Tag Archives: used

…..news letter #937 – older…..

Well, another week, more late new releases. Some in from last week, some not in until next week. It’s almost not even worth mentioning anymore, but what else am I going to do, talk about the weather? Anywho… it’s gonna be a beautiful weekend, come down for a dig. Loads of fresh used should be in the bins and several wonderful new arrivals as well.

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…..pick of the week…..

5dbb39b5b40bf_mainSix Organs of Admittance: Companion Rises (Drag City) LP
Sorry to taunt you, but for some reason, my supplier sent me one copy of this despite my order. BUT it is out this week, and we’ll have more next week, so this one is for that lucky one of you to get here first o grab it, and the rest of you will have to wait until next week. Six Organs is back after 3 years with a new record, new techniques in sound generation, and a new attitude. Companion Rises has a driving force only hinted at with previous releases. Manipulating the rhythmic DNA from songs such as the bass-dominated “Taken by Ascent” (on his last record, Burning the Threshold), BEN CHASNY has grown a new sound creature in his lab that is as welcoming as it is terrifying and as fun to listen to as it provocative and intriguing. Methodologically, Companion Rises sometimes recalls the early-mid low-fi work of Six Organs, with modern techniques swapping digital processes in for the analog ways of the early days, and algorithmic programs creating the rhythms rather than Ben’s overdubbed hand percussion. Also like those early records, Companion Rises has Ben creating all the sounds, doing all the recording and mixing the entire record himself. But do not mistake this as some sort of return to an older sound. One listen and it is obvious that this Six Organs of Admittance release is all in the present. Sonically, Ben’s songs are bursting with ideas, harmonically rich, gorgeously arranged; often presenting two versions at once, overlaying electric and acoustic treatments that interlock like two shards that form a single key. Thematically, many songs on Companion Rises seem to navigate a similar Stellar-Gnosticism that 2012’s Ascent explored, but with a completely different set of stories. Whereas Ascent was locked into a narrative concerning a sentient Jupiter, Companion Rises presents a handful of folk-tales whose topics span in scope from panspermia to specific constellations, all written in a way that eschews new age presentation tropes and embraces the now. With Companion Rises, Ben has created a Sci-Folk record that feels totally in the right place welcoming in the new decade.

File Under: Psych, Folk
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…..new arrivals…..

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Gyedu Blay Ambolley & Zantoda Mark III: Control (Mr. Bongo) LP
Extremely hard-to-find Ghanaian LP from legendary musician Gyedu-Blay Ambolley, originally released in 1980. Tough Highlife, funk and boogie moods with added synthesizer! Ambolley is still actively touring today, keeping these vibes alive – he will be touring Europe throughout 2019. This is the third Gyedu Blay Ambolley LP that we have reissued on Mr Bongo, following on from his seminal ‘Ambolley’ and ‘Simigwa’ recordings.

File Under: Highlife, Funk, Afro-beat
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Kollington Ayinla & His Fuji ’78 Organisation: Blessing (Soul Jazz) LP
This is the first in Soul Jazz’s new series of one-off pressings of vinyl-only releases of Afro-funk/Afro-beat exact-replica, super-rare albums that were previously only ever released in Nigeria. The series starts with Kollington Ayinla’s celebrated 1978 album Blessing, a rare lost classic of Nigerian Fuji music, featuring Ayinla’s sharp political lyrics together with his new band Fuji ’78. Blessing blends the heavily percussive style of Fuji music with a stunning array of modern instruments, including synthesizers, Bata drums and guitars, to create one of the most forward-thinking and heavily danceable sounds ever to come out of Nigeria – a highly successful mixture of profound Fuji rhythms and Fela Kuti-style Afrobeat. Ayinla ranks alongside his friend and competitor Ayinde Barrister as the two most important artists to dominate Fuji music from its inception in the ’70s through to the ’90s by which time it had grown to become one of the most popular dance genres in Nigeria. At the start of the ’80s Ayinla started his own record company, Kollington Records, to release his music and remains to this day an extremely prolific artist, having recorded over 50 albums, most of which have never been released outside of Nigeria.

File Under: Nigeria, Afro-beat, Funk
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Courtney Barnett: MTV Unplugged Live in Melbourne (Mom+Pop) LP
On October 22nd Courtney Barnett performed a unique and special show at the invitation of MTV Australia in her hometown of Melbourne. The ‘Unplugged’ performance features Barnett as you’ve never heard her before, warm, vulnerable and emotional. Under a garland of lights and a canopy of florals in the outdoor courtyard of Howler, Barnett performed a stirring set of eight songs to an intimate audience including ‘Depreston’, ‘Avant Gardener’ and ‘Sunday Roast’. Joined by her usual band Dave Mudie and Bones Sloane, she also enlisted cellist Lucy Waldron. MTV Australia Unplugged Live in Melbourne will be available physically on February 21. Barnett made the night even more iconic by inviting some of her favorite musicians to collaborate including legendary songwriter Paul Kelly, angelically-voiced New Zealander Marlon Williams and Milk! Records label-mate Evelyn Ida Morris. The performances included covers of Leonard Cohen, Archie Roach and Seeker Lover Keeper as well as a never-before-heard original track from Courtney herself titled ‘Play It On Repeat’.

File Under: Indie Rock
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Califone: Echo Mine (Jealous Butcher) LP
Echo Mine is Califone’s score to Robyn Mineko Williams’ dance. The movement and the music started together and grew together, like two clear entities. At times totally intertwined and at other times bouncing off one another, sort of like reflections. But, somehow, always connected and listening. Ben Massarella, Brian Deck and I worked in a way that felt like a return to home; Brian handling the engineering, electronics, drums and overall sound of the piece, Ben adding percussion, feel, essential textures and colors. I felt like my job was to hover over all of it like a moth. Find melody in everything. Leave openings for everyone to work at the top of their creativity. We made our album, Roomsound, in much the same way (almost 20 years ago). Three of us in the studio – Be humans. Play together as much as possible. A good feel beats perfection every time. Add other musicians to add other voices and other colors, to do the things we can’t do.

File Under: Indie Rock, OST
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Cindy Lee: What’s Tonight to Eternity (w.25st) LP
For Patrick Flegel, Cindy Lee is more than just a recording music project. It is the culmination of a lifelong exploration of art, the electric guitar, queer identity and gender expression. “Singers like Patsy Cline and The Supremes carried me through the hardest times of my life,” explains Flegel, “and also provided the soundtrack to the best times.” Following the dissolution of Canadian experimental indie band Women, Flegel would delve deeper into songwriting that bends further toward high atmospherics and bracing melodies—a unique space where splendor naturally collides with experimentation. Delivering moments of sheer beauty through somber reflections on longing and loneliness, Cindy Lee is something to hold onto in a world of disorder. What’s Tonight To Eternity, Cindy Lee’s fifth long-form offering, showcases the project’s most entrancing strengths: ethereal snowdrift pop and sly nods toward classic girl-group motifs. Recorded at Flegel’s Realistik Studios in Toronto and featuring younger brother Andrew Flegel on drums, the album travels hand in hand with a spectral guide. Flegel found inspiration for Cindy Lee in the form of Karen Carpenter, drawing on the singer / drummer’s early recordings as well as her look and style. “I found a deep interest and comfort in Karen’s story, which is a cautionary tale about the monstrosity of show business, stardom at a young age and being a misfit looking for connection. The darkness and victimizing tabloid sensationalism she suffered is easily tempered and overwhelmed by her earnest output, her artistry, her tireless work ethic. Something utterly unique and magical takes shape in the negative space, out of exclusion. What I relate to in her has to do with what is hidden, what is unknown.” What’s Tonight To Eternity remains a mix of pop culture indoctrination, pain and suffering, hopes and dreams, fierce confrontations and wide-open confessional blurs. Closing with the song “Heavy Metal” (dedicated to the memory of former Women bandmate Chris Reimer) and adorned by Andrea Lukic’s Journal of Smack artwork, the album continues the bold and rewarding path on which Cindy Lee has embarked.

File Under: Lo-Fi, Psych, Indie Rock, Women
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Alabaster DePlume: To Cy & Lee: Instrumentals Vol 1 (International Anthem) LP
Alabaster DePlume is a London-based bandleader, composer, saxophonist, activist and orator. Whilst much of his music contains vocals, this is a collection of instrumentals. The music of To Cy & Lee… contains naturally elegant orchestration wrapped around something visceral and primordial. The music is filled with space, inspired by computer games and Japanese animation, particularly Joe Hisaishi’s soundtrack for Castle In The Sky. The record combines new compositions alongside bygone instrumentals and under-stated lullabies that feel like they’ve been picked from between the cracks of civilization. DePlume purposefully brings together players of different skill levels and backgrounds so they have to interact differently. “I wanted to destroy the idea of correct so we were playing it different ways for fun. We had a very magical time playing the tunes.” This is activism expressed through gorgeous music that breaks down barriers by encouraging that most powerful emotion: connectedness.

