essential grooves

a list of albums that we truly love more than all the rest and would love to sell you…

brian eno – another green world – emi – lp/cd
another green world was brian eno’s third solo album after leaving roxy music. the first being the glam rock masterpiece here come the warm jets, followed by the more proto-punk sounding taking tiger mountain (by strategy). and while those two albums are completely brilliant and absolutely essential, another green world is the transition from his pop brilliance, to the ambient electronic music that he is most known for. consisting of 14 tracks, of which only 5 actually have lyrics, agw is, as the title implies, otherworldly. vignettes of different places, different moods, different emotions. and although this album seems rather simple and stripped down from the grandeur of warm jets, the depth and detail contained on this record is staggering. even after your 200th listen, you will hear something new. the best, totally essential!

les rallizes dénudés – heavier than a death in the family – phoenix – 2lp/cd
– legendary japanese rock outfit les rallizes dénudés were formed in 1967 and incredibly, for a group that had only one official release (oz days live, a double vinyl compilation release in 1973), played their last gig almost 30 years later in october 1996. the band’s name apparently means “fucked up and naked,” which more than adequately describes their music. formed by band leader mizutani takashi, the music remained remarkably familiar over the years, and is best described as high volume, raw, lo-fi, repetitive, feedback-drenched guitar-noise fests with nods in the direction of the velvet underground and blues creation, but without the electronics. radical left-wing politics were never far from the band’s agenda, with one original band member (wakabayashi) being involved in the japanese red army’s hijacking of a flight to north korea. consequently, the group’s live appearances became less frequent and increasingly clandestine. all the band’s albums were released in very small quantities, and because of the group’s reputation for secrecy and violence, as well as the difficulty in tracking down their recordings, les rallizes dénudés has assumed almost mythical status. phoenix records releases the oft-bootlegged heavier than a death in the family. this “album” is in fact, a blistering assemblage of live performances (all recorded in 1977, except for “people can choose,” which was recorded in 1973) which sits at an esteemed #3 position on julian cope’s japrocksampler top 50 list. reverb so heavy, it will split your frontal lobe in two.

sonic youth – sister – geffen – lp/cd
their fourth album, released in 1987 this is the bands best, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. this album still maintains some of the noise elements of their earlier releases, but shows a marked move towards more traditional pop structures. the follow up, daydream nation, is always touted as their masterpiece, but any real fan knows that sister is the best. the opening track ‘schizophrenia’ is the best thing the band ever put to tape, and the rest of the album kills. the perfect marriage of dissonance and pop.

sun city girls – dante’s disneyland inferno – get back – 3lp
– “dark and twisted storytelling by charles gocher backed by a variety of instrumental moods: bongo bohemia, c&w, lounge swing swong, ooga booga rock, children’s melodies and all things in between. includes two uncle jim pieces, his first appearance since the debut lp in 1984. also, “hector and chino” features guest vocals by 9-year-old crystal gallegos. much of the material on this release was originally recorded during the torch of the mystics sessions, remixed by scott colburn and the band.” “sun city girls don’t appear as the psychedelic rock band of torch of the mystics in this sequence; it’s more like the absurd theater of jacks creek, where kurt weill meets william s. burroughs and the two set about composing depraved children’s songs.” it’s no secret that the girls are one of our very favoritest bands. sadly, hardly anything of theirs is available, and even the reissues dry up in short order, and as much as we try stock up, they always seem to disappear faster than we’d like. we’ve still go stock on this monster, and it’s a real keeper.

taj mahal travellers – august 1974 – phoenix – 2lp/2cdaugust 1974
– “originally issued as a double lp with each of the 4 tracks being roughly the same length as the side of a record, august 1974 presents the taj mahal travellers at their most sophisticated. although their stunning cosmic music was always improvised, the band, formed in 1969 by “six meta-music creators and one electronic engineer” played regularly throughout japan and eventually found their way to europe where they met up with avant-garde musicians such as don cherry. 1974 would be the band’s last official release as they went their separate ways the following year with all but takehisa kosugi, leaving music behind them. each track is distinct from the others, with several beginning with clearly-defined structure before departing into the realms of the abstract, with violin, harmonica, bass, tuba, trumpet and mandolin dueting in a subliminal and obscure manner. “voices” both subhuman and supernatural, resonate with a universal inner voice. includes original insert.” easily one of the best cosmic drone albums to ever be released… beyond essential.

