through Selk’nam Hain Ceremony (L.I.E.S) LP
Absolutely stunning 18 track 2xlp by the mysterious, cult West Coast outfit German Army. The prolific group once again explores the freaked out fringes of the electronic world where blown out beat experiments stand beside buried guitar twangs, synth drones, and rigged textures, conjuring images of barren landscapes from forgotten far away lands. This is an album that you need to sink your mind deep into. Comes with huge fold out poster.
File Under: Electronic, Experimental, Industrial
Green-House: Music for Living Spaces (Leaving) CS
Now in on tape! Leaving Records presents Music For Living Spaces, the debut LP by non-binary Los Angeles-based artist Green-House. Olive Ardizoni helms the project, which made its debut with the charming 2019 EP Six Songs for Invisible Gardens. Music for Living Spaces represents an evolution of its predecessor’s minimalist compositions into songs that move with winsome melodies and emotional arcs. Though recorded during a pandemic, the transporting nature of Music For Livings Spaces offers a remedy for dreariness. Ardizoni states, “I’m trying to hit that part of the brain that’s affected by the emotional state that you’re in when you perceive something as cute.” Music For Living Spaces’ first single “Sunflower Dance” sports a breezy, bucolic vibe. The track is intended to invoke the whimsical image of hamsters happily dancing in a field. Ardizoni brings an intentionality to these playful atmospheres. They state, “In our culture, we prioritize profound artistic expression through emotions like sadness or aggression, but cuteness, silliness or fun, are the things that we trivialize in our culture. We say that they’re childish and it gets invalidated.” The complex and radiant productions on Music for Living Spaces counter this view. Ardizoni continues, “Cuteness and joy are gateways to compassion. It’s the gateway to empathy and activating the network in your brain that boosts moral concern for other people in the world around you.” Despite its general sunniness, Music For Living Spaces does not solely rely on exuberant, colorful moods. “Royal Fern” is a sophisticated composition of voices calling and responding to each other in rippling waves, while towards the closing of the album we hear Ardizoni’s ethereal voice for the first time that carries a nuanced, contemplative aura that defies categorization. Music For Living Spaces is a step forward for Green-House. Ardizoni states, “The intention of this project is to facilitate the connection between humans and nature. Instead of perceiving nature as something that’s separate from us, or outside of our homes, we can recognize nature as something that is within us and in everything we do in our daily lives. You don’t need to have access to the great outdoors to feel connected to the environment.”
File Under: Ambient, New Age, Electronic
Tim Hecker: The North Water OST (Invada) LP
Tim Hecker’s incredible score to “The North Water”, starring Colin Farrell and Jack O’Connell. The score is pressed on 180g black vinyl, housed in a deluxe spined sleeve with double sided printed insert and download card included. Both have formats have beautiful artwork throughout using stunning imagery from the film. “The score for The North Water was written just before and during the pandemic in 2020, mostly over arguably one of the darkest winters of some memory in Montreal,” says Hecker. “The music was an attempt to add depth and texture to a five-hour doomed arctic journey that charts a trajectory from hardened optimism into abject futility. We worked with a primary palette of synthesizers, electronics, and treated cello, in rich live spaces as well as suffocating dead ones. This version of the score is an enhanced mix of some of the material that made its way into the project.” Adapted from a novel of the same name – The North Water by Ian McGuire – it tells the story of a disgraced doctor who becomes a medic onboard an Arctic whaling ship.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient
Inoyamaland: Swiva (EXT) LP
New Music from Japanese Ambient / New Age icon Inoyama Land!! This is Inoyamaland’s first album of new music in over 22 years and the long-awaited vinyl version of this brand-new album! One of the pioneers of Japanese environmental/ ambient music who recently received global recognition, with their track being included in the 2019 Grammy Awards’ Best Historical Album category nominated compilation, Kankyo Ongaku. The artwork was designed by Japanese creator extraordinaire Osamu Sato.