File Under: Jazz
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Giraffe: Desert Haze (Marionette) LP
Experimental trio Giraffe crystalize time on ‘Desert Haze’, their new LP on Marionette. Giraffe is the musical project of Sascha Demand (guitar), Jürgen Hall (keys), and Charly Schöppner (percussion). Sascha Demand is a composer that comes from a contemporary and improvised musical background, collaborating with the likes of Ensemble Integrales and Vinko Globokar. Jürgen Hall works in electroacoustic experimental projects, theatre and film scores, with releases on Staubgold and Edition Stora. Charly Schöppner is known for his popular music releases such as Boytronic on major production companies in the 1980´s and composes for theatre, dance, and film scores. With only a couple of releases to date on the wonderful Meakusma imprint as well as an EP on Marmo, little is known about Giraffe.  After letting go of other artistic projects, the trio now focuses solely on Giraffe by continuously searching for and finding their own unique language. Sascha, Jürgen and Charly have quite diverse musical backgrounds, though morphing into Giraffe they tower into one single composer. Their music is a critical statement, not in a political sense but rather an artistic one. Being mindful about what it means to create and how to position themselves as artists nowadays (without the constant hassle of being en vogue and short-lived trends) shaped their rather rare and stoic artistic stance. It is refreshingly honest to see their expression develop so naturally. On Desert Haze, they’ve created a vibrant and minimalistic tribal sound that feels inspired by the Saharan traditional music of the Tuareg, Jazz, and German psychedelic krautrock. Giraffe themselves also list the radical music of the Viennese School (Schoenberg along with his pupils Berg and Webern) as well as the Köln School with its early electronic experiments as their main influence and inspiration. More precisely the composition process and the organization of musical material within space and time, where a conceptual and intellectual approach melds with an experimental yet expressive sound searching method. Side A focuses on the trios studio work; it is built around tone color and pitch analysis of resonating prepared guitar sounds. Through a unique mixture of free improvisation and a serialism “rule set”, they develop instrumental layers and structures to form their tracks. Side B sees Giraffe playing more freely with a reduced setup – representative of what you may hear when listening to them live. Desert Haze, along with its track-titles, showcases an almost mimetic approach to art. The haptic music grabs the listener not as a passive recipient but as an active resonant body to vibrate through. One can almost feel the Elements, pressure and heat forming a diamond, hypnotic overtones ringing through windy caves, shamanistic rhythms conjuring up mysterious and ancient landscapes – where the constant cycle of sedimentation and erosion reveals structures of fragile beauty – always gentle to the hand’s touch and the mind’s eye.

File Under: Electronic, Experimental, Tribal
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Grimes: Miss Anthropocene (Crystal Math) LP
Canadian artist Claire Boucher aka Grimes follows-up 2015’s Art Angels with her highly-anticipated fifth studio album, Miss Anthropocene. An amalgamation of three albums Grimes recorded over the past three years, Miss Anthropocene is based on a neologism commonly used in scientific circles. Misanthropocene refers to both the misanthrope’s loathing of humanity and the Anthropocene era in which our planet is dominated by human activity. The 10-track collection is introduced by the breathy and beat driven “Violence” and atmospheric “So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth” and features guest appearances by 潘PAN and i_o.

File Under: Electronic, Indie Rock
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Smokey Haangala: Aunka Ma Kwacha (Séance Centre) LP
There is music that falls right into place, a perfectly articulated expression of a few distinct influences. Then, there is another kind of median music, something more mysterious, the result of time, place, technology, and alchemy. Zambian writer and musician Smokey Haangala’s Aunka Ma Kwacha (The Money is Gone) released in 1976 is an example of this more mystical metallurgy, falling somewhere between psychedelic Zamrock, US folk, Kalindula, and Sundown Beat (music played after dark) from Tongaland. The unique mix of languages on the album (Bemba, Tonga, Lozi, and English) also suggest this complex cultural crossroads. Underlying the whole album is the insistent beat of a simple drum machine, which was totally unheard of in Zambia at the time, and parallels pioneering experiments by Francis Bebey, Sly Stone, and Shuggie Otis, utilizing a technology which would later come to define dance music. Then there’s the album’s original artwork by Peter Kependa, done in style similar to the infamous Jamaican dancehall illustratorWilfred Limonious, interpreting the album’s title and primary theme; the burden of financial inequality. In this sense the album is political, but the theme is extrapolated and explored through its impact on personal life; love, marriage, social status, and diet. The album is full of cautionary tales, folklore and references to magic, aspects of Zambian culture simultaneously mystifying and alluring to outsiders, part of what attracted Western readers to Nigerian writer Amos Tutuola’s hallucinatory Yoruba folktales. After becoming a household name in Zambia for his music, writing, and television appearances, Smokey Haangala died at the age of 38, the very week his book The Black Eye was published, abruptly ending his brilliant and ascending career. We are lucky to have his inimitable work to remember him by, Aunka Ma Kwacha resting comfortably in the pantheon of re-visionary works by Rodriguez, Kissoon Ramasar, TJ Hustler, and William Onyeabor. There will always be some flowers for your grave, Smokey.

File Under: Zambia, Psych
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I.A.O.: Phase III (Left Ear) LP
Left Ear Records have put together a collection of recordings taken from the elusive Berlin band I.A.O., spanning their third phase from 1988 to 1995. Phase III commemorates the band’s final line-up of three members; Achim Kohlberger, Ralf Östereich and Carsten Zielske. The sounds on this retrospective vary widely, with threads of melancholic sequences, angular jamming and a focus on electronic soundscapes. The tracks are pinned against a backdrop of political and social unrest in Berlin at the time. Two different cities had become one with the fall of the wall, driving a bubbling subculture attempting to reunite the capital. Seemingly irrelevant to what I.A.O. was producing, these territories dance parallel to one another. In the late 1980’s, Achim Kohlberger of the band and partner Dimitri Hegemann, were orchestrating ‘Atonal Festival’, these days known as Berlin Atonal. Soon after, they set-up of one of the first techno clubs in the world – UFO, today known as Tresor. I.A.O. cites the cast of personalities they would come across in the clubs and pubs as influential in their songwriting, artists, outsiders or the ‘general dropouts.’ However, their works resemble techno music. Phase III’s opening track Gospel IV introduces the band with their patience and restraint, synthesizers work to reveal folding melodies. The downtempo voyage continues with Marshmallow Girls, an insight into the band’s sensitive observations and hazy imagery. All Is Bliss presents a vocal mantra cooperating with nagging bass lines and euphonic percussion. Meanwhile, two instrumentals Love and Twinkle Twinkle Twinkle Little Star  both typify and defy timeless dancefloor paradigms. The compilation signs off with Ferns, binding the icy yet bright tones found throughout.

File Under: Electronic, Downtempo
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Elvin Jones: Mr. Jones (Blue Note) LP
In honor of Blue Note Records’ 80th Anniversary, the legendary jazz label is launching the Blue Note 80 Vinyl Reissue Series. Distinct from the Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series, this second series curated by Don Was and Cem Kurosman features 180g vinyl LP releases in standard packaging with albums spanning the many eras of the label’s history presented by themes: Blue Note Debuts, Blue Grooves, Great Reid Miles Covers, Blue Note Live, and Blue Note Drummer Leaders. After his six years with the seminal John Coltrane Quartet, the mighty drummer Elvin Jones signed with Blue Note Records in 1968 and made a series of ten fantastic albums including 1972’s Mr. Jones, produced by Francis Wolff and George Butler, and featuring saxophonists Dave Liebman, Steve Grossman, and Pepper Adams, Thad Jones on flugelhorn, pianist Jan Hammer, bassist Gene Perla, and percussionists Carlos “Patato” Valdes, Frank Ippolito, and Albert Duffy. The music delves into expansive post-bop with Latin influences and includes an impassioned version of Tadd Dameron’s gorgeous ballad “Soultrane” in dedication to Coltrane. This Blue Note 80 Vinyl Edition is all-analog, mastered by Kevin Gray from the original master tapes, and pressed on 180g vinyl LP at Optimal.

File Under: Jazz
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Peter King: Omo Lewa (Mr. Bongo) LP
Super-funky business from Nigerian-born multi-instrumentalist, Peter King; fuses funk, jazz and highlife vibrations. ‘Omo Lewa’ follows his ‘Miliki Sound’ album, also available on Mr Bongo. Recorded in London, originally released in 1976 by Orbitone, this is one of his finest records.

File Under: Funk, Jazz, Highlife
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Benjamin Lew: Bamako Ou Ailleurs (Stroom) 12”
“Benjamin Lew was an enlightened amateur, in the noble and almost Renaissance-like sense of the word: he dabbled with equal grace in photography, writing, visual arts … and worked part-time as a cocktail mixer in a tropical bar which was one of the favourite watering holes of Brussels’ thriving artistic community of the early ‘80s. Tuxedomoon had just moved to Brussels, and Steven Brown was among the many musicians, designers & artists who patronized the bar. Benjamin had a secret passion: he wasn’t a musician, but had acquired a small analog computer, with which he had started creating these strange mysterious little pieces. Benjamin played them to Steven and asked him if he’d agree to record with him. Steven was taken with them and accepted. The Douzième Journée was largely created in the studio by both protagonists, with the help of Gilles Martin and myself, in the spring of ‘82. Listening to his albums (he went on to record four more with Crammed) is like embarking on a dream journey to the Sahara or the Far East. You’d think that some of the pieces feature non-European musicians or samples but: no… this is just Benjamin’s imagination, his synths, and his friends…”

File Under: Electronic, Tribal
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Karma Moffett: Sitting Still Within/Sitting Still Without
(Morning Trip) LP
Sound has the ability to heal. This is the primary tenet that has driven Karma Moffett for over 35 years. Pure tones, resonant harmonics, the sounds of the earth. At the dawn of the 80’s, as the burgeoning movement of privately-issued New Age was taking hold, Karma Moffett was a pioneer. Eschewing the use of synthesizers and other increasingly-available electronic technology, Karma crafted his meditative, introspective music using ancient instruments. Primarily utilizing Tibetan Bells, and Singing Bowls, Karma Moffett crafted sounds that led the listener on an inward journey.  1982’s Sitting Still Within/Sitting Still Without is Karma Moffett’s earliest triumph. Combining the aforementioned Tibetan Bowls & Bells along with naturalistic field recordings, Karma’s first album is a testament to the power of minimalism and repetition. An ambient voyage that truly draws the listener inwardst, and outwards, Sitting Still Within/Sitting Still Without is music for healing.