talk talk – laughing stock – ba da bing – lp
– the group’s 1991 final album, took a year to make, and yet it has required decades to fully appreciate. following up on the abstract spirit of eden, which sufficiently alienated pop fans of the band’s earlier material, laughing stock took spaces in recorded music to new extremes, with layers of silence breathing through strings, woodwinds, percussion and mark hollis’ delicate vocals. the record exists as one complete thought, albeit with jagged diversions and tangents. hollis’s and producer tim friese-greene’s goal from the beginning was to create an album that completely enveloped the listener. during recording, microphones were placed at distances as far as 30 feet from the instruments they were recording, and passages were captured with no clear intention as to where they would finally be placed. before protools made the cut-and-paste, drag-and-drop process standard in songwriting, hollis and friese-greene were in the studio with flugelhorn and viola players, capturing notes and phrases they collected and combined into the six tracks that became laughing stock. everything was recorded straight from the original instruments, as hollis continued reacting against the synth artificiality of his past. it was released on jazz label verve, further declaring that in a silent way was a greater influence than any pop group to which talk talk had been compared in the past. available for the first time on vinyl in the us, laughing stock grows like vines in a garden out of any speakers. the full power of the music is as engrossing as it is oblique, like wrapping oneself in a blanket of thoughts. talk talk’s music is unapologetic in its obscureness, caressed in the gentle beauty of subtlety and warmth.

this heat – out of cold storage – this is – 6cd boxout of cold storage
– “this heat, the band, emerged in early 1976 on the leading edge of what became the new wave, but they were always apart, more scary and more subtle. known as the most left-field, and at the same time most hard-edged, band in all of england, their concerts attracted experimental, punk and new wave audiences alike. just a handful of performances made them the band everyone had to see, and every journalist had to interview. and the more we knew, the more enigmatic they became. this heat was a passion. the band worked day-in, day-out for years in their own, now legendary, studio in brixton (cold storage – sited in an old industrial meat refrigerator), or they were away somewhere touring abroad. in this hothouse environment, their material evolved and grew, and became increasingly intense; on the one hand more cuttingly simple, on the other more layered and more dense. when their first lp — itself several years in the making — finally appeared on david cunningham’s piano label in 1979, with its distinctive blue and yellow sleeve, it acquired immediate iconic status. and over time it has also proved itself prescient; there are musical innovations here that anticipate genres that would take another 15 years to reappear. this heat, the record was a landmark release. it tore up the book and laid new rules for band composition and performance. the music was without precedent; the musicians uncompromising; the recordings hammeringly intense and the sound deep, radical, and rich. this was music stripped back to the bone but never simplified. and it hasn’t aged. the complete official lifetime releases of this heat: this heat, deceit, health and efficiency, made available and repeat, re-mastered and re-packaged, with a substantial (48pp) book of interviews, recollections, information, documents and photographs in a sturdy box, plus a new cd of concert recordings.” while we’d rather sell you vinyl, this is the only way to get it, and it’s oh so essential… highest possible recommendation!!!

scott walker – scott 4 – 4 men with beards – lp
– “one of the most enigmatic figures in pop music history scott walker (nee scott engel) first saw massive success in england with his band the walker brothers in 1965. not really brothers, nor were they british, the trio left hollywood seeking fame in england, and they found it there for a time with their particular brand of orchestrated pop. following the group’s demise in 1967, walker set out to pursue solo stardom in perhaps the most peculiar way possible, with over-the-top baroque pop songs owing more to his idol jacques brel, tony bennett and frank sinatra than they did to the beatles or the stones. despite being the first of his solo albums not to reach the british top 10, scott 4 was perhaps his best, and most ambitious album to date. originally released in 1969, it is the first record to feature only scott walker originals. it is also the first to back off a bit from the heavily string laden production of past releases, allowing other sonic influences to shine through, from country to folk to soul. the lyrical content remains intense as walker tackles everything from war to stalinism to heartbreak with equal success. a classic.” although all four are essential, if you were to only get one…

various – princess nicotine – sublime frequencies – lp
– while this wasn’t the first sublime frequencies release, this is the album that really started it all. originally released in 1994 on lp by majora, it was later reissued on cd on sublime frequencies in 2004. this is where alan bishop first began introducing the western world to the treasure trove of sounds the asian world has to offer… “how do they do it? are they smarter? are they better? how can it be ignored or denied? how is it possible that one of the most unique, perfectly composed and performed, intense and awe-inspiring musical legacies the world has ever known is looming north of the equator physically tucked between world cultural giants india, china, and thailand, without more than a whisper from ethnomusicologists or those who define themselves as “purveyors of world music?” not only are the roots of this music unique, but so are the results after incorporating outside instrumentation from modern colonial and (unavoidable) international influence. what the burmese have done with a piano is so precise in the adaptation to their existing form and melody that one would think they invented it. burmese music has a very distinct sound and whatever instrument is assimilated into its core only seems to magnify the original intent without depending upon outside ideas relating to each component utilized. this collection will immediately bring you up to speed to what you have been missing all along. the time is now to put the real music of myanmar on the map once and for all. here are some of the greatest names from the past 50 years of burmese musical history from the original recordings featuring mar mar aye, bo sein, and the incomparable tonte theintan. listen, and be amazed!”

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