File Under: Ambient, Electronic, Japan
Faten Kanaan: A Mythology of Circles (Fire) LP
A Mythology of Circles is the new album from Brooklyn-based composer and musical artist Faten Kanaan, her first to be released on Fire Records. Cyclical patterns and ‘variation through repetition’ are central to Faten’s music. Harmony and counterpoint are composed intuitively and treated as narrative tools – with sound, silence, and the resulting mystical relationship between notes used as gestures to tell a wordless story. The album is separated into a ‘dusk to evening’ side, and an ‘underworld/dream-state’ side; highlighting the myths of Ishtar, Inanna, Orpheus, Persephone, and others. Inspired by cinematic forms and mythological story structures: from sweeping landscapes and quiet romances, to patterned tensions and dream sequences; Faten brings an earthy, visceral touch to electronic music. In symbiosis with technology is an appreciation for the vulnerability of human limitations and nuances. All the sections are played in real time, neither looped nor sequenced – allowing for subtle changes to unfold. The use of VST sampled choral voices in this album embodies the forlorn state of technological acceleration, and the desire to return to a vulnerable human sound. The album art also explores a complicated relationship with technology: the statue comes from a series of digital replicas, returning in its last stage to a more intimate and handmade feel.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Classical
Kool & The Gang: s/t (Real Gone) LP
The 1970 debut album from Kool and the Gang scored a couple of hits with “The Gangs Back Again” and the title cut, but more importantly, it heralded the arrival of what was to become a juggernaut on the R&B scene. This all-instrumental record is years away from the commercial successes of “Jungle Boogie” and “Celebration,” and a few light years away stylistically, too. But that unique mixture of jazz, funk, and R&B punctuated by those tremendous horn arrangements (and some great drum breaks) that characterizes Kool and the Gang at its best is here in full force. That’s why original copies of this record go for a “kool” sum. It’s a funk classic you need to check out if you haven’t heard it lately…purple vinyl pressing to help you get on down!
File Under: Soul, Funk
La Union Metalurgica: s/t (L.I.E.S.) LP
Written and produced by Lautaro Carbajal and Nicolas Ballesteros in deep Raval, Barcelona 2020, this is absolutely all you could want…Following in the tradition of the open circuit 80s Spanish industrial scene this is a continuation feedbacking ms-20s, ominous vocals, tape cut ups and vicious distorted beats. All of it is there, all of it is urgent, it is a reflection of daily chaos, internal battles and the sonic equivalent to the decaying society we inhabit day to day. Seven song lp, limited to 300.
File Under: Industrial, Electronic
Lady Wray: Piece of Me (Big Crown) LP
Piece of Me is the sophomore full length offering from Lady Wray. This is something of a homecoming for Nicole. Where her 2016 solo debut Queen Alone leaned more towards Soul and R&B with tinges of hip-hop, this record changes the mixture. It’s still R&B with the textures of analog Soul, but there is a heavy Hip Hop influence that brings the sum of Nicole’s career together in a new sound that will define her future. Boom-bap drums and chunky bass lines are front-and-center creating a perfect head-nodding backdrop for Lady Wray to take on the good, the bad, the difficult, and the joyful on her most personal collection of songs to date. The title track, “Piece of Me,” which has already become a classic since it’s 2019 release is about the people in your life who need more than you are willing to give. This tune and the B side of the 7″ “Come On In” were the first songs put to tape for this album and they were recorded with Nicole sitting in a chair 8 months pregnant with her daughter. Her voice is so powerful, so raw, so thorough on these initial songs – it’s wild to think that they were recorded this way. And even wilder to know that she knocked them all out in one take. Long time collaborator and producer Leon Michels keeps the musical backing restrained and expertly executed, setting up Lady Wray for the full spotlight and setting the tone for the rest of the album. While the upbeat energies of “Under The Sun” and “Through It All” are sure to become hits that reconnect Lady Wray with her 90s R&B fanbase, “Where Were You” offers a behind the scenes look at what those days of stardom in her youth were really like. Nicole takes on the racial tension in America with her poetic and powerful “Beauty In The Fire” and leans heavy into her faith and church upbringing on the showstopper, “Thank You”. She gushes about the profound love she’s come to know for her daughter on “Melody” and celebrates life’s ups and downs on “Joy & Pain”. In 2021 it is rare to hear a varied yet cohesive album with no “skippers”, but that is what you have here in spades. The tried and true chemistry between Nicole and Michels has undeniably found a higher level and this album stands as a testament to conviction and dedication for all of us to enjoy and be inspired by.