File Under: New Age, Ambient
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Luke Sanger: Natsukashii (Ish) LP
Previously issued by Dead Bison under Luke’s Natsukashii moniker as a cassette only release, featured on Bandcamp daily and sold out within a few weeks, this stunning album finally sees the light of day on a proper vinyl release. Here’s what Bandcamp had to say: “Natsukashii’s Driving East is described as an ambient record with a cult following—recorded in the early ‘80s but never officially released until Berlin’s Dead Bison decided to take on the task this year. (This may not be true.) It’s of the same school of ambient/New Age music as ‘80s pioneer Hiroshi Yoshimura, offering spacious, light, melodic compositions that sound like they were made using the same Yamaha synthesizers Yoshimura did. Driving East is a must-listen for anyone interested in Japanese-style ambient, beautifully executing the serene pentatonic melodies and masterful arrangement of space that Japanese composers often particularly excel at. Every track on the release is sublime, but “Wildlife” and the title track both particularly tap into a meditative headspace, with synthesizer scales that feel like waves ebbing away slowly after crashing onto the shore.”

File Under: Electronic, Ambient, New Age
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Tame Impala: The Slow Rush (Modular) LP
The highly anticipated The Slow Rush marks Tame Impala’s (Kevin Parker) fourth full-length album overall and first studio effort since 2015’s Grammy-nominated and BRIT Award-winning Currents. Recorded between Los Angeles and Parker’s studio in his hometown of Fremantle, Australia, the twelve tracks were all recorded, produced and mixed by Parker himself. The Slow Rush is Parker’s deep dive into the oceans of time, conjuring the feeling of a lifetime in a lightning bolt, of major milestones whizzing by while you’re looking at your phone, it’s a paean to creation and destruction and the unending cycle of life. Parker told the New York Times that, “A lot of the songs carry this idea of time passing, of seeing your life flash before your eyes, being able to see clearly your life from this point onwards. I’m being swept by this notion of time passing. There’s something really intoxicating about it.” Single “It Might Be Time” is your paranoid shadow snapping at your Achilles heel. It’s the horrifying idea that your mojo’s gone out for a walk and it may not be coming back. It’s second guessing yourself, wondering ‘have I still got it? Did I ever?’ Your paranoid inner observer taunting you in your own denial, telling you to wake up and accept your salad days are over. A dynamic, bombastic burst of pungent prog-pop, “It Might Be Time” pulses on an insistent keyboard groove, punctuated by collisions of overblown drums flaying at the edges, the outward expression of a restless internal funk. A heady psych bomb threatening to implode, “It Might Be Time” is potent Tame Impala 2020. The Slow Rush cover art was created in collaboration with photographer Neil Krug and features a symbol of humanity all but swallowed whole by the surrounding environment, as though in the blink of an eye.

File Under: Indie Rock
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Art Taylor: A.T.’s Delight (Blue Note) LP
In honor of Blue Note Records’ 80th Anniversary, the legendary jazz label is launching the Blue Note 80 Vinyl Reissue Series. Distinct from the Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series, this second series curated by Don Was and Cem Kurosman features 180g vinyl LP releases in standard packaging with albums spanning the many eras of the label’s history presented by themes: Blue Note Debuts, Blue Grooves, Great Reid Miles Covers, Blue Note Live, and Blue Note Drummer Leaders. Art Taylor was one of the greatest drummers in modern jazz who propelled the bands of Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Donald Byrd, Lee Morgan, Dexter Gordon, and many more. As a leader Taylor only recorded a handful of albums including 1960’s A.T.’s Delight, which is an equally inventive and enchanting set of hard bop that interprets the music of Coltrane, Monk, Davis, and Kenny Dorham with a stellar band featuring trumpeter Dave Burns, tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, and Carlos “Patato” Valdes on congas. The unique and varied arrangements and first-class performances throughout pay tribute to the drummer’s exceptional song selection. This Blue Note 80 Vinyl Edition is all-analog, mastered by Kevin Gray from the original master tapes, and pressed on 180g vinyl LP at Optimal.

File Under: Jazz
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Jan Van Den Broeke: 11000 Dreams (Stroom) LP
The third release on STROOM  is introvert music gold by Jan Van den Broeke, the man behind the eighties diy/lofi wave outfits Absent Music, June11 and The Misz. Van den Broeke, now a renowned architect, self released most of his music on cassettes and CDR’s. Recently some of his stuff was reissued through labels such as EE Tapes or Walhalla Records, but this is his first career spanning compilation, covering over 30 years of music, carefully selected by Nosedrip and Jan himself. Van den Broeke tried to cover the gap between ambient and song, with music assembled in layers, using electronic and acoustic instruments and samples from radio, tv, field recordings, old tapes, movies and so on. As a youngster of his time & place, he was heavily influenced by the output of labels like Les Disques du Crépuscule and Crammed, but the compilation shows an intense research towards a personal sound.

File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Lo-Fi
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Vazz: Cloud Over Maroma (Stroom) LP
Cézanne painted Mont Sainte-Victoire many times over and referred to it as his ‘beautiful motif’. I write these notes to you looking out on the Andalucian mountain of Maroma, my own beautiful motif, jutting into the pale blue skies at over 2,000 metres. And like David Byrne before me, who unwittingly left the Scottish town of Dumbarton at the tender age of 2 and ended up in New York, I ask myself ‘How Did I Get Here?’.  It all started in Steelopolis in the 1960’s when Ravenscraig fumed and the newly-built ships sailed down the River Clyde, past Dumbarton, out into the Atlantic. The industrial belt of Scotland wasn’t beautiful and it was ugly enough to make you wonder what lay beyond it all. Glasgow was the hub. It was the ‘Dear Green Place’ with its parks and gardens and somehow, with all its squalor and sectarian strife, it flourished and energised and it gave the world The Queen Mary and Lulu. Everything started to unravel in the 1970’s. The steelworks stalled and the shipyards started to sink. But we had punk and in March 1977 I saw my first band at the age of 15 : The Damned were everything a shy, angst-ridden teenager needed and I also managed to get Captain Sensible’s autograph after the gig. Punk perfectly encapsulated the political landscape. The freezing winter of 1978-1979 became known as The Winter of Discontent. Everyone was on strike and everyone was looking for a way out. But if you thought the way out was dying then you were fucked because even the gravediggers were on strike. The way out for this post-punk youth from all of this was music and in 1980 Postcard Records put out Orange Juice’s ‘Falling and Laughing’. The Sound of Young Scotland had arrived and it wasn’t waiting for anyone to say it was okay to go ahead. It was DIY ethics all the way. We were all so young and naive and somehow lacked a sense of propriety. In 1980 I played my first ever gig. My friend had a synthesiser and I had a bass and two drum machines. We wrote half a dozen sombre instrumentals for our setlist. We called ourselves The Athenian Secret for some reason. It didn’t really matter as the gig was at the local Rugby Club and we bombed like a Greek Tragedy. Truth be told, they would rather have had Lulu. She had much more stage presence than a couple of moribund teenagers. The Athenian Secret, Kodak Twist, Eiffel Towers and then The Distance. Bands formed then disbanded a month or two later. The Distance were a five piece band with a real drummer to start with but very soon it was only myself and Anna and we quickly changed our name to Vazz ; a nonsense word that sounded a bit like jazz but was a bit vague and didn’t give too many clues to what the music would sound like. We didn’t know what the music would sound like anyway as we were being influenced by everything from Harry Partch to Chic. For me it was Eno and Byrne’s ‘My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts’ that did it. It blew everything else away. It still does. In 1982 we recorded exclusively at The Hellfire Club in Glasgow. It was in a dingy tenement basement with a palpable taste of dampness and decay. It fitted our needs perfectly. We sketched out rough home demos then recorded them very fast in the studio. One of the first tracks we recorded early in 1982 was ‘Cast Reflections’. It set the tone for where we were at musically ; songs that weren’t really songs in the verse / chorus tradition. ‘Lost Time’ was a cacophony of percussion over wah-wah guitar, clarinet and a child’s xylophone. It was about the Impressionists. We’d spent the summer in Paris looking at the Cézanne’s in the Louvre and pretending to be cultured Europeans. ‘Flute Dance’ had an African lilt to it pairing a wood flute over a compressed drumbox. We were all over the place and difficult to pigeon hole. It felt great. The music became more structured over the next couple of years. Tracks became longer and more complex. In 1985 the Glasgow label Cathexis Recordings released ‘Breath’ as a 33 RPM 7” single in an over-sized plastic bag with a set of postcards included. It was a lavish affair and ‘Breath’ clocked in at over six minutes. BBC Radio One legend John Peel played it a couple of times but it didn’t really make any impact. It didn’t help that we rarely played live or promoted the music in any other way. But that’s real Glasgow rain you can hear at the very end piano coda. I got up in the middle of the night and dangled a microphone out of the window to capture it. I had no fear of electrocution then. By 1987 we had run our course : musically, emotionally and geographically. I moved to Edinburgh and Anna moved to London. A capital city correspondence lasted for a couple of years but by 1990 we had lost touch in a world that still relied on letters and landlines. A new decade in new cities and the lure of new people. How easy it is to move into a different slipstream when you’re lost at sea. Edinburgh was beautiful and strange. 45 miles along the M8 motorway, it was like moving from Kansas to Oz. Then there is a vast hiatus. The Glasgow period was most definitively 1982-1987 and the Edinburgh period didn’t really start again until around 2010. Two decades without creating music is a long time and it had been gnawing at me all along the yellow brick road I’d been travelling. With a new vigour and echoes of teenage angst I began again. I decided to call myself Reluctant Participant. It was very apt. It was a love/hate relationship that reached deep into the soul. Delving down into dormant memories of places visited and the atmospheres created by them. Like the ice white shroud that lay over winter in Krakow’s Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz. Photographs didn’t do it justice. It needed a piano. The Edinburgh period on this LP is represented by the four piano pieces ‘Embers’, ‘Kazimierz’, ‘Star Chamber’ and ‘Ritual’, all recorded there between 2014-2016. They’re part of a sequence of around fifty compositions from the same period some of which featured on the previous Vazz LP on STROOM (‘Submerged Vessels And Other Stories’) and on the accompanying twenty track CD on Forced Nostalgia. It was a three year purge recording this piano music. Emotionally intense and technically challenging. I’m glad it’s over. It was the culmination of another chapter of music that remains frozen in time and place. It was time to move on again to pastures new. Constricted by the boundaries of a small island and the madness of Brexit I felt an urge to leave it all behind in 2017 in search of the exotic. The same urge that took fellow Scotsman Robert Louis Stevenson to look for his treasure island. He died in Samoa in 1894. I didn’t feel the urge to go that far and Stevenson is quoted as saying ‘wine is bottled poetry’. Yes, I agree, and the wine is cheap and very fine in Spain. Cheap poetry was what I needed. Bukowski told me to do it. How did I get here? Well, you sell up everything you own and drive into the remote mountains of Andalucia. If you want to start a new chapter in your life you have to turn the page. You have to view the world from a different perspective and very soon you’ll find that the place you came from is just a speck of dust on the horizon and where you are now is the epicentre of the planet. Yes, it’s an optical illusion but it works. So much space and sky. I didn’t believe the world could offer up such a luminous landscape. I curse Steelopolis now for all those grey skies but I love it too because the dust got in my lungs and made this new air so much more rewarding to breathe. In the 8th Century the Moors invaded Spain and built the Alhambra in Granada. They built the Mezquita in Cordoba. Muslim Spain operated on a high cultural plateau that would shame us nowadays. I can only offer up ‘Cloud Over Maroma’, ‘Birdsong For The Birds’ and ‘Mezquita (Part 2)’ to add to these jewels. Maroma was there long before the Moors. The Moors were there long before man landed on the moon half a century ago. Drum machines meant you didn’t have to take Ginger Baker our for a drink. Life takes on sublime logic. In retrospect, everything takes on a new meaning from a different perspective. The past is the future. From Glasgow to Edinburgh to Andalucia. This music is about a small journey, an aural triptych of sounds. This album is dedicated to Ziggy and Fre who rescued Vazz from oblivion, but mostly to my wife, Rebecca, who reminded me twenty years ago that you could live again.

File Under: Electronic, Post Punk
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Hozan Yamamoto w/ Sharps & Flats: Beautiful Bamboo-Flute (Mr. Bongo) LP
Seminal Japanese jazz album from 1971. Journeys through jazz fusion, soul and big band moods. Impossible to obtain in its original format these days. Official Mr Bongo reissue. Hozan Yamamoto was recognised as a “living national treasure” by the Japanese government in 2002. This highly sought-after album from the Japanese wood flute player is more upbeat and swinging than some of his other records. The big band he recorded this album with (Sharps & Flats) played a big part in the genesis of the album’s groove. Forming in 1951, they helped to make jazz popular in Japan after World War II. Yamamoto’s flute lines weave over the heavy brass sound and groove, creating an MPS label blending of funky jazz and Japanese vibes. The closest comparison would be Dorothy Ashby’s grooviest albums for Chess / Cadet – substituting Yamamoto’s flute for the harp. Licensed courtesy of Universal Music Group Limited.

File Under: Jazz
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…..Restocks…. 

Cannonball Adderley: Somethin’ Else (Blue Note) LP
Aphex Twin: Selected Ambient Works (R&S) LP
Art & Technique: Clima-X (BFE) LP
Bauhaus: In The Flat Field (4AD) LP
Beatles: Revolver (Apple) LP
Big Star: #1 Record (Craft) LP
Black Keys: Brothers (Nonesuch) LP
Art Blakey: Moanin’ (Blue Note) LP
Boy Harsher: Careful (Nude) LP
Tina Brooks: Minor Move (Blue Note) LP
Tina Brooks: True Blue (Blue Note) LP
Kenny Burrell: Introducing (Blue Note) LP
Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane: s/t (OJC) LP
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: Skeleton Tree (Bad Seeds) LP
Don Cherry: Complete Communion (Blue Note) LP
Childish Gambino: Awaken My Love (Glassnote) LP
Daft Punk: Discovery (EMI) LP
Destroyer: Have We Met (Merge) LP
Billie Eilish: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (Universal) LP
Brian Eno: Apollo (Astralwerks) LP
Bill Fay: Countless Branches (Dead Oceans) LP
Funkadelic: America Eats Its Young (Westbound) LP
Funkadelic: Free Your Mind (Westbound) LP
Funkadelic: Maggot Brain (Westbound) LP
Funkadelic: Standing on the Verge of Getting It On (Westbound) LP
Godspeed You Black Emperor: Yanqui UXO (Constellation) LP
Grant Green: Born to be Blue (Blue Note) LP
Herbie Hancock: Takin’ Off (Blue Note) LP
Jung Il Jae: Parasite OST (Sacred Bones) LP
JPEGMafia: All My Heroes Are Cornballs (Caroline) LP
Khruangbin: Universe Smiles Upon You (Night Time Stories) LP
Kikagaku Moyo: Forest of Lost Children (Beyond Beyond is Beyond) LP
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Infest the Rats Nest (ATO) LP
Fela Kuti: Zombie (Knitting Factory) LP
Fela Kuti: Yellow Fever (Knitting Factory) LP
Fela Kuti: Beasts of No Nation (Knitting Factory) LP
Daniel Lopatin: Uncut Gems OST (Warp) LP
Lord Mantis: Universal Death Church (Profound Lore) LP
Madvillain: Madvillainy (Stones Throw) LP
Hank Mobley: No Room For Squares (Blue Note) LP
Hank Mobley: Workout (Blue Note) LP
Jeff Parker: The New Breed (International Anthem) LP
Iggy Pop: The Idiot (Universal) LP
Iggy Pop: Lust for Life (Universal) LP
Popol Vuh: Essential Album Collection (Universal) 6LP Box
Quasimoto: The Unseen (Stones Throw) LP
Max Richter: From Sleep (Deutsche Grammophone) LP
Steve Roach: Quiet Music 1 (Telephone Explosion) LP
Steve Roach: Quiet Music 2 (Telephone Explosion) LP
Steve Roach: Quiet Music 3 (Telephone Explosion) LP
Wayne Shorter: Speak No Evil (Blue Note) LP
Wayne Shorter: Night Dreamer (Blue Note) LP
Silver Jews: Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea (Drag City) LP
Silver Jews: Bright Flight (Drag City) LP
Hiromasa Suzuki: Primrose (Le Tres Jazz Club) LP
Gabor Szabo: Sorcerer (Impulse) LP
T. Rex: The Slider (Demon) LP
Makoto Terashita: Great Harvest (Le Tres Jazz Club) LP
Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City (XL) LP
Mal Waldron: Free At Last (ECM) LP
War on Drugs: Lost in the Dream (Secretly Canadian) LP
Baby Face Willette: Face to Face (Blue Note) LP
Amy Winehouse: Back to Black (Universal) LP
Amy Winehouse: Frank (Universal) LP
Wrens: Silver (Craft) LP

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…..news letter #936 – blue…..

A nice clutch of new releases in this week, and as usual, a bunch of stuff coming in late. And always more used stuff hitting the shelves too, come for a dig.

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…..picks of the week…..