File Under: Soul, RnB, Hip Hop
Cate Le Bon: Pompeii (Mexican Summer) LP
Pompeii, Cate Le Bon’s sixth full-length studio album and the follow up to 2019’s Mercury-nominated Reward, bears a storied title summoning apocalypse, but the metaphor eclipses any “dissection of immediacy,” says Le Bon. Sonically minimal in parts, its lyrics jog between self-reflection and direct address. Written primarily on bass and composed entirely alone in an “uninterrupted vacuum,” Le Bon plays every instrument (except drums and saxophones) and recorded the album largely by herself with long-term collaborator and co-producer Samur Khouja in Cardiff, Wales. To leverage visionary control, Le Bon invented twisted types of discipline into her absurdist decision making. Primary goals in this project were to mimic the “religious” sensibility in one of Tim Presley’s paintings, which hung on the studio wall in Cardiff, Wales as a meditative image and was reproduced as a portrait of Le Bon for Pompeii’s cover. Fist across the heart, stalwart and saintly: how to make “music that sounds like a painting?” Cate asked herself. Enter piles of Pompeii’s signature synths made on favourites such as the Yamaha DX7, amongst others; basslines inspired by 1980s Japanese city pop, designed to bring joyfulness and abandonment; vocal arrangements that add memorable depth to the melodic fabric of each song; long-term collaborator Stella Mozgawa’s “jazz-thinking” percussion patched in from quarantined Australia; and Khouja’s encouraging presence. The songs of Pompeii feel suspended in time, both of the moment and instant but reactionary and Dada-esque in their insistence to be playful, satirical, and surreal. From the spirited, strutting bass fretwork of “Moderation”, to the sax-swagger of “Running Away”; a tale exquisite in nature but ultimately doomed (The fountain that empties the world / Too beautiful to hold), escapism lives as a foil to the outside world. Pompeii’s audacious tribute to memory, compassion, and mortal salience is here to stay.
File Under: Indie Rock
Lionmilk: I Hope You Are Well (Leaving) CS
Originally, this album was home-dubbed cassette-only music selectively dropped in mailboxes of close friends & family who may have been struggling with anxiety & depression during early 2020 pandemic shutdown. In late 2020, Leaving Records teamed with Lionmilk to officially release.
File Under: Ambient
Lonnie Liston -Smith: Cosmic Funk (Real Gone) LP
Lonnie Liston Smith and the Cosmic Echoes’ groundbreaking albums for the Flying Dutchman label don’t get the attention from jazz fans that they should. In fact, among the many distinguished alumni of Miles Davis’ fusion bands, keyboardist Smith and his cohorts arguably ran with Davis’ stylistic breakthrough the farthest. In five albums stretching over four years, Smith and the Cosmic Echoes stretched the fusion aesthetic to embrace post-bop modal and spiritual jazz, funk, rock, pop, and even the smooth jazz, quiet storm, and crossover genres. And if those latter styles raise your traditionalist hackles, Smith imbued all of his records with integrity, vision, and his unique spacy sensibiity; instead of playing it safe or commercial, he fearlessly paved a path for modern jazz musicians to follow (Kamasi Washington, for one, no doubt listened to these records at length). Nestled somewhere between the soul jazz, spiritual jazz, fusion, and post-bop subgenres, Lonnie’s second Flying Dutchman album, 1974’s Cosmic Funk, headed, as the title indicates, in a funkier direction, with Lonnie Liston Smith’s brother Donald contributing smooth vocal stylings to John Coltrane’s “Naima” among other tunes. A transitional work but a fascinating one, with surehanded production once again from Bob Thiele. Features the original gatefold album art…another “post-fusion” masterwork from the Lonnie Liston Smith and the Cosmic Echoes!