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Alessandro Alessandroni: Open Air Parade (Sonor Music) LP
Alessandro Alessandroni’s definitive holy grail, Open Air Parade, reissued on Sonor Music Editions. The very best library record by the cult maestro on the dreams podium alongside Spontaneous (1974), the two Farfalla recordings, and Ritmo Dell’industria the label released two years ago. A long-awaited masterpiece and sought-after gem by record collectors all over the world originally released in 1972 on the mythical SR Records with two tracks by the great bassist Giovanni Tommaso who surely played in this session. A dreamy album with the top-notch, strung-out psychedelic funk sounds, laden beat and groovy music with lush arrangements and insane vocal themes by Alessandro Alessandroni’s Cantori Moderni chorus. An Italian library monster.

File Under: Library
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Jon Hassell/Farafina: Flash of the Spirit (Tak:Til) LP
Tak:Til/Glitterbeat present the first ever reissue and remastering of Jon Hassell and Farafina’s prescient, “Fourth World” masterwork, Flash of the Spirit, originally released in 1988. Propulsive Burkinese rhythms meet revelatory, ambient soundscapes. Co-produced with the legendary studio team of Brian Eno and Dainel Lanois. Composer and trumpeter Jon Hassell has been an elusive, iconic musical figure for more than half a century. He’s best known as the pioneer and propagandist of “Fourth World” music, mixing technology with the tradition and spirituality of non-western cultures. In 1987 he joined with Farafina, the acclaimed percussion, voice, and dance troupe from Burkina Faso, to record Flash of the Spirit. While the album is a natural extension of those “Fourth World” ideas, and a new strand of Possible Musics, it also a distinctive outlier in the careers of both artists; an unrepeated merging of sounds whose influence still reverberates today. The eight members of the band — who had also collaborated with the Rolling Stones and Ryuichi Sakamoto — brought their long apprenticed, virtuosic drumming, and melodic textures (balafon, flute, voices) to the sessions. They built up layers and patterns of rhythm, while producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois (fresh off the success of U2’s Joshua Tree) created a sonic atmosphere in which they could creatively intertwine with Hassell’s digitally processed trumpet and keyboards. Despite their initial skepticism, the musicians from Farafina ended up relishing their interaction with the studio team and the trumpeter/conceptualist Hassell. The music that emerged was rich and groundbreaking, a move to transcend the boundaries between jazz, avant-garde classical, ambient and the deep rhythmic tradition embodied by Farafina. On “Out Pours”, the groove simmers softly, led by shifting patterns on the balafon, while Hassell’s heavily treated trumpet creates breathy swirls of sound that play and dance around them. Percussion leads on “A Vampire Dances,” pushing and probing and seeming to force electronic shrieks as a response from Hassell’s trumpet, while the keyboard creates a bed of sound that refuses to hold still. “(Like) Warriors Everywhere” takes that idea even further. Over Farafina’s surging rhythms, Hassell’s electric piano and trumpet dig deep into abstract, melodic ideas hinted at by the Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis band. Farafina create the rhythms and counter-rhythms that spring and move. A new, natural trans-cultural harmony is apparent on the final track, “Masque”, where percussion and treated trumpet draw the listener along on a journey through shifting landscapes.

File Under: Ambient, Electronic, Fourth World, Jazz
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BE008LP_CUGo Hirano: Corridor of Daylights (Black Editions) LP
Black Editions present the first ever vinyl edition of Go Hirano’s third album, Corridor of Daylights, originally released in 2004. Corridor of Daylights is a quiet work of dreamlike brilliance. A home field recording where fragile piano melodies float alongside wind-chimes and wistful melodicas — insects hum in the distance and a breeze gently rustles as summer day eases toward evening. Originally released in Japan by P.S.F. Records in 2004, Corridor of Daylights is a beautiful, soulful dispatch from early aughts Tokyo. Black Editions present Corridor of Daylights, newly mastered for its first ever vinyl edition. Includes bonus track. Comes in a deluxe edition featuring pearlescent paper, metallic inks, and foil stamped letters as well as two inserts including a newly translated illustrated story booklet; Includes download.

File Under: Piano, Classical, Field Recordings
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…..new arrivals…..

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Luigi Archetti/Bo Wiget: Weltformat (Die Schachtel) LP
Double-LP version. Clear vinyl; six-panel, gatefold sleeve. Ending the decade of silence which followed more than ten years of remarkable, critically-acclaimed activity by the partnership of veteran experimentalists, Luigi Archetti and Bo Wiget, the duo returns with what may be their most ambitious effort to date, Weltformat, issued by Die Schachtel. Switzerland-based Luigi Archetti and Bo Wiget began collaborating in 1998, the fruits of which initially emerged as the critically heralded, three-part Low Tide Digitals series, released by Rune Grammofon between 2001 and 2009. Weltformat, like its predecessors, builds on decades of solo and collaborative efforts by its creators — Archetti with famed Krautrock pioneers, Guru Guru, among many others, and Wiget with Werner Lüdi, Taku Sugimoto, Tetuzi Akiyama, and others. Sculpted from the intricate tonal interventions and responses of Archetti on guitar, mandolin, and electronics, and Wiget on cello, electronics, and vocals, across the album the duo constructs a remarkably diverse landscape in sound, folding touchstones of modern classical, free improvisation, minimalism, harsh noise, and ambient music, into a seamless, singular expanse. Clusters of tone and dissonance merge, collide, and abrade against drones, textures, and pulsing electronics, each element a representative voice of its creator, caught in an imagistic conversation beyond words, which feels as immediate and intuitive, as it does perfectly balanced and thoughtful. Weltformat, encountering Archetti and Wiget just past the 20 year mark of their collaborative partnership, bears the fruit of rigorous experiments in sound – an immersive, effortless form of sonic realism, built from the optimism and hope which lays at the root of the avant-garde. As beautiful, inviting, immersive, and slow moving, as it is challenging, destabilizing, and thought provoking.

File Under: Electronic, Ambient, Modern Classical
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Company: 1983 (Honest Jon’s) LP
Wonderful, previously unreleased recordings by Derek Bailey and his guests at Company Week in 1983. What’s remarkable throughout this album is the respect and affection the musicians show for each other, exemplifying the dictionary definition of “company” as “the fact or condition of being with another or others, especially in a way that provides friendship and enjoyment.” It starts with “Landslide”, a brilliant, spiky, spluttering, twanging reunion of Music Improvisation Company members Evan Parker (tenor sax), Hugh Davies (electronics), and Jamie Muir (percussion). Next up, “Seconde Choix”, with Joëlle Léandre’s close-miked prepared bass and Bailey’s acoustic guitar seemingly heading in different directions before coming together miraculously in just four minutes. The opening of “First Choice”, a duet between Bailey and Muir, is a revelation for those who moan that the guitarist plays too many notes. His patient and truly exquisite exploration of harmonics is beautifully counterpointed by Muir’s metallic percussion. On “Pile Ou Face” (Heads Or Tails) Davies concentrates on his high register oscillators, carefully shadowed by Parker’s soprano until Léandre’s deft, springy pizzicato lures them into the playground. “JD In Paradise” is a surprisingly delicate wind quartet, with John Corbett’s trumpet, fragile and Don Cherry-like, punctuating the sinuous interplay between Peter Brötzmann and J.D. Parran (on sopranos, flutes and clarinet), while trombonist Vinko Globokar growls approvingly in the background. Igor Stravinsky’s magnificent definition of music as the jeu de notes comes to mind listening to Bailey’s duet with cellist Ernst Reijseger (executing fiendish double-stopped harmonics with staggering ease). Technical virtuosity has never sounded so effortless — it is, as its title “Een Plezierig Stukje” simply states, a fun piece. On the closing “La Horda”, Bailey and Reijseger team up with the horns for what on paper looks like it could be rough and rowdy sextet but which turns out once more to be a thoughtful, spacious exchange of ideas, shapes, and colors.

File Under: Jazz, Free Improv
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John Fahey: Live in Sausalito (Alternative Fox) LP
The finger-picking guitarist and blues enthusiast John Fahey enjoyed a long, influential and distinguished career. Born in Washington DC in 1939 and raised in Takoma Park, Maryland, he launched his own Takoma label to issue self-produced work in the late 1950s and then delivered his master’s theses on the blues of Charlie Patton at UCLA. Then, while based in the radical town of Berkeley, California in the San Francisco Bay area, began issuing filed recordings of forgotten blues legends, such as Bukka White. With his own work, Fahey began borrowing from eastern elements such as Indonesian gamelan and Tibetan vocal chanting, reflecting his interest in esoteric eastern religion, as well as birdsong, animal calls, and other naturalistic elements. This beautiful 1973 performance, delivered in the sleepy town of Sausalito, California, comprises most of Fahey’s Fare Forward Voyagers LP (1973), as well as earlier material, including “Dance Of The Inhabitants Of The Palace Of King Philip XIV Of Spain”, from his 1964 release, Death Chants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes.

File Under: Folk

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Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza: Eroina (Cometa) LP
Cometa Edizioni present a reissue of Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza’s Eroina, originally released in 2011. There are still so many treasures to be discovered out there, but once you find a gem like this you can definitely put the research on hold for a little while and give it a deep listen. Recorded at Fono Roma in 1971, Eroina is a series of haunting improvisations — each one inspired by the effects of a different drug — made of whirling electronic glitches, skronky horns, pounded piano, funky drums. and weird tape experiments delivering the best drone/spaced/drugged-out free jazz performed by the legendary ensemble of Ennio Morricone, Mario Bertoncini, Egisto Macchi, Battisti D’Amario, Franco Evangelisti, and Walter Bianchi. A timeless masterpiece.

File Under: Italian, Library, Experimental
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Heliocentrics: Infinity of Now(Madlib Invazion) LP
The UK’s cosmic, psychedelic-funk ensemble issue their first album on maverick producer Madlib’s label, Madlib Invazion. The Heliocentrics’ albums are all confounding pieces of work. Drawing equally from the funk universe of James Brown, the disorienting asymmetry of Sun Ra, the cinematic scope of Ennio Morricone, the sublime fusion of David Axelrod, Pierre Henry’s turned-on musique concrète, and Can’s beat-heavy Krautrock, they have – regardless of the label on which they’ve released their music – pointed the way towards a brand new kind of psychedelia, one that could only come from a band of accomplished musicians who were also obsessive music fans. Drummer Malcolm Catto and bassist Jake Ferguson are the Heliocentrics’ masterminds and producers, and they are obsessive weirdos in today’s musical climate, searching, progressive humans who are often out-of-time with current trends. They have been playing together for nearly two decades and their collective drive is to find an individual voice. The Heliocentrics search for it in an alternate galaxy where the orbits of funk, jazz, psychedelic, electronic, avant-garde and “ethnic” music all revolve around “The One.” With Infinity of Now, the Heliocentrics have returned to develop their epic vision of psychedelic funk, while exploring the possibilities created by their myriad influences – Latin, African, and more.

File Under: Funk, Psych, Library
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Juju: Live at the East 1973 (Now-Again) LP
“Now-Again Records presents limited edition deluxe reissues of the lauded black fire catalog in 2020. First up in the series, this previously unreleased live session recorded at the legendary Brooklyn venue The East in 1973. Magical, mystical, Afrocentric, progressive — words that could be used to describe any number of musical compositions by Sun Ra or his cosmic brothers and sisters, from John to Alice Coltrane, early ’70s projects on record labels like Detroit’s Tribe or Houston’s Lightin’ or the interests of one Washington, DC native named Jimmy Gray that centered under one, perfect moniker: Black Fire. Gray spent nearly three decades pushing boundaries as a Black American promoter, distributor and, finally, record label owner. Together with Juju’s leader James ‘Plunky Nkabinde’ Branch, Gray oversaw sixteen releases on Black Fire Records between 1975 and 1996. These are the definitive reissues of five of the label’s key titles; all were lacquered — most directly from master tape — by legendary Los Angeles mastering engineer Bernie Grundman. With this set, Juju and Black Fire’s story burns forth into its fifth decade, its message not tempered, its sound pure. It’s cycle, once again, complete. Each release is packaged in a thick, tip-on sleeve and includes a deluxe booklet with extensive notes on the album, the Black Fire collective, and the musical and cultural revolution they created. Limited edition, one time pressing.”

File Under: Jazz
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Antonino Riccardo Luciani: Elettroencefalogramma (Dead-Cert) LP
Elettroencefalogramma scans the full breadth of electronic composition by Italian musical mastermind Antonino Riccardo Luciani, who’s perhaps best known for his library records, but on the showing here had a strong, prescient line in mind-bending, fathoms-deep experimental and academic work with tape and early, pre-synth devices. Awarded unprecedented access to polymath composer “Tony” Luciani’s archive of inter-disciplinary work, Finders Keepers’ Andy Votel follows his pressing of Maria Teresa Luciani’s Sounds Of The City with a first compilation survey of her sibling’s vast catalog, newly issued via the Dead-Cert label he curates alongside Sean Canty and Doug Shipton. The set falls deep within the label’s remit of reissued and previously unreleased work by overlooked and undocumented pioneers of 20th century sound, revealing a distinctive mix of material that nods to contemporary, tape music, neo-classical, jazz, electro-acoustic, and counterpoint composition. Drawn from original tapes recorded during the 1970s, Elettroencefalogramma spans the heyday of Luciani’s work, before synth music was popularized. In this sense, it’s worth noting Luciani’s links with Teresa Rampazzi and the pioneering electroacoustic group NPS — and namely Serenella “Serena” Marega — with whom he shares a strong affiliation toward embracing the possibilities of new music at the dawn of an unprecedented sonic epoch. There’s a sense of being in transition between worlds and eras in the opening blend of melancholy strings and bubbling electronic rhythm “Battery Farm”, and likewise the cranky mixture of bestial growls and dissonance in “The Zoo”, while the rattle-y rhythm of “Offices” uncannily recalls Trunk’s recent issue of Mechanical Keyboard Sounds from the modern day. But Luciani excels at quieter, introspective styles, as with the flute-led vision of “Desol 2”, and most remarkably in the stygian, primitive drum machine pulse and clammy string drones of “Forest Of Chimneys”, which is surely crying out for imagery of Satanic mills, while the rupturing tape of “Bombardment” sets him firmly in a lane of advanced Italian noise that connects him to Gruppo’s Roland Kayn and Maurizio Bianchi. RIYL: Dapne Oram, Teresa Rampazzi, Daniela Casa, Roland Kayn, Maurizio Bianchi. Edition of 300.

File Under: Electronic, Library, Experimental
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Antonino Riccardo Luciani: Agonia della Civilta (Intervallo) LP
Intervallo present a reissue of Antonino Riccardo Luciani’s Agonia della Civilta, originally released in 1972. The great fame of Antonino Riccardo Luciani, a musician and composer from Palermo, is due above all to his work for television and to one in particular, namely the music for the Almanacco del giorno dopo (Almanac of the Coming Day), a famous program that has been broadcast on the first channel of RAI — Italian Television for over twenty years. Chanson Balladée, the title, is for many people an indelible memory of a television now disappeared and radically changed, for which Luciani has often composed wonderful themes and soundtracks of great value as Tecnica di un colpo di stato (Technique of a coup d’état). Agonia della Civiltà (Agony of Civilization), on the other hand, is part of his more experimental and abstract works, such as Inchiesta sul mondo (Inquiry Into the World) or Desol, and reveals the less accommodating side of the Sicilian composer, at work with tense atmospheres, hammering percussions, musique concrète, magnificent orchestrations. and bitter reflections on society. Originally released in 1972, the album is paradoxically more relevant in these complicated times. Titles such as “Esodo di Popolazioni” (Exodus of Populations), “Catastrofe Sociale” (Social Disaster), “Disfacimento Ecologico” (Ecological Decay), “Metropoli in Agonia” (Metropolis in Agony), or “Dramma dell’Evoluzione” (Drama of Evolution) foretold our future almost fifty years in advance. Edition of 300.

File Under: Electronic, Library, Italian, Experimental
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Leonardo Marletta: Percussioni ed Effetti (Intervallo) LP
Intervallo presents a reissue of Leonardo Marletta’s Percussioni ed Effetti, originally released in 1983. As often happens in the case of library music albums, even in Leonardo Marletta’s one and only record in his career, the titles serve above all as sound indications, as if they were listening guides. In Percussioni ed Effetti (Percussion and Effects) you find a vast array of atmospheres, well explained and illustrated by titles such as “Violenza” (Violence), “Guerriglia” (Guerrilla Warfare), “Allucinazioni” (Hallucinations), “Compulsion”, “Battimenti” (Beats), “Sospensioni” (Suspensions), or “Apocalisse” (Apocalypse). All these nouns perfectly fit the mood of the record, which is entirely built on a painstaking work of acoustic and electronic percussions, deep reverbs, drums, cymbals, and hints of piano and organ scattered here and there. Contrary to what one might think, the final result is anything but scant or primitive and shows a spasmodic rhythmic and instrumental research, similar to those you find in some avant-garde jazz works. As Valerio Mattioli remarks in his book Superonda, quoting Marletta’s Percussioni ed Effetti, “the moment when library music becomes more interesting is when it abandons any descriptive intent and decides to talk about nothing but itself: a sort of metamusic or ‘music in music’, an imaginary soundtrack for nothing.” Edition of 300.

File Under: Library
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The Men: Mercy (Sacred Bones) LP
New York band The Men have always been genre-morphic and unpredictable, but on their eighth album Mercy they have truly done something new as a band. For the first time since forming, they have now created three straight records with the same lineup, and the result is a sound that feels developed and continuous despite running the gamut of mood, in true Men fashion. Having this lineup stability has allowed the band to deepen and finesse the sounds they were exploring on 2017’s Drift and produce tracks that have a unique and distinct voice. Mercy was recorded live at Serious Business studio to 2″ tape with Travis Harrison. The band did minimal overdubs, contributing to the urgent feel of the recording. The album is simply the sound of a band that has a deep and unjaded passion for songwriting and creation, working at the peak of their collaborative connection.