File Under: Jazz
Love Apple: s/t (Numero) LP
In the late ’70s, three do-right women from Cleveland forged a brief partnership with Ohio’s everything man, Lou Ragland. Unlike the prefabricated singing combos of the day, Lily Pearson, Annette Warren, and Avetta Henry swapped lead duties as situation demanded. When a Ragland-centric publicity stunt preempted a concert appearance, Love Apple disintegrated, abandoning this rehearsal tape within the lo-fi confines of Thomas Boddie’s cherished Eastside studio. Devoid of bass, the sparse instrumentation (only Lou on guitar and piano and Hot Chocolate’s Tony Roberson on drums) accentuates each vocalist’s aptitude, showcasing some of Ragland’s finest songwriting in the process. During any given take, Ragland can be heard calling audibles, directing his singers to repeat a passage, or lending his own sweet tenor to the vocal mix. Never intended for release, Love Apple’s six-song sketch is the perfect companion to I Travel Alone, bringing Ragland’s unique musical vision into sharper focus.
File Under: Soul
Jackie McLean: Destination… Out! (Blue Note) LP
Blue Note Records has announced the continuation of the Classic Vinyl Reissue Series which presents 180g vinyl LP reissues in standard packaging mastered by Kevin Gray and manufactured at Optimal. The pressings are all-analog whenever an analog source is available, with Gray mastering directly from the original master tapes. While the first 16 titles of the series focused on the best-known Blue Note classics from the 1950s and 60s, the new run of titles curated by Don Was and Cem Kurosman broadens its scope to span the many eras and styles of the legendary label’s eight-decade history presented by themes: Bebop, Hard Bop, Soul Jazz, Post-Bop, Avant-Garde, The 70s, The Rebirth, and Hidden Gems. The time was right. It was 1963 and 31-year old altoist Jackie McLean was recording an album for the ages. McLean had been a major player for a dozen years by then and was a hard bop master but he wanted more in his music. One of the very few musicians of his generation to embrace free jazz, McLean was impressed by Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane but his goal was to create his own brand of free form music, one filled with soul and grooves yet exploring sounds never heard before. In trombonist Grachan Moncur III, he had found a musical soul mate, one whose adventurous solos matched McLean’s own and who was also a superior composer. With Bobby Hutcherson, bassist Larry Ridley and Roy Haynes, McLean and Moncur romp through four of their originals, swinging hard but engaging in new ideas and ferocious emotions, connected to the past but looking towards a wild future. Nothing was held back and the performances on Destination…Out! still sound futuristic, innovative and thrilling.