File Under: Indie Rock
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Musica Elettronica Viva: United Patchwork (Alternative Fox) LP
Alternative Fox present a reissue of Musica Elettronica Viva’s United Patchwork, originally released in 1978. One of the most mythical experimental groups of all time, Musica Elettronica Viva was formed in 1966 by a group of American composers in Rome, its nucleus comprised of pianist Frederic Rzewski, sound improviser Alvin Curran, and the improvisatory keyboardist Richard Teitelbaum. Taking cues from John Cage and David Tudor, MEV employed open, limitless structures, using found instruments, toys, a homemade synthesizer, and the first Moog to reach mainland Europe. Improv and critical listening practices aimed to liberate listeners from the constraints of bourgeois capitalism and as their sound evolved, forms of Jewish mysticism and surrealist automaticism pointed to transcendent potential. An abortive US tour in 1970 split MEV into three units, but the Kabbalistic Dixieland band later reformed with Rzewski, Curran, and Teitelbaum joined by saxophonist Steve Lacy, trombonist Garrett List, and keyboardist Karl Berger. The resultant double album United Patchwork, recorded in November 1977 at Mama Dog for Horo Records, captures MEV in all of their discordant, improvisatory glory, from Teitelbaum’s side-long opener, “Via Della Luce”, to the honking noise of Lacy’s “Fox”, the excessive keyboard meanderings of Curran’s “Psalm”, Berger’s vibraphone folly, “Cross Over One” and Rzewski’s ponderous “What Is Freedom”.

File Under: Experimental, Avant Garde
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Ogyatanaa Show Band: African Fire Yerefrefre (Survival Research) LP
Survival Research present a reissue of Ogyatanaa Show Band’s African Fire Yerefrefre, originally released in 1975. The Ogyatanaa, or Burning Fire Show Band, was one of the more esteemed of the funky highlife groups that rocked the Ghanaian music scene during the 1970s. The band was formed in 1971 by diplomat-turned-composer, musical arranger, organist, vocalist, and record producer Kwadwo Donkoh (a former member of the Uhuru Dance Band), with guitarist and bandleader Nana Ofori-Atta (AKA Ahomansia Wura) and other members that later left the group. The Ogyatanaa Show Band made a rapid impact, scoring second place in the National Dance Band’s competition after being together for less than a year, thanks to their superlative arrangement of the oft-versioned highlife classic, “Yaa Amponsah”, a tale of a mythical woman which became a popular single when issued on Donkoh’s Agoro record label. After issuing a number of other popular singles, the band’s debut album African Fire Yerefrefre was finally released in 1975, the line-up now composed of Donkoh and Nana Ofori with drummer and assistant bandleader Ocloo Jackson, bassist Kobina Gardiner, keyboardist Ofori Frimpong, and vocalists/percussionists Kwaku Dua and Pa Oweridu, plus Nakai Nettley on additional percussion. This outstanding LP begins with the unprecedented extended highlife medley of over twenty minutes entitled “Yerefrefre” which revisits highlife gems of the past; for instance, noteworthy material by giants such as E.T. Mensah, C.K. Mann, Nana Ampadu, E.K. Nyame, King Onyina, Jerry Hansen, King Bruce, and Dr. K. Gyasi are all referenced, with E.T’s anthem “All For You” and The Black Beats’ “Lai Momo” getting special attention. “Mmobrowa” (or “The Downtrodden”) was another popular single issued prior to the album’s recording and listening to the slowly unfolding groove of the rendition included here, it’s again easy to understand the song and group’s enduring popularity in its homeland. Similarly, “Yaa Amponsah” and the religious praise song “Agya Nyame” are total highlife killers encompassed in rousing melodies and complex propulsive rhythms.

File Under: Afrobeat

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Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster, Panaiotis: Deep Listening (Important) LP
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Deep Listening, Important Records offer a definitive double-LP combining the classic, complete original 1989 release with selected tracks from the Deep Listening Band’s 1991 album, The Ready Made Boomerang. Recorded in a cistern, this double-LP reverberates with brilliant sonic clarity and masterfully improvised performances combining live electronics, vocals, trombone. and accordion. Deep Listening is a classic in the fields of improvisation, minimalism, ambient/drone, and modern classical. Listen with attentiveness, listen while lying down, listen with headphones — as recording engineer Al Swanson entices the listener to become a virtual performer in selecting the many different ways to perceive these phenomenal tracks. Whatever you do, listen deeply. Packaged in a gatefold sleeve with original and updated recollections from the performers, the engineer, and a mesostic from John Cage, to whom these recordings are inextricably linked.

File Under: Experimental, Minimalism
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Pop Group: Y (Mute) LP
Mute releases a remastered vinyl LP reissue of The Pop Group’s seminal Y cut using half speed mastering at Abbey Road. Y is the band’s highly influential and innovative 1979 debut released in the same year as their “She is Beyond Good & Evil” / “3:38″ single which is also included here on an accompanying 12”. Y regularly appears in ‘Greatest Album’ lists including The Wire’s 100 Most Important Records Ever Made, Uncut Magazine’s 100 Greatest Debut Albums and Pitchfork’s Greatest Albums of the 70’s, clocking in at No. 35. The Pop Group went on to release two further singles, “We Are All Prostitutes” and “Where There Is A Will” (Split single with the Slits), and one further studio album, For How Much Do We Tolerate Mass Murder, before splitting up in 1981. Frontman Mark Stewart, embarked on a solo career releasing his pioneering album Learning To Live With Cowardice in 1983. Gareth Sager and Bruce Smith went on to form Rip Rig & Panic alongside Neneh Cherry. The Pop Group reformed in 2010 to tour and have since released two new studio albums. “The Pop Group were unique in that every song on their hugely influential album Y seemed like it could fall apart at any moment, but even in their loosest moments they somehow managed to contain the turmoil long enough to create something bold, dramatic, meticulously organized” – Pop Matters “A maelstrom of dub and distortion effects, a tempest of extremesage, terror, anguish, all hurtle past and round you: time and space feel violently mutable.” – Wire

File Under: Post Punk
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Nathaniel Rateliff: And It’s Still Alright (Stax) LP
Nathaniel Rateliff has written and recorded his first solo record since the explosive debut of his work together with The Night Sweats. And It’s Still Alright is an intensely personal 10-song album of vibrant country-blues, Badland ballads, ornate Americana and jazz-inflected R&B. Rateliff’s warm baritone, ranging from gently hushed to a guttural howl, imbues these superbly drawn character studies with raw, naked emotion. And It’s Still Alright was produced by Rateliff, Night Sweats’ drummer Patrick Meese and James Barone of the indie band, Beach House and primarily recorded at National Freedom in Cottage Grove, OR, the studio formerly owned by the late Richard Swift. While Rateliff, Meese and Barone handled much of the album’s instrumentation, several friends make contributions including Night Sweats’ guitarist Luke Mossman; bassist Elijah Thomson (of the indie band Everest); keyboardist Daniel Creamer (of The Texas Gentlemen); steel guitarist Eric Swanson (touring musician for Israel Nash) and renowned string arranger Tom Hagerman (of the instrumental vocal ensemble DeVotchKa), whose delicate orchestrations beautifully complement the album’s deep emotional terrain. The feel of the new record, for which Rateliff had been focusing on an unraveling relationship, took a different turn in July 2018 with the death of Swift. His longtime friend and producer of the two hugely-acclaimed albums by Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats thus gave poignant inspiration to these ten new songs, on which, now in his solo voice, Rateliff wears his grief and doubt on his sleeve, but always retains a sense of optimism. The tracks are quieter and more reflective than the exuberant soul with which the Night Sweats made their name, but have the same urgency and indelible appeal, exploring themes of love, loss and perseverance. The title cut, written by Rateliff specifically about Swift, exudes a haunting grace and acceptance. Additional highlights come in the form of album opener “What A Drag,” which sketches a vivid portrait of a disconnected relationship, “Tonight #2,” a haunting, end-of-the-world waltz, “Time Stands,” detailing an epic, desperate struggle for love and the elegiac “Rush On,” a heart-breaking requiem for Swift. Unguarded and unflinchingly real, And It’s Still Alright expands on the sounds and styles he’s used to great affect across both his band and solo careers. It’s a commanding next step in Rateliff’s evolution into one of America’s most vital and essential songwriters.