File Under: Jazz
Mitski: Laurel Hell (Dead Oceans) LP
We don’t typically look to pop albums to answer our cultural moment, let alone to meet the soul hunger left in the wake of global catastrophe. Pop songs are meant to distract us with reductive parables of love and fame, heroism and villainy. But occasionally, an artist proves the form more malleable and capacious than we knew. With Laurel Hell, Mitski cements her reputation as an artist in possession of such power – capable of using her talent to perform the alchemy that turns our most savage and alienated experiences into the very elixir that cures them. “I wrote what I needed to hear,” Mitski explains. “As I’ve always done.” Her critically beloved last album, Be the Cowboy, built on the breakout acclaim of 2016’s Puberty 2 and launched her from cult favorite to indie star. She ascended amid a fever of national division, and the grind of touring and pitfalls of increased visibility influenced her music as much as her spirit. As she sings in “Working for the Knife,” a song that was a touchstone in creating the overall feel of Laurel Hell: “I start the day lying and end with the truth / That I’m dying for the knife.” Cowboy was driven by personas of female strength and defiance that, however compelling, amounted to the musician “putting on different masks.” Like the mountain laurels for this new album is named, public perception, like the intoxicating prism of the internet, can offer an alluring façade that obscures a deadly trap – one that tightens the more you struggle. “I got to a point,” she admits, “where I just knew that if I kept going this way, I would numb myself to completion.” Exhausted by this warped mirror, and our addiction to false binaries, she began writing songs that stripped away the masks and revealed the complex and often contradictory realities behind them. “I needed love songs about real relationships that are not power struggles to be won or lost,” she explains. “I needed songs that could help me forgive both others and myself. I make mistakes all the time. I don’t want to put on a front where I’m a role model, but I’m also not a bad person. I needed to create this space mostly for myself where I sat in that gray area.” The songs that resulted embody that space. “Heat Lightening,” a hypnotic, melancholy ode to insomnia and the “sleeping eyelid of the sky” turns in a sensual R&B direction halfway through, while “The Only Heartbreaker” – co-written with Dan Wilson, and the first such song in her discography – pairs soaring pop swells with deceptively straightforward lyrics whose sincere refrain turns ironic as it depicts “the person always messing up in the relationship, the designated Bad Guy who gets the blame,” and implicitly wonders if “the reason you’re always the one making mistakes is because you’re the only one trying.” Similarly, “Should’ve Been Me” takes a look at infidelity rarely found in songs so infectious. “I wanted to write a song about cheating in a relationship that came from a place of love and understanding,” says Mitski. “What if there was all the love in the world, and still no way to make it work?” She wrote many of these songs during or before 2018, while the album finished mixing in May 2021. It is the longest span of time Mitski has ever spent on a record, and a process that concluded amid a radically changed world. She recorded Laurel Hell with her longtime producer Patrick Hyland throughout the isolation of a global pandemic, during which some of the songs “slowly took on new forms and meanings, like seed to flower.” The album as a whole evolved “to be more uptempo and dance-y. I needed to create something that was also a pep talk,” Mitski explains. “Like, it’s time, we’re going to dance through this.” The tension that emerges between her refined but plaintive lyrics and the effervescent 1980s sound is a desperately needed infusion, and the work of a mature artist: an album that delivers nuanced profundity on a current of contagious dance beats. It is irresistible.
File Under: Indie Rock
Jeff Parker: Forfolks (International Anthem) LP
Jeff Parker’s Forfolks – a new album of solo guitar works – features interpretations of Thelonious Monk’s “Ugly Beauty” and the standard “My Ideal,” plus six original compositions including “Four Folks” (a tune first written by Parker and recorded in 1995) and “La Jetée” (a tune he recorded with Isotope 21 7 in 1997 and with Tortoise in 1998). The four totally new original compositions are loop-driven, stratiform works that marry melodic improvisation with electronic textures. The album was recorded by Graeme Gibson at Sholo Studio in Altadena, California (aka Jeff’s house) over two days in June 2021.
File Under: Jazz
Jeff Rosenstock: Ska Dream (Polyvinyl) LP
Ska Dream is a complete re-recording of Jeff Rosenstock’s critically-acclaimed 2020 record No Dream however this time around all of the songs are ska songs. “As with most things ska in my life, what started out as a fun goof with friends eventually morphed into ‘Hey, what if we tried to make it good though?’, says Rosenstock. “All of us have a pretty deep history playing and touring the country in punk/ska bands. We all understand the stigma that comes along with ska, we’ve all dealt with the pitfalls of it, and we’ve all kept on truckin’ regardless. If you are one of those people who loves music as long as it isn’t ska, that’s cool, we see you. This record isn’t for you and you don’t have to listen to it. Okay, everyone else, we see you too, we love you and check it out, Ska Dream is real.”
File Under: Ska
Nina Simone: Little Girl Blue (BMG) LP
Blue vinyl reissue featuring 2021 Stereo Mix by 4x Grammy-Winner Michael Graves and Vinyl Remastering by Kevin Gray Plus New Essay by Author of Liner Notes For The Revolution, Daphne A. Brooks! Nina Simone’s combination of classical training, smoky-alto vocal delivery and the influence of modern jazz made her a novel and inspiring jazz singer and instrumentalist. Simone’s many talents are on full display on 1959’s Little Girl Blue, her debut for the Bethlehem label which launched an unrivaled career, and finds The High Priestess of Soul wonderfully setting the mood on vocals and piano while handling all of the arrangements and also offering up her own composition with “Central Park Blues.” Little Girl Blue documents Simone’s unparalleled and idiosyncratic musical persona at a particularly vibrant, formative stage, and helped launch her on a trajectory with more than its share of personal and professional trials and triumphs. Audiophile-grade 180g LP reissue featuring a brand new 2021 stereo mix by four-time Grammy winner Michael Graves and vinyl remastering by Kevin Gray plus new essay by author of Liner Notes For The Revolution, Daphne A. Brooks.
File Under: Jazz
Taurus / Schulverweis: Krumm (Osare) 10″
Very Limited action….be quick! Amsterdam’s Osàre! Editions and Berlin’s Sameheads team up to present a spicy spilt-side release. A hot take on new wave-saturated punk, the record flirts with the raw sound of the underground, spiraling through free-wheeling experimentation and raucous evenings, powered by throbbing revelry. First up, three-piece assemblage, Taurus, crank up an electrified automaton for ‘Paket.’ With a voice like a supermarket tannoy from a half-forgotten fever dream, Diana Barbosa Gil reels through the days of the week, accompanied by a minimalist, plodding melody. Exploring ideas of self-determination and authority, the band combines spoken-word surreality and in-your-face dance zeal. ‘Spielen’ captures their palpable chemistry on-stage – the track was recorded live during the Sameheads event series ‘Diapason’, curated by residents Eva Geist and Ondula. Turning over to the B-side, upping the ante and the tempo, Schulverweis follows in the footsteps of the Geniale Dilletanten tradition. Art-haus proclivities bounce along to an ear-worm beat in ‘Schwarzfahren,’ followed up by the bass-whistling wizardry of ‘Ichbineinarzt.’ Before going out with a bang, howl and a whimper via the aptly titled ‘Blut.’ Schulverweis’ slick delivery is entirely instinctual, improvised in jam sessions over hypnotic loops produced using a children’s Casio keyboard, discovered years ago in the dusty corner of a club. The EP is a testament to the long-standing collaboration between the dual imprints, with Osàre! label boss Elena Colombi appearing frequently on Sameheads lineups. The pair are further united by their shared passion for explosive new talent and all things a little unconventional. (words by Hannah Pezzack)
File Under: Electronic, Punk
Trii Group: Interest in Music (Stroom) LP
Quietly concentrated downbeat pop, illbience, dematerialised drums and sliding whimpers from Max Stocklosa’s TRJJ and TRIIGroup, rejoining Stroom for his 3rd LP and follow-up to ’12 Dances’ Venturing forth in his discreet, unobtrusive style of ambient-pop, Stocklosa is flanked by the wider TRIIGroup to express his ‘Interest In Music’ over 14 hazy and endearingly open-ended works that dovetail beautifully with what we’ve come to expect of Belgium’s indomitable Stroom label. The Cologne-based singer-songwriter-artist operates at an alluring level of liminality throughout the album, with drums landing more as ghostly impressions rather than punctuation, underlining the plasmic sensuality and lowlit but lofty spaces of his sound and gently buoying the vocals in smoky dimensions. If you’re after highlights, we’d advise checking for the lilting waltz of his lead single ‘G Lok G Lok’ and listening up for the loner hymn of ‘Friend’, and the squashed steel drum shimmer of ‘3rd Generation East German (Teen Rejection)’ while the deliquescnt nose drip brain tickle of ‘Triple Train’ sounds a bit like Cindy Lee meets Felix Kubin. Always winners.
File Under: Electronic, Ambient
Various: Radio Verde (Colourful World) LP
Arp Frique returns with a brand new release on his imprint Colorful World Records in collaboration with Rush Hour. A compilation of 12 Cape Verdean gems assembled with the help and knowledge of Americo Brito, there is a very special story behind it. Americo Brito, who features on Arp Frique’s original Nos Magia, is a proud and important member of the Cape Verdean community in Rotterdam. His story reveals the historical connections between radio, vinyl, Cabo Verde and Rotterdam’s international music scene in the 70s and 80s. Cape Verdean insiders say “we export all they have to other countries, only to import it back again”. Cape Verdeans have migrated all over the world, mainly to cities with big harbours, like New York, Boston and Rotterdam (Holland). Rotterdam became one of the main destinations (next to Portugal) on the European mainland. When Americo, like many of his friends and relatives moved to Rotterdam, he quickly became infected with the music virus. Surrounded on a daily basis by Cape Verdean music in Portuguese pensions and small hotels, this was where sailors ingested a dose of “sodade” through the interpretations of their beloved music by the local Cape Verdean artists. Americo took to the stage with his band Djarama in the 70s and 80s. The live music scene was buzzing and the Cape Verdean community had their own infrastructure for arranging shows, often in nightclubs where the band had to bring their own soundsystem. Interestingly, Americo didn’t stick to performing and recording music. He found another way to help spread the Cape Verdean magical secret of music across Rotterdam, Holland and beyond: “There was this spot in Rotterdam where all foreign radio stations were housed, all these different nationalities together, Surinam, Cape Verdean, Hindustani…Guy Ramos and some of my other friends made radio in the 80s there. I got involved in their radio activities. Later on I started to work as a technician and eventually as producer and radio DJ for “Radio Voz De Cabo Verde”. Radio became bigger and there were around 4 different Cape Verdean stations active at one point in Rotterdam. instrumental in the development of this was the attic of a Dutch friend, where “Radio Babalu” came to life. Radio has always held a special place in my heart.” Americo’s music collection stems from this era, also aided by his many travels across Europe to cities with Cape Verdean communities. Alongside Rotterdam local, Arp Frique, Americo unveils some of these songs: dancefloor hits and beloved radio gems known in the Cape Verdean scene by younger and older generations alike, and so far undiscovered by a “bigger” audience. The compilation showcases the worldly view of Cape Verdean music, incorporating knowledge from their travels in their compositions. It ranges from the obvious funana and coladeira, to the more unexpected influences of deep disco, new wave, uptempo reggae, jazz-funk and Brazilian pop music; demonstrating just the tip of the iceberg, but what an amazing t(r)ip it is!
File Under: Africa
John Berberian & The Rock East Ensemble: Middle Eastern Rock (Modern Harmonic) LP
Big Red Machine: How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last (Jagjaguwar) LP
Don Cherry: Brown Rice (A&M) LP
Floating Points & Pharoah Sanders: Promises (Luaka Bop) LP
Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! (Constellation) LP
Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio: Live at KEXP! (Colemine) LP
Attilio Mineo: Man In Space with Sounds (Modern Harmonic) LP
Lee Morgan: The Cooker (Blue Note) LP
Parquet Courts: Wide Awake (Rough Trade) LP
Sam Rivers: Contours (Blue Note) LP
Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty) LP
Sufjan Stevens: Illinois (Asthmatic Kitty) LP
Sunroof: Electronic Music Improvisation Vol 1 (Mute) LP
Witch: Lazy Bones (Now Again) LP