File Under: Country, Blues, R&B
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Tony Raybould: The Machine (WRWTFWW) LP
WRWTFWW Records announce the first ever vinyl release of Tom Raybould’s award-winning movie soundtrack for excellent AI-themed sci-fi thriller The Machine (2013). Undoubtedly one of the greatest (and most overlooked) movie scores of the 2010s, The Machine finds its influences in the works of John Carpenter, Vangelis, Brad Fiedel, and Tangerine Dream, but presents its own unique twist, one that cleverly evokes the thin line between man and machine that haunts the whole film. Cold and tenacious rhythms suggest mechanical killer instincts, brooding synths crystallize the fear of an AI-controlled future, but the warm and gentle sounds of guitar and piano ease the tension and bring hope of humanity. From its menacing introduction to its tender ending, Tom Raybould’s masterwork ingenuously blends ambient, electronic, neoclassical, and synth wave to recontextualize and upgrade the classic ’80s sci-fi movie score template, holding its own against mammoth soundtracks like Blade Runner (1982) or The Terminator (1984). Truly. Cold with a touch of humanity like the perfect machine, Tom Raybould’s movie score won the BAFTA Cymru award for Best Original Music in 2013. LP housed in a glow-in-the-dark sleeve. “Tom Raybould’s Music For The Machine Is Amazing” –Bloody Disgusting

File Under: OST
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Steve Roach: Quiet Music 1-3 (Telephone Explosion) LP
“Quiet Music is a collection of pieces created by Steve Roach between 1983 and 1986 in respect for silence. The gentle electronics of Roach’s synthesizers mix with flute, electric piano and nature sounds flow like breath, enveloping the listener in a sustained, delicate and translucent atmosphere. Quiet Music was originally released as a three tape cassette series in 1986 on Fortuna Records and is now being issued as a complete series on vinyl for the first time ever. After Structures From Silence was released, Steve was receiving invitations to create music for the emerging meditation yoga and healing arts community in Los Angeles. Quiet Music 1 was originally commissioned for a meditation video, which featured a collection of video images of lush forested areas, wild flowers and natural serenity. But by the time the piece was completed the producer passed away and the project was never completed. Quiet Music 1’s direct connection to a distinct environment set the tone for the trilogy of albums. The Quiet Music series was released in a timeline that is often seen as linear but this music was created directly alongside the dynamic fully electronic albums like Now, Traveler, and Empetus. In the early ’80s Steve would be shifting between the invigorating sequencer-percussive driven music and then move directly into weightless drifts and contemplative spaces. This way of creating grew naturally out of a desire to not settle into one place sonically and to nourish himself with a space that could be creative and fine-tuned, creating a calm and renewing zone while living within the hectic pace of urban life in Los Angeles.”

File Under:Electronic, Ambient
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Rrose & Silent Servant: Air Texture Volume VII (Air Texture) LP
Rrose and Silent Servant team up to select for the ongoing leftfield compilation series, Air Texture. Featuring unreleased tracks from underground talent including Anthony Child (Surgeon), Ron Morelli, Laurel Halo, Octo Octa, Phase Fatale, Function, as well as Rrose and Silent Servant and legends like Charlemagne Palestine. Also included on double-CD and double-LP versions: James Fei, Not Waving, Luke Slater, and June and An-i, and Laetitia Sonami.

File Under: Electronic

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Giuliano Sorgini: Sounds from the Far Space (Musica per Immagini) LP
The Earth and the sky are the only entities that unite past, present, and future. The man has always scrutinized the immensity of the space above him. Night after night, linking the bright stars together, the ancient populations of our planet imagined they could translate their myths and religious beliefs into the constellations, ordering today’s eighty-eight and calculating with incredible precision, despite the meager tools available, both time and cosmic cycles. From the proliferation of superstitions to the establish of the sciences, the journey has been long and sometimes problematic. The space only still “imagined” with naked eyes, or observed with rudimentary telescopes, has slowly become “conquerable” and, since the ’60s of the last century, at the center of an international competition between the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union. From the first satellite launched into orbit at the man’s landing on the Moon, successful facts have multiplied. Many artists, at any latitude or longitude, tried to “confront” themselves with spatial themes. The composer Giuliano Sorgini is among them. Some tracks of this unreleased album composed in 1973 represent, in fact, an attempt to fill with notes the distances that separate man from infinity, through “itineraries” that do not indicate a precise destination such as, for example, “Upwards”, “Outer”, and “Thought”. Others, instead, describe events that are impossible to be seized, such as “Death Of A Comet”, breathtaking landscapes to observe as you float in the air like astronauts tied to the “umbilical cord” of their own spaceship, just think of “Into The Space Immensity” and “Sweet Trance”, even human and non-human presences, with the opener “Man In The Space” and the romantic “Ufo” as further demonstrations of the artist’s genius. Each track tells what is possible, although invisible to many. Creativity compensates for reality. The sounds of Giuliano Sorgini delicately invest the listener, favoring his immersion in a third dimension, in which elements of classical and electronic music, both with a strong communicative character, are merged and continually mixed up, between echoes and reverberations in the background. The prolonged repetition of tones and the almost imperceptible timbral variations don’t hinder the harmonic weaving, explained by piano and flute, or the obscure psychedelic solutions adopted by the composer resulting from an appropriate use of the first synthesizers.

File Under: Library, Electronic
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Squarepusher: Be Up a Hello (Warp) LP
After a five year hiatus that has seen him delve into a range of diverse musical projects, Squarepusher delivers the new album, Be Up A Hello. After exciting fans with his hour long mix of brain-melting breakbeat and jungle for Warp’s 30th anniversary NTS takeover, expectation has been bubbling away for official new material. The album sees Tom Jenkinson getting back to using analogue hardware, the same equipment that first helped him develop his sound in the early ’90’s to craft nine new pieces which chart a journey into harder and darker territory. From rinsing breakbeat tracks such as “Nervelevers” and “Terminal Slam” to darker moments such as “Vortrack” and “Mekrev Bass,” the album illustrates Tom’s continuing fascination with finely balanced psychological overload. As such, Be Up A Hello gives a nod to the mayhem, joyousness and abandon of the DIY Essex rave scene that was a strong determinant in Tom’s work.

File Under: Electronic
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Syncro Jazz: Live (Mad About) LP
Mad About Records present the first worldwide reissue of Syncro Jazz’s Live, originally released in 1982. Recorded Live at S. Paulo in 1982 it was originally issued on Amado Maita’s small indie label in the 80s called Poitou. Featuring one of the best Brazilian sax players, the legendary Nestico and his sister composer, piano player Lilu Aguiar. Nestico joined several jazz ensembles in São Paulo, having participated in 1977 in the first Jazz festival held at the Municipal Theater, alongside the musicians Samuel (piano), Nilson (bass), and Caram (drums). He performed several times in São Paulo with Syncro Jazz group. In 1982, with the ensemble he released the LP Live, along with the musicians Lilu Aguiar (piano), Peter Wooley (bass), Vidal (sax, flute), Dagmar (trumpet), and Ronny Machado (drums). In the repertoire, the songs “Pro César”, dedicated to pianist César Camargo Mariano, “Winter Knows” and “Black Cock”, all by Lilu Aguiar, “For Guzi” (Peter Wooley), “Cruzan” (M. Santamaria) and “Revelation” (S. Fortune). The LP contains amazing Fender Rhodes solos in a heavy modal spiritual and bossa jazz a la Strata-East and Black Jazz Records. Rare Brazilian spiritual jazz. Legendary sessions produced by Amado Maita. Reissued from the original master tapes. Thick cover; obi; deluxe, numbered limited edition.

File Under: Jazz, Brazil
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Stefano Torossi/Giovanni Tommaso: Echoing America (Cometa) LP
Cometa Edizioni present a reissue of Stefano Torossi and Giovanni Tommaso’s Echoing America, originally released in 2013. Such a legendary Italian library that blends instrumental touches that evoke images of a continent at the beginning of the ’70s. Obscure and electric jazz groove, R&B stompers, percussive funk chase with some of the finest players in the Italian scenario: Stefano Torossi and Giovanni Tomasso (one of the most in-demand double bass player in the seventies, already part of such legendary combos as Perigeo, Enrico Rava Septet, and Amedeo Tommasi Sextet). A definitively highlight in the Cometa catalog.

File Under: Library
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…..Restocks…. 

75 Dollar Bill: I Was Real (Thin Wrist) LP
Joshua Abrams: Mandatory Reality (Eremite) LP
Acid Mothers Temple: s/t (Black Editions) LP
Les Baxter: Ritual of the Savage (Waxtime) LP
Beastie Boys: Check Your Head (EMI) LP
Beatles: Let It Be (Apple) LP
Alice Coltrane: Africa 71 (Alternative Fox) LP
Alice Coltrane: Carnegie Hall 71 (Hi Hat) 10″
Daft Punk: Random Access Memory (Columbia) LP
Death Grips: Money Store (Sony) LP
Eric Dolphy: Out to Lunch (Blue Note) LP
Dome: 2 (Dome) LP
Dome: 3 (Dome) LP
Dome: 4 (Dome) LP
Drive-By Truckers: The Unraveling (ATO) LP
Bill Fay: Live is People (Dead Oceans) LP
Brunhild Ferrari & Jim O’Rourke: Le Piano Englout (Black Truffle) LP
Mort Garson: Plantasia (Sacred Bones) LP
Grant Green: Street of Dreams (Blue Note) LP
Nick Hakim: Green Twins (ATO) LP
Jon Hassell: Dream Theory in Malaya (Glitterbeat) LP
Idles: Joy as an Act of Resistance (Partisan) LP
Daniel Johnston: Fun (ORG) LP
King Crimson: Red (Pangyric) LP
King Crimson: Thrak (Pangyric) LP
King Crimson: Three of a Perfect Pair (Pangyric) LP
Peter Ludemann & Pit Troja: Now Generation (Be With) LP
Nirvana: Nevermind (Geffen) LP
Angel Olsen: Burn Your Fire for No Witness (Jagjaguwar) LP
Orville Peck: Pony (Royal Mountain) LP
Razen: Ayik Adhista, Adhista Ayik (Kraak) LP
Refused: War Music (Spinefarm) LP
Andy Stott: It Should Be Us (Modern Love) LP
Torres: Silver Tongue (Merge) LP
Sharon Van Etten: Remind Me Tomorrow (Jagjaguwar) LP
Colter Wall: s/t (Thirty Tigers) LP
Wu Tang: Enter the 36 Chambers (Legacy) LP